North Stoke

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

18th February

Are the rich waking up to the fact that the billions they own are not doing much sitting in banks, or more likely idling their way on company account sheets?  Well Jeff Bezos of Amazon has been listening to his employees and allowed (or pledged) 10 billion dollars to escape into the fevered air of Climate Change.  Good for him and I hope the money will be used to a good effect.

On the home front the two little beavers released up at Cropton Forest, have not only produced two babes, kits they are called, but built a dam that may have saved flooding further down stream.  I would point you to the Yorkshire Post, but the flashing adverts will probably start a migraine.

Elsewhere the flooding is bad, as the large rivers, especially in Wales, start to reach very high levels not seen before.  The River Wye especially. One's heart goes out to all those people facing water in their houses.  In the city of York where people were worried, the River Ouse is still controlled by flood barriers, but has reached a high of 4.5 metres.
There will be discussions as to how to prevent flooding, but the truth remains that settlement has always been by rivers, and it will be impossible to protect every house in the country.
And of course the flowers still grow.  These two plant pots highlighted because all through summer my two bantams would sit upon them, glaring through the french windows as we ate our tea, and yet they have survived to tell the tale.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Monday 17th February

The latest offensive on the BBC, just signed one of those petitions to save the BBC.  It has faults, who doesn't but it has always been there for us.  Boring at times, enlightening as well. My thought this morning, well if I end up in a hospital bed dying, I shall be latched on to Radio 4, early morning listening to the weather news, as the weatherman works his way round our coastline.  Politics later on don't interest me in Today, but 'Tweet of the Day' will brighten up the morning.  It has covered science, medicine, and everything else under the sun, including Douglas Adam (the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) the other night, featured on the nighttime World Service.
If the government calls a halt to paying the Licence Fee, I will simply go on paying it a sort of rebellion against the powers that be. I will not be forced by any government to listen to the news that they want us to hear, and though I think the BBC is scared of the government I will trust in the integrity of those employed by it.

As to other news, the water has receded from the road and the fields behind, those banks that were built in the 1950s are standing the test of time, and thanks to the men who built them with the aid of a little train to move spoil we are safe for the time being, though more rain is forecast this week.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Saturday 15th February

Yesterday was Valentine's day, a great splutter of hearts across the internet and then it is gone.  For those whose loved ones are no longer here, a time of remembrance, joy not sadness for me.  So determined to put aside sadness, I went to Pickering to buy flowers and Lucy's special new food which she seems to enjoy.  Yellow tulips and bunches of daffodils because yellow is a happy colour and Paul loved flowers round the house.  Bought at Lidl not the Co-op, the price difference is amazing.  Down the back lanes, the verges are full of blackbirds, full ditches of water and the edges of fields show ribbons of water.
Switching on the television this morning, and the small town of Mytholmroyd in the Calder valley, just one mile from Hebden Bridge, is getting ready for another storm, named Dennis this time.  The skips are still  on the street from last week's flooding. Try saying Mytholmroyd, it will get your tongue in a twist, famous for Ted Hughes, poet.  My daughter and grandchildren who were supposed to come down this weekend are not coming because of the weather and flooding in their town.
Watched a rather scary programme on Channel 4 yesterday on the subject of Corona virus.  I think my advice to people would be is not to move around too much, it is hardly in this country, and is not dangerous to the majority of the people who catch it but travelling from one city to another will not help.  One expert pessimistically explained that as far as he was concerned we are only at the 'December in China' stage, we do not know what will happen.  I think the Chinese have tackled it well,  I mean who could build two hospitals in two weeks?  At least they are are being open about it to.  Though today they are offering to build the HS2 rail link, don't let your imagination run riot on this one!
Sue in Suffolk inspired me to pick up this one at the library, so that is what I shall be doing today.  As the rains and winds of Storm Dennis come this afternoon.

And the latest political storm, could not resist this Pat!  Polly Toynbee - This Revenge Reshuffle has a Dangerous Message; Absolute Power resides in No. 10

"Johnson’s choice of pipsqueaks and placemen, yes-women and yellow bellies is the most under-brained, third-rate cabinet in living memory. "

Friday, February 14, 2020


Early morning, a deep red sunrise heralds rain today, but the 'chink' of the blackbirds say it is getting lighter earlier.  Also the owl's screech outside the window, heralds a night time bird going home to sleep and the crows are already arguing noisily in the copse.

