Where Spirits Dwell

Where Spirits Dwell


The first window of morning frames the yacht moored in the reflection of a copper kettle.
Boiling overnight, now set to shimmer.
Crisp leaves, and I, chase wind and chaffinch over glimmering slates to the sithean hill – where spirits dwell – above the house.


Over sheilings now worked in miniature by softer hands. Under the gaze of the sleepy Luing bulls on the gnuig.
Amongst the land they love, and which loves them; we walk in silence.


Arrow-straight seems the route across to Scarba. Today topped by its cloudy cap with rainbow feather. Beware this hat of many colours.
Below this flinchin promise pass packs of grey dogs nightly as the dark-hour falls.
Be home, before the Corryvreckans cauldron waves beat their warring drums.


But first, take a faerie lantern from the cave below the hill. Follow the rin to the shore till gold mends the broken banks of cloud.
Or until the copper beach runs out to where the selkies play.

Where Spirits Dwell

11th August 2016

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The Wonder Of Blue

The Wonder Of Blue


From the blue of the ferry taking us across to our new home..


To the blue yonder.


With the Isle of Scarba, hazy on the blue horizon..


Overlooking the small, sheltered inlet where the fish are brought in ..


..Serving, occasionally, as the “fish shop”..

It’s the eighth of the eighth, 2016: and I’ve entered my “blue” period.




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Blown Off Course

Blown Off Course


It’s easy to be blown off course. By hot or cold air. By the opinions and machinations of others. By perceived criticism, wisdom, advice. Trouble is, all of it – including that which we dish out ourselves – is, with rare exceptions, coming from one context..viewed through our own filter. Unless you happen to be the Dalai Lama that is.


It’s easy too to take a lofty view of things ..


Or to wash up on a rocky shore, listing to one side with your previously crystal – clear – waters muddied and worse for wear.


Steer yourself back on course;  remember – it’s surprisingly easy to find some well-meaning person all too ready to tell you ..and anyone else within earshot..how well they would run your life – if they were you.


Prepare for all weathers – and steer your own course..

If the Dalai Lama offers advice.. follow it.

Blown Off Course

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Matching Gatepost Chickens


It pays to search even in dark places for a place to call home.


One tree can make a garden; and give shelter..


A space to meet up and chat.


Space to run free.


Others may try to beat you to the best..


..spot in the new herb bed.


Hopefully, new neighbours will become old friends..


Matching Gatepost Chickens

Title:- recently I passed a very grand farm entrance where a live chicken stood at each stone gatepost. The image hung on in my memory till the words found a home here.

With love to my nephews in Somerset.

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Walking On Air

My daughter and her family live in the hamlet of Massford in Dromara, in Northern Ireland – their house being literally at the foot of Sliabh Cruibe – the Mountain Of The Hoof. On a recent visit to see my Irish grandson I looked forward also to a better acquaintance with this beautiful mountain.


One of a range of mountains forming the foothills of The Mournes – the Dromara hill range is some 400 million years older than its southerly cousin. The view from Sliabh Cruibe (Slieve Croob in “English’) towards the Mournes is well worth the 534 meter
ascent. There was once an enormous cairn measuring some 75 x 45 meters here – probably marking an ancient burial place on the summit – now merely a platform for the scattered remains of several smaller cairns – and from this the mountain is known locally as The Twelve Cairns.


Sliabh Cruibe is associated with the celebration of the Celtic Harvest festival of Lughnasa, where dancing, music, games and courtship followed community gathering of blaeberries growing wild on the hillside. The festival was one of the quarterly feasts of the old Irish year. The tradition was followed up until the 1950’s; and is enjoying a revival by the local community in recent years.


The tallest of a group of peaks in County Down between the village of Dromara and the town of Castlewellan on the coast;  in an area designated as being of outstanding natural beauty; it is also the source of the River Laggan. Beginning as a spring on the summit of the mountain, it runs past my daughter’s house, continuing through Dromara, County Down, Lisburn and Belfast where it enters Belfast Lough.


The journey to see my daughter and grandson follows the course of the Laggan all the way – beginning when a vast Scandinavian-run Stenaline ferry delivers me from Cairnryan in South-West Scotland into Belfast Lough. I look forward to exploring more of the Laggan on foot in a future trip. Having previously merely driven to within reach of the summit of the Sliabh Cruibe- I set out on foot two sundays past on a truly glorious day for a walk.

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I was aiming for the T junction between the Dree Hill and Clonvaraghan/Finnis Roads, and planned to turn left and walk the further half mile to the spot I knew would give me my first sight of the undulating Mourne range. As I climbed the summit was beckoning; but a looming storm over the Mournes deterred me and I cleaved to the original plan. Two of the local residents appeared in agreement.

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I’d thought the view to come would be the peak experience of the walk; but I’d not anticipated the wonderful sense of peace that swept through me, gaining a greater hold with every step.

