[syndicated profile] footlesscrow_feed

Posted by Footless Crow

Poet Simon Armitage follows up his hugely successful ‘Walking Home’ –an account of his ‘back to front’ long distance trod down The Pennine Way to finish close to his Yorkshire home- with an account of a 2013 expedition he undertook following the northern South West Coast path which winds its way from Somerset to Land’s End. In Simon’s case the plan was to finish on the tiny Scillies island of Samson. As an undertaking this 250 mile walk matches just about anything in the UK, for despite its lack of soaring hills and mountains, anyone who has even walked a section of it will be familiar with the undulating peaks and troughs as the trail falls into hidden green valleys before rising steeply up out of the shadowy abyss in a repeating cycle which goes on for miles. Particularly in the section on the Culm Coast twixt Devon and Cornwall. By the time you have walked five miles you will have gained a couple of Welsh mountains in elevation!

For those not familiar with the concept employed by the poet, Basically, Simon offers himself as a wandering troubadour; walking the trail in bite size sections-usually between 10 to 15 miles although the average seems to be about 12. In return for board, accommodation and the portering of his suitcase  between gigs and digs, he performs poetry readings at the end of most legs. The venues vary from pubs to bookshops, living rooms to yurts. At the end of each gig the poet passes around a sock- why a sock and not his expensive cattle driver's hat I don’t know?- but nevertheless, apart from fishing out the odd boiled sweet, betting slip and chewed pencil-he generally rakes in enough to make each section of the walk a profitable enterprise.

I must say, if you are engaging in an long distance walk like this and you can end each leg with a shower, hot meal and fall into clean sheets and a soft bed then why not? It might not fit in with the traditional Rufty-Tufty approach- backpacking for weeks on end with the equivalent of a small car on your back - but I know which approach I’d rather employ if I had a legion of admiring Guardian readers falling over themselves to service my every need! And by and large it does indeed seem to be the nice middle class, Posy Simmonds-esque liberal Guardianistas who are at the forefront when it comes to servicing the poet’s enterprise or indeed, who actually know who Simon Armitage is. After all, in X Factor UK 2015, poets are generally as well known as Edwardian spiritualists or Inuit whale-catchers.  I’m sure, despite the predominance of the aforementioned culturally endowed, a lot of people who turn up for his readings have just been told , ‘we’ve got a bloke, Simon Something, coming to the village hall whose been on telly and written books and stuff’.

Starting out at Minehead, Simon stays in the Butlins Holiday Camp although, by his own admission, he chickens out at giving a reading to an audience where replica football shirts and spray tans are much in evidence, and hi tails it off to give a reading in some rustic hostelry where freshly pressed Denim and Laura Ashley is the preferred dress code. ‘How could I compete with an Olly Murs tribute act’ he later offered as an excuse for this act of cultural cowardice!

Wandering through ‘Zummerzet’ with a different entourage picked up at each leg, he encounters a bountiful harvest of humanity whose quirks,charms and indiscretions provide a rich source of material. From the Country squire complaining about ‘The Ravens ruining his land’-Simon later realises he means ‘ the ravers’- to the tramp bearing the legend ‘Fuck off Toffs’!  With his keen observational eye and descriptive talents, he brings to life this endless parade of characters and sets them into a landscape which even to the unfamiliar is imbued with familiarity. The sun dew on wet grass, the diamond backed sea, the shadows which speckle the dense copses and the owl haunted country graveyards falling into night.

Jane Darke's beach side garden at Porthcothan: Photo-Helen-Kernow Education Arts Partnership

I’ve seen Simon described as ‘saturnine’ in some quarters...Never! What I love about his writing is his wry laconic humour and like most Northern folk, he’s not averse to using self deprecation to keep his boots firmly on the ground. Drawing the reader in to a world where stages are completed with the aid of ibuprofen and a muttered prayer to St Christopher; where cloudbursts wash away optimism and fellow travellers peel away like flotsam on a Devon tide as the sea fret becomes a sea squall.  This style fits the pace of the book perfectly. Whether he’s describing the characters, the land, the sea or his mood and physical condition, it’s hard not to engage with a writer who wears his heart on his sleeve and who isn’t afraid to puncture the overall mellow vibe with the occasional dark thought and reveal doubts about the validity of the entire enterprise.

