North Stoke

Friday, April 3, 2020

More photos - Coggeshall

A tithe; To pay or give to the church 10 per cent of your income. That is how the churches and monks of England flourished, the first taxes of course.  The medieval peasant paid with his labour, maybe some chickens or a calf, it was called serfdom, or perhaps feudalism..  You were tied by ownership of land to your lord or abbot, not quite slavery, you did have some rights of course.
So a tithe barn had to be large for the gathering of crops and the preparation of the crops, winnowing for a start.  I can think of two great tithe barns, one was at Bradford St. Avon in Wiltshire, the other at Coggeshall Abbey in Essex.
Again the wonderful timber work inside has born the brunt of centuries of farming. 

I remember this visit not just for visiting the few remaining buildings of the old abbey but for the garden we passed on our way and the lovely old mill we found at the end of the green lane.  Still untouched by the hand of modernisation, protected by their listings.  The abbey was to become Cistercian, and did not have a very exciting history, and at the Dissolution only had 6 monks living there.

I think this must be the St.Nicholas chapel

]I have a weakness for the yellow of laburnum shrubs.

Farm buildings now, but early medieval brickwork interspersed with flint

Essex mills are all very similar

In Essex the plastered houses are often painted with soft shades of  pink or other colours, and  may have pargetting, a form of patterning on the plaster.
As Yorkshire Pudding says, the styles of building belong to the different areas  within the landscape and of course the materials you find in these areas.  That is why the beautiful honey stone of the Cotswold is found in those tourist rich villages.
The commons are neither capitalist nor communist, market nor state. They are an insurgency of social power, in which we come together as equals to confront our shared predicaments.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Thursday 2nd April

Medieval timbered houses.  Lavenham in Suffolk.  I remember visiting this town on a cold day, funnily enough there are no photos of the church of St.Peter and Paul, but we definitely went in because I remember someone cleaning up the bat mess on the floor.  Bats are of course privileged creatures and not allowed to be exterminated, even if they do mess up our churches.  As a matter of interest Lavenham was one of the richest towns in Medieval times because of the wool trade.  One of my interests is the construction of old houses and the diversity you experience round the countryside.  Wood, plaster, stone and brick gives ample opportunity for originality.  The lopsided appearance of timber built houses has an extra appeal as they always look as if they are falling down.
You will notice that the buildings have an overhang, this is called a 'jetty' and there are several architectural reasons for this, but my favourite is that when the contents of the 'piss pots' were thrown out of the top windows you could protect yourself by walking next to the house.
The inn is called the Swan, many pubs are, and it must be to do with the fact that a swan was eaten during medieval times by Henry viii. I always remember in the television adaption of 'Wolf Hall' written by Hilary Mantel, that king Henry killed one of two birds on the lake and ate it, it was perhaps symbolic of his ability to divorce his wives, for as everyone knows swans mate for life.  Luckily swans live under royal protection and now no one can kill them.

The Swan Inn

Who cannot love a fierce dragon

I find this beautiful silver grey wood beguiling, but wonder if the wood has been bleached?

Herringbone brick inserted. At a later stage?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Being content and looking round old photos,

I notice there are some with time on their hands. As we face the shock of the news each day and are contained in self-isolation in our homes.  In some homes the cry goes up 'what can we do'  I am sure there is plenty to do, we have electricity, tvs, radios. and computers.  And of course those two useful things at the end of our arms called hands.  We are not stuck in a Syrian refugee camp with limited medical care, or in India traipsing back 100s of kilometres in fear back to our villages.  We should not however feel complacent about that, but extend compassion and money.  Was it Hockney who said there is one thing certain after birth and that is death.

One of the silly games that are going round on F/B is putting up a photo of the sea, why I am not sure.  The sea is beautiful but one of its magic senses is sound, the soft swish of the waves back and forward on the beach over the sand or stone.  The above are all from Pembrokeshire, cliff walks on sunny days.

