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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.
2024-03-20 11:18
These days, as we’ve been dealing with all the ramifications of major kitchen renovation, we’ve been veering between delight and despair. Sometimes you have to catch the smalles… Read More
2024-03-11 11:26
It was to be a fund-raiser with a difference: yesterday the 10th of March, 2024, was Mothering Sunday here in the UK, and the idea was that mothers might enjoy a little indulgence, while li… Read More
2024-03-05 07:18
So I was out in my dressing gown at 7am yesterday morning, dropping a tray of cat litter into the bin before the dustmen arrived, and therefore I managed to catch a glorious sunrise which di… Read More
2024-03-03 07:34
We sat together, my beloved and me, in our warm upstairs room, looking up over the hills behind the house, as the cat, bemused, looked back at us from its perch on the windowsill. The setti… Read More
2024-03-01 07:16
Yesterday I exercised a while, enough to run out of puff, before I had to run off on a small variety of errands. I trimmed the errant and rampant mahonia back, at the side, so that I can ge… Read More
2024-02-22 12:00
Over the past couple of months, we’ve had the opportunity of visiting both west and east coasts of the British Isles: west to the Mull of Galloway; east to Whitley Bay north of Newcas… Read More
2024-02-14 11:38
I could, I suppose, have used any number of project images to illustrate the delight of a project that’s been resolved, completed, finished, and the different sort of joy there is in a… Read More
2024-02-02 09:29
Snowdrops, when they appear, are such a delight, but nowhere more so than when they’re in one’s own garden, as the dreich of January flushes itself out. And with these harbing… Read More
Advice That Makes Sense . . .
2024-01-30 07:27
I’ve borrowed a clipart image from the blog of fellow Canadian Mobashar Qureshi, who relates that two salient words of advice have kept him going: Keep Writing. Indeed. Th… Read More
2024-01-27 09:56
Our new builder friend, who’ll be a neighbour just as soon as their own house build starts two doors down, is working with us on a few jobs we’ve been thinking about over these p… Read More
2024-01-24 14:16
Work has commenced here in our Holmview garden, in a fair few places. The gate that was a barrier has been taken down, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier entry here on my pursuit of… Read More
2024-01-16 07:15
So Monday morning is our regular Men’s Coffee Morning at New Galloway Town Hall, and after finessing yet another file for the cheerful printer, I moseyed along down for a cup of co… Read More
2024-01-13 09:33
I seem to gravitate to prolonged projects: diaries; novels; long-running blogs; more novels; social histories; even a lengthening set of joys. My personal joy this morning is the c… Read More
Sighs Of Relief . . . It’s Fixable!
2024-01-11 09:44
Our Harry Hymer, beloved classic Hymermobile of 1997 vintage, went in for its MOT last week, and failed. The issue was the accumulating rust around both front jack points, indicated on… Read More
2023-12-21 08:37
Among the eclectic variety of seasonal songs, delivered with appropriate gusto by the SongWave Choir over our weekend of concerts, the lower voices shared in a Humberside version of the caro… Read More
2023-12-17 07:13
Maybe it’s that time of life, the time when we all wonder how much we actually have left, or maybe it’s just a set of happy coincidences, or maybe it’s all part of my never… Read More
Windmills In The Clouds . . .
2023-12-12 07:58
It was a misty morning, and there were icy patches on the tarmac as I hopped it down to the Men’s Coffee Morning. I thought, as I passed this scene, that it was quite remarkable, and… Read More
The Week Begins . . . With Coffee And Chat
2023-12-11 09:41
Choirs all around the area are presenting their seasonal programs, often in a participative setting, where carols are enjoined and rafters rattled with enthusiasm. It was a busy weekend for… Read More
In The Face Of Death . . .
2023-12-10 08:38
I was going to sit here, after our festive lights have come on in the dark late afternoon, and write about the joy of singing. Or the joy of participation — we’ve got tickets fo… Read More
2023-12-04 15:18
The first Sunday in December is often, but not always, also the first Sunday in Advent, the start of the Christmas season. But I believe that December’s first Sunday is always the tra… Read More
2023-12-01 07:51
I had a little epiphany yesterday late afternoon, as darkness fell. As you walk down the road towards New Galloway’s Town Hall, you can see two clock faces, and they’ve been lit… Read More
2023-11-28 11:11
There are two bells in the New Galloway Town Hall tower: the larger one is bonged either by a hammer engaged with the clock mechanism, or by its pendulous clapper when the stout bell-ringin… Read More
2023-07-31 08:09
Yesterday I took a dear visiting friend on a brisk walk through the temperate woodland just a couple doors down from us, and after we’d looked at the vast vista out over Loch Ken, we p… Read More
2023-07-23 11:10
So, in much the same way as I trundled along down the High Street of New Galloway back in March with a For Sale sign on my back, shifting it from our new home to the small cottage we were pu… Read More
The Ineffable Wonder Of Water . . .
