’96 cans of beer, or 3 dead otters.’
This was Jana’s response when I asked how much the big cool-box held. But before you get on the blower to the RSPCA, let me add that part of her work supports a research programme about otters, which involves the collection and study of otter-corpses. Makes sense, of course, to cool them: minimise whiff, preserve the maximum amount of information… Still. I was kinda glad we were using a different cool-box for our trip. (Plus: (read more…)
For weeks now, being in the Cumbrian countryside has been like walking through a 70s Flake ad, only with no innuendo and barely enough chocolate. The meadows are extraordinary this year. I’ve never seen so many buttercups, such clover and poppies, never mind the numberless others I can’t name; and I can’t remember seeing a farmer, one man, mowing a meadow (sorry) for hay, so early. But on this hot Bank Holiday Monday the freshly-cut fields were corduroy-striped with (read more…)
So: we walked the 25ish miles from Frome to Bath, stopping to swim, eat and pour water at various points along the way.
Sounds like a kicking weekend, huh? But this turned out to be one of those experiences where time seems to expand to accommodate all the stuff its brings. I think of this as herniated time—time which bulges sideways and intrudes into eternity, or timelessness, or both (if they’re not the same).* All this to be obtained merely by putting one foot in front of the other.
The morning’s walk on day one took us across fields, past poplar-copses (we stopped to listen to the wind in the leaves) (read more…)
There must be some kind of equation for packing.
If N=number of things you’d like to take, C the number of things you feel you can carry, and P what you can actually fit in your pack, the initial relationship between N, C and P can be assumed to be something like N>C≥P. After that it gets a bit confusing; but the net result is definitely F, which is what you say when you pick it up for the fifteenth time that day and your shoulders are very, very angry.
I was off to Somerset for a two-day water pilgrimage from the Holy Well at Frome to Aquae Sulis, the springs which feed the baths in, well, Bath. (read more…)
‘Due to weather conditions, the evening boat is cancelled.’
Under the risen wind, the waves’ alternate push
and tug unfurls, rolls back, returns again,
while underfoot the shingle shifts and seethes,
a living ground which slides away from me
with a rasping rattle, like hard-won breath.
Graceless, I flail towards the frilled edge
where the foamed sea unrolls itself in greeting.
Sand swirls in the shallows, litter bobs,
and lank fingers of torn weed trail and clutch at me.
But beyond, the deeper reaches free me: I fall forward
into heaven-pale blue-green water which holds
and lifts me—where light is delighting in itself,
and the breeze-beaten surface is a shifting infinity
of tiny planes where sun is shattered into stars.
I blink brine-burned eyes and gasp, spitting salt.
A joy rises in me which joins now with far ago,
where a small child is tossed in sure square hands,
and squeals, and is caught again, and danger
is always safe. I laugh, and weep, and play
till I am spent. Leaving the water, I stoop to lift
a piece of sea-glass. Tumbled into opacity, it holds
the light. Carefully I fold my fingers over it,
its warm smoothness sweet against my salt-scoured skin.