The beholding I

Don’t tell anyone.

I don’t want to make a fuss about it.

But I think I’ve acquired a supernatural power.

I know. Unlikely. But I’ve suspected it for some time and on Sunday I decided I was right.

You see, I can summon the wind. No, really. At the push of a button. Well, even more easily than that, to be accurate.

There are some conditions, though.

I must be surrounded by evidence of Mother Nature’s generosity. In whatever form that takes.

Wild flowers, tall grasses.

Plumping fruits, buds and blossoms.

Convolvulus buds ripening

Blackberries ripening amid the short-lived but prolific Convolvulus

Sparkling lakes, prowling herons.

Coots cooting around (and I didn’t alter the colour, honestly!)

I think this is a young one – saw it catch a couple of fish – thank goodness the baby chicks are too big for it now

Butterflies, ladybirds, bees.

A Comma hiding behind a signpost

Too many spots for seven spot ladybirds, not yellow enough for 22 spots

Next, I concentrate my attention on a special, distinctive, superlative – or simply interesting – gift of the Mother of all things.


…  I reach for the red, shiny, metallic box I carry with me at all such times.

The box with the magical button.

And even before it’s pressed –  abracadabra!

Up comes the wind.


With a sigh.

Subtle enough to make the grasses shiver. To cause the flowers to nod.

To set the fruits a-tremble – and make the winged ones fly.

Yes, my camera’s a powerful thing.

I believe it’s inhabited by a genie. Disguised as a battery.

Still, I try to catch the wilful wind unawares. And usually fail.

But on Sunday I was walking around my new, equal-favourite, local place to be.

A place I can be calm and at peace with the world. Well, except for the occasional dog-walker who can’t read, or misunderstands the term, ‘on a lead’. Or the cyclists who find it annoying to have to heave their bikes over kissing gates designed to keep them out, before riding ride on.

But set them aside. I do. And not too long, really, after they’ve passed me by.

Because it’s an enchanted place – so I can’t be annoyed for long.

This pond is one of my favourite spots – among many – places at the reserve

How now brown cow?

My growing interest in the natural world has been bearing fruit (slowly) in the form of four seasonal fables I’m writing. Ecological fairy tales if you will. It began with the Tale of Old Mistress Winter which I shared last Christmas.

The underlying ‘moral’, an essential component of both fairy tale and fable, is that we humans should be aware how are affecting our world.

Our climate is changing, thanks to our actions, and that in turn is altering all things natural, distorting the connections that make Planet Earth work.

And on Sunday, as I struggled to find the inspiration for my tale of autumn, my new magical place lent a hand.

In a few weeks so much had changed.

Many of the blossoms of summer had already gone over.

The hawthorn’s berries, like the blackberries and elderberries, were ripening fast.

The fairies were flying and barbed wire fences gathering thistle-wool.

The sun being high in the sky and shade welcome,  I ventured for the first time out of the Nature Reserve into the ‘forest’. Which I hope, one day it will be.

Part of my growing love of ‘nature’ in all its mutability, is an affinity with the trees. We shall all be trees, one day. One way or another.

Trees are our past, our present, our future.

This young, almost elegant forest was peaceful and welcoming. But still, all alone, unbidden thoughts came, of  Little Red Riding Hood and the wicked wolf. I pushed them aside and concentrated on my quietly growing companions.

Some were already looking tired, their leaves rustling that brittle rustle they have come the last days of summer.

But together they made a restful dappled place. Of whispering boughs and fallen, golden willow leaves. Of tangled twigs and billowing banks of nettles.

And this haven of all that matters (well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I’m letting my enthusiasm [and my fable-writing head] run away with me) is a mere seven miles from home.

I shouldn’t be surprised. Even our suburban garden weaves enchantment.

And what would be enchantment, or magic, or the faerie realm, without our earthly delight?

And who wouldn’t want to share it?

Well, the wind and I made a pact. And the wind mostly kept to it.

I would notice the beauty in ordinary things – and the wind would be my guide.

And I’ve shared some of the results.

Captured with my tiny, red, conjuring box and its shiny crimson button.