2023-07-20 07:57
I’m to mow the lawn this morning, with our lovely rechargeable battery- powered Bosch mower. When I looked out of the kitchen window, the delight of the glistening droplets caught my… Read More
2023-07-17 09:54
The huge poppies lining our front path have in a few cases grown taller than me! Apparently, were we to be assiduous gardeners, we should be culling rather a few of these rampant plants, bu… Read More
2023-07-16 10:19
©2023 Larry WingerA couple months ago, a call came out through the WriteOn writers group based in New Galloway from a previous member who is now chairing the Dumfries and Galloway Arts… Read More
2023-07-12 10:09
I’ve often had cause to remember the adage, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! But sometimes, as with our beloved Harry Hymer’s side front bumper, it is most definitel… Read More
2023-07-10 07:48
I’m not a great fan of surprises. I feel confused by them, not sure how to react. But when I’m somehow complicit in the surprise, the dénouement can bring great joy. So… Read More
2023-07-09 07:36
We’ve been waiting weeks for the giant poppies in our new-to-us front garden to bloom. These plants are just about taller than we are! Three have opened all at once, in the past coup… Read More
2023-06-25 07:35
A good friend, after our concert yesterday afternoon, exclaimed that though the music was about love, it was also about loss. She was absolutely right, and I wonder if that commingled pair… Read More
2023-06-19 10:56
This past Saturday we embarked on a little trip to a nearby National Trust for Scotland property. Well, we’d not quite clocked that Threave House and Gardens were an NTS premises, but… Read More
2023-06-17 07:41
You wouldn’t know it from the concrete blocks of the patio, but the glass-topped table has a telltale reveal: rain fell last night. It does feel, as Portia opined in her famous &ls&hell…Read More
A Sense Of Accomplishment
2023-06-16 08:55
I’ve often realised, as the creative writing sessions have accumulated, and I’m apprised of the errors littering my newest submission, that I have been too easily pleased. The c… Read More
2023-06-11 07:36
On Friday, two days ago, at the end of the new-to-us garden, an incredible peony blossom opened. Earlier in the day we’d listened to a wonderful, beautiful song by Michael Marra, Happ… Read More
Sometimes, Rarely, Politics Delights . . .
2023-06-10 07:42
Whether it’s just a case of schadenfreude, or relief that a particularly excruciating period of politics is over, sometimes the demise of a charlatan is a good enough excuse to indulge… Read More
2023-05-31 07:24
The Korean dogwood tree, at the bottom (or top, if you consider the gentle rise from the house back up towards the field) of our new-to-us garden, is in full bloom. But you’d never… Read More
2023-05-30 07:32
There are so many meanings, phrases and idioms associated with the word hook. This morning I’m exulting, just a little, in being off that hook, which is another way of saying that one… Read More
2023-05-26 07:30
From the midst of challenge, joy is often just there, just within reach. We had quite a challenging adventure, the other day, in Harry Hymer, our ancient motorhome, but we got home safe and… Read More
2023-05-19 06:58
It’s been a busy week. Productive, on the whole, but busy, and scarce time to look out for joy. But with rather more jobs accomplished yesterday than I’d thought likely, it w… Read More
2023-05-13 08:04
How blessed are we, we exclaim, to enjoy the spring flowers as they erupt around us? The wilds of the North Pennine moors did not lend themselves well to bounteous, delicate blooms. Co… Read More
2023-05-12 07:30
It seems scarcely feasible that only two months ago Harry Hymer was stuffed to the gunwales with endless ranks of chattel, clothes, and everything that hadn’t made it into the big truc… Read More
2023-05-06 08:30
Sometimes the beauty of a single, solitary bloom is enough to take your breath away. This lonely tulip in our new-to-us garden was one such. I’m reminded of the William Blake poem… Read More
2023-05-02 07:14
So the corollary to the aphorism about the rolling stone must be that the sedentary one does gather moss. Our gardens, front and back, have accumulated a rich, thick, mossy carpet. App… Read More
2023-05-01 07:22
Our new home is a kind of retro chic. Or possibly, rather more ‘retro’ than ‘chic.’ We are finding, however, that we can accommodate the technology of fifty years p… Read More
2023-04-28 07:33
You begin to realise, as you learn more about the area around Dumfries, that Robert Burns is quite the most important figure in these parts. What we may not appreciate, especially if we&rsq&hell…Read More
The Clock’s Ticking . . .