Carreg Samson

And Moss at Carreg Samson

Yesterday the doorbell rang, there stood the postman 6 foot away with a pile of (mostly junk) mail on the ground between us.  He asked if I needed anything which was most generous of him.  Then a little note came through the door from Natalie the window cleaner, saying to phone if we did not need her. Though I must say she does miss corners, I would not stop her for anything, we pay by BACS and a brief conversation is all that's needed, and no I don't have the courage to say anything about missed corners! 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Lady with Tissue.  A courtesan or Geisha Girl in other words, no need for further explanation.  Here you can see the patient hours of work restoring a scroll.  For a start they do not have a permanent place on the wall, but are displayed over time.  During the time not on display they will be rolled and kept in a special box.  Every part of the materials come from specialist makers.  In Japan craft people are treasured for their particular skills.  It is called Preservers of  Important Intangible Cultural Properties.  Somewhere on this blog I have photos of some, they are like museum items on display it is strange.
There are actual tissues that have to be removed from either side of the scroll, this is done with water, and new tissues attached by the same method.  At the back of the scroll you will see tiny strips of paper holding the creases, each and everyone is removed and new ones replaced.  This is not a small job.  I have also written somewhere about the ten year glue, which is made over that period of time, and when the glue that you stir so religiously each year is made, it is then that you have moved from an apprenticeship to full time conservator.  see links below.
There was so much I admired in Paul's  neat nature but it all came from this attention to detail and working for long periods of time on old scrolls.  My untidiness was a great weight for him to bear ;) but love always won through.

the finished madam

still to be corrected, see the terrible creases.

removing the strips

And of course a specially tied neat scroll to go into its box from Japan

Making Aged Paste link  and another one

Tissue thin paintings link

Monday, March 30, 2020

Monday 30th March

Cat Tales

I have been busy cooking, and answering messages on my phone, which seems to have gone AWOL over the weekend.  It is nice to know people are thinking about you.  My daughter has decided to clean all her kitchen cupboards, whilst my ex sister-in-law in Switzerland is rejoicing in the fact that the whole world has now joined her in self-isolation.  She has been ill for years and of course suffers with immune deficiency.  Marc, her son, runs a Sushi firm, which started from nothing and now makes a tidy sum. He has had some adventures over the years, starting with the Lausanne Festivals where he sold food, to a terrible accident in which he broke so many bones, to now looking after his family and getting their food in this time of crisis.  My daughter said he is taking on the role of his grandfather, Conrad, and there is something very pleasing in that.

I do not like Sushi, Paul loved it but it was difficult to get in Pickering.  I remember with one of his clients we went to a top sushi restaurant in London, and I obediently ate some raw fish, it wasn't bad but goes against the grain of my nature.  Cultures are different of course, I would have loved with Paul to have gone round the Swiss factory.  The funny thing is Switzerland is landlocked and the only fish you see are the ones in fish tanks outside restaurants. Karen's grandpa wrote a poem about fillet de perche/fish and chips which always makes me laugh.

Lucy got into the Japanese cupboard and found a Xmas cracker, which she chewed up, luckily it did not go bang, but there were marbles in it, which reminded me of school games out in the playground.  I always liked 'Jacks' tossing them in the air and then catching them on the back of your hand.  Looking it up and they were called 'knucklebones', from a sheep's bones.  It seems so strange now, children spend time with handheld game machines, whilst people of my age, spent hours throwing a ball against the wall in weird and wonderful games, skipping and chanting, and marbles and jacks. I suspect today's children will grow up more quick brained than us!

Old blog

Sunday, March 29, 2020


I was going to write in my usual foolish way about eggs.  My two bantams are well into spring laying and I often find myself wondering what to make with them.  Today 'eggy bread' and it brought back the memory of the breakfast at the inn in Solva.  Eggy bread with fried bacon and a small pot of honey.  It was delicious.  Then I thought I will go and find the photos for Solva, stopping on the way at Middle Mill for the looms for Joanne to see.  These are old photos and they have much improved over the years, but it is where a fascination with looms first set up in my heart.   Solva Woollen Mill

I have two external hard drives and as I thumbed through the latest, tears of course, I came across Paul's photos which had been put on the drive.  There amongst the folders I found a whole sequence of work he had done on a client's scroll, which I had patiently photographed for him. Maybe next week I shall gather some of the photographs together but for now the sadness creeps in.  He was totally bored with his work towards the end and was pleased to retire from it.
There was one funny story to be told from this era though.  One day two men arrived in a taxi from London,  Cockney from head to toe.  Paul looked at them horrified, 'theyr'e flippin gangsters' he told me.  They had brought a huge screen in a dilapidated condition, and he wasn't going to do it but was unnerved as to how to say it.  Luckily they took it with humour.  Funnily enough the screen relates to eggs because it had a rather nice cockerel featured!

