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Personal Blog With Guest Contributions Blog
Roads To Joy is a blog celebrating life. Many roads lead to happiness; most involve perseverance through despair. This blog seeks to reveal the variety of feelings experienced by folks in a deeply rural community, in the North Pennines of England, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Contributions include stories, memoir, poetry associated with a striking image.
The Joy Of Challenges
2022-10-03 08:06
Without some sort of stimulation, boredom soon sets in and we might feel aimless, unable to concentrate, enervated and de-motivated. Too much challenge and anxiety levels creep up to create… Read More
2022-10-01 06:51
Sunrise over Sparty LeaDawn is something that I rarely experienced in my youth, but as winter draws near it’s an increasingly frequent delight. This morning’s golden hues evoke… Read More
While We Can, The Joys Of Mobility . . .
2022-09-28 07:57
A classic ‘shooting stick’ is just the ticket for a rest on one’s backside during a walkOne of the things about ageing is that easy mobility becomes compromised. Sometimes… Read More
2022-09-27 08:13
Red leaves are replacing the green onesFinally, as the end of September clambers into reach, it feels like autumn here high up in these North Pennines. The sun still shines with warmth, and… Read More
2022-09-26 06:52
Where once bastle houses braved the assault of the Reivers, now these Border regions are under a different sort of threatWe were chatting with our daughter yesterday, exclaiming over a new d… Read More
2022-09-24 08:26
Through the early morning damp and drizzle, the bright orb of the sun heralds a new dayMy beloved tells me that ‘gloaming’ is dusk, to those of a Scottish persuasion, but the Oxf… Read More
With Age, Mellowness?
2022-09-23 07:36
I took a call the other day from an old neighbour. We’d had a falling out over some promotion deal gone wrong, well over a decade ago, and I never expected to hear from him again. An… Read More
2022-09-22 08:06
That looks like a job for a table routerWhen our big kitchen dining table broke the other day, I wasn’t sure it could be fixed. But after I’d squished under with our son and we… Read More
Camaraderie In Commiseration
2022-09-21 07:31
Sometimes someone else’s experience mirrors our ownIt’s not often, we find, that we meet someone who’s had a similar catering experience to the years in the hospitality sec… Read More
2022-09-20 07:24
Kali cat is not so sureWe had a full house over the weekend: blow-up mattress, camping cushions in the living room, and three sets of familiars to accommodate in separate quarters. Kali ca… Read More
The Big Picture . . .
2022-09-19 08:31
This blog entry started life as a consideration of a synopsis . . . Funerals are one particular point at which we stop, look back, and consider a life. The obituary is a condensed recitatio… Read More
2022-09-17 07:31
It was down to 2º outside last night. The auguries for a hard winter are becoming impossible to ignore, and so many people are facing complete destitution, having to choose between eat… Read More
Vicarious Road Trip Joys
2022-09-16 07:05
Evening in TuscanyI’m nicking our daughter’s road trip experience for a little bit of vicarious joy this morning. Although the driving hours were on the long side, the joy of z… Read More
Family Stories . . .
2022-09-15 07:04
Images can capture a lifetime of memories in s single frame. My mother loved her family’s ‘sugar bush’ and she conveyed, onto a canvas, her childhood experience of… Read More
2022-09-14 06:47
Morning breaks over the East Allen valleyThe soft lines of our hedgerows echo the undulations of the fellsides across the valley. This sight is such a joy, especially with the straggly hawt… Read More
2022-09-13 07:00
The porch/office is nearly clearIt was a challenging day, but this morning, with any luck, will see the final finessing of the cluttered office into a place to display with pride. Imagine a… Read More
2022-09-12 07:16
Ideally, the view will be less cluttered by this eveningOur task today, since it’s damp and dreich outside, probably too wet for hedge trimming, will be to clear out the little porch… Read More
2022-09-10 07:00
Ripe, juicy, succulent, perfect!With any luck, if the sun shines this afternoon, after we’re diligent with a bit of house cleaning chores, and locally-contributive with a visit to a Pr… Read More
Temporary Hiatus . . .
2022-09-08 07:00
The old ones are the bestUntil I get my wisdom tooth seen to, I hope before the end of today, it’s hard to find joy in the moment: tooth hurty! I’m sure I’ll be laug… Read More
2022-09-06 07:43
The tiny loch deep in the mossy woodTwice we heard a splash in the still water; whether a rising fish or a diving frog we couldn’t say. We’d walked through the wood and onward… Read More
The Joy Of Fiction . . .
