Monday, August 3, 2015



Cutting and carting bracken
Thatching hay cocks
Mowing thistles

This is the work for the farming year in the early 20th century in Normanby, I think scruffling should be scuffling, but it was the method I believe of hoeing the weeds between the crops.  The crops are ready for bringing in it seems to me, the weather will dictate the time, wheat apparently likes this slightly cold summer, it is a cool plant.  Thistles are of course a bit like dandelions, their fluffy seed heads travel far and wide.  This was a walk up the hill to the farm at the top, I notice that on the long ridge into the village you have farms spaced equi-distance.  From the top of the hill you can look round on the landscape, mostly farmland, the York moors can be seen in the far distance. 
How much history has travelled through that short 100 years of history, human labour and horses were used for bringing in the wheat, then two world wars intervened, horses sadly disappeared and the great combine harvesters of today do the job in hours rather than days.

This is the farm seen from the south.  

And wasn't it sad to see these beautiful Yorkshire Fell horses auctioned off to place like America last night on Countryfile.  Seemed to have arrived in the country with the Romans, their manes flowing beautifully.....

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Whilst my daughter was here a few days ago, she jumped on an old photo album, apparently she had thought she had lost it years ago and had always felt guilty.  In it were photographs of me on holiday with friends, and as we are three generations now we compared our looks, and if we were similar.
But in the photo below I have just arrived with a friend in Ireland and she has taken the picture.
The first thing to notice is the mini van, this was my second mini, I had learnt to drive before I reached driving age, so eager was I to get a car.  And I remember my grandfather giving me an old black  Ford Prefect car at Xmas just before my birthday in January, he rolled the car down the driveway in the night, so I would wake up to the car in the morning.

I remember this mini van being hoisted by crane on to the boat to Ireland, and we then motored around Ireland, having quite a few adventures but that young me looks assured, I very much doubt it though, skinny at least.  Remember I raced a glass salesman for miles along an empty road, till we arrived at a pub.  The following photo brings back the memory of two young boys, barefoot and in homemade trousers demanding money for the photo of the donkeys.

The thing is I have only ever driven geared cars, I am very reluctant to go to automatic gears, I have tried LS's car, but it seems complicated, and I can't quite trust the car to do what I want.....
So apart from chickens, a dog and curtains another uncertainty has been added to the "what ifs"

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Patchworks of colour

I wake up early, the day is grey and cloudy, fancy pigeons strut their stuff on the lawn.  Yesterday we went a walk in the evening along the lane to Seaton.  A barn owl flew away in the distance and a hare ran the long distance of a field.  Small brown creatures appeared far away, we thought at first rabbits but as two stood up to box realised they must be a family of hares.  
Swallows wheeled overhead, feasting on the aerial soup of insects, their wings curved against the blue sky and you will have to imagine them, for no matter how many photos I took they were absent from the picture.  They have their nests under the deep eaves of a pair of cottages at the beginning of the walk.  We have three nests under the eaves of the church, they fly with accurate bomb like precision into the nests to feed the young.
There is rather worrying a fox around, or maybe more, LS saw one peering down at our garden, and E has five of her free ranging chickens killed the other day.  What I love about the verges full of the tangle of wild grasses and flowers is the meadowsweet intermingled with the pale blue of the cranesbill.  The meadowsweet is going over now, has reached that old lace cream in its colouring. Summer is soon gone and you have to grab the images quickly in the mind.  The countryside is quiet in the evening, you can see far into the distance, a long low ridge covered in forest and the mind wanders to other villages waiting for the night to appear.  Apparently it was a 'blue moon' last night but it seemed the usual  penny bright colour when I saw it.
And the explanation is here, because it wasn't blue

Thistles add their shaggy heads to the mood music of colour
The farm on the hill

Coming back into the village

The roses that loll over the fence of the pub at the moment.
Colour has been on my mind lately, and have just ordered some more patchwork materials for a new project, beside me on the desk lies a piece of material, with elegant green and red poppies.  It feels like a 1930's piece, Poirot and Agatha Christie come to mind immediately, this will be a runner edged with red.

Friday, July 31, 2015


Mosaic kept in store at Keynsham, it is a 'picture' mosaic telling tales.
The sun shone, the tourists in Whitby promenaded in their usual fashion, and we had lunch accompanied by loud music which resulted in everyone having to repeat themselves.  Music and restaurants can be a nightmare sometimes!

