Friday, 30 June 2017

forked tree, enchanted forest, tranquil thames, mst gr, neglected allotment..., powysland by tim blanchard






This tree that I pass most days, I hadn't really noticed until this week. It's partly hidden from the path but then I would have thought that it would have been even more striking in the bare winter and early spring.

Head full of too many other things, obviously.

It's a tall, many-stemmed tree, perched on its forked trunk - and there's a savage face at the base of them.

Altogether, a sinuous, almost writhing, web-footed - so-many-things-contained-in-it - being.

A little further on, there was a melting toadstool.























Quite the enchanted forest, really!

Only when I got to the tranquillity of the Thames beyond the station did things calm down.



A busy week? Goes without saying. The MSt Guided Retreat this weekend, so there's been lots of reading to do - on the bus and in the evenings. Rewarding reading, though. I'm looking forward to seeing the students for the last time and to listening to the end-of-course showcase readings they all give on Monday night.

The allotment has been a touch neglected, though.

Meanwhile, I was sent a link earlier in the week to a page on the website of Unbound, the excellent crowd-funding publisher, for a book on the wonderful, extraordinary John Cowper Powys. It's title is, Powysland: The Greatest Writer You've Never Heard Of, And What We Can Learn From Him and it's by member of the Powys Society, Tim Blanchard. Worth checking out. Worth sponsoring, if you have the spare cash!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

time!, heat wave, cooler now, courgettes and pumpkins, blackcurrants







Another busy week. Where does the time go!

Not helped by the heat wave. It was lovely to be out in the sun but sleeping at night was difficult. Cooler now, though.

Planted most of the rest of the courgettes and pumpkins today. They have been growing in the cold frame at home up to now.

Blackcurrants almost ready to pick.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

hot, library, end of term and beginning of the long vac, gr, summer school, geese












Blisteringly hot today - at least in the afternoon. The morning walk - I was working at the library today - was bearable.

The Enquiry Room was itself fine this morning. We congratulated ourselves on how cool it was. But after lunch things warmed up and when I walked to the bus stop after work, the heat was unmerciful.

So pleased to be home.

The end of Trinity Eighth Week at Oxford. The end of term and the beginning of the Long Vac. Yet Oxford never sleeps, especially at the Department for Continuing Education, where things are just beginning to hot up. The master's Graduate Retreat. The Summer School at Exeter College. A pleasure both.

Many geese on the Thames by Bossom's Boatyard.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

the open gate

[edited version]

I pass an open gate,
An unaccustomed window in high fencing.
Two men, mug in hand,
Look up the bank at
Heaps of earth, a barrow,
Spades.

One, the boss,
Downs his drink,
Nods and says,
No use standing around.

How often did I see men
Do similar in my childhood?
See my dad, or Doug
The builder.
Or Reuben or Norman
On the farm.

I see the same elsewhere in Oxford,
In Bampton. We've seen it
On holiday, even when we've not
Known the language.
A universal moment
On a summer morning.

Timeless, trivially-essentially
Human.

Monday, 12 June 2017

swans, brandy bottles









The swan family amongst the brandy bottle lilies this morning.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

busy, conted talk, runners and strawberries, the wonderful peony























Busy weeks - last and next.

Yesterday I gave a talk about copyright to tutors at the Department for Continuing Education. A fascinating but complex subject.

The last runner bean seeds sown this morning. The first strawberries picked yesterday when I returned from Oxford.

The peony is in flower! A wonderful occurrence each year. It survived the high winds and heavy rains. This one is in a vase beside our bed.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

round and about magazine's article on sb sweeney's facing the strange














There's a great article on SB Sweeney's Facing the Strange in the June edition of Round & About Magazine by Liz Nicholls.

Here's a flavour:

'SB Sweeney's novel is a rollicking joy ride from start to finish. It's hard to believe, in fact that this is a debut novel, so adept is he at conveying the brutal beauty of life's searing highs... crashing lows... and life in between... It is both heart-breaking and life-affirming.'

To find out more about the novel, visit the StreetBooks website.

writers in oxford young writers competition















Calling all young Oxfordshire Writers! You have till the end of August to enter the Writers in Oxford Young Writers Competition.

I'm delighted to be one of the judges.

You can find out full details on the competition page of the WiO website. Please pass these on.

For now, here's the intro to the comp:

'Writers in Oxford is using its 25th anniversary to attract and engage with a younger audience, in a writing competition for Young Oxfordshire Writers aged 18-30. £1000 will be given away in cash prizes, and 25 entrants will receive a two-year honorary membership of WiO.

'What are the judges looking for? “Writing which the judges find the most memorable in terms of its structure, resonance, and power of language. Quite simply, we want impact, whether you are stirring, lyrical, polemical; whether you lure us into a gripping tale or stop us in our tracks with the passionate cogency of your argument.”

'Philip Pullman, an early WiO member who worked as a lecturer 25 years ago, has agreed to be Honorary Chair of the judging panel.'

fallen oak, brandy bottles, signets, wio comp, facing the strange article


















Very sad that one of the two evergreen oaks near the Grebe Pool (see post of  Saturday 27 May 2017) has fallen. These trees - also known as holm oaks or holly oaks - gave much hope in the depths of winter, being always in leaf.

On a happier note, the brandy bottle lilies are now in flower in the Grebe Pool stream and the swans have signets!

Two further posts coming up: one about the Writers in Oxford Young Oxfordshire Writers Competition, for which I'm one of the judges; the other about an excellent piece on Facing the Strange in the June Round & About Magazine.