Choose Your Path for 2014

I’ve caved in to blogging expectations and decided to publish a New Year post. This is actually slightly recycled from my Analog Photog Blog (which is in currently in the doldrums) and relates to an ongoing photographic project.

I have a question for you, dear reader: As you look ahead into 2014, and the year stretches before you, which of these paths best represents what you see ahead?


Bright, open and straight?


Wide yet disappearing quickly into the woods?


A frosty uphill?

Meandering Footsteps

Heck, I’ll just make my own meandering way over this field of snow?


Dark and threatening?

This Way

Just one little hump, and I have no idea what’s on the other side?

Woodland Path

Winding shady groves?

Dewy Fog

Journeying into a bright dawn?

This Way

Took a wrong turn somewhere?

A Slice of Middle Earth

Full of mystery and promise?

Deep Summer

Going deeper?

Long Light

Haunted by my own shadow?

Tarka Trail

Entering a dark tunnel, will there be light at the other end?

Brent Tor

Pilgriming towards the sacred?

Down There

A slippery descent?


The shining tranquility of my autumn years?

Stairway to ...

Emerging from a prison?

One Leading Nowhere Just For Show

The only way is up but how am I going to get there?

Waldridge Fell Path

Taking the high road?


The ancient track?

What will it be?

Just for the record, If you were to ask me, I’d probably say “All of the above.”

A Poem: Waking Journey

I recently unearthed, from the deep litter of several years of paper, a folder of poetry that I wrote between 1994 and 2001 when writing poems was one of the few ways I could make sense of life. I have always written not only for personal pleasure but from a desire to connect with other people. So many poets and authors have helped me to feel less alone that I have long kept in mind the conceit that what I write might help someone else to feel less alone. So I’m letting a few of these poems see the light of day again like messages in a bottle brought in on a fifteen-year-long tide.

Waking Journey
I didn't sleep at all
And dawn discovered me
Watching a projection of myself
Packing up this little room
With sighs

Books into boxes
Clothing to be given away
Getting back to the core of me
Papers of unfinished scores
Waiting still

Surely goodness
Will follow me where I am going
In the way it always has before now
And mercy I will get as much
As I need

When was I last
So true to myself as to drop
The trappings of expectation
And rewrite the script
By inspiration

And now I write
Like I have not written for years
Stumbling back to an old haunt
With another notch
On the staff

A little more
Wisdom in the eyes
Makes the old land look changed
The hair a little longer
Feels the breeze

I will return
To conquer the past
I will pack a few possessions
And leave the rest behind
For a while

(July 2001)

I did, in fact, return –  seven months later – with a few more notches on the staff and a little more wisdom in the eyes, and the place looked different; but I still have a few unfinished (musical) scores and balancing inspiration with expectation is an everyday battle.

More of my poems from this blog

Old Postcards

My mother began collecting postcards when she was au-pairing in Italy in the early 1970s. Her parents kept all the cards she sent home from her travels, including pictures of many Roman antiquities. These then formed the core of a substantial collection that has grown over the last 40 years as my mother passed the collection on to me and continues to supply me with any that she receives.

Now, just shy of some 700 cards, this collection is a fascinating documentary of where our family has lived and who our friends are and where they have travelled to. I can easily spend an hour gazing at the pictures and reading through the legends and feeling wistful about the days before email and instagram.

Since I have got in the habit of uploading something more visual at the weekends and, inspired by another blogger (Rosalilium),  I thought I’d share a few randoms from this collection:

Somewhere near Rome Circa 1970

There are no clues on this card, the reverse is blank but it is one of many my mother acquired in Italy.

Crab and Lobster Inn, Bembridge, Isle of Wight. Dated 2/3/70

My mother’s family has connections with the Isle of Wight and my grandfather kept a boat on the Solent. This was a favourite spot.

Mudmen of Asaro River area, Papua New Guinea. Postmark 1977.

This one is great, sent to my parents in Zimbabwe from a New-Zealand Uncle who was scouting new business opportunities in the province. Actually the back is worth a look, too:

Check that Silver Jubilee PNG Stamp!

I think the irony of the mudmen picture was calculated by the soap salesman.

C.E.G.B. Didcot Power Station, Oxfordshire. Circa 1987

I acquired this on a school trip to the power station, maybe one of the most uninspiring cards in my entire collection. Several years later I wrote on in but clearly never actually posted it to my best friend at senior school:

Dear Tom,
Congratulations on your A in media studies; I bet you’re pleased. I am very relieved to have got an A in maths. Sorry I did not write earlier to tell you what I have been up to. I want to start up a sort of journal publishing young people’s writing from all around the country. Tell you more when I see you at school.
From Seymour.
What a dull postcard!!?

Tom is a successful journalist now. I’ve been involved in a couple of unsuccessful magazine start-ups and have eventually resorted to blogging and podcasting.

September 2002. Made for the Art Show on Channel 4.

When I picked this up (I think it may have been at a cinema) I thought it might be worth something one day. I have no idea, it’s probably worth diddly-squat but it’s definitely one of the more curious cards in the collection.

Here’s a link to Rosalilium’s Vintage Postcards post.

Hatherleigh Market

Hatherleigh Market

Petrified Farmers at Hatherleigh

Hatherleigh, in the heart of Devon, lays claim to being the smallest town in the county and it is a proper “market town”. Not many towns with a market heritage can own that title in the present tense but on at least two days a week this is an important commercial hub for the locality.

Monday is auction day for sheep and cows. Tuesday is for rabbits, bantams, geraniums and any other old house clearance croc of the sort that makes its way here as if the nation were tilted sharply down to the left so all the floggable junk eventually tumbles into the south west.

Pic of a Headless Chicken

Headless Chicken For Sale

At Hatherleigh, men in flat caps put on a tie to go to market and there are beards and side-burns to be seen that make the Tyroleans look baby faced. There are auctioneers who talk faster than a New Monkey MC and punters at the sales who are so much part of the fittings that they get nicknames like “Shoot” and “Lofty”.

Hatherleigh is a great place to break the ice if you want to get into bidding at auctions. There is all sorts of stuff that goes for a couple of quid so it won’t break the bank. Be careful not to scratch your nose at the wrong moment, though, or you might be going home with a rusty milk separator or a cockrel for a fiver.

Prostate Scrappage Flyer!

This is why the world needs Copy Writers

If you are ever in North Devon on a Tuesday, the Hatherleigh market is not to be missed.

Be careful to ask for a “Devonshire Pasty” and not a “Cornish Pasty” at the cheap-as-chips, on-site cafe – or they will run you out of town. And if you have any unused prostates kicking around, then please consider participating in the “prostate scrappage scheme” that the rotary club are organising (see picture).


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