2022-09-05 07:26
Poutine is a quintessential Canadian dishLately I’ve been exploring adding elements of fiction into what might otherwise be rather prosaic memoir. I used to think this approach to und… Read More
2022-09-03 07:24
In the land of LEGO, My Own Creation is probably the pinnacle of delightI think it must take a certain amount of familiarity with the various LEGO components, and a lot of attention to the d… Read More
2022-09-02 07:14
This quiet denizen of the damp, mossy wood, revealed itself by its furtive hopsWe used to see so many frogs hopping around the place, when I was growing up. Indeed, drying stream beds and h… Read More
2022-09-01 06:54
Our books, the ones we want to keep for now, are making a transition from Sparty Lea to New GallowayThey’re not sorted yet, but three and a half boxes later, the new bookshelf is reach… Read More
Revelations Of Family History
2022-08-30 08:12
Creativity is its own reward, I keep reminding myself. You don’t need accolades or praise if you’ve created something that the inner artist loves. Indeed, critical or adulatory… Read More
Writing Workshop Day
2022-08-29 06:20
The writing workshop in Croydon, London, has a brilliant approachBut London is rather a long way to travel for a writing workshop day. Instead I’m heading off to Hexham this morning… Read More
2022-08-27 06:36
Daphne and Louis are having a great time in the gardenFamilies are arriving for a big celebration today here in Sparty. We’ve got the lawns mowed (some rather better than others!), ho… Read More
2022-08-26 06:50
The heather is lovely this yearEarly in the morning, in the peaceful quietude of the valley where the Eastern Allen runs, it’s so good to be able to appreciate the softness. Not t… Read More
Open-eyed Wonder
2022-08-25 06:45
Wikipedia identifies this image as a male brown-headed cowbird courting a femaleNative to North America, the brown-headed cowbird (so named for its distinctive brown head, of course, and its… Read More
2022-08-24 06:51
The rain this morning is really quite heavy.I read a column the other day decrying our obsession with bright sunny days as ‘good’ . . . and dark rainy ones as, well, as somethin… Read More
The Joy Of Setting Up
2022-08-23 07:15
Today I get to help out with setting up for a regular weekly function. We’re not really settled in the new village yet, but we’re trying to be quiet helpers. Come winter, w… Read More
Forsaking Indolence . . .
2022-08-22 07:09
Although some writing has flowed through my dancing fingers lately, I’ve been aware that indolence has crept up upon me and my daily discipline is suffering. So it was with some d… Read More
Never Too Late . . .
2022-08-20 06:25
Isola Bella from our hotel balcony below Taormina, Sicily, 2013A decade ago, though it seems a lifetime hence, we made a return visit to Sicily. Our mission, should we choose to accept it… Read More
2022-08-19 06:48
The Galloway Hills, I believe, looking south down Loch KenUntil I’m disabused, or have done some more reconnoitring with my handy compass app behind the New Galloway Golf Club, as we s… Read More
A Summer Break . . .
2022-08-18 06:29
I sent a few of my best poems to Frosted Fire’s poetry ezineAfter three years participating in Writers Groups, one learns that the craft of writing is an end in itself. That’s… Read More
Drudgery Is A Fact Of Life . . .
2022-08-16 07:27
Sometimes we have to find joy in the process, not the resolutionI remember so well, back in the day, thinking about why I loved research. In so many ways it was the physical experience of… Read More
2022-08-15 06:27
The unconscionable challenges of the Barnvelder cockerel were incessant, this morning, so that by 5:55 we turned around and agreed that we might as well get up. My awaking duty is to get t… Read More
2022-08-13 06:23
In what is called ‘civil twilight’ only the brightest celestial objects can be seen as the sun nears the dawn horizonI awakened early this morning with a persistent toothache. A… Read More
Shared Thoughts . . .
2022-08-12 08:40
Never mind the mirror neurons today. I’m feeling blue for folks who have not had, or are losing, the opportunity to share old age with each other. After say forty or fifty years toge… Read More
The Joy Of Directed Exercise
2022-08-11 06:34
I’ve always been a kind of get-up-and-go sort of person. Never thinking about stretching exercises, or anything that healthy, but rather just getting on with life, doing activities… Read More
Learning How Magical Realism Works
2022-08-10 08:49
Into each life, some sprinkles of magic faery dust sometimes fall. It’s all part of our story-telling sensibility, I reckon, these magical moments of understanding. I think, as reson… Read More
Rediscovering The Recent Past . . .
