letting go (farewell, WildWrites)

Imagine a colour. Let’s say, a pastel green. Breathe that colour in, right in, all the way from the bottom to fill up to the top of your lungs. You’ll feel your diaphragm as you pull in more air – all the air you need until you are replete. Then breathe out, slowly, ever so slowly. If you like, make a small hissing sound, like a birthday balloon losing air, as you imagine that the colour – that glorious pastel green – growing from you and around you in an iridescent bubble of green light. Yes, it will pop. Even though you may mourn or think longingly of what was the memory will be a sort of gift, even a painful gift. Although it can be horrible, that letting go, the shock of a pop. That’s OK. Continue to breathe in other colours and release…

There comes a time when a project, or moment, or some other element in life, needs releasing and this is that time for the Wild Writes project. Initially, it was a family-friendly writing + biodiversity project based in Reddish Vale, Stockport. It has grown since then to a personal blog, a writing blog, and an experimental sandpit for different thinking. It was also a place to capture the poetry that I’d written for my daughter – it will have been ten years since she was stillborn this September. In those ten years, and the eight or so that this blog has been in existence, there has been a lot of change. Indeed, I’ve changed – although I’ve still to kick that sporadic lack of confidence, now identified as imposter syndrome, where it hurts.

The Wild Writes project wouldn’t have existed without the MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) and Pedagogic Studies that I started in 2012 while on the maternity leave I didn’t think that I deserved – I was an emotional mess. (The course was a choice between focussing on ecology/natural sciences (Open University) and returning to write more seriously (MMU). Creative writing won the toss.) And the PhD wouldn’t have happened without the MA and leaping into the weird and wonderful world of traditional storytelling, and, additionally, there was the folklore book (ask me for my true opinions about the latter in the pub someday…). I am grateful for all the opportunities and the experiences that I’ve had along the way including a house move in the final year of my PhD (I do NOT recommend that anyone tries this; I still feel tired just thinking about that feat).

In summary: I will not be updating Wild Writes anymore and this site will naturally disappear at the beginning of 2022 (it’s a biennial arrangement with IONOS).

For what it’s worth, I have added this site to Web Archive. Even though the site will be inactive the content should still be findable. I’ll probably recycle some of the writing at some point; that’s how I roll.

So, this is sort of a farewell and a thank you for following both this blog and the Twitter account over the last eight years or so. If you want to see what Jennie did next then I’m reflecting on my life as a library assistant, reading, and making over on Librarian Crafting. (Strictly speaking, I’m not a “Librarian” – CILIP are sort of strict about that – but I am a library assistant and a recent member of CILIP!)

I hope you’re well and – although this may seem a little emo – I wish you all the best of everything during this horrible pandemic and in this strange and magical and sad and glorious thing called life.

The September Baby

oak leaf

Autumn, spring in reverse,
both curse and pleasure,
damp dread seeps into my bones.

But when does it start? This change?
Late August? Perhaps it’s the small things,
the bite of the wind in the morning,
the condensation on the windowsill.
The still dew on spiderwebs spun
between hawthorn hedges,
the haw fruit are festival baubles.
Ash keys unlock the sky,
will they be there at the end of
my lifetime?

In September, the sudden shift of colour,
a golden ombre wave, flirtatious red highlights
before the great undressing.

October is the auburn month,
the leaf litter crunch,
low sunshine through skeletal branches.
Our breath steams,
we pretend that we’re dragons.

And, as we lay another fallen
leaf on your grave, I ponder
little losses and wonder, once again,
how quickly the year seems to turn.


It began when I traced time in the condensation gathered on the windowsill. 

The turn. The season slips gently from late summer to early autumn. The tree leaves shift colour from their starchy, chlorophyll to yellows, gold-flecks, tannins, dip-dyed red; carotenoids, anthocyanins.

panorama from Royd Road

My working day usually starts with a “commute”: a circular walk from the house taking in Royd Lane, up a slight hill, down a steeper hill, then back up a moderately steep hill again, then home (this route order changes; to mix it up a bit, you can do it counterclockwise!). I’m a fair-weather commuter, travelling when the mood takes me.

