Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Conkers and Cobwebs

At the close of September these golden days have been a gift to replenish us after another uninspiring summer. Spiders in great numbers have been weaving their webs across the back garden - spun gossamer in the chilly morning sun light.
Autumn is very much in evidence as squirrels are seen collecting and hoarding the shiny brown conkers lying under the horse chestnut trees in the local park.
It is time to get ready for October Gold again ...
and so the year turns.
"Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!"
Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17, Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832)

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Woodland walking and the night sky

West Woods, Wiltshire
Yesterday was a warm, sunny late summer day. I had the pleasure of walking with a couple of friends through West Wood in Wiltshire, a county better known for its rolling downs and almost mystical vistas ...
In the evening, with the same two friends I went out to an 'open mic' music evening held out at Avebury. As we made our way out onto the downs in Cathy's ramshackle car (new one pending) we were going at a speed that allowed us to observe the sun going down, spreading that nameless sunset colour across the sky and bathing the downs in golden light.
One of the reasons I love to attend these music nights is that I get to see the breath-taking stars in the night sky at the end of the evening. Last night did not disappoint ... astonishing, amazing; these words seem inadequate. I saw the Milky Way for the first time.
On the journey home, my friends discussed the musical merits of the evening while I sat quietly in the back of the car and watched the orange crescent moon rise above the dark hills. As the neon lit town of Swindon came into view, the moon appeared to rise and was suspended in the sky above the plain below ... a strangely beautiful sight.
I am aware that I miss so very much of the night sky by being a town dweller ... the trade-off for not owning a car.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The woodpecker on the bowling green

This evening I took a little detour through the Victorian park near to where I live, there standing perfectly still on the centre of the bowling green was a green woodpecker. Because of its very appropriate camouflage, green with a red on the top of its head, I usually just see this woodpecker out the corner of my eye while it is in flight.
There it was though; no camera with me today so I just watched. It took off across the green and landed by the club house. I watched it hop over to the glass door and tap on the window with its beak. It must be almost tame, alas however, the clubhouse was closed and locked so the woodpecker returned to the centre of the green, unearthing insects from the well-watered lawn.
I walked around the perimeter fence to try and get a clearer look - the woodpecker had now been joined by a pair of magpies and a squirrel … completely unperturbed by each other. An unusually relaxed green woodpecker out for an evening hop, skip and peck on a well manicured bowling green. What a joy!


Friday, 4 September 2009

Memories of Lamorna

I have recently been reading about the Cornish stone circle Boskawen-un which I was able to research with the aid of Julian Cope's influential work The Modern Antiquarian (there is also a web-site inspired by the book).
However, it was while reading about The Merry Maidens, a nineteen-stone circle quite close to Boskawen-un, that I started thinking again about Lamorna.
September, some years ago (1990s) while I was still very much a Londoner I travelled with a dear friend to spend a week based in Penzance - though at that time I knew nothing of ancient stone circles. On a visit to Mousehole we attempted the cliff walk around the coastline to Lamorna. After a fairly arduous walk our destination came into view, we only had to negotiate a narrow bit of the cliff path to start our downward descent into the cove ... and a cup of tea. It was then that my dearest of all friends admitted he was terrified of heights. After trying to talk him round it became clear we couldn't go on and made our way back to Mousehole. I confess, to my shame, I was a bit grumpy by the time we arrived back Mousehole ... we had been caught in a sharp, slanting shower and were somewhat bedraggled.
The next day we caught a small bus from Moushole to Lamorna; I have managed to locate the written impressions of our visit, recorded on a scrap of paper ...
Lamorna Cove - Friday 17th September (a good wee while ago)
An exquisite perfect day, if this were to be the last day of my life I would want to take Lamorna Cove with me.
Water cascading down from the wooded shady hill-side falling over rocks into the sea.
The sea blue; the sky blue - a jewel in the crown of Cornwall. Peace and tranquility.
All the seas, all the rivers flow into each other - the connection of life. How can this help me get through life if this is not to be the last day, I must go back tomorrow to the stress and strife of London.
I will take this with me, the warmth of the sun, the sound of the water-fall, flowing into one - coming from one source and returning again. The air we breath, so clean here is the same air we breath in noisy, congested London.
Well, it seems I am still around, although sadly my dear friend Chris is not. I no longer live in London but in Swindon, Wiltshire. Earlier today, as I hurried along a busy road, Lamorna came back to haunt me. In between the sound of passing cars I could hear the gentle waves, on that peaceful September day, washing into Lamorna cove.
I must go back soon .... (to be continued)