There was about 16 people at the meeting, which was not too bad for a political get together.  The greater majority older females, a bit like me.  A few husbands and then a younger farmer. We had been going to discuss GP ideas on farming. 
Well he definitely put us straight about all things to do with farming.  From dogs chasing sheep, and the poor Labrador that almost got its head trampled in by an over protective cow, to his contempt for 'CountryFile' and Adam Henson standing in front of his very expensive machinery.  The production of carrots came up, he had rented some land to another farmer for their production for a supermarket.  How the carrots are needed for a precise date from the supermarkets, someone came up with the fact they bought 'pony' carrots from our farm shop.  These are large, probably 20 kilos bags, sold for horses I was surprised the couple managed to get through them, surely they needed clamping in the earth.
He said he had not anything to contribute on Brexit, not knowing what is going to happen in the future, but said the argument for helping the smaller farms had to be taken into consideration. Another fact he told us, don't ever buy a Jersey bull.  Lovely up to 18 months but after that the devil in a pretty skin, should be sent to an abattoir.

Looking at these people I am not sure where the Green party is going in this area, local people do not seem interested but the incomer is over represented it seems, with too much emphasis on charities, though of course the British charities are easily influenced by government.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Thursday 13th February

Another storm on its way this weekend, parts of Cumbria have no water in their taps though there is plenty around, the world spirals gently on.  What about building two dams to enclose the North Sea says one Dutch expert in the Guardian yesterday.  The human race is always innovative even when faced with stark realities. The young teenagers developing booms to capture the plastic waste in the sea.  The firms starting up to recycle plastic even old mattresses are being recycled to grow plants in.
Another interesting read about is  Greta Thunberg and the hate she receives from male quarters.  It comes from a site called a 'Million Women', though I am not sure they have quite reached the dizzying heights of a million but still climbing.  And at this stage just to balance, misogynist males are equalled by misandry in women! 
Later on I will go to a meeting of the Green party at a local hotel, feel it is my duty after complaining that I did not like driving at night to their monthly meetings at a pub.  I have sat and read the farming and environmental words in their manifesto.  All well said but when did words change the world? Politics are a dispiriting affair, we have a dual party government, with one side with a big majority so that means we go one way only.  Don't take this to heart those of you who are good enough to read this blog, but I think the vote went the wrong way and I would actually vote for a governmental system that allows an even spread of thought on all subjects.  Trains for instance, more money into the Northern train services and no HS2 route going through unspoilt farm land, apparently there is an alternative route that already follows an existing line.
I shall go on crocheting my Afghan blanket, as it gets bigger and tumbles colourfully round my feet.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Water, stone and tree

"Japanese gardens have their roots in the Japanese religion of Shinto, with its story of the creation of eight perfect islands, and of the shinchi, the lakes of the gods. Prehistoric Shinto shrines to the kami, the gods and spirits, are found on beaches and in forests all over the island. Prehistoric shrines often took the form of unusual rocks or trees marked with cords of rice fiber (shimenawa) and surrounded with white stones or pebbles, a symbol of purity. The white gravel courtyard became a distinctive feature of Shinto shrines, Imperial Palaces, Buddhist temples, and Zen gardens."   Wiki entry.

Today the gardening club has a talk on Japanese gardens, I don't think I will go, it is a sort of heretic act to talk of 'how' to Japanese garden, when in fact its principles lie in a religious foundation.  If it is the same man as before we shall see his red bridge, and closely planted bushes an approximation of how to create.  The above photo shows an interpretation of a landscape garden.  Moss gardens are very beautiful, not for walking on  but for contemplation and meditation.  The last time Paul went to Japan he brought back photos of the Imperial Gardens of Kyoto, the old capital of Japan.  But because space is at such premium in the country, gardens were small, and often contained tea-houses, again for peace and quietness.

Cloud bushes

Islands floating in water

Ryoan-ji temple garden
The gravel was raked meticulously, it was a form of prayer, or maybe worship, a job that from the outside looks boring but allows meditation in the raking of the pattern.
In nature we slow down, allowing the spirit of the Earth to enter our thinking, I will not use soul because that creates other thoughts in the mind.  But somehow when all is said and done it is impossible to make an idea from culture fit into another culture.  We broadly sweep with Western Culture but what actually is it?

