Thursday, December 9, 2021

9th December 2021



Time has adjusted to my clock, I knew the world would come round to my way of thinking.  It chimes in perfect harmony with actual time, though sadly it is a tad slow.  No expensive visits to clockmakers round here but its bell like chimes breaks the silence, though I have been playing the music of Leonard Cohen and Kate Bush.  Melanie came on the other day, my daughter said your favourite music mum, assailed as she was as a child by me constantly playing her record.  Slightly gone off Melanie, though she is still remembered.

Well another pig's ear last night, a diversionary tactic no less but the mistakes keep charging in, soon our illustrious leader will have no where too hide soon.  It is a long haul this Covid Affair, here in Tod people cannot access the internet of the doctor's surgery, it has been out for months.  Hanging on to the phone is their only option.

I have been debating a holiday either in Keswick in the Lake District, partly because it is near to Castle Rigg stone circle, the one large ring I have never seen or maybe Berwick in Northumberland, there is a good holiday review in the Guardian, going by train and using buses once there.


Wednesday, December 8, 2021

8th December 2021

 



My daughter is panicking about the coming event, seven round the table and only an Aga to cook on.  Lists are being drawn up for when the children come down, money splayed out, I quite like the idea of 'secret santa' first time I have come across it.  

Today will be about food, the world is changing, supermarkets are stocking more and more vegetarian/vegan food as we slowly change our diets. Yes I know all of you carnivores out there will be shaking your heads but it is cruel to send all those animals to the slaughter - have a heart, and don't tell me about the need for milk/butter/cheese, I already know!

Yesterday I went to our local organic shop Tod Almighty, and perused the frozen stuff on offer, and no I don't want meat lookalikes or things that have the taste and texture of chicken.  I want my burgers made from beans or lentils with vegetables and nuts, but these old fashioned vegetarian things belong to the past sadly.

I am allergic to Quorn, not particularly enamoured of tofu,  unless marinated in a good sauce, and Soya has the same blandness as tofu, in fact  all these so called vegetarian substitutes are just like cardboard ready to soak up any passing flavour.

Anybody been to that party which dominates the airways at the moment and causes me to swear with such fury.  Was there even a party does it b***** well matter anyway.

Monday, December 6, 2021

6th December 2021 -Tamamushi Beetle

A small itch at the back of my mind about the boxes of Japanese samples of plant dyes and minerals that had disappeared has been worrying me. Basically when I left the cottage for the boys to take over, I could not see where they had been put and it worried me. I knew they were somewhere in my blogs but did not know the right title I had put them under, till I thought of the Tamamushi beetle, and of course the search was over. 

The whole thing came up over the weekend, Lillie my granddaughter wanted to write about an 'artefact' for school.  There is her granny still into archaeology and Paul collector of everything under the sun so she asks me.  I have a file of Paul's  photos of his 'collection'. 

Little Japanese gods jostle for attention with Roman glass and Saxon weaving whorls. He had accumulated a great deal and I left it to his sons to take what they needed to pass on maybe to little Leo, Paul's grandson, and his Japanese inheritance.  Paul's study was a mass of stuff, handmade papers, reams of books on art, all very specialist, but what to do with them?
As both sons work in London, one is an artist and works for a gallery they seemed the best to work it all out.  I know they have been taking carloads up to town.

Though I love the living landscape, objects or artefacts seem to me lifeless and not being particularly house proud the thought of picking everything up to dust underneath never appeals.  My daughter when we were leaving the cottage swept up all the things on the windowsill in the kitchen to remind me of the life once lived.  So now I have a little Japanese god, a butter dish and an incense bowl sitting here, plus a small wooden box that looks very reliquary and take able to school.

Inheritance or is it memorabilia? Can we store it via the computer I wonder.  There is only one problem, the transfer of the file to Lillie, here I am working with my big computer and typeface whereas the rest of the family work on tiny Apple phones, with seemingly a dozen things working at once and my email demands ZIP for files.





Sunday, December 5, 2021

5th December 2021 - A joyous Sound

 Yesterday tears welled in me as memories came back from the past. David had emailed could they cut the holly for the church for the coming Xmas.  Such memories are pushed well back, should they spring to mind I think of other things.

David and Jo, in their 80s have been together since meeting as children in India. He so tall, and of the old school, and she so small and talkative.  There she would be at the back door come for a chat, and I would help her off with her boots and for a couple of hours we would talk.  Often it was about the feral cats in the village, Jo had taken four kittens in they lived in their barn alongside the camper van they had.

David was the town crier for Malton, resplendent in his blue jacket and cockade hat, he would ring the bell and give out his declaration.  He did it in our village as well, I have photographs somewhere, he had to do it twice for I was late at the time.  

Jo would ring the bells of the church for any auspicious occasion, and would ask did we mind if she rang the bell at midnight.  Never I said, for it never worries me waking at night, I will listen out for the many barn owls, or maybe they were other owls, does it matter the naming of things?

The holly tree is by the small old building at the foot of the church wall, it was  next to our garden, and Paul was very protective of it, as he was of the whole village, and this was appreciated by many people.

