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I guess I don’t get to list all the people I’m so glad to know and see — again. But I do want to express one thing: welcome back Deborah! She’s moved her site. And I for one am breathing a sigh of relief. Life without Deborah’s sparkle hardly bears thinking about.

I’m hanging onto your sparkle, Deborah….



I’ve progressed from pedometer to gym. Oh yes I have. So far (okay, two days in) I absolutely love it. I know I’m behind with this. I know it. Don’t write and tell me. But being inside my own music, cycling, or doing the dreaded chin-ups…It’s not that far off my all time favourite activity, now limited by my knees. I can deal with hard work to good music, anyway.


I am not doing any writing. Just thought I’d make that clear. I could list everything else I’ve done — a chicken without the proverbial, in truth — but the heart of the matter is pretty simple. If I don’t make space soon, there’s not going to be much reason to carry on doing much of anything.

Any five minute a day bright ideas? I need a writing personal trainer. Embarrassingly, I’ve let myself go. To rack and ruin.

Despite freezing temperatures and occasional impressive hail storms, the sun shone. And shone. We walked. And walked. And cycled. And pedalled. And played Monopoly. And Scrabble. For hours.

Pedometer: over 10,000 steps per day, even when cycling! (Tells you something about the number of hills I had to walk up rather than ride, but never mind…)

We got the Saturday Guardian and The Observer. Dig it. We read them. Mostly. E read them. Mostly. M did the activity page. Mostly.


Some eye candy. I wish I could do justice to the place. But I always have to try, try to capture some element of something.

The wood around Coniston, about which my poem, Bluebell Wood, is written. Only this is before the bluebells are out. Obviously.

The ‘Purple Walk’ above Coniston Water. The wood about which I wrote the poem ‘Bluebell Wood’ in How to Be a Dragonfly. Only it’s not quite bluebell time. Obviously.

Taken by E along the flat walk from Skelwith Bridge to Elterwater.

Another taken by E: R and M on the way back to Skelwith Bridge in sudden snow.

From the top of Silver How, near Grasmere. After a rather winding, windy and steep way up, met with fast travelling clouds and a 360 view.

The staggeringly beautiful Buttermere, revisited after several years. A long, sunny relaxed walk around with lots of stone skipping and the odd nap.

Nearing the end of the day on Buttermere. The children scratched their names on stones and propped them against tree trunks. We longed for cans of warm gin & tonic!

Having blithely promised to keep you informed about the step by step world of not-writing-but-walking — I’m mortified to admit that even taking into account the first two hours of every day when I forget to put it on, and the fact that we’ve all been a bit ill and I’ve been more sedentary than usual…I’m still APPALLINGLY under my aim of 7,000 steps per day.

How about the fact that I haven’t even done that ALTOGETHER yet (two days in)?! Oh my lord.

I had thought that counting steps would be a relief from the insular world of ‘how’s the book coming on?’. I’m a fit person, after all, I get about, am full of life and energy…– but it seems that here too I am bound to under-achieve, my ambition outstretching reality. Etc etc.


I am reminded of my grandparents’ mall-walking phase — you know, when you don sneakers and ‘walk the mall’, going around and around the perimeter for your daily exercise. Some malls even had (have?) lines to follow. Just so you know your way. Honestly. Of course you have to get in the car to go there….Oh dear. Last night, in a dark moment that went along the lines of I am rotting away, I actually tried to figure out where the nearest mall was. Seeing as it’s the palatial Bluewater, where if I went I would spend more money than could ever be justified, sanity — or lethargy — quickly took hold.

crab and winkle way

I live near the Crab & Winkle. I’m thinking about making that walk my mall. I’ve got to do something. Spring is springing. I’ve got to breathe deep. I’ve got two books to write.

First I need the right shoes though. Er..Bluewater?

My dear friend Nancy gave me this for my birthday:


I’ve only just set it up this morning. So far have done 405 steps (back upstairs after taking this photo). How did that happen?! I’m still in my dressing gown!

Other blogs may do thousands of words into writing a novel. That appealing accumulation. Of which I have precious little at the moment.

So. I’ll do steps. Okay? Today so far, 10 am: 405.


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.