Ryoan-Ji Garden - Ruth Fuller Sasaki


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

"I must look very happy all I see is oranges and apples"

"I must look very happy all I see is oranges and apples" A quote to  set you thinking! 

I watched this video with a certain humility, not for those offering food but those receiving it.  Happy smiles, just for  extra food, the children always make your heart break.  Yorkshire Pudding lists the over-population of our world.  Frightening as it grows at such a fast rate, we have become too clever at keeping people alive.  I only wish that those Indian children will have some of the goodies we have been so careless with in the last few years, and that it is now our time to move aside and let the new generations solve some of the problems.

Monday, February 10, 2020

February 10th - Flooding

Photos courtesy of Incredible Edible Todmorden

This is a photo of my daughter's town Tormorden, situated in the Calder Vale, the river has run rampant once again.  Their Victorian houses have basements that regularly flood.  She has a pump to get rid of the water but useless when the electricity goes.  West Yorkshire has been hit severely, as the rivers over reach their banks.  Karen will empty the basement of its contents once more into a skip and the council will take it away.  Roads are closed, trains not working in some places, the girls are looking forward to the schools being shut.  Always a ray of sunshine in bleak weather!
There was a time when all this water was wrapped up in snow but the warming of the atmosphere has stopped that, though colder weather and snow is predicted later on in the week.
For the first time here, I saw the fields at the back go under water on the other side of the river.  The arable land though is protected by a bank. The owl out hunting earlier this morning might find a drowned shrew or two of course.
So we had water at the back and water at the front, this is caused by the drainage pipe into the river being shut by the valve lid, which shuts automatically when the river rises  Cars drive through the water unfortunately, and there was even some lads punting down the road..

There is something magnificent in nature when its forces come into play, but then an awful lot of misery comes in on its tail.  And I can hardly forget the picture of the lifeboat, tossed like a toy on an angry sea out to rescue some idiotic stupid mug of a person who was surfing.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Sunday 9th February.

A photo for Pat picked up from Yorkshire weather on F/B.  The beck through Hawes is flying along at an enormous speed. I have often wondered when rivers run next to stone built houses and walls why they don't collapse.  Answers please on a postcard.  I have just looked out of the study window, and our river can be seen a foot or so under the height of the bank.

Well the storm is getting underway, things are hitting the windows from the trees, great gusts of wind, and teaming rain.  So I cooked this morning, my bread, Shrewsbury biscuits and stuffed peppers.  I have decided to bake biscuits because of the wrapping biscuits come in nowadays.  Most of my food is cooked from scratch anyway, and I fancy peanut butter biscuits as well.
The news covers the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Peter Wilby in the Newstatesman lists all the flu epidemics we have had, though he misses out the Spanish one.  Like me he got the Asian flu in 1957, I almost died, and was nursed by the nuns at the convent where I was boarding - there was a divorce going on in the family.
But apparently there was the Hong Kong flu (1968), Russian flu (1977), Sars (2002), bird flu (2005), and swine flu (2009).  Funnily enough I don't get the annual flu jab, basically because it only covers certain types of flu, so you could catch a completely different strain.  We will see how far this strain travels but rather than worry about over enthusiastic headlines on the subject, just wash your hands and be grateful that people are being quarantined for a fortnight.

A couple of things I picked up along the way.............................


Current River Level:  2.812m, rising

The normal level of the River Seven at Normanby in average weather conditions is between 0.05m and 0.41m. It has been between these levels for at least 150 days in the past year. The usual range of the River Seven at Normanby in more extreme weather conditions is between 0.08m and 0.55m. It has been between these levels for 90% of the time since monitoring began. The most recent high is 4.10m, reached on Sunday 3rd October 2010 at 10:15am. The highest level ever recorded at the River Seven at Normanby is 4.25m, reached on Monday 25th June 2007 at 9:15pm.


Current River Level:  3.06m, falling   7.0/clock

Saturday, February 8, 2020

winter aconites

I was woken up last night by the sound of a thundering noise, and the crash of something.  It was just heavy rain beating against the window, a warning by Storm Ciaro that it is on its way.  But two days of sunny calm weather tells me that spring is waiting somewhere.
For a start, look at the exclamation mark after eggs, someone is happy that his hens are laying already...

