Saturday, December 9, 2023

eek!, first post since late summer, apples, pears, diploma, portugal, kellogg centre, jane draycott, malachi mcintosh, analog days, go with the flow


Eek! The time has whizzed past!

The late summer, the early autumn - with days spent on the allotment and a reviving trip to Wiltshire, Michaelmas Term, all happened since I last posted.

There were the two Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing teaching Saturdays - loved meeting the students. Not to mention a trip to Portugal to stay with dearest friends (see photos, above, which include Viseu cathedral, a gigantic beam that works a wine press and a ruined mansion in Santar) - fantastic, as always! 

There were two Kellogg Centre for Creative Writing seminars, which I hosted - wonderful to meet both Jane Draycott and Malachi McIntosh!

There have been harvests of winter salads, which have continued after the sharp frosts, and carrots, beetroot, turnips and daikon radishes. Plus the odd late gladioli and supplies of marigolds and nasturtiums (latter to float in glasses of white wine).

The apples and pears kept us going for almost three months.

Happy times. And soon, Christmas and New Year!

Don't know why I've not posted, though I'm pleased now to go with the flow. Once - days - blogging at least once a week (sometimes way more times) was essential to identity and mental health. But now, thankfully, there is time for things like reading (paperbacks these days rather than ebooks) and keeping a writer's notebook (in pencil rather than on screen). Changing times. Go with the flow!

Saturday, August 19, 2023

photo catch-up, trust rewrite finished, focused, fiction!, view from my desk, oxford writer

Posting some catch-up photos from the past 6 weeks.

A pyramid orchid on the verge of the A420 near the stop where I get the bus to work. Swallows nesting in a church porch. Gorgeous wayfaring tree berries beside a green lane. Reflections of old glass on a cottage's wood panelling.

Meanwhile, I've now finished the rewriting of Trust: A family story that I began after attending that Oxford Centre for Life-Writing one-day conference back in January. Was also taking into account comments made by a dear friend.

The result is a shorter, much more focused and, I hope compelling, read.

How many times have I said I've finished Trust? More than I can remember. But this time... And apart from anything else I want to start writing fiction again.

Really thrilled that the View from my Desk piece that I wrote for the Oxford Writer was published this week. One of the things I said was that I don't really have a desk. Most of what I write is tapped into my phone on the S6 bus - as all the Trust rewrites were this spring and summer!

Sunday, August 6, 2023

time, why?, change, eyes, casts of light, thanks!, fallen oak bough

Not sure why quite so much time has passed since I last posted.

True, the end of the university term was busy and there was a lot to do on the allotment. There was getting things sorted before going on holiday. Also before an eye op about 10 days ago - the counterpart to the one I had last summer.

But there was time to do other things, including posting. And I intended to, just didn't get round to it.

Not sure what the problem was.

Though the last couple of months have been ones of change and rethinking. Perhaps that was it.

Am I transformed? No but definitely different, I think. Looking at the world afresh.

Literally in the case of the eyes. Casts of light seen for the first time in ages that take me straight back to an experience long ago and its associated feelings.

Thanks to M.C., my surgeon.

The picture, above? The bough of an oak, fallen but still close up against the tree, in a hedge by a cornfield several weeks ago. I was walking our dog along Hayway Lane when we heard it go. I wondered if I'd see the fallen branch later, and I did.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Thursday, May 25, 2023

through the gate, beneath the pylon, escape, kellogg college creative writing competition - loved every minute, blue plaque for iris murdoch!

There is a little path, off to the left as I walk in to work, these days, which takes me through a metal gate, beneath a huge electricity pylon, into a field of buttercups.

I turn right and I'm only in the field for five minutes - if that - before I leave and pick up the cycle track to Osney Island.

But those few minutes, so unpromising, passing under the pylon, are an escape - a refreshment that sets the day right.


A week ago, I attended the Kellogg College Creative Writing competition: the readings, the announcement of the winner and runners up, and the guest night dinner. Wonderful evening! And it was a great honour to be one of the judges and to introduce the readings. Loved every minute!


Updated, Sat 27 May

So excited to read about the unveiling of the blue plaque for Iris Murdoch, which took place at 30 Charlbury Road yesterday! Part of a double celebration, with a plaque for Philippa Foot being unveiled later in the day, at 15 Walton Street!

Sunday, May 14, 2023

allium posy, dearest friends, allotmenting, strategic year, uncertain hope of apples, busy trinity weeks, kellogg college creative writing competition!


J's posy for the bedside table of dearest friends staying with us last Friday. Allium flowers and leaves from a plant whose name I couldn't pronounce, let alone remember.

Have at least been able to make some modest progress on the allotment this weekend. Cutting giant leaves of grass and digging, in preparation for construction of raised beds in the summer. A strategic year, this one, with not much grown, although J has planted out broad beans and I have been harvesting asparagus.

Apple blossom was abundant a few weeks ago but there were keen frosts and we live in uncertain hope of some fruits. It's so difficult to tell what the damage was at this stage.

Middle weeks of Trinity term, which mean loads of work.

Looking forward to Thursday's guest night dinner at Kellogg and the announcement of the winner and runners up in the college creative writing competition!