Remember me?

It’s been a while. Too long. You knew where I was going and when I got back this blog sat, tickling the edges of my guilt.

“Write something,” it said.

“I will,” I said, “later.”

It’s later.


I went here

Sydney Harbour BridgeAnd there

Kanangra WallsDid this

Am Writing...sshhhhAnd that

The Bathing FacilitiesThen moved house so I could see this from the bottom of the garden

Sunset at the new placewhich is all well and good but it didn’t put any words on this blog or this one either.

Maybe I burnt out slightly after managing around 35,000 words during the trip for The Novel but bills needed paying so I did more of this instead of writing.

This is about to be rectified, maybe.

Make mine Merrell

One thing is for sure, my boots took a battering – I needed new footwear. Something that would be okay for popping to the shops or schleping along the estuary. They didn’t have to be waterproof (I’ve others for that) but they did need to be comfy. After a bit of a search I settled on Merrell’s Avian Light Sport Gore-tex.

Merrell Avian Light Sport Gore-texAnd they’re everything I expected.


Merrell Avian Light Sport Gore-texlight, cool enough with the breeze coming through the mesh to make sure my feet don’t stink (too much), sturdy enough to cope with a battering, great for gardening, walking, popping to the shops, rebuilding, decorating and fighting off battalions of dragons with a two-year old.

I’ll find out soon enough how they stand up to a weekend of bivvying in a rain-soaked wood. (More of that another time).

The sole has great traction, as perfect for clambering over a rocky beach or up a mountain as they are on pavements. They “provide women’s specific stride-sequenced cushioning” whatever the doozy that means. All I know right now after two weeks of general life-bashing (with my own prescribed orthotic innersoles rather than the supplied Ortholite® anatomical footbed) I’ve not had a single blister, no achy legs or complaint about pongy toes.

AND (as a good friend just pointed out on the phone) they’re Merrell’sso they’ll last for ages and you can’t put a price on a good pair of shoes“.

Well you can, but he’s right – you can’t go too wrong with Merrell.

What happened?

Woodland Joy

We saved the forests, at least from the awful consultation and Public Bodies Bill. Only time will tell if we have to save them from the “independent” panel. I put this term in quotes as the validity of the panellists independence is yet to be established. The list hasn’t been published by Caroline Spelman yet.

There is still work to do, a lot of it. Now our public forest estate is safe from the threat of sale (at least for the time being), it’s time to seriously debate the next steps towards a sustainable management plan for the use of not only publicly owned land, but privately owned forest land too.

I’m a little hazy and sketchy on this right now. There is a lot to be learnt in a short space of time but if there’s one thing the last six weeks have taught me it’s that anything, absolutely ANYTHING is possible.

Reasoned, considered, intelligent argument based in truth and factual knowledge expressed through sincere, open hearts will always win. No matter the spin thrown, an open heart will always win.

Today, though, I crashed. A brick wall appeared and smacking it so hard made me miss the Get Writing Conference I’d been looking forward to. Small price to pay for saving the forests from the Public Bodies Bill. How heavy a price it will be on the next phase of my life will be revealed as all continues to unfold.

What’s next?

Who knows? But the plan goes something like this. The story idea I’ve been kicking round for some time now must come out. There are piles of notes, character lists, back stories, timelines, half-written chapters and research books that need to be gathered together and strapped into a case. A trip is planned. It’s been planned for a while and I’ve been living the last couple of weeks in a state of absolute panic about how to maintain the same level of Save Our Woods campaigning with Hen and Nick. Thankfully the government came through to at least ease some of the pressure, even if personal financial pressures are now more crucial after not earning a penny for the last six weeks.

But I’m going to forget about that. I’m going to forget about the mill I’ve felt squeezed through. I’m going to forget about 16 hours days, seven days a week. I’m going to do something I’ve been waiting for the time to do for years. I’m going to write my books.

I’m definitely saying books, plural, not book, singular. There is more than one. Some of the half-written chapters are out of book two, I see that now. And there are two reasons why now is the right time:

  1. The SOW campaign has informed my learning about character motivation and opened a tap inside to allow a clearer vision of the direction of the books.
  2. Somebody read the first four chapters and has asked to be my editor.

It’s the second one that has really lit the fire in my belly. Others have read chapters. Others have said they are good and they can’t wait to read the rest but these people already had a positive connection to me – never ask a loved one for a practical criticism, never. I know this so didn’t place any value on their opinions of my writing and therefore didn’t value my writing myself. I suspect it’s the same for a lot of writers, this constant dissatisfaction with the quality of creativity. I needed an independent panel to say “stop making websites, write instead”. Someone did, so I am.

This doesn’t mean I will stop campaigning for our forests, it just means there is other stuff to release from my brain. Stuff that is clawing at the asylum walls waiting to get out, hidden in the darkest corners and flying through the bluest skies. There are landscapes to vision, characters to talk to you, fight with, maybe even kill off. There are monsters to create, to allow to escape through the cracks of sanity. There are heroes to set off on quests, battles to be fought, wounds to be tended. There are secrets to be learnt and others to be hidden away in dusty cupboards behind ancient skeletons. There is stuff going on that has to come out.

And it will.

The plan is to get on a flight to Australia and completely disconnect from everything except the raging madness, to give characters room to breathe and fight and live, or die. There’s a cabin in the Blue Mountains with my name on it and a few thousand words to be written. It might be hard work; it might turn out to flow as easily as the rest of the chapters when there’s space for expression.