I’ve felt fatigued since lockdown started, I think it’s down to stress and worry mainly. Anxiety is never far away. I’ve been feeling a little worse this week so thought I’d best get checked out. I am fine, of course, the worry chips away at me, though. I worried this morning whether it was hypochondriac to be hypochondriac.

These daft circular worries, constantly rippling out, the repeated weary sensation of what now? Feeling angry and dismayed about the country that I live in. Being part of the world and yet not feeling like I’m of it; feeling like I am unable to effect any significant change. Watching the unfolding horrors of the climate crisis – wildfire, soil erosion, water stress – observing biodiversity collapse in motion. Where are the oak galls? Where are the small tortoiseshells that we had an abundance of last year?

Shifting colours, becoming something else, wondering what comes next.

Crafting connection

Reflecting on my own experience and drawing upon any relevant literature.


Reactive crafting in response to an event or issue. Such as temperature blankets, a COVID-19 project, or a themed/unthemed knit/crochet/make a long (often referred to as KAL, CAL, and MAL respectively)

Cosy crafting or crafting for rest, relaxation, looking after your mental health

Radical crafting / craftivism

Yarn bombing and radical embroidery.


Shared pedagogies and communities of practice

The joy of making your own clothes

Although I’m an absolute amateur, I’ve now made a few garments that just, well, fit. (OK, with more than a few making mistakes, but I’m calling these learning!) There’s no changing room self-hate, no trying to squeeze into different sizes and feeling that specific feeling that emanates from years of internalised fatphobia, no weird shapes from a piece of clothing that sort of fits in some places and gapes and/or constricts in others, no feeling confused about opaque supply chains and the ethics of clothes construction. And: POCKETS. Pockets in everything I say.

I’ve been inspired to write this following a brief Twitter interaction with LH/Daisy May Johnson. I’ve been making my own clothes for nearly three years now, even though I’m not quite at Wardrobe Architect levels. I’m also not 100% homemade pants; I still buy clothes from charity shops or save up for something that I know is a little more ethical.

I’m lucky enough to (semi) work in academia where, fortunately, my brain is valued more than whether or not I’m wearing make-up or fancy shoes. In my other job (library assistant) as long as I don’t look like I’ve leaped into a hawthorn hedge no-one really notices the dodgy serging within my Tilly and the Buttons Coco dresses, or the hacked In the Folds x Peppermint Magazine Vintage-Style skirt (see below images. I love this skirt – it was made for a storytelling event but I wear it loads). I wore a newly made Grainline Scout Tee to my PhD viva which I do think – along with my amazing supervisors cheering me on – helped my confidence quite a bit too.

Sewing isn’t always a go-to hobby for me – plus I’m definitely late to the dressmaking and sewing revival party – however, along with learning how to knit it has really helped me with spatial awareness and maths. Numbers tend to blur and dance when I look at them, but playing with patterns and dimensions and counting stitches have helped immensely. I’ll never be a maths genius but I’m not as intimidated anymore.

And sewing is good for making gifts or for making masks to help protect friends and family.

A selection of handmade masks.(Three layers of fabric, not medical grade but better than catching or passing on COVID-19. Plus: Daleks!)

A selection of handmade masks. (Three layers of fabric, not medical grade but better than catching, or passing on, COVID-19. Plus: Daleks!)

I am aware of the privileges that come with having access to a sewing machine, and fabric, and some spare time. I am aware that not everyone has access to these things, however, I hope that I can do my small bit at addressing the exploitative fast fashion industry and in trying to be more sustainable. It’s a quiet form of activism; for me, my ‘feminism and sewing seem fundamentally connected‘ (see: Bain, J. (2016) ‘“Darn right I’m a feminist…Sew what?” the politics of contemporary home dressmaking: Sewing, slow fashion and feminism.’ Women’s Studies International Forum, 54, pp 57-66). For me it’s about: taking back control, creativity, mindfulness, and attempting to address some of the broader issues around making, and social and environmental justice.

As for making clothes, while it’s not a panacea, and I’m no accomplished seamstress, this skill has allowed me to feel more comfortable in my body and not be constrained by shop sizing or by poorly fitting bodices. (Although you may notice that the one below wasn’t brilliant; I put the boob darts in the wrong place.)

