Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Camulaunos pt. 2

Clearly I am having an unproductive day at work so have been completeing this myth. Opulent descriptiveness is the hardest part of this. I have in mind a couple of other iddeas for myths, one being a creation. With that in mind I have changed the 'creator' names slightly.

***

And so Camulaunos set off to the lands north of the Valley of Thorns and spent many days crossing wild lands of forest and heath. The path became rocky as the mountains of the world rose up from their roots place in the Land Behind the Land and reached for the skies where the Thunderer roamed. The snow lay thick on the cold, hard vegetation and little lived in that place. Camulaunos walked onwards and upwards till he came to the river that flowed like blood, its thick, dark waters swirled around black rocks that rose from its depths. Strange shapes swirled in its surface and something moved in its depths.

Using the black stones as footing he crossed that river and did not look down nor backwards, for he feared what he might see its depths. The land rose up further and the skies darkened. The air thinned and the biting winds knawed down to the bone, but onwards went Camulaunos clutching the three bristles of Mokkonos in his hand.

He reached the top of the mountain and instead of a high and windblown peak he saw a golden and sun drenched plain before him; golden sunlight pierced the whitest of clouds, silver light danced off the lushest of green grasses and trees smothered with fruit swayed gently in the breeze that caressed this place of the gods. He felt the cold and pain leave his body and was filled with warmth and comfort like he had never known before, not even of the warmest of late autumn evenings, not in the finest of cured hides nor in the arms of the loveliest of women.

Black ravens like the depths of night but with amber eyes wheeled overhead clucking and crocking at his movement. Deer of a kind Camulaunos has only ever dreamed of strode gracefully over the landscape, unafraid of his approach. The streams he stepped over writhed with the fattest of eels and the sparkle of salmon as big a child.

This was the land of the gods, a blessed place of the finest of things – and Camulaunos knew he was an intruder. He made his way across this wondrous place and dreamt of bringing his own family-tribe here to live like gods in peace, happiness and health. He dreamed of how grand they would be as they lived with the gods themselves and how they would shape their own destiny. All of this he dreamt and much more as he walked onwards so that he never did see the hall he approached until it was no more than a spears throw away.

Such a place had never before been seen by mortal eyes and such a place has not been seen since;

It had high circular walls four spear lengths high made of a pale dressed stone, upon that sat a tall roof made of the finest straw that shone like gold. Before him lay the doors; they reached to the eaves of the roof, a fine pair of them made from two planks of oak wood, a tree of such a size Camulaunos thought it must have been the first seed planted by Rigantona at the making of the world. Its edges were trimmed with bronze, each bolt in it made of iron and capped with bronze, two huge rings of bronze served as handles; each half a spear length across and decorated with inland patterns of swirling monsters and beasts chased by the gods themselves. Each figure picked out in gold and each eye picked out in amber. The frame and lintel surrounding the doors were each made of a single oak beam and each was intricately carved with the exploits of the gods; the Making of the World, the War of the Gods, Lugus and the Hawk, the Cursing of the Swallow and a great many things of which Camulaunos had never heard told by the fire.

Camulaunos moved towards the doors and slipped between them and into the Hall of the Gods.

He stood alone in that place, and was struck still by it. It was a huge circular room as big as the biggest settlement of Camulaunos’ people. Arranged around it were dozens of high thrones; each a great slab of black slate and each throne growing from the slab as if some strange cursed tree. Each seat high a high back and richly curving sides of which to recline. They were all swathed in fine furs and leathers, some from beasts Camulaunos himself had hunted others from things he couldn’t even begin to imagine. Each had soft pillows of pale furs on it, and some laying upon the rock beneath them. Furs and skins lay around each throne to be used when desired. Some it appeared were used as a place to lie by mighty animals at the feet of the gods. Camulaunos suspected these must have been the hunting hounds of the gods but feared all manner of unknown creatures reclined in this place too.

The centre of the room was dominated by a mighty tree that grew out from the ground and rose high to the roof and Camulaunos fancied it grew onwards still and into the sky. Its branches swept low into that hall and formed a canopy of shimmering green leaves above the heads of those who stood in that place. At it roots rested a cauldron, its surface bubbling over with crystal clear water that looked like the clearest of mountain streams, it flowed over the rim of the grand bronze cauldron and soaked into the roots of the great tree. A bronze and gold chain encircled the base of the tree and linked the pot and that tree together. Besides the tree was a long and broad table and upon it plates and bowls of meat and fruits, bottles of wines and beers, eating things of bronze and gold and a variety of platters and drinking vessels: horns, bronze goblets and the skull of some giant man-creature trimmed with gold.

