It’s mid summer -ish and after a lot of hard work, things bear fruit.

Working in a school support role, I admire, from a distance, the work that teachers and classroom staff do. They are at the sharp end (and occasionally blunt end) of education. I am told, and can see, the work is extremely rewarding, but I can also see it’s not for the faint hearted. It can be a challenging environment. I applaud everyone who takes up the classroom role. Keep up the good work. Good work produces good-ness.

After noticing the local allotments over the last year, I have been thinking about the growth and abundance that nature creates… life in fullness.

Syston Allotments – in the heart of England

A lot of dedication hard work is put into these allotments.

Whatever we start with might grow to a certain extent. We can feed, nurture, train, guide, prune, cultivate… and… life bears fruit.

Life is what happens during the growing…
What do we feed on?
Where do we reach towards?
Where do our roots hold?
When do we rest, when do we stretch?
What to control, when to let go…

…fruit is a consequence.

Our daily decisions and contemplations might be… how do we encourage or tend to the ‘growing’?

What fruit do we want in/for our world?

A tree is known by its fruit; a person by their deeds. A good deed is never lost; those who sow courtesy reap friendship, and those who plant kindness gather love.Basil

…plus, after good fruit, might come wine (or vinegar)!

Happy Summer!

Syston Allotments – in the heart of England



What is there to say? Except it’s quite a blooming marvelous sight…

3 weeks… from January 20th through Feb 8th our kitchen window saw the blooming of this creature. Thanks mum for the gift.

The first bloom is just starting to fade, shrivel, wither and die… of course, that’s another part of the story…





Cornish Woodlands…

We took some ‘time out’ recently (what with the wheels wobbling and such), to reconnect with what ‘matter’s

The substance/s of which any physical object is composed – of what we are made.
A situation, state, affair, or business: a trivial matter.
Something of consequencematter for serious thought.

Matter is the ‘everything’ around you. Atoms and molecules are all composed of matter; anything that has mass and takes up space.
In Middle English mater, and Old Frenchmat materie and Latin māteria: woody part of a tree, material, substance, derivative of māter: mother


And so a ‘walk in the woods’, as prescribed by the ever friendsome Brian Draper.

Brian reminds us of Caroline Leaf‘s ideas; that we’re wired for growth, but alas toxicity around us can hinder, mutate love into a right tangled mess.

Taking every thought captive …
Looking for green shoots …
Whatever praiseworthy … and whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, pure, admirable … excellent …
Think about such things… plant those thoughts, and ‘do‘ …

Life, in all its fullness, can be found in the essence, the heart, the roots of the minutiae.

The big picture might seem tangled and rife with confusion, hewn with a dearth of purpose – the reality is that one is breathing, one can feel, one can smile and one can grow. Simple interaction … fecundity.

You and I can, with a little help from our friends, ‘do’!

Incidentally: Photos from our walks on the banks of the River Cober and the River Fal in Cornwall.
Bike Uncategorized

Life’s too short to finish it early!

If you are fully aware of the info below, please share this with a friend…

cyclebm– When passing cyclists, give them plenty of room, time and space to manoeuvre.
– Before overtaking make sure there’s a room ahead
– Allow plenty of room… do not cut in.
– Give cyclists at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car.
– You MUST NOT overtake by crossing a solid white line… unless cycle’s travelling at 10 mph or less.


[Laws RTA 1988 sect 36, TSRGD regs 10, 22, 23 & 24, ZPPPCRGD reg 24]

Motorcyclists and cyclists

211  It is often difficult to see cyclists… Always look out for them before you manoeuvre…   Be sure to check mirrors and blind spots carefully.
212-3  When passing cyclists, give them plenty of room. Give them time and space to manoeuvre.


162 Before overtaking you should make sure the road is sufficiently clear ahead and that there is a suitable gap in front of the road user you plan to overtake.
163 Overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so.
You should allow plenty of room… do not cut in.
Give cyclists at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car.
165 You MUST NOT overtake by crossing a solid white line…
You may cross the line to overtake a cycle if they are travelling at 10 mph or less.
You MUST NOT overtake the nearest vehicle to a pedestrian crossing…
You MUST NOT overtake by entering a lane reserved for other vehicles...


Download a FREE sheet of 5 bookmarks to print, trim & share: FREE Bookmarks

SPONSORSHIP: If you know of bodies that might simply sponsor the production and distribution of such an important road safety message, then contact the Bookmark People; ranging from a few thousand homes to an entire region, Bookmark People can place targeted library and schools bookmarks which can deliver your message uniquely into the heart of the community.

