In 2009 I was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. On one of my first nights in the Huddersfield oncology ward, I dreamed that a wall-clock at the foot of my bed was replaced with a scroll covered in runes. I had to decipher these in order to regain health. On waking, I instantly understood. There were three parts to my recovery. One was medical attention. The second was my mental attitude. The third lay in my spiritual strength.
I had recently acquired use of an isolated stone hut (the 'Bull-Box') in the Ribble Valley. The time spent there was my healing.
I dedicate this book to those who are helping me through by showing me so much that is positive and kindly — my consultants, the staff of the Calderdale Royal Hospitals and the Macmillan Centre, the friends and neighbours who earnestly help me with practical difficulties, the owners of the Bull-Box who allow me its use, and most of all to Elizabeth Lee who devotes herself to my care. I thank those who carefully advised on drafts of this book — especially David Pownall, Luke ' Val Spencer, Ed Reis, John Fuller, and my editors at Arc, Tony Ward and Angela Jarman.
I also dedicate it to the vulnerable creatures, wild and domesticated, whom I have loved in the vicinity of my Bull-Box.