The building had its own history, the village lock up in earlier times. The cottage had been built on the small pasture field next to the church. The field had had a small stable in it for a pony and before that had been the village butchers shop?  Everyone still remembered the field as the place the annual barbecue happened, though newcomers will not have any idea.    Yes I did find some bones as I dug holes for my roses.

Returning to David and Jo, from their barn was a flag pole, and the union jack would fly occasionally, and then the Welsh flag telling us they had gone down to their Welsh cottage.  Solid Brits, no I never asked about Brexit knowing we would be worlds apart.

I had had news that the first person to greet us into the village had died a few days ago.  I remember Peter Smith standing on the doorstep with a small box of tomatoes, graciously welcoming us, he was the church warden at the time and we met many people from being next to the church.  Talking to them as they tended their dead.

The saddest case was right outside to be seen from the side window, a young lad who had hung himself in his grandfather's pigeon loft on the other side of our house. His grave was always full of flowers as the family looked after him, keeping him alive in their memory and I think a younger sibling would come, often on an evening, to sit by the grave and talk to him.  Death is not always miserable.

And as it is Sunday Jo ringing the bells to call the meagre congregation to worship, not many sadly... Sorry about my terrible video making but you will see the holly tree and building.




Saturday, December 4, 2021

4th December 2021

 In the darkness of these winter days my mind plays around with odd thoughts.  Listening to Macfarlane in Landmarks and I find he has read all the books I have.  Trying to find  out what it is that makes writers tick. 

What do we experience on our walking out into nature, do we slip off ourselves and allow the spiritual uplift of the scenery to take hold of our bodies.  We relax into the world, some go on physical journeys of 'wellness' but does that inner being we call spirit meet up with wider nature I wonder.  We become One.

Well yesterday as I listened to Macfarlane's musings on two authors I had read, the thought trickled through that not only do female/male interpretations colour our views but also the writing.  The first Richard Jefferies, (1848-1887) an incurable romantic of the countryside, I had read 'Bevis' and 'After London'.  This latter book is a futuristic mythic tale, he has centred it on a great lake on a dystopic landscape, where you walk on the bone dust of people.  

The lake which actually covers a greater part of England in the story, is the much smaller Coate Lake near Swindon, where he roamed freely from his farmhouse home in childhood.  Paul and I walked round it, in those heady days when we first met and he showed me where he had lived.  We visited the little museum with the reconstruction of Jefferies bedroom and the old grandfather clock that had ticked his way through his childhood.  

Bevis on the other hand was a tale of childhood lived by this lake but both captured the absolute joy that Jeffries expressed on the wonders of the natural world.  An ecstatic mood of sheer oneness. There are passages in my blogs that I still come across that thrill with their intensity.

 Macfarlane notes that Jefferies would count the number of wild flowers he would find down his street in the suburbs of London, counting as many as 60 at one go but already realising that they were condemned by the encroachment of our civilisation.  Jefferies minutely observed everything but his life was cut short by tuberculosis and exhaustion.

The other author was female, Jacquetta Hawkes, (1910-1996) another romantic but a mind devoted also to archaeology.  The first woman to study the subject.  I loved her book on the Prehistory of  Britain, her writing was also subtly and emotionally wrought but Macfarlane remembers her for the book 'The Land'.  A strange book, he says of it that she was in an emotional state between the divorce of her first husband Christopher Hawkes and her marriage to the author J.B.Priestley.

She starts the book with the cameo of her lying down in her garden in London, and not in this instance looking to the stars but feeling the billions of years beneath her opening up to that fiery ball we sit upon. It is perhaps that archaeology gave her that love of the solidity of rock, changing from liquid to solid.  Something you will see as you walk any coast, the layers vertical or horizontal strata. Telling of the moment that Earth formed amongst the flames and fire of volcanic rock.

Macfarlane tackled two emotionally gifted authors in the chapter, stressing though that the writing of 'The Land' came from that moment of upset in divorce and remarriage whereas the treatment of Jefferies emotional state is not a given moment of his temperament which must have at times figured on a dramatic religious nature......

Friday, December 3, 2021

photographs

 

  "No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.”   Virginia Woolf

 


Chelmsford River, fringed by meadowsweet, the good days of summer, spikes of yellow irises, bulrushes and that mess of green exuberance that tells of nature's bounty.  And of course, the green slime that collects on top and the baby dabchick that can just about walk on it.




The luxuriant fall of a wayward hawthorn allowed to grow treelike.  Its blossoms cascade down promising fruit for the Autumn.


Solva harbour when the tide is out.  The blackness of the rock, covered in seaweed and molluscs.

Yesterday I listened to Macfarlane's Landmarks, it is a mixture of glossaries of local words for the infinite changing landscape and chapters on writers.  Yesterday it was Roger Deakins and wild swimming.  But also he mentioned Autumn Richardson and Richard Skelton, the word Autumn passed through my mind, an instance of recognition.  But it only came to me this morning - The Last Wolf.  The story I had found in their book 'Reliquiae' in their Corbel Press

Though perhaps their offerings of prose and poems left me somewhat slightly dull of mind, but on reading a blog on Virginia Woolf once more she puts another thought down on page...... 

