Thursday, September 24, 2020

Today 24th September

Dark quickens to overcome the light,  the seasons are part of a natural cycle dependent on the sun. I wake up to hear Lucy's gentle snoring as she slumbers on her mat in the hallway.  Of late I have woken up on sad dreams, having to haul myself out of a sense of melancholia, switch on lights, make tea.

But as the light appears in the natural world, soft mists over the fields rise, the peachy glow of the sun rising through the copse, nature has set out to enchant once more.  Yorkshire Pudding talks of grouse and I remember the trips over the moor, the moment of sheer delight as several baby grouse ran across the grassed lane and huddled against the old stone wall their mother anxiously following.  The harebells so aptly named as their fragile beauty of pale blue nods in the breeze by the side of the road. Yet I cannot go there without my heart breaking.

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

Are we really a class ridden society? Watching one of the grouse shooting men explain down to the man who dared defy him, the road ahead is private you cannot go further and that singular flush of anger slips through my veins.  And yet it is not anger that we need confront those that claim ownership of killing, mostly in this country it is mockery and good old fashioned humour we use as we unpick the 'wrong' in society around us.  A sense of righteousness meshed with compassion - for they know not what they do - did that come from the bible I wonder?

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

The balls of fluff, tiny red grouse, will grow, wander around the moors and then the heavy machinery of beaters and guns will bear down, the grouse will rise and the bullets will follow. Its the f****** economy says our rather precarious prime minister, yes he is starting to rock gently over, hypocrisy is not a good road to take .  Who the hell voted for him in the first place? God preserve us from the news.

Quotes taken from Ted Hughes - Grouse.

Long line of grouse hides

 

But inside each one, under sods, nests
Of spent cartridge-cases
Are acrid with life.

Those dead-looking fumaroles are forts.

And so I finish on a happier note!!



Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tuesday 22nd September


The year has turned, Autumn Equinox today, the arrival of two large spiders 
yesterday in the house, they know their dates!  The weather is soft and lovely, the garden turns to a golden haze of different browns and fawns.  Yes of course, the rain is coming in a couple of days bringing cold weather but live in the moment. I said to my daughter yesterday, one thing before I die is that I would like a fondue to share with someone and she laughed, coincidence she said I bought the cheeses at Lidl yesterday. Paul for all his love of Japanese food would also be happy with a fondue.  The Swiss nature of such simple foods such as fondues and raclettes brings back memories of the sharp smell of melted cheese held against the fire and then transferred to your potatoes for raclette to be eaten with sharp gherkins and pickled onions, mine sweet preferably.


 

The cheeses must be gruyere and emmenthal, but I have never tracked down the kitsch liqueur.  Can you not see a problem there though? the communal nature of sharing bread and cheese in the pot. We are once more into lockdown.


 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Book and photos

 Yesterday the doorbell rang and the postman gave me a large parcel, well actually he put it on the doorstep and we exchanged greetings from a safe two metres.  I knew immediately that 'Land' photographs by Fay Godwin and essay by John Fowles had arrived.

It has the look of a 'coffee table book', but the photographs are unpretentious, all of course in black and white format.  Though that is not to be taken as a description for they have many shades of grey, and are luminous with the light.  But initially there is a sharp sense of disappointment, we are accustomed to the bright, sharp colour of our cameras today that our eyes brush over these more sombre colours.

Reading Fowles preliminary words and the first thought, well who the hell let him write in such a negative way about photos when the whole book was devoted to the art of photography.  He made this criticism,  a photograph captures one second in time, not 5 seconds after or 5 seconds before.  You can neither see the sides or the back, therefore what is the use of this random picture?  He mocked the tourists, don't we all, who take photos willy-nilly of famous places but forget it is the direct experience of being there in front of the object for them to imbibe and understand the nature of the experience, not a camera.  I can see arguments coming up;)

What were my favourite photos, Callanish stones on the Isle of Lewis stand out, there is a particularly vivid photo of the stones framed against a black sky.  They are anthropomorphic the stones, suddenly you see cloaked figures, and the mind goes back thousands of years when the stones were lit by firelit and in the darkness the stones moved under the flickering flames to the watching crowd.

