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This is not exactly what I said to Wonderful Builder at 8.15 am this morning, but it is what the world feels like today. Another full inbox or two, a playroom which is impassable, cold and snow (they say) approaching. January throttling me.

Happy New Year, by the way.

Before I get really carried away, a breather: we enjoyed a sparkling and joyful Christmas with family and FOUR fluffy white cats meeting for the first time. Glad to report that after half a day of hissing and deliberate nonchalance, all are fast friends now. Sound familiar?!

Then four days back in the Lakes, where we shot up to Stickle Tarn like bats out of hell on the only good day for it. This time I did get a couple of pictures.

Yes, back too soon…I’ll hold onto these as long as I can though.

On the Way to Stickle Tarn

And hooray! Thrilled to discover over the weekend that one of my pieces has been chosen for publication in Your Messages. As some of you may remember (or maybe not…), the blast of doing it was long-lasting. When I was in the Lakes in late November, I felt quite bereft of the whole project, having wanted to do at least one a week to keep my hand in….Alas, to venture to Hawkshead and try to find a computer would have been breaking my pact with the Land of Long-hand. So I didn’t.

However. It’s turned out more than all right in the end. The launch for Your Messages goes like this:

Messages coverDate: Thursday 31 January 2008

Time: tbc

Venue: The Poetry Cafe, Betterton Street, London WC1

I’ll be reading, along with maybe 20 others! Sounds fabulous. I’m very honoured. Thank you to Lynne Rees and Sarah Salway for thinking of it, and for running such a tight ship. A wonderful, enriching and utterly sound idea which created a strong community, and will produce a fine artefact. Not to mention make some good money for a more than fine charity. Hats off to you, ladies!

Yikes! I’m grateful (often) for the lack of paper in my life, but not (often) for the stacks of unopened, emboldened messages in my inbox. Sigh. I am grateful too (very often) for the rich tapestry of my many-threaded life, but not (usually) for the multi-tasking it demands of me.

However. Small potatoes compared to the fruitful, thoughtful week away: plans, writing, pin-drop silence. As predicted, lots and lots of fog, rain and general greyness — hence no lovely photos. And all of our photos from previous years seem to be buried in the bowels of the other computer. Oh dear. But here’s a taste, a photo that at least captures some of how the gorgeous Lake District looks this time of year (photo by Glen Morris):


conistonwaterlakelandcamweb.jpgI ventured out twice in a week (except for village walks). The second time I went to Brantwood (Ruskin’s home, and a wonderful rainy day visit, great to go back after several years), and Jumping Jenny’s, the cafe there (visited, I admit, many times a year! Delicious well-made food, and beautiful views). Despite the persistant and breathtaking-in-itself rain, Coniston Water was as complex and edifying as ever (this shot is taken from The Cumbrian Directory ). The roads were lined with fallen beech leaves that when wet darkened to pure russet.

By 3.30 pm it was nearly dark, but each day just before real darkness fell, 15 minutes of gold suffused everything — even through the clouds and fog. I stepped out the door more than once just to look, thinking there must be sun. But there wasn’t. Like when you’re walking down the street before people draw their curtains: inside you see warm sidelights, home. Only it’s outside, and 15 minutes later someone somewhere realises it’s nighttime, lowers the blinds.


From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning


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Who am I?

A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.