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 […]

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 […]

Plant folklore, plant folk tales

What is a ‘folk tale?’ When does modern become traditional, and anecdote become received wisdom? For my book Botanical Tales, I’ve been researching the traditional folk tales recorded from many different parts of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, looking for stories where wild plants and trees play a central role, and relating these stories back to […]

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 […]

Who left all those rocks lying around?

Welcome to my blog. The first post is all about … Giants. Ah, giants. Clumsy, not very bright, slightly thuggish, ham-handed, hairy brutes, with gruff voices and violent tendencies. ¬†They’re slain by valiant knights in shining armour, to win castles and ladies and that kind of thing. Right? The old tales from the British Isles […]