Heard this this morning, very cheerful ;)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Friday 27th March

Today I went to the Co-op, I need not shop for another 3 weeks probably, though milk will become an issue. The floor in the Co-op was marked out in 6 foot spaces, there were notices of only two items on any purchase.  The floors and the shelves were being cleaned,  fairly easy as there was not much on them.  Sense and sensibility prevails thank goodness.  A pet shop couple lives in the next village and he will deliver in the district, there is a milkman as well.  So alone in solitary splendour I will watch the world go by and hope that this turmoil for people will come to an end.  I feel very sorry for America now going through a crisis of such magnitude, with a leader who should at least have his mouth washed out with soap!  But, and it is an important but, there are millions of sensible people in America who will take the reins of power and do sensible things.
Have you noticed the disappearance of B***** when one calamity exceeds another?  Corbyn left government yesterday, did not watch the final act but The Independent wrote a beautifully worded article on it... 'Farewell Jeremy Corbyn, it's your country now.'

"Corbyn may never have entered government, but the government is nonetheless still investigating innovative digital ways in which it might fine us if we leave our houses without permission, turning a once conspicuously consuming society into a digital panopticon. Not even in his most dystopian fantasies did George Orwell ever dare to dream so big.
Of course, the churlish among you may cling to the notion that all this has in fact been achieved not through Corbyn’s very long years of very well-paid and entirely ineffective public service, but by a bat who bit a pangolin then crapped on the floor of a Chinese market."
And if you want to know what panopticon means, which I did, it was devised by Jeremy Bentham in the 19th century.

The panopticon is a disciplinary concept brought to life in the form of a central observation tower placed within a circle of prison cells. From the tower, a guard can see every cell and inmate but the inmates can't see into the tower. Prisoners will never know whether or not they are being watched.

Food for thought, and did not Pat say something about 1984, a book I have never read because I don't like scary books, childish maybe.  At the moment we need strong forces but when it is all over we need to go back to a liberal society, and laws that allow freedom of expression.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Thursday's nonsense

Is it not extraordinary my daughter said that the conservative party has turned socialist.  I will leave you to think that one out. But they are funding many people through this crisis, and those needed the most the workers.  Then we have the gallant NHS nurses and doctors taking risks to nurse those most ill.  The message is loud and clear - self isolate, do not put unnecessary strain on the system.
Here in the village it is quiet, took Lucy to the land where we planted the trees on Sunday.  It is about an acre following the line of the river on one side and the road on the other.  Butterbur, that strange flowering plant trails along the path and is host to plenty of honey bees, even saw a butterfly on one of the flowers, red admiral I think.  The willow branches with emerging catkins sprayed across the path and caught my hair, reminding me of Tolkien's poem - Old Man Willow.
There are yellow brimstones in the garden, a good sign that the year has at lasted started under way.
As for my family, long phone conversations and they seem to be coping, my son works hard from home, whilst my daughter and three grandchildren self isolate with Teddy the dog, who has occasional bouts of sickness and diarrhoea, due to old age.  The girls keep to their bedrooms working on school tasks.

My daughter told of one incident in Lidl when she shopped. Having to pay, she stood in line of correctly spaced out customers.  The woman in front had an overloaded trolley, which was being sorted at the till and some things taken out, it will be a good thing when some form of rationing can be applied.  An old man pushed ahead in front of my daughter, she then felt  guilty to the people behind for not saying anything, he then dropped all his money on the floor.  Now whether to help him, and maybe put him at risk flashed through her mind, luckily the assistant came round and picked it up for him.  These are the small incidents that occur, the dilemmas people face.

