#atinylife Autumn Song

Autumn SongAutumn: I wake before the sun rises.

Warm myself on a cup of tea,

the feeling of my hands across the keyboard,

the central heating’s clicks and taps.

The sun’s light pierces clouds ruffled

on the horizon,

reminding me it’s still here

even at this turn of the year.

Rising into the sky, all blue and white

and blue and white

and falling leaves. Rain comes on

from nowhere, and I shut the window tight,

watch the leaves, pushed off

by the wind to fall with the raindrops,

to end up slicked, shining on the concrete.

By teatime, the sun is gone again.

Pink clouds wrestle with the oranges,

the yellows, the browns of the trees.

Red berries are picked out

in the evening light. Drops rest on the branches,


the rooks fly over like factory workers, heading for home.


#atinylife naturepoet

Yesterday, I tried to write a nature poem.

Walked into the reality – the grime of outside. Cold shot-blasting my forehead, my fingers.

And yes, the long-tailed tit looked at me, all chipmunk-cute face and feathered arrow tail feathers.

And yes, there were green carpets just waiting for the bluebells.

And yes, the deer picked around the edge of distant fields.

And yes, the buzzard rose in a majesty of idle flapping.

But it all reminded me of the mess of the world: sporadic starlings strung across the telegraph lines, not enough for a murmuration.

nature poet


The crow scolding the buzzard, haranguing it to stay away from her eggs.

Acres of wire and concrete, even here, in this ‘wilderness.’

Snow on the distant hills – a winter coming ever closer.


And I thought, ‘maybe I should take “nature writer” out of my bio.’


#atinylife going, going


ten thousand I am bid:

fifteen at the back,

come on now,

this unique lot! You’ll not see this again.


Puffin searches in vain for sandeels.

Swan sickens, poisoned by anglers’ lead.

Gannet, strong, snared in plastic net.

Spring rains fail, sand sweeping over pasture.


Fifteen at the back, twenty five online

Yes, sir, that’s more like it, thirty-five for this trophy

stuffed and so beautifully mounted.

You’ll not see another, not anywhere

– forty at the front –

now who’ll give me the reserve price? Fifty?

Thank you, sir. Going… going…


In secret hideouts, bitterns still boom


Otters gambol and play,

no longer hunted.

Polecats lurk

White tailed eagle soars.


Sixty thousand I am bid.

Any advance on sixty? For this handsome Great Auk

shot, stuffed and preserved for posterity.

All done at sixty thousand?


going going

#atinylife route

Up the track, uneven stones wobbling under my wheels,

past the Maltings, chaff on the air, rumbles within,tinylife Route

hawthorn like popcorn made with the lid off,

open field to forest (keep an eye out for raptors),

downhill to the bench, gravel crunching,

birds flying out from one side to the other,

flat hedgerow to the tiny road, over the road, through the gate

one foot on the ground to steady me in the curved gap.


Cows on the right, cockerel crowing somewhere,

over the main road, listening hard for traffic,

braking at the combination of a turn and downhill

then flying, no pedaling until the bridge,

past the tree where we saw the white squirrel,

magpies riding on the mixers at the water treatment plant,

village on the left, field path on the right –

halfway there, halfway done, halfway home.



#atinylife Autumn

Ten of the Best Things About Autumn

by Penny Hext.

  • Woodland walks: fungi, fallen leaves, seeing tree shapes outlined against the sky.tinylife Autumn 10 things
  • Short days… longer nights. More time for a) beauty sleep b) bedtime reading c) erm… recreational activities.
  • Winter woollies. Colour and texture hide a multitude of sins. Summer’s AGES away!
  • Hair lasering. Start on that beard now. (Moi?)
  • Night-time sky walking. The best possible backdrop for creepy ghost walks. Go on. Try it!
  • Enjoying Autumn colours: reds, russets, auburns, coppers…
  • Time to take stock and recalibrate – before the year ends. You’ve still got time to fulfil your resolutions!
  • Wildlife spotting: squirrels, herons… figuring out where the heck birds roost at night. Nests are for fledglings.
  • Mulled wine.
  • Puddings. Those brambles and apples you gathered in September need eating, don’t they?


