A funny thing happened on the way home.

It was an oddly euphoric moment of complete clarity.

The sun, low, casting great shadows across the landscape; highlighting features normally hidden from view. The first flowers of Spring, punctuating in yellow, the intense verdant of the season.

The sky, uncluttered blue, held aloft lazy seabirds surfing the cliff drawn breeze. Darker, the sea, unflecked and still, etched a clear horizon against a distant fog.

In the midst of all this, an instrumental started playing on the radio. I couldn’t quite place it, but the arrangement conjures growth, nurturing, the mother. The cadence seems to mirror the rise, fall, and turns in the road; the mood reflects the landscape as it reveals itself around each corner.

A couple of verses in I realise it’s Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years”, and I’m humming along, trying to remember the words:

Time stands still
Beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything, take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every breath, every hour has come to this

That’s when I knew, beyond every reasonable knowing. Immersed in the fullness of a perfect Spring day – everything is exactly as it should be…

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Shell shock

A moment of comfort.
Source: U.S. Army, Korea Media Center: official Korean War online video archive

Sometimes, dreams come simply; any symbolic element of relevance bubbling readily to the surface. Some wake you laughing; with ludicrous images arising from apparently disassociated elements and ideas.

Yesterday morning’s was neither.

Myself and a stranger are somewhere in a muddy field, decanting plastic crates from the back of a Land Rover. There are a bunch of African kids crowding around us, eager to assist carry the contents of the crates into a nondescript building of some vintage.

The stranger has an enormous grin, as he notes how great it is that the village has found this resource so useful. “It’s really helping the people understand what they need to do…” I have no idea what he is talking about.

I’m looking down at the content of the crates. Old VHS tapes, really grotty looking, thick with dust and grime, and much the worse for wear. They all appear to have been used time and time again, with multiple labels, some stripped off, and without anything to indicate what might be on them. I pick through them, wondering to myself just how much use they can possibly be; the technology is so obsolete, and what we have here seems pretty far gone.

Under the tapes, there are odd mechanical parts. I have no idea what the purpose of these might be.

Just off to the right, a large group of men have gathered. They have their backs to us. There appears to be a bit of a party atmosphere in the group. As we carry on unloading the crates, I idly wonder what the celebration might be.

Fire crackers are let off. The noise is deafening.

My colleague hits the ground in a quivering ball. He has his hands over his head, and is anxiously whimpering. I kneel down, grasp his hand, and gently comfort him. “They are only fire-crackers. It’s all right.” He is inconsolable, and we remain, cowering behind the vehicle, until the last fire-cracker fizzles out.

It takes some time, but I finally manage to convince him that it is all over. That it is safe. He withdraws his hand and wipes away tears and snot, before uncurling, stretching, and slowly standing up.

As I help him rise, “Are you OK, now?”, I ask.

I feel the rubberised elastic of the waistband on his waterproofs. I can smell the cordite. The heat is oppressive. A bead of sweat.

“Yes, thank you. Thank you for staying,” he replies, before turning and walking over in the direction of the crowd of now dancing men.

Whilst the individual elements, can be extracted, viewed in isolation, turned over, and catalogued, the entirety of the meaning, might never be understood.

Except… somewhere… deep down… I must already know…

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The muses are lying on a beach somewhere…

Hey! Not funny!

In the name of the wee man…

You’d think, having been away so long, all the pent-up posts would come flooding out.

It’s not like I haven’t been writing, either. For the last three weeks I’ve been sitting around in pyjamas from 9 till 5, preparing a whole library of technical documents, ISO manuals, and job procedures…

Not only that, but there are about two dozen part written posts in the draft folder, eagerly awaiting the final tweaks, twots, and whatever else might be necessary to make them publish-worthy…

Not to mention the “next post” which has been mulled, percolated, and brewed to within an inch of its life, yet resolutely refuses to grow beyond that first sentence.

“It’s never happened to me before”. Ha!

Guaranteed cure.

Maybe now the technical library is overflowing with tomes that nobody will ever read anyway, things might start to move in the right direction here. In the meantime, I’ve ordered a “guaranteed” cure.

Amazon deliver on Friday.

Three crates of vodka…


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Spring Awakening

Spring Storm“, Arris Grace Hodge.

Hoo. Had no idea I’d been gone so long…

I’ve been away.

Not in the “absent from” sense, other than the normal-for-the-time-of-year inability to feel genuinely invested in very much beyond the need for hibernation, but, rather, in the more-there-than-here sense.

Winter has always been a fruitful time of the year regarding inner work: the need to take stock, review and plan the next cycle. The final harvest in, there is little else to do between the first rains of November and the Equinoctial storms heralding drier days ahead; ideal for planting…

Well, that’s the way it probably should be.

Modern sensibilities leave little space for introspection in the way that the natural hiatus between, and of, the seasons do. Always “on”, 24/7, 365 days a year. Many ills of the modern world might be much relieved by taking greater notice of the rhythms of the seasons, and simply aligning our levels of mundane activity to better match the energies they bring.

This year, I must confess, has been particularly difficult. As above, so below. As outer, so inner. The internal schisms, less “clean cut” than those of the outer, nevertheless raise doubt, distract, and form limpid pools of stagnation, and, yes, fear. Very “winter” winter, indeed.

