‘Walking the dog’

"Walking the dog" - or dogs, both of them second-hand because failures as 'working dogs' - has always been a good time to think through passages or even chapters where the plot or characters have jarred to a halt.

It has also given me time to stop and observe the landscape and its minuter details: the sudden jewelling of oilseed-rape pods with ladybirds, a purple splat of droppings from a blaeberry-feasting bird, the white dimples on a piece of fossil coral. 

Old habits - teaching students - die hard, and I have always wanted to help other people have the pleasure of noticing what is all around them. Thus began my work as a freelance researcher, interviewer and presenter at Radio Oxford, with my regular series 'Walking the Dog'.

And later, walking the dogs on the Solway shore led to a regular series of articles in Cumbria Life magazine and, most recently, to the development of Solway Shore Stories.