Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Walk with Me on the Wild Side and Wander in my Winter Garden


Overnight bags packed and raring to go, we drove from North Shields to Kielder Water and Forest one rather unseasonably warm day in October.  The sky was a deep azure blue and the sun shone a watery yellow.

On the way, we stopped off at the pub for a 'quick one' and a late Red Admiral was doing it's thing on a French marigold.
The Autumn shades of the Northumberland National Park landscape were stunning as we drove up the bank of Elf Kirk viewpoint to take a look.  The green of the pines contrasted with the orange, bronze, crimson, yellow and garish gold of the deciduous oak, ash and maple.

Trees are wonderful things.
  • Trees provide shade, beauty and protection from harsh winters.
  • Trees help moderate temperature extremes and offset poor air quality. 
Do I sound like a tree-hugger?  Yes? Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say least I don't think so!


Starting at Matthew's Linn car park, we strolled the three miles there and back to the Mirage, a man-made, oh-so-natural sculpture in the trees, creating a vision of glittering starlight in the pine trees.
The walk to it, with the lake to our right and autumn foliage to our left was sublime.  We must have been feeling particularly lazy on this mild, hazy day, because we stopped to have a cuppa here there and everywhere.
Clouds in the Weir

We took a break on the new bridge that has recently received a Prime Minister's award, where reflections of the clouds above shone like snowdrifts in Bakethin Weir.
We had tea and biscuits at Patterson's Pause, where 'hewn-out-of-the-rock' picnic table and two benches overlook Kielder Water - and where reflections of the tall pines ripple and sway in the weir as it meets the lake.

Adding a Stone to Kitle Cairn
We had coffee when we stopped at Whistler Cairn and Kitle Cairn and I added a stone to each of them.
Nearing the mirage, I said, as I spied splendid toadstools holding their heads high in among the mosses, "I don't think I'm going to be so impressed by this mirage sculpture thing.  It can't possibly be as pretty as the woodland and the lake."  But I was about to be taken by surprise.


Mirage is stunning. Mirage is amazing.  As we drew toward it, we were taken aback by the shiny discs attached to the Sitka Spruce trees as they shimmered in the dark forest, lit up like a thousand stars by the sunlight and the water beyond the forest.
We took a walk up into the forest on the boardwalk that leads away from the track and in among 'Mirage'.  There's a rest area provided here; an interlocking terrace and ramp right underneath the art piece where you can sit and gaze up at this wonderful sculpture, devised and sculpted by Kisa Kawakami.  It comprises 500 shiny disks that form a three-dimensional cloud to reflect the light and is part of the Kielder Arts Programme.

Apparently, this area is well-favoured by the red squirrel, but we saw not a one.  That's so unfortunate because I'm still waiting to see my first ever red squirrel in the wild.  One of these days...
The 'Mirage' ferry jetty is just around the corner.  Perhaps one day we'll walk from Leaplish to Matthew's Linn (we've done this walk before and it's lovely, only about a mile and a half), Matthew's Linn to Mirage and back to Leaplish on the ferry.
I've never been on the Kielder ferry yet, so that would be a real treat.  The 74-seater, named 'The Osprey', would be a great way to make the return journey from a lakeside walk back to our starting point.  After all, the whole of the lakeside path spans 27 miles!


We walked back to the car at Matthew's Linn and drove to Leaplish, where we were staying overnight with our friend, Micky, in a lodge in Leaplish Waterside Park that looks for all the world like a log cabin in Switzerland!
Rabbits at Play in Leaplish Waterside Park

The Park overlooks Kielder Water and there are paths to both the North and the South shores here.  There are facilities such as the indoor heated swimmng pool and saunas; there's the cafe and the restaurant, 'The Boat Inn', where Micky, Dave and I sauntered the five minute walk that night for a slap up meal.  Then we wandered 'home' to the warm, cosy lodge to watch the rabbits at play on the grass.

Next morning, we awoke to the most wonderful birdsong.  The redwings were out in force wanting to be fed on the picnic table just outside the veranda area of the lodge.

Having breakfast, watching the redwings, starlings, blue-tits and a lone robin guzzle their seed was a super experience.

Micky tells us that a few days after we left him to it for the rest of the week, he had birds eating out of his hand - lucky duck!

Micky and I Kicking Back in Jim-Jams
Thanks, Micky, for a great time.  We loved it.  See you there in November, I hope.