Weird weather we are having for the middle of summer, night time temperature way down, and the cold winds by day take the warmth of the sun.  I had forgotten the beautiful full moon last, it shone through the branches of the great tree outside, slowly moving westward.  Its brightness kept me awake, and I have to turn my mind to finding curtains for the bedroom.  Today the last of the furniture comes, a desk for LS's study, he has been using a board balanced on some enormous Japanese encyclopedias and boxes, once this is in place we can then move the bookcases from downstairs up and unpack more boxes of books.....

When we got back I tried finding information on the Roman temple at Durley Hill near Keynsham, the Roman villa now but a tracery of stones below the soil surface is supposed to be stunning, a lot of it was destroyed by the building of the A4 road through it.  An artist reconstruction seems to record a large building, and I think the temple is in the bottom right hand corner.  It was the town of 'Trajectus' that caught my eye, as there is not much information,  but 'Trajectus' is Roman for bridgehead, and it is thought that this was a crossing of the River Avon from Bath (Aqua Sulis) to Sea Mills (Abonea).

As North Stoke is also nearby, and Bitton is also thought to have a Roman temple beneath the church, the history along this road widens into a well established route from Bath.  The octagonal  roof of the temple at the site is also echoed in another Roman temple nearby.

And now once more the building of houses over the area meant that an archaeological survey has done its job, though I believe some land has been given a prohibition order as a site to be built on, (or buried in)  that being in the grave yard of the church on Dursley Hill.

More info....

This is just part of the 'traffic' that goes by, something must be happening somewhere, two very old tractors went by yesterday evening.

An inner window in the church, part of the Norman inheritance.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


The family move on to Whitby and the cottage, we shall be meeting them for lunch on Thursday at the 'Penny Hedge', another story, another time.  Though it rained all day we had a lovely time, Lillie and I went hunting for the oldest person in the grave yard in the cemetery, 99 years old was the highest though Lillie wanted to find a hundred.  She is such a sweet child, (though can be a horror of course), but household duties are her forte, she toasted in my two round toaster, practically a whole loaf for the family, cleared the table after meals.  Worrying that she was using the 'best' mugs, I had also bought them 'adult' colouring books, one a Zen one and the other an animal one which was an inspiration.
Is it not funny when you use the word 'adult' how the mind slips to things children should not see; though I am surprised by these colouring books for grown-ups, supposed to relax you from the stresses of life, but they are just as good for children with their minute detail.

The untidy chest of drawers must be Matilda's work

I am not sure which girl did the dolls house, but a completely different idea to mine!.  The old Swiss bits came out and the bathroom set, and all my expensive bits of furniture were wrapped neatly back into the box.

And now to spindle trees, and why I want a couple. If you have never come on a spindle tree in the country their flower would be a surprise, orange nestled in pink.  Its strong wood was of course used to make spindles, pegs and knitting needles.  According to Grigson the fruit is also a purgative, and its local name in some parts of the country is Gatteridge or Gatter-tree (the goat tree from O/E gat). In fact it was thought to be poisonous to goats and sheep, often proving fatal, this from a Greek writer and was often called the Death-Alder in Buckinghampshire.
Also louse-wort, since the fruits were baked, powdered and then sprinkled  on little boys heads to kill lice and nits, no mention of girls here!

Wiki Commons of Spindle tree - Eunomyus Europaeus
When first coming upon these tiny flowers it is a revelation, four in four, hermaphodrite, it is host to many insects, even greenfly.  Something I never spray against, unless there are too many and then use soapy water. A balanced insect environment will eat what we consider to be pests, killing everything in sight only means you have less of everything, and as they report this morning of the disappearance of yet another common butterfly, the hand that stays the chemical input on plants will have an abundance rather than scarcity.....

 The town of Trajectus;
And for the news flash, notice that Keynsham church/chapel is about to be explored again for the Roman Villa/Religious Sanctuary.  Remember years ago seeing all the Roman stuff lying amongst the gravestones.  Near to the old Cadbury factory, which used to have a museum in its grounds

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday 27th July

Hogarth print of the 'Rakes Progress' 1734.  You end up in Bedlam in the end!
Enough said on the latest scandal of Lord Sewel, (and that's the clean version)  you don't know whether to weep or laugh.  LS said last night as we watched Countryfile, in which world do we exist? Think about it, most of us are living ordinary lives yet these sods, living off us are so nasty and corrupt, and rule us with such cynical ease, why are we not out on the streets calling for a revolution. End of rant. Not quite! the irony of it is that he seems to be in charge of 'Standards of Conduct'

It is raining, the family are coming today, so any outings locally will have to be curtailed, noticed that Carol Klein will be talking about the history of roses today on BBC2 sink back and enjoy the experience!