Walking in sunshine, and such a landscape, dispelled any leftover rainy winter discontent.
Sure my bones would be complaining soon, I found instead that the higher I climbed –
the better I felt.

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Walking on Air.

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Here’s Looking At You Kid

I’ve met some real characters in the animal world; as a scroll through my files shows..

From my dog Dillon –  comin’ up roses..

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To a pair of budding MI5 agents..in the field.

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Meeting a cute blonde in the park..

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Everyone from friends and neighbours..

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To an endangered species.. makes an appearance.

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You never quite know what’s round the corner..

A flock of security guards in sheep’s clothing..
..asking “Whachtu lookin’ at?”.

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Or perhaps – like my cat Griffin – I’ve been wondering thru the catnip again..

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Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid.

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The Wonder Of White

The Wonder Of White

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In the visible spectrum white reflects light and is the presence of all colours. Associated with innocence, simplicity, spirituality, goodness, safety, brilliance, cleanliness, the colour of new beginnings, wiping the slate clean.

Of these I know little and ascribe even less. As a friend of mine often says “I know nuthin’..

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What I enjoy is the power of white to define shape, and attract light – in the garden and wider landscape. I enjoy the excuse to try to capture it. As though it were a wild horse. It’s sometimes as difficult to draw or photograph as a runaway horse.

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I was on a horse that ran away once. It crossed a main road – at speed – missing a pale blue ford cortina by a hair’s breadth, finally depositing me in a vegetable patch. I was the one who didn’t get fed.

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Anyhow – as you will have noticed – this post was just an excuse to show some of my favourite white “jewels”. I have never got over the sight of my first snowdrop.

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You could say I’m easily pleased. Thank goodness for white – the combination of all colours in one.. the illusion of none. The beautiful paradox.

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The Wonder Of White

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Living within reach of inumerable beaches is alluring to say the least. When Donne wrote “teach me to hear mermaids singing” in his poem ‘Song’ about the sliding scale of honesty in women.. he probably wasn’t in as sublime a mood as that of the coast above, in Ayr near Girvan.


Tides govern access to the sea and regulate the work of many, and are said to affect our moods through the influence of their mover and shaker – the moon. Here on a recent trip to the Island of Seil (foreground, near Oban) we woke one morning to find that a storm-driven tide had washed away a 20m length of solid slate sea wall adjacent to the harbour of the neighbouring tiny island, Easdale, offshore. The occupants were still stranded when we left.

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On a wonderful bright windy day at St.Abb’s Head in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders, we happened on a seal pup seemingly caught in a rock pool, in choppy waters stirred by strong tides. After many moving moments watching this very game, very large pup attempt to escape into open water..we heard and saw two adults playing nearby – completely unconcerned – for all the world as though they had parked the pup at a toddlers creche.


Dumfries and Galloway has had to deal with more than it’s fair share of tide-propelled floodwater in the last few months; often exceeding the usual predictable boundaries. Driving became a little like playing russian roulette. I’m still surprised that petrol-stations didn’t take advantage of the situation to sell waders and water-wings.

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Along the Dee estuary in Kirkcudbright – the swirling floodwater met the sea and created its own tiny whirlpool – perhaps jealous of all the media attention directed elsewhere. Something of a let-down after listening to tales of the Corryveckan in the wind-lashed north.

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Down here in the south of Scotland we are less often stranded by the tides .. even if they do race in “at the speed of a galloping horse”.. as I’m often warned. Even we must keep one eye on the tide at all times – whatever we might find in a Carrick Shore rock-pool.. or

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We might find ourselves.. silly cows.. up to our oxters in alluringly blue, but dangerously deep waters.


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Together In The Snow

Together In The Snow

First snow lies on holly leaves dark,
Amongst the cloudy foliage of roadside hedges.

Two fawns stop and peer at us.. and at a bound, faster than the swiftest hound,
Leap through the weak and falling light to safety.


Out in the dark, over the snow, his footprints trail away.
He is not here now tho’ time – standing still – be just the same.

And I and star and wind and deer,
Are in the dark together near.
Yet far.

We think that happiness must be something else..
Something greater than this walk together in the snow.

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The dark comes and goes, in light and shadow
making invisible what we know.

That life and light and love are there,
Together in the snow.

With the posthumous help of Edward Thomas.

Together In The Snow

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In The Wee Small Hours

In The Wee Small Hours

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When sleep hides, the mind turns to time past.

Hindsight is a view lit by false light.

What if?


What if I had taken another route?

If I had spoken to the man in the opposite corner?

I had not been driven to please, placate, control.


If I had laughed with – loved – another?

What if I had not given away money or time, nor spent it wisely? Or unwisely.

What if I had danced, not painted?

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What if I had loved the city, not the sea?

What then?

I’d not be me.

In The Wee Small Hours

Title taken from an album by Frank Sinatra.
Words triggered by the writer Richard Pisciotta.

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