What does it mean to be a successful writer?

Jealousy is not an attractive emotion. Being jealous makes you look small and petty. It makes you feel small too. But I have to admit I felt a tinge of jealousy recently when I read about Eleanor Catton winning the Man Booker Prize. At 28 she is the youngest winner ever of the prize. Perhaps because I have a birthday coming up soon (and because I can’t believe its been nearly a year since my last birthday) I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am in my life and where I’d like to be. Of course, writing has figured a lot in all this cogitating. Continue readingWhat does it mean to be a successful writer?

From Plymouth to Penryn via Google Maps

Google map

I wrote this piece for my MA in Writing, Nature and Place. It was originally published in Peninsula Magazine.

The journey from Plymouth to Penryn begins at my kitchen table. I set up my laptop, make myself a cup of tea and type Plymouth into the search bar of Google maps. I’m dropped down into the middle of the Royal Parade. I do a 360° turn, it looks to be a thoroughfare with shops on one side and a church on the other. Google Street View works by showing a yellow line along the road you are on. Arrows pointing backward and forward allow you to select the previous or next image, enabling you to “travel” along the road. I click on the arrow pointing east and set off under a grey and overcast sky. I reach a roundabout and try to navigate my way round it. It’s disorientating and I have to stop and check I haven’t missed my exit. I’m beginning to realise this journey is going to be a long and arduous process. Continue readingFrom Plymouth to Penryn via Google Maps

New paths and muddy boots, or what I bought back from the wild

2013-10-13 14.41.40It rained on Saturday. I don’t mean that there was a brief shower. I mean it was raining when I woke up and it was still raining when I went to bed. The sky was so grey and overcast that the light never seemed to get beyond pre-dawn levels. All day it felt as though the whole world was ready to go back to bed again. I tried going for a walk but quickly turned back after a car drove through a large puddle and soaked me.

On Sunday afternoon, when the rain finally stopped and the sky started to show hints of blue I quickly put on boots and a coat and headed out – grabbing my umbrella on the way, just in case. Continue readingNew paths and muddy boots, or what I bought back from the wild

National Poetry Day: water, water everywhere

Me, by the sea
Me, by the sea

I know I’m a little late, but as it was recently National Poetry Day I thought I’d dig up a few of my old poems. The theme for this year’s National Poetry Day was ‘water, water everywhere’ so I’ve picked out some poems that were inspired by the sea. Specifically, these are both poems I wrote whilst living by the sea in St Andrews. Continue readingNational Poetry Day: water, water everywhere

Art In Your Park

The University of Nottingham’s Park campus is currently playing host to the Art In Your Park exhibition, with art works dotted around the campus. This week, on a walk round the lake on campus, I came across a few of the exhibits. The exhibition is supposed to explore ‘the enduring bond between nature and culture’, but I thought it was interesting the way nature (and possible people) were interacting with the art works, with parts falling off or being blown around by the wind. It certainly added some interest to my usual lunchtime walk! Continue readingArt In Your Park

How being less afraid has made me a better writer

I want to write about my year of being less afraid and how it has helped me become a better writer, but it is hard to write about fear. It is hard because fear is so close to the bone. When you start writing about fear you also run the risk of sounding like a self-help book. But I suppose that is a line all writers have to tread. The best writing is not just written, but felt, and that brings with it the possibility of clichés. Continue readingHow being less afraid has made me a better writer

Urban nature safari in Nottingham

safari_intro-630x359The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust recently held an Urban Safari – a 7.5km guided walk around some of Nottingham’s many urban nature spots, including parks, wastelands, woods and a city farm.

It was a really enjoyable day out – it was a great opportunity to see some parts of Nottingham I probably wouldn’t have visited otherwise and to discover just how much nature there is in the city, as well as meeting some lovely people.

I wrote a piece for Wildlife in the City about the Urban Safari. If you live in or near Nottingham, read it, download the map and: Go on an Urban Safari! 

Continue readingUrban nature safari in Nottingham

Nostalgia and new beginnings

Image by Lee J Haywood
Image by Lee J Haywood

Autumn might be the season for impending hibernation, but it is also about new beginnings. It is the start of a new term at the university and the campus is packed full of students, holding maps and reassuring pieces of paper. My sister also just started university, so I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic for my own university days. It hardly seems believable that seven years have passed since I started at St Andrews. But then it hardly seems believable that I’ve been in Nottingham for a year. Continue readingNostalgia and new beginnings

Colwick Country Park

2013-09-22 14.08.05

Yesterday was the first day of autumn. For the last few weeks it’s certainly felt as though autumn is approaching. The temperatures have been dropping and the leaves have been turning. But on Sunday I woke to a clear, bright blue sky and it felt as though summer was making one last go of it. A warm sunny day is always an imperative to get out on my bike and that was exactly what I did. Continue readingColwick Country Park