Winter seems to have arrived with incredible suddeness this year. So I'm feeling if I don't slow down and really taste it, the season will be gone again in the blink of an eye. And this icy Christmas week seems a frost-wrapped gift, a time that's quite-dream-like to me.
So this morning we rose early, fuelled up with porridge and scooted up to Bradgate Park, one of the loveliest places in Leicester, to catch the dawn.
And a slow burn it was, stretched out over two hours, washing colours from Arctic blue to rose to liquid gold on the water. Here's some glimpses:
It's been bone-achingly cold in air blown straight in from the Arctic. And that's kind of thrilling too for someone who's been undertaking various expeditions to Arctic landscapes in the last few years. An opportunity to layer up in all those thermals and fleeces.
Over by the water, a flotilla of small white birds in amongst the ducks - maybe Arctic refugees themselves.
Of course, it's nowhere near as freezing as Iceland was because the Arctic also has fierce winds that give their winters a real sting. When you see frozen waterfalls everywhere, then you know it's cold! But this will do very well for an old-fashioned English winter.
And I still get giddy faced with a frozen puddle or ice flowers on the grass. In the park, the river was largely frozen over, with great swirls of white on its glassy surface.
I wish I could also conjure up the crunching of frost too, the splintering of ice - or the strange mewling of the deer as they crossed the track in front of us. The shrieking of crows stark in the frozen air.
That sun with its long reach and misted light is already dipping as the solstice day approaches. So tantalisingly short.
I'm hoping to get some hibernating time this week to catch up on writing too. Especially a sequence I'm writing about Shackleton's voyage to Antarctica.
Certainly - I couldn't ask for more inspiring conditions for a Polar Poet! Time to pull on another cardigan and get out the notebooks.
Writing is a journey, both imaginary and physical. My first book took me to the Arctic to 'catch the colours' of the Northern Lights. Then I hunkered down to catch the wind-blown voices of polar explorers on Shackleton's 1914-17 Endurance expedition. More recently I'm obsessed by space: the race, the rockets, the final frontier.
Hear a BBC Radio Leicester interview about my space poetry at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wfpyp
Explore my digital narrrative PHILAE'S BOOK OF HOURS, published by the European Space Agency, at:
My prose-poetry collections FIREBRIDGE TO SKYSHORE
and MAD, HOPELESS & POSSIBLE are both published by Original Plus Press at:
Contact me for signed copies or bookings at:
- Leicester, East Midlands
- As a storyteller, my work crosses boundaries of myth, science, history and spoken word. It has been presented in the British Science Museum, Ledbury Poetry Festival, National Space Centre and the European Space Agency website. In 2014 I ran a digital residency on WW1 for 14-18NOW and Writing East Midlands. I teach Creative Writing at De Montfort University and have experience of leading school events, workshop tuition and mentoring.