February 27th

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Starting to turn the year now,

And by Friday we’re breaking ground.

On hollow hills by the old flint-roads,

We’ll sing the ancient out!

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1st February 

Black Mary’s Hole, a well famed for its healing iron-rich chalybeate waters, lay close to or under the Holidays Inn on the Kings Cross Road. 

Formerly set within landscape of fields and springs where the house of Nell Gwynne shared the valley of the Fleet River with shepherds, glue makers, sex-workers and wandering antiquarians.

The yard of the hotel straddles the course of the lost Fleet River itself, long-since culverted, along with Black Mary’s spring waters, down into Clerkenwell’s sewers. 

But the alder trees still try to push their roots into the muds of the stream bank and cracks in the tarmac hint at movements in the river clays and gravels, less than dormant, just underneath it’s tarry skin.

The river-bed deposits of the Fleet continue to flow, long after its waters have passed from living memory.

7 January 2017

Getting hung up on dates when it comes to the solar calendar isn’t helpful. I’m sure there was fuzziness, give or take a day or two, in prehistory for major stages in the year.

The Solstice standstills can afford to be fuzzy as the sun is, well, standing still in its rising on the horizon.  I’m always fascinated by the fact the sun doesn’t start to rise any earlier until quite a few days after the winter solstice. It’s a period of time, rather like the Saturnalia, and not a day, like Christmas, that the Solstice occupies.

What brings it to an end is a new Season. The season of Epiphany, the name in Greek means “to appear” and was used for the dawn as well as a deity child.

I see this as always the epiphany of the year, back to work, trees down, rubbish cleared and the dawn rising to meet us a little earlier. 

A good fire last night, to clear the last garden rubbish from the autumn and a few boxes from the festivities, seemed fitting enough to celebrate our emergence from the darkest part of the year and the epiphany of a little more light. 

14th December 2016

Winter Moons are ones I imagine high, cold and clear. Set in brilliant skies pricked only by the brightest stars. Winter Moons are starkly beautiful, but remote and lifeless adornments to the sky.

Tonight’s full moon, although an hour risen, hangs over Halnaker Hill still yellow and wreathed in smog. A halo of sorts hangs round it, but red-shifted to a dirty, terrestrial orange. A 10yr 5/4 moon on a mild Peri-solstice evening.

Rising red and orange moons would have had a story to tell in the Pleistocene, a warning of approaching dust storm, forest fires or others in the landscape with fire and, maybe, intent.

Now, primal, cultural receptors to darkened, soil-streaked or smoke-smudged Moons are dulled. It climbs, for now at least, unheeded. Still trying to reach escape velocity and release from our inversion layer world.