Camulaunos was struck with awe and fear at that place and left it as it was, he moved off into the eastern part of the great golden plain, through filed of wheat and rye and barley, crops the like of which he had never seen and each rose up to his waist. The fat ears of golden grain knocked against him as the wind ran through them. On he went through herds of great cattle and fat strong swine. Onwards until he reached the stream Mokkonos had told him of. It looked no more than a spears length in breadth but taking the warning of the Boar in the Thorns he plucked a stone from the bank of that stream and threw it with all his strength across the narrow brook. The stone flew high into the air and landed in the middle of the stream. Hardly believing his eyes of the strength of his arm, he tried again only to see the pebble fall into the water and disappear from view in water that seemed no more than knee deep.

He took one of the bristle he carried with him and dipped it into the water, he then set it into the stream bank before his heart could beat three times that bristle had grown into a sweeping alder tree; its roots dug deep into the soil and the tips of its dropping branches brushed the grasses on the other side of the stream. He climbed up into its branches and across the sturdier of limbs to jump down onto the plain on the other side of the stream.

A short walk across the plain he came to the smaller hall of dressed limestone and golden straw that he now knew belonged to Ambactonos. Beside it he saw the oak pen and inside it he saw the well sized and fine looking sow Senua Vinda. He walked up to the pen and remembering the words of Mokkonos took a stone from the floor and made to throw it over the top of the pen, no mater how hard he threw that stone and no matter how high he tossed it, it would always fall and clatter against the side of the pen no more than half way up its side.

Again he took one of those bristles and this time wedged it into a crack on one of those poles. Within the space of three heartbeats it had grown into a fine and thick vine reaching up and over the top of the pen. Camulaunos took to its stem and climbed the oak pen. Once inside he took the last of the bristles and made to warp it around the neck of that swine to form a lead, as he did it grew in length and turned into a fine thing of leather and bronze; a soft and lengthy strap with which to lead the shining sow back to his people. Before him he found a small gate that opened with ease and so stepped back out onto the golden plains of Ambactonos with the sow at his side.

The moment she stepped out of that pen and onto the plains there was an almighty cracking sound as if the gods had seen to unmake the world and had begun tearing it to pieces; a hot wind blew through his flesh and the skies darkened over. The birds stopped their singing and it seemed as if the shine had fled from each thing in that place.

With this, Camulaunos fled.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Camulaunos pt. 1

I have been thinking about and blogasming about the idea of a new Promethean myth for the Brythonic tradition. So, inspired by some of the Joseph Cambell and Megli I have been reading I took some time to sit and write something. I am not a natural story writer - speaker, yes - so this might look and read a little clumsy.

Anyway, here is part 1:


Some time after the making of the world by the Great Father Tigernonos, the Great Mother Rigantona and their Bull-hoofed brother Taranis, the many gods of the land and the sky and the sea were born.

And so it was that after a time men came to live on the land that had been born from the sea and those men lived in the forest and on the plains. They hunted game amongst the trees and they fished great salmon from the rivers. In time they flourished and their numbers grew with each summer and waned with each winter as the cold took away the spirits of the weak and the old to the place under the land where the roots of the mountains are washed over by the birth of all rivers and streams.

Amongst these people was a family-tribe and their chief was a man named Camulaunos. He was the most favoured by the gods; he had thick dark hair the colour of an aurochs back, golden eyes like the swiftest of foxes and pale skin like the breast of the she-swallow. He was the strongest, the fastest and wisest of all the men of the tribe. Each of his hands could hold two spears, with each arm could throw three spears and he was able to wrestle down the biggest of game with ease. Not only this, but he knew every place where game went, every place where the purest of streams bubbled from the Land behind the Land and every bush that brought forth the sweetest fruits. For all the blessings the gods had seen to bestow upon Wetionos, his heart grew heavy with the passing of the seasons as he saw the people of his family-tribe grow weak and pass into the Land behind the Land when winter took hold. Some sickened and faded away, others starved and some still were taken by the wild things that lived in the forest beyond the Black Trees.

