Ten must-read Gerard Manley Hopkins poems: Poetry to scratch our bellies on

Gerard Manley Hopkins was an innovator who wrote about nature and faith, rapture and despair. For me, we are all eccentrics, all individuals. Not everyone will share this view, but Gerard Manley Hopkins was idiosyncratic on anyone’s terms, often to his cost.

While at Balliol College at Oxford, he converted to Catholicism, tearing himself from his artistic, loving Anglican family to a tougher life as a Jesuit. He never regretted his decision, but struggled with depression and the drudgery of some of his duties. Conflicted about whether writing was compatible with his vocation, he wrote relatively little after his conversion. At the time of his premature death in 1889 his work was largely unknown. Continue reading

Grasmere: an uplifting walk round the poet’s lake

Grasmere lake view

During our visit to Grasmere yesterday, clouds lay low over rolling hills, but the greyness just added atmosphere to the water, hills, woods, dry stone walls, ferns and wildflowers along our way.

Grasmere woodland view

We’d stopped off here to walk around the lake: my idea of exercise! Our route took us past houses, lakeside businesses, farmland and woods before swinging down to the path around the shore.  Continue reading

Moorland ponies

Moorland ponies

Lovely to meet these three ponies during a walk on Darwen moors. One was bold, eager to meet two passing strangers and find out what we had to offer – ideally food but failing that, affection. The second was patiently waiting to see how things turned out, and the little one was poised to run even further away. The bold one took all we had – just pats, compliments and a few other whispered words!

Tips for photographing roses 3: work with nature, not against it

Tips-for-photogrphing-rosesEver seen a field of yellow sunflowers in an open field in Tuscany, all obediently facing the same way? It’s a beautiful sight, though it always looks a little eerie to me – such clear proof of the irresistible pull of the sun.

If they were humans, we can be sure there’d be a few rebels amongst them. But plants tend to grow to face the sun to a greater or lesser extent. Continue reading