originally part of training/fundraising for the Hepatitis C Trust's Nepal trek. Now, sporadic musings...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

hostelling in style

Kinloch Castle surveys Loch Scresort, with (on clear days) views of Skye and the mainland.
The castle manager loads our luggage in the Range Rover (the Americans in combats get a lift with their ghillie in a white Toyota pick-up), and we walk around the shore with our assorted ferrymates through woodland both imported and indigenous.
It's idyllic.
And the castle has a bistro...
Arriving merits an easeful day. A quick recce round the castle, a toastie at the tea shop and a brief rest before supper...

inauspicous start

The rain sleets across Mallaig as we leave the B&B. Within seconds, in spite of our layers and waterproofs, we're dank and miserable. This is not the gentle 'smirr in the wind' rain recalled with fondness from childhood summers, while lurking with Lucy on Sheena's porch, smoking. This is the serious rain that keeps me from risking a visit to Scotland.

The cosiness of the Faulty Tower-esque B&B is a much more attractive prospect than struggling down to the ferry terminal with our laden rucksacks.

Then, it seems the grim weather might jeopardise our crossing. Not the rain so much as the wind that's its bosom buddy. Hanging about in the cold, waiting for the Skye ferry (which has been cancelled) to shift its mooring and allow our little Island hopper in, we get chilled to the bone.

There's been a weird kind of transference; Lucy is now anxious about sailing, while I'm impatient to get to Rum.
The contrariness of the weather is also its advantage; in the hour or so it takes us to reach Eigg, the skies have cleared and the sun warms us through the seawind chill.
Our sea leg every bit as exquisite as the train yesterday.
This stretch of water was crossed by little puffer steamers - which transported the red stone to build the castle, aka industrial monies elaborate PR job and playground.

Friday, September 28, 2007

on the road to the Forbidden Isle

We set out on a cool, bright morning, a beautiful sunrise sky as we wait for our train (which is, predictably, an hour late - good old Virgin!) Luce upgrades us to First Class - few significant perks other than far greater travelling space, but on a long (and often tedious) journey that is benefit enough. The complimentary snack pack has little actual nutritional value, although heavy on the calories and a veritable E-fest...
Early Saturday morning to Sunday evening - bizarrely enough, our journey thus far almost comparable in duration to that to Nepal. Train from Bristol to Edinburgh, overnight stop there with Sheena before our next 'rail leg'; Edinburgh via Glasgow to Mallaig.
Luce proves even more delightful as a travelling companion than my expectation - her delight as we cross the border is infectious, and she's enthralled by Edinburgh's splendour, the imposing nature of its Gothic architecture. A whistlestop tour of the Royal Mile, then Sheena's whizz around the Queen's Park in the car reminds me of the beauty of my birthplace, and gives me the opportunity to see it afresh, through a stranger's eyes.

Spending the evening with Sheena is lovely - more reconnections... If I've felt an uncomfortable distance in our friendship of recent years, the reasons that situation has developed are now clear, and my paranoia allayed. As Sheena is one of my oldest friends (in the sense that we have known each other a long time, rather than that she's of ages with Methuselah), I should know better than to allow my imagination to fill in the gaps - but on the other hand, that's what I do as a writer; make imaginative leaps to make sense of my warped perceptions... as ever Sheena is funny, perceptive, intelligent, sensitive and above all interesting - such a jewel of a friend; how could I believe there was a conscious withdrawal?It's good to see how the gaps in the interaction of our separate realities have occurred.

Lucy and I are both utterly blown away by the spectacular panoramas between Glasgow and Mallaig. Knocks the Lake District into a cocked hat - even though I adore the lakes.

We watch the sun set over Rum, full of excitement for the following morning when the ferry will take us to the once Forbidden Isle...

from my journal:

these are my words, they comfort and encumber me, the stories I frame about my journeys both help assimilate experiences and limit who I can be; I offer glimpses of myself to others through the words I use to express who I am - and then sometimes become entrapped by a faux role, or reduced potential, by my own stereotyping...

mist magic

a different kind of dawn wonderland... with the sun rising behind the lightning tree, a time to be glad of 'fosterdog' and his necessitating early jaunts to the fields - which I wouldn't otherwise have ventured on - too conscious of time constraints...
I took several shots in my attempt to capture some of the beautiful spiderwork of that morning - unfortunately this is the only one that survived the cull necessary to make way for Rum landscapes...
maybe a little of the magic comes across...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

circles and spirals

with the Bristol (and wider) poetry circuit - Rosemary Dun's Big Mouth Cabaret last night with Crysse. Great line-up, Elvis McGonagle on devilishly good form - but hey, read about the gig on Crysse's blog (http://crysse.blogspot.com/), her coverage is far more erudite than mine would be! But before you read about them, see what the live n' lippy's alphabetti dvd clip looks like on Youtube (cheers, Howard, you've done a grand job on the recording and visuals!)
(so that covers reconnections with artistic collaborators).

with frustration at just being at work following cancellation of my training day (redeeming highlights; dawn walk with Joe beforehand, lunch with Ro during, afterwards supper with Sam and Crysse, writing and laughter at the Harbourside ... so the highlights involve reconnections).

