Life

Time was I would always go in front. Check out the terrain. Show her where to put her feet to avoid the mud or pick out the stones to step on to cross a stream, where to find hand holds on narrow, rocky sections. Time was. It’s different now. She leads, organizes the route with a quick google, download or screen shot to take with us. This helps. No need to get out an Ordnance Survey map in the wind and rain, root around in the rucksack for the reading glasses, find that the place you want is on the reverse...

Sunday - one of those days when the mind is fired with undirected energy. Impossible to settle; hopeless to expect to fulfil the much too extensive plan for the day I mapped out in my head on Saturday night.  A dry, bright morning. I’m told that Storm Gareth has long departed but it seems, these last few days, that his long coat tails have been flapping. Sunday, finally, is quieter. I decide on some gardening. The weeds are back after a winter absence. Or, maybe, just a season of not noticing them. Now there are lots and lots of them. I set...

The breeze rustles through the bamboo that grows in the barranca beside the house where we’re staying. The barranca is an old river bed long since dry. Once upon a time it would have carried water all the way to the coast or into another, bigger river that would chaperone it down to the sea – freshwater merging with salt. The sides of the barranca are terraced and planted with almond trees, some already blossoming though this is early in their season. The bamboo is 20ft tall, maybe more. At the right edge of my vision here on a little terrace,...

There’s a picture of my parents on the landing in our house. It was taken in the late 1950s. They’re ice-skating and smiling. We lived in Edinburgh then, in a cul-de-sac called North Park Terrace that abutted Inverleith Park. The pond, just over the wall that marked the end of the terrace and the boundary of the park, would freeze over every winter.  The ice became thick and strong and lasted for several weeks. It was the same each year; we never gave it a second thought. So, each year the grown-ups would dig out their skates from the back of...