#atinylife Rain

As a resident of Scotland, it is inevitable that the odd blog is going to be about rain.

Stella Hervey Birrell, Writer

Today I have been thinking about…rain.

It would have been hard to think about anything else, from half past two the skies were full, water bouncing off the pavements, the roof of the car. We stood like livestock in the playground, trying not to move from under umbrellas, hoods firmly up, wellies shining black slugs, getting wetter and wetter as we waited for the bell to ring.

Normally we walk but we got just as wet getting into the car, and out again. Everything went on radiators Rainas soon as the back door was safely closed. Fire on, thermostat turned up.

Then I remembered I needed something from the outside freezer.

But as I splashed through the waterlogged grass, the scent of blossom came through the rain. A salve on this miserable day, a reminder of beauty on earth.

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Nanny Ab heads South

The Bingergread Cottage

If you haven’t read Four Go Mad in Catalonia you can get it through this link.

Despite her (mis)adventures in that one, Nanny Ab agreed to accompany the Ancient Mariner, this time with only one faithful hound and a bloody-minded cat back towards the scene of those disasters. They went south.

Why south? Well for the sun, of course. Living here in the Eastern Mountains, Spring arrives, flowers burst forth, small animals whizz about but the warmth isn’t there. It was coming. Gradually the temperatures crept up, hesitated a bit more, then slipped back again. The Ancient Mariner needed “proper sun” and was determined to find it.

Vanner front on Vanner

He had been away a couple of times in the new camping-car and felt it was time Nanny Ab got acquainted with it. She had her doubts having found her crumbling spine did not like the seating arrangements either in the home-made…

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#atinylife Sideways

Today’s blog is about looking sideways. A tricky one, but not particularly helpful unless you are driving, in which case it is to be encouraged.

Stella Hervey Birrell, Writer

Today I have been thinking about… looking sideways.

Looking sideways: not literally of course, that’s generally good practice, especially when driving. Left, then right.

No, I mean looking around at other people, in your field, in your industry, or in your community. Thinking ‘they are much more successful/talented/popular than me.’ Giving up a little. Checking who has the most likes or friends on Facebook, watching the stratospheric rise of a colleague, just plain wanting someone else’s raw talent instead of your own small gifts.  Wishing you had started sooner, rose quicker, ‘made it’. Made what exactly?


Remember about subjectivity. Unless you are the best in the world in your field (if that can even be objectively proved), someone is always ‘better’ than you.

More importantly, I remember – that when I’m only looking sideways, it’s not safe to drive myself forwards.

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The Bingergread Cottage

It’s well known that tales as they are passed down through generations become mangled. I have it on very good authority (one of my tiny dragons told lizardme) that this is exactly what has happened to the “patron saint” of England. It was all a horrible misunderstanding which is why you will never see a dragon out on 23rd April. Mainly they are watching performances of Shakespeare.

The young lady (princess, whatever she is supposed to have been) was very beautiful but as so often the case in those days, under a curse. For one night of each month she became a dragoness herself and had to go and hide away.

Her father, slightly suspicious and evil-minded about her mixing with young men, wanted to know where she kept disappearing. Under torture, she admitted what had happened which, as it was due to her mother philandering with a demi-dragon in the…

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Should St George’s Day become Shakespeare Day?

Tim's Blog

Today is St George’s Day, the national day of England. It has always seemed to be a bit of a poor relation: it doesn’t tend to be celebrated in the way that St Andrews’ Day, St David’s Day, or especially St Patrick’s Day do, even though there have been some efforts to revive it in recent years. Many English people – myself included, I must confess – don’t even know what date it is without being reminded.

There are various reasons why this may be the case. One that seems very pertinent to me is this: who the hell is St George anyway and what has he got to do with England? I was at the Marsden Write Out Loud poetry evening on Wednesday, where someone read an amusing poem about him which – I have established after a bit of research – appears to be largely true.

Turns out that St George is just about the most promiscuous…

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