Monday, July 31, 2006

lammas preparations

Sunday - walked myself into a better frame of mind early in the morning. Beautiful, fresh day in the hills - impossible not to feel the folly of one's ways and draw strength from a wider perspective. It's my personal formula: spirits always expand in proportion to the physical views.
Afternoon spent in preparation for Lammas. Cut ten foot lengths of hazel from one of the prolific trees in the orchard, fixed them into the ground, bent the tops over into the middle and wove all the thin leafy branches together to make a bower. Went to the one field in the lane still not harvested and cut a few sheafs of oats from the edges where they'll be missed by machinery. Today making some figures from lavender and baking lavender biscuits ready for the celebration. The anticipation is as important a part of festivals as it is of sex, with that subtle flicker of happiness and physical agitation, the build-up of desire. Can't wait.

Friday, July 28, 2006

low day

Too tired to do more than pick at The Long Thought, although I did unearth some interesting 19th century salmon fishing memoires (sic)today at the library. Feeling very low and dispirited, typical post-book syndrome but more too. At least it's market day tomorrow, although I'm not sure even the K of S could cheer me up at the moment. Need a holiday - last time was walking the volcanoes in the Auvergne in May 2005. A long time ago.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

over, and out

Took guided walk out yesterday afternoon, around the great loopy bends of the canalised Aulne at Chateauneuf-du-Faou. Old and new faces, very well-behaved group on the whole (even Kay and Steve) :-) Good preparation for getting back into the Long Thought tomorrow. On the way home managed to see the Serusier chapel paintings in the town for the first time, as the church has been closed for years for renovations.
Finishing second draft of Me and the Goddess Athene tonight, even if I have to go without sleep. Then it'll all be over. I'll be free. Trop contente!

Monday, July 24, 2006

itinéraire culturel

Out with the Luzec historical crowd today for a 'cultural journey' in blazing heat. Started in Relec Abbey, with its damp Cistercian atmosphere and dreadful accoustic (sorry, excellent, according to the locals). Jean-Marie Ploneis, a linguistics professor (who recently bought a copy of my history of Brittany) gives a brief talk to introduce La Quévaise, a form of medieval monastic land tenure significant to the environmental and sociological development of the Monts d'Arrée and the Trégor. His words reverberate around the lofty ancient abbey and are totally lost in an aura of green mould. Then we all trail off in about thirty cars to the archaeological site of Goenidou to stand around listening to him speak more distinctly in direct baking hot sun for an hour before someone suggests that moving into the shade might prevent a few early deaths. Louis Elégoet, who has the merit of being very attractive as well as a fervent, devastatingly lucid historian, is also of the party and has much of interest to contribute. I admire his work greatly and always enjoy the chance to see him in action. Home exhausted and shrivelled for that well-known sun-stroke preventative: ice-cold vodka. Always works.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

me and the goddess Athene

Finished the first draft of this book 6pm Sunday, after an incredible stint of writing lasting from 3pm Saturday with a very short interval of sleep in the middle. In fact have written fairly solidly since Wednesday and am completely shattered, but quite satisfied. Not a hint of Five of Cups style agonising. Wanted to do it on this day, three month anniversary of the death of one of my closest friends, who would have laughed herself even sillier than usual over this one. Love and miss her very, very much today and every day and for the rest of my life.
There's not going to be much more to do to Me and the Goddess Athene, another week should see it off my hands - then freedom, no more fiction, back to identity, history, landscape, all the truly sustaining things in life. Can rush off to the Rade de Brest and get on with all the research that's been piling up for The Long Thought which will soon be very much shorter...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

my great love

Here's a picture of my great love, Rufus. Now, he's a King of Swords too.

Friday, July 21, 2006

from my window

I am asked: where do you write? what do you see from your window? My office overlooks the garden but in summer trees obscure the longer view up to the main hamlet, which with its stone houses and slated roofs retains a medieval air. I love the huge, unusually spreading, pine tree in my garden, its cones cracking like rifles in this heavy heat, and the wild rose clothing the roof of an old agricultural building which now houses a multitude of junk. Unfortunately I cannot see the orchard which rises gently and expands to about an acre beyond the pine, but invisibility is good for an outdoor refuge.
Inside, I do not have a desk by the window, prefering to work facing a blank wall - so there is work-top round two sides of the room and a large table in the middle, providing different spaces for different projects, but it's true that every few minutes I swivel round for a glimpse of green and space for a new thought to creep in.
My armchair is by the window, although the thickness of the old walls makes the inner sill a comfortable place to sit and watch the small herd of white Charolais cattle grazing in the field a few metres away: the house shakes as they run about and I've often whipped out the modem cable thinking thunder was echoing down from the Monts d'Arrée...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