Penny is a writer who lives in Edinburgh

#atinylife TrafficLights

The village has temporary traffic lights again.

As I wait on red, a tree in the graveyard jiggles. It’s almost a percussive movement – the bird bustles high above the lights.

In terms of travel, I’m neither a cutter or a thruster, so I’m not fussed. I’m happy queuing here, watching the bird traverse between the big house and the graveyard.

tinylife TrafficLights


The whole road was closed, for the gas line. We had to drive round the villages up the back for weeks.


Then there were times that the snow made it difficult to pass through, walking or driving.

Last summer, the road from our village to the next town was shut at the other end.

Remembering a series of traffic curtailments grounds me here. In a good way! Being part of something. Including the mini-annoyances, the wonderful things, even this waiting.

#atinylife OpenSky

Scotch Pie in an Open Sky.

Early morning and the sound of birdsong.

Laundry. Laundry. More laundry.

Being ‘cool.’ But only by accident,

and preferring the home knitted jumper

to that designer one.

Enjoying Radio 6 until the kids start whining about it.Open Sky

And no matter which

radio station we listen to – Mum is

not allowed to sing along.

Birds flying past on the school run.

‘You should totally learn this song. It would so suit your voice.’

Leaning on friends, gathering the kids,

spending time together to the exclusion of bedtime.

Getting tagged in the same photo over and over (like, love, haha).

Birds calling through the window as we put the kids to bed.

Falling asleep on the sofa after a long day,

craving the comfort food of childhood – a pie, not a cocktail.

Feet up – I’m peaking now!



#atinylife summerrain

Ten things I love about summer rainfall

OK, for some of us, it’s been hot and sultry. But for others, it’s been a damp summer so far. So why’s that automatically a problem?Summer Rain

  • It gets the birds singing! (OK, they’re being territorial.)
  • It gets the earthworms wiggling – pink and naked – on the green, green grass…
  • Elderflower blossom – any blossom – smells much more intense.
  • It frightens away bite-y insects. Except for midges. Nothing scares off midges!
  • The ‘sturm and drang’ of an electric thunderstorm. Bring on the forked lightning!
  • Watching sparrows queue to fluff their feathers in a fresh flowing puddle of water.
  • A summer soaking is really revitalising. Especially after a long run.
  • It showers sticky city pavements to carefree cleanliness.
  • Rainwater tastes fantastic (watch the animals head for it).
  • It’s free… as in ‘the best things in life are’.


#atinylife Yew

I walk carefully, through a natural tunnel – one that you could easily miss – fringed with needled branches. Then the space unfolds itself out into the living cathedral of a circular yew tree.

The shouts of the children become half-remembered, as I taste the quiet that lingers in the air here, a flavour of peace. Even bird song is hushed. The silence, or muted noise, as the children duck under branches, disappearing into the network of spreading branches, holds poignancy within a twigged basket.yew

I breathe the green and brown smell: fresh growth and old wood. As I move through filtered light, drawn as always to touch the rough bark of the largest trunk, feeling this wood of a thousand years, a million needles cast off under my feet. An indoor outdoors.


Calm replaces my busy, and I am at peace.

#atinylife Holidays

Today I have been thinking about…holidays.


No flights

for these tinylifers

this year.

No hotels,

no carry-on suitcases.

No guaranteed sun.

No all-inclusive.

No twenty-four-hour shopping.

No unlimited broadband,

no Netflix.

No duty-free.

No nightlife. No crowds.

No avocados

(well, after two

bought in Lerwick).



 the ferry took us


We said yes to rain,

and wind,

and snatching each precious moment of sun as it arrived:

yes to sand.

We said yes to peaceful

wide wilds,

puffins and seals and ponies with foals and

trying to spot the otter.


We said yes to a different

pace of life,

to family,

to revisiting memories

of childhood.


We said yes to bannocks,

homemade oatcakes and

scallops scooped out of the

sea that morning.

We said yes to a break


from the in-tray,

the writing deadline,

and the laundry basket.