REVIEW: Mountain King Trail Blaze Poles

Trekking poles, we know they can help whether uphill or down.  We also know they’re often designed by Captain Complex; heavy, bulky and slow to set, or light and beyond flimsy.  All this of course means many of us leave the things in the shop or at home. 

These Trail Blaze poles from Mountain King may just change your mind.  Super light(115-135g), fixed length(110-130cm), anodised alloy body, tungsten carbide tips, folding to about a quarter their open length(pic 1) and quick to rig they’ve got me using poles again.

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The Alder Pool.

The voice of a cuckoo

      Dropped to the lake

                           Where it lay floating

                                                       On the surface.

A foreword;

A foreword? To a short piece? Yes, there are a couple of words in here that bear definition. One very old, one new. Both I think deserve more use. 

Mogshade: an old English for the welcome cool shade cast by trees in leaf

Shivelight: a word coined by Gerard Manley Hopkins for the gleaming shafts of light shining through trees in leaf 

The verses are haiku by Bashō, from Sumidawara, published in 1694

Now that’s done, let us away to the story…

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First Summit

What’s the first mountain I climbed? 

That depends.  What do you mean by climb, mountain and first?  But that’s a philosophical path I don’t choose to tread here; for there lay sleeping Jabberwocks (in this gentle memoir they will remain untickled).  So for this happy, as true as long ago childhood memory story, we’ll stick with a simple physical mountain (a lump of rock, mud, heather etc. over 610m altitude) on the Isle Of Man. 

Away we go then, to August 1970 (relax, time travel works in our imagination), at Laxey tram station. Specifically the queue for the Snaefell Mountain Railway (actually an electric tram, but this is the Isle Of Man, so railway it is).  And in the queue, with his beloved dad, there’s a very excited small boy; me.  Always fidgety, this day I’m close to bursting.  I am though on best behaviour (think Pooh holding Tiggerish energy in check) standing politely and outwardly calm. 

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Petrichor

Early summer, the driest on our modern record.  The birchwood copse, moist cool haven where I run, is parching now.  A grass bleaching, footpath firing, tree wilting parching. But this evening, just for a little while, the parching eased.  The long cloudbare sky became cloudspeckled.  Clouds grew, darkened, grew rain Read more…

An inner silence: The portraits of Henri Cartier-Bresson

Now, I’ll admit to a little bias here. Henri Cartier-Bresson remains an inspiration to me. He and many of his contemporaries like Lee Miller, Robert Doisneau, Bill Brandt and Eve Arnold combined great technique, visual awareness and a deep sense of our shared humanity. And they allowed the stories they told to speak.

Notwithstanding my personal bias, this is a sumptuous colection of portraits; the first to be drawn entirely from the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. The ferocious aquiline face of Samuel Beckett glaring off leftward challenging you, open the book, see what he cares.

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To a possible reader…

A note to a possible reader. On prose, specifically mine, often the purple variety.  I make no apology, for none is needed. I love words. I cherish them. I love their variety. I love that old words are refound and ofttimes repurposed, that new words are founded. I cherish the Read more…