Drafted my resignation today.

Another leap of faith anticipated - that conjures images of 'fosterdog' bouncing through the knee-high clover fields, canine joy incarnate...
A good image.
Much I will be sad to leave, though - those clover fields, for a start.
Mayblossom outside my window in the Spring.

Frome will remain a heart-home, it won't be a total severance - there are friends in all my heart-homes, and blood ties to keep a connection alive... writing, music and images make connections to my memories, the pearls strung on life's narrative.

So from disconnection we're back at reconnection...

Monday, September 10, 2007

reversals and life as a 4-dimensional Escher puzzle

A wonderful warm September day; since the twin towers tragedy I've noticed September is a personal chronological signifier of seismic internal and external change. This year is no exception.

At 7am today, I was in the cusp of the morning, watching the sun rise into soft clouds (later burned off by its heat). At the other end of the day, I walked in dusky fields soft-lit by the roseate afterglow.

The hectic pace in between safely buffered by green space and blue skies.

By October, the days will be too short to drain stresses into daylight, so this September time is precious.

The template of life change is like that of a 4-dimensional Escher puzzle; I've been given the corner pieces, and now the infinite pattern begins to reveal itself. There will be repetitions - the sun always rises and sets, the seasons morph into one another, albeit with changing characters. The ebb and flow of events will continue to play itself through time and space; my part is to work on perception and novel ways of seeing.

And stories, always stories, connections, Dreaming with the Driftwood Mirror and poetry.

One September I was blessed with an enchanted morning garbed in silver misted cobwebs. I've dusted off the poem that birthed - it needs some more crafting...
This September there is more writing ahead; writing alone, with Crysse, with other talented Frome writers... and hopefully Pilton writers, too. Maybe even writers I haven't yet met.
We shape the dimensions of our puzzles, our lives, with our individual and collective imaginative explorations...

No wonder I won't stand for writing time to be squeezed flat and lifeless. It needs space to breathe and stretch...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

quick catch up

Nearly a month since my last posting on here... I'm not sure if that's a good sign or a bad sign! The upside is that it's not lack of inclination, rather the dearth of time to do so - the down side is that all writing time has been squeezed to snatched moments here and there.
There have been many long walks, though. The photo above is taken from the Crow's Nest, which is on the way to Tintern Abbey. The 365 steps up to the Crow's Nest through the trees made me think of wooded Nepalese slopes - and Fangorn Forest! A little unsettling as I was reading Stephen King's 'Lisey's Story' at the time...
An overactive imagination is both a blessing and a curse.
I have an ambivalent relationship to all the significant things in my life, though - which I've no doubt mentioned before.

More sedately - this shot was taken from the highest point of the Malverns; a leisurely upward stroll with Kit to work off our Sunday lunch...

Deciding to commit to a spot of 'dog fostering' is probably the main reason I've been pushed for blogging time. Ath would love to have a dog - so I thought, what better way to give him an inkling of what looking after a dog really entails than to look after one for a while...
Great idea in principle.
In practice?
Well - funnily enough, so far, I've been doing the majority of the walking...

Jack Russells are not my canine of choice, so I hadn't anticipated becoming so enamoured with our guest.
He's not only extremely cute, but highly intelligent and very entertaining - an irresisible mix! (in spite of the risk of the canine equivalent of the pub brawl if we meet a dog who's bigger than he is - little dogs are prone to 'little dog syndrome' just as much as their human counterparts succumb to 'size irritability').
There isn't much that can get me out of bed earlier than usual (not even the prospect of a longer writing session). But for this little chap, I'm up and out along the fields with no complaint at all.
Admittedly, the weather has changed dramatically - we've had no rain since he arrived, so it will be interesting to see how we feel on grey, wet days.
On these misty September morning and sundrenched evenings, his joy as he bounces ecstatically through the second growth of clover makes my smile a mile wide.

Lucy and I have now finalised most of the 'bookable details' of our sojourn to Rum. Travel and accommodation all sorted - at last! Something really worth blogging about coming up...

Life changes afoot, too - and that, too, is responsible for my virtual absence; lots to process privately.
The dog needs a walk, so I'm going to head off into the soft September afternoon.

About Me

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I began blogging during training for a trek in the Himalayas... several lifetimes ago. Currently working on my novel - in the tiny spaces left by a 50 hour plus working week...