It happened that one winter when the snow was deep on the ground and the ice hung from the bones of every man, woman and child that Camulaunos made out into the forest to find game to feed his people. He strode onwards and northwards to the places his people never went to, in order to find some game that had not already been hunted or killed by the cold.

He espied in the undergrowth a boar with shining white bristles; as big as any he had ever seen and with a skin like a frost covered meadow. Its eyes burned fierce red and its tusks glinted with rime.

Camulaunos took up his greatest bronze spear and held it aloft, at this the boar saw his intentions and made to run away deeper into the forest. It plunged onwards deeper and deeper into the places where men never set foot; into those places given over to the wild things and those creatures the gods themselves have turned their gaze from. Onwards they ran; hunter and hunted until Camulaunos threw his mighty spear and pierced the flank of the shining boar. At this the boar cried out;

'Hold your blade and spare my life, and in return I will grant what you need'

‘In taking your life will gain what I seek most' replied Camulaunos

'Hold your blade and spare my life' bellowed the boar 'and I will give you the sweetest meat for roasting, the flesh that will never blacken and will satisfy all who taste it'

'Your own flesh will be the sweetest, and your own flanks will feed my family' said Camulaunos as he drew out his knife ready to slit the throat of the boar before him.

'Hold your blade and spare my life and I shall take you to Mokkonos himself'

And with this Camulaunos placed his knife back in his belt and pulled his spear from the flank of the boar. He was lead into deep valleys and across desolate hillsides for days on end by the bright boar with the bloodied flank, until they reached a wooded valley of blackthorn. From here Camulaunos pushed through the thorny growth deeper into the valley, the frosty barbs pierced his skin and tore at his clothes whilst the icy mud soaked his feet and pulled on his boots. As the braches got to their densest and the blood flowed freely from a many wounds on his skin, he emerged into a clearing. Standing in the middle of the clearing was Mokkonos.

He was twice as tall as a man and the breadth of his shoulders greater than that of any beast Camulaunos has ever seen. His legs like tree trunks dug at the heavy soil beneath his razor sharp and wickedly black hooves. Frost clung to his thick shaggy legs and sweat ran down his huge haunches, the mist from his great mouth swirled around tusks like scythes; each as thick as a man’s arm and both yellowed with great age. His eyes burned like the coals from the deepest part of the forge, his red lips dripped saliva and his tongue hung out as red as fresh blood. His entire body was swathed in thick black fur and it bristled with dozens of broken spearheads and shaft from a thousand failed hunts. Camulaunos knew that the bearers of those spears had not lived to tell the story of the monstrous boar they had seen and failed to kill, he knew that the bones that littered the muddy ground before him, and that were ground into splinters, had been those men.

Camulaunos drew himself to his full height and held his spear by his side, he addressed the monstrous beast before him’

‘Your kin promised me a great feast of boar flesh, if I were to spare his life’

The Black Boar of the Thorns pawed at the ground and spoke to the small man before him;

‘If such a deal is made then it must be honoured Camulaunos, and you of all men who live in the lands to the south of here will be the one to take such a flesh’

‘Take our your blade and cut all you can carry from my flank’

And so Camulaunos took out his bronze bladed knife and went over to Mokkonos and cut from his thick black flank a chunk of his flesh nearly too big to be carried. With this he made his way back through the thorns to his family-tribe’s settlement.

Two days passed and Camulaunos’ people were hungry again, so he went back to the valley with the thorns and the monstrous Mokkonos and took all he could carry, and Mokkonos did not appear any the slighter for it. A third time did he go back to that place and retrieve his people’s fill of boar meat and a third time did they say they were hungry soon after.

So Camulaunos went back to Mokkonos a fourth time. And this time Mokkonos refused him.

‘I spared the life of your kin and a bargain was made, Boar of the Thorns’ Camulaunos said.

‘My part of this bargain I fulfilled, your people were fed and they were no longer hungry’

‘They are hungry again and will always be hungry with each coming winter. For every winter the game leaves the land, the fish leave the rivers and the trees and bushes retreat to the Land Behind the Land to hide from the frosts that you bring’ Camulaunos told him ‘and every winter my people sicken and die and our greatest warriors thin and grow weak’

Mokkonos looked down on him with burning eyes and breathed out a great swirl of frozen mists. The icicles that hung from his shaggy black hide cracked and shattered as he shook himself down.

