How to Journey Well

Photo by Noelle Otto on

I don’t like writing about people unless they’re made-up or I have a problem with them.

If the people I set out to write about are just ordinary people that I know and all that they’ve done are ordinary things then I get bored even before I start to write. I like to read about interesting people doing interesting things and so if the people in my story aren’t like that then I don’t even want to start.

Reality gets in the way of imagination and so, while it’s possible to make fictional people do anything that I want them to, the same thing isn’t possible with real people. For instance, let’s say that I knew someone called Joe (I didn’t) who threw water on the girls to make them giggle and squeal, then I’d be thinking, as I was writing, about why (fictional) Joe wanted to do that. I’d be giving him a background, a thought-process and an end-game (where he wanted to end up vis-a-vis the girls). If, on the other hand, I was writing about a real Joe, then I wouldn’t be able to do any of the above. For a start, I wouldn’t be able to tell what (real) Joe was thinking and, for a finish, the real events of the scene would intrude into my idea of what I wanted the (fictional) Joe to do. And it’s even worse if (real) Joe didn’t do anything interesting at all.

Fictional people can be anything I want them to be and so, when you think about it, it’s natural that I’d want to write about them. Even when I’m writing about real people doing interesting things I still don’t have the freedom to move away from the script of reality. I mean, sure, I can vary the way that I tell the (real) story – that’s, after all, what Creative Non-fiction is all about – but I can’t alter the facts of the matter. If I did – it just wouldn’t be true anymore. It’d just be fiction.

Okay, okay – I hear you. You have a couple of questions in your mind. First up comes: what’s the point, closely followed by: what’s this got to do with how to journey well? Okay, confession time: the answers your questions can be derived from: I was going to tell you a true story about a train journey, but it was boring. My story might well have illustrated how to journey well, but you would have been asleep by the end of it. The only interesting thing in the story was a mouse in a shoe. So, yeah – I’m not going to do that to you.

But, hey – at least you’ve learnt a little about me and the way that I think about stories and people, right? So it can’t be all that bad!

Still, let me leave you with a few parting words of wisdom about journeying well: make sure you’re wearing comfortable clothes and, before you set off, get yourself a decent haircut. Both these things will help you immensely; believe me.

Thanks for reading.


Yeah, it’s another one of those stylised, ultraglow photos that don’t really reflect real life that much.

I mean, yeah I was there yesterday and sure, the view was pretty, but not that glowful!

Still, the people behind Google Photos have to have their fun, right?

You Probably Already Know This

Here’s something I found out today that I didn’t know beforehand. And I found it in the most unusual of places. I think that you probably already know about this yourself, but just in case you didn’t, I explain it to you and I’ll even show you a picture.

I live in the city of York. Flowing through the centre of the city is one main river: The Ouse, and another, smaller river that flows into the main one: The Foss. It’s been raining recently in the UK.

When it rains so much; not necessarily on the place where the river flows, but on the hills above, a lot of liquid needs to get down that watercourse in a small amount of time. To accommodate this, the level of the river rises.

The river Ouse has broken its banks and flooded onto the paths and cycle paths beside it. This is what it looked like this morning:


See, told you that this was something you already knew.


Life by Squares – A2

Got to admit that I cheated yesterday. I had to work and then I had a dentist appointment straight afterwards. Consequently, I didn’t let the dice choose my wandering location on the map – I picked a place that was on the way home from the dentist. And, because it was going to be dark (and I was going to be hungry), I picked somewhere where I wouldn’t have to do much walking.

Therefore, this is what you’ve got:


Yep – a short walk over the river Ouse and a quick side-step down a couple of three dark and lonely lanes.

You’d think that, because it was so late in the evening, that the photos wouldn’t come out good, but this camera I have (on a Smartphone in fact) consistently amazes me. Look at this view down the railway tracks on Water End:


Over on the left you can just see the York Minster peeking out between the trees so you know that this view is towards York city centre, which is probably a mile and a half away.

Immediately after that I turned and took a snap of the rush-hour traffic on Water End. Just look at all that light:


And look how well behaved the lamp-posts are here – just about all of them are standing up straight! Quite unlike the houses in York, which tend to appear drunk on my shots.

