Monthly Archives: September 2015

28/09/2015: a smoking chimney

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A witch.

We’ve had the fire going over the last few days, even though these have been the driest and (possibly even) the warmest days we’ve seen since… June? Probably?

For some reason we seem to have an exponentially increasing washing pile. Perhaps it’s the universe expanding, and thus our washing pile expanding with it. Perhaps it’s that the days are getting shorter and thus there’s less time in the days to do washing. Hard to tell.

What’s been going on then?

IMG_7120Sybil’s back at kindergarten. Fury’s back at her weekly swim in Haverfordwest. Sybil’s back at her weekly swim down near Kilgetty.

Sybil has started an after-school drama club on Friday, despite not quite being at school yet. She’s loving that. She’s learning a song about raising rent maliciously to force a poor shoemaker out of business. She’s “a baddie”. Funny that, what with all the rent-control, property-dev, gentrification, protests/riots in the news.

IMG_7119But all that’s happening in London. Here in Landskeria we just have after-school drama clubs, and those funny late-flowering pink succulent type plants that the bees and butterflies go mad for. And those grassy red flowers that spring up along all the borders. They might be a type of lily. I have no idea.

They are a lovely echo to the many daffodils that sprouted so many months ago in spring, and I suspect they might be bulbs; but my recognition of our native flora is sadly lacking. So much lost knowledge.

IMG_7109The non-butter flies (AKA the flies) are going mad for the dying autumn sunlight on our South-facing white external walls, and the gaps left by the ventilation flaps in our Velux windows, and (consequently) the inside of our house. Again. Bloody flies.

Fortunately we have a few real genuine (non-cannibalistic) spiders. But I am always told to get rid of them when they grow too big. So I take them to my shed. And they might stay there. But suspiciously similar spiders of similarly gargantuan proportions soon turn up back in the bath.

The fireplace is surrounded by washing, which I ought to be folding up rather than writing this. Victoria is (finally, after three years in the county) at her first Welsh lesson. And I am preparing for my First of December POETRY BOOK LAUNCH, which will (assuming I can raise the funds to print it) mark the publication of my new poetry book, as well as the formal declaration of our nation’s independence from the UK, by a recitation of the state poem in the capital of the UK: London.

I’m excited. Aren’t you???

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F, S, A.

Last weekend (not the one that just happened; the one before that) we met with Victoria’s cousin’s family in Bream, in the Forest of Dean. Sybil and Fury got to hang out with their (possibly removed, possibly second?) cousin Aster, who is a veritable whirlwind and much more similar in character to Sybil, despite being closer to Fury in age. She celebrated her second birthday (inasmuch as a two-year-old celebrates anything, which is to say, inasmuch as they tend to celebrate everything). And they got to meet their new baby cousin Peggy, the very tiny and very cute daughter of V’s middle sister, whose family had driven up from Newbury to drop by and say hello. Suspicions about chess-grand-mistress-credentials could be neither confirmed nor denied at this stage. But I can say that I didn’t beat her at a game of chess once during her visit.

IMG_7073We went to Chepstow, which was culturally interesting as a Welsh border-town, but not especially picturesque (apart from maybe the bit by the river, which we only drove past). It did however house one of those terrific/horrific children’s play areas in a warehouse on an industrial estate, which is always a pretty much readymade recipe for the best children’s birthday you could hope for.

And there was a massive Tesco.

We also popped to Symonds Yat, thus technically straying from Gloucesterhisre into Herefordshire, and seeing that awful “Here you can” sign. And Symonds Yat, which is lovely.

But seriously… “Here[ford] you can”??? Awful. Worse than the worst Travel Destination country-branding projects. Just get a county flag, dammit, Herefordshire. I like you, but you need to get with the program.

I read two poems from the new book at the Cellar Bards night in Cardigan. It seemed to go well. I enjoyed it anyway, which is the point of a hobby. And it was nice to hear so many powerful and versatile voices (in poetry and prose) as one tends to when making the effort to cross the county border (and the Preseli Mountains) to rock up at the Co-op car park at 8pm of a Friday.

mockupI will be spending the next few weeks recording poetry videos, practicing poems, writing press releases, deleting press releases, rewriting press releases, curating some regalia, panicking, picnicking (hopefully) and, of course, looking after children. We will also be welcoming the only next-gen cousin from my side of the family so far, Hercules (and his mother).

I’m so excited about the next poetry book I’ve already started mocking up covers for volume four! (Volume three is half-finished, collecting dust in a drawer in The Cloud.) Foolish of me, as there are much more pressing issues at hand.

The weather is sunny. The environment is prickly. And the economy is good.

AV

09/09/2015: termtime eve

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From Carn Sian.

Driving through Maenclochog, it’s becoming evident that people are back at school. By all the schoolchildren all over the place; and the fact that I can’t get a parking space outside Sarah’s when I roll into town at 3:15 on my way to a mountain/hill. Even though I urgently need snacks with which to bribe my children up the aforementioned mountain/hill.