‘I have lived in this valley for longer than any other beast that lives on the land, I have been pursued by the greatest hunters of every people and made each of them the hunted. I have seen countless Suns born loft in the Chariot of the Thunderer and seen them sink and fade out. I have watched as the sons of Neptonos have raced up the
rivers of the world to chase the women who hide in the springs, and seen them return to the watery depths empty handed. I watched as the Great hawk flew aloft and was brought down by the spear of Lugus. I have seen all of this and many more things in my time in this valley, and there is one thing I have seen that you will desire’

'far to the north of here is a river, a wide and fast flowing thing the colour of blood. Beyond that river is a plain of golden grasses and shining flowers like no man has ever seen. Upon that golden plain is a great hall bigger and finer than any hall made by the hands of a man. Within that hall live many of the gods.

‘To the east of that hall is another river, a stream that appears to be no more than the span of a single stride, but there is no man who can step over it, even with a hundred great strides. You must cross that stream and there you will find the small stone hall and well tilled land of Ambaxtonos. Around it are fields of grain like no man has ever seen; golden stems with fat shining heads of grain of every type and form, plains filled with the finest shining swine; broad and well formed flanks and strong and muscled heads pursued by throngs of perfect young, cattle so monstrous and grand as to strike fear into a man’s heart; they produce the finest of milks with which to make the sweest of drinks, or the softest and most nourishing of cheeses. These are the lands which Ambaxtonos tends and the produce of them is what feeds the gods at their nightly feasts.’

‘Beside the stone hall of Ambaxtonos is a pen of oaks posts, each seemingly no taller than a youth, yet there is no man alive who could climb over them even if given a hundred years in which to do so. You Camulaunos must climb over them.’

‘Inside that pen is the sow Senua Vinda, and it her who you seek Camulaunos, it is the farrow of that sow which will feed you and your people for evermore. Your lives and your hunters will no longer be subject to the whims of the gods, no longer will your warriors thin and weaken, and no longer will your children turn to bones before you.
If you want to give this to your people Camulaunos, then you must bring Senua Vinda back to your family-tribe and they must care for her offspring.’

‘This much I will give you freely Camulaunos, the rest will be costly; draw three bristles from my back and take them with you. They will aid you in getting to the stall of Senua Vinda. They will aid you in getting into that oaken-posted pen and they will aid you in getting back to your home from the land behind the land. For this much the sons of the gods will turn their spears on me and it will be Lugus who hunts me in the depths of winter and not your men, and it is for this which I will enact a price of you and your children;

‘No longer will I reside in this thorn-brush but will be abroad with the darkening of the skies as the Sun cools at winter. I will be at your fields Camulaunos; I will feed at your crops as and tear at your livestock. I will grind the ground beneath my hooves and freeze the very soil you wish to plough. This will be my price Camulaunos, for making myself unwelcome in the halls of the gods I will now seek sustenance from your halls instead.’

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Genivs Loci Civitatis

A discussion has been going on on Caer Feddwyd about the nature of magic (spell-craft, that kind of thing) and a point that has been raised is that the spirits of place that can be found in a town or a city are qualitatively different though not without their own potential, and perhaps not as conducive to the practice of magic. Before I moved to London and about six or more years ago I recall having a discussion with someone on the BBC pagan message boards about this and arguing, from my point of view, that spirits were scarce in cities due to their large scale separation from the 'natural world'.

I don't hold with this opinion any longer.

There are certainly genius loci in cities, though of a wholly different quality than open countryside. There are many places in central London which are positively buzzing with the accumulated echoes of history and human endeavour – small alleyways running off between tall buildings on Fleet Street, small overgrown parks within posh housing squares or the mighty Thames itself.

I wonder if the mechanism which is behind the accumulation of, and eventual 'creation' of a genius loci operates equally wherever you are but the net result is entirely different? Out in the wilds of north Wales you will get wild and free genius with no loyalty to humans and sometimes an air of mistrust or trepidation when humans interact and yet in a city where humans dominate you find genius which are far more 'human friendly' in nature? Very much a case of town mouse and country mouse.

p.s and thanks to Bo for latin lessons

Monday, 7 September 2009

Personal Pantheon

I have an inordinate fondness for organising things; knowing where things are, what they are, how they relate to one another and then for recording this information mentally and physically for future use and reference. This innate anal retentiveness and obsessive compulsion is very useful in my work seeing as it effectively constitutes what I get paid to do with fossil collections.

