Not Exactly a Year in Review

I started a piece, intended to be a retrospective of 2015 and a look forward to 2016, at the end of November. However, around the end of December, during final edits, I slowed, paused, and then stopped, not long before I was going to queue for posting.

I had planned to share this almost-finished piece, as is customary across the world of the blog, on or around New Year, the turning of our Western/Gregorian calendrical year. But then I didn’t.

Why was this? Despite much thinking about it, I’m not entirely sure.

(All the 100 photographs I have used to illustrate this piece were taken here, in Caithness, during 2015. There is no mouseover text for this post, simply due to the issues I had with the galleries and a lack of time. If you want to see or download better quality versions of any of these photos, they are available here.)


At this time of year the internet, newspapers, radio, television, are flooded with a variant of “INSERT YEAR HERE in retrospect”. Some people list books they’ve read and admired (or not, as the case may be), others movies or television shows they loved. Many people give a month-by-month, blow-by-blow account of the year, beginning with the clock chiming midnight 365 days earlier. (more…)

A Note Full of Metaphor. Metaphorful?

(Which is a good word, whether it exists or not.)

River in Scotland

The photographs to accompany this piece were all taken on my journey southward last week. As such they are blurred in places, rough around the edges, show reflections, and are generally imperfect. Like me.

I write, I tell stories. Sometimes these are short, scant and brief, mere sketches of ideas designed to stimulate and provoke the thought process. At other times I write longer pieces, novellas and novels broken into digestible chunks, chapters and line breaks punctuating the manuscript.

My life is like this. At times I can see events unfurl that will become a chapter, a longer tale, perhaps a theme to be reintroduced later in life. At others I know that pause is permanent, this is over, put the book down, breathe and move on. Some chapters overlap, where one is defined by place, another can be predominantly about relationships — but these two things are not exclusive, they both inhabit the same temporal plane, after all. (more…)

Passing Through Doorways

In the introduction to this series on my forthcoming plans, I suppose I gave you a brief idea of my personal history involving my sense of the world as a whole — nature, culture, animal, mineral, vegetable — and for this piece I shall continue in this vein. Some of you will already know much of this, but I think it better to repeat myself here, rather than skip details that will later prove important.

I left Orkney and headed for university when I was eighteen. Looking back, twenty years later, I seem impossibly young, naive, hedonistic and, at times, idiotic. I suppose, however, this is much the same with many eighteen year olds. I chose the wrong university course, in the wrong place, but that did not really matter. What I got out of that time of my life was far more important; I collected emotions, experiences, ideas, voices, and observations, as others collected stamps.

Old doorway with stone wall

Doorway in Lower Pulteneytown, Caithness. It seemed fitting to select doorways to illustrate this piece.


Years Left

I used to write for a website my sister built and curated, full of interesting and, at times, wildly different art (watch this space for further news on said sister’s projects). Once upon a time, whilst I still lived in an English city, she asked some of the site’s contributors to put together a list of 21 Things — 21 goals — not dreams.


Millennium Clock, National Museum Of Scotland, Edinburgh. The photos to accompany this piece are all to do with death, and the iconography of this, the final leveller. Most of them are also in a Flickr album called “Graveyards and Stones”, available here, with many others (some rather poignant gravestone inscriptions).

Recently I revisited my list, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I wanted to see how many I have completed, or am on my way to completing (if, indeed, they can be completed — some were a little amorphous, hazy around the edges, and some were date-dependent — I am not yet fifty, for example). I count seven or eight I would say I could stroke through, although this figure may be a little higher or lower depending on interpretation. Three I know I will never complete; I could do, but older me no longer wants to. My priorities have changed. Life moves on. (more…)