A week on the Scottish Coast. Each day filled with sea air, beach combing and woodland walks. We were lucky enough to find some plant fossils in the shale rocks.
Much needed time for writing and creativity after a busy couple of months. Looking forward to delivering more nature based creative writing courses over the next few weeks including a nature writing poetry master class and a woodland inspired four week writing course which I am planning for June / July.
I always love returning to the home comforts of Base Camp and my gorgeous cats! I think they enjoyed having the house to themselves for a week, although we have been getting lots of cuddles .
‘For when the sea is calm [says Camden], the waters at Skengrave being spread as it were into a plain, a hideous groaning is often heard in these parts, on a sudden, and then the fishermen are afraid of the sea. They believe the ocean to be a huge monster which is then hungry and eager to glut itself with the bodies of men.’
Folklore attached to Skinningrove – taken from The Iron Coast by Jane Gardam
Bright skies greeted us driving over the North York Moors to go to the coast today. I met with my best friend on the beach at Skinningrove. A little known place with a huge stretch of sand. Steeped in history Skinningrove is a Viking name – which meant Skinners grove or pit.
At one time Skinningrove was home to a large iron works which opened in 1848. Today you can find remnants of the iron industry along the coast line.
I love the raw beauty of this coastline. The Cleveland Way coastal path runs through Skinningrove which is situated between Saltburn and Staithes, the cliffs above Skinningrove are breathtaking and pass by abandoned Alum Works where huge pits of land have been carved from the cliff. Now filled with bracken and heather they are both eery and beautiful at the same time.
I would take this coastline over any other, any day. For anyone interested in the North East Coast I highly recommend The Iron Coast by Jane Gardam which captures the visceral essence and history of the area, illustrated with black and white photographs taken by Peter Burton and Harland Waltham.
I can not encourage you enough to visit the gorgeous Dyls Cafe in York. Saturated in beautiful colours and a range of art work and graphics it’s a visual feast.
Based in a small tower that held the motor for moving Skeldergate Bridge in York, the cafe now has a fairy tale quality. Plants trail from windows, you follow a tight winding staircase to each floor, the top floor is a tiny round room at the top of the tower, it feels like you have been transported to another time.
I love the quirky style and humour of the decor. It’s a little adventure just spending time soaking up the atmosphere. I don’t get to go that often, but I have to say it’s my favourite cafe in York based on the interior and setting – great coffee and food too!!
We welcomed the New Year with a walk along Hunmanby Gap beach today. A few brave folks were having a New Year’s day dip in the Sea. Strolling along the sand, listening to the waves rolling in and feeling the wind on my face was enough for me.
I would love to claim credit for making pebble pictures of 2022 and a spiral, but we found these along our walk. Today’s adventure was a treat for our Dachshund who doesn’t care for walking much, but does adore the beach. It’s so cute to see her giddy with excitement on the sand.
I was thinking about New Years Resolutions as we walked. Mine this year is to keep on keeping on. Writing is a lengthy process, it’s too easy to give up. I’m going to press on with writing daily and forging ahead with my PhD. The process is as important as the end product. Over the last 7 years I have gradually phased more art and creative writing into my life, I’m looking forward to devoting more time and attention to writing and creativity during 2022.
In indigenous cultures nature is full of meaning and symbolism. We can learn from this and follow our own intuition using nature as a guide. Using nature for reflection is a useful tool.
Recently on my allotment we found a very docile grasshopper. We were able to get close up and inspect him / her and the wonderful markings.
As is usual for me, I became intrigued with grasshoppers and crickets (and the differences between them) if you want to know more follow this link. It certainly gave me plenty of inspiration for my field notes.
Whilst researching I also came across a fun page on animal totems and spiritual connections. Apparently if you encounter a cricket you can expect good fortune and you should decide whether to take a leap of faith. It is also representative of finding your true voice.
Having spent some wonderful days delving into books, writing poetry and working on prose for my PhD recently, I will take this as a sign that I am on the right track!
I completed my second set of courses for the Field Studies Council this evening. I’ve hugely enjoyed creating the courses and teaching. Visiting the allotment was the perfect wind down after a lovely online session.
The pond is teaming with tiny frogs, everything is lush and full of life.
Linden blossom and honey suckle scent marked our path. Roses trailed over the plot borders.
I think I will sleep well tonight 🙂
I’m looking forward to running the two courses again in the Autumn term. If you are interested in joining, you can find more out about them here:
Both courses are run virtually. Students download and complete course tasks which are followed up by a 40 minute zoom at the end of each week. They will be running again during September and October 2021.
Last week I was late getting around to writing, mainly because I wasn’t feeling well. On Saturday morning I was in agony and struggling to stand up straight due to a bad back. I emailed the GP asking for an urgent review and then I went for a walk to loosen things up, when I came home I decided to lay down on the sofa to rest and something literally slid / clicked / slotted (I’m not sure which) back into place and I’ve been so much better since. Phew!
Feeling much better we spent most of the weekend at our allotment, taking a complete break from home and a change of scenery was so welcome. I even managed to finish a book and our faces, my heart, brief as photos by John Berger. This book was so evocative, thoughtful and dream like, it was exactly the inspiration I needed to get going again.
Yesterday evening I sat down with my research and began placing together fragments of a story that is emerging from lots of trial writing. I finally feel like it is starting to form a shape and coming together. I’m hoping to get my little shed back in order at the plot so that I can make myself a little writing space free from other distractions and somewhere that feels different to working from home where I am too tempted to answer emails and my phone.
Else where last week when I was able to get outdoors I loved seeing the new blossom, snails crowded into the split of a tree and fungus growing like flaking paper from a log.
Goals for this week:
Wednesday – Tutorial check in.
Four hours PhD research / reading time.
Writing, writing and more writing….
I hope that you had a good week too. Here’s to more writing…. and less lazing about like Stripes who is a total goof ball.