In some ways it is a hindrance and in others a blessing when it comes to matters of religion and spirituality. It means it can often be a problem in that I obsess over things and how they relate to one another but I other ways it means I often stop and take stock of where I am at.

It has been a while since I have done this – in some respects I think regular blogasms have replaced this urge/need – so I think it is time to begin doing so again, what with the autumn gallavanting upon us and winter not too far ahead. I have been waffling on a bit on here about things quite abstract I guess so maybe it is time to collate some thoughts and set them straight.

I shall begin with my personal pantheon; the gods with whom I have a two-way relationship and those gods who kind of drift in and out of the picture and in which sense the relationship is one way; me taking an interest and a general desire to know more about them without anything further. This will be a bit of a mix of historical factoids and personal myth and experience. As I am writing these I can feel an almost modern Wicca derived mythos slipping in no matter how hard I try to not let it, but I think it should be there. I am Wiccan and it flavours my interaction with the gods to some extent.

Rigatona
To me she embodies the landscape itself; the rolling streams, the hills, the mountains, the woodland and the heath. All the gods of those places dwell within her and we do too. She is the Grey Mare, the horse that embodies the spirit of the land and our place within it. She is sovereignty and the one who grants it; not only in the older sense of being a rightful ruler but also in a personal sense of ‘belonging’ and the proper interaction of a person with the landscape. If such a title were needed she would be the Great Mother Goddess of the British Isles.



Lugus-Belenus
My relationship with Lugus-Belenus is still rather ‘young’. Ideas of being the Sky Father figure, the one who is skilled in every craft and as such is a teacher and guide. Yet who has a mighty spear and delights in bloodletting. The Sun, the corn as it ripens, the one who spills his own blood to achieve this.

Mokkonos
A bit of a newish one; the swine god. The black boar of winter who churns the land under his hooves, whose chilling sweat is the dawn frost and whose hot breath is the winter mists. The god who is hunted and whose flesh is eaten to sustain. The one who sees us through the cold months, even as he grinds the life out of the weak and the sick.

Taranis
The sky thunderer. I saw an arrow of geese honking across the London sky this morning and it reminded me that he should be included.

Nodens
The Lord of the Waters. The spirit of the great rivers; the Severn and the Thames. A healer. There is something about him that makes me want to equate him with Teyrnon/Tigernonos of the roaring wave; the Severn and the Severn Bore. The wife of the Grey Mare; the lady of the land and the god of the water as husband and wife or merely as lovers.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Some More Dirty Words

A while ago now I had a little moan about the current dirty words in paganism, one of which was 'dogma' and the other 'worship'. There is currently a little uproar going on at – brace yourself, those of a nervous disposition might not want to click on this link and I apologise for any ill feelings that come upon you whilst there - OBOD (I say uproar, but in fact I don't think I have ever seen one there, much mutual masturbation of egos and 'personal truth/awen/inspiration/bollocks' but that is about it. It is a wonderful example of how people in groups can react so badly to something they perceive as threatening that they eventually get to the point where they have become that very same thing without realising it. In this case the need to keep away from dogma itself has become a dogma for them. Some of the people on that discussion have some good insights but unfortunately the old hands of the boards have squashed it with a lack of understanding of what is being said. Good on them!

As someone I hold in high regard once said; “dogma should be the foundation we build on, not the roof over our heads”. And he is right, dogma should be the things commonalities that bind us together not the chains that hold us captive.

There is another dirty word in paganism these days; label. Modern pagans don't like to be questioned about the labels they take for themselves or other apply to them. “I am a druid goddamitt and you cant tell me otherwise, even if I do have an athame, pentacle and use the Witches Bible”. You know the kind of thing. People will always harp on about how labels are damaging, limiting and something they really don't like. Here is something for all those people, try this word out' noun. That's it, noun. One of the essential components of almost any language you care to think or. Noun; the word that describes something so that it can be talked about and be understood. Language works because we all understand it, to go screwing about with it causes problems, exactly the kind of problems when people gather together to talk paganism. There you will find nouns turned inside out, twisted beyond recognition and used in whole new and inventive ways.