Taken from Marjorie Blamey's book on wild flowers, sure she won't mind, the 'wild' roses are going over now.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


There is another house that needs furnishing, the dollshouse and so I made a start, but a long way to go, might need some internal decoration.
Yesterday we took back some CDs of the history of the village, and met another family, the young daughter is a 'canine beautician' and every morning and afternoon walks half a dozen dogs past the house, she even looks after your dog and chickens for a few days, enterprising young girl and useful to know.
We went on to the garden centre and bought a couple of things, LS bought a rose, and it took us about an hour to dig the hole in front of the church wall.  My plan is to plant roses in the lawn along this wall, as a flowerbed will be too much work.  Excavating the hole near the coke house of the church, we had been told that a butcher shop once stood in this area, and as we dug deep unearthed a couple of the old bricks from the pillar of the wall which had fallen down, some scrap iron and bits of Victorian pottery.

The sequence of event mapped out in photos.  As you can see we have no hedge in front, I thought a hawthorn hedge would go quite well, with perhaps a spindle tree or two, the old holly by the end sort of dictates a country feel.

The rose is called 'Boscobel'

Mr.King's original planting of beech shrubs is rather pathetic...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Hens and derelict cottages

" back garden awaiting its small flock!" 

To quote myself, who should turn up in the graveyard but two brown hens last night, out for a spree like 'Hetty and Harriet' above, one of my favourite children's story, along with the 'Church Mice' series by Graham Oakley.
Well they did not enter my newly acquired run and hutch, in fact it is the sparrows who fly in and out are more intrigued by this new addition to the garden.
LS was worried  and chased the hens round the yew trees to no avail but they have survived the night, and pottering around quite happily, perhaps we should make enquiries as to owners, or everyone visiting the church yard will think they have escaped from our run!

Yesterday Jean and her husband came round to fix the curtain railings, and over coffee told us, well not an intriguing story, rather sad really, but fascinating.  On the other side of the church are two new houses, they were occupied almost the same time as we occupied ours.  Apparently two years ago an old cottage was on this site, with a lady called Margaret living in it, she was rather old at 96, and over the years the cottage fell into total disrepair, the ceilings fell in, the bathroom fell down and also the kitchen just collapsed, and like a fairy tale the garden grew up around it.  She moved out into a caravan into the garden and even though she owned a bungalow, would always come back to the house to sleep at night.  As you can see I took the photo of the cottage off my computer screen from Google Earth.  I should really take the area to the right of the screen, it must have been a big garden, for both houses sit comfortably in large plots. And do some work on its history.

Another interesting thing Don told us, is that this village was the thoroughfare for the gypsies in the 'olden days'. presumably to Pickering, anyway the village had the reputation of being full of ale houses and brothels. Well blow me down with a feather, it is very humdrum at the moment, though I believe the fish and chip van comes through once a week!

Thursday, July 23, 2015


The Big Animal of Rock

Is kneeling
In the cemetery of its ancestors.

In its home
Among its pious offspring
of root and leaf.

In its homeland 

among a solemn kin
Who visit each other in heaven and earth.


At the festival of Unending
In the fleshly faith 
of the Mourning Mother
Who eats her children

The canto
The rock 


Deliciously macabre poem by Ted Hughes on this sunny day,  the first two lines hit the eye with such a vivid picture, and the rock photo by Fay Godwin accompanying  is like a great black whale escaping the clutches of the snow.  Trying to find a similar one, I b/w the above Aberridi rock with its vertical layering, it is actually a very dark rock, and the derelict miner's cottages here at the sea edge of West Wales are black as well. 

But to return to more mundane things, we are off to Whitby soon to get rid of more cardboard, and drink coffee at Sherlocks and shop.  Yesterday we put together the chicken coop and run, and now it sits rather self-consciously  in the back garden awaiting its small flock!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


This is the view I see from the window when I have my breakfast at the new table.  Of course I am looking from a different vantage point, but it is on this pile of grass cuttings from the cemetery that a rabbit will appear most days.  There is a small wilderness to this corner, brambles ramp along the wall, and hazel nuts are growing above.  The rabbit always looks like a Victorian cut out black figure, and probably may be a different one each time, but for now will go under the name of Flopsy, there are plenty of rabbits in the field behind.  Early morning the jackdaws come down for the bread I throw out, and the beautiful thrush hops round on our lawn, not really a proper turf lawn but the old field grass with lots of clover, that LS has to cut frequently with all this rain and sun. It is from here our over enthusiastic acrobatic squirrel will appear and knock down the seed hanger.  The following photo shows how I really see the mound with the mysterious rabbit, and the green far away land behind. The long grasses in front have seed heads and it is here the little chaffinches dine, quite engrossing at coffee time.

