A walk in the wild woods?

Listen to any good traditional storyteller and, sooner or later, you will find yourself walking into the woods.  Woodlands are full of immediate life, colour, sound, scent, and danger, no matter what the season. They are worlds away from the barren, unforgiving desert, or farmland all tamed and neat; they don’t have hidden kingdoms like […]

The battle for the heart of Albion

In Plymouth, past the Barbican and past the point where the Mayflower is meant to have set sail, along the coast towards the Hoe beneath the harsh angular stone of the Citadel, look out over the ivy-clad concrete wall to the sea, and then look again with your eyes tuned to the wild. On the […]

Magical meadows

Every place holds its own stories: echoes of people, wildlife and the land itself. Widecombe-in-the-Moor looks like a rural idyll, a thriving small community tucked away in a Dartmoor valley surrounded by heath and moor and woodland. Any student of Devon folklore will know this place holds some great stories, of Dewer the devil, of […]

Hats full, caps full

Old apple tree, we wassail thee, and hoping thou will bear For the Lady knows where we shall be when apples come next year   It’s been a really difficult January here on Dartmoor: biting cold, constant rain and high winds, short daylight, relentless work, and very little to warm the heart. So what do […]

High Kings and heritage

I’ve been very privileged to work with High Bickington Primary School recently. High Bickington is a small village in north Devon where the church is next to the primary school, with a special doorway between the two. Following my work with the school on community trails and landscape, with Devon Wildlife Trust through Beaford Arts’ […]

Tree tragedy

Elm hateth man, and waiteth Till every gust be laid. Rudyard Kipling (1906) There’s a particular book on my bookshelf that’s been high in my mind recently.  Written by Gerald Wilkinson and published in 1978, it’s called Epitaph for the Elm. I found it in a little bookshop in Norwich in the 1990s, when the regenerating […]

Weeds and wonders

I spent all of yesterday in Great Torrington in north Devon. The good people of Torrington, and arts company Wolf and Water, are holding a festival to celebrate the Reverend Keble Martin, sometime vicar of the parish and author of The Concise British Flora in Colour. This groundbreaking book was published in 1965, and had […]

Rich connections

More of the Devon coast to coast walk today. In early summer, Devon is bursting with greenery and birdsong and life of all kinds. We are truly blessed to live in such an abundant part of the world. Everything out there has its own story. The baby bird, just fledged, a tiny scrap of belligerent life, vulnerable […]

Fairy confessions

British folk tales are a big part of life for me right now. Any spare moment I have, I’m working on my book ‘Botanical Tales.’ There’s a lot of stories now, and yet new ones keep on appearing. Listening is as important as writing: to go with the inspirations that regularly turn up as part of the […]

Direction of travel

It’s the Spring Equinox, the time of equal day and night, that will tip over into the summer months and warmer times. It’s meant to be a time of balance, equilibrium, and calm. Allegedly. Looking around me, I see very few people in a state of balance. Over the last few weeks, I have been drawn […]