Other People’s Photographs

He shared a photograph of the morning, breaking over the city, the buildings still night-lit, only the hint of a dawn. She shared some pictures of a walk in a fields in the mist, then the sun breaking golden, through. They don't normally share photographs, either of them, but they were good, really good. I was teeny bit jealous. These were the kind of pictures I was supposed to take! I was (I am glad to say!) a larger part glad, and hopeful that perhaps my own practice had played some Read more [...]

Turning Times

I love the turning times of year, the spring, and the autumn. When the autumn arrives I find myself declaring, like my seven year old self: Autumn is my favourite season! (Just as I do in the spring.) I love the way the autumn holds something of the summer gone, while telling us of the winter coming. It seems to juggle between them, back and forth, not one or the other, yet both. Perhaps all time is like this really, and it's just that we notice it at some times more than others. Sometimes Read more [...]

This Day, Today

It is the 16th October, a soft, rainy, autumnal day. It is the day of your birthday. At the graveyard, two council workers carefully pile up barrow loads of leaves, tumbling from the trees all around, falling on this day. It's five years ago, your last birthday before you could no longer live at home, and we're still sharing tea and a Victoria sponge. It is this time last year: lost in lines of remembrance and the gold soft light of a Galloway autumn day. It's New Year's Eve, Read more [...]

The Value of Practice

I've been enjoying a bit of a break: less writing, less sharing, less blogging. Breaks can be good - they refresh you - but if you leave it too long, that way of being becomes the norm. Time drifts by, and it seems harder to get a hold of the mood of the season again, and it's nearly gone before you had the chance to tell it. The autumn is pressing on, and reminding me, as if I needed reminding - but it seems that I did - of the value of practice. Practice means letting things be Read more [...]

Islands at the Edge

When you holiday in the edge places of Scotland and Ireland, you have to take pot luck with the weather. Sometimes you draw a short straw and get a week of rain. Sometimes you're plagued by wind. Sometimes the mist comes down. Mainly it's mixed of course, and you just learn to take what comes. Sometimes you get lucky, and are blessed with days of sun. My last trip was one of those times. Day after day: clear skies, sunshine, turquoise water, bleached white beaches, and not a soul in sight. To Read more [...]

The Passage of Time

The boat back to the mainlaind from Barra takes seven hours. It's five hours on the way out, but the return journey stops at another island, and adds another two hours. And seven hours at the end of a holiday is a strange, long period of time. Some of the time you spend, of course, asleep. (The boat leaves at 6.30am, it's hard not to.) Some of the time you eat, or drink tea. Some of the time you read, and doze, and read some more. Some of the time you look out to sea. For long stretches Read more [...]


Poetry helps us to remember. To remember what matters beyond our normal, everyday preoccupations. To remember who, in essence, we are. I have been re-reading some poems recently, and learning to engage with them differently. I've been learning about memory, and using memory palaces as a way of remembering vocabulary (I'm studying Gaelic) and from there, got to suggestions about ways to memorise poetry. Of course, there's a deep connection between poetry and memory, with many of the epic Read more [...]

Looking East

One of the best things about living in the centre is that it's easier to go in different directions. (It sounds obvious, but if you've ever been stuck behind a range of hills somewhere... you'll know what I mean.) That includes the chance to head east: not my natural, soul direction, but the quickest way to get to the sea, and blow cobwebs away by the coast. This weekend, we were meandering in the East Neuk of Fife. Looking out over the rooftops at St Monans, I couldn't help but wonder Read more [...]

Up, Down and Around

For some people, life seems to go in straight lines. For those of us - seekers, artists, thinkers, fools - who prefer to walk a bit closer to the edge, straight lines are rare. Swoops and spirals, circles and loops are rather more likely. Sometimes those swirls and swoops are glorious. Sometimes the patterns are harder to fathom (not least if you try and compare them with the fixedness of straight lines). Sometimes it can feel like you're going backwards, or staring yet again uphill Read more [...]

The Look of Nothing to See

Moving to a new place means you also need to find new places to walk. Sometimes that process of exploration leads to discovery and delight, but of course, things being the way that they are, sometimes it doesn't. I was walking the other day by the Union Canal. I'd been there a few days previously and had found a lovely leafy place to walk, green and refreshing, with the curves that some canals offer (but other stretches don't). I was curious though to see what happened if I walked the other Read more [...]