You scan the horizon, your view an expanse of hill, field and sky, then you focus in on a detail, maybe a bird or a tree. Does your perceptual world contract to a shrunken fragment?  No, it stays the same size or maybe even expands.  As your attention homes in, so there is a mental blossoming – what was coarse-grained becomes finescale.  Uniform  Mondrian blocks show their true nature as a filigree of delicate tracery.

Like a baby in a pram, whose universe consists of its mother and perhaps some toys, it seems limited,  but this is the canvas upon which the everything plays out – all the sights smells and sounds to feed the baby’s developing brain.

And this is what I’ve found when I’ve concentrated on a ‘patch' - my mind is focussed  - I've gone microcosmic!

My first incarnation as a patch watcher was enforced.  A decade long stretch of chairbound  illness largely confined me to a living room.  My patch was the view through the window.  I had swapped the people, job, relationships and fully working body of my previous life, for a garden full of birds.

Luckily for me I had an obsession with birds. This exchange isn’t one that I relished but it was made bearable by my fascination with all things avian.  It would only be a slight exaggeration to say that I spent 10 years looking out of a window.  I didn't do things by halves, I recorded and documented everything, I produced an annual report and a website – nothing less than would be expected of the true obsessive!

Although I'm still affected by illness my body is in working order a lot more than it was, and I've held onto my patching proclivities. My daily walks take me around an area of fairly ordinary countryside in South Lancashire.  Starting the blog has given me the impetus to fully explore patch’s wildlife, and so aspects of nature have unfolded themselves in wonderful and unexpected ways. 
And then to take it a step further. I look for the ways I can respond to nature - to my patch. Writing, poetry, music, photography, visual pieces. 

How can I enable the patch to 'speak' - through me.


  1. Waneta Roby Hardman17 March 2018 at 19:29

    WE so enjoyed your article and have subscribed to further enjoy your newest additions to your website! With kindred name, Waneta Roby Hardman! Thank you!

  2. Hi phil... Great website... A one stop shop for all your stuff...
    Is birds in a Cheshire garden still available to view?

    1. Via archive org

      Are you 'it's been photoshopped' steve...aka my brother?

    2. ...you proably want to relive the glories of your whisky soaked vandalism of my guest book

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Emma - thank you!

      How did that happen??
      that page should be titled Poetry


      :) :)


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