How I learned to love pumps.

Woodgate January 2, 2020 I’ve been on this farm for twelve months and what have I done? I’ve found rhythm. I know which phase the moon is in. I see the stars. One night sitting by the fire we looked up and saw a string of satellites in formation, one following the other at equal […]

South Georgia on my Mind

I underestimated South Georgia. I thought it was just a stop on the way to Antarctica, a necessary delay in getting to the good stuff. I was so wrong. South Georgia is a gateway to a rich and delicate wildlife world, full of creatures that survive on the edge of the unendurable. Adapted to long […]

Albatross and Cape Petrels in the Southern Ocean

Riding the Currents at 60°S

Drake Passage, 11 December 2016 A southern Royal Albatross dipped his smoky wings past my window as we officially entered Antarctica. An announcement from the captain comes seconds after I sight the birds to say we have just crossed 60°S. As if someone turned a switch, the air outside grows thick with mist. That’s what […]

Forest Fantasy (The House That Chunkie Built)

A red lourie feather. A strip of lichen-covered bark. The husk of a protea flower base, seed indentations spiralling out in Fibonacci whorls.  A starfish skeleton. A broken pansy shell. These are the coastal forest keepsakes gathered on my desk, reminders of a place where I long to be.   Forests coloured my early imagination. […]

When a Lit Fest Turns Into Taxidermy Hell

It was such a find. We made a latish booking for the Franschhoek Literary Festival. With only a month to go, most of the guesthouses were taken. But we found a self-catering cottage on a wine farm. Yes please! The pictures showed a cute thatched structure high up on a mountain, with amazing views of […]

Dog’s Breakfast

In the beginning, there was the word. For me, it started with this dictionary. (Actually it probably started with Dr Suesse, but that’s a digression that threatens to lurch into rhyming verse.) So this dictionary, a handsome Oxford volume which I would like to be able to show you in its former, entire, glory, today […]

The Gospel acording to Bruce

Pheonix, Arizona, July, 1978. Bruce Springsteen addresses his audience of 10 000 plus in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum (as told by Rolling Stone reporter Dave Marsh): ‘It began with a description of his family, house and home, and his perennial battles with his father. “Finally,” he says, “my father said to me, ‘Bruce, it’s time […]