Tuesday, 31 December 2019


The last day of the year. Should it be happy? There is some debate.

Certainly happy new year!

Monday, 18 November 2019

Wandering around Inversnaid

The poem Inversnaid is one of Gerard Manley Hopkin's best known. You have to love a poem that uses the verbs deg and twindle not to mention the phrases horseback brown and the groins of the braes. And I actually saw  "a windpuff-bonnet of fáwn-fróth" turning and twindling yesterday on my bird survey so here it is:


THIS darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fáwn-fróth      
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, féll-frówning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,      
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;      
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

Here also is a great lipsynch version by Tootight Lautrec of this poem read by Diana Rigg which gets the intonation of fáwn-fróth correct unlike many I checked out https://vimeo.com/195485335.

Did Gerard Manley Hopkins visit perhaps because he had read about it in Doz's recollections.

An extract from Dorothy Wordsworth's Recollections of a tour made in Scotland 1803


September 12th Monday—Rejoiced in the morning to see the sun shining upon the hills when I first looked out through the open window-place at my bed’s head.  We rose early, and after breakfast, our old companion, who was to be our guide for the day, rowed us over the water to the same point where Coleridge and I had sate down and eaten our dinner, while William had gone to survey the unknown coast.  We intended to cross Loch Lomond, follow the lake to Glenfalloch, above the head of it, and then come over the mountains to Glengyle, and so down the glen, and passing Mr. Macfarlane’s house, back again to the ferry-house, where we should sleep.  So, a third time we went through the mountain hollow, now familiar ground.  The inhabitants had not yet got in all their hay, and were at work in the fields; our guide often stopped to talk with them, and no doubt was called upon to answer many inquiries respecting us two strangers.

At the ferry-house of Inversneyde we had not the happy sight of the Highland girl and her companion, but the good woman received us cordially, gave me milk, and talked of Coleridge, who, the morning after we parted from him, had been at her house to fetch his watch, which he had forgotten two days before.  He has since told me that he questioned her respecting the miserable condition of her hut, which, as you may remember, admitted the rain at the door, and retained it in the hollows of the mud floor: he told her how easy it would be to remove these inconveniences, and to contrive something, at least, to prevent the wind from entering at the window-places, if not a glass window for light and warmth by day.  She replied that this was very true, but if they made any improvements the laird would conclude that they were growing rich, and would raise their rent.

The ferryman happened to be just ready at the moment to go over the lake with a poor man, his wife and child.  The little girl, about three years old, cried all the way, terrified by the water.  When we parted from this family, they going down the lake, and we up it, I could not but think of the difference in our condition to that poor woman, who, with her husband, had been driven from her home by want of work, and was now going a long journey to seek it elsewhere: every step was painful toil, for she had either her child to bear or a heavy burthen.  I walked as she did, but pleasure was my object, and if toil came along with it, even that was pleasure,—pleasure, at least, it would be in the remembrance.

This passage can be found on pp. 223-4.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;      
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

*The stray capital in Inversnaid in the phrase Despair to drowning is sic as far my research goes.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

New poetry in The Interpreter's House

Delighted to have a poem about blood and its circulation in the latest issue of  the very wonderful The Interpreter's House.

'Your body is not a machine,
the way your heart works
is not architecture and
           not a river system
but this map of tattered colours
embracing all the ports,'

from 'Talking about how blood moves' by @khursheb

Bridget Khursheed 72 — The Interpreter's House

You can read the full poem here https://theinterpretershouse.org/bridget-khursheed-72.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Sea of grass

The sea of grass in the wind.

The end of observation.

And a new mast.

This is the remains of the Kincraig Gun Battery overlooking the Firth of Forth (and MacDuff's Cave). These gun emplacements or pillboxes have unusually in my experience been deliberately demolished.

In addition to remaking these concrete jigsaws, there are other pleasures in store on the terraced ridges where the barracks themselves would have stood in the past.

You can find out more here at Canmore https://canmore.org.uk/site/55122/kincraig-battery

PS the video at the beginning gives you a little taste of what it must have been like being stationed here and keeping a lonely watch over the Forth.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Guilty pleasures at the Edinburgh Fringe

What can I say? Everyone has something that something that puts a smile on their face. In my case, a quick visit to Fags, mags and bags. They delighted me.

