Long time no blog

I’m not sure where the last over-a-year has gone: mostly, I think, on house renovations (now more for less finished), thesis (now also almost finished) poly-tunnels (very productive but now mothballed for the winter) and reinventing myself (again – now well on its way). I am very happily decoupled from the world of law and now learning Welsh as well as harp and enjoying the wild hills of Carmarthenshire (despite the interesting accessibility issues from time to time!).

It has been a year of great contrasts in weather – we all know that, so I’m not going to dwell on it. Suffice to attach the picture below from a walk before it all melted and froze and then disappeared almost overnight!

Next year will be busy – of which more in due course. Meanwhile, Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda! Pob Bendith…

Embertide: encounters with St Frideswide

So, here we go! The long poem sequence exploring the many versions of the written lives of St Frideswide, her presences and absences in the landscape around Oxford, the nature of sanctity and of faith will be performed at Christ Church Cathedral on 20 October! See the Cathedral website for a live-stream link, or come if you are in Oxford – tickets are free.

SciPo 2020 Anthology

The SciPo 2020 anthology is out, and I have a poem in there all about pollen! SciPo is a forum at the meeting point of science and poetry. Each year there are interesting discussions on the approaches to science and poetry, their languages and the creativity that is facilitated where these words come together.

A Hatchery of Shadows is a collection edited by Elsa Hammond on plants, brain and the imagination – every bit as intriguing as its title.

Available from: https://torch.ox.ac.uk/article/new-scipo-publication-a-hatchery-of-shadows-poems-about-plants-brain-and-imagination

Woodland Words – The Woods of Hazel – out now!!


Woods of Hazel Promo

The first volume in the Woodland Words series published by Wytham Woods is now available. I was lucky enough to be invited to collaborate with Sarah Watkinson,  the inaugural Writer in Residence at Wytham Woods, funded by the University of Oxford. Our collaboration with the Woods resulted in this collection of poetry exploring the science, archaeology and natural history of the Woods. It uses a Renga form of ‘poetic dialogue’ to explore the many ways in which we are connected with yet distanced from the Woodland world.

Look out for the artwork too – the ‘Spirit of the Woods’ aka a ‘Landwight’ is tucked in the cover. Landwights are Old English immanent preternatural spirits of place and this one looks very much at home at Wytham. Woods of Hazel Poster (1)

THE WOODS OF HAZEL is available from: https://www.oxforduniversitystores.co.uk/product-catalogue/wytham-woods/wytham-woods-products/the-woods-of-hazel

Wytham Woods Website article about the pamphlet, by Lucy Kilbey, with Epilogue poem. https://www.wythamwoods.ox.ac.uk/article/the-woods-of-hazel-poetry-booklet-launched

See here for The Laboratory with Leaves with a video of the Hill End Charitable Trust.  It explains Hill End, its history and current work with schools:     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6o66W7LswA

A Firesome Day

DSC_0974.jpgAfter being postponed in February, Forge, Furnace and Kiln at Wytham Woods (https://www.wythamwoods.ox.ac.uk/home) managed to wedge itself between meteorological and viral storms. We enjoyed a wonderful demonstration of smelting green malachite into shiny copper, and tin ore into silvery ingots by Pete Hommel (University of Liverpool). The little furnace and hand-pumped bellows brought the alchemy of smithing to life before our eyes. We spent time writing myths of smithing, enjoyed profound and evocative poetry right on point by Joe Butler from his collection Hearth Stone about his time as a blacksmith. As if that wasn’t enough, we ended our writing workshop early in order to visit the Anagama kiln at Wytham (https://www.wythamwoods.ox.ac.uk/oxford-anagama-kilns), which just happened to be firing that day. These films are based on a fifth century Japanese design – thanks to all there for letting us wander in on a non-public day. Thanks also to Pete and Joe for fantastic contributions, to all those who came and took part and to Lucy Kilbey for making it all run smoothly. Participants – don’t forget to send Lucy your poems!

Sadly for now, future poetry and other events have had to be cancelled. The woods are still open though – enjoy a little social distancing immersed in nature to stave off the cabin fever!

Wytham Woods in Winter

Splendid day led by Keith Kirby looking at the history of Wytham Woods, including the trenches dug as training grounds for WW1 recruits, now with beech forest regenerating and the promise of bluebells spiking out through the dead leaves. I ran a poetry workshop in the afternoon on winter woods.


A rainbow over the chalet at lunchtime… looking forward to Fire, Forge and Kiln, a day of smelting and forging and using the woods on 9 February 2020. Keep an eye out on: https://www.wythamwoods.ox.ac.uk/home


Liturgy for St Frideswide

A “Liturgy for the Feast of St Frideswide” will take place on 19 October (her Feast Day) at 6pm, St Frideswide’s, Botley. This is part of my on-going PhD “Encounters with Frideswide”.  All very welcome!


The image is from the remains of St Frideswide’s shrine in Christ Church Cathedral. At St Frideswide’s, Botley, there is a wooden door carved by Alice Liddell, the Alice of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The same book contains reference to a “treacle well” based on the well St Frideswide is said to have struck in answer to prayer. The well is still at St Margaret’s, Binsey. Interestingly, “treacle” is derived from the Middle English “triacle” from the Latin “triacle” from the Greek “thēriakē” meaning antidote to poisonous animals. Perhaps there is something that has stuck to legend of the well’s curative powers.

Calling Villa fans…


North Leigh Roman Villa is always open, nestling on level ground near the river – they certainly knew where the nicest sites were! This weekend the shed constructed over the mosaic floor was also open so I finally got to get a good look at it. The stone piers supported a brick barrel vaulted roof. The pattern includes typical knotwork panels and arrangements of lamps “hanging” from central medallions. In a rather Escheresque way, they look like pie-eyed birds when seen the wrong way up! Interestingly, this fancy dining room was abandoned when the  occupants decided to build something newer and grander next door – the foundations that you see now. Some things don’t change…