Big Cyprus National Preserve

Big Cyprus National Preserve


Big Cyprus mangrove swamp photo courtesy of

Church like peace descending down through the canopy making our chatter falter as the hush reaches us.

We pause and listen to the distant drum, hollow skinned and far reaching. A pileated woodpecker drops through the canopy onto a silvered trunk. Anvil shaped against the bark and big. Black wings flicking against the tree. It is a primal dweller of the woods in this prehistoric world of coffee trees and poison ivy.

Big mouth fish slap their tails in dark pitted pools. Lichens and bryophytes drip from the trees, strangler figs wrap clawed hands in a death embrace around the cyprus trees. The world hisses and sings with insect noise as it did in a swampy past. Above us the air explodes as grackles come off the swamp to roost in the trees. Their calls see-saw overhead but Pete and I walk in reverence, along the boardwalk to a pond where wood storks preen and herons fish.

We have walked into the past and two mourning doves watch us depart.

The joys of Spring

fireside chatter simon houstoun

The gang stop for tea; photo Simon Houstoun

I’ve spent the last month in the sub tropics of Florida and have returned to England to find that Arctic temperatures are the order of the day. On a day of icy winds and multiple layers I was back out with my lovely volunteer gang, enjoying the watery light across the downs, the woolly tails of catkins on the hazel trees and the great tits sing songing in the hedgerows.

I have been out in all weathers with this gang of scrub cutters and hazel coppicers and a day out with friends in the countryside is a sure way of sloughing away any late winter despond.

Faversham Literary Festival

Faversham_Lit_Fest_logo1000x.pngI am hugely looking forward to taking part in Faversham Literary Festival next weekend. Where I will be interviewed by my friend Peter Saxton. I’m afraid Peter and I are a sell out gig so no tickets are available but many thanks to everyone who has bought one. There are lots of other great writers to come and see during the festival which runs from Friday 23rd-Sunday 25th February so check out the website and come along.