sad day

Very sorry to say goodbye to S&J, after a night all sleeping in the orchard (before the rain came pouring down). I took them to the Cap Sizun peninsula - with fleeting visits to three very different sacred sites, Pleyben, Menez Hom and Lesconil, as final treats - and sadly watched them head off down the coastal path to start another long walk from the shadow of a large menhir. Wished very much that I was going too. Their visit has meant a lot in many ways, and I honour their individual and joint beings here, although not as fulsomely as they deserve. Am saving my tears for later, lol.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Got up very early on Saturday. The market was even more fun than usual. K of S: bliss. And the weekend got even better with the arrival of my old mate Steve from Glastonbury days who has illustrated two of my books and is a fine writer himself though of completely different ilk. Fetch him and his lovely partner Johanna from Morlaix station and then have a long food, drink and talk filled evening which has done a lot for the general state of my spirits. Today take them up on the Monts d'Arrée and to the powerful alley grave at Mougou Bihan. The house next to it, which I have long coveted, has a for sale sign and the agent is a long-term acquaintance of mine. I resist the urge to call there and then on the mobile.
This evening to Guimiliau to see the parish close, finest example of an extraordinary blossoming of competitive religious architecture in the 15-17th centuries, thanks to wealth pouring into Léon from the linen industry. It is a distinctive, some claim unique, style for which this area is rightly famous.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Out early for a long trek far and fast up and over the Monts d'Arrée. On the way back risk (rather, send the dog first) the snakes and tics to climb a rocky peak and look down to the settlement of Relecq with its 12th century Cistercian abbey. I need this physical release today and push myself hard. Hoping to shake up the bits in my head like a kaleidscope and dislodge the malevolent korrigan that's taken up residence there - succeed for the duration, but it all falls gently back into the same old pattern at the end.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Zizou - encore

Bollocks to all this 'Moment of madness' 'red mist' crap - it was for Zizou a moment of sanity, of decision and clear sight. He made a choice and he will live it without fear, regret or pretence. Unlike Materazzi.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

long day

Have worked twelve hours today after a bad night. Three chapters of Me and the Goddess Athene, two tarot readings, 5000 words of research notes. Knackered. Bed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Every day I have more emails than I can easily handle (without getting a secretary or giving up writing). Today, for example, there's the aftermath of my international slanging match about Zizou with various people around the globe to contend with, a message from the Daily Mail who have enjoyed Five of Cups but are not going to review it, a very kind offer of free DVDs to promote my walking book from a lovely couple who have made a recording of photos set to music from their experiences of using the book, a request from a Spanish property company to link with my Brittany Walks website, a few Five of Cups fan letters, a query about walking around Paimpol, an interesting suggestion from an attractive man I met recently, supportive friends' enquiries after my health (mostly drunk lately thank you), and a lot of arrangements to be sorted with summer visitors. That's in addition to about thirty-five daily tarot-related messages and a lot of mail from various pagan groups. It's not the time in replying that matters but the thought that must precede each answer, and the careful calculation of tone and true intention behind the requests, ideas and opinions. I don't always get it right unfortunately.

Monday, July 10, 2006

chez moi - encore


Today the memory is more painful. So is my right eye – a lighted match head flew into it last night, about a minute after Zizou was sent off. An exquisite paradigm of displacement. I can’t bear all these fucking patronising, supercilious pseudo-explanations of what he did. To hell with the ‘pressures of being the French national icon’ (after all the racist taunts he has endured he could do without that particular calumny) and ‘pent-up frustrations of another mediocre performance’. For a lesser man – Beckham, for example - that might serve for motivation. But for some more evolved beings, there is no fight, no flirtation with darkness, no simple succumbing to its lure when the challenge is too great and others’ expectations too high. It is precisely in the absence of danger that some seek the violent comfort of the shadow-self and own their darkness. Maybe not such an unfitting end to the career of the greatest footballer of my lifetime and a man I admire as much as any other on this earth – on terms I can understand in my own heart.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Stopped watching when Zizou left the field. Not much point after that or any doubt about the outcome. Don't even feel like drinking. Outside a huge yellow moon rises above the Monts d'Arrée. I wander about in the orchard and totally fail to rise above this disaster.

sports day

I only have French TV and only terrestrial at that, so no Wimbledon for the last five years. An English friend takes pity and invites me to watch both finals this weekend. A real treat, and ice-creams thrown in too! We have fun and a great match today with my hero Federer trashing the young upstart Nadal.
A French friend has invited me for le foot tonight but I must be at home and able to me lâche un peu because it's going to be one hell of a night. I'm in a mad mood anyway and the vodka is ready for any eventuality. Actually I have two bottles of champagne in the fridge which might come in useful - one from a friend and one couriered over from a French company I mentioned favourably in an article. Now that is style à la française.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

market day

Excellent morning at the market. Great sales, nice customers, good atmosphere. K of S betrays not a hint of wands today, but who cares anyway in the face of such physical perfection?