However, his spirits are never beaten into submission for too long and aided and abetted by his moveable feast of fellow walkers, The Marsden Pied Piper, each night, leads his assembled troupe into the welcoming arms of his hosts, where, refreshed and with batteries recharged he can regale the local communities with anecdotes and poetry before Morpheus takes him on a well earned journey into the land of nod.

Along the way, various characters weave in and out of his orbit. Margaret Drabble describing how she offered to put up Salman Rushdie at the height of the Santanic Verses brouhaha. Not expecting him to take up the offer, she was rather taken aback when he turned up with a team of bodyguards and security goons! Artist and filmmaker Jane Darke feeds him figs and black pudding at her beautiful gaff above the beach at Porthcothan near Padstow. As someone who has partaken tea and cake here with Jane, I can confirm the generosity of mine hostess and the aesthetic delights which abound hereabouts within a home and beach top garden which is  decorated with the colourful bounty collected through the tireless ‘wrecking’ of the Atlantic shore.

Towards the end of the journey, Simon’s body is starting to resemble his boots. Falling apart at the seams and held together with spit and hope! His keen descriptive eye never loses its perspective though and people and places remain as vivid and well observed as the day he took his first steps in Minehead. I’m not sure if he has a photographic memory, walks along jotting into a notebook or constantly addresses a Dictaphone??? Whatever device he uses he certainly captures the essence of the journey throughout and the pace of the narration never lets up for a moment.

Will this be the poet’s final epic long distance walk? After all, he is a fifty something academic more used to frequenting the libraries and lecture rooms of our metropolitan centres of learning than battling the elements in remote climes. It wouldn’t be a terrible spoiler to hint that this may be the case although I detected a weakening of resolve as, back home in Yorkshire, he gazes at some new walking boots still wrapped in tissue paper in the box they came in.

Man at Sea and Hay. Simon Armitage photo: The Telegraph

I certainly hope so for Walking Home and Walking Away have both been excellent and although outdoor zealots might snort at this outsider bringing long distance walking into the Sunday Times Best Seller domain and somehow sullying its Spartan tradition of grim suffering and mortification through the adoption of  a  ‘walking for softies’ approach, well...tough! It's Long distance walking Jim, but not as we know it and you'll never think of a Galapagos Tortoise  in the same way again either! 

John Appleby:2015

Rating on the Krab-o-meter

Today's starting count

May. 22nd, 2015 08:45 am
shetiger: (Default)
[personal profile] shetiger
AB/CM #1: 45576
AB/CM #2: 12605


May. 22nd, 2015 08:34 am
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase
Found out why we've been seeing more of the cardinals at the windowsill!

cut to maintain the suspense )

What did I do to deserve this fate

May. 22nd, 2015 08:10 am
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
[personal profile] snarp
This terrible memefate

*I close Tumblr and am confronted with the Gdocs tab containing the first chapter of my paranormal romance novel Taken By Two Draculas*

moar cover options

May. 22nd, 2015 07:04 am
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[personal profile] yhlee
If anyone has a moment to take a look and vote, I would appreciate it. Thanks to those who have weighed in--my sister came up with a few more options based on y'all's comments!

Poll #16711 another cover poll--moar options!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 6

Which cover???

View Answers

1 (16.7%)

2 (33.3%)

1 (16.7%)

4 (66.7%)

1 (16.7%)

0 (0.0%)

something else that I will explain in comments
1 (16.7%)

tocky the ticky taffee
1 (16.7%)

[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

Who out there doesn’t need a little more Saturn in their life? I can deliver.

This was a cool one to record. Even though we’d done 17 episodes before, I like to play with the format a little bit. I was a little more relaxed when we shot this, leaning back in the chair more and just having more fun with it. I hope that shows.

I know I’ll get asked about this, so to head the question off: Yes, Saturn’s rings really are thinner to scale than paper, by a lot. I’ve done the math.

For clarity, I’ll note that there are places where Saturn’s rings are thicker than 10 meters; they range up to a kilometer thick in some regions. But bear in mind that’s still compared to their 300,000 km diameter! That’s a heckuva ratio.

And why not: Here’s an article I wrote about what would happen if Saturn made a close approach to Earth, inspired by a very cool video showing what it would look like. You’ll like it.

