Clickable RSS feed subscription icon. Clickable Instagram icon. Clickable Flickr icon. Clickable Bloglovin icon. Clickable Pinterest icon.


47 A summer bucket list

... because they're not just for kids!

Pick hydrangea flowers for drying

Forage for bilberries

Look for noctilucent clouds come nightfall

Visit a standing stone

Watch a sheepdog trial

Go on a moth hunt

Be a tourist in my own town for a day

Dance in the rain

Make blackberry and chia seed jam

Crab off a pier

Start an indigo dye vat

Collect feathers to cut for quill pens

What will you be doing this summer? And can anyone please tell me what variety that hydrangea is?

(Summer in the northern hemisphere ends on September 21st, that's my understanding.)


72 Writing in bed and shed

Interior of the shed where Dylan Thomas wrote, at his home in Laugharne, 1955, via The National Library of Wales.
Interior shot of the Writing Shed at the Boathouse, Laugharne, where Dylan Thomas worked during the last few years of his too short life. Image c.1955, via The National Library of Wales.

I proceed as Dylan Thomas once told me he proceeded — it is a matter of going to one's study, or to the chair in the sun, and starting a new sheet of paper. On it you put what you've already got of a poem you are trying to write. Then you sit and stare at it, hoping that the impetus of writing out the lines that you already have will get you a few lines farther before the day is done.
Richard Wilbur, poet, The Paris Review, Winter 1977*

Writing a blog post can feel a little as Wilbur describes ... this one's taken me three days, on and off. And although allowing myself to explore every tangential thought has played its part in that - I'm beginning to map out where me and this blog, with it's consistently ruralist outlook, are headed next - there was plenty of sitting and staring too. Cogitating, my grandfather would have called it, and I figured out the following ...

... how to better manage my reading and writing time ... currently life's continuing distractions are dragging me from my books and my laptop far too often. It's looking like I'm going to miss an already extended print deadline and I am most spectacularly miffed about it. I didn't, but it went to the line!

... how to reorganise my blog to accommodate more front page links for you to follow. One con of the uncluttered look is that much of what's most worthy of your attention is hidden away. It could get a bit like a shop mid refurbishment in here for a while ... think dust sheets on the counters and lots of hammering while business continues as usual amid the chaos.

... how to reconfigure my studio to take account of my (re)upping the ante with regard to my writing. I need a comfier chair in there, of the kind you can curl up in with a book. Pre studio my equivalent of Dylan Thomas's writing shed was the study, which contains a squashy tub chair that I adore and would have appropriated already if it wasn't rather too broad in the beam to fit the allocated corner. A cheeky friend suggested I need a chaise longue to recline on - like Truman Capote, who once revealed "I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy." - but I think she's forgotten that my studio was once essentially a walk-in closet.

Writing in bed. Marcel Proust famously wrote while supine in his, only his head propped on pillows ... apparently wrist cramp was a daily hazard. And W.G. Sebald, plagued by back problems, lay prone across his, his forehead propped on an adjacent chair, the manuscript on the floor between the chair and the bed. Patricia Highsmith sat up in hers, all the better to reach the "cigarettes, ashtray, matches, mug of coffee, doughnut and accompanying saucer of sugar" she'd scatter around her**, and she'd stay there all day if sufficiently engrossed. And Edith Wharton retreated to hers in order to work minus her corset.

I wonder, where do you like to read and/or write and why? Me? Almost anywhere that doesn't make my bones ache, which of course includes my bed.

Now, the giveaways. The mister did his thing with his bush hat and (wherever they choose to read them) Landmarks and Forgotten Ways for Modern Days will shortly be posted off to Chickpea and Suzy Mae respectively, if you could email me your postal addresses please ladies.

* Back in 2010 The Paris Review - I imagine no introduction's necessary here but just in case it is that's a link to its Wikipedia entry - opened up its archive of 100s of author interviews, dating from the 1950s to the present day, all of which can now be freely browsed online. If you've never checked them out you're missing something.

** Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith by Andrew Wilson.


48 Yarn Along

Letting go of all the oughts and shoulds and even coulds of making stuff seems to have stirred up my knitting mojo. I guess I was hobbled by obligation, real and imagined, and now I'm not. Sorting through a bunch of 'in progress' knits I ruthlessly ripped back anything that no longer gave me a buzz ... and I found my Woodland shawl - raveled here - begun two summers ago and then abandoned. Slowly, very slowly, because I must still be mindful of my dicky shoulder, I'm working on it again.

And I'm reading The Fly Trap, an unconventional, meandering memoir by Swedish biologist turned entomologist, author, and literary critic, Frederik Sjöberg. A fragmentary yet compelling portrait of a hoverfly obsessive with a heightened awareness of the absurd. "Here and there, my story is about something else," he admits. "Exactly what, I don’t know." And the reader isn't always sure either, but this reader remains riveted nonetheless. "I wanted to write about limitations", Sjöberg has said. He also considers the fallacies of the modern environmental movement, "the legibility of landscape", why we collect things, René Malaise, summer, islands, and the joy of tiny wonders.

My last two blog posts were book giveaways - still running, here and here - but I only have one copy of The Fly Trap and I'm not parting with it. Tomas Tranströmer, the Swedish poet and Nobel Prize winner, who died a few months ago, said of Sjöberg's book, "I often return to The Fly Trap ... the minute observations from nature that reveal sudden insights into one's life. Sometimes I almost think that he wrote it for me." Me too, Herr Tranströmer, me too.

Joining in with Ginny.

This site uses cookies to improve performance and delivery. Learn more and/or opt out via the Cookies page.
about contact more home