And I hope I delighted the cast with some mangos.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Scottish Book Trust Live Literature

Back from holiday and work commitments and MSc dissertation preparations to find the wonderful Scottish Book Trust have updated the Live Literature Author Directory database with a snazzy new frontend. Lots of fantastic, surprising and inspiring authors and poets and so much more available to come to your writing group, school, college etc.

Fascinating for writers to check out the range and heft of Scottish writing talent too.

You can play with it here:


The profile itself was fun to write - here is my quote:

"Some people describe me as a nature writer. This is fine with me as I think nature makes sense of the world. Disruptive text, sound art, art poetry, spoken word, scraps, recipes, contextual poetry, peripatetic writing, engineering, hacking, online text. That's more like it."

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Cambusnethan Priory

I met my good friend Marie Michlova in Cold Town House and shared our common interest in all things Abbotsford.

Marie whose book Smrt Muz (Death of a muse) Torst 2012 reimagines the home life of Walter Scott and his son-in-law John Gibson Lockhart is now also involved with the friends of ruinous Cambusnethan Priory.

Courtesy Friends of Cambusnethan Priory

Courtesy Friends of Cambusnethan Priory

She has found a family connection with the priory through her academic research on Lockhart and has visited to share her expertise. (And coincidentally this house was also home to family of Scottish astronomer and mathematician Mary Somerville).

Also a chance for nice chat.

If you want to learn more about Cambusnethan or visit it, try https://www.facebook.com/CambusnethanPriory/

Monday, 24 June 2019

By the water of Leith

An irresistible map of paint.

A parking bollard I assume concrete crunched by Lady Haig's Poppy Factory and not far from the old dog track site of many a monster truck extravanza.

Almost lichen-like when viewed from further away.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Happy holidays

Very glad to say the taught part of my cyber course is over. Just the dissertation to do now and that is due in December.

Holidays are here.

Monday, 20 May 2019

walking the water

Doing the monthly BTO survey on "my stretch" of the river Tweed is a very good opportunity for wandering through some ideas too. Even while counting mallards (including 24 ducklings in various stages of growth), grey heron, black-headed gull, mute swan, oystercatcher (my birds as they are the helpers of Bridget in Gaelic - gille-brìghde), dipper and goosander.

Onto the cauld which stretches across the river to create the pool you just saw and has these metallic edges as it scatters down onto the rocky section below.

Finally to a lower pool and its weedfilled cobbles.

Later I made a long audio recording where I get a bit distracted by a grey wagtail which flies over my head towards the end. But unfortunately blogger doesn't seem to like that. Still I enjoyed myself and got some good birds too. Creativity and wellbeing mix well with science and nature.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Sudden cold

It is spring but unseasonly cold - the topic of my poem Blizzard on the hills in Spring that appeared in the very wonderful Algebra of Owls in March .

My starting point was this photograph:

Sometimes a phone is as useful as carrying a notepad.

You can read my poem and the whole issue here https://algebraofowls.com/2019/03/08/blizzard-on-the-hills-in-spring-by-bridget-khursheed/

Saturday, 23 February 2019

International Women's Day 2019 event, Hawick, Scotland

It would be great to see you at the International Women's Day 2019 event in Hawick at the Cornucopia Room along with excellent local writers Zozan YasarDorothy AlexanderHonor Donahoe, Jules Horne, Anita John, Margaret Skea and myself. We will be talking about our practice and there will be readings too plus a chance for some chat.

Tickets are available here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/women-writers-tickets-56654448982. Free event but you need to register.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Seeking poetry, poets & spoken word

Early call for a performance opportunity in the Scottish Borders. Interested - ideas - ready to slam?

Get in touch in the usual way and let's talk; and we can also add you to the mailing list for more information about this event.

Picture is a view from the San Cipriano mirador in Zamora and yes it doesn't really have a lot to do with anything but laundry drying

Friday, 4 January 2019

Analysis of Rossetti's Goblin Market

We have chosen to use a pie chart:

So enjoy a piece of Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market (1879) and don't wipe your mouth in case we get all Bleak Midwinter. (And there is a tweet on this poem here as it is one of p&g's favourites).

Goblin Market

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpeck’d cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheek’d peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries;—
All ripe together
In summer weather,—
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy:
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye;
Come buy, come buy.”

               Evening by evening
Among the brookside rushes,
Laura bow’d her head to hear,
Lizzie veil’d her blushes:
Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger tips.
“Lie close,” Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head:
“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
“Come buy,” call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen...

Read the full poem here http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174262

Tuesday, 1 January 2019