Lucy and I went for walk to see the snowdrops that appear all along the grass verge this time of year.
Here, below, they have probably been planted by the chapel house owners over the road. What is noticeable though on this piece of land is the moss (in flower), is there something that stops the water flowing away, which gives a boggy ground? Here grows wild cherry trees, except the cherries may not be wild but planted a long time ago.

Snowdrops spread quite easily, it is only the starting of them that a problem may be encountered, plant in the green, is the wisdom on this.

Our river running low at the moment, but after the storm??? it can rise from a couple of feet to thirteen feet easily as the water comes down from the moors.
This bank has snowdrops and winter aconites, their bright button yellow faces competing with the sun.  They like damp, and when the willows come into leaf their bulbs are protected underneath in the damp soil.

Lucy who has just knocked me down as I crouched to get a photo.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Happy Birthday Tom

To counteract my sad post, Face book informs me that today is Tom's birthday.  My first born grandchild.  A time to rejoice in four lovely grandchildren.  He will be 26 years old for goodness sake, working in Manchester, not as a forensic scientists as I had wanted him to be when he went up to London to university but in advertising.
So to a beautiful little golden curled, brown eyed boy, (he was the only one that has my brown eyes). Happy Birthday and I wish you all the happiness in the world.  xxx

I am your custodian

The Emperor visiting the Japanese Conservation studio, with Paul's - Paul Mccartney hairstyle

I walk the path between my life and your death my love.  Dramatic I know but the daily tears do not get less, I hold out my hand for Paul's touch as I remember him moving past my chair and reaching out.  The small squabble as he says you haven't hugged me for ages, yes I did yesterday I say back - I am always precise and truthful.  Like politics love should not be talked about but I was lucky at the tail end of my life to meet the man I loved, to worship him in my own way.
Why custodian? perhaps museum keeper would be a better description, everywhere in drawers and rooms are the tools of his trade, the collection of small objects he picked up, mostly in Kyoto his favourite Japanese city.  His car in the garage, waiting the will of probate.  His books line the shelves of his study, as they do downstairs in what we called the 'library room'.  His bench just outside in the garden where he would enjoy summer evenings with a pint, totally happy with his world.  And I have to remind myself that this is what I gave him, a place he loved.  Often he would say I never would have thought in a million years that I would end up in Yorkshire, but he had, and so in those  few years we had together they were happy for him.

This the first page of an article written about him, it was a tale he told many a time of the young English man, leaving Swindon Art College and arriving in a strange country called Japan.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Wednesday 5th February

Light mornings come closer.  That soft pink/orange glow of the early morning sunrise belies the white frost that coats the lawn.
First world problems: my old toaster fused the kitchen lights the other day, so yesterday at Stricklands I bought a sky blue one, for toast is an absolute necessity.  Then my coffee grinder, which had been falling to pieces anyway  quietly gives up the ghost.  My morning coffee is an essential so John Lewis provided that.  Made by Krups, a German firm of course, and it stirs memories of whether we will have kitchen ware from this old firm in the future.
Has anyone seen Lakeland's catalogue, now that is truly  first world kitchen porn. Looking at the cake section and I can almost see it dragging women back into the kitchen to bake fancy cakes for their little ones. Cutters of all shapes, coffee machines galore and blenders.  All I ever ordered was some kilner jars and jam pots and am now tempted by useless stuff.
This month is big spend month anyway, heating oil to buy, and two new front tyres for the car.
Lucy's haircut did not come cheap either but she had her nails done as well. I might even treat her to a new collar, she needs her name tab updating, though she is never far from my side.  She is a little plump I know but is perfectly healthy for a dog in her 13th year, loves playing ball in the kitchen and jumps around like a young pup when she is happy.



Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The two bad boys

I know I should not be political but when  a commentator called Cain and Cummings 'lying, bullying thugs' after the walkout by the press from 10 Downing Street I knew that as a country we can fight back.  What am I talking about?  Lovely biblical name there...