A white broderie anglaise Nina Lee Bloomsbury blouse and adapted black linen In the Folds x Peppermint Mag Vintage-Style skirt (with amazing cavernous pockets) hang on a door frame.

A white Broderie Anglaise and cotton lawn Nina Lee Bloomsbury blouse (fabric from Stafford Market and Like Sew Amazing. And an adapted black linen In the Folds x Peppermint Mag Vintage-Style skirt (with amazing cavernous pockets).

An uncomfortable Jennie tries to take a rubbish selfie in the mirror while wearing the previous clothes. She is holding "Blanche the Baum Rabbit" crocheted for Sheffield Gothic.

An uncomfortable Jennie tries to take a rubbish selfie in the mirror while wearing the clothes above. She is holding “Blanche the Baum Rabbit” crocheted for Sheffield Gothic in 2015.

mini writing workshop – rewrite the rules

This is an exercise from ”Play-Full Writing’, a workshop I gave in March for Touchstones Creative Writing Group. Full blurb for that workshop is on the sporadically updated Writing Rochdale blog.

This is a fifteen – twenty minute (or however many minutes you would like!) exercise that I’ve written up as a self-led activity. Any questions please drop a message in the comments box below and if you’d like to share your work I’d love to read it. One of my favourite things about running creative writing sessions is the magic that comes from a blank page to a page full of ideas, potential, and wonderful words.


You will need something to write and record your ideas and work with – PC/laptop/phone/tablet, paper and pens/pencils, audio recorder.

Part One: the games we played

I’d like you to think about what games you played as a child. At home, at school, in parks, elsewhere. I’ve offered some suggestions below but feel free to add yours. If possible, think about games that either had rules with them or rules that you made up. Jot these rules down as you go. Set a timer for 2 – 5 minutes for this or just go until you can’t think of any more.

  • Tag (run!)
  • British Bulldog (run FASTER!)
  • What time is it Mr Wolf? (“DINNERTIME!”)
  • Football / netball / anything with rules plus a ball
  • Elastics/Jumpsies (one of many primary school chants: “Eng-land, Ire-land, Scot-land, Wales / in-SIDE, out-SIDE, donkeys’ tails”)
  • Card games (playing cards, Top Trumps, Pokémon, Magic the Gathering…)
  • Board games (sometimes it’s wet so chess seems a good option until you realise that the lad from the year below has demolished your King in five moves… just me?!)
  • Clapping games
  • Roleplaying games (let’s pretend we’re aliens)
  • Computer games (Pong, Space Invaders, Mario Bros., Sonic, Tony Hawks Pro Skater, Assassin’s Creed, Nethack etc.)
  • It’s all about tree climbin’, mud slidin’, brook leapin’ action
  • I’m sure you can think of some more – have a think! Give yourself a few moments and list them.

Part two: the fun we had(?)

Now, delve deeper into your own experience. I would like you to think about how the games made you feel. Pick one, or two of the ones from your list and jot down your memories. Have a think about the others that were around to if any, think about them too. Again give yourself two – five minutes to think about this.

Part three: put it all together

This final part is all about freewriting. So give yourself ten minutes minimum on a timer and consider the following within your piece that you’ve already considered above:

  1. What are the rules of your chosen game?
  2. What are your memories of the game?
  3. How could you change the rules?
  4. What could be the effects of this on the game / on other players / on you?
  5. What happens next?

Write a poem or piece of prose, if you get stuck, write the name of the game over and over until you can carry on. This is your first draft so don’t worry, it won’t be the final piece if you want to give it a polish.

To set you off here’s a slightly more polished draft of a poem I wrote using this exercise that you can download here: British Bulldog, March 2020 and you can hear me reading the poem on Soundcloud via this link. This is the third draft of what was a ropey first draft with lots of repeats. If you would like to polish your work, give yourself a further twenty or so minutes for the next draft. And then the same for the next draft. (Because writing is rewriting!)

