A sceptic's take on being human – or should that be virtuous?
Still in love with Cornwall
Cornwall’s easy to love and easy to hate as well – overcrowded and over exploited in summer and yet in spring and early summer and again in the autumn it offers more moments of pure joy than any other place I know.
There was a fierce east wind gusting at nearly 60mph overnight, and although it moderated through the day it was one to tie the hat on tight. Curiously the wind was not at all cold, having come up from Southern Europe and taken a turn westwards.
We walked east towards Dodman Point and as ever I was looking out for plants. Is it weird to experience such a leap of the heart when you see something you recognise and can name? So wiping a tear from my eye (I’m exaggerating just a bit) my two plants of the day were wild carrot, looking stunning in pink and white. This plant looks lovely even in death, when the umbels form little dry cages like lobster creels. But the star of the show was undoubtedly the clump of agrimony in full flower on the cliff top. A herb with a history of use in healing, but not something I’ve seen very often. There’s a dilemma in gathering herbs for medicine and that’s the fact that so many of them are disappearing from the landscape. I don’t think I could ever think of gathering agrimony, for instance. But we’re growing some useful herbs in the allotment and I’m quite exited at the prospect of making use of them. It all points to increasing diversity at home in order to build up rather than deplete the wild population.
We felt uniquely privileged to be able to walk along the cliff top today. It’s fifty years since we lived here for a year and fell in love with the place, and I think we both experienced a rather strange sense that the long gap in time had been bridged and in spite of our knackered knees we were in our twenties again.
[and in a late addendum I remembered that we saw two hummingbird hawkmoths working some valerian in Portscatho – never seen one before, but they were unmistakable – we’ll go back tomorrow and try to take a photo.]
I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun.
When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths.
What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs.
But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more.
Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.
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