Cabin in the Mountains

While I’m away I won’t be tweeting or blogging. I’m sporadic on The Cloud Factory anyway so I doubt you’ll even notice. But readers of Mesmerising Moments will have a bit longer to wait – know this, I haven’t forgotten about you. And I suspect a good number of my Twitter crowd will be glad of a break from the hat for a time (and I apologise for taking a diversion from my normal level of tweetage as the SOW campaign took over).

I hope, when it’s over, there will be a good first draft ready for presenting to my own independent panel.  Whatever happens I will be giving this the same open-hearted dedication and focus the SOW campaign has had over the last six weeks. I hope the “independent” panel possibly determining the future of our forests gives the same consideration and respect to our land.

And you can bet, when I get back, it’ll be the first thing I check on.

Save Our Forests

One of the most important things you can do to protect the natural heritage and future biodiversity of the country is to Save Our Forests from being sold.

Save Our Forests - 38 Degrees PosterThe government is planning a mass sell off of the remaining publicly owned forest land and there are a lot of us who thinks that’s wrong.

We believe our forests are our natural heritage and it is in the public’s greatest interest to keep it that way.

Maybe some of our forestry land isn’t managed well in terms of biodiversity (as some “mono-culture” farmed pine plantations could be deemed) but it has its benefits in providing a source of timber to our construction industry among others.

Maybe some of these pine plantations could be harvested and replanted with native deciduous woodland to start the long road back towards an ecologically sound and biodiverse environment – beneficial to both wildlife and humanlife.

What ever happens – I would rather they stayed as public owned lands so that WE can decide how they could be managed and not a foreign energy company, a rich landowner expanding territory, a leisure developer for shooting rights or holiday parks.

If you feel the same way – sign the 38 Degrees petition then go here to find out how to contact your MP and what you might like to say to them.

As you can see I got a bit narky and the reply from the MP wasn’t at all helpful. Maybe you’ll have better success with better advice.

I have a letter from the House of Commons in response to an email I sent to my MP, David Mowat. Before you read it, have a look at the scale of the Big Society Forest Sell Off.

My email:

22nd December 2010

Dear David

Don’t do it – Do not sell our forests. We have not given this government permission to do this.

We will fight to save our forests.

I don’t have any children and do not plan on having any, but your children and grandchildren will suffer for a forest sell off. It’s idiotic that a group of millionaires in a room in London can decide they will sell off all, not just some but all, of our forests.

This email registers my anger at the stupidity of a government that will sell off our forests.

Karen Wilde
South Warrington Constituent

I admit I was very angry when I wrote the email – this issue does that to me. But what has made me angrier is the response Mr Mowat sent. Here it is:

6th January 2011

Dear Mrs Wilde [I’m not a Mrs, but he probably doesn’t care about that either]

Thank you for contacting me about deforestation. [I didn’t, I contacted him about selling the forests in England]

The Secretary of State for DEFRA, the Rt. Hon Caroline Spelman MP has taken a very firm stance on deforestation. [Yes, she promised £100,000,000 for overseas forestry protection] She has made clear that deforestation is a critical issue for the planet both in terms of the environmental impact and the economic impact.

Forests are home to untold species of plants and animals and they all have a role. [Well, duh!] Extinction through loss of habitat and the overall structure of our ecosystems and our environment grow weaker as a result. Economies suffer too – the global cost of one year’s worth of deforestation is estimate to be between $2 and $5 trillion. This is the equivalent of two financial crashes a year. [Oh, you mean like the next one we are walking in to with the programme of cuts]

The Copenhagen Accord confirmed that the UN programme on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation otherwise know [sic] as REDD+ was a priority.

The UK’s responsible timber trade has led the way in promoting legal and sustainable timber. The European Parliament voted to adopt Due Diligence Regulation which shut the door firmly in the face of illegal timber entering the EU markets.

I believe that the firm stance taken by the Government so far on deforestation is very positive, however there is much further to go on this important issue.

Thank you once again for taking the time to contact me about this. [I DIDN’T!!!]

Best wishes
David Mowat MP
Warrington South

If you follow me on Twitter you know how much I go on about #SaveOurForests.

This letter does not mention anything about the proposed sell off of England’s publicly owned forest land (which constitutes 33% of our forested areas).

This letter does not mention anything about the Public Bodies Bill Clauses 17 and 18 that will give MPs the right to sell the forests without our consent.

This letter does not mention anything about the Natural Environment White Paper due out later this spring.

This letter is not worth the paper (made from wood pulp) that it is written on.

David Mowat MP, shame on you.

Now – GO AND SIGN THE PETITION to stop the sell off of our remaining publicly owned forests, before it’s too late.

Now – Get in touch with your MP and object to Clauses 17 and 18 of the Public Bodies Bill, before it’s too late.

This is not for me – this is for your children, your grandchildren and the future of biodiversity in England.

I have written about this before if you’re interested.

Because life is too short to stay indoors…


I’m at it again. It’s just too easy to think of things to write so I’m putting myself about a bit.

Mesmerising Moments LogoThis latest blog offers a short, daily post about a Mesmerising Moment that has happened, either to myself or to any contributors (all contributions are welcome – two rules, it must be about nature, it must be mesmerising).

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Ancient technology is more fascinating to me than 21st century technology. Despite spending most of my working life plugged in, there was always something missing. Maybe it’s the time spent outdoors, maybe it’s the spark of creative play ignited, maybe I just like getting mucky. Ancient technology is all of these things and more.

It’s pretty easy in many areas of the UK to find a decent bit of clay to slop in a bucket and take home to process. If you’re very lucky, you can dig and shape the clay straight away.

Dry your pot before firing

Dry your pot before firing

All you need to do now is dry and fire your pot. Continue Reading »

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