Posted on 27th October, 2016




Livewires 25th October 2016 - Fiona Russell


Well, we've been having some shenanigans with my blog entries! I think the 15th October post, which left me a total of five times, has now been slotted in for that date by the kindly editor. Here's hoping we've overcome the problems for my remaining posts.

So, on to today.  I was up early and pleased to see a bright morning, but it was shiveringly cold - time to add an extra layer. There was a skim of ice glazing my windscreen with an opaqueness of cold. Just after seven a mist rolled into the valley and initially hung neither at the top, nor the bottom of the hills. The saying an old shepherd at the farm told me as a bairn was, 'mist in the hollows, good day follows.'  A good day indeed! I've had a dreadful cough, and lurgy, and had no central heating or hot water for five weeks. The damp of the old cottage with no modern foundations has infuriatingly taken its toll on my asthma. So alas a longer walk is out of the question at the moment, but a gentle potter about the locality was in order today, and not to be missed. Just looking through the garden gate was too inviting. 

By ten-thirty the mist was away altogether, even the hill down the valley to the southwest where it always lingers last sitting in a gully just above the fir trees. I took a potter with my old hairy hound down into the valley bottom. There are few bridges in the valley, but to stand on one looking downstream, and into the sunlight filtering through yellowing leaves with the reflections on the water was a delight. Colours are always amplified by bright sunlight, and in autumn become jewel-like in their intensity. The lights and darks of moving water, the contrast of shadows on trees in strong sunlight, and the sound of the riffles of white water over rocks are all entrancing. There used to be many fish under the bridges at this time of year, but sadly, since the blanket afforestation upstream in the late '60's and into the 70's that is no longer one of the sights of autumn. 




There are a small number of roosting herons in our mixed wood. I put a heron up from the river, and watched the grey wings lazily flap and it arc round to the east, then drop down into the wood further upstream on one of the larger tributaries. We have found that heron poo and dogs are not a happy combination for the owner who has a dog who can't resist a roll in anything that is smelly, and disgusting. Thankfully that didn't happen today! 

There was virtually no wind, and through the day as it swung from the east and settled round in to the west. By three o'clock the skies had clouded over and all was still. The kutuk, kutuk of pompous male reared pheasants on neighbouring properties, the soft mewing of buzzards, and the deep, loud, prruuk, prruuk of ravens cut across the valley.  

At bedtime it was noticeably milder outside. Annoyingly, for me, there was a yellow, then an amber, and finally a red alert from AuroraWatch UK. I went outside several times, looked to the north in hopes, but tonight my luck was out. The cloud had firmly blanketed the sky. This autumn I have been treated to many superb dancing displays of the northern lights, so I really shouldn't complain at one good night being absent here. 





Yellowhammer - Tom Langlands



 Birds View



Nibbling sparrows

Chew hot afternoon hours

Into sharp twittered seconds

Of nothing in particular,

Broken now and then

By china’s clatter,

Slightly unreal laughter,

A feeling of things passé,old                                                                                                                                                           Attitudes not quite outlived.


Maybe it is only sparrows

Who grasp this situation

In pick-peck beaks,

They seem to know

Reality is too short-lived

For anything more serious

Than their endless squabbles

Parody of lives, alien,

Outside their own.


Anne Micklethwaite.



Rook and Rabbit Pie.


Beyond the hedge a throstle sang: sweet notes trembling at the edge of my mind as I walked along the gravelled path. Reluctantly I lifted the latch, swung the gate wide and passed through. Hard on my heels came Tom. I paused, he pushed, his fist in the small of my back. 'No dawdling, on with you.' His voice was full of excitement. Now his skinny legs gawked from his shorts; it was a time I'd been dreading. His extra inches made him too tall, too heavy for rooking. I was the littlest of the family, so it was my turn to gather them.

I heard the latch snap behind us and suppressed a snivel. Another prod. No use crying, I was the smallest now, light enough to reach the topmost branches where the rooks had their nests. A breeze stirred the leaves, my hands and knees gripped the tree. I crawled upwards until I was within reach of the first nest marked by a scrap of flannel. I dared to look down; Tom's face swam below me. 'Get on with it.' He sounded far away.


Above me the raucous cawing of rooks drowned the nearer twitterings of birds held fast in their nests by binder cord. My head and heart throbbed, bile scorched my throat. I clung motionless to a branch until Tom called, ‘Remember what dad told you.'

'Use a finger like a wee slug, a morsel to tempt the birdie. Let it peck, it'll not harm, lad. Then use the other hand to grasp its neck, just a slick twist’s all’s needed. Use your knife to free its feet then drop it down to Tom. Straight on to the next nest; your ma needs five, p’raps six for her rook and rabbit pie.' 

Slowly, hardly daring to breathe, I reached into the nest, felt downy feathers, stabbing pains to my fingers. In seconds it was done, and I was cutting the binder twine and dropping the plump birds down to Tom.


Back on the ground I rubbed at my grazed legs, sucked my pecked fingers, drew in a lungful of peaty air, started at the sounds of gunshot.

'Father’s up the warren,’ said Tom matter-of-factly, as he tethered the birds into pairs and slung them over his shoulder.


Steph Newham. 





Winter Hill - Liz Waugh



Three Perties


A senate o’ stookies

scratch the stencilled sky

swoopin’ an’ screchin’

their shite stipples

ma silver Saab.


A conference o’ corbies

circle the crenelated cloud

croakin’ an’cawin’

their crap collected 

in crags and crannies.


A lobby o’ linties

laugh in the face o’ life

louche in their livery of lines

their liquids a liniment

for left leaning labourers.


Roland Glover



Dragon prompt




Dragon looms large over cowed heads

Roaring fire at kindlings 

of foolish braves that dare to disrupt

thinkers, doers, tinkerers, musers.

Breathes the fire that ignites the spark

that fans the flame

that deepens the thirst

to know




Awakening of young dragons

who, in quenching that thirst,

returning that fire,

melt her craggy,




Lorna Sharpe




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