A Big Question

I find myself in familiar territory again recently, partly in writing this as it is a blogasm I have planned on and off for over a year. The reason it hasn't materialised is due to the nature of the issue itself.

I semi-regularly find myself asking “why do I do all of this ?”, “why bother?”, “what is the point?".

On each of these occasions I find myself finding some sort of suitable answer and then continue, such has been the case for years. Now I think it is time to actually take time to stop and REALLY examine my reasons and motivation and do so in a way which not only answers these questions but is something I really and truly do actually think/believe. If this post makes it into a real on-line blogasm then that will be a small miracle.

Perhaps the easiest answer for me to make is that I feel a genuine, gut urge to 'know' about these gods. There is an innate pull towards finding out about them on one level – possibly the scientist bit of me needing to know and understand – and on another for me to develop something of a relationship with some of them beyond a simple knowledge of them. This last bit can and does vary hence my relation with gods has waxed and waned in the past and I do at least think I have got something out of that experience.

That said, I think there is something stronger than that which compels me to want to get closer to the gods. I think perhaps on one level a relationship with them will act as a key to me finding my place and being content with that place in the wider scheme of things. I made mention of the idea of the 'Promethean fall' a while back and it has been a niggling little thing in the back of my mind since. I thin that at times it feels like there is a pane of glass between me/humans and the world, all of a sudden we find ourselves in the sweetshop of conciousness, self-awareness and abstract thought and realise that to step inside we had to leave something behind. That something was a place in the world we left behind; a world where we fit in, where we were a part of a huge web of interaction. I think perhaps that one of the reasons pagans today look to ancient cultures is that we somehow see that they at least were closer to this lost world of ours, they had a much closer relationship with the landscape and the gods and that since then we have continually marching onwards in our development as a species and in turn been marching away from the very thing many of us want to get back to in some way. I don't think this is necessarily a romantic view of wanting to live in huts and be farmers again but wanting to capture the relationship, the closeness and awareness that people had when they worked much closer with the land and the landscape, yet in a contemporary context. Escapism springs to mind and in some respect is appropriate, and I think that by and large, it isn't about filling a hole in our lives but us retaking our place in the hole in the landscape we left behind.

I think our drive to have a relationship with the gods is simply, initially at least, about wanting to be a part of the living landscape as a whole and develop a relationship with different aspects of it. The gods/spirits of that place are just one part of the whole.

So, could I achieve some of this without gods or spirits? I probably could. That said, I have a driving gut instinct which goads me on to have something with the gods. For now at least I will listen to what my instincts say.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

An Autumn Fingering

I have a few ideas for blogasms in mind so there will be a short flurry of blogasming over the next couple of days.

Last Thursday I spent a lovely afternoon in Cambridge. It was gloriously sunny; not the scorching hot and bright high summer sun, but more the mellower, prickly, hazy heat of a late summer. It was wonderful. This weekend just gone though the weather has taken a turn for the cooler; Saturday night was a nice clear sky and after spending the evening in a nice pub in north London the walk home was decidedly chillier than it had been for months. Sunday was much the same with sunny spells and a chill in the air. Today was bloody awful; pissing rain and windy.


Come the end of civilisation I am determined to steal this for my fortress in the wilds.

It is as if autumn is slowly sinking its claws into summer and dragging the year from its soft warm hands and getting ready to throttle it senseless over the coming weeks and months. I love this time of year, I only hope it turns out to be colder rather than wetter.

I also managed to get another kilo or so of elderberries on Sunday in a park I was having a BBQ, made all the more miraculous considering myself and two friends had downed a 1.5ltr bottle of cheap own brand gin beforehand. How we manage this feat of berry picking precision without injury or mishap is one of life's little wonders. Bank holiday Monday was spent hungover making kilos of plum chutney and some elderberry pontack (think elderberry ketchup). This whole flurry of preserving I have been doing this year has I think been one of the most rewarding things I have done in ages, not only does it mean spending time foraging with friends but I also get free food out of it. I think in future though I might limit it to what I can gather for free rather than pay for though I might let myself go a bit and buy raspberries for jamming. Like nothing else it gets you 'in tune' with what's going on around you – I was able to watch next door's elder tree blossom and bear fruit over the summer from my bathroom window every morning as a brushed my teeth – and as such I think is a valuable way of making that connection with the landscape around you, even if that landscape is central London. It is just a case of having a nose around and seeing what is there.