Alternatively just share this post!    Life’s too short to finish early!


Two for joy.

Nowt specific to focus on, but lots of eddies and currents going on.  After the advent-urous Christmas excitements, January sees a wake of settling sediments.

P1080960xxI caught these two magpies this morning on the early morning walk with the dog. It’s usually Em that takes Bracken out, but occasionally, usually a Sunday, I’ll get up and out early leaving Em to lay in – realistically Em’s Sunday lay in will typically turn into and early morning fest with the kids.

One for sorrow, two for joy… yadda yadda… goes the ritual rhyme, there are various versions but we stop at two (as we did with the kids, a sighting of 3 or 4 magpies is not really entertained). We tell the kids that one for sorrow usually means that the one magpie has lost his friend but that it’s probably around somewhere you just have to look harder for it.

My mid-life turbulence is accompanied by a sort of ‘return to nature’ thing going on with the old personal world-view.  I sense this might be reinforced by the infotainment media’s magnificent nature/science output, part of the bread and circus we are fed.  We are served imagery and coverage that is just fantastic and ‘out of this world’!  It’s easy to take for granted the stuff we see on our TV/PC screens but the common place close-ups and slow-mo we see would not have been dreamt of when we were young!

It’s a beautiful but also raw and cruel natural world; stuff blossoms, blooms, decays, dies, transforms. Stuff kills, feeds, struggles, in circles and rhythms – nature is a wondrous thing.

2014-01-08 21.26.46I have and for now will refrain from writing about my relationship to our dog. Save to say it’s significant. Bracken is/was Em’s project but I have taken to him full on. Yes he’s a dog and we try to maintain animal / human sensibilities, but one can’t help noticing the warmth of a living creature when he sleeps on your lap. When he looks for attention. When he shows ‘signs’ of affection. When he identifies with you as his ‘master’?  It’s nature.  An ongoing discovery.

The morning walks, as with the daily commutes, bring you closer to the elements and the seasons – again you feel closer to nature, more alive.

Where these ‘out of this world’ experiences link up with a supreme being, a creator, a trinitarian god, I cannot comprehend. Nature is not the biblical God, nature is a living breathing growing moving feast that shapes us and makes us what we are. Just look at the recent storms, that form and reform our environment. Just look at the fragile chemical soups that form our brains and characters. We constantly battle to forge our place in the natural world. We constantly battle to settle our physiology and psychology with drugs and medicine as well as habit and ritual. There’s a bigger thing than us indeed, but perhaps focusing on it becomes harder as life goes on.

OK, I’m also currently distracted by a few books and stuff that I received last month which will no doubt cause effect in due-course but generally there’s…

Nowt specific to focus on… ? except the world WE live in?


Bad Weather and Glorious Views – (some foughts)

PICT2126I’ve always had cause to reconsider my experience of growing up in Cornwall – you can take the boy out of the county but not the county out of the boy etc… yadda yadda.

I have always failed to summarise this essential attitude that seems to pervade much of the Cornish being – previously, the best I could come up with is a curious ‘contentedness’ with their meagre lot. A brash humility, not necessarily humble contentment, but a brackish contentedness… a rough softness… a sugary saffron bun on a salty sea wall.

The steam engine and 3000 foot shafts were Cornish…
At sea, the most dangerous civilian job in the UK was Cornish…
The lichen and moss (soft silky) that coats many a granite outcrop is “Cornish”…
Causley’s Tim Winters was/is essentially Cornish…

Cornwall is the the second poorest place in the UK. It’s a place of contrasts: with expensive yachts and luxury second homes for Tarquin and Jessica’s summer sojourn, a place of union-jack shorts, Carlsberg nites, plastic buckets and chicken nuggets for Vince and Pat. It’s a place of community eating and religious feasting. It’s a place of craft and art as well as back-of-a-lorry markets. It was a place of place of warm chapels and cold pews. It was my home. It has a deep rich if damp past and an unknown future. Fantastic weather and a harsh climate.

Moving on from ‘contentedness’, I have recently reconsidered the notion of ‘reverence’.

In her book “An Altar in the World”, Barbara Brown Taylor, quotes Paul Woofruff “To forget that you are only human… to think you can act like a god – this is the opposite of reverence” Reverence – a virtue that keeps people from trying to act like gods. Barbara says “While most of us live in a culture that reveres money, reveres power, reveres education and religion, Woodruff argues that true reverence cannot be for anything that human beings can make or manage by ourselves. By definition, he says, reverence is the recognition of something greater than the self – something that is beyond human creation or control, that transcends full human understanding.”

