Stories

Half a Mountain

Half a Mountain

The road winds through oak woods, beside a stream which tumbles down storeys of layered stone to a circular pool below. I’m entering the undulating plateau of the Cambrian mountains, following a route described by the AA as one of the ten most scenic car journeys in...

Chorus

Chorus

It starts and ends with seabirds, with the first faint wash of rose-tinted light touching their feathers. There are crested auklets perched on lava flows and sea cliffs. They are here in their millions. The sounds they make, as their milk-pale eyes open, creak and...

Learning to See

Learning to See

In the past months I’ve learned that everything I need for day-to-day living can be kept in a space of approximately 8 square metres. Living on a boat has enabled me to see my limits. I know how much gas I use to cook with, how much electricity powers my equipment,...

Reflections on a Screen

Reflections on a Screen

This morning I woke up and opened the shutters to be greeted by a mother mallard scurrying her newborn chicks between the narrowboats, tiny stripes of frantic fluff bobbing over the ripples. The Canada geese appeared along the wall next to the lock-keepers cottage,...

The Silence Rises

The Silence Rises

I’m trying hard to move quietly. I’ve brought my kayak to the water and I’m paddling upstream to a bend in the river which is overgrown with willows and oaks, the trees draping into the water. It’s the closest thing I’ll find to a rainforest, though the Avon is just a...

A Bend in the River

A Bend in the River

A quiet has descended on the river, sudden, like an in-breath. The birds have seen something I haven’t. Perhaps it is a ritual they undertake at this time of day, triggered by a certain quality of light or air. Or they could just be waiting for me to pass by. In the...

To the River

To the River

“Cautiously, I allowed myself to feel good at times . . . the less I needed the better I felt.” Charles Bukowski. Canada geese gliding down to the water. A glimpse of a little egret.  Swallows and martins, little grebes, reed warblers, black-headed gulls. The river...

In a Wolf’s Eye

In a Wolf’s Eye

I remember an encyclopaedia of animals with a green cover, faded gold lettering, a loose spine cracked at each end, the pages bent at the corners and warped from damp. Not an old book but badly worn by the daily handling by my younger sister and I over six or seven...

Dark Water

Dark Water

Tonight the river is high. I don’t know what atmospheric conditions out in the Atlantic are driving this endless rain. Like all weather these days it doesn’t seem right. My headlights project two beams across the water, which boils and writhes downstream. Nothing...

The Lookout

The Lookout

Only the towers and walls of this island are shaped the way they’re meant to be. Out on the water, paddling around the cliffs, I get a feel for the place as it was and might be again, when we’re gone, which could be soon