Fay Godwin - Callanish after a hail storm


Last night I studied those photos, the bleak moors, the vast panoramic views, the mountains shrouded in mist.  Godwin definitely captures her subject, the haunting, miserable nature of land that could not offer much.  The stones that stand alone through the millenium as history races past them, not lonely though. And Fowles definitely picks up on her personal genius.

Fay Godwin


The Old Path - Fay Godwin



One more, not photograph but a painting that struck me yesterday, it is by one of the Pre-Raphaelites, - William Holman Hunt - The English Coast.  It has a clarity of light, the sheep as ever perched perilously on the edge of the cliff, the wild undergrowth of thorns seeming to tangle one sheep in its brambles.  I had read a certain amount of nonsense from two art critics about its religious message but it was the subject that caught my attention.  It has a history but then who hasn't?


When in Cornwall we were walking near the Cheesewring Tor, which had been mined in the 19th century and which gave it vertical sides.  I could see a sheep stranded on a ledge below the top and worried myself that it was trapped.  Paul assured me it would get back up the ten feet of steep bank eventually, which it did of course.






Friday, September 18, 2020

18th September 2020 - Cornwall


Autumn has definitely arrived as I tugged a large mushroom out of Lucy's mouth this morning, probably similar to the ones I phoned the vet up last year in a panic thinking she had eaten a toxic one.  Woken up by the clatter of a plate outside the kitchen in the middle of the night, there was a round, sharp spiked hedgehog chasing the plate around, so I gave it some biscuits and when it finished it toddled off to inspect the lawn.  Happy about that I haven't seen a hedgehog for three years.

Yesterday was not exactly full, Rod and his wife came to mow the lawns, and Rod gave me back most of the money I gave him last time because he said I had paid too much for the cutting down of the Buddleia, which I thought was very kind and thoughtful.  J and R were tidying up the copse at the back, a once yearly job they do.  Then my friend popped head over the gate and gave me a shock and we had a long talk, the whole life of the village events have come to a stop, perhaps it will perk up next year.  She is going to come and trim the plum trees, though really I only wanted to borrow her loppers.



But today I was going to put photos of another three circles all grouped together, with a gravel path in between.  But then I remembered that they had supposedly uncovered a quartz path., which has probably turned out to be a granite path, but still.  The Hurlers as they were called lie  quite a few hundred yards from the Cheesewring Tor, those outcrops of rocks that appear all over Cornwall and round which you can find prehistoric settlements.   But according to English Heritage, the circles focus on several cairns, including the enormous Bronze Age Rillaton Barrow, in which was found the Rillaton gold cup.  

Rillaton Barrow

Bodmin Moor is rather bleak, surreal maybe, the weather when we were there was dull and wet, not the most impressive time to see prehistory.  The moors stretch in a rolling manner, this due to mining and the forlorn disused industrial ruins that dot the landscape are a feature, though only if you feel miserable! But because of the unwelcome aspect of the soil, only horses and cows and the never-ending sheep of this country can graze.

I am watching Battleship Galactica at the moment, yes I have loved sci-fi since childhood (just can't grow up) and North Cornwall would make rather a good background to a planet far out in the Universe in film.

When we first arrived after driving down to Cornwall, even before we had found the inn we were staying I had demanded to stop at the Circles, they are very near to the Minion car park.  It was pouring with rain as I walked to find them, and wandered round their greyness in the pouring rain.  Getting back to the car Paul almost refused to let me into his precious car but relented eventually and we made our way to the pub.




From English Heritage;  The monument forms one element in an extensive grouping of later Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and funerary monuments on this part of Bodmin Moor, and the circles are directly aligned with some of these.

The axis through the centres of the two northern circles aligns directly on the massive Rillaton Barrow, visible on the skyline to the north-east, while the axis of the southern pair of circles in turn aligns directly with a prehistoric round cairn to the south-west.

Another line at right angles to this axis through the central circle takes in another stone circle, an embanked avenue and a stone row. Such circles are likely to have had considerable ritual importance for the societies that used them.


