Thursday, 27 September 2012

A day for Apples and Orchard Richnesses

wildlife watching.....
Sunday 7th october, 11.00 -15.30
celebrate autumn's richness with orchard investigations, apple recipes and fruit-creature-puppets stories and laughter

Sunset in the Upper Dove Valley 
The last of our Exploring with Stories public events for now, Apple Day is a celebration that has become well established in the alst few years after an initial launch by Common Ground

This event offers a chance to look at orchards, to think and find out more about your own fruit trees, to taste apples and autumn recipes, to listen to some tree, wood and wildness stories and generally be creative

Where: Dove Valley Centre, Under Whitle, nr Longnor, SK17 0PR
Time: 11am - 3.30pm
The event is FREE 

telling stories at the Dove Valley Centre 

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Leaving Orkney

Left overs?
welcome to the darkness of Wideford Hill

(notes from the Tomb of the Eagles and scrabbling about in the mud of Wideford Hill Cairn)

To be chosen to lie
In bone on stone
For generations,
Was that the honour,
A privileged obligation?
To wait down the centuries
Bound in stone,
Questioned, petitioned,
Left behind until,
I arrive with a metal light
And listen for your whisper in
The broken dark

Or did a freedom in death
Wait for the flaying
By eagles,
A used skull picked clean
And tumbled off the cliff edge,
Into the sea
And a freedom of soul along the wind,
On the wave,
A chance to turn and run again
In fur, in feather, in family skin?
step out of the Cairn and into a wider landscape

Leaving Orkney
How to write this horizon
That sweeps from blue and shining white clouds
Into rain drifting over 
A bleak shuttered house on 
A bleak stone-walled headland and 
Then out into light again, 
Sunlight reflecting grey and silver on a rippling sea and 
Back into distant rain, 
Shifting curtains beyond those quicksilver waves.
Standing on the sighing deck
Watching our wake curve across the waves
And fade.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Tomb of the Eagles

approaching the Tomb

look out, away, beyond
a very modern entry with trolley for pulling
along the entrance tunnel!

Gulls scream in the brightness
Beyond the stacked stones,
And here,
It is no longer dark,
Three shafts in a concrete cap
But under the stones,
In the corners and the cavities,
The silence remains, until
One breathing fills the space
With sound
Where five thousand years slept quiet.

leave quietly, noticing the small things

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Islands of Joy

sunrise at the Ring of Brodgar

Slip into stillness
Beside a tall stone
Bristled and bearded with lichen

Listen to the voices that 
Whisper along the wind,
Through the grass,
Out of the old stone itself
Ring of Brodgar

Power of the raven,
Power of the rain on the hills,
Power of the wind over the moor,
Power of the hare in the grass be thine.

Grace of the clover,
Grace of the geese in the loch,
Grace of the gunmetal grey clouds,
Grace of the white clouds that catch the light
Be thine

Stillness of the wave on the shore,
Stillness of stone in the Ring,
Stillness of sunrise behind the hills,
Stillness of long sleep in the hollow hills
Be thine
Strength of the gull’s freedom
Strength of the bull’s endurance,
Strength of the rooks’ gathering
Strength of the crab’s stealth, be thine

May no day be grievous to thee,
May each day be joyous to thee,
May love of each face be thine
May death on pillow be thine,
Honour and compassion.

Turn again into the wind and the rain
And walk dancing to the century that waits with the car park

(The Blessing form is old, coming from Gaelic prayers recorded by Alexander Carmichael. It may not be Orcadian but those are the words that came spinning out of wind, stone and the watchful hare in the field!)

Monday, 17 September 2012


Gannets in tight formation
Cutting lines across the waves
Precise as knives

The Gloup, sea cave

light at the end of the darkness!
Beauty and wonder in a monster haunt!
Stone slabs with drystone care.
From Neolithic village to Pictish Broch
To modern pebble dashed Croft, 
Resource and response
Remain the same.
The wind still blows
The sea still rushes the shore.
The sunset still glows across the clouds and burns the world into light


The Broch of Gurness
which path? whose footprints?

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Voice of the River Spey

purple evening on
the Findhorn dunes, 1

The Voice of the River Spey
I am the River,
Running, rushing
Over rapids and rocks,
Past roaches and rats
Rippling to rockpools

Thanks to Auldearn Primary School

building stories.....

There is something quite special about staying in town infected with tartan.My B&B has tartan carpets that anticipate a certain degree of something in a place. Fortunately, here tartan presages a relaxed atmosphere and a cheerful Scottische alongside the mantel-dogs and lightbulbs that die at awkward times. The Tartan restaurant notched things up a bit with tartan menus, placemats and bills as well as carpets an curtains. I almost dreaded what might become of icing on a cake or if the virgin expanse of a cheesecake would be resisted....

Overheard in another restaurant, the previous night

Elderly Lady diner, “I feel silly sitting on this big table by myself”
Burly middle-aged, male waiter, “That’s awright, hen. You sit where ye want.”
“If a group comes in, just ask and I’ll move”
“Och, it’s awright, we’ll just sit 'em down round ye”

I love this land

purple evening on the Findhorn dunes, 2

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Mountains, sunsets and stories

 A week of telling stories, hearing stories and discovering that there are monsters under the floorboards of one classroom while another class went on a school trip and didn't bother to come home again (they sent postcards), and that the long tussocks of grass are really the hair of the grumpy Grass Goblins with noses like lumps of mud, eyes like pebbles and ears like curved bits of stone
shaping stories

Day upon day, I am caught
By the sudden beauty of of sunsets
That glow across the clouds and throw
 The mountain horizons into glory

no sunset photos but Elgin Cathedral is magnificent!
Walking among old stones, feeling the skeletons of buildings, the skeletons of people, the bare bones of words whispered down through a thousand years...

gates, doors, openings....
and on the beach at Nairn, we sailed
driftwood boats in a sand-eel lagoon