Bronze-armoured Achaians

Bronze-armoured Achaians

The Trojan war was a Bronze Age affair, magnificently evoked in different sea-surrounded places by two books of Adam Nicolson. His Sea Room touches on the Bronze Age in a remote island off the coast of Scotland, while Why Homer Matters brings it into vivid view in...
Insubstantial rock-hard durability

Insubstantial rock-hard durability

The durability of things and of cultures intrigues me; and particularly when those artefacts are themselves physically fragile or insubstantial. Here, Adam Nicolson demonstrates that durability need not be carved in stone; in many cases it is simply continuing...
Of time and tenses II

Of time and tenses II

Another angle on language and how it shapes or at least influences our perception of time.  Here Adam Nicolson discusses the anchoring of tense in many languages, while others allow things to happen in a more imprecise location in time. ‘The sky is the great...
Deer-nibbled grass

Deer-nibbled grass

We’ve been wondering if there is a way to deploy a sheep, goat or deer to mow the lawn without destroying the plant beds – an eco-friendlier option including the reduction of noise pollution. Clearly, the only way would be to create a circular lawn with a...
Iris-blue sky

Iris-blue sky

When I think of such a sky, I think of Greece.’The following morning, the weather had changed to a pale iris-blue sky.’See also a quote-rich mosaic review of this magnificent, entrancing book: a love letter to islands and a paean to the sea.  Source: Adam...
Yellow-flowered silverweed

Yellow-flowered silverweed

Looking up this flower (potentilla anserina), I discover the identity of a mystery plant I bought from a seedling community in Geneva.  It was in the ‘edible’ section but didn’t come with a label.  Now it’s about a foot in height and diameter,...
Rubber-suited whale

Rubber-suited whale

Puffins are lovable partly for their curiosity and quirkiness. Here Nicolson imagines them trying to figure out what manner of fish he is. ‘They are not frightened. They gather around you, swimming up to you, looking curiously sideways at this new kind of...
Tissue-thin vulnerability

Tissue-thin vulnerability

Among other things, Sea Room is a study of human strategies for survival over millennia, of the fragility and tenacity of a culture built in a climate-pounded place of meagre resources.  These islands were inhabited from the Bronze Age until the population declined...
Barnacle-encrusted boulders

Barnacle-encrusted boulders

The clingon power of the barnacle is astonishing, as anyone who ever tried to prise them off the rocks in childhood acts of discovery will know.  My memory of summer holidays by the English sea, or day trips to the seaside, includes endless coasts of weed-slithered...
Weed-slithered rocks

Weed-slithered rocks

This evokes a few childhood seaside holidays in England, hopping over seaweed-slippery rocks, to play and paddle in rock pools.  One such holiday was in a caravan near Hunstanton with our grandparents.  I don’t remember seeing much of the sun, but I was happy to...
Anagnorisis

Anagnorisis

Normally referring to the moment in a play or other work when a character makes a critical discovery, perhaps understanding the real situation for the first time.   I liked Nicolson’s use of it in describing Keats’ discovery of Homer: ‘Keats had read and stared in...
On thinking things through

On thinking things through

Of course, there’s a lot to be said for thinking things through, but sometimes ‘plunging-off’ forms of thought have great value.  For one thing, they can get you started on a journey, whereas if you thought it all through you might never begin.A few...
The sea wants to be visited

The sea wants to be visited

A memorable Gaelic proverb, ‘dh’iarr am muir a thadhal’, given that the sea is sometimes welcoming and at other times rebuffing.See also the quote rich mosaic review of this magnificent, entrancing book: a love letter to islands and a paean to the...
Of time and place

Of time and place

Time occupies my mind spaciously, and yet I’d never thought of it like this.  Is it true?  Think about your past, and whether you can divorce the recollection of time from the place where you experienced it.’You can’t remember time, only the places...

Pin It on Pinterest