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Thursday 17th September

Madam waiting for food, she chatters quite a lot to me but that sharp little claw always comes out should I get too near

Today is beautiful, crisp cold air and sun.  The little wren, who I haven't seen all summer, was spied on the trellis its tweaked tail bouncing up the struts with gay abandon.  I have been shopping early to get food for my animals.  Looking forward tomorrow when I take the car for its MOT and service (though it hardly needs it) because maybe they will give me the baby blue Kia courtesy car I love.  Such little things please my mind!

The three friends setting off for the front garden

Small things please, sad Johnson got such a thumping in parliament, never thought Milliband had it in him or the deputy leader of the Labour party Angela Rayner. But really and truthfully it is not fighting over who wins the argument, it is the substance of the argument we need to figure out.

Actually that dignified response to our wretched leader does not even begin to actually state what I feel, but if I was his doctor, I should demand resignation and a long convalescence on the spoils he has no doubt made, so that we can have someone less glib with the words and a more honest appraisal!

So back to the garden, most of the summer I had thought my plum trees had not fruited, but there has been a small miracle appearing as a  handful has coloured  up under the Autumn sun.  As Sue in Suffolk says, it is indeed a good year for the fruits of the wild to appear, sadly it is also said it will be a hard winter.




As the holly berries colour up a reminder that another festival is on the way.



Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Duloe Stone Circle

 


Well on a quieter note, a return to Cornwall and my favourite stone circle.  Though whether it is a stone circle proper or in fact a ring of stones laid round a burial remains to be seen.  The white of the quartz reminds us of jewels, of extravagance, of ceremony and respect.  It brings the ancestors back to us, that there was formality and thought, physical skill and an acknowledgement of life after death.



Also I like to listen to my friend's voice on this video below as he slowly tours round recording his impressions of the stone.  Roy's dog Jan is in the background with someone else and I am reminded I could have had one of her pups.  But his dogs are all ace sheep dogs and I have no sheep;) but I have the irresistible Lucy for companionship.

The video can be listened to here

 

Testing - gloom and doom

 Well let us begin with news, it rolls on a deafening noise of waffle.  One thing I am pleased about is that Johnson, when the history books are written will come out the loser he is.  Such a small spitefulness but just look at the state of the country.  I see people arguing everywhere on whether we should be mixing and notice the anger expressed by the news that grouse shooting and hunting - you thought hunting had stopped? will continue.  What it has all shown is that there is definitely one rule for the rich and the rest of us can go hang....

The last couple of weeks, farm machinery has roared up and down most days, ever since Bridge farm had been sold and amalgamated into the other two farms at Great Edstone.  Industrial farming makes one weep, I dreamt last night with 50 million in the bank, I would buy up the land round here and take it back to a wilderness.  Yes I know we have to eat, but just look at the percentages down below of how much land we humans take compared to the wild.  Also I would build a small estate of houses for the young and those forced to live in statics.

We are perilously close to a 'no deal' over Brexit, fasten your seat belts, those in charge are playing with fire and don't give a s**t, all for some weird idea of nationalism and the British bulldog. Living with one's neighbours is supposed to be good for you!

But the hedgerows are full of berries for the birds that are beginning to disappear, and come on as the gamekeepers shoot another predatory bird to save the grouse the shooting parties need for killing  what does it matter?

Life on Earth has suffered five mass extinctions of biodiversity in its long history, caused by massive volcanic eruptions, deep ice ages, meteorite impacts and clashing continents. But some scientists believe a sixth mass extinction has now begun.

This one is very different, caused not by geology or natural climate change, but by a single species – us. Humans and our livestock now consume 25-40% of the planet’s entire “primary production”, i.e the energy captured by plants on which all biodiversity depends. We have become a voracious top predator across the entire globe.

One estimate suggests that, by weight, 97% of the world’s vertebrate land animals are now either humans or our farm animals – just 3% are wild. Another consequence of this domination is that humanity is driving evolution in many places, most obviously in domesticating crops and animals, but also through genetic modification and even by how we choose to run wildlife reserves.

Furthermore, the intricate jigsaw of life, constructed over hundreds of millions of years, has been thrown into disarray in the last 10,000 years by humans relocating.






