Fay Young

curiosity about the ways of the world

Are we inviting the storms?

Oddly, almost eerily, quiet today. For nights over the last week the house has rocked with angry sound. First Gertrude then Henry came rattling at the windows, hammering on the doors, playing merry hell round the chimneys. The latest storms have blown over but surely Imogen will not be far behind? Continue reading

Here’s to hibernation

It’s cold. Half way through January when the new year no longer feels festive, that’s when I realise the winter slog is only just beginning. But there’s a kind of comfort in the snow. Continue reading

Sunset song for the winter solstice

The winter sun just hangs over the ridge of the Coolags. Its setting will seal the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice.

So wrote George Mackay Brown, the observant eye of the great Orkney poet seeking out the touch of magic conjured up by the Neolithic architects who created Maeshowe with hard-hewn rock and a knowing eye on the heavens. Continue reading

A last look at Earth – again

The adventures of Tim Peake have set me rummaging in an old blog post inspired by an earlier space mission. It’s both interesting and depressing to see how little has changed in the ten years since I wrote it. And that ‘Last Look at Earth’ becomes more symbolically potent as our awareness of climate change grows while the means to tackle it remains uncertain.   Continue reading

In praise of the shipping forecast: pure poetry

The North wind doth blow though not very hard. Our windmill acts like a weathervane even when it’s not turning and it is facing resolutely north. We shall have snow. Continue reading

Look to the islands for pragmatic politics of hope

It’s not everyone’s idea of escape. A force 7 gale lashed the boat as we crossed the stormy Sound of Eigg. But we were leaving all visible signs of the general election on the mainland and I welcomed that thought even as I closed my eyes and got my head down, praying I wouldn’t need the poly bag thoughtfully provided by the crew.

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Reds (almost) under the bed

A flurry of white feathers on the pond, a pile of guano on the front doorstep and two peanuts in a corner of the hall. Welcome signs of wildlife at Pond Cottage and, note, they are not all outside the cottage. While swans (mostly) keep to the pond, our doorstep guano is deposited by bats roosting above the bedroom window, and the peanuts were left by an inquisitive red squirrel which ventured inside the back door. Continue reading

Poetry breaks the silence of dementia

Over the Years, a poem about ageing and Alzheimer’s, stirs a sad, sweet memory but also hope. Dementia is part of family life – and loss – for so many of us now and I remember how it silenced my once sociable father. Yet Paula Jennings’ poetry, drawing on her work in a nursing home, invites a new way of talking and listening.

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Bridge of sighs

Crossing the Forth Road Bridge beneath a dramatically cloudy sky, you can just see one tower of the new bridge over to the right.

Towering ambition

No fuss, no fanfare. Without a tweet or a peep from the press, an invisible shift in the Scottish landscape took place in the early hours of this morning.

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Politics and a vote for love

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

He wasn’t literally poor, of course. William Butler Yeats was born into an Anglo-Irish Protestant family at a time when the landed gentry were still in the last phase of their ascendancy. With that came the big houses, expensive schooling and freedom to move in elevated social circles of London and Dublin. Yet the ardent nationalist, poet and politician would surely be spinning merrily at the result of the Irish referendum. Continue reading

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