2023-04-27 07:40
While we consolidate and settle in, another parameter of life is returning: a sense of a routine, a schedule. Since we are such creatures of habit, the disorientation when the routine has… Read More
The Joy Of Living
2023-04-26 07:26
My old friend Simon Smith has embarked on a project to curate his favourite songs in a daily blog, Simon365, throughout the year. This piece is my homage to his effort — I’m in… Read More
2023-04-25 07:00
We are all getting older, Kali cat and us, losing a few of our wits along the way, but still enjoying the sunshine. Kali is especially good at seeking out, and finding, the warmest place to… Read More
The Enchanted Loch
2023-04-24 06:57
This month’s stimulus reminded me of nothing so much as the times I have spent with pondlife under a dissecting microscope. And then I remembered what we call the enc… Read More
2023-04-22 08:40
When you move, in my limited experience, you tend to leave one garden in place, and pick up the next in your new residence. I have heard that some people so love their gardening efforts tha… Read More
2023-04-21 07:13
I can’t think of anything conveying much more symbolism than a suspension bridge over the Ken Water to the graveyard on the bank beyond. We are, each of us, suspended on a kind of bri… Read More
2023-04-20 07:09
I think that moving is especially fraught because everything is in disarray, all around, and it feels like you just can’t settle down to a normal task. It’s all just accommodati… Read More
2023-04-18 07:11
Our new-to-us garden faces west, so that the sun rising in the east illumines the space beyond the shade of the two extension peaks. I’m sure that there must be a quiet haiku to devel… Read More
2023-04-16 11:23
A couple years ago, I attempted to write a humorous poem. I’d have to say, I’m not renowned as a comic turn, though I have experienced a few exalted moments of shared laughter a… Read More
2023-04-09 09:10
The daffodils at the top of our new-to-us garden nod towards the dawn of Easter Sunday. We seem to have been imbued with a surplus of joyful moments, this weekend, with more to come. Yes… Read More
A Spot Of Light Gardening
2023-04-07 09:30
The two specimen plants outside our front door seem to have perished in the heavy December frost. There’s no sign of life, anyway, as this supplementary example, still mouldering in t… Read More
À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu
2023-04-06 09:54
So we are unpacking at a steady rate. When you’re packing up to move, things start out well, and then, in my recent experience anyway, things deteriorate into a frenzy of desperation:… Read More
The Enchanted Temperate Rainforest
2023-04-05 11:21
In the midst of moving-in frenzy, getting things sorted, arranging so many things in a bid to be comfortable in our new home, we were able to take a short amble around the lovely woods next… Read More
A Morning Enchantment
2023-03-29 11:45
A roe deer was a welcome visitor to our garden at dawn today, and she looked directly at us while I fumbled for my phone camera, bringing it into play only in time to catch her white bum! S… Read More
2023-03-24 10:16
As age creeps up on us, it can get harder to deal with rejections, failures, lack of success, whatever you might feel despondent over, but on the other hand perhaps one’s skin gets to… Read More
Of Three Graces, Joy . . .
2023-03-15 10:18
We saw the delightful sculpture by Canova, the second one he’d created of the Three Graces, by commission, at the Victoria and Albert Museum some decades ago. In researching for this… Read More
2023-03-14 09:24
The snowfall was off and on last night, and the flakes began to fall again late this morning. It’ll put folks off the resumed LING Lunch, perhaps, but for those of us who know a bit m… Read More
Five Days To Completion
2023-03-12 18:27
We put in a bit of practice, this morning, shifting things out of the New Galloway Town Hall and into Kitty’s Tea Room across the road, preparing for lunch service commencing again on… Read More
2023-03-08 08:06
sunlight and shadow two deer bounce through the marsh spiked gorse, its seed pods brown and empty decorated in yellow flowers moss-laden branches and beardy wisps a rusty tin can hazel stra… Read More
The Circuit . . .
2023-03-07 08:07
The red kites have their circuit, and we have ours. It’s a bit of a longer walk, all along the dyke until the passage through the field leads to home, and especially in the cold and b… Read More
Handwork Love . . .
2023-03-06 08:18
We spent a lovely hour yesterday ambling through the knitwear exhibition at the Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, from Chanel to Westwood. It was a delight to see that the curators appreciated… Read More
2023-03-04 07:53
It’s intriguing, it is, how a shared set of thoughts becomes something else altogether when someone else thinks along with you. My notes on our walk a couple days ago raised a com… Read More
Sleeping On It . . .