Monday, September 14, 2020

Monday - 14th September

 Sifting through photos, this time the year 2017.  It was the year I fractured my ankle and ended up in hospital in Huddersfield.  Lillie had taken a photo of me looking awful, I only stayed three days in an old person's ward.  This was the first time I had realised that the world recognised me as old!  I listened to demanding and querulous old people.  Remember one night waking up to raised voices, and a very vocal lady was trying to get out of bed, and had a keeper sitting beside her trying to keep her quiet.  It was unnerving and when the nurse came by at midnight to take my temperature, etc I voiced my fear but she said it was very normal.

I have an envelope beside me from a friend which I have kept, she had written to the hospital (Thelma, who has broken her ankle) and the letter eventually arrived here in Normanby, I keep it as a reminder how well our country works, both hospital and post office.

I had fractured my ankle at Todmorden Station, racing from one side to another, always in a panic that I was going to catch the wrong train. Sat for a couple of hours on cold, urine smelling concrete steps and then gone in the ambulance with the kindest of ambulance men to the hospital.  Must have been back for a birthday, - Lillies? in the folder of photos there is a rather sad malteser topped chocolate cake, and all my grandchildren were there.

Todmorden, or Tod, as most people prefer to call it.  I still can't say it as the locals would and people just grin at me.  All 2017 photos

 This must be the Town Hall, the canal/river is in front of it and you can strike a line through it for the two counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire.
This photo show the the stone used which was grit stone for building, the blackness must be down to industrialism.
The canal is a quiet walk at the back of the town
this back view of the houses, reminds me of Bath.  Bath has a beautiful 'face' to the front but the backs of the terraced houses is quite untidy.



flowers from a friend


Strange scooter type wheels for getting around.  Hopeless when you had to move from carpet to hard floor or the fact that Lucy always managed to obstruct  me.  This was 2017 by the way.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Slipping down the hole Like Alice

Well firstly coincidence.  My 'Salt Path' by Raynor Winn book ordered on Friday, arrived in the post on Saturday and then on Sunday who should be on the programme 'On My Farm' but the pair of them living down in Cornwall I think renting an old farm full of cider apples.  You can hear the programme here.

The reason I think it is Cornwall, is that my second bantam was strutting round the lawn cross that she could not get in to the coop and I had to go out and attend to her  noisy behaviour, so I missed the first part of the programme. Bad tempered bantams - who will take them on please?

But that is just first news on getting up this morning.  Weaver cottages set me off on more history, and you can stop reading now if you feel you will be bored.  But the history of glass is fascinating for what is a window without glass?  Well early on in their history there was no glass, but coverings were improvised from shavings for instance from the horns of cows.  Oiled cloth, preferably linen. and even thin sheet  of semi-translucent stones such as mica or alabaster.

We know the Romans made glass and there has been found in this country fragments of Anglo-Saxon glass but glass making proper did not arrive till about the 13th century from France. The A/S glass had been found in monastic abbeys such as Monkwearmouth and Jarrow, Bede mentions it.

Quoting here from one of my favourite books, details below eventually, "the glass-maker needs soda and lime, but his principle requirement is pure silicia sand".  Should the presence of iron oxide be found in the sand it would make the glass a dirtyish colour of grey or green/brown.

Well we do have pure sands in England and so for the monastic houses and rich over lords glass was made in this country from the 13th century.  Glass was precious, and at Alnwick Hall, the expensive glass in 1567, was removed when the master was away for fear of damage from the weather.

What had made me stop and think though was the uniformity of the windows in the weaver houses.  Mullioned stone verticals held the frame of the glass, and yet they look aesthetically unpleasing to the eye, and you begin to realise that windows are the eyes of a house, they frame a pleasing aspect. John Woods, in true architectural style had grasped this nettle in his buildings of  Georgian Bath.

