2018 at Dalefield and Dhruvaloka

Winter Solstice greetings to you, somewhere between Sutherland

(the least tree-full county in Scotland) and

Cambridgeshire (the least tree-full county in England).

Raft of eider duck near the shore at Brora, Sutherland

Sutherland where – according to a biology professor I met in Poppy’s cafe in Golspie – the arrival of the Beloved and me in May increased the number of botanists by 50%.

2018-16-29 forsniard orchid
One of the treasures from Forsinard Peatland reserve (RSPB), which we are told is a top locality from which to see the Aurora Borealis in winter…

(And I have subsequently met another 25% of those Sutherland botanists, and wandered in  her orchid-rich garden. And have also made friends with welcoming neighbours, geologists, smallholders, dog-walkers, teachers, novelists,  train-spotters, textile artists, painters, chocolatiers, shopkeepers, ministers, chefs …)

Cambridgeshire where we continue to scythe and rake in hay-meadows, plant hedges, and pollard and coppice in the woods. Despite the ravages of local tree-felling on a massive scale for roadbuilding; scorched-earth new-town-developing; and the heat-and-dust that many others experienced in England… we are glad to report that the mini wood that we planted 24 years ago is still prospering, and indeed provided welcome cover for wild creatures and wild-flower species during the summer.

jim sawfest
The Beloved with his hand-made-saw, later used at Sawfest 2018 at Orchard Barns in Suffolk. He continues to enjoy volunteering for the National Trust, and belonging to Shed Club, Wimpole Greenwood Group, and the Scything Association of the British Isles.

This year the Beloved and I are spending much of December at Dhruvaloka – “Place of the North Star” – in Brora (58 degrees north), where we found (and later bought) our summer sanctuary last April, pictured here with the trusty removal van.

20180527moving in
What a Good Idea as a sanctuary for a heat-sensitive me – Cambridge temperatures having soared in 2018.

We have enjoyed  – and will enjoy henceforth  – sharing Dhruvaloka (and of course, Dalefield) with our creative retreat friends and relations.

Art-making, writing, resting,  land-ranging, playing, and porridge-winning.

lynn wins porridge
Our northern home has been an overwintering nest for our dear local friend L, who recently became the Young People’s Winner at the 25th World Porridge Making Championships. Here she holds her trophy bowl up against our “View”, just ten minutes walk from our home, across Brora golf-links and dunes.
Earlier in December we enjoyed picking garden vegetation – even berried mistletoe from our garden –  for “The Kids” to take home to decorate their flat in Cambridge

And  we’ll be welcoming in the New Year at Dalefield, Longstanton – home for over 24 years now – where we two continue to spend our winters, rooted in allotment and garden, and working with the grain of greenwood.

Greenwood chairs made from ash and seated by Chairman Beloved, commissioned by sister-in-law. Just some of the sit-upons he’s made in 2018.

Why not find out more on what we’ve been doing – living and holidaying in two places?

And go deeper into my writingpresence writing-for-wellbeing practice.

Explore my website, starting at:


20180919ritual images for blog
A year’s harvest: climbing hop for its resilience and sleepy fragrance; the fishing net for the connections of friendship; the hearth for a warm partnership of forty years (and not counting);  the sunflower for joy and fruitfulness; the woven log-basket for containment and resource

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