Tuesday, 13 May 2014


lists and more lists!
Heading north for 4 weeks on the road with a mixture of school workshops in the Highlands, writing time on Orkney and catching up with friends and family in between.

Getting ready 4 weeks of workshops call for some hefty packing however, trying to anticipate what might be needed and how much white card, how much black, any coloured card at all, or just be mean? How many workshops indoors, how many out? If we're outside can we use this card, or heavier, or let's just pick up sticks and lie furiously!

sort of ready for the journey!
En route to first workshops in Linlithgow (photos from that will follow), I stopped off at The Kelpies in the Helix Park in Falkirk. A monument by Andy Scott to the value of the heavy horses of the lost industries of the area, these statues are stunning. They tower, literally tower, over everything, especially when you walk right up to them and just stand there, open-mouthed, gazing up, muttering Kelpie-prayers and remembering (for me at least) not the heavy horses of the land but the ancient spirits who have haunted so many Scottish rivers and only brought  their "strength of ten" to the aid of humans when tricked and bound by silver-enchanted bridles or similar...
"Sair back and sair banes,
Frae carryin' the Laird o' Morphie's stanes
The Laird o' Morphie canna thrive
Sae lang as the Kelpie is alive"
Traditional : the Kelpie's Curse

Jim Carruth's words are used to evoke the legacy of the horses of central Scotland

Echo the great beasts that work among us
unbridled in this kingdom between canal and firth
here to harness the river
and carry each weary traveller
Bow down your strong heads to taste the water
Stretch up your long necks to face the sun
Jim Carruth (in front of The Kelpies statues)

And I am always inspired by Kelpies: their cold, dark pools and the rushing waters and the horse-Kelpie or the man-Kelpie on the riverbank enchants me!

Peat brown, tea brown
Staining mugs,
Tanning skin.
Glowing golden, rushing,
Brown with life, spilling out of the moors
Off the purple-heathered muir-burn hills.

Rushes spiked and quivering,
Moss swallowing wood and stone,
And the body that sinks in the peat-bog wallow.

Feel the cold,
Pickled branches, pickled bones,
Drowned twig fingers
To comb the weeds from my hair,
The dream of the Kelpie in a dark pool.
from my book of poems Old Stone and ancient bones 
(what do you mean, you haven't bought a copy yet?)

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