Saturday, 10 July 2021


Garden Cottage at Nun Monkton
Garden Cottage
For our (Coral) wedding anniversary we returned to a tiny AirBnB where we stayed in 2019 (when visiting the Yorkshire Heart Vineyard). The oasis “Garden Cottage” is not far from York along a road going only to a remote village where cows graze freely on the village green, a green skewered by the fattest, tallest maypole I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few, madam. Nun Monkton is the name of the village. The garden hummed with insects and wrapped us in its verdant peace. The dawn chorus was full of beauty.
Alice Hawthorne Inn
Alice Hawthorne
Nun Monkton is also home to the Alice Hawthorne Inn where we ate two nights in a row, the first with long-while friends, Sue and Brian. Stoked by delicious food (Crab Mayo, Roast Beetroot, Popcorn Prawns, Yorkshire Dales Lamb, Waterford Farm Steak, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Crème Catalan, Mini Sundae), the venue felt safe and welcoming.
Beningbrough Hall Estate
In The Moment
Our anniversary hike was around the nearby Beningbrough Hall Estate, alongside the River Ouse for much of the time, picking over gnarly roots and picnicking on tree stumps. Cooling forest sections on the walk provided welcome shelter. The house had an indoor exhibition (In The Moment: the art of wellbeing) aimed at reminding viewers to stand and stare, to pause, to slow down, to reflect, to be in the moment. Some of the pieces achieved that (for me) more than others but, on a hot day, it certainly slowed down the old heart rate.
Food and Nature
Amidst medical/political uncertainty and the competing noises of the media, some constants Remain True. The sights, sounds, smells and colours of nature continue to enchant. And eating, drinking and being merry all continue to drown out the stresses of the age. The messages about the “roadmap” towards “Freedom Day” Remain Confusing: Be Free/Be Cautious, Be Released/Continue Shielding, Do/Don’t/Maybe Wear Masks, Do/Don’t/Maybe Socially Distance, Go on holiday to a Red/Amber/AmberPlus/Green/GreenPlus Country/Staycation in the UK but Don’t Go to A Crowded Place (unless it’s a nightclub), Go Anywhere/Go Certain Places Sometimes/But Don’t Go There (small print = we might change the rules overnight and we’ll bury our heads in the sands about the understaffed, underpaid, overwhelmed NHS until we “beg” private companies to swoop in with greedy shareholders….)  But Nature and Food Remain True. And so do New Arrivals.
New Kid(s) On The Block
Welcome Earnest, my latest great nephew. Welcome Gertrude Jekyll, our climbing rose. Welcome Gabriel Oak, our potted rose. New things happen. Children grow. Roses bloom. Another day begins.

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Head above the parapet again

The scariest moment is always just before you start*
*Stephen King
So, I’ve been summoned back into the world of Rhenium where survivors of the human race attempt to create a better society on a new planet in a galaxy far, far away…. (if you want to see where I was back in August 2018 before I contacted agents and got a wide range of responses - some very pertinent and some just rude, click here.)  Covid-19 lockdowns didn’t boil creative juices inside me, just survivor instincts, so I put my magnum opus aside for the best part of three years in favour of reading, walking, feasting, watching TV and doing jigsaws.
Bark, roses, flowers, outdoor eating.... summer 2021
Write. Write more. Edit. Edit more.
A combination of factors has brought Raydan Wakes back under the microscope and it is now subject to the laser-bright-brutal scrutiny of my editorial pen.
Go with me to my tent; where you shall see….
How calm and gentle I proceeded still
In all my writings.
Suffice to say, the new version seems (to me) radically different from the first (two, five, thirteen?) version(s). Some sections I cannot even remember writing…. Creative writing is a very peculiar hobby! But I’m back in the saddle again, clopping along the lonesome trail…. Giddy up, cowboy! (with thanks to the critters on the pioneer trail who cheer me on….)
The colours of Rhenium society and Nick Shelton's artist's impression of two key characters