"the eyes of others are our prison; their thoughts our cages"


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

1st December 2021

 There is not much to write about Burnley, a shopping mall that was looking a bit tired, you could see the line of development from the top of the bus.  Small terraced houses near the centre, just a yard for a garden, the old working class houses for  those that worked in industry, the sameness is somewhat pleasing but dull to the mind.  Then we come to the classier upmarket semis of the 1930s, not sure, then the fringed scatter of bungalows in larger plots. Landscape is strange, we take a hill out of Burnley and the bus gets slower and slower as it creeps up, reminding me of my camper van which  I verbally prayed that it would manage the hill out of Bath.

It is the underlying rock that gives shapes to the ground into large hummocks, and then we disappear into the valley, and the bus is assaulted by the tree branches as we pass.  There are corpses of trees that have fallen in the storm and have been dragged to the stone walls.  Up North, is beginning to remind me of the Midlands, or the Black Country, where industry and houses melded, and especially towns slipped into each other with no greenery in between.

The clinic set up for the booster vaccinations was run by many volunteers, it was a bit like a game of musical chairs, or desks, for I did not sit down for long but stood for an hour with my daughter, we were both grateful for the efficiency, and for the patient nurse, who as always went through a long list of questions about my health but did it with a lovely smile.  Today I am tired, my arm aches, though not much and I haven't listened to any news, as the government fumble and mumble through this pandemic - it's a pig ear that is all I know.

I am listening to MacFarlane's 'Landmark,' it is about the magic of words, words lost in time and language but today he talks about Nan Shepherd, 'The Living Mountain'.  I have read Shepherd on the Cairngorms.  I must say her book struck me at the time as rather cold, but to makeup for quick judgments I have bought the audible of it.  And promise myself to concentrate.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

30th November 2021


 Daughter arrived home safely, think this is a photo of the lane down to Lindisfarne to which they travelled to.  Just a slight tinge of jealousy here, I would have loved to visit the 'Holy Island' and savour the atmosphere.

Snow disappeared overnight, we are now having a warm day before the next batch of cold returns.  One thing you can always depend on is changeable weather in Britain.  Mostly power has been returned round here but not up on 'the tops' or the moor  The stranded visitors in the Tan Hill pub have been rescued.  Probably reluctantly, they had had a good time and have already planned a reunion next year.

Lots of reassuring talk on the radio this morning about the booster vaccinations but it is not necessarily working to order.  We are off to Burnley this morning to try for the booster.  My local appointment was cancelled, due to the loss of power over the weekend is the excuse.  No vaccine there last week or this week, so it is not as easy as the government official (Gillian Keegan) is prattling on about.

I see the Labour party is having a spring clean and changing the furniture around, can it be they sense blood? Are we really so fed up with Tory rule, that those who vote labour will return in their droves. 

Should have started with the thought 'living on the edge'.  The radio has become a faulty receptor of our phones, zoom meetings and the jangle of various phone tunes - was it ever like this?  Yesterday alarms boomed in the 'Today' studio and they vacated the building for half an hour.  Do we live in a state of panic, I noticed when the electricity went off alarms started everywhere, and then when it came on they started up again.  Lots of people on the social chitchat did not know how to turn them off!

Monday, November 29, 2021

29th November 2021

 The day always begins by going through blogs - so keep writing everyone.  But today in my email two stood out, one was The Smell of Water, with its stone by stone description of this old church at Kirklevington.  Marvel at the stories told in stone, Odin and his two birds Hugin and Munnin and how he hung from the Yggradsil Tree.  The comparison is made between Jesus and Odin, a fascinating thought to play around with.  The other blog is a local landscape expert, and I can see the makings of a book in his writing.  He photographs the bleak scenery round Hebden Bridge, at least up on the moors, taking his young son on these walks, and once more I learn a little more about this area.  He gives the title 'Field Studies' but I see something much more lyrical in his writing.

I have been unsure in my new surroundings, not quite liking the scenery, which I find bleak but I will accustom myself to it.  I do not feel the presence of prehistory here as much, though there are Bronze Age barrows up on the moors, but I have a feeling that they are like on the North Yorkshire moors scattered around and if you have seen one rounded hump of soil you have seen them all.

Wandering through my photos I leave you with two thoughts............

Whatsover things are lovely think on these things.




Must say it strikes the right note ;)


Edit; Well algorithms must chase us around for on F/B a memory of Great Canfield Church here, came up with the two ravens of Odin.  Some clever person who had written a book on the subject, wrote to me and explained the crossover period between Pagan and Christianity. I quote him...... 