As for Saturn itself, now is a great time to go out and see it. By a funny coincidence, Saturn is at opposition tonight: That means it’s opposite the Sun in the sky, rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. It’s up all night, and that also means it’s as close to Earth as it will get for the year (about 1.34 billion km). If you want to see the planet for yourself — and oh my, yes you do — the next few weeks are the best time to do it.

Find a local observatory or nearby astronomy club; I imagine they’ll have viewings. I expect some people will be thinking of buying a telescope, too, so read this first!

Saturn through a telescope can be literally life-changing. It changed mine, and it’s done so for others. Go look.

More thrilling adventures...

May. 22nd, 2015 11:37 am
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[personal profile] charloween
Hello internet!

Nothing has changed on my last two sagas (no info on examiner's state of health*, maybe today something will be done to my bathroom...?), and technically I've been working four jobs, if you count being - on paper - a full-time student as a full-time job**.

*We're assuming he's still alive because we haven't heard anything different! *lolsob*

**student, multiple roles at the theatre (counting each separately, idk, it's like eight jobs), research assistant, STILL TEACHING BECAUSE HELLO EXAMS TO MARK...

I saw Mad Max: Fury Road and liked it. I'd like to see it again, because I know my response was a bit lukewarm (because of exhaustion).

VidUKon is next month and some of the vidshows made me squeak with anticipation.

I need to book a bunch of flights and do a stack of life admin stuff this weekend, but tomorrow I'm away all day at a conference. My to-do list is extensive, and I've got a spinning-wheels sensation this month, like I'm really really busy but not getting anywhere.

Later this afternoon I'm practising a conference paper I'll be giving next Wednesday, which means I need to use the afternoon to write the presentation. I know the material really well, but I need to focus long enough to organise my thoughts.

Friday glee is crystalline

May. 22nd, 2015 10:38 am
rydra_wong: Lisa Rands' chalky hands on the sloper on the route Gaia (climbing -- hands)
[personal profile] rydra_wong posting in [community profile] disobey_gravity
The Friday post of glee is where you get to tell us about your climbing-related happiness this week.

It can be a new achievement or adventure, or just that you climbed and had fun; it can be that your favourite climbing wall is expanding or that you bought new rock shoes or that you found a cool ice-climbing vid on YouTube. No glee is too small -- or too big. Members are encouraged to cheer each other on and share the squee.

N.B. Please feel free to post your glee on any day of the week; the Friday glee is just to get the ball rolling.

To enhance this week's glee: Hansjörg Auer new route-ing on the Kristallwand.
superboyprime: (Default)
[personal profile] superboyprime posting in [community profile] scans_daily

"Andy Lanning and I are no longer working together, and indeed haven’t worked together since early last year except to finish commitments. The very long-standing relationship was no longer working, and the split was for the best. I am very much happier now working solo." - Dan Abnett

Read more... )


May. 22nd, 2015 08:34 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"Change happens for you
 the moment you want something
 more than you fear it."

  -- Eric Micha'el Leventhal, "Haiku #3"

*pours glass of wine*

May. 21st, 2015 11:54 pm
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
[personal profile] sholio
I really should not be this glad that my Saturday evening plans fell through, but this has been an exhausting week -- what with emotionally draining houseguests (my in-laws), frantically cleaning the house top-to-bottom in advance of said houseguests, trying to get the garden in, realizing last-minute that I haven't done any of this year's promotional materials for my comics class and scrambling to get all of that done before running a comics workshop on Wednesday night. And I have something scheduled tomorrow night (selling my stuff at an intermission show for a geek-themed play on campus), plus wanting to buy my bedding plants and finish getting the garden in tomorrow, so they can benefit from all this lovely, unseasonably warm sunshine we've been having ... let's just say I was NOT ready for a fun night out on Saturday. My feelings right now are considerably more oriented towards collapsing at home for a couple of days that I don't have to go anywhere.

It would have been difficult to gracefully get out of the Saturday thing if my only excuse is "I've hit my introvert social maximum for the week" -- it's a going-away party for a friend. However, she changed it last-minute from something I actually wanted to do (dinner at a nice Greek restaurant in town, followed by a bar crawl, which I was already planning to quietly beg off from), to something I really don't want to do AND have a decent excuse for not doing (a concert with a band I don't care about, that has $40 tickets). She doesn't mind me not coming and we made plans to have lunch next week instead.

