Exo-skeletal, curl-you

round the ground

but not underneath.

The swirls which sought

to be root became air.

A renegade sun-seeker,

nestled in light.

A celtic note

from that garden dug.

The smell of damp brick and moss,

in a deserted corner.

A fox dance-and-bow on my wall.

Gives a glimpse of

our own shifty nature.

A chance deviance,

An adaptive twizzle

of root on rock

made a bud for freedom.

Until I chopped.




Conditional Human

When I’m out walking I don’t compare. I look, I experience. I let it in and it does me good. When I go out for a walk I ‘escape’ the life I chose to live. Is that ok? What is it about me which needs that to happen?

We are always thinking about what’s wrong with the world. Sorry, here I am doing that. What am I missing out on by feeling like that? What is it that gives me my identity; my idea of being a certain person in a certain place?

I’ve always wondered what makes me different from others. Why am I different from that person? Most importantly from my own personal view; why am I not as good or as interesting as that other person. And what makes me feel like that? I am contained within a system of thinking which defines, compares and ultimately decides for me. This feels really restrictive.

In nature

I grew up in Ireland. I now live in England. I’ve lived here half of my life. Does that make me half-Irish and half-English? And if so, which half? And how would I go about identifying that half? How can I identify what is my whole?

As a kid I found it difficult to have an identity. I had issues with being who I was and instead decided that I had to be what others were expecting. Am I alone in this? As it turns out I have spent about three-quarters of my life so far identifying myself through what I think other people might think of me! Three quarters of my personality based in uncertainty. Enough to make me not enjoy life enough. And if that doesn’t sound complicated enough, here I am looking for answers!

There’s no doubt that life is complicated. We have a lot of things pulling at us. We’ve got relationships, responsibilities and we have to be in certain places at certain times.

I get a lot from nature. There’s no possibility that a rock will judge me. I can see two trees and they’re just trees, one is no better than another. Until I think about which burns best, of course.

My aim to get to the end of judging myself and others. Then I can be whoever I want to be. Just the me that’s left. Having a ball.


Conditional Human

Something afoot

So I’ve decided that after 20 years of hard graft (11 years of which have been in sustainable food) I’m going to pack it in for a bit and do something different.
As of the end of this year I’ll be finishing at Glebelands (which has been an amazing experience) to get some part time work. I’m going to spend the rest of my time planning a big walk I’m going to do next spring.
I’m going to walk from Manchester (where I live now) to Dingle (where I grew up). For the observant among you I can confirm that there IS a sea in there too https://goo.gl/hEEkWX.
I’m very excited about this and it’s taken a lot for me to even consider that I can get away from ‘responsible work’ and actually do something which has been knocking about in my head for a while. This is going to be great!
So why am I doing it? What’s the point? Why bother telling you?
Well the point is to just do it so I am, but what inspired me was then need to pay tribute to the life of my sister, Aoife.
She would have been 38 today. Happy birthday, Aoife!
Aoife had a severe mental and physical disability, so bad that she couldn’t walk or talk. It was even hard to know if she recognised us sometimes. She was poorly most of her life and our relationship wasn’t that of ‘normal’ siblings. No fighting or anything! Grieving for her has been confusing and difficult at times and I want to give myself the space to process it all properly whilst doing a massive walk too! Then maybe I will understand what it means to me to have had a very unusual sister who is no longer alive and who I want to never forget.
I’m also going to raise shedloads of money for a worthy mental health charity/charities whilst doing it and this is where I will be asking for your help too.
I haven’t chosen the charities yet, I’m finding it a bit tricky (I’d like to do half for and Irish one and half for and English one) but I’ll be getting on to that very soon.
Putting this out there really helps spur me on to get moving and get it sorted.
I should be on the road from late spring and it will take about a month.
So I WILL be posting updates, blog pieces, asking for advice, donations, a lift across the sea, support and maybe even contacts for places to crash along the way.
It starts now 🙂

Something afoot


Interesting what walls are made out of.

I took my daughter and dog out for a scoot to the pigs the other day, between downpours. Autumn weather settling in, leaves and birds scattered in the sky. Clouds racing along beyond.

“I don’t like the wind”, she says. I then take time to point out that the crows are dancing in the wind and how fast the clouds are moving and how unusual and lovely that is. She reckoned that the clouds weren’t moving fast and she still didn’t like the wind. I was a little disappointed but on we went. Off to see the pigs.

Scooting is a thing to do. I didn’t want to be carrying the scooter and her so I was encouraging her to keep going in a hands-in-pockets-dad kind of way, one step removed. She then looked in a puddle and started playing with a spent firework cartridge in the muddy puddle. ‘What’s she doing now?”, went my thoughts, ‘Come on!” I said, impatiently.

After a moment I realised I had forgotten what I was there for. She was happy, the dog was happy and what was I doing? I was half way to the pigs and fretting about getting there. I stopped. I bent down and joined her in the puddle. The point faded and the pigs disappeared. I was lost in the puddle, in the beauty of watching this little human play puddle. Swirling mudcurrents, drips, splats and splashes became my moment. Little, beautiful things. I instantly recognised that I had let go. I remembered that every moment is amazing and just being with it is enough. This type of experience is new for me but becoming more frequent. I focussed on that seemingly meaningless fingersnap of time and felt its great importance. Who needed pigs?!

Today is writing day and the father-in-law dropped in last night. I read a blog post by a friend this morning which inspired me. I thought I wouldn’t get around to mine and felt a bit obliged to sit and eat toast and chat when I should be exploring my nature connection and writing. We talked writing for a bit. He said, “what about people connection?” I told him I’d been writing about that too, whilst secretly wanting to be in the woods, sat on a fallen tree trunk like Buddha. Eyes closed, mind open. Then again it hit me. Here I was not being here! Straight away I was inspired. I knew where it would take me. No thinking needed.

We then sat and I’m sure I felt some energy was swirling around us as we all acknowledged how inspiration is the moment. He said “You can’t go looking for it” and he was right. I understood the value of that moment and really felt the human connection, the warmth, the privilege of being there with people I love, and I revelled in every word we spoke. They were anchors in a futureless existence. I write.



Kersal Dale

DSC_0638It starts off damp and we’re in the woods. This piece of urban countryside is sometimes about searching. We didn’t have a great plan for the walk but getting to the cliff was part of it. We listen to each other and begin to find a groove past the poplars and on up through freshfallen leafy tracks. A bridge becomes a draw but the river is enough.

Three cormorants stand alert on a tree stump islet in identical pose, three perceiving with one consciousness in that moment. One breaks off to hunt.

In time the mood relaxes and conversation expands. Structure starts to melt. The wandering has purpose. We see trails and follow tracks in the woods. A dark, Lowry-like bulrush reed bed sits corralled in this urban, outer Manchester’s past industry place. Still. Minds wander toward plumes of smoke of another era, settling gently in the air. That grim weather, silent and invasive.

Beeches cause warmth and wonder, dark trunks stand in an undulating amber carpet bordered by ivy coated slopes. Red brick studded earth mounds tell a distorted truth. The land reclaimed and our work abandoned through smog and water and slow creep.

Then suddenly, we’re out, spat out next to the car, unwittingly.

The cliff says who goes there.

Kersal Dale