Particularly like Great Canfield with its Odin carvings. I'd suggest a Danish influence here, rather than Norse (there are few Odin references in Norwegian place names. They're much more common in Denmark and southern Sweden). I'd expect more pagan symbols in Essex than anywhere else in the south-east. It became a Danish kingdom under kings Anwynd and Oskytel shortly after 878. But whereas Guthrum, who took over East Anglia, was baptized in 878, Anwynd and Oskytel are not mentioned as having joined him in baptism. It would seerm, therefore, that Essex remained under pagan rule somewhat longer. Essex already had a Saxon tradition of Christianity, of course - and, in your pic, we see the fusion of the two cultures. (Be careful when reading modern books on this subject. So many modern historians include Essex in East Anglia. But Guthrum had split up from Anwynd and Oskytel at Exeter the previous year. Essex was a separate Danish pagan kingdom until c.896). We get a lot of this stuff in NE Yorks. Here, we had Danes settling on the Wolds, and Norse settling round the edges of the Moors about ten miles to the north. They didn't get along - the Danes fought two battles with the Norse for control of York. So now we're left wilth a hotch-potch of Anglo-Irish-Danish-Norse symbolism - pagan symbols on Christian crosses, Christian symbols on pagan gravestones, and so on. I wrote a book about it once, but nobody wanted it. Every publisher or agent I wrote to said the same thing : fascinating subject but too specialized for our catalogue. In the end, I just threw it in a drawer and forgot about it. I liked your horse too. It's always depicted looking backwards - we don't know why. There's a good one at Lythe, just north of Whitby (which is markedly Norse, so the symbol seems to be common to all Scandinavians or it wouldn't also occur at Canfield) with a wrestling scene behind it - we don't know the significance


Sunday, November 28, 2021

28th November 2021

My daughter has gone to Alnwick* in Northumbria, not exactly the best of time to go beach walking.  So we have been messaging each other.  I had said is it not ironic that on the coldest day of the year the electricity cuts out?  Well it was Storm Arwen that of course did the damage, and as I watch the news for Yorkshire, I see moors covered in snow and impassable in some places.  Then of course, The Tan Inn, highest pub in??? is already hosting people for the night who got stuck up there.

A small blip in the smooth motion of things.  But think about it, the three large supermarkets closed to Saturday shopping in Tod.  How could they open when the tills don't work and we all use cards to pay. My granddaughter out to find matches said airily when I offered cash, don't worry I have my card.  The young don't handle cash.  No matches, no open shops, so we rummaged around in drawers and came up with a gas lighter and I kept a candle burning all day - the Eternal light, the everlasting flame which was kept on the altar of the goddess Sulis in Bath.

I played servant to the fire in the wood burner, watching the small logs flare up into flames to die down again amongst the coals (non-smoke) and thought about the olden days when ice crystallised inside on the windows,  We have an Aga run by gas in the kitchen so cooking was perfectly alright.  But this is an old house with tall ceilings and draughts by the million, it was cold.  And yes I did think of all the people stuck outside in camps or on borders out in the freezing air and I counted my blessings.  They are you and me, an accident of birth left us fortunate, we should extend the hand of help and do something about them.

Thanks to the work of the engineers electricity was restored by 4 o clock, hot water, hot radiators, even television, which I haven't been watching but watched a film called The Mother.  Did not get a good review for this 2003 film I must admit I flicked over the sex scenes, not that I'm getting straight laced in old age but because I like Anne Reid as an actress.  What I loved was the relationship with her two children, elegant Londoners now living the life of well off selfish middle class youngsters, and then the daughter wanting to hit her mother in the face because she had it 'so easy' in her life.  Times change and it would seem not always for the better.  But that is straying down the avenues of feminism.



* I had great problems with saying Alnwick, thinking that it spelt Annech but though you hear my version the spelling is different.  Welcome to the English language.  It reminds me of the English vicar in Switzerland, who would always argue that  Cirencester (sai ruhn seh stur) was said ciscincester, he was wrong.


Friday, November 26, 2021

Eagles buzzing over Somerset

Looking from Solsbury Hill.  In the distance Freezing Hill with its inappropriate stand of poplars


Would you believe it? I have so missed my Bath walks over the downs.  Did Tom's eagle really fly over Solsbury, the Iron Age hillfort you have to slog up a steep hill to see.  Overlooking the A46 this is where the Cotswold hills slowly come to a halt.  The landscape round Bath, at least on the North-East side, is beautiful, if you were to follow the little lane below from the village you would come to St.Catherine's Valley, secretively beautiful.

Actually we should not be too surprised that eagles are flying round the Somerset area there is enough space for everyone. The following video is such a joyful expression of song and excitement it always lifts me.....


So to days of walking long gone now.   I remember the walks I took with dear old Moss as we discovered the hidden landscape, for under all that scenery past lives had played their part.  Romans had come to  Aqua Sulis, Goddess of the Waters, to heal themselves in the hot waters.  The old tracks still remained, the battles fought on the high ground Royalists against Cromwellians still marked, even when you look over to  Bristol in the distance the old first world war teaching trenches carved into the hillside.  Prehistoric man had also left his mark around Bath as well in Bronze age barrows.