My recollection of the Cornish world-scape recalls a sustaining reverence. The land sea and sky are so much bigger, the engineering and raw-material trades are harsh, the summer sun burns harder and brighter than man’s endeavour.

The Cornish love of music is another essential quality that I have always lived with.
Moving ‘up to England’ and losing touch with a ‘contented reverence’, I similarly found that a love of real music can be lost in the manufactured world that we find ourselves consumed by.
Bjork and David Attenborough recently discussed that essentially “singing is more fundamental to us than speaking”, and notions of the sublime, symmetry, transcendence, simplicity.
Musical expression is essential to human life? Live music, sound, reverberates, resounds, emotion… Song and rhythm agitate energy that can lift and stir…
Can I posit that feeling is more fundamental than thinking?…

The combination of emotional expression and an essential reverence, now there’s a thought.

Bad Weather and Glorious Views (just some foughts)


Disney… ?

Which story do you believe? Suspend disbelief…
What would the world be without “bread and circus”?
Foolishness? Loneliness? Love hurts… if you fight it…

We received a wonderful gift! However initially the prospect of the trip to Disneyland Paris was dread-tinged. Pop-up plastic tinsel-town, fixed grins and sparkly smiles, with extra salt and sugar, and inevitable apple-pie, s’il vous plaît… humm… “well, the kids will love it”

However, It was quite a remarkable experience. The Americans don’t do things by half do they!  I guess whether it’s love or war they can lay it on with spades and in style?

Generally, at the Disney complex, not a thing was out of place, nothing was tardy or broken, no litter or debris, constant shine polish and the prospect of sparkle. And, that’s not just the facilities and attractions, it’s also the attitude of “the cast”, from the actors to the cleaners, they radiated something “fresh”.  It’s hard to “believe” they did it everyday without dropping the sparkly, shiny, hope-filled ball.

Perhaps the “Euro”-Disney had a certain je ne sais quoi… that an all-American park might not. It has a sense of fantasy that ‘europeans’ might identify with, the mix of languages added to the mystery and the small-world-ness, it somehow aided the suspension of disbelief.

Yes it’s “Disney” and all that stands for (that’s another story), but put aside for a moment, the brands, the money, and the negligence, and what comes through is some kind of hope. As their incessant but agreeable music goes “There’s magic in the air…”

Yes it was sunny, the whole family was together, our children were wide-eyed and in wonderment. It made it easy to imbibe the joy, the glory(?).

Yes, in retrospect it’s to do with hypnosis, hysteria, the chords and phrasing and lyric of the music, “the powwher of suggestion”.  It’s sugar coated, but what is it that the sugar is coating?


We included a trip to Paris, along with berets, pidgin french, Joe Dassin and a trip up the tower etc.  In contrast to my last trip to Paris 15 or so years ago (which involved copious wine, trousers, and piano bars) it was quite a different experience.

I guess the whole experience is coloured by my midlife perspective but enough analysis.

Thanks G&P for the fabulous gift, for us, a trip of a lifetime.

Belive: OK, it is not etymologically correct, but if you can be-live the experience, (and are lucky to get the opportunity), then en-glory it.

Suspend disbelief… what would the world be without bread and circus!?

You won’t believe the dirt, the rain…
This cruel world seems full of such unhappiness
If our lives collide we may get out of this
Surges of light
Breaking the dark
Shining across this universe
If our lives collide then we’ll get out of this
We’ll soar into the never ending universe
Nothing else but gravity will limit us
We will ride our rocket ship and fly away
To the avenue
Of stars

Deacon Blue: “Stars”, “The Hipsters”


holy habits?

JPRWhiteonWhiteOK ‘discipline’, again…

I like the idea of ‘soft discipline’ (it’s best if you), but dislike ‘hard discipline’ (you should). Don’t we all?

We all subscribe to cultural norms whether we buy the t-shirts or not, and in turn we all soft or hard
discipline ourselves to think in certain ways.

I shy away from many harder disciplines especially superstitious, ritualistic historical ways.

I guess there always has to be motive, or reason.

For the last few weeks I have made the decision to “shave my facial hair” almost daily (otherwise known
as my “shrew”). To be clean shaven – not something that I have made a habit of in the past.

I have been entertaining the idea of ‘habits that help focus the mind’.

This is not for aesthetic, religious, or practical reasons – but as a trigger to remind me of ‘mindfulness’.

At first this seemed an odd idea, but it has produced effect.

