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2007

1st September. St Davids Head is crowded with birds this morning. Over the sea dagger beaked bright white gannets dive for fish. On land ravens gather and their shadows on the rocks double their numbers. Black, with fierce beaks and full of mischief they chase the dogs and their wingspans show them to be bigger than the dogs. I sit on a lichen covered rock with a crown of ravens around my head, in warm sunshine and the ravens dance in flight. One flies by with a stolen white egg bright in its black beak.

raven on a rock, black against a blue sea, on StDavids Head, Pembrokeshire

ravens flying around StDavids Head, Pembrokeshire
hut circles on StDavids Head, Pembrokeshire

There was a time, centuries ago, when people lived here, in huts with stone walls and reed roofs behind a double wall to protect them from raiders. Now all that remains are the blunt teeth of the stone walls marking where the huts once stood. I would live here if I could and wake to the sound of the wind and waves and the calling of ravens.

Instead I go home, to do the hoovering. Ah well, so much for romance.

 

Later, went to fly my kite in the wind over the hill and sent all my worries and troubles up the kite strings. But, when I packed away the kite, feeling lighter and happy I realised that Bella had vanished. Four hours later, still walking, still looking for her with teh light fading fast, I gave up and turned for home, feeling weary and upset. There she was, right where I had left her, looking happy. So we wondered home together in the frail moonlight.

watercolour of landscape with snowleopard

seal pup and mother on the beach near Whitesands Bay in Pembrokeshire

redadmiral butterfly on a rock in the garden, bright and beautiful.

2nd September. After a few days of wind and rain the warm sun brings out a late crop of bright butterflies and dragonflies.

Kite flying in the fading light, while stars came out and the moon lit the kite against dark clouds. Hardly a breath of wind to keep the kite in the air.

3rd September. Kite flying again, this time on the beach and the moon paints the kite and the lifting waves. Later the moon makes a silver pathway across the water.

4th September. Back to school and settling to work. Walking to see the seals and the beach is full of pups. Sea lifting gently and so clear you can see the seals swimming underwater. Off shore the bull seals are gathering. On the beaches the seals pups wait and grow and learn to swim.

 

 

kestrel sitting high on a rock over the water

September 6th. A steady rain is falling. Outside the window a spider's web is breaking under the weight of water. Progressing slowly through paintings and the end of The Snowleopard is in sight. Cards and calendars for the Musicians Benevolent fund are printed and can be ordered by phone or online.

painting of a child with a snowleopatd, leaping into a deep blue sky

9th September. Sun and wind and kite flying with new kite in the field up the hill and the wind so strong it tried to fly away with Hannah. Had to hold on to her to keep her feet on the ground. The kite has such a pull it is hard to hold and difficult to land as it wants to fly.

photograph of seal pup learning to swim

Made bread, walked and listened all day to "Rogue's Gallery" Pirate Songs and Sea Shanties bought for me by Tom for my birthday, bawdy songs from the days of sailing ships, wonderful. Can't remember the last time I had a new cd that never even took a breath between being put back on. The children love it too, though it should have come with a parental warning for explicit lyrics!

Saw a seal pup, just missed seeing it born, blackback gulls fighting over the afterbirth in the water, pup still wet and blood on the beach.

 

photograph of seal and a new born pup

photograph of seal and pup feeding on the beach

11th September. Peaceful morning. Sitting on the rock at the top of the hill. A pair of choughs flew by, a raven. In the field a flash of rust red is a fox chasing rabbits. I saw only the fox because the dog caught the swift movement and watched. Back home a woodland brown butterfly, wings speckled with gold,flew beneath the blackthorn trees.

Found a site that shows wind speed and direction for the UK. Read about wind witches and spells for the wind made from knotted string, windstones and other magic.

13th September. Drove to Bath along busy roads but first walked the dogs up the hill to sit in the sun and the wind and chase a story.

14th September. Working in Bath and went to the wrong school. Similar name, different school, other side of Bath, felt such a fool. Talked for the first time about the poetry book and whilst reading aloud "Amulet" by Ted Hughes it was as if I had never heard or understood the poem before. A spell for the making of a wolf. Magic.

