Meet me at St Pancras

The Meeting Place

I made one of my rare and fleeting trips to London yesterday to attend a conference. I caught the train to and from St Pancras and as I was wandering round the train station waiting for my train home I noticed the above statue from afar. The two giant, kissing figures loom over the station, even as the impressive span of the Victorian station roof looms over them.  Continue readingMeet me at St Pancras

Ways of Looking at Winter: Oxfordshire

Boys lost in the mist

Inspired by Open The Curtains‘s ArboreAlbum I decided to have a look through my archives and see if I could pull together some interesting photographs of trees. I didn’t have much luck, but I did find these old photographs from 2007. They were taken in Oxfordshire, where I was staying with family for Christmas. They’ve been hidden away and I haven’t looked at them since I took them so I was surprised by how lovely they are (if I don’t say so myself). Continue readingWays of Looking at Winter: Oxfordshire

Lowry and Kate Herbert

Kate Herbert, aged 14This is the second part of my two parter on Lowry (read the first part here). I’m fortunate in that my grandma, Kate Herbert, is a Salford born artist who knew Lowry. Kate studied at the Salford College of Art where Lowry could often be found and also had an exhibition alongside Lowry. Although I have grown up and lived in Manchester for most of my life, I don’t recognise the Manchester I know in Lowry’s paintings. I wanted to get a better understanding of the place that absorbed him for most of his life, so I decided to interview my grandma to learn more about Lowry’s Manchester and Salford. Continue readingLowry and Kate Herbert

Lowry and The Sea

Had I not known I was looking at a Lowry I probably wouldn’t have guessed it was his work. When I think of LS Lowry I think of crowds of match-stick figures and dream-like cityscapes. I certainly don’t think of blank canvases, but that is almost what The Sea is.

The painting is divided about two-fifths of the way down by a horizon line. Below this is a calm sea, its surface rippled by gentle waves and above it, an empty sky. The sea is a pale blue, with hints of yellow and green, becoming darker as it reaches towards an unseen shore. The sky mirrors this with a pale grey turning darker as it gets further from the horizon. That is it, just water and sky and nothing else; no land, no people, no birds, no boats.

Continue readingLowry and The Sea

Dear Thomas

Thomas Hardy by William Strang, 1893
Thomas Hardy by William Strang, 1893

I wanted to write you a letter to tell you how much your work means to me. When asked who my favourite author is, I always say Thomas Hardy, without hesitation. I still remember the moment it all started. I was 14 and stood in Blackwell’s in Oxford looking at the classics section. They were all marked down and my dad offered to buy me one. I spent a while deliberating and finally settled on one of your books, Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I will never know why I chose Tess, in hindsight it looks like fate, but I prefer to think I just got lucky. Continue readingDear Thomas

A Sense of Place: New England

Most days we go for our daily constitutional. It’s just a short, half hour walk up the Rail Trail to Broadmeadow and back again. It is an unseasonable winter. There has been no snow and there is no promise of snow. It is the winter that never was. On the radio the other day I caught a snippet of a man talking about mild winters: A mild winter is like going to hike a mountain only to discover there is a tram to the top and a McDonalds up there. Continue readingA Sense of Place: New England

Swifts

Swift
Image by Dave Curtis

I recently had my first article published in a proper, shiny magazine (i.e. not a solely online magazine). It was exciting seeing my name in print and I’m especially pleased that my first foray into print might help one of our most valuable birds. Continue readingSwifts

Thirlmere Reservoir

Thirlmere Reservoir
Thirlmere Reservoir

The following is an extract from my MA dissertation, read my full dissertation here: Rain, Myth and Northerness.

Starting with the maxim ‘start where you are’ and where I was being Manchester, I decided to write about rain, but as I explored my landscapes of rain – Manchester, Haworth, and Thirlmere – I realised that actually what I was exploring was the mythical aspects of these landscapes as typified by rain. By myth I mean a story that is told about a landscape that becomes a part of how that place is perceived. So, for instance, Manchester is referred to as the rainy city, which is in fact inaccurate because it’s only the 9th rainiest city in the UK. Continue readingThirlmere Reservoir

Hibernation

Hibernation

Today I thought I’d share a piece of flash fiction I wrote last week for the Cake.shortandsweet Wednesday Write-In, so not strictly creative nonfiction nature writing, but I might have to test those boundaries a lot over the coming month if I’m going to complete NaBloPoMo! I did feel as though I was channelling Alice Oswald’s poem For Many Hours there’s been an Old Couple Standing at that Window as I was writing, so that might offer a tenuous link. And there is a folk tale feel to the story.

Continue readingHibernation