Thursday, November 25, 2021

25th November 2021

We are heading for an Artic blast, in other words cold and probable snow.  I am rather glad I invested in an oil radiator heater rather than heat the whole house, I just heat this room.  Mostly as I knit (a warm jumper) I listen to audio books. Just finished Phil Rickman - All of a Winter's Night, before that John Lewis Stempel - The Wood,  and now I am listening to Rebecca Solnit - Men Explain things to me.  I have decided I need to read up about feminism, after all I live in a feminist household. I notice that Tasker has her book 'Wanderlust' on his list for Christmas, I am just ordering credits for audios at the moment but will go for her book on 'Orwell's Roses' when it eventually appears in the spoken word.

So who have I chosen for my feminist exploration?  Germaine Greer went out the window, in your face I do not want. But Virginia Woolf, (A Room of my Own), Lady Hale (Spider Woman), Melinda Gate (The Moment of Lift).

It is weird this old world how things change over time and especially our own particular time on Earth.  We live in a state of anxiety I think not just the times dictate that but because somewhere in our primitive past we needed too fear everything. I have overcome my nervousness of going to the large medical centre and even managed to get through on the phone for my booster vaccination which happens next Monday.

The tragedy of those immigrants drowning in the English Channel haunts the airways, do we love tragedy that much? This is happening in other seas elsewhere, the world is on the move, economically we are trashed by the environment. Pull out your fingers and pull up your socks?   What can we do about it all?  Nag our politicians of course, don't get stuck on foolishness of Peppa Pig.  What is needed of course is getting rid of corruption that starts with the individual and slowly makes it way to infect the whole broad swathes of government, society is infected as well.  Perhaps 'survival of the fittest' should be put to one side. Capitalism needs a rest. 

Or we should just close our eyes and hearts to the suffering, draw up the drawbridge and indulge in another Christmas, at least we may have our family around us  Came on the following Norwegian video.  It is rather sweet, falling in love with Father Christmas our hero is sad.  A sort of grown up video we should do more of in Britain.  Santa Gets a Boyfriend





Monday, November 22, 2021

22nd November 2021



Monday comes with icy fingers.  Visitors have gone.  My darling eldest grandson bought his new  (and hopefully permanent) love to see us.  Life goes on.  HMGuest also came for the weekend, so we sit on the wobbly school benches round the table and I marvel that I have reached an age to see my grandchildren grown up.

This morning I am listening to Susurrations, and listen to words that still have so much meaning for many people.  Listen to the sound of trees,  and wander along with John Claire, Edward Thomas and Thomas Hardy amongst the susurration of leaves.

I picked it up on Paul Knights landscape blog, he writes of the  area that I am living in now, he seems to live near  Hebden Bridge and vividly describes the landscape, and I see he also mentions another blog on my side list which is Patrick Laurie's blog Bog Myrtle and Peat.  Laurie's book has been published, Native, Life in a Vanishing Landscape.  Like me he is sad about the decline of the curlews, my most favourite bird of the moors.  Their cry always captures me with a sudden wrench of despair or joy I cannot tell.

Eskdalemuir

Patrick Laurie's farm is in Galloway, a landscape we visited, four years ago maybe. I remember staying in the Tibetan styled huts overlooking a river.  We had gone there to the Tibetan Monastery, and I had been intrigued by this retreat, often though of going there myself.  What stops me.  Well no religion for a start.  And the thought that I don't need to find myself which I consider a great conceit by the way, I quite like making my soulless way through the universe without trappings.

I see many links but they are for myself to pick up in later times.  A record of what happens now.

Edit; Instructions about sitting on school benches. ALWAYS SIT IN THE MIDDLE.  The times those bloody benches have catapulted people onto the floor is fairly numerous ;)

Saturday, November 20, 2021

20th November 2021

 I think this  cartoon says it all on the Northern experience, by Matt.....

But don't be greedy, our beloved leader has spoken! There is always going to be people that want everything at once!  As one who saw the destruction of woodlands along the HS2 as a bad thing, I cannot say the stopping of the vandalism  is anything but good but realise a lot of damage has been done already.  Then of course the North needs a decent rail service linking up the towns and cities lets see how this is tackled.

Anthonore Christensen (Danish painter) 1849 - 1926 Forest Lake with Water Lilies in Bloom and Numerous Insects, 1869

To softer places, this painting caught my attention this morning,  romantic, I love the watery theme, wild plants and the exotic white water lily carelessly float together.  Life and energy fueled by the sun, perhaps it would be better to look for the 'numerous insects' that the artist has painted in.


Thursday, November 18, 2021

follow the Vicar of Bray down the rabbit hole

'Still, it might not be a bad idea, every time you commit an anti-social act, to make a note of it in your diary, and then, at the appropriate season, push an acorn into the ground. And even if one in twenty of them came to maturity, you might do quite a lot of harm in your lifetime, and still like the Vicar of Bray, end up as a public benefactor after all.'


Coming on new ideas and resilience.  This morning I happened upon the American Rebecca Solnitt, she had written a 'long article' in the Guardian.  Her arguments about fighting back over the great problem of our future under Climate change  is to the point, and of course stresses that it is up to all of us to bring about change.