There is gloom and there is hope, the ruins of Rievaulx are testament to that. Even as they crumble they are beautiful, reminding us of great craftmanship and hope.  Even today firms are turning round and making the equipment needed  to combat the illness. And so even Ozimandias might have got it wrong!

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wednesday 25th March

Taking a leaf out of John's (Going gently) video approach, I wandered down the side path videoing  the church.  Well the picture might be uninteresting but the birds definitely added their chorus. Lucy as well, all that banging in the background is her trying to get between the side of the oil tank and the fence which is narrow.  She has to climb over the recycling boxes in this rather pointless exercise of hers, and been warned that if she can't get out, I am not calling a fire engine, she will just have to slim down in there.
Green Eyes came down on the lawn and played yesterday, often I will look up from the kitchen sink and see her watching me over the wall.  She demands feeding three times a day.
Is it time to worry, or live in the moment, the latter I think.

Other news events, the clever old jackdaws are flying up onto the bird feeder, knocking them sideways and scattering the seed below.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Relax and enjoy

Today, once more I have been lost in memory.  It started with Anna Dillon's painting of the downs, both in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, she came to a megalithic meeting at the Red Lion in Avebury and Paul and I met her.  It reminded me of all the churches Paul and I visited around Avebury.  Then of course another memory flashed by, this time Robin (1904-1988) and Heather Tanner, they worked and lived round that part of Wiltshire at Kington Langley.
Watch the half hour video of this lovely couple above, and his exquisitely engraved prints capturing the old English countryside long lost and perhaps more importantly the wild flowers.  They, always inseparable, collaborated on a book which you will see towards the end.
Deborah Harvey, a poet from Bristol, you will see her name on the side bar, wrote about an outing to their Arts and Craft house, Old Chapel Field in Kington Langley in a blog here.

It is coffee time, join me if you will. 

The Hovel

Old Chapel Field House

Monday, March 23, 2020

Monday 23rd march

There is something rather sad that as spring arrives, so we must be confined to house.  Today, early morning a white world of ice, the car windows thickly encrusted with ice.  A couple of fire engines have just gone past noisily, early morning fire, or more shocking a car accident.
People have not been social distancing over the weekend, but strayed out to the coasts and forests to enjoy the weather.  They may well regret it, NHS staff are pleading with us to stay put and so we should.
Half a dozen of us also worked together yesterday to plant the trees on the large piece of wasteland that skirts the river.  Brought our own tools, dug holes, fixed stakes and ties.  And so.......

On F/B the BBC has been putting out funny little stories of animals in an effort to cheer us up I presume, the one thing you learn about wild animals confined in zoos is their ability to be affectionate.

I forgot to praise Rod on Saturday who after mowing the lawn also took all the large branches from the dead bush I had cut down.  It was a privet I think and the scouring wind that blew down both paths by the side of the house, plus the rain of course, must have killed it.  He also offered to bring his drill to mend our gate.  These gates have always been a total disaster but I put up with them.

Gardening brought out the pleasures of spring as I cut down dead stems, the plants coming to life underneath, small leaves unfurling, a rosemary in flower and a bright yellow bush of what I think might be some kind of forsythia. A childhood favourite is flowering redcurrant, something I loved as a child, its cats pee smell so strong but now I can hardly smell it.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Lighting Candles

A video of Colette and Jack the dog in Ireland, it captures how the natural world looks at this time and the bird song will gently flow through your head.  Do I believe in the Great Mother Earth, Gaia, call her what you will.  The answer must be if you have to have a belief this is as good as anything. Colette has many videos online, her voice is soothing as she muses through her life.

I see our 'all boomers must die' advocate has spoken again, copy and paste is for those who can't form words in their own heads and today he/she is dismissed for lack of originality.

Big surprise this morning a wood pecker was hanging from the peanut holder, I had heard him yesterday evening tapping away.  The birds are so busy, crows, rooks and jackdaws flying around with twigs busily nest building.

We are in a state of flux, not just you and me, but the whole caboodle of the world and last night I worried about my son. Type 1 diabetic, he is healthy, slim and eats properly but did I ever think that there would not be enough food for him, or even insulin, though I do believe insulin has been stockpiled.

