The wind was a wee bit brisk and chilly for July, to put it mildly, and Algy had some difficulty maintaining his poise on the lighthouse rocks, at least on the windward side. But whichever way he looked he could see the ocean stretching out into the distance, with islands dotted here and there on the horizon all around, and that – combined with the perpetual sound of the sea – made him happy, even though his feathers were starting to shiver…

As there was little hope of a change in the weather, Algy decided that the next best thing was a change of scene, so he flew out to the lighthouse rocks to contemplate the wide expanse of ocean. The wind was bitterly cold and the day was overcast, but the view in the silvery light was fine. Looking west from the rocks, Algy could see nothing but sea and sky, and the slim shadow of an island or two on the horizon – plus a tiny sailboat racing headlong down the wind. Algy was inevitably reminded of Masefield’s popular poem:

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

[Algy is quoting the poem Sea-Fever by the early 20th century English poet John Masefield.]

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Algy moved to a different position, to get a better view of the tiddlers who were darting in and out of the plants at the edges of the burn. He contemplated jumping into the water to join them, but decided that he was probably quite wet enough already, and it would be almost impossible to get warm and dry again on such a throroughly cold, damp day. So he contented himself with dabbling one foot gently in the burn while he watched the tiny fishes swimming around his toes.

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On yet another summer’s day of dense mist, wind and rain, Algy made his way down to one of the wee pools in the quiet burn, to see whether the tiddlers had returned. The last time he passed by this spot he couldn’t see any of the tiny fish, but he was relieved to discover that they were back again today, darting in and out of the weeds. Everything was exceedingly wet, and very soon Algy was wet too… But he liked to watch the tiddlers playing, so he tried to ignore the water creeping up his legs and seeping under his feathers. The cold dampness of it all reminded him of a short poem by Amy Lowell:

Cold, wet leaves
Floating on moss-coloured water  
And the croaking of frogs—
Cracked bell-notes in the twilight.

It had seemed like twilight all day today, under the heavily overcast sky and Scotch mist, and everything was undoubtedly cold and wet, including the floating leaves, but although Algy listened carefully, he could hear no croaking of frogs. In fact there was almost no sound at all, except the ever-present wind and the occasional muted call of another bird.

If you are in one of those places suffering from drought or excessive heat, then Algy dedicates this post to you 🙂

[Algy is quoting the poem The Pond by the early 20th century American poet Amy Lowell.]

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The rain had stopped, for a wee while at least, so Algy lost no time in getting back to the piles of books that were waiting for his fluffy signature.

If you are a fluffy bird, signing your name is quite an elaborate process! It requires at least four different, special coloured pencils, and because it is not easy to control a pencil with fluffy wings, it’s necessary to go over the lines time and time again 🙂

Algy is doing his best to get all the signed copies of A Surprisingly Fluffy Bird sent out to the kind people who pre-ordered them as fast as he possibly can. Many have been posted already, and the remainder will be sent out in the next few days.

If you would like to buy a signed copy – with or without a special dedication – and did not pre-order one, please send Algy an Ask on Tumblr, or contact him through the form on his new web site.

Visit Algy’s web site to read the first part of A Surprisingly Fluffy Bird and discover other fluffy delights 🙂

On the west coasts of the Scottish Highlands and Western Isles, there is a very special environment which bursts into flower once a year, in late spring and early summer. It’s known locally as the machair.

Although Algy’s area does not have the best example of machair (he would have to visit the Outer Hebrides to see that), he is always thrilled when the masses of tiny flowers appear, and he loves to see how many different ones he can find. Many of the flowers are minute, and grow very low to the ground to escape the worst of the wind, so it’s necessary to get right down among them to see each one. (If you are looking at this on the Tumblr dash, please click to see the flowers in more detail.)

Algy hopes that you will all have a happy weekend, with a sprinkling of pretty flowers xoxo

[Visit Algy’s own web site.]

(Machair occurs where grassy areas immediately inland from – or among – the coastal sand dunes are improved by the fine shell sand blown off the beach, providing lime and other nutrients to the otherwise very acid soil of these peaty and infertile areas. It’s said that the machair environment is unique to the west coast of Scotland and the Western Isles.)

In the first half of the summer, the normally drab sand dunes of the West Highlands and Western Isles are full of wonderful surprises 🙂 Algy went exploring, and discovered an amazing patchwork of colour among the spiky grasses. He was interested to see that in this exceptionally dismal and very wet year, in which the sun has rarely deigned to put in any kind of an appearance, there were even more flowers than usual!

This unedited photo is a tribute to the PWS photosworthseeing “no edit Friday”. Algy sends all his friends at PWS a big fluffy hug and a huge wingful of wild thyme xoxo

This post is also dedicated to Algy’s friend mdeanstrauss who may find this and Algy’s next post of interest 🙂

[Visit Algy’s own web site.]

Although the West Highlands is known for being wet and windy, this year had been the most dismal that Algy had ever known, so when the sun made a rare appearance he felt a huge sense of relief. It was still remarkably cold for July, but it took more than that to spoil a sunny day. Algy perched on a rock in the sand, with the icy north wind whistling through his feathers, and watched the little waves playing gently on the beach. He could tell that the sea knew it was summer, even if it still felt like winter to him, and the waves made a lovely, soothing sound as they washed around his rock. He was reminded of a poem by Eva Gore-Booth:

The grand road from the mountain goes shining to the sea,
And there is traffic in it and many a horse and cart,
But the little roads of Cloonagh are dearer far to me,
And the little roads of Cloonagh go rambling through my heart.

A great storm from the ocean goes shouting o’er the hill,
And there is glory in it and terror on the wind,
But the haunted air of twilight is very strange and still,
And the little winds of twilight are dearer to my mind.

The great waves of the Atlantic sweep storming on their way,
Shining green and silver with the hidden herring shoal,
But the Little Waves of Breffny have drenched my heart in spray,
And the Little Waves of Breffny go stumbling through my soul.

Listen to the sound of the little waves, just as Algy heard them from his rock.

[Algy is quoting the poem The Little Waves of Breffny by the late 19th/early 20th century Irish poet Eva Gore-Booth.]

This is the sound of the little waves, just as Algy heard it while perching on a rock in the sand.

He’s sorry that it’s only a short clip, but even in a crevice in the rock, there was too much wind noise for a good recording 😦

Algy had had a terrifically exciting weekend, launching his book and posting all your wonderful contributions to his Surprisingly Fluffy Book Launch Party – not to mention doing a wee bit of partying himself – so by Monday he was feeling somewhat limp…

He decided that the best thing to do was sit quietly by the water, just watching it swirl round and round and round for a while. Fortunately, the wind had also swung round that morning, and the dense Scotch mist had lifted, bringing brighter weather from the north. Admittedly that meant that the temperature had dropped even lower, but Algy fluffed up his feathers and made the best of it, happy to be relaxing beside the sea again.

Algy wants to say an ENORMOUS THANK YOU to all the wonderful friends who made his Surprisingly Fluffy Book Launch Party on lovefromalgy such a success. It was the best party yet, with outstanding contributions from so many kind friends. Algy sends you all his very fluffiest hugs, and says “Let’s make the next book launch party even better!”  xoxoxo