Back to my favourite subjects next – trees and sky. I couldn’t resist this street-lamp lit tree on the junction of Salisbury Road and Water End:


Interesting how it looks weepy down below and plain scary (if you’re that way inclined) against the sky. And what a sky – deep blue – even in the dark!

Underneath a lamp-post further down Water End I saw a puddle, and underneath the puddle I saw a lamp-post:


Now when you think about it – this shot is amazing. It was absolutely pitch black here. When I looked at the pavement, all I could see was darkness and yet – look at what the camera does! And before you say it; no the flash didn’t go off – this is just the amount of ambient light the camera sucks in. Amazink!

Over to the left of Water End was a view out towards the countryside and therefore, theoretically, into the depths of darkness, so I thought I’d see what the camera would do with that:


The light you see on the horizon is remnants of the long-set sun. The light in the middle is a loop of the river Ouse. Not much detail here, but still – a nice little shot.

I walked a little further and crossed the road so that I was over the river Ouse again, but this time looking towards York city centre:


All I could see with my eyes were tiny spots of illumination from the lights on the cycle-path by the river. But my camera was still up to the task. Ah, the sky, the water, the trees!

The rest of the roll is trees against sky, so if that ain’t your bag then look away now. First up we have a shot from the end of Government House Road – a very exclusive little enclave. Surprises me that there were no guards patrolling the razor-wire topped fence. But then again – York isn’t really like that. Anyway – the tree:


Yeah, I know – not that spectacular – but I like it anyway.

Next up is a snap from the end of Ousecliffe Gardens, which (despite how it appears on the map) gives access to both the river and Westminster Road (the next parallel road on). This view is towards the river:


I don’t know what it is about that shot that makes me want to both smile and shrink back at the same time, but that’s probably what makes it my favourite of the evening. Paradox and contrary emotions are what make life interesting, yes?

The last of the trees (of the evening) also has the river (not that you can see it) and that gorgeous sky as a backdrop:


Isn’t that magnificent?

Nuff said.

Under Your Feet #02 – Water

Yorkshire Water

This is Yorkshire. Yorkshire Water look after our Yorkshire water. Here is a cover that you might think hides a Sluice Valve operated by Yorkshire Water.

Think again!

Notice how much wear this piece of iron has taken in the thousands of years of service it has given as the secret portal to another dimension – one that lies beneath!

Cunningly hidden for sure, but notice how we have a clue to the real nature of this innocent seeming iron cover – YWW actually stands for Yorkshire Wizard World!

Consider what will happen as I rip open this doorway to find … hold on a second – it’s stuck.

Or locked from the inside!!!

Hah! They don’t want us to find their secrets! They cannot survive the light of honest enquiry that we would pour into their … ah, I think I’ve got it. Just needed a bit of a wiggle.

Prepare to be blasted by this new knowledge!


More spiders!!

Ah well, onwards, ever onwards – I think I can see another one just up the road.

Follow me.

Natural Thoughts


Sitting in the dining-room musing on the nature of nature I considered which of the things around me were natural and I could only find one: my body.

There were many un-natural things: cup, phone, table, tablecloth, pen, notebook, clothing, floor, pillar, house – all manufactured or processed in one way or another.

So I asked myself ‘how do I connect with nature?’ In answer, I went outside.

I crumbled some earth and breathed some air. I soaked up what milky sunshine I could with the bread of my body and I caressed a tree and a leaf. I dabbled my fingers in the dew on the grass. And lo – it was good.

All these things had come into being, entirely untroubled by the designs of man.

Then I wondered what I could do to help these natural things to thrive.

Such a Rush

Such rush to the top
Only to sit and talk … about what!?

Important things, no doubt.

But to stay at the bottom instead?
To miss the other joys waiting at the top?
To ignore quieter things that sit, anticipating me?

The shush of air moving from branch to bird.
The call of life caught in the joy of existence.
The dash and gobble of water racing on.
The crash of runoff breaking on dashing rocks.
The green and brown of lush and bare.
The taciturn nods that mean we are sharing.

To miss all this?
Why that would be quite another kind of sin.