"Crown glass was one of the two most common processes for making window glass until the 19th century. ... The process of making crown glass window panes was perfected by French glassmakers in the 1320s, notably around Rouen, and was a trade secret. As a result, crown glass was not made in London until 1678" .  taken from Wikipedia

Many early windows are framed in lead, we can all relate to that funny centre of a pane of glass which is like a bad lens.  This is due to the making the glass, it is the central boss as the earliest glass was blown spinning in a circular fashion. Lead could not hold a great expanse of glass that is why we see leaded windows in their diamond frames in cottages.

'The glaziers' work before substantial was

I must confess, thrice as much lead as glass

Early frames could have been made of iron or copper, but wood eventually appeared and the price of glass windows was adjusted accordingly, and, of course the size.  I have given a reference to crown glass above but it is interesting to note that Plate glass, which we see on any modern architectural programme as the 'in' thing to have only came into manufacture in the 1950s?, though the French had been there that much earlier.  Again a different way of approaching glass making.


ref; Alex Clifton-Taylor.  The Pattern of English Building.  A book that would definitely travel with me to my 'Desert Island'


Observer article on the new book



Saturday, September 12, 2020

Somewhere, in the garden...............

 lives my other hen.  No she was not killed dramatically by any fly by local predator as I had thought.  There I was in the kitchen yesterday afternoon when I saw two bantams, one legging it across the lawn to the run and then having a long feed.  She stopped by for half an hour, sitting on top of the pot which contains an auricula (this annoys me greatly) and then she disappeared again. So....... she is broody again and is now sitting on egg/eggs waiting for a virgin birth under the bushes!

Which leads me to think how cruel we are to our domesticated animals and birds, expecting them to produce milk and lay eggs for our convenience whilst they have to go through the rigours of motherhood only to be brutally relieved of their young - think about it.

There is controversy about the new restrictions over Covid, there is to be a meeting in the pub next week about the village but someone left a message on my phone, so how does the six people meeting together work out.  To be honest I don't know, it definitely won't be all huddled up together in the small bar.  Probably will be in the restaurant with social distancing, though actually the church is a better place for that.  Am I going? very much doubt it.

Just read a funny story on the f/b  group, Some things had been stolen in the village next to us, and someone had seen someone putting things in a white van.  It was the milkman of course on his daily round, and the burglar was then arrested in a blue van, the police apologised.  Such is local news.


Friday, September 11, 2020

Friday 11th September

 

The Old Path by Fay Godwin

Rachel mentioned Ted Hughes the other day such a famous name in the land of poetry, but my mind went to Fay Godwin who had illustrated his book called 'Remains of Elmet,' with her black and white photographs depicting a sad and lonely countryside.  She captures such gloom that perhaps it colours your sense of the landscape that Hughes lived in.  

Hughes lived in Mytholmroyd in West Yorkshire and there is a bleakness to the Calder vale where he must have wandered.  My knowledge of it is limited to Todmorden and Hebden Bridge.  The dark grey of the buildings, the rows of terraced houses with no gardens. The narrowness of the valley, with road, river and canal running alongside each other. There are of course the old weaver's houses with their large first floor windows to let in the light as the photo shows.

Then of course this is where the Brontes grew up in West Yorks, no wonder Cathy was so melancholy as she trod the path over the moors calling for Heathcliff, the weather was flippin miserable.

Weaver's cottage in Manchester


"Fay's entry into art proper came with Remains Of Elmet: A Pennine Sequence (Faber and Faber, 1979) with poems by Ted Hughes. Elmet, associated with the Calder valley, west of Halifax, was the last Celtic kingdom to fall to the Angles. It fostered the industrial revolution in textiles, but, by the 1970s, when Fay went there, it had decayed to the point of looking like a figure for the end of the world."  Guardian article 1985

To return to Fay, I feel her work was not fully appreciated, though she went on to become an advocate for the countryside and her photographs in later books, especially 'Land' with words by John Fowles.  One might consider her 'arty'  Whilst reading about her I came across a new word 'autodidactism', which means she was home schooled, or......

Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) or self-education (also self-learning and self-teaching) is education without the guidance of masters (such as teachers and professors) or institutions (such as schools).

Fascinating.... how talent finds itself.






Wednesday, September 9, 2020

A very short summing up!