Ironic then, just as the days are beginning to stretch out and the reborn Sun shines hope into the darkness, along comes the, terribly named, “Beast from the East”. HELLO SNOWDAYS!!! Whilst the rest of the country appeared to ignore all requests “not to travel unless your journey is absolutely essential”, causing all sorts of mayhem in the process, we remained cut off from the world.

Once the storm force white-out conditions settled into a silent shroud of pristine white, I was minded that chaos is not a permanent state, despite evidence to the contrary; and that, often, out of that state, must emerge a sense of peace, and, ultimately, a quiet calmness, verging on grace.

“Equilibrium” Found here.

Posted in Self Awareness, society | 21 Comments

Call of the Summer lands

Caught in this stream whilst falling asleep under last night’s “mackerelled moon”. An oddly, out of season, theme which made little sense till the title came at the last.

“Moon and Mackerel Sky Over Woodbridge”
Copyright: Phillip Hirst


“Scythe mown”
Copyright: Scythe Cymru

I thought I heard you call last night.

Maybe it was the moon; full and bright;
shy, flirting, in a dark mackerel sky;
stars playing peek-a-boo amongst
the shoals of silvered clouds.
An ocean sky, yearning to clear,
but not, quite, able.

How I miss the fresh cold of mountain air;
and the silence, absolute on a night like this,
far from Neptune’s incessant sigh,
and bubbling, rolling, salty breath.
Here, only the silence of foxes can catch
the dove’s night song in the far wood.

I thought I heard you call last night.

“Family hay raking” Copyright: Found at myyorkshire.org

As the sun beat hard the tin barn roof,
I looked down on Summers past:
scent of hay; scorched grass, dry herb, and
hot, stale, sweat on brown parchment skin;
‘shwisht’, the grey sward turned, ‘creak’,
of a strained rake peg, step, twist, push, pull;

repeat: an easy rhythm of sun-beat hours,
stretched between hot sweet tea and
ice-cold lemonade at the ‘home turn’;
peewit cry, curlew warble, crow caws;
a clutch of field mice in the safety of the dyke;
the horseflies: God, the horseflies…

“Hay stack”
Copyright: Flickr User Basil and Tracey Found at kuriositas

I thought I heard you call last night.

You must have been the age I am now,
that Spring: Tiny byre-ridden, and I never could
get the scythe as sharp as you; twist and ‘shwishk’,
four inch, perfect arc, no ‘Mohican’, twist and step;
repeat; till a cow’s worth of soft, new grass is borne
on the back, wrapped in last Summer’s stook cap.

You wouldn’t recognise that prized ley,
now planted to birch, elder and ash:
gone, the sweet ‘timothy’, ‘saxifrage’ and ‘betony’,
gone, the peewit, the curlew, the crow.
Probably best; lost arts: stooking up, combing down,
tying out with a hay-tight knot.

I thought I heard you call last night.

“Bringing home”
Family picture


#1 ‘Stook cap’, traditional topping of a haystack, in SW Scotland at least. Consisted of a large hessian square, tied off with light rope at each corner. The cap was thrown over the top of the stack (‘stook’) and the ropes, pulled tight, tied off to a loop of hay pulled from the bottom of the stack.

Hopefully the rest makes sense in context… 😉

Background: as a child growing up on a farm, we grew around 5 acres of hay each year, mostly with the aid of heavy machinery. Except, that is, about 1/3 of an acre which, apart from the latter years, we wrought by hand. It seemed the perfect mixture of grasses and herbs, and produced the lightest, driest, sweetest smelling hay, pretty much in the county – others may lay claim to such, but the proof is always in the eating!

Posted in Healing, Self Awareness, Travels | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

How To Make The Most Out Of A Coffee Loyalty Card.

The lure of the loyalty card… and why I no longer have any!! 😀

Some Words That Say What I Think

Like most people, I enjoy buying hot drinks from coffee shops.

However, recently, I have been trying to cut down on the amount of money I am spending on a daily basis.

In an average coffee shop, a medium latte costs around £2.75 which on its own doesn’t seem that expensive.

However, if you buy one latte every day for a year, then it all adds up to an amount that I can’t figure out right now because maths is hard – but it’s probably quite a lot.

Therefore, in an attempt to save a bit of money in coffee shops, I have started using loyalty cards.

Every time I go into a coffee shop and buy a drink, I get a stamp on my loyalty card and, once I have collected six stamps, I am allowed a free coffee as a reward for my unwavering dedication.

I have been…

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Doe, A Deer, A Female Reindeer: The Spirit of Mother Christmas

The deep roots of fables are often surprising, not entirely as we might imagine, and sometimes reveal a “self evident” truth we have somehow become blind to…

Gather Victoria

Oh wondrous headed doe… Amongst its horns it carries the light of the blessed sun…” Hungarian Christmas Folk Song

Long before Santa charioted his flying steeds across our mythical skies, it was the female reindeer who drew the sleigh of the sun goddess at winter solstice. It was when we “Christianized” the pagan traditions of winter, that the white bearded man i.e. “Father Christmas” was born.


Today it is her beloved image that adorns Christmas cards and Yule decorations – not Rudolph. Because unlike the male reindeer who sheds his antlers in winter, it is the larger and stronger doe, who retains her antlers. And it is she who leads the herds in winter.


So this season, when we gather by the fire to tell children bedtime stories of Santa and his flying reindeer – why not tell the story of the ancient Deer Mother of old? It was she…

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