She has written quite a few books, and from what I can see of the titles that she has written are around her life.  She is criticised by  one critic of going from one story or incident to another without joining the thinking of how they relate to each other.

But her latest book is interesting, it is about Eric Ernest Blair or using his pen name George Orwell and his gardening experience.  Whenever we speak of this author it is with reference to  social conscience writing about poverty in the times that he lived but there is no lightness of touch, or what he did when he was not writing.  

Well Rebecca Solnitt, decided to come to England to explore what she wanted to write about.  It was about 'Orwell's Roses', he had carefully noted that he had planted 7 roses, some fruit trees and two gooseberries.  So 80 years later she went to the  rented cottage in which he lived for a few years to see if they still existed.  Maybe they do for there were still roses there but no fruit trees.

The book itself according to this article is not wholly focussed on Orwell but meanders from subject to subject in a loose manner. What of course it brings to mind though is a different aspect of Orwell, a man who was both practical and in need of a break from the rather heavy subjects he wrote about and of course his great love of gardening

Actually meandering from subject to subject appeals to me, it is what I call the 'magpie mind' taking the glittering jewel like words from the page and thinking about them.

Many of us love roses, flamboyant or elegant they display with an extravagance few other flowers have. They clean the soul.  There is even a rose bush on Orwell's grave.  I have planted many in my lifetime as well as fruit trees, and whilst reading came across an essay Orwell wrote on 'The Vicar of Bray', a clergy man who changed his opinions and loyalty to ever who was governing at the time.




Sunday, November 14, 2021

Sunday 14th November 2021




Walked down to the park on a sunny blue sky morning yesterday.  Everyone was there, dogs being walked, children playing in the playground.  Small boy  football teams being assembled with freezer boxes of food for afters. The house and estate of the Fieldens went eventually to John Ashton, who left this estate to the mayor of Todmorden  in 1910. The ruins of his house are still etched in the grass somewhere at the back.  You can walk up through the trees to the moor above, though what goes on in those woods may halt your step ;)



John Ashton sold Centre Vale mansion, the parkland, cricket field, Ewood Hall, Carr Laithe and Platts, for £10,000 to the mayor of Todmorden, Edward Lord. After much argument and an inquiry, the estate became the property of the Borough Council ,to be made into the town’s public park.  Bet there is a story there! taken from here.


Weirdly before the park there is one of those old fashioned cemeteries.  Trees shadow the path and the grey lichened faces of the gravestones greet you.  Rather spooky on your own, and in the trees above on the hill an old church, looking very redundant stands, as always with old churches, with its feet out of the way of the floods and river.  I will explore one day, there looks to be a road up to it and probably a path from the cemetery but it is dark and overgrown and I would rather be out in the sun.


Bright sun, so dazzling it makes one blind and then the cool dankness of a neglected graveyard.  I stepped on graves and thought of the people beneath, long gone, their lives lived.  The pattern of the seasons still covered the ground with Autumn leaves, bright yellows, russet red and then the stark bareness of skeleton trees as winter approaches.  Strangely I have been reading, in that which calls itself news on my tablet, is that snow is expected in this month. Worst in Scotland I think but now the Earth conference is over we can only wait for the future, decisions have been made but now they should be adhered to.

On this day:  Matilda will taste the delights of rice pudding with her friends.  The song and dance about this must be recorded.

'The Hermit of Trieg, Scottish television.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

13th November 2021

 Can the weather get any duller? the skies sort of leaked all day yesterday, not proper full on rain, no, more like a leaky tap.  The Canadian geese and ducks seemed to enjoy it down by the canal and as I wander past the enormous medical building, I wonder if there is a somewhat different agenda going on for it.  Like many centres the doors are closed and operated by voices letting you in.  The building itself, enormous and with many rooms for different treatments, sits like a white elephant on the landscape, understaffed and underused.  Will this eventually be turned into a private practice? People complain about not seeing a doctor, or able to get through the phone to speak to anyone, we have all become so needy in this time of Covid.  Luckily Boots the chemist runs a pharmacy from the building and here you can get prescriptions.

Yesterday I watched a Guardian video of immigrants stuck on the border between Belarus and Poland, pawns in one of those ghastly games Russia plays.  The immigrants arrive at the border but held back by soldiers, they live in the forest, burning the felled wood, but hungry and cold and in need of medical attention.

We praise the fallen from the last two world wars in the last few days, and yet there is a grim reminder of what the world is really like elsewhere.  Whether it is war or climate change, there is a great movement of people around the world fleeing that which is terrible in their countries, or maybe just being economic immigrants - and do you blame them?

Perhaps I need a softer subject to write about at the moment!

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Eat the planet, or eat the rich?

How's that for a tricksy heading, well I am not going environment after all.  Though eating does play a part.  But as words dominate the computer so we should record them.