Above all this is a stand of trees making the garden shady, amongst these trees a tall Scots pine, and below an old holly that has a lot of green berries on, so Xmas holly should not be a problem. You can see from the following that the sun shines from the East through the trees, the house is of course parallel with the church, and one day I shall go and photo the sun shining through the east window.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesday 21st July

Kirkbymoorside, (Kirkeby Moresheved - 1170)   our nearest town, just four miles down the road.  You can read its history in its name, Scandinavian Kirk (church) By (Viking settlement) moor is still the same, but ide is a corruption of  an old English  word heafod meaning head or top.  So the name means a village with a church at the top of the moors.  It is a pleasant place, small shops, tea shops as well for the tourists.
It is raining again today, and we wait for the last of the furniture to arrive this afternoon, two wardrobes to be put together by the company and other things, also this afternoon my chicken hutch, think there is a poultry market at Malton this coming Saturday....

Did some shopping and I bought The Times rather than the Guardian, noting the price difference, Guardian £1.80, The Times £1.20.  Different styles of course, and they were not too kind to the left wing Jeremy Corbyn, but will never forsake the Guardian, Marina Hyde, her sharp tongue always makes me giggle, and I also note that Melanie Philips is a journalist for The Times,  and I cannot stand her on the Moral Maze.  But I shall get different papers from now on, television is such a bore these days. 

 We have a rule in this house, we do not have anything to do with Rupert Murdoch, and of course The Times is part of empire of this wretched man, though LS's son works for The Financial Times, not sure if they are one and the same thing though.  Truth of the matter of course is you can't condemn a paper for it's owner, the sum of  all the parts are not all his views.
It seems, from what I have read on forums that it was  Murdoch behind that nonsense of the Queen when she was a little girl of making a Hitler salute.  80 years ago a 6 year old raised her arm and we are supposed to be shocked, Twitter had a lot of lovely photos of people making the salute even Murdoch and a baby panda!

More photos of Kirkbymoorside from last year when we went to look at a house....

Malpas Hoard and Knutsford Hoard

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Seen from a grouse's perspective

As the rain beats down I turn to the bookshelves, and of course to the Ted Hughes book of 'Remains of Elmet', sombre photographs by Fay Godwin.  A dark book in all senses...

Grouse Butts

Where all the lines embrace and lie down,
Roofless hovels of turf, tapped by harebells,
Weather humbler.

In a world bare of men
They are soothing as ruins
Where the stones roam again free.

But inside each one, under sods, nests
Of spent cartridge cases
Are acrid with life.
Those dead looking fumaroles are forts.

Monkish cells, communal, strung out, solitary,
The front-line emplacements of a war nearly religious -
Dedicated to the worship
Of costly, beautiful guns.

A religion too arcane
For the grouse who grew up to trust their kingdom
And its practical landmarks.

I remember taking these photographs, and watching the grouse amongst the heather, feeling a very similar mood as to the fortress like appearance of these butts that Hughes had about their warlike markings on the moor; all that energy and money pitched against a small bird - what arrogance!

Sunday 19th July

I start with a damp photograph of the church this morning, it has rained during the night and there are grey tones to the world outside.  Yesterday the wind was strong, chairs went flying in the garden and the bird house was blown over.  Did not worry the sparrows in the least, they played around trying to find the seed in the fallen bird house.  You will notice the pots of flowers in front of the graves, on the first day we were here I noticed how three women came and cleared up the dead plants.  I like to think that they worried about our view, it would have been a nice thought.  LS spoke to someone in the graveyard the other day, they had come all the way from New Zealand to look up ancestors here in this village, is it not remarkable 'ancestor worship'

My plans for hens and dogs (a dog) has been put on hold till we get the back garden fenced. Firstly we need a path from the garage to the kitchen to be put down, and a paver came yesterday, and viewed the rather beautiful York stone we have round the house, said it was too expensive and very slippery in winter and that we needed 'Indian' look alike stone, which is much thinner but just as durable. Luckily his next door neighbour in Malton was a fencer, weird how everyone knows someone else who does this or that... But on the strength of that, I have ordered my chicken hutch, whether it will arrive flat pack heaven knows.

LS over a cup of tea this morning said 'you are in charge of the stove', so what does that mean I wonder? do I organise logs or coal (it is a multi fuel stove), never even looked inside, though I can lay a good fire which will start 99% of the time.  Note my little Christmas rocking horse, rocking into the future.