Maps: They give great pleasure as you trace the contours of the land, the rivers meandering down to the sea.  Though not so far from here we have the River Derwent which flows inwards.  There is a village you pass through to go to Malton, it is called Great Barugh, pronounced would you believe it Great Bath.  It sits on top of a  hill and there is a Little Barugh as well, there is a Roman camp site situated somewhere in the fields.  I suspect it would have been the midway halt camp between Malton and Cawthorne Camps.

The name "Barugh" means 'rise of the land' which has its origins in Anglo-Saxon. The name was first recorded as Berg and Berch in 1086 and comes from Old English beorg 'hill.

You can see the River Dove (dark river) which I visited at Farndale, joining our river Seven.
Another intriguingly named river is the Riccal, here instead of A/S naming we have the Norman name establishing ownership.

"The name originates in the fourteenth century as Ricolvegraines means Rye Calf, where Calf is a small island near a larger one. This describes the way the river, and those nearby, form islands as their nature changes due to meandering.

And to trace its history further,

Cowhouse Beck and Bonfield Gill meet at the end of Lund Ridge at Coning's Birks in Hag Wood to form the Riccal. The river meanders south and south-east through woodland, passing the villages of Carlton and Pockley. It emerges into open countryside to the east of Helmsley and passes under the A170 and continues south towards Harome. Here it turns east south-east to join the River Rye at High Waterholmes in Ryedale just a half mile from the confluence of the River Rye and River Dove.

Such names seem far away from the computer jargon I meet on this machine as I type.  This other world was wedded to farming in the past, in the low lying  Vale of Pickering, where Carr, another word you will meet round here, means a place of bog or scrub, this is the place where the rivers off the moors drain their waters.

Lighting candles which I do most Sundays.  For it is what Paul did, and burning incense.  He would also strike the little bowl in the library room three times as well.  So keep strong everyone and take care.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Saturday 21st March

Not sure if this would stop the aggressive action at the supermarkets in England that are going on, but there are ways of addressing problems.  The world has somersaulted into a dire catastrophe in a matter of days, social spaces are closed, the old confined to their homes, children not going to school, and a large part of the workforce staying at home. I suppose the answer is 'stay calm' and if you have the reading capacity these papers from Sage will do.

But to beauty, and surely nothing but creativity is caught up in this tapestry made by Nadia Mohamed of the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre .  There is a whole series of photos on F/B of the work as it unfolded

Whilst feeding the animals in the garden, a patch of blue in the lawn revealed itself as violets, a heart stopping moment, that this old piece of turf still retained in its soil the past wild plants.

YP has challenged me to go a particular walk in my area, over supposedly free public footpaths.  Yes on the ordinance survey map they appear, but the farmers have quietly shut them down, in some case with barbed wire or locked gates.  One such public footpath starts (I'm an expert;) across the road and goes past a large old house.  Unfortunately they removed the old p/f sign there and when challenged by us locals, she broke down about how she did not want people wandering by her house.  Keith our local hero organises clearing branches/brambles etc parties of the local paths, and this one was done, and the local ramblers also came and walked the path. Our freedoms do get restricted by petty nimbyism and need to be challenged.  Keith this weekend has organised a tree planting on the ground over the bridge, and has managed to get several trees rather than the single tree the council was giving out free ;)

Heart warming was an email from my friend yesterday, who said would I like her to come and sort out Paul's Japanese garden border at the side of the house. He carefully pinned labels on to the wall of plant names, and at one end a Japanese Bodhisattva the other a Japanese lantern

What else, well in my magpie corner of photos, a photograph  from Brigit Strawbridge Howard ( she was once married to that King of Restoration of Old Chateaus, Dick Strawbridge, in France who is DIYing  himself to fame along with his new wife).
Actually much prefer Brigit, who has written a book on bees - Dancing With Bees, and put this on yesterday, as a welcome to the Vernal Spring, and guess where it comes from? A Ladybird book on the arrival of spring............

Ladybird book 'What to look out for in Spring'. Charles F. Tunnicliffe (1901-1979)