I can’t pinpoint what effect, but it’s “a decision”, a catalyst, that reminds and projects onto one’s world

It requires time and action. It’s a physical, visual, sensual and personal act. But what have I associated it

Attitude, worth, image, health, cleanliness, imperfection, routine…

As a single act it’s relatively meaningless, but when combined with other ambitions it seems to resonate.

It reminds you of growth, change, time, nature…

It reminds you of ablution, presentation, countenance…

It requires a daily decision, growth just happens…

To be wild, to sculpt an image, or to cleanse and routinely resolve towards clarity… ?

#holyhabits ?


Sunday Morning Stories

Picasso said “Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.”
He also said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” 

It’s become a tradition in our house, along with the wake-up cuppa, for the four of us to have a bedtime(8am) story together, from Leo Sofer.

PT’s “Flowers”

The Palace of Stories is a collection of Leo’s stories for children.

Are you looking for high quality stories for your children that will not just entertain them but inspire them too?
Do you find mainstream culture – be it TV, movies or books – conveying messages to your child that you feel uneasy about?
For thousands of years, storytelling has been humanity’s way of passing on timeless wisdom to the next generation.
The best stories open our hearts, evoke love and compassion, remind us of our inner strength and encourage us to bring our deepest dreams to life.

The richness, and value of “the imagination” is so often lost in our world of instant image, sound and even taste.

Yes a quick-fix pick-n-mix is great every now and then, but we all know that to grow and “be happy, be healthy and get well soon” we need nourishing food.

It’s the same with how we inform and entertain ourselves; inside and above these stories there’s a wealth of truth for all.

As Leo says children can be “as hungry for stories as they are hungry for food… I want to make sure they get the nourishing sort of both!”

He has a website for adults too that we are yet to try as we’re happy with the kids’ stuff.

If you want to try it there’s a FREE PODCAST story every month – check it out.


a simple real ‘down-to-earth’ event


It’s almost Christmas and even the sternest of critics is likely to hum at least a bar of something related to Christmas over the coming few weeks.

Many will have heard the Christmas story again (you can find it in Luke 2:1-20).  Surprisingly the written part of this story is relatively short. The details in the Biblical account have been somewhat embellished overtime by high and pop culture retellings.

For me it helps to ‘realise’ the story to know that the flowery bits are there due to colourful imagination and that in essence it was possibly a simple real ‘down-to-earth’ event.

Many take  for granted that Jesus was born in a stable, it’s hard to un-imagine the imagery; however, the Gospel never mentions exactly where the baby was born – just where he was laid afterward. It’s just one of the embellishments built into mythology surrounding the Christmas story that we take for granted.

Did Mary ride a donkey to Bethlehem? Perhaps, but there are various other possibilities. The Bible doesn’t say how she got to Bethlehem. It only says that she came with Joseph.

Did Mary arrive in Bethlehem the night she gave birth? The Bible does not suggest this. They could have arrived weeks earlier. The Bible simply states, “while they were there [in Bethlehem], the days were accomplished that she should be delivered” (Luke 2:6). Arriving in town well before her due date would make more sense.

Thanks to Huw Spanner for these thoughts:

There were no inns or stables in first-century Bethlehem! The Gospels imply that he was born in a house full of family. Ordinary houses then consisted of a lower ground floor where the family’s animals spent the night and an upper ground floor (ie a stone platform) where the family lived and slept. The manger would simply have been an alcove in the side of the platform. More affluent families would have had a first floor – an upper room (as in the Last Supper) for relatives and other guests to stay in.

Early translators didn’t really know what the Greek word meant, so (IIRC) they guessed it meant “inn”. There is no mention of a stable in any of the Gospels in any translation. But first-century Bethlehem was much too small a town to have an inn, let alone a stable. Besides, the reason Joseph was in Bethlehem in the first place was because he had to go back to his home town for the Roman census. Therefore, he would have had family in Bethlehem, and all his relatives would have come down for the census. No one would have stayed in an inn (even if there had been one) if one of their extended family had a house locally – if for no other reason than that it would have been very insulting to their extended family. Joseph and Mary had been engaged when she became pregnant, and they were certainly married by the time she gave birth.

Thus, the situation the Gospels imply is that Joseph’s family home was full of visiting relatives – the upper room was full – so the baby was put in the manger. The house would have been warm, the manger would have had hay in it and Jesus would have been surrounded by his extended family. A very different picture from the one that Christmas carols and cards, and authors of blessed thoughts and Nativity plays, like to paint.

… in essence it was possibly a simple real ‘down-to-earth’ event.