#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 Rain Again

It’s raining again, and can I just say I’m relieved?

That week of February this year when it was ‘only a jumper and not even a scarf’ warm was so much creepier than the week last year of ‘snow, all schools closed, no bread left in the shop, icicles a metre long’ WHICH WAS THE SAME WEEK OF THE YEAR I MIGHT ADD.

Since Saturday we’ve returned to stinging rain and wind chill of minus 7, what I have come to expect in the first week of March.

Rain Again



When I do drag myself out for a healthy walk, I’m all too happy warm up in a bath. I’m lucky to get to do that. Nothing like coming home, running a bath of clean, warm water, sinking into bubbles and covering the pages of my new book with wet fingerprints.

#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 Politics

I don’t do politics.

‘I’m so bored of politics.’

We’ve all seen this on our newsfeeds, school run, or workplace.

Well, first off, I’m grateful that I have a choice.

For so many, talking about politics is dangerous, and I don’t mean they might lose a few friends for banging on about things that they think matter.

For others, a life without politics in it is harder, if it’s not safe for you to go home anymore…

Or if ever since you were born, the colour of your skin means more than anything else you might feel, know or have to offer.a-simple-pictorial-representation-on-politics

I try to remember: from when I get up, switch on the kettle, eat, drink, send my kids to school, drive on our roads –

that’s just the first half of my morning!

It all relies on politics.

#atinylife Mill by R L McKinney

There used to be two paper mills in the glen below my house, but it takes an archaeologist’s eye to see them now.

You’ll find traces if you know where to look: the bit of railway track in the Esk, the broken concrete blocks under the birch roots, the knobbled trunk of a fallen monkey puzzle tree that once stood in the mill owner’s garden. Mill

With a little help, the dereliction of industry returns to earth.

Now we walk there and mark the seasons by snow drops and crocuses, savoury shoots of wild garlic, gorse blossom, the progression of greens, yellows, reds and browns as summer turns the corner.

We make campfires and dens, search out frog spawn and blackberries.

This place gives me hope: that wildness will creep between the cracks and that nature will win, in the end.

#atinylife Rooks

I’m sitting in my writing hour.

I face the wall, as recommended by Stephen King (On Writing), but I can see the window. Yesterday, it was light when I woke Mr HB up at seven. It’s dark today at six when I let the cat out. So I think: it’s still dark. It’s Winter.

Then a click clacking starts outside, see-saw cawing, carking and crooking.

It’s the rooks. Flying past the top corner of my window, large black hankies sharp against a grey clouded sky. A group, then another batch, then more. For the first time this year, leaving home for work at daybreak, just like we do. And I know.

Finally. Rooks

It’s Spring.

It’s getting lighter.

I live somewhere where birds fly past the window all the time.



And then I realise there are fewer of them every year.

#atinylife Recycling

Today I have been thinking about … recycling.

There are no gendered jobs in this house; I take out the rubbish, Mr HB loads the washing machine. As gusts wheeze through the door, I wonder if the recycling boxes will blow over tonight, scattering a peek into our lives across the main road, creating mess instead of improving the environment, an anti-recycling.  Recycling

Cycling, perhaps.

This –  a token, collecting our multiple beer bottles and all my first drafts tattooed with red pen, keeping them out of landfill, a tiny gesture to the huge mess that we’ve made of the earth.

We are committed to it though.

We drank the beer, printed the drafts, guzzled the wine and enjoyed the Amazon deliveries in now-folded cardboard boxes.

It’s good to know they won’t be bulldozed into a mire of gulls, rot, heat and stench.