Speedier Brain

Here are some make my brain work better. Who knows – they may work for you too:

  • Thinking less. Yes, I know that this sounds suspiciously unintuitive, but before you laugh and click on another link, you should try it. The technique I use is called meditation, which involves focusing on one thing to the exclusion of all others. It doesn’t really matter what you focus on – your breath, the sound of your feet in the pavement, a candle, the smell of your perfume, the taste of chocolate melting in your tongue – pretty much anything. What happens is pretty much akin to running an antivirus scan on your computer and then rebooting it. You’ll find that it shuts down all the unhelpful stuff running through your brain leaving you faster and more efficient.
  • Eating a cheese sandwich. I don’t know about you but there’s nothing quite like a plain old cheese sarnie to ground me nicely. If I’ve been eating too much chocolate and my brain is whirring far too quickly without getting anywhere then bread and cheese slows down the hamster on the wheel in my head enough to make my brain more capable of smiling and doing what I really want it to do.
  • Sleeping enough, but not too much. I know that this is a really obvious one, but it’s something that works for me so it goes on the list. Have you ever felt tempted to sleep for another hour in the morning, or even snooze the afternoon away? I know that I have. But I always seem to regret it. Unless I have seriously underslept prior to that and am catching up, sleeping extra in the morning (or afternoon) makes me feel tired and dull. If this happens to you though, don’t worry – all is not lost. All you have to do is …
  • Drink a glass of water. This is an amazing restorative for me. Dehydration tends to slow me down terribly and when that glass of water goes down, it’s like all the little cells in my brain about ‘yes!’ as they pump their little arms in the air.

And on that note, I’ll leave you to enjoy your day. If any of this works for you – let me know. And if not – what tricks do you have in your toolbox to make you feel fab?

Smut #02

halfway between the gutter and the stars

(continued from Smut #01)

… urogenital triangle.

You wince, sensing that I have changed my tone, not to mention my vocabulary. What was, before now, a titillating tease, has become a subversive text, designed to evoke (or perhaps provoke) laughter rather than sensual arousal.

This is, of course, is due to feedback from the silent majority who decided not to bother viewing this post. I mean – only 31 views? C’mon – even the Dinosaur post just after that got 47 views! I reckon people are just not into pure smut.

You ignore the mysterious and potentially threatening figure standing over you and consider addressing me directly.

Of course, you can see as much of me as the protagonist of any story can see the writer of her fate, which is to say – nothing. But still, you prop yourself up on one elbow, breasts bobbling beguilingly and speak into the air.

“Wotcher mate!”

Yep, you’re affecting an Australian accent for reasons of your own.


The watcher; that is to say – the figure watching you, sounds puzzled.

‘Nah, not you, Sunshine – him over there. The writer.”

“What writer?”

The faceless figure continues to put a puzzled expression on the face that none of us can see. The sunbather can’t see it because the sun is behind the figure. I can’t because I haven’t bothered to write a character sketch. And our readers (oh, wait – that’s you, and you are the sunbather through some tautologically twisted rendering of the relationship between reader and character) have not been told by the writer (that’s me) of what this face looks like, much less what sex this figure is.

“That one sitting at his dining room table writing this story.”

“Oh. Okay.” Nonchalantly, as if the unacceptable has become merely unreasonable and then, by a logical loop-the-loop, forgivable in the light of your still bobbling breasts.

The figure squats down and becomes a golden skinned teenage boy. When I say teenage, I mean late teens. Old enough to be legally entitled to be beguiled by your you-know-whats, and yet young enough to be moulded into whatever you desire him to be for as long as your holiday lasts.

“Listen,” the boy begins; a semi-serious expression on his face, “my name is Ayman, and I think you are the most sexiest creature on that towel!”

You lay back on the towel, swallowing a sigh of disappointment and wishing it were water. You could do with a nice, cold glass of water much more than cliched compliments.

“And so, now we know each other,” he continues, “would you like to buy a bottle of cold water?”

He hauls a blue ice bucket on wheels into view and suddenly, your interest is piqued; which is quite unusual because you’re not really sure what it means. You decide to Google it later and raise yourself up on your elbow again.

“How much?” Although you will pay any price.

“For you, sweet lady – a kiss.”

You look into his eyes – the most delicate shade of light brown amidst an almond shape and surrounded by the smoothest skin. You tear your thoughts away from moisturiser and smile …