Islanders fear 'economic clearance' over house prices

The letter said: "Part-time residencies do not sustain our communities and we should therefore

ensure that houses are bought with the intention of being a primary residency.

You could almost have predicted this happening in the Scottish Islands, the buying of second homes as holiday stays, the rise of house prices forcing the young out.  It has happened everywhere else of course but now those bleak remote islands of Scotland are being targeted.  Hopefully the Scottish government will take measures against it but it is so sad. 

Then there is the small problem of only a gathering of 6 at any one time in the household, but the following recent photo of the Whitby bridge hardly makes sense of it!  And where are the face masks for goodness sake.


Brian Bilston on 'Gatherings'  

All gatherings
Of six or more,

Shall henceforth
be against the law

With NO exceptions
to these rules

(apart, that is, 
from work and schools)

If we don't act NOW,
The future's bleak.

This takes effect, 
some time next week.

But I am sure the future will brighten up somewhere, after all there is Brexit just round the corner!


Monday, September 7, 2020

A grey day

Anna Dillon painting, her use of bright acrylics are not a favourite of mine, but this painting of the downs has been toned down, and look there is a white horse (though it looks more like a dog) etched on a slope

This is the weather at the moment - grey and cloudy

 

Peering over the fence


An old holly bush drenched in berries, the pigeons will have them before Nelson sneaks into the copse to cut the branches and sell them at market at Christmas.


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Some thoughts

 Well what to write today, there is some sad news.  Yesterday one bantam  disappeared, no sign of feathers in the garden telling of a predator.  But a few days ago I found the bloodied remains of  pigeon up the side of the garage, the little cat was going up there and feeding as well.  No I am not putting her name to poultry killing but maybe the buzzard overhead?

Well you will all be pleased to hear that the Telegraph is free for reading on the net this weekend, owing to those wicked protesters - Extinction Rebellion. When did it become the norm to make all protesters illegal for the sake of the Rupert Murdoch's papers? Watch this space the walls of dictatorship draw in., there are always two sides to every story.

Also listened to a profile of Simon Case this morning, Johnson nominee for top civil service head.  He seems very well educated, something Cummings would applaud, but hopefully Case is his own man.  This centralising of government to a handful of men will in the end fail, and the Tories will face defeat at the next election.  Their wishy-washy, don't know where we are going attitude, will give lie to central government and people will want regional government.

Then what about the Sussex's making money through Netflix about the story of Harry's mother, Diane...  150 million dollars for selling one's family down the drain? Yes I know everyone does it but not so blatantly.  Spite is never a good emotion to run by, and though it may be different in America, the couple should perhaps encompass their families more in their decision making.  But then, cynical thought here, maybe by making their personal story the news they make loads of money!

To a more positive mood,  I have taken up listening to archaeology programmes and find this new interest takes my mind off what is happening in the rest of the world.  Allowing the mind to forage through facts has a calming affect, as will my coffee soon.

And in answer to Pat/Weaver on language. How words turn on a wheel of understanding but what they actually mean......... taken from this article  Everything in life is ambiguous!


Like “politically correct” before it, the word “woke” has come to connote the opposite of what it means. Technically, going by the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition, woke means “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)”, but today we are more likely to see it being used as a stick with which to beat people who aspire to such values, often wielded by those who don’t recognise how un-woke they are, or are proud of the fact.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Doodling




 Language is intriguing, listening to a podcast the other night, the American professor was trying to get back to when language started. The answer is of course we will never know, and yet language has developed over the centuries, till we reach the point of now, demanding clear concise text. So how did the many species of human form turn to speech. (that needs explaining)  Was it the animals that trundled past, the need to hunt for food learning to make sounds that became familiar. All we have left is cave paintings, depictions of animals on the walls of caves. Yet they are executed with such care, surely these people from long ago spoke to each other, probably in different languages but they communicated through all the daily intricate housekeeping that kept their lives together.



One of the most marvellous cave artwork is in Chauvet Caves dated 35,000 years ago, and I remember being entranced as we sat and watched Werner Herzog's film - The Cave of Forgotten Dreams at the British Museum, when there was a showing at the Ice Age Exhibition in 2011.  Here on the surface of the cave walls, animals had been painted, even, this I think is marvellous, two animals with multi legs and heads depicting movement.



