Saturday, 14 October 2017

warm, putting the allotment to bed, beetroots, christmas soup?, nicely-paced weekend























Extraordinarily warm day for mid-October. Shirt sleeves on the allotment and certainly no log fire at home.

Took down the runner and French bean wigwams, grubbed up some of the courgette and cucumber plants and dug over their ground and where the spuds had been.

There may be few more courgettes to come but mostly that's the end of the summer veg. Just some beetroots - hopefully they will last till Christmas Day and out traditional soup - and various chards (Swiss, rainbow and self-set).

A nicely-paced weekend compared with the last one - which was spent reading finals papers.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

the dawn allotment























The air is thick with vapour and the lingering night.

I park my bike against the wire fence,
avoiding the pointed knots that have caught the saddle before now.

The shed roof looks safe from this side but
the covering on the far pitch has flapped over in one place
and worn bare in others.
At least it's not any worse, despite the winds.
I have a roll encrusted with sea-green grit in the sturdier shed at home
and will felt in a week or so's time
when the grubbing up and the digging are done.

I fit the battery to the strimmer and for a quarter of an hour
scythe to right and left along the paths.
An electric Poldark in scuffed jacket
and misted safety goggles.

Thank goodness for the lingering night.

--

The leaves of the cues and the Italian courgettes are brown-mottled,
though there are small fruits still -
lemon and wax-green, acid with ridges, smooth striped.
The beans are desiccated wigwams with no runners and just a few French.

Fine rain drifts across and I almost decide not to dig.
But there is a pause and I fetch the spade and
cut along the edges of where the potatoes were, in preparation.
More drifts. Another pause.
I start.
I turn over a couple of yards,
Uncovering missed spuds, slicing some.
Until St Mary's tolls eight.

I set the petering-out autumn harvest on the grass.

Click. I take a photograph and wonder what I'll write.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

the byeways of carterton























Bus home, early again.

So, another saunter down the byeways of Carterton.

Quite a chilly evening.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

spud harvest, desiree wins, early autumn, oxford rush of energy























Harvested our spuds this morning.

Once again, Desiree was the most successful variety. It must suit the claggy Oxford clay.

Difficult to find a moment when the earth was dry enough. Autumn seems to have come early this year.

Oxford term about to start and the MSt residence is this weekend. As always, the University is suddenly alive with a rush of energy after the long stretch of summer.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

early autumn views, elmet by fiona mozley, sequentiality is key!, p.s., thanks, ml!









Excellent walk on the Barrington Park Estate. Lovely early autumn views.

Very much enjoying Elmet by Man Booker shortlisted Fiona Mozley. She tells a great tale. From a creative writing point of view, one of the brilliant - and deceptively simple - things she does is, as it were, just to put one foot in front of the other, taking us to the other side without ever looking down. Sequentiality in fiction is key!

P.S. A friend - and Oxford Creative Writing graduate - picked me up on 'sequentiality', saying that some tutors and writers would disagree about its importance because it leads to predictability. Which is fair enough and I obviously didn't explain myself well. I meant sequentiality at scene and paragraph levels not that of plot. The kind of sequentiality that constantly takes the reader onwards, creating a strong, page-turning momentum. In Elmet this is done in a way that seems incredibly simple and yet the power of the 'everyday' observations drives you forward inexorably. Thanks, ML!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

walking, somerset, fb wishes





Loved walking in Somerset.

Thanks to Facebook friends for birthday wishes!

Monday, 18 September 2017

lichen, downpour, fire in the grate, poldark























A muted-colour day.

Topped by an outrageous - and completely unforecast (if the internet weather was to be believed) - downpour!

A fire in the grate. It's not exactly cold but the dark, dank night demands it.

Poldark, Series 2, Episode 6 on DVD.