Well in the  hours of the night when I wake up I read whatever is on my tablet.  Last night it was the Smithsonian news letter.  It had a story about an island off Alaska called St. Matthews, uninhabited, bleak and treeless it was one of those stopping off points for sailors and I believe American soldiers camped there during the second world war to keep an eye on the world from this vantage point.  Russian hunters killed 900 polar bears for their fur early on, and of 1500 reindeer who lived on the island, it went down to only one remaining lame female who outlived the terrible weather but eventually died.  It was written with the dash of the explorer spirit and was a good read.

Yesterday Yorkshire Pudding revealed that he had been to Easter Island for a holiday, and the selfsame fate of course also befell this island, the inhabitants ate themselves out of food and chopped down the trees for wood, so that was eventually no wood for heating their food or for building their boats.  Think about it. 

Is it not a parable for us at the moment, as we use every last resource this planet has to offer in a vain attempt to gain everything we desire?  The book this information came in was written by Jared Diamond - Collapse, I had read it years ago and the fate of Easter Island had caught up in my memory, especially the hens they kept in small stone chicken sheds!

Food: we went out for a meal yesterday to 'Honest Joes' the three of us and our 'handsome male guest'. It struck me how many different cuisines we can eat in this country, my daughter had Ethopian food the other day.  But at the restaurant two had an Italian pasta dish, I had Greek Meza and the HMG had a kebab.  Which came on what looked like a swanlike thin stand.  Hanging there was the threaded meat and underneath was all the other food.

Strangely it made me think of fondues, the thick creamy cheese sauce, always without the Kirsche Liquer, for I never found it in the supermarkets.  The small squares of baguette for dipping and the range of' sour things to cut the richness of the cheese.  Nostalgia plays a great part in food, what about raclette, the melting of a special cheese over potatoes, both meals have to be accompanied by wine.  But I haven't seen a Swiss restaurant in England, although I have cooked a pancake mixture of eggs and vegetables in Japanese style on the table with a hot plate and eaten real sushi by London's best Japanese chef, yes I wasn't impressed but smiled sweetly and ate my first bite of raw tuna.

I see Marks and Spencer are doing well in the share prices, food as always, clothes a notch up from drabness.  We don't get 'posh' Waitrose around here but my daughter says the richer sides of Manchester, where the top knob footballers live, they are two a penny, Waitrose that is. 

I am missing my spinning and my books.....


Edit; it is an interesting chapter from Collapse by Jared Diamond

Monday, November 8, 2021

8th November 2021

 Well, nose down, geography lesson for me today.  But on a much happier note yesterday an old friend from the past got in touch through F/B.  It was lovely to hear from her, it brought back memories of parties in London and Oxford, of kindness and poverty of course.

The other day Matilda my granddaughter in London left a voice message on her phone at night for her mum.  It was full of pathos and I had laughed at her predicament.  She was cold, very, very cold, the one hot water bottle in the flat had been taken by her flatmate and her extremities were numb.  No her mum did not fly up with another bottle.

Those were the days, cold flats, sleeping on floors at friend's houses.  Our children and grandchildren think they are the only ones who experience such times.  It also brought back sad memories of our mutual friend dying far too young.

But mostly the memories are happy, staying at the folly mill in Rousham for Xmas, S was always a good friend through my widowhood, and now here we are two grannies with our young grown up, one living down in the South West with moorit sheep and me 'oop  North' as she said.  Could have done with some of those fleeces though for spinning.  Antiques united us, S has gone on to write a historical book and still dabbles in paintings as well, which means restoration.

As I grow older the memories float around like the round Earth, the memories flow too easily but also happily.  





Friday, November 5, 2021

Bloopers - Standing with stones.

Stoney Littleton Long barrow, and though you cannot see it, one of the stones at the entrance is an ammonite stone.

I can't resist it! Pat has just mentioned her Langdale Axe found on the farm.  Part of my life was devoted to prehistory.  The old heavy  stones hauled from quarries to stand in lines or circles, or to build a Neolithic tomb, they excited me.  It was the immense old age of the stone first used by man as a tool or covering for their dead.  They stood on the landscape, enigmatic, holding the secrets of the past.

A polished greenstone Langdale Axe is a thing of great beauty.


So Pat's mention of an axe brought to mind Michael Botts and Rupert Soskin's epic journey round this country visiting prehistoric sites.  I have sat quietly spell bound on the Preseli Hills knowing that this was one of the pathways from Ireland to England that our ancestors trod.  I will believe quite happily that the bluestones of Stonehenge came from this area, how they hauled the stones to the sea is beyond my comprehension.

Stonehenge, Avebury and Stanton Drew I have wandered round, in all kind of weathers, one favourite just outside Bath is Stoney Littleton Long barrow a place of retreat for me when home life got too much. There are thousands of sites around, and if you would venture to Europe, as far away as Russia or even to Japan you would see the same fashioned cromlechs that you find in this country.

So a 'blooper' short video of the two above.  A blooper video by the way Pat is all the bad 'takes'.  As someone who has dug in all kind of weathers, traipsed over moors in cold and rain I know exactly how Rupert Soskin feels.  Though I expect he has never stood on Hadrian's Wall with a kicking baby still inside him as I did, and wondered if I was about to give birth in the cold.  



