A mystery letter among the leaves

November 3, 2018

Walking clears my head. Especially here, on the eastern lip of the Atlantic, the fresh winds gusting in over Galway Bay clear the cobwebs of editing and writing from my mind. When I need a break from work – from books, paragraphs, sentences, words, letters – I walk.

Sometimes, though, the letters follow me. This one gave me a proper surprise, almost glowing in the wet autumn ground:

Photo of about 1 square metre of wet footpath, with a white letter Q stencilled on the ground, surrounded by a dozen or so colourful autumn leaves.

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‘The’ way to emphasise a word

June 14, 2016

Quotation marks for ‘emphasis’ are common in unedited writing but rare in formal prose, where italics are the usual approach. Bold and underlines are occasionally used; ditto *asterisks* and _underscores_. ALL CAPS and Initial Caps are sometimes favoured but can suggest shouting, humour, or a headline effect, so they’re more suited to informal contexts: both are popular on social media, for example.

There’s an anomalous example in a book I just read, Rough Ride: Behind the Wheel with a Pro Cyclist, an engrossing memoir/exposé by Paul Kimmage (Yellow Jersey Press, revised edition, 2007). It occurs about halfway in; Kimmage is describing the effect of Stephen Roche winning the Tour de France:

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Climbing Croagh Patrick, the holy mountain of Mayo

July 19, 2013

Photos, for a change. Last weekend three old friends and I climbed Croagh Patrick, a mountain in County Mayo in the mid-west of Ireland. (Croagh is an anglicisation of cruach, Irish for stack.)

The Reek, as it’s also known, has a cone-shaped peak that dominates the surrounding skyline. You can see it in the distance here on the road to Westport town, our home base for the day.

stan carey - croagh patrick mountain climb - road to westport, county mayo

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Jumbling, tumbling

December 23, 2011

Between this blog and other active online haunts, I’ve been spreading my internet self a bit thin. But I’m a glutton for punishment, so I’ve started a Tumblr blog, provisionally titled Books & bits asthore.* So far it’s an erratic series of book excerpts, poems, and images from films.

Sentence first has been nominated in Macmillan Dictionary’s inaugural Love English Awards. You can vote for it, or for another language blog, on this page until 31 January. My expectations are non-existent, but I’m honoured to be in such great company, and I found a few new websites to explore. (Disclosure: I write for Macmillan Dictionary Blog.)

It’s a mild and sunny December day in the west of Ireland — Pseudocember, I’ve been calling it — and this is likely to be my last post before 2012. Thank you for your visits, comments, and innumerable kindnesses all year, and have a happy and peaceful Christmas.

moss on a wall in county Galway this morning

* I wrote about the Irish English word asthore here.


Walked and kept walking

April 15, 2011

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Walked and kept walking
till I saw turnstones
feeding in soft
sunlight falling
on an empty shore.
So I waited there.

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[This was originally a tweet in the heel of winter; it wasn’t meant to become a lazy poem. To make it up to you, there are more birds here.]


Winter colours

December 11, 2010

Ireland has had record low temperatures this winter. My corner, the mid-west, has been spared the worst, but we got our share of snow, ice, freezing fog, and biting Arctic winds. All the more reason for long rambling walks…

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White snow-creature

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Blue snow with tractor tracks

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Green field disappearing

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Robin redbreast

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Orange sky over Galway Bay, with Brent Geese

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If you’re in the mood for more, here are some from last winter, and here’s the photo archive.


Autumn haiku

October 5, 2010

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Wind whisks the sea white
Whipping sand at face and hands,
Turnstones circle low.

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The haiku is yesterday’s; the photo is from February 2009. I’ve shown gulls circling low because I don’t seem to have any photos of airborne turnstones.

[Edit: After reading the haiku on Twitter, Tom Guadagno sent me a link to this lovely video of turnstones and other birds on the Welsh coast.]

Feel free to add an autumn haiku in the comments section.