The bounty of Mother Nature, her beauty. As seen through the eyes of one beholder.  And the lens of a point and shoot camera.

I’ll say farewell at that, since I need to turn to Autumn, to the tale of a mighty oak and its   earthbound toes.

But I’ll leave you with a few more images, captured with the complicity of my friend, the warm west wind …

Just below the Environment Agency’s sluice (?) that allows flood water off the River Alt which is above this reserve when necessary

The tiniest flowers I saw – don’t know what they are but they are very pretty

The bulrushes – reedmace if you prefer – are fattening up and browning nicely

Nothing is ever dead in nature, it just lives on differently

I think these two trees love each other 😉

I know it’s not a living thing, but it is covered with living things – this is what I love about nature and the way she copes – and isn’t it lovely, really? It’s part of the bridge over the River Alt by the way

Accidentally crushed beneath rambling boots chamomile is for me the green scent of summer

As children we used to flip the seeds off this plant – when darker brown and ready to be shed – down the back of a person’s shirt or blouse. Very irritating!

I love the umbellifers – as you may have noticed

It feels like a processional way – perhaps is is, for a fairy pageant…

Posted in Art, jaunts & going out, Britain now & then, Lancashire & the golf coast, Nature notes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

‘She’s leaving home…’

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Archaeoman away for some weeks and the muse’s voice inaudible.

The frenzy wasn’t quite as bad as usual in the run-up to his departure, more of a prolonged shower than an interminable tropical downpour.

Yet still, as usual, it swept most things before it.

The many uses of household tables preparatory to expedition

Baggage of the Archaeoman kind

Which is perhaps why I booked the cottage I did in such a hurry.

A fellow blogger had written about a peaceful, sea-view of a place, with Welsh literary connections – and I was tempted. So tempted I caved in. Joined the Airbnb ‘community’.

But something diverted me from Wales. Some mischievous sprite whispered ‘Yorkshire’ in my ear. And I succumbed.

The week I’d chosen was punctuated by a monthly freelancers’ day I enjoy.  And so, after a jolly Wednesday spent in the company of other lone workers, one bringing luscious cake, I set forth upon a Thursday for four nights away.


In rural Yorkshire.

Now, setting forth, for me, is no simple matter.

First, there are the books. For a stay alone it’s essential I take the books I might need – or want. Two carrier bags packed, I still worried. Then found the obvious solution: technology.

After much searching I found the lead to recharge my Kindle and, after more searching, my Kindle.

Secondly, clothes. Sun today, but what tomorrow? Walking: boots or … ?

I had the luxury of solo travel in a car, so decided to take whatever I felt like taking.

It took a while to pack 😉

Thirdly, food.

A fruitless search for our cool-bag ended when I remembered it had gone to Africa. So the new-bought goodies went in the freezer.

In a way it was liberating. The blurb said a brew-pub was a decent walk away. Perhaps there’d be good food too.

And so came the time to set forth. Which is where the most serious issue arose.

To illustrate the scale of this challenge, I’ll journey back in time. To a previous home.

When I was working in the south west of England we lived, for five years, in a picturesque weaver’s cottage of four storeys. One medium and one tiny room made up each floor, except the top, which had just one.

On that floor we kept our ironing board.

One year, Archaeoman was away for three months. And every working day, when I left home, I had to unlock the front door I had just locked and climb the stairs to the top floor. Some days twice in a row.


To check whether I had switched off the iron I may or may not have used that morning.

On one occasion I was in London overnight and had to call my neighbour to check I hadn’t left a pan on the hob.

You can see where this is going. I’m neurotic about leaving things switched on.

But again, technology to the rescue.

I made a list. Checked off each item. And then  photographed the evidence with my phone’s camera.

#Sad. As Donald Trump might say.

#Effective. As I say.

Gas rings off, cooker off, balcony door locked? Tick. Click 😉

Utility Room: iron off? Garage light off? Door into garage locked? Tick. Click 😉

And so I hit the road.

The next question. Visit Salt’s Mill on my way or not? Not for the Hockneys, I’ll confess, but for lunch – and a new Moomin mug to replace a Christmas present I broke.