15th September. Early morning walking through a cathedral of tall trees with Tessa from Barefoot Books, leaves turning golden and strange light. Wild deer ran from us, shadows on the edge of the wood. Everywhere was bright with the light of water.

Later signing books at the Wellwisher Bookshop where the shop was full of brilliant books and I was made very welcome. Then to a gallery, The Bluestone Gallery, not for any purpose other than I was called in by the beautiful things they had in the window. A treasure trove of fine and lovely things.

16th September. In Oxford for a birthday party for Resurgence magazine. A poet talked of a kingfisher in sunlight, a man told a story of his granddaughter, a beach and the stars, a small story with a huge meaning. Very busy, full of ideas until my brain had stretchmarks from thinking too much.

18th September.Signing books in London and the city smells of junk food and cars, cigarettes and sweat, oil and perfume and flowers too. Traveled by foot, train, bus, taxi and underground in the company of Tessa, who is good company to be with. Finished the day at the Pan Bookshop where I was given a pirate flag. When the wind dies down I will hang it with the prayer flags in the garden, though with every second they are being unraveled and their message carried by the wind across the sea to Ireland.

19th September. Wonderful meeting with publisher in Oxford, though I had to phone a friend to find the address as I had not brought it with me! I do love publishers offices and this one had a cupboard of delights. Felt inspired on leaving, and the long road home was filled with ticking over thoughts. Then the sky was full to the brim again with stars and a shooting star sailed across the heavens and the wind blew hard from the south.

snowleopard appearing onto a page in watercolour.

20th September. Sea like a slate and porpoise so close in you could almost reach out and touch. In the evening the road home was black with birds, jackdaw, rook and crow.

21st September. Trying to settle back into painting but words hammer at my head. Need to finish the Snow Leopard, but have to write and more hours in a day are needed. The wind is from the south and gets fiercer and fiercer. When a gale blows like this it is easy to see the wind as an animal. Wrapped up in writing and waking at 5.30 to start writing in the peaceful hours of the day.

28th September. Finished writing and sent off words to a publisher and now wait to hear.

29th September. Sent the children off to school, put the dogs in a home and drove across Wales to Manchester. On the way there were red kites wheeling in the sky, steep sided cliffs in the hills with rock like black oyster shells, deep valleys, walls of rain, rowan trees where berries hung heavy and red.

In Manchester got lost and asked the way from bemused strangers and was rescued by two children who almost knew where they were and found the home of Val, from Manchester Gallery and museum. Val came home with Tessa from Barefoot Books, plucked from the train, and Wizz, her book devouring daughter.

30th September. Whistle stop tour of the galleries which are full off beautiful and covetous things. Book launch with Carol Ann Duffy and John Sampson. John had cases of wonderful instruments all of which he played and made fantastic music as the children watched. Sold lots of books, signed lots of books and met interesting and creative grown ups and great children.

photograph of Carol Ann Duffy and John Sampson and Tessa Strickland and lots of children with poetry books at the book launch for The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems.

Around all of this went to drop off my stuff at the hotel I had booked from the net, The Traveler's Retreat. Little did I realise that what I thought was the name of the hotel was in fact a warning. I had expected what it said on their web site, a haven of peace from the busy city life, luxurious, spacious and elegant. What I was shown into as my room was a room with four single beds jammed together, not particularly clean, and a bathroom down the corridor and off somewhere. They did move my things to another room and then took the payment for the room, while I was there, but not really aware of what was going on, and I stood there feeling like a small child whose ice cream has just fallen out of the cone and who has let go of a balloon at the same time. It was not luxurious, it was not a haven, and as the taxi drove away to take us back to the Gallery he was quite worried about what on earth we were doing staying there.

So after the book celebrations I went back with Val and rescued all my things and drove away, feeling stupid and cheated having fallen for the write up on the net. The fact that everyone I told about it, when I said it was in Harperhey, blanched! Oh dear. Anyway, Val put up with us for another night and then we headed off for Clitheroe in pursuit of hares.

 

 

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©Jackie Morris