Our language is mongrel because of the many invasions. We may have had the Romans in BC 43 to AD 410 but our later language is derived from the Old English - Anglo Saxon it then became a bit muddled with the arrival of the latin - 1066 and all that.  It is interesting to note that one of the first written records was made up here at Whitby Abbey by the stock man at the abbey - Caedmon, he wrote a hymn in praise of God.  You can listen to it hear.  

There were four regional types of dialects in Britain and Caedmon would have probably used the Northumbrian.  The language is both rich and strange, listen to the lad, I suspect he comes from a Germanic background.



 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Owld White Horse wants zettin' to right

 

Taken from Wikipedia


I once blew a blast into the Blowing Stone, which rolled a hollow wave of sepulchral sound into the hills. The megalith builders, taking their lesson from the conch-shells of the Eastern Mediterranean, blew into this very stone to summon the gods or, more probably, the goddess of the high places. Another two miles and there is the goddess herself or rather, the celtic descendant of the goddess, stretched in white and in flight across the bald brow of Uffington Hill. The downs lift to 800 feet and by their very godliness of combe and crescent, of jutting ness and plunging spur, ordain the tie beam of White Horse Hill to be one more of the holy places of the chalk. So it was on Windover Hill.... and so it is here where the Celtic town of Uffington is flanked by the galloping horse and a Neolithic workshop on the one side, and the chambered long barrow of Wayland's Smithy with its grove of beeches on the other........

H.J.Massingham - English Downland

Yes, a quote from Massingham in full flow on the nearness of the Uffington White Horse, to Uffington Castle (which by the way is not a castle but an Iron Age fort) and then walking along the Ridgeway you arrive at Wayland's Smithy.  The Ridgeway an old prehistoric path that wanders through Berkshire to Wiltshire and then the temple of Avebury taking you back through prehistory.  I have a print on the bedroom wall by Jane Tomlinson that captures the moment, when prehistory meets the myths, stories and nature of the downs round.

The Ridgeway with Uffington Castle in the distance

Uffington White Horse is the original chalk horse, a late Bronze Age start in life, though up till recently it has always been thought of as being related to the Iron Age.  Then of course to Celtic mythology of Rhiannon the horse goddess and the myths go on.  I have a children's book by Peter Please (children of all ages by the way) 'The Chronicles of the White Horse', a quite scary book.

But it was  the new series of 'Strike' that bought it back, as our two private detectives cope with the horrors of  a suffocated minister - who would have thought of cling film as a murder weapon? But then J.K.Rawlings has an imaginative mind, and definitely out of his mind Jimmy plagued by the memory of the strangulation of a young girl in the eye of the horse, set against the backdrop of Uffington, a spicy addition of course!  Actually I find this latest drama a bit too squeamish.

Looking at the photo of the horse and there are artistic lines to its shape, a Guardian article says that it is the first minimalist artwork of its time.  Its shape can be found on Iron Age coins as well.  Some argue that it is not a horse but a dragon, in fact Dragon Hill, is the small hillock below it, often referred to as 'The Manger'.  There is of course the story of St.George and the Dragon to be linked as well.

I wish I was on White Horse Hill
At the breaking of my day;
Along the sweet horse gallops I'd run.
And in the stars I'd play.
Where daisies fall, nightingales call
Little owls to play.
Oh I wish I was on White Horse Hill
At the breaking of the day.

Come crows come sheep come chalk hedgerows,
I'd fly the big green hill.
Come nights come snow come stars' haloes,
I'd follow the greensand trail.
Where daisies fall, nightingales call
Little owls to play.
Oh I wish I was on White Horse Hill
At the breaking of my day.

Peter Please


Sunday, August 30, 2020

Recording times gone

 


This drone photo, taken by Bill Blake is on Wikipedia.  His photos here on Flickr

Life is quiet.  How many people all over the world would love to write that. So I should be lucky, and so I am.  But I have made plans for the future, not to be shared though for the time.  My mind rests easy.