Collapsing at home it is, then!

Also, once I get the garden in, my (once) frightfully intimidating May to-do list will be nearly 100% done. For the rest of the month, the only thing I really HAVE to do is to get my Kismet page buffer finished through early August (since I will be either traveling or too busy to work on it for most of June and July). And yeah, that's gonna be quite a bit of work, but it's fun work, and otherwise I can play a bit, and do art, and maybe write some fic. And figure out what my next big fiction project is going to be.
chagrined: Homestuck: Karkat bonking Dave (davekat bonk)
[personal profile] chagrined
here are some haikyuu recs since the last time i did haikyuu recs!

Go Play a Video Game, by autoeuphoric, Kenma/Kuroo, 1350 words, porn. Because there had to be a fic in the world of Kuroo sexing up Kenma while Kenma just continues playing a video game the entire time.

And then two by the same author:

levels of investment, by skittidyne, gen with some Tsukishima/Yamaguchi, 9133 words. a team practice match. SO GOOD! OH MAN! the ONLY time I have seen anyone write volleyball action really well in a haikyuu fic. and all of the characters are so good. it's truly an ensemble piece, and mostly gen, with a little shippy stuff at the end, basically.

you can only take what you can carry, by skittidyne, gen with some Sawamura/Sugawara, 4274 words. basically the same kind of "gen with a bit of shipping at the end" formula as the other fic, though this one doesn't feature actual volleyball action, but does have training camp shenanigans.

and an AMV:

Heavy, 3:07, gen/ensemble/recruiter-vid-type-thing. THE EDITING IN THIS IS SO GOOD. I especially love how the vidder utilizes internal motion such as zooms and pans within clips when doing transitions from one clip to the next. Like, a clip where it's zooming out goes to another clip where it's zooming out goes to another one and it gives this really excellent sense of motion and continuity between them. some of the other transitions are just really well edited and seamless too, like there's at least a few where it seems like it just seamlessly pans over to another part of the clip but it's a ttly diff clip. anyway makes me want to slow it down and look at it frame-by-frame to inspect their editing haha. which maybe i'll do at some point. XD anyway, if you like either haikyuu or vidding, i think u would enjoy this.

and homestuck:

A Little Off the Top, by introsquirrel, which is actually two fics but they're both part of this series. though I can't tell if they're really supposed to be in the exact same continuity, but it doesn't really matter either way. both are good! one is 7381 words and one is 20713 words. both main pairing DaveKat, some supporting pairings that were canon on the pre-Vriska-retcon meteor. basically the recent upd8s left me really wanting good DaveKat fic set in the new continuity, but I CAN'T FIND ANY THAT SATISFACTORILY SCRATCH MY ITCH GDI but I did find this older one I hadn't read be4 so yay for that.

Daily Happiness

May. 22nd, 2015 12:30 am
torachan: black and grey kitten on the back of a chair (heidi on chair)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I was hoping to get out of work by one or one-thirty today and it ended up being more like two or two-thirty, but it still was less than a full day (yay) and at least the money for overtime is good, so there's that.

2. Kitty doesn't seem interested in much wet food at all, but she is eating a lot (for relative values of "a lot") of treats and drinking a lot of water, so at least she's got something going in her tummy.

3. The strawberry swiss rolls I love are on sale this week at work.

4. We took a nice walk this evening.

Prompt Angst

May. 22nd, 2015 05:45 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

Emily Cahn, "Sanchez Stumbles Prompt SoCal Angst", Roll Call 5/20/2015 — Linda Seebach writes "I lived in LA for a couple of years, and can readily believe that SoCal angst is unusually prompt to appear."

But it's harder to believe that "stumbles" is a transitive verb, though I guess there might be a causative equivalent of the intransitive form, as with break or boil.

On the other hand, it's easy enough to find headlines where a plural noun (fights, fears, plans, etc.) can easily be interpreted as a transitive verb, allowing prompt to take its place as an adjective:

"Tense land fights prompt new group"
"Avian flu fears prompt State Fair fowl ban"
"Panto plans prompt hunt for princess’s slipper"

And even cases that go the other way:

"Altaf Hussain demands prompt investigations into allegations on Axact"


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