As Autumn approaches, the leaves are falling from the trees in my garden in brilliant flurries of gold, red and yellow - and to mark the approach of winter, the heathers, winter violas and cyclamen are blooming in a cloud of bright colour.

I'd planted some cyclamen corms in the garden years ago - and up to this year, I was rewarded only with their mottled leaves - not a bloom in sight.  But this year - ah, I discovered a little patch of pale lilac flowers sitting proud under a wild rose bush.  I was thrilled!

Winter jasmine festoons the fences and trellises these Autumn days, bold and regal.
Winter Jasmine
Spiky Mahonia
Mahonia bristles with yellow fronds of flowers among the shiny green of its spiked leaves.

And I've been planting hundreds of spring bulbs to add to the thousands already established - including some more croci in the lawn.  Let's see what it all looks like in spring-time.  Something to look forward to during the long winter months.




In June, when I was walking in Dover along the mapped riverside trail with my sister, we ended up in a filthy, disgusting rubbish dump (well, that's Dover for you, but that's another story!).  Laying on its side, thirsty and dying in a pile of rubble, was a forlorn, abandoned rubber plant.
Well, I'm a softie for anything living and I nearly burst into tears.  What stopped me was my sister, who suddenly had a bright idea.
"Take it home," she said.  And I did.  Its roots all wrapped up in a carrier bag, I took it on the train back to Newcastle.  My little waif and stray rubber plant, with its brown, curled-up leaves has become my adopted baby.  As his dying leaves fell from his branches, new shoots appeared - and now he's a beauty.  We named him Dover (Sole) Soul  to begin with - and the named eventually morphed into what he's now called - RUBBER SOUL.  He lives with me in my writing den.


My sister, having lived in Australia for over twenty years, couldn't believe that Britain sold pineapples with the leaves attached.

"You pay a fortune for one like that in Oz," she said, "Just slice the top off and you've got yourself a pineapple palm."  So I did - and WOW! it's coming on a treat.



Well, folks, I've been busy, busy yet again - but I still haven't got around to getting back to my novel, LAVENDER CAT!

"SOON," I say, "SOON!"

Nonetheless, I've achieved some stuff since I last talked to you. Read on, constant readers.


Many moons ago, I told you that the quarterly magazine, THIS ENGLAND, had retained my article, 'GHOSTS AND GAMES OF LONG-AGO LIVERPOOL' for 'further consideration.  Well, guess what?  They emailed me last week asking me for photographs to go with the article that (quote)
"...we hope we may publish in a future publication of This England."  
Wow!  A little nearer to the winning post, methinks!


Another of my travel stories, 'LAST CAMEL STANDING' has been published online on their Valet Parking site.  Here's the link:

and if you want to read all three of my stories on the site, go to the list of contributors at:
There have been two more of my 'TALES FROM AN IONIAN ISLAND' published on Trifter, online.  Here are the links:

Day Two - Corfu Town

Tales From an Ionian Island – Day Two – (Ημέρα δυο)




Day Three - The Corfu Trai

Tales From an Ionian Island – Day Three (Ημέρα τρία)

Read and enjoy! There are four more tales to come, methinks, so watch this space, why don't you,
constant readers.


The story of our road trip to France has begun on the Wikinut site online.  I've also begun documenting our adventure on my travel blog, 'Sheila's Amazing Adventures'.  I'll give you the link when it's completed.  Here's the link to the first of my Wikinut travel pages about France:

 La Grand Tour de la France – la Commencement

I've just heard that my story, HELVETICA, won an honourable mention in the Fall 24 hour Writers' Weekly Writing Contest.  I win an annual subscription to Write Markets Report and an ebook, A-Z OF HOW TO WRITE SCIENCE FICTION, so I'm well-chuffed, constant readers.


Last, but certainly not least, a writing buddy and I have just embarked on co-writing a flash fiction stories blog.  I' really excited about this project.  It's called, LIGHTNING FLASHES, and our pseudonyms are THUNDER and STORM (I'm Storm!).  Collectively, we are THUNDERSTORM. The blog is at the first stage, with Thunder writing her first flash as we speak. Once we've got thoroughly going, there's a plan to publish a coffee table e-book of our stories.  Ooooh!
To date, you can read our home page and our 'Who, What, Why?' page at:

Oh, this writing year has been a fine and dandy one to date, constant readers. Talk to you soon. 

Wish me luck with my red squirrel sighting!!

 And in my best Bruce Forsyth voice, I'll leave you with this.


1 comment:

  1. Nice post about the winter look about. I enjoyed the relaxing writing.