Good luck, and if you do give this a go, and want to share it, please do so in the comments below 🙂 If you’re commenting on someone else’s piece, please be kind and constructive. Remember: it’s not the person, it’s the work you’re critiquing!

the write way up

Yes, everything is kind of f*cked but there’s still writing to be written and stories to be told. Some reflections on a month of writing every day while staving off the quotidian existential dread.

At the beginning of June I dusted myself off, avoided reading news headlines, and took a few things in stock. I have tried to move beyond the feelings of: “Jeez, this thing really IS going to kill everyone we’ve ever known and ever loved, and OMFG everything really IS shit, n’est-ce pas?” to a kind of acceptance that this is the way things are at the moment, to do my bit and follow the science rather than the spin-the-wheel-of-random advice from the current UK government. (AKA the cabinet of the contrary: “we’ll clap for carers but buggered if we’ll test them for CV19 or give ’em any PPE”. And, seriously, what’s with the  Berlusconi levels of machismo/pointless willy wanging push-ups? Our current PM is looking less like a Winston Churchill <em>Stars in Their Eyes</em> attempt and more like a thatched cottage after a rave.) I am worried that three weeks after “Super Saturday” the Nightingales may be at capacity. I have also been trying to avoid the horrific foaming racists on Twitter (report and block, report and block, report and block ad infinitum). For the avoidance of any doubt: black lives matter and do consider supporting the amazing black curriculum campaign and initiative.

And, finally, finally, finally, I *think* I’ve pulled myself out from that self-absorbed sad feeling of: ‘now I’m two years post-PhD viva everyone has moved on, and everything within that field is so beyond me that I’m less on the sheep dotted fringes and more floating just off the continent of WTAF’. I know it’s on me and I’m playing catch up in my reading, and doing the research and redrafting and updating my work from 2018 (see below).

Right, slightly ranty and rambling update out of the way for now and onto the creative process and progress goodness. During June I took a free course provided by Writers HQ (go and click on that link; they’re great) which was called ‘Couch to 5K Words’ (#C25KWords) riffing on running without breaking a cardio-related sweat. This was mostly to kick my arse back into a semblance of a writing habit again. Oh, and to work on what I think might be a novel. Like a proper novel. Like not one that might sit on my laptop and gather pixellated dust (looks at the ‘Ley’d’ file: 50,043 words of something). I have always thought that I didn’t have a novel in me but this time I might be wrong. Anyway, it’s sort of sci-fi/fantasy (naturally), climate crisis concerned (because stories are ostensibly about what it is to be human, this is a huge crisis and it involves all of us to process it and try to mitigate in whatever way possible), could be considered YA/crossover (if you want to simplify reading into banded ages and, spoiler, I don’t believe in banding reading in ages), and set in Manchester (but of course).

#C25KWords included daily prompts and writing exercises focussed on working up to 25+ minute writing sprints which I appreciated. I’m an enthusiastic fan of sprints; I discovered this while working on the writing and rewriting of my PhD thesis. I work better in focussed sprints, it might not work for everyone but it suits my easily distractible brain. (Oo, robin on the bird feeder! *looks out of the window*) Writers’ HQ also provides free dedicated fora in which to share victories and frustrations with other writers. Did I mention that I think they really are great? While I should have been running a writing working shop today – and, LOL, it was going to be focussed on “travel writing” – it’s lovely to find an online community of writers in (temporary) lieu of actual bodies in a room/outside. There are certainly pros and cons around online interaction (see, for example, Alicea Lieberman & Juliana Schroeder (2020)), however, it will do as a temporary measure until we can run physical writing workshops again.

As for Writers’ HQ online workshops? Well, I’m now toe-deep into the next course – yes, I bought a membership which I’ll offset next year as part of my freelance work – and it’s helping me to get my structure together for the novel. Who knows where it will go, possible nowhere, possibly somewhere. We shall see and I’ll add notes on the writing process as this interests me when I read / see others talking about their creative processes. (Plus, as a nerdy but precarious academic, I am fascinated by practice-as-research / research-as-practice so I would like to share some of my learning post-PhD in this area as well as continue my own learning.)

And I’ve kicked out a couple of pieces for consideration. Fighting the fear that seems to stop me with getting work, and words, out there. If you’re writing, or making art, I hope that it’s going well. If not, I am sending gentle thoughts your way.

Next Thursday there will be a writing exercise which I ran back in March (AKA what feels like five years ago). Until then happy writing, happy reading, happy causing a ruckus against all the bad things.

WiP it good! (Writing works in progress for July / August.)

  • Blog post on Ashenhurst Pond (this will go up once I’ve researched some more, I’ve found a few maps but this will be a wait-until-the-libraries-reopen-job).
  • Tidying up some flash fiction for this year’s Mslexia competition.
  • Folklore piece (might film it, might not, depends how confident I’m feeling).
  • Slow progress on an article for an academic journal (for me, not as part of current PDRA role which does involve collaborative journal writing) which could be a long shot as I need to get up to speed with what’s been going on (see above).
  • Continuing work on a collection of short pieces inspired by fairytales  – this is a passion project / creative procrastination activity – and I’m taking my time with it.
  • Getting back to collaborative projects…

Reading round up, January – June 2020

An image of Jen Campbell's novel 'The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night' and a fossilised leaf next to it.

An image of Jen Campbell’s novel ‘The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night’ and a fossilised leaf next to it.

Here’s a round-up of some of the books I’ve read between January – June and some brief commentary around the ones I felt strongly about. There are a few I enjoyed but I just don’t feel moved to write anything about them (e.g. Lethal White which I probably won’t remember in a few years time). I will not be writing about ones I really hated / DNF’ed this time though (hello, Mythos). I will be writing longer reviews of books going forward.

Jen Campbell (2018) The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night, Two Roads
This is an unusual collection of, I think it might be fair to say, experimental short stories. Jen is also a poet and this comes through in some of the more dreamscape-esque stories (e.g. ‘Plum Pie. Zombie Green. Yellow Bee. Purple Monster.’). The short story ‘Bright White Hearts’ mirrors some of the poems in The Girl Aquarium. I loved the opening story ‘Animals’ which had an Angela Carter fairytale bite to it.

While I absolutely loved some of the short stories in this collection, I felt that I just wanted, well, a little bit more from some of them. (Which is on me as the reader; I have greedy eyes and a hungry imagination!) It’s not that the writing wasn’t luminous nor that the weaving of fact/fiction/myth/fairy tale were not interesting devices; it’s that some of them seemed to end abruptly. I thought ‘Aunt Libby’s Coffin Hotel’ was a fantastic concept with great characters and a creepy story building (in the vein of M.R. James) and then it felt like it ended without any conclusions and some questions unanswered. I love Jen’s poetic writing style, and the academic approach to inserting research, I just wanted more from some of these intriguing ‘monsters’ (I’m riffing on the Mary Shelley epigraph here). My favourites, though, in the collection are ‘Margaret and Mary and the End of the World’ and ‘Little Deaths’.

As a non-related book-ish note: I think Jen is brilliant; I’ve enjoyed her BookTube YouTube channel for a couple of years now. She is fiercely intelligent, comes across as highly personable, and a great advocate for disability rights and queer writing. Her YouTube channel is here and Patreon site is here.

Rosie Garland (2014) Vixen, HarperCollins
I wanted to love this book as much as I loved ‘The Palace of Curiosities’ and, while I didn’t get on with it as well as Rosie’s other novel (and her ace punky poetry), I did enjoy the fourteenth-century ride. I thought the research that went into this was brilliant and the dialogue work too. Again it has Rosie’s poetic writing coming through, and it seemed like every single word in the novel was read aloud and weighted before committing to the page. The weird, sensuous world of Vixen is surreal and visceral.

Audrey Niffenegger (2009) Her Fearful Symmetry, Penguin
I was a bit ambivalent about The TimeTraveler’s Wife and am somewhat ambivalent about this one too. I guessed the twist – that was finally revealed in the middle of the novel – from the start (no spoilers though) as, for me anyway, there were too many telegraphed hints. Solid place-writing in some of the descriptions of London though, if a little bit: “here are the tourist bits” heavy. It has made me want to visit Highgate Cemetery so I guess that’s sort of a win?!

Catherine Storr (1958) Marianne Dreams, Faber and Faber
I read this on recommendation from one of the Rachaels of our library service. Although it purports to be a children’s novel it is creepier than any horror film that I’ve seen recently. No jump scares but the menacing rocks and the power creating a world through childish drawing is psychologically frightening. I swear I had to sleep with the light on one night! I am 41 years old. . .

Melissa Harrison (2018) All Among the Barley, Bloomsbury
I’m cribbing my GoodReads review for this one: it’s the 1930s, it’s agricultural England, and we’re on the fringes of another war. This book is a warning about the dangers of nostalgia and the fascistic ideologies of race purity and the imagined rural idyll. It feels both a literary historical novel and contemporary too. Brilliant portrayals of the surrounding place/s and wildlife which are just as important as the human characters. Fantastic. Also, landrails (Crex crex) are ace.

Emily Morris (2017) My Shitty Twenties, Salt
An honest, humourous portrayal of life as a smart young single mum. I enjoyed this a lot, Emily writes about place and the pregnant body, really well and feminism runs throughout like a hot sharp knife.

Maz Evans (2017) Who Let the Gods Out?, ChickenHouse / Audible
A middle-grade book that’s enjoyable for everyone in my opinion. Maz narrated the book on Audible and she’s a fantastic storyteller. The scene with the queen is quite possibly genius (I defy you not to laugh out loud).

Ocean Vuong (2019) On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Audible
Another crib from my GoodReads review: A complex, multilayered novel, a dizzying feat of beauty. Ocean Vuong’s novel has the feel of the contemporary ‘great American novel’. Dealing with the fallout of the Vietnam war, what it is to be alive, what it is to be ‘other’ and intersections of otherness, on place and places and memories, the beauty and terrifying nature of migration, on the body, on how fleeting life is. Huge fundamental questions on what it is to be alive, on equity, on empathy. It’s poetic, it’s unflinching. Basically, I loved this; it’s affected me deeply, and I didn’t want it to end.

Mona Awad (2019) Bunny, Audible
Another GoodReads crib: Well. That was quite unashamedly bonkers, possibly giving new meanings to the term “unreliable narrator”. I don’t think I can write anything that isn’t spoiler-y here. Things I loved: the pacing, the swirling plot twists, some of the characterisation, the sheer postmodernist madness of it all. I think, however, it’s going to be of most interest to MFA/MA audiences who may recognise notions of e.g.: plot bunnies, killing your darlings, “the work”. I did like it, in an “I feel seen” way, though, as I think I’m probably a target audience member (MA in poetry)! And I will reread at some point as I think it would be of interest when teaching creative writing which I do now with a community group! If you loved Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’, the movies ‘Heathers’ and ‘Mean Girls’ and like an Angela Carter-esque dollop of fairytale magical realism then I think you may like this book too.

I’m keeping a book log here and will be updating the TBR semi-regularly (and I’m always up for a recommendation or twenty)!

I would love to know what you’re reading at the moment too. Until next time, happy reading.

Well-worn paths


‘Originally erected 1815 to commemorate the surrender of Paris to the Allies after the Napoleonic Wars. Rebuilt, after collapse, to a new design by John Green (Portsmouth, Todmorden) in 1856 by public subscription. Restored 1889.’ Historic England

View from Stoodley Pike to the eastern track of the Pennine Way.

View from Stoodley Pike to the eastern track of the Pennine Way.

Stoodley Pike, obscured by the clouds from the bottom of the valley. Pronounce it “stud-lee”. Victory monument, a stocky stone peace memorial. Ascend from Mankinholes Bank from the busy, pedestrian-unfriendly, Causeway Wood Road. Slip down Lee Lane, take a left near Lee Dam (observe a group of wild swimmers preparing to bring in the New Year through goosebumps when they dash into the icy waters). Squelch through the muddy bridleway, past Incredible Farm (site of organic growing, site of heated debate on online fora). Up to the stone flags past the sheep (Swaledale? Rough Fell? Lonk?) and a photogenic ram.

Ram posing face on to the camera, there are two ewes in the background which is a sloped field.

Curious ram

See him pose for a few photographs before he shakes his tail and trots off to find better grasses to chew.

It’s sheltered along the wall but the gentle mizzle provides a gossamer veil over my glasses.

Follow the path, the flat flags, the gritted surfaces maintained by Calderdale Council (signs decree that no mountain bikes are allowed nor horse riding along certain parts of the Pennine Way). Some of the nearby surfaces are carved by intertwining thick lines, telltale cycle tracks. This is no wild landscape; it’s carefully maintained and gleefully used. Even if I tried to avoid it, following this path to the Pike is inevitable.

An uneven flagged pathway through fields

The flagstones of the Pennine Way from the southeast approach to Stoodley Pike.

These flat, uneven teeth bisect the field. Looking around see how the grasses sweep back in the wind like hair. Like a comb-over. The blond and russets yield in this extreme breeze.

A landscape photograph of different fields, the landscape slopes down towards the market town of Todmorden.

Russets, blonds, and greens.

Approach the pike from the southwest like our ramble, or the steep, precarious northwest. Or from the east, the way from Cragg Vale. Approach it with your eyes down to the ground against the wind, the ends of your fingers reddening in gloves. (You may feel almost a tingling sunburn feeling on your face later from the relentless wind.) Leap onto the erratic boulders that jut out, avoid the peaty mulch of the ground between the gritstone rocks. Be grateful that this isn’t tick (Ixodida) season. But do wonder where the insects are as you stare down. Stumble the last few hundred metres to the pike. Shelter on the eastern side from the wind, pass and say hello (many “hellos”, many “nice weather for it!”s). Clamber up the dark spiral staircase – bring a head torch! – within the pike and risk a lookout over the barrier, take a picture in spite of this tumultuous weather. And consider the route down to the market town. But first, before returning, consider the nearby pub to defrost and have a pint to celebrate a kind of success.

Stoodley Pike monument is in the distance of this image where millstone

Life in a cloud.

I’ve lived in Calderdale for nearly three years now and hadn’t visited Stoodley Pike. Which is daft, really, as it is a less scrambly venture than several other walks I’ve done since living here. Time slips past, wind through the grass.

I know it’s been a while, nearly two years, since I last blogged. There are myriad reasons for this. (Life happened, basically, as well as other reasons including bouts of fatigue, job hunting, losing my writing groove a little post-PhD.) I know this is imperfect; the grammar is all over the shop for one thing! But this is a way back into writing, a way back into blogging. Well-worn but it works. (Not that I’m ever worried about experimenting and going off-piste rather than off pissed.)

And in a world that’s increasingly frightening, I’d like to find my path back to being able to process and write about things in a way that could be helpful for others. (Either through creating, either through signal boosting information.) So yes, I’m following familiar metaphorical paths (writing, activism, making) but implementing some changes along the way as well as trying to not overstretch myself which I’ve had a nasty habit of doing to the stages of burnout over the years. To stretch the walking metaphor further: I’m exploring the many erratic boulders of ideas that are poking up in my mind. Observing, following, or willfully neglecting any waymarkers – to stretch that metaphor to absolute breaking point. I’m changing direction, a little, in that my online presence is changing. This site will now be dedicated to blogging which will include writing anything I like, reflecting on creative practice, sharing ideas (which I really hope get some engagement as I love a good debate), and keeping notes for folkloric work I’m planning to do during this year. The latter will be just for fun, just to keep making and exploring some creative pieces that I’m not sure fit anywhere, also I want to sing and make music again. This creative work may not lead to anything but I know I will put my heart into it as there’s no pressure and so no anxiety over it being “perfect”. (Whatever “perfect” is anyway.)

Academic work, research, tutoring, and what I consider – possibly somewhat flippantly – the “grown-up, professional stuff” will live on the other website for now. I may integrate the two in the future, I may not. The URL £ rent isn’t mega on either so they’ll be separate for now. As for posting, I am working on having loosely scheduled writing going out. I do still offer freelance project/ad hoc work, but I’m employed in two different – but not completely unrelated – jobs where I’m on a casual contract so any planning is mostly on a week-by-week basis in the short term.

Until then, I hope all is is well in your worlds and that you can safely get out into the elements at some point.