I did, to be fair, plan to visit the new Hockney gallery in Bradford during my stay. And the Hepworth at Wakefield.

And, and, and …

David Hockney’s own painting of Salt’s Mill, in Saltaire village, near Bradford, both built by Sir Titus Salt, in the entrance to the mill and galleries

What a heroic chimney – and not even the most elaborate. Rather clean nowadays. I was going to do a blog about chimneys over the next few days…

Another nearby chimney , less grand, less clean…

And an inconspicuous modern ‘chimney’ behind the stone building. How long will this survive, I wonder?


I reached the mill and went straight to the shop. Which needs a health warning. Full, as it is, of fabulous Scandinavian design.

Glass cases of ‘collectables’ that have me thinking, ‘oh no, I got rid of one of those when I cleared my parents’ house,’ at irritating intervals.

As you might guess, the Moomin mug had company in the large paper bag when I left.

A candleholder for our hand-dipped candles. The ones that have been sitting in the cupboard since our last expedition, before Christmas.

Another tea light holder. And a tiny gift for… well, she’ll find out in September 😉

I could not resist the Hattifatteners sitting down to tea on my tea mug 😉 and ferns – such beautiful things

I had Yorkshire tea and tea-bread in lieu of lunch. Then sped towards my goal with a happy heart.

I love the lights in the upstairs diner – and check out those columns from the factory’s manufacturing days


The omens were bad.

A mistaken trip down a long cobbled path.

Several phone calls to the owner – no response.

Several turns-around in tiny roads, checking details online on a dodgy connection.

Two trips through a bottle-neck hamlet in a valley below a quarry…

When I finally arrived, the one downstairs living room, straight off the road, was dark and gloomy. The one window looked over the road.

Spurts of traffic that had made it through the bottleneck changed gear as they struggled up the steep hill.

Behind the sofa, a door led onto a tiny porch – and that into a beautiful sunny garden. Of which there was no view from indoors.

The tiny kitchen was dark.

I stood.


Couldn’t stay.

I went upstairs. ‘My’ pleasant sunny bedroom overlooked the road which ran directly beside the cottage.

I rang and finally got through to the owner.

She came.

We parted amicably, despite her plain incomprehension and the few tired tears that escaped, despite my best efforts.

But before long I was driving on top of the world. One of my favourite places on earth rising in the distance.

Pendle in the distance, driving back into Lancashire

I toyed with the idea of finding a b&b for the night. Then got back in the car and drove.

Nearly two hours later I was home.

The light poured into our upside-down-house’s airy, Scandinavian-style upstairs living rooms and kitchen.

And I learned two expensive lessons.

  1. There’s no place like my home.
  2. The muse is not for finding – it’s my job to listen. And to wait.

In fact, I think she may be around, somewhere.

Apologies to the Beatles, but …

… she’s staying home, bye bye. Bye bye.

Our garden’s a second home to this battle scarred Red Admiral. I’m honoured to keep it company 😉




Posted in Art, jaunts & going out, Britain now & then, Thinking, or ranting, or both, Travelling, Yorkshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

More of that small press; a new archaeologically-themed site; husking

If  you would like to see a few more pictures and a video you have to turn sideways to watch, oops!  😉  of the small press I visited and wrote about in Dylan, dogs and the devil it is now online on my other blogging site Maid in Britain

And if you would like to keep track of what archaeoman is up to in Zambia, he has a new blog site here and has just started the first season of his new project. A new (second) post is awaiting upload right now – they will be intermittent as the place he is staying (Fawlty Towers!) has limited wi-fi.

Yes, I’ve been reduced to husk status again. Don’t worry, that was said with a wink. I wasn’t willing to shell out £1400 on airfare alone, so, as you may see, if I have time to blog it (another wink) I am doing my own thing here in England while he is away.

Here are some pictures from yesterday’s overcast-sky outing to Longton Brickcroft Nature Reserve near former port and industrial hub, Preston… Oh, it’s grim up north (knowing smile).

See the duck and ducklings? Close up next picture

Beautiful cornflowers and a poppy in the corner there brightened up a very dull cloudy day

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments