‘Mr Dick sets us all right’

Today is the tenth birthday of our dear friend and biggest brother, Newman Noggs, so just this once – instead of speaking about him – I shall let him speak for himself, on this most auspicious day: I am not sure why I have been asked to talk to camera but I am always happy…

Solomon in all his glory

Yesterday, as we put on our winter woollies for another outing, we heard that the west of England was bathed in sumptuous sunshine. Well, we weren’t up here! Winter, or at least a kind of winter, had returned, with strong northerly winds and persistently grey skies.  Days and days of relentlessly depressing cold beset us…

A week of sun and sausages

The sand martins have begun to return to the nesting holes! Joy unconfined! Proof, if proof were needed, that life is gathering speed in our midst and that we – the watchers and the waiters – are worth the candle.  The wind-blown nesting places which have lain forlorn – and indeed unseen – as we…

The vicissitudes of life

  A week of ups and downs; of Freddie Frankfurter and ‘Doris’ Day. Kemo Sabe laid low with illness; the weather swinging wildly between winter and summer, throwing everything at the country on one mad day; an enchanting encounter with our newest relative and me, your gentle author, in pain once again. What a week…

Ordinary times

If Candlemas be fair and bright, Winter has another flight. If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Winter will not come again. It’s a funny time of year; neither here nor there, if you like. Recent early morning temperatures have been all over the place. Over the weekend, crossing the rocks in the dark was utterly…

A new year and a new boy in town

The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses Its hints of earlier and other creation: The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale’s backbone; The pools where it offers to our curiosity The more delicate algae and the sea anemone. It tosses up our losses, the…

Because the beginning shall remind us of the end

And so we are blessed to have arrived at another Christmas Eve which, unusually, this year coincides with the beginning of Hanukkah. We have all out lights ready, inside and out.  Light of the most profound kind will be everywhere, and increasing gradually, too, as the days lengthen and the runs we currently undertake in…

Pupkin passes

Rest in Peace, tiny Pupkin, who died last night after an emergency admission to the vet’s. He was inordinately loved and, as you can see from this picture, taken only yesterday afternoon on his last visit to us, a miniature dachshund of consummate flair and self-possession. Nearly sixteen, he had lived a full and active…

It’s the little things . . .

 . . . and not always the good ones, either, which bring us close to someone in our hearts. Monday next will be the fifth anniversary of Uncle Johnny’s death, at the age of nearly fifteen. A splendid beast and friend, only two failings marred an otherwise steadfast and reliable character. The first was his…

Much of the hearing of it but little of the marking of it

In yesterday’s eerie pre-dawn light, with a ribbon of cloud running right along the horizon behind it, Inner Farne was transformed: our perspective on it altered, as though we saw it from above, surrounded by the sea, instead of set upon it, against the horizon – the way it actually looks, because that is the…

The greatness of small things

In our garden, bushes bedecked with bird feeders chuckle with the noisy conversations of sparrows and dunnocks. Chirrups, quarrels, confrontations, reproaches, warnings, laughter and gossipings: they’re all there, creating the hubbub which, at certain times of the day, makes the garden a cathedral of noise. Then, just as quickly as it started, the noise stops,…

Strangers and foreign lands

We recently travelled all the way up into Scotland, to Cromarty on the Black Isle, which is two shipping areas above us here in Tyne. This view looks out to sea between the headlands known as the Sutors, where the deep waters of Cromarty Firth open into the vast Moray Firth, and on this beach,…