We (the Russian We) chose to keep Sybil at kindergarten for the first two terms of this year, so we’ve had two whole days more with her before she goes back. Which has been fun. It’s very much the norm having them both around so it’ll be sad for Fury when she’s not there in the mornings again. They’ve formed such a bond over this summer.

IMG_6881V’s parents have been down over the past few days and looked after the two of them most of the time.

This has been great for my productivity: I’ve painted a flagstone; I’ve repotted some fungus-gnat-riddled plants; I’ve (finally) taken the tent down in East Landskeria (leaving a bare and sorry looking octagon of misery behind in the top lawn); I’ve bought a sack barrow to move all the flagstones I mean to paint; I’ve got a draft of the new poetry book ready for final proofreading; I’ve filmed and edited a poetry video (for the first time in five months); and I’ve painted the walls around our new Velux windows. Actually that one last bit I think I might have done last week.

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Steve was here on holiday, so we met up for a swift one.

But I still haven’t mown the lawn. Maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow autumn term begins in earnest for us. (That bit of your life where you’re not beholden to school terms is over before you know it, kids.)

The gardener (who comes once a month and does more work in a day than I manage all year) has trimmed the edges for me, so all I need is a day with sun and/or a light breeze. Come on Landskeria, you can do it.

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My latest flagstone: the Pembrokeshire flag.

Negotiations with V concerning the mural (or lack thereof) continue to stagnate, with brief encouraging signs followed by wintry glares across breakfast tables. I’m taking out my artistic urges on our paving stones for now, but all that’s really stopping me letting loose on the side of the house is a big enough ladder and an awesome enough design.

The paints were from Aldi by the way. Trawl the internet (and your local homewares stores) for masonry paint in loud colours and you’ll be lucky to find a bold beige. Rock on down to Aldi looking for some cheap meat and veg and, hey Palermo, there’s your £5-a-tin every-colour-of-the-rainbow paint that apparently adheres to any given surface you might have mastery over.

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Getting eaten by a dinosaur at the dinosaur park.

We’re looking forward to a long weekend with V’s cousin and her family in Gloucestershire, and then Christmas with the Keebles in the Cotswolds, which sounds like it should be a hit ’80s Christmas movie. I’m sure it will be.

Another baby Keeble has been born, finally; this time in London. S & F have their second first-cousin, this time on the maternal/matriarchal side of the family. V has already met her and S is looking forward to it. I can’t imagine I’ll get to until Christmas, but I don’t doubt she’ll have memorized the alphabet backwards by then, because her mother is a teacher at a fancy school and her father is a maths genius. She’ll probably be a chess grandmaster (-mistress?) by her third birthday.

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Sybil and Grandad. She took this herself on timer!

I’m pretty sure Fury will be a wrestler. Sybil’s destiny remains uncertain. I’d kind of like to have a family business for her to take over, because I had no idea what I’d do as an adult when I was a kid. And I think I’d have liked some certainty. Or an option. One of either would still be welcome, but (I don’t care if this sounds sentimental) having the opportunity to be a dad is the best “employment” I’ve yet come across. Even better than being a copywriter! Definitely better than being a poet, although technically I’ve never really made money out of that. Which is probably for the best. My children are much funnier than anyone I’ve ever sat next to at work. Even the good ones. (Shout out Ben.)

I’m rambling, which is what happens when I set out meaning to be concise. And have to write stuff while my super-slow rural broadband is still working out if I’m allowed accompanying images or not.

Let me think whether there’s any other news…

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Lung? Heart? Liver???

Our dog Frida has been gradually dismembering a pigeon corpse over a period of about a week. We think she found it in a hedge. We still haven’t run out of the month’s supply of Waitrose wine we had delivered almost a month ago(!) Although we have cheated a bit by having beer too in-between.

I’m trying to organize a poetry book launch in London, but thus far my efforts (which have been draining) amount to little more than saying so on Facebook and then emailing a pub that hasn’t emailed me back in the five days since.

Morrisons in Haverfordwest seems to have been cursed; a van was on fire in its car park yesterday and today a lorry full of straw fell over on the roundabout right outside it. This might not sound like news to you, but this is Landskeria’s equivalent of the Ottoman Empire’s defence of the Dardanelles in WW1.

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Kidz.

The world (the wider world, beyond the shores and borders of our privileged bubble) continues to show all the signs of heading toward some sort of boiling point. I assume/hope it always looks like that from afar. But a lot of people seem quite afraid of the future right now. I’m not. I’m getting a sack barrow delivered any day now. And a shed after that. Yet another shed. This will be the fourth shed in our garden. I type this from the first.

I will be prepared for the future.

The weather has a lot of explaining to do. The environment is fertile. The economy is good.

AV

A technical aside: if some of these images appear the wrong way around, blame WordPress. I spent precious time editing them and it seems to have overruled me. Also, if anyone knows how to retain the click-through links to the original-size images, do let me know. It’s annoying that they all become static stamp-sized thumbnails.