When Cain told the banned journalists to leave, the rest of the journalists decided to walk out collectively rather than allow Downing Street to choose who scrutinises and reports on the government.
Among those who refused the briefing on the UK’s trade negotiations with the EU were the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, ITV’s Robert Peston, and political journalists from Sky News, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Sun, the Financial Times and the Guardian.

When asked directly what grounds he had for selectively briefing to some political editors and not others, Cain said: “We’re welcome to brief whoever we like, whenever we like.”  Ouch, ouch ouch!!

Miserable pair, heading for what? Dictatorship? we all know that Cummings wants to restrict government to a mollycoddled poodle, in which only the head speaks, (hello Mr Trump ;) but luckily we are less compliant.  Another interesting comment from the Breakfast show (I was eating my toast) is that we have seen no other minister since they have been back from the Xmas holiday. The health minister over the coronavirus or the terrorist death.

Monday, February 3, 2020

reflections part two

I start, slightly Victorian photograph, of myself boarding a boat to go to the Greek Island. A 21st birthday present a trip to Greece, all by myself and looking cross that the photographer has caught me and will no doubt make me pay. Pink and white stripes that dress, and for crying in a bucket what was I doing with a vanity case?
But I needed to wander from an early age, as a child I trotted round on a pony, exploring Hainault Forest or woods round Chigwell.  My grandfather sent me off with a friend and our two horses to a farm in the Midlands in the summer and we had our adventures and roamed the fields on horseback.
So when I started this journey of reminiscence and look back on the places I  went to in later times have not been surprised at how far I have walked.
A favourite place was Solva in Wales not far from Jennie in her home high in the hills of my favourite country.
The sea always has a strong pull on us, is it because we live surrounded by water or is it that this was the origin of our species crawling out of the water to land.
Whenever I made the annual journey to Solva, I would pull over at Newgale beach and let Moss out for a run on the long beach.  Often in winter the sea breached the stone shingle bank that protected the campsite on the other side of the road and the sea would splatter shingle all over the road.
I wandered around the cliffs of Solva, for Wales had many attractions to a megalithic person as myself, not withstanding coastal paths that still held the wild flower in their embrace.  
I took Paul a couple of times, the last time we went with American friends, their aspirations of Welsh cuisine slightly higher than was offered but Bucky enjoyed that whole lobster to himself, and when we explained that getting rid of hedges so that they could see over them, would be difficult in our nature loving country they understood.  I know Bucky never forgave me for taking  them on the long route to the  sacred spring on the Presceli Hills he was so sure was there, and then complaining about the bogs he encountered down the hill.  Or the bottle of expensive Welsh whiskey that the three of them indulged in back at the inn but I did enjoy taking them round my favourite places, and not forgetting sitting in Jennie's and Keith's lovely old kitchen.
So the following photos will take you around the inlet that is Solva, the 'drowned valley' that sits on the other side of the village.  I absorb history as if I have a porous skin, the landscape will sink like a blanket round my shoulders and I think when I look at the old rocks that poke through the slight green surface vegetation of the times when volcanic eruptions made them millions of years ago.
Old stone foundations on Carn Llidi

prehistoric fencing?

rocks made vertically

A drowned valley

misty and narrow, this particular path had two  defended Iron Age enclosures

Solva harbour

Sunday, February 2, 2020


We are told to plant trees, but what of the marvellous trees and woods that exist already.  Wandering alone by myself with only the dog for a company I exulted in the absolute greenness and beauty in the world around.  Even as I potter round old digital photos,  I see each wild flower plant was noted, and here and there Moss would appear, intent on his own business on walks.  Paul would take me to Blake's Wood in Essex, we would wander through the sweet chestnut trees, and look for mushrooms. He understood my need for the natural world to be imbibed into my soul, though he was hardly a walker himself.

Langridge; The low branch of this tree I would touch with reverence

Roman villas round here and then as you go over the fields the site of the Roundheads Battle of the Lansdown.

the gnarled trunk of an old hawthorn

The Mendips.  Famous for its gorge, but there was another smaller one here, where thousands of years ago cave dwellings were found.

Rampant greenery almost like a rain forest

A wild bell flower

Here the two faces of the rock almost came together

The stone cliffs can be seen, but turn to your left and the Tor of Glastonbury would have been seen

A beech wood, dark and mysterious and devoid of ground cover