Neolithic ramblings

Sometimes I go outside to do some research. It’s an excuse to do something that doesn’t involve actually writing anything – preferably something that involves walking around. It’s essential to do this. No really. It is.

My current WIP is set in area that closely resembles the mythical landscape of Avebury and Silbury Hill. I tend to write about places I love, and this part of the country is an all time favourite. I only have to catch a glimpse of Silbury Hill to feel like I’ve come home – which is kind of strange as I live in Bristol.


The feeling is so strong, it’s almost an obsession. A friend and fellow writer recently suggested I should start modelling the mound in mashed potato. For an entire morning I thought about uprooting the front garden and creating a Silbury Hill version of this:


Truth is I’m obsessed with the neolithic, reading every theory from the sublime to the totally ridiculous about what our ancestors were really thinking when they scattered the land with enormous stone circles, avenues and man-made mounds.

Ancient monuments draw us in to the bigger picture of the landscape, offering a root to our ancestors’ stories of life and death, the myths of creation and the collective unconscious. ¬†Or so I like to think. I usually while away a few hours soaking up the atmosphere of ancient sites, taking millions of identical photos of exactly the same bloody things (my daughter’s summary – and she does have a point…)

You could argue that rambling about the countryside searching for your inner neolithic woman can’t possibly help with story development. But I reckon it does. Walking gives you time to think, and you can think about anything you like. Plot untangling, character development, sub plots – whatever. The geography is an added bonus. I tend to choose the neolithic, but you might prefer the heart of the inner city. Sometimes it just feels good to not be stuck in front of your computer.

Anyway, enough rambling. Time to write something. Just as soon as I’ve finished recreating Stonehenge with this plate of chips…



A degree of lunacy

The full moon a couple of days ago was the last of the ‘supermoons’ of 2014. That’s when the moon is as close as it gets to the earth, so it appears 14% bigger and up to 30% brighter. It happened to be a clear night and a very beautiful orangey Harvest Moon – in fact here’s a picture I nicked from the internet:

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Anyway, something I read in an article in the Guardian about supermoons really got me thinking – apparently the moon originally appeared 17 x bigger in diameter than it does today. 17 x bigger? THAT’S MASSIVE! Here’s the diagram:

Screenshot 2014-09-10 18.17.40

According to scientist types that know about these things, the moon still moves away from the earth at the rate of about 3.8cms a year. That may not sound much, but think about it – even in my life time it’s moved well over a metre further away. That’s quite a lot. I can visualise that amount. It’s half the width of my desk.

To anything living 300 million years ago, the moon would have been 114,000 kilometres closer to the earth (allow for slightly dodgy maths) – so surely it must have appeared much bigger? The tides around Pangea would have been spectacular. And was it still perceptibly bigger to our distant moon gazing ancestors?

Thinking about all this (instead of writing or editing the novel of course) I realise I’m now old enough to have experienced some degree of geological time. By the time I die, the moon will be around 2 metres further away from the earth than it was when I was born. Already I feel some sense of loss. Even by the time I finish the next novel, the moon will be at least another 3.8cms away.

Guess I’d better stop faffing. Probably need to crack on before time ends and the universe falls apart…