Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Sunday, November 21, 2021

loved meeting the students, teaching, life's difficulties, anchors, the centrality of home, what next?, time, autumn turning to winter, planning

Loved meeting the diploma students yesterday for our second long fiction seminar.

I first taught this course in 2007 and I still find it a pleasure.

It was the first creative writing course I taught. A lot of time has passed since then and I've worked with so many students over the years, both face to face and online.

My life has been difficult in respect of my parents' bankruptcy, their deaths and trying to make sense of their strange lives. All the time, love and money they squandered. While I've come a long way with my understanding, there are inevitably aspects I will never comprehend.

But it has been anchoring to have work, and lots of it, not to mention wonderful colleagues.

And at the heart of everything, home, in West Oxfordshire.

Having completed Trust: A family story - the account of what happened to my family between the 1970s and the recent past - I have started to think what next?

I tried to write fiction in the aftermath of the bankruptcy but there was no room for the sustained creativity needed then. Although I could do managerial tasks and teach, it was as if the well of my imagination was exhausted by constantly working through what had happened - and coming to terms with it.

Time certainly heals but takes time.

As the leaves turn and are blown off the trees, in the time of log fires and country walks and cycle rides, I am trying to plan for the future of my writing.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

last of the season's apples - a charles ross, shed repairs, vision of a shed blown away, plans for 2022, the scourge of work-work


Harvested the last of our apples today. A Charles Ross. Still firm and delicious, despite some frosts a week or so ago.

Repaired the allotment shed roof this morning, after having patched some of the boarding along the sides last weekend and having replaced part of the front and secured the door frame in September. It will make it through the winter, hopefully, although, as the list of tasks done indicates, it's beginning to fall apart. After twenty years. It was bought second-hand and put up by a kind neighbour.

It is anchored by two fencing posts driven deep into the ground either side. I sometimes expect to find these clutching ragged slips of shed and the rest scattered over the plots after high winds.

A new shed and raised beds are planned for 2022.

The trouble is making time to do these things, when there is always so much work-work to do...

Sunday, October 31, 2021

brisk walk, city green lane, black-headed gulls, potato harvest, last of the apples, sadness


A brisk walk across the Parks one lunchtime last week and round the footpaths that link the rainbow bridge and the meadows towards Marston.

As I mentioned before, it's hard to believe that sights such as the green lane in the photo above are part of the city, a good deal of which is still rural.

Returning, I saw a flock of black-headed gulls on the pond in the Parks - winter plumage, white head and black spot behind the eye.

Last weekend I lifted the spuds on the allotment. Not quite the good harvest I expected but it will last into the new year. Stupidly, though, I forgot that I had planted a row of Estima and a row of Nadine next to each other. The two varieties look similarish. I put both rows into the same sack...

We have eaten the last of the Cox apples, although there are still one or two Charles Ross left. It's been a great - and delicious - year for apples!

Very sad to learn of the death of a friend and former colleague - a year younger than me. Too young. Such a shock.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

break, heron, stillness, interlude, frenetic


Took a walk along the Oxford canal during my break earlier this week.

Lovely to watch this heron for a few minutes of its stillness.

A quiet interlude between the frenetic start of Michaelmas Term.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

first charles ross apples!


Picked the first apples from our Charles Ross tree.

We both had half of each - one was somewhat soft but the other was crunchy with a subtle sweetness.

The apples were both small and there are half-a-dozen or more left. Next year the fruit should be bigger.

It's been lovely to have apples from all five trees this year.

Coxes still going strong. They are amazingly delicious. It's great taking one into work for lunchtime - a gorgeous reminder of home.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

harvests, shropshire wedding!, holidays, apples, uncertain times...


An unbelievable harvest - one of so many this summer. None of it much to do with us. We just sowed, planted and watered. The heavy old clay allotment soil, which we often malign (so much more tricky than the free-draining loam-over-gravel in the garden) did the rest!

A lovely late-summer break.

A Shropshire wedding to start it off - the apprehension of a gathering, then the sheer joy of seeing old friends and being there to celebrate!

The rest of the time, long walks with our dog, some meals out and lots of reading.

Oh, and apples. The Lord Lambournes are nearly done, the James Grieves are as giving as ever. About to start the Coxes. Later, the Blenheim Oranges and Charles Rosses.

Holding our breath, as we enter this difficult next phase of unlocking, back to normal, or whatever unsatisfactory metaphor one chooses, but at least there have been some happy days.