Sunday, 12 January 2020

'Botanical Bards'

Old Sulehay
This was the title of the workshop I ran yesterday with my friends at Back from the Brink. You might recall I did one in the autumn based on the birds of Fineshade Wood (you can read the post about it here). Well, this was the follow-on event, in which we took our inspiration from the plants of Old Sulehay Nature Reserve, a place clinging to the very edge of Northamptonshire.

You might think this is an odd time to be looking for signs of life in the plant world, but you'd be wrong. Once again, Liz, who works for the project, began proceedings by taking us on a short walk and it soon became clear that even in the midst of January there is lots to see, from the extraordinary moss covering through the multilayered scrub, on into the bushes and up to the trees, scratching the sky.

 It was an unusually mild day, so although it was a bit squelchy underfoot it was lovely to be outside. However, we were also there to write, so eventually we retreated into the field station and, fortified with tea and biscuits, we turned our outdoor inspiration into words.

As always on these occasions, I was blown away by the enthusiasm of the participants and their willingness simply to have a go and see what happens. From the simple prompt word of  'PLANTS' our mindmapping took us to all sorts of places, as we made not just botanical connections, but also more unexpected ones, including the reasons one might have for buying a new rug! The group created works of serious political prose, reminiscence pieces, stories and poetry, and it was a real privilege to work alongside them.

Some of our happy band
Friendships were kindled and contact details were exchanged, we breathed in the country air and we exercised our creative muscles. I'd say that was a success, wouldn't you?


Monday, 6 January 2020

Country living: warning - dead birds!

I'm a fan of The Archers, so I know a group of beaters when I come across them on a footpath, and this happened yesterday. Following a route around one of Northamptonshire's many Big Houses that took us into some lovely hidden villages, Mr T and I came upon a group of people who greeted us with a hearty 'Happy New Year' and reassurance that we would be quite safe on our walk because the guns would be pointing the other way. Always good to know.

I love walking in the countryside, but I wouldn't like to live there. I need to be able to pop out for a pint of milk (or beer, come to that) without having to get out the Landy. I also enjoy having street lights, proper drains and reliable broadband. Then there's the animals. I'm not frightened of them, but I'm not over keen. I was holding forth on this when we rounded a corner and were confronted with the scene in the above photo. Not for me, thank you.

We had a bit of a Chuckle Brothers moment with some sheep, too. We walked through a really wide field where there was a small flock of sheep at either end. As we set off, both groups walked towards the middle and it looked for all the world as though they were changing ends at half-time in some woolly team game. However, they all turned to follow us towards the gate, clearly expecting something that we were not equipped to provide. We laughed nervously. Like I said, not frightened, but certainly glad to reach the boundary and put a sturdy barrier between them and us.

I'm such a townie.


Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Off we go again

Different times.
I don't know if you've noticed, but a new year has started today. Honestly, to look at FaceAche you'd think it had never happened before. I'm SO fed up of people telling me how great 2020 is going to be. I hope they're right and I shall do my damnedest to make it so, but let's wait and see, shall we?

And what's with all these photos people are posting of themselves taken 10 years apart? I mean, what's the point? Of course, I know the answer: it's so that those posting can elicit lots of compliments: 'Oh you haven't changed a bit!' or 'You look even more lovely now!' or 'Looking good,  hun!' It's a brave soul who would comment, 'I didn't recognise you; you're so grey and wrinkled now.'

D'you know what I think? I think if you haven't changed over the last ten years, then you've not been trying hard enough! I'm definitely not the same person I was in 2010, because I've evolved. Sure, not all the changes have been good, but every decision I have made has led me to this place.

How do you think the world will look in 2030?