2023-03-03 08:12
It’s a commonplace, isn’t it, to sleep on a problem, hoping to awaken with a solution. As we went to bed last night, I was wrestling, somewhere in my subconscious, with a poetic… Read More
2023-03-02 07:59
For my joy this morning, I can’t do better than to relay some contemporaneous notes of our afternoon walk yesterday. Who knows, one day these notes may find their way into another poe… Read More
Peril In The Joy . . .
2023-02-28 07:56
Yesterday’s blog entry felt like an opening opportunity to investigate the depths of these springtime joys. And since I’ve challenged myself to see what poetic inspirations I ca… Read More
Signs Of Spring, If You Look
2023-02-27 08:06
We ambled along the dyke path, through the Ken-Dee marshland, on a reasonably clement afternoon. I’d brought the big camera along so I could get close enough to the various trees lini… Read More
2023-02-23 12:58
We headed toward the remaining sunshine, up the Old Edinburgh Road, the other day, on a belated walk. It took a set of brisk steps to get up the rise, but finally we were standing in the br… Read More
On A ‘fire Of Joy’ . . .
2023-02-22 08:34
A crescendo of musket fire in the celebration of French Alliance Day by the National Parks Service, USA. A few days ago I mentioned Clive James’ collection of poetry that he had tre… Read More
Fauna Of The Glen Kens
2023-02-21 08:19
From the soaring heights reached by the circling red kite, to the lowly depths on the dyke wall inhabited by a bank vole, the fauna of these parts continue to enchant. We were bemused by… Read More
The Bagpiper At Hexham Abbey
2023-02-20 08:34
At the 47 minute mark, the peasant musicians, zampogna (bagpipe) and ciaramella, begin their slow parade of wails for Nina and her mental health.We did a little twirl of the Sele in Hexham… Read More
Green, Verdant, Mysterious Wood
2023-02-15 10:13
And yet, it’s deep winter here in the Glen Kens. But it’s really quite mild, as the days pass by with temperatures in the upper single figures. My thoughts have tended toward t… Read More
The Subtlety Of A Job Well Done
2023-02-11 12:15
The cabinet door concealing the fridge-freezerThe repair job seems to be holding up well, so perhaps I can be quietly satisfied with my fixing strategy. In the melamine-coated chipboard… Read More
2023-02-09 09:20
Kali cat’s needs are few, but crucialI’ve been thinking about our cat’s life. She exhibits Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs quite faithfully: food, warmth, hygie… Read More
A New, Tangible Project
2023-02-08 10:33
With any luck, my ‘Wanted’ ad at The Loom Exchange will elicit a useful templateAlthough we’d carried my beloved’s Harris loom from one home to another, over the past… Read More
2023-02-06 07:28
In the Wild Goat Park as you drive through Galloway Forest, some two dozen denizens enjoy grain and vegetable handouts from passers-byThere are a few things that, as we say, ‘really ge… Read More
Memory Lanes . . .
2023-02-03 15:42
Our new task, in one of the writing groups I’m part of, is to write a memoir segment. The challenge, I’m led to believe, is to write something that anyone else beside ourselves… Read More
2023-02-01 09:04
The coast outside PortPatrick HarbourThe other day we explored further west and we ventured into the prevailing wind to reach the agitated seaside. These days I sometimes wonder if I&rsqu&hell…Read More
Submission Hopes . . .
2023-01-28 09:17
For some time now, I’ve been keeping a running list of the various pieces/submissions that I’ve got ‘out there’ waiting for a resolution. Will a piece be accepted/lo… Read More
Informality, With Riffs
2023-01-26 09:55
Tam O’Shanter regales his friends at Kirkton Jean’s, the local pubWe experienced the sort of Burns Night supper last night that combined the best of the tradition, yet in a kind… Read More
History As Grist For Story . . .
2023-01-24 11:53
The Greek Theatre in Taormina, Sicily, with Mt Etna in the backgroundLong ago, when we were young(er!), we visited Sicily several times, falling in love with the island. On one of our holid… Read More
2023-01-23 08:18
The Internet Scrabble Club offers a basic board and clunky action, but the game works well onlineI’ve been beaten at Scrabble by my beloved, consistently, since we took our maiden adve… Read More
A Trip Down Memory Lane . . .
2023-01-22 10:18
A lovely schematic from Advanced Materials, published at, of the basics of our immune system, and the defensive mechanisms that have evolved to deal with pathogens or &lsquo&hell…Read More
Running Hot Water
2023-01-21 08:53
Having lived not far from Hadrian’s Wall, where there’s a lot of archaeological evidence of the Roman occupation, I’m aware that the concept of hot water on demand is not e… Read More

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