2022-08-09 08:07
It’s surprising how much can be forgotten!I’ve had the unexpected privilege of a lovely writing job: in celebration of the upcoming twenty year anniversary of the Allendale Lion… Read More
2022-08-08 06:07
Really, it’s anybody’s guess whether my willow plantings will be a grove someday or not. There’s definitely signs of growth in numerous whips, much more than last year evi… Read More
2022-08-05 07:14
So we sat outside for a little while in the late afternoon sunshine, thinking about old times actually. I’d already channeled my inner photographer, looking for angles and light, so… Read More
Neither Pink, Pine, Nor Apples . . .
2022-08-04 06:55
But Pink Fir Apples are a heritage strain of potato that we’re harvesting with some joyOkay, there’s a tinge of pink, for sure, but these otherwise misnamed fingerlings are the t… Read More
2022-08-03 07:13
A blackcurrant bush grows through the cracks under our picnic tableAny biologist will tell you that without opportunism, few plant species would survive. Their entire reproductive strategy… Read More
2022-08-02 07:01
High up on the fellside of Sparty Lea, you’ve got to be tough to survive. That adage is true for birds, animals, plants and even humans. But if you do manage to withstand the constan… Read More
Weekend Joys
2022-08-01 06:47
The hot tub was in service once more, with chilled elderflower cordial on tapThroughout the afternoon, and into the later evening, we kept the water warm and inviting, while for excitement w… Read More
2022-07-30 09:06
Gaining access to our scrap metal required considerable head-scratching!The only way I could consolidate all our scrap metal was to carry things into a staging area in front of our sheds. B… Read More
2022-07-29 06:52
The blossom of the lesser knapweed emerges in purplish-pink splendourThe word ’emerging’ is one of my favourites. Perhaps because it always makes me hark back to our music promo… Read More
The Joy Of Listening
2022-07-28 06:57
A whole psycho-social movement is built around listening strategiesI try to be a good listener, but sometimes I’m too quick to jump into the conversational flow. I’ve always und… Read More
2022-07-27 07:14
Would we see the first flower on our Ruby Wedding rose?Not that the week gone by was hard, but I thought, and felt, that I’d put in a fair amount of physical effort. So we were lookin… Read More
The Joy Of The Resolved Query . . .
2022-07-26 06:35
A Russian ensemble sings a classic folk song, ‘Under a willow’Without that little stimulating itch, that urge to identify what’s behind the unknown, and indeed, that resolv… Read More
2022-07-25 05:28
As the sun rises over the high fellside, Kali cat is bemusedIt’s no wonder that the seeresses of old used a crystal ball to peer into the future. The reflection of the blue sky beyond… Read More
Long-distance Dining
2022-07-23 05:47
Really, Facetime is pretty wonderfulEven without being looked for, sometimes joy just falls out of nowhere and you have to exclaim, ‘Well, I never!’ It was that way yesterday ev… Read More
2022-07-22 07:34
Getting ready for the scrap metal collectorIt was a hard job, but somebody had to do it! Over the years I’ve been accumulating defunct items in a corner of the field. The weeds have… Read More
The Joy Of Ceremony
2022-07-21 06:48
Over the past fortnight, I’ve had occasion to experience two of the great ceremonies of life, one in person, the other vicariously. Both occasions elicited tears from celebrants and p… Read More
Learning New Things . . .
2022-07-20 06:47
The ‘comment’ button in Word is so handy!Embarrassed as I am to have been writing earnestly for the past three years and only now discovering a wonderful editing tool, I’m… Read More
Something About Slippers . . .
2022-07-19 07:19
Around 6:00pm . . . ahh, quiet contemplationWhen there’s really nothing better to do than to wonder what sort of brick/block pattern the wall was built in, in the easy shade of a tiny… Read More
From Lake To Loch . . .
2022-07-18 08:37
Lake Ahmic to Loch KenA week ago I stood on the shore of Lake Ahmic in northern Ontario (the near north, as my father liked to say, south of North Bay on Lake Nipissing, north of Barrie), an… Read More
The Lovely Names
2022-07-17 06:46
The lovely names I tell myself my mother would have loved to hear the names of the wild flowers we’ve met: stichwort; snowberry; loosestrife; sea thrift and speedwell; wound… Read More
A Life Devoted To Loving Service
2022-07-02 06:06
Lois Pauline Winger, 1928-2022After a cheerful day with family at the end of June, our mother died quite suddenly yesterday morning. She had been in progressive decline for the past decade;… Read More
2022-07-01 07:04
Eleven tiny Hellebore sprouts have been successfully repotted and transported to Spring Cottage for a bank of winter colour some years henceIt’s difficult to find the correct attributi… Read More

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