Friday, July 07, 2006


Drive for half an hour through the wildest uplands of Finistere to the pretty little bourg of Bolazec, regular half-way meeting place with a good friend and fellow-writer. We lunch in the little bar/restaurant as usual: 5 courses for 10 euros (about £6.50?) - rice, fish and egg salad, followed by smoked ham in spicy mushroom sauce, followed by a platter of chips and roasted chicken pieces, followed by cheese of many kinds, followed by tarte aux pommes. All this with unlimited wine, water, bread and coffee with chocolates included. When we come out much later after a very happy time and interesting talk, my car has ceased to function. Various handsome passing Frenchmen having failed to make any impact on the problem, I am forced to call on the local garage owner, who turns out to be the nicest of the lot, but sadly cannot fix the car at once. So a good day turns into a bad one as I loathe the restriction of being carless and dependent on others. Get a lift home, very, very grumpy and much fatter than when I started.
I broke down in a forest in the middle of Poland once. Half a dozen paralytically drunk Poles swayed out of a cabin and surrounded the car, insisting on opening the bonnet and fiddling about with the engine. Arguments then broke out about what was wrong and a few punches were thrown, but they got the thing going and then lumbered back among the vodka bottles triumphantly. In fact, from my extensive travels round that extraordinary country, I would have to say that drunken Poles are surprisingly good at pretty much anything.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

in denial

Morning of tarot - one professional reading, one online freebie, both interesting and revealing. The Five of Cups has attracted a lot of attention among people who know nothing about the subject, so that’s good work. My new Druidcraft deck arrived in the post and we have a first run together for the short spread. I like it, but no coup de foudre.
Talking of which (for those who have kindly enquired after the King of Swords) - en route to the library I drive past him sauntering back to work after lunch, and he really was sauntering. The physical gait is revealing and it is starting to confirm something I’ve been thinking about lately – but am not yet prepared to entertain as a serious notion. Could he be not the King of Swords, but the Knight of Wands. Aaaarghhh! And worse, a Knight of Wands reversed? No, I’m in denial, but really need to see some urgent evidence of that sword.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

so happy

France 1 Portugal 0
Exhausted, hoarse and all four letter worded out, but o so very happy. Zizou finally made the jump from my third favourite man in the world to number 1, because he's simply THE BEST. OK, so he played crap, but comme même ...
And we won.

bloody wednesday

Bad day - torrential rain, bad news from one quarter, no news from another.
Good day - worked hard, good book to review in post, sorted a lot of stuff.
But tonight's the night ... allez, allez, allez les Bleus

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Lovely Swedish visitors - an internet pagan friend plus husband and small son - have departed and I should be working. Instead I'm thinking about why I don't like summer, even though it's a lovely day, fresh but warm, sunny but not broiling.
It's something to do with my same old process versus result issue: summer seems unsubtle, stagnant, too complete. Already the life and vivid colour has gone from many of the trees. All my best things are effortful. Irony is a struggle, walking is debilitating instead of energising. Lammas/Lughnasadh is not my favourite festival - celebrating a result comes hard for these reasons, though I'll make bread and biscuits and be pretty damn thankful for my personal harvests when the time comes.
Winter is my favourite time - the light, the air, the inward focus, the power of latency - although I also love the transformation of autumn and the potential of spring. Yule and Imbolc are high times, my true celebrations, although the sexuality of Beltane rarely finds me unmoved ... Summer on the other hand, leaves me cold.

Monday, July 03, 2006

heavy monday

Huge thunder storm in the night but still heavy and too oppressive for words. Finding it impossible to work or think today: hot, restless, unsettled and unproductive, although I did manage a couple of scenes of chapter 10 of Me and the Goddess Athene. Lay on the grass in the orchard in the shade of my beloved oak trees and read Labyrinth by Kate Mosse for a while, but Brian would insist on sitting on the book to divert my attention to himself. Try having the 'dogs should be heard but not seen' discussion with him again, but it goes nowhere as usual. Fortunately the big chap Rufus is in the mood for a fight and drags Brian off by the scruff of his neck for a bit of snarling and snapping. Totally quiet in my beautiful green oak walled room. I watch the insects in the grass beneath me, so purposeful and preoccupied. This weather always brings out lurid fantasies in me, so I while away the time, not entirely unhappily, one way and another.

Saturday, July 01, 2006