When, and if I move on there are things to do. Find my little cat a home, and also the bantams, they are going for free along with their runs and hen house. The dolls house and attendant furniture also needs to go and a couple of favourite chairs. 

Yesterday, in fact Friday night, Lucy had one of her walking back and forth for several hours episodes, these are accompanied by various bumps and noises as she moves things about.  So Saturday we both sprawled  worn out, she snoring on the carpet for hours (thank god she is getting older!) and me catching up on 'Strike' on television. Sue in Suffolk had said that Tom Burke's (the hero) missing lower part of his leg was computer generated, and so I looked it up, and it was!  How can I believe anything anymore?

Natalie the window cleaner came yesterday, and I have just paid her via the internet, quick and easy but my bank sort of sets out a lot of questions as to how trustworthy my payment is.  Eventually one day cheque books will be obsolete but the new way is just that bit harder, with phones to hand for confirming numbers and the computer.  Should I buy a clever, or smart, phone? no it will probably take up the rest of my life understanding it!

Happy Memories; So looking back on memories what did I come up with?  Paul and I visited dozens of churches, but one favourite place jogs the memories.  I even wrote a haiku for it, but it is long gone.  This was Bartlow Barrows in Cambridgeshire.  It required one of those drives along small English lanes in the full throttle of summer.  The barrows are enormous, and not Neolithic but Roman, resplendent with an inner chamber of goodies.  Information can be found here

What was so delicious is that they were again at the back of a church, though you had to walk along a dark path to find them.



Take the left hand path














Thursday, August 27, 2020

Pandemics and Wayland's Smithy

 No matter what the universe has in store, it cannot take away from the fact that you were born. You’ll have some joy and some pain, and all the other experiences that make up what it’s like to be a tiny part of a grand cosmos. No matter what happens next, you were here. And even when any record of our individual lives is lost to the ages, that won’t detract from the fact that we were. We lived. We were part of the enormity. All the great and terrible parts of being alive, the shocking sublime beauty and heartbreak, the monotony, the interior thoughts, the shared pain and pleasure. It really happened. All of it. On this little world that orbits a yellow star out in the great vastness. And that alone is cause for celebration.”

― Sasha Sagan, For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World

A couple of days ago Window 10 said it was updating itself, this took several hours but at the end I had 'big letters' everything became large and I had to shift the upfront page to fit the screen.

But today I thought of Sagan's words which would put into perspective what 'life' is all about, and one thing it is not is a happy continuous road, there are bumps and potholes all along the way. To pretend what is happening does not exist is a foolish act, we are living through an adjustment in history. Think the bible called it 'seven years famine, seven years feast'. Yes even the wheat crop is 40% down ;)
In fact even the world's news has disintegrated into a continuous bleat about the pandemic, but then news is always bad isn't it?
So it is up to to us to turn to the happy things in life, thing that float through your mind on a daily basis, and today a picture of Moss sitting at the foot of a tree, with a ball placed at his feet and his eyes willing me to move on as I sat and meditated outside Wayland's Smithy, a Neolithic long barrow restored by Stuart Piggott and Richard Atkinson in the 60s. Moss was content in his doggy life, a long walk, a ball to be thrown, simplicity itself. I was just happy with that sunny Autumn day, as I am now thinking about it. A moment caught in time.





I could never meditate properly my mind flutters around like the butterflies that grace the buddleia flowers, not quite understanding the need to stand still and reflect, but loving the moment as it is. Like for instance being stopped by the sound of a buzzard high in the air yesterday in the garden.
I remember walking back along the long chalk path, and in the far distance there was a man who seemed to be jumping in and out of the woods in a strange fashion. Slightly worried though Moss would have defended me, I drew abreast of the man, and he explained his strange behaviour to allay my fears. His dog had gone off in the woods and he was just checking that it was still there.
Its mythology is here..... the tale told in Saxon times.

"All the account which the country people are able to give of it is 'At this place lived formerly an invisible Smith, and if a traveller's Horse had lost a Shoe upon the road, he had no more to do than to bring the Horse to this place with a piece of money, and leaving both there for some little time, he might come again and find the money gone, but the Horse new shod."