Standing With Stones, the long movie is also there as well, with the funny bits cropped.  It never made it as a television programme, but the two of them seemed to have a good time in their camper van. The Langdale stone quarry is difficult to get to, and is featured at 9 minutes into the Blooper video, in the mist.



Thursday, November 4, 2021

Hope


I see two things noted down for another blog, one is George Monbiot, a radical green environmentalist and the other is 'Slow the Flow' the art of slowing the waters down that run down the side of the hills  in Caldervale to join the rivers down below in the valley.  

The valley floods with a regular beat but people do fight back, installing new paved flooring, stripping back the plastered walls to the stone or brick, bars on wheels, so that when the flood water rushes through, all they have to do is scrub down the surfaces.  There are many volunteers who plant trees and work on the hills, old and young they create dams and swales to make the flow of the little streams zigzag down the hills and soak into the soil under the trees.  Communities work.

I had seen the same sort of work at Pickering to stop the waters from the moors gushing down into the town and flooding.  Slowly but surely beavers are also being introduced to wild places around rivers to start their damming exercises.

Little 'brown jobs' disappearing. The Twite or though Google kept finding 'Twitter'!

I hears on the radio this morning the sad fate of the twites, and laughed at their name, but the presenter in a few words described his sorrow at how the loss of the seeding wildflowers due to farming practices had caused their decline.  A small brown bird with a blob of red on its behind. Nothing much to write home about (or even  blog) but this  little creature was on the way out.  I have even read of elephants evolving without tusks, will they beat the Earth decline though I wonder.

Still I headed this blog with 'hope' because even as they bluster and promise us the world at the latest conference, and then dine sumptuously after having flown or driven in cavalcades of cars to show their earnestness, we must cast these useless politicians aside and actually do something useful ourselves.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/06/twite-or-pennine-finch-on-brink-of-extinction-in-england










Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Thoughts

Rubbish and the disposal of.  Each day many of us sort our rubbish.  It stacks up next to our sink, plastic, tin and cardboard, it is then sorted into its relevant bag to be recycled. Perhaps the reason why we see so much plastic waste in the sea is because the plastic is not recyclable.  Blindly, as if led by fools, we still manufacture and use plastic, the supermarkets would be sunk if they did not have plastic and goodness knows what to wrap around their products.

Incineration: In England currently 10 percent of municipal waste is incinerated. By comparison, the European average is 17.3 percent, and Denmark incinerates 56 percent of its municipal waste.

Plastic: but according to National Geographic, an astonishing 91 percent of plastic doesn't actually get recycled. This means that only around 9 percent is being recycled.

Of the 26m tonnes of waste produced in the UK, 12m tonnes are recycled, and 14m tonnes are sent to landfill sites. This gives us an average recycling rate of 45%.

Recycling in other words could be a great con, made to make us feel happier for the other polluting practices we make.  This American article will give you the idea, simply put, if recycling doesn't pay its way it will just get dumped, and maybe it is easier for the environment (and cheaper) to just dump our rubbish in landfill. 

I can't resist, Bullington Boy at his best, do you ever feel that he is just talking crap? It is a bit cruel I must admit, but he deserves it sitting next to David Attenborough with no mask.


And a photo which is causing some controversy also, mostly about dating though.  The Nebra Disk, a prehistoric homage to the stars, sun and moon.  Crafted many moons away and still as stunning at it was when it first saw the light of day.  An online lecture on it from  Devizes Museum in Wiltshire.


The Nebra Sky Disc (inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register) is the oldest concrete representation of the sky in human history. It is a testimony of the extensive networks of the Early Bronze Age reaching from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean seas. A new special exhibition in Halle, in co-operation with the British Museum, summarizes the research undertaken within the last 20 years. Outstanding loaned items from the Wiltshire Museum are to be seen next to the Mold Cape, the Danish golden ships from Nors and the golden hat from Schifferstadt.

BBC news on a new exhibition about Stonehenge, though of course the disk was found in Halle, Germany.






Monday, November 1, 2021

1st November 2021


 I start with John Constable's Stonehenge, it represents a historic collapse in time and even today we are not sure what it is for.  Yes we give it a religious aspect,  but it could also be a meeting place of the tribes, a market place to take their animals to.  We have no firm evidence of its role in life, and yet Constable has painted it so masterly that we can see the foolishness of humans and their dreams captured in the fallen stones  Do we just fizzle out?

There they are discussing the imminent fate of our Earth at this conference, we as a country are headed by a vainglorious idiotic prime minister, it almost spells disaster before they even get down to the nitty-gritty.  Because of course there will be fudge and compromise.  This particular problem has been a part of our knowledge for the last 30 years, conveniently shoved on the back burner because it interfered with our way of life.  Even now they procrastinate, Canadian tar sands, Australian coal, as also coal in China to keep their economy going.

So do we sit back and enjoy the show? I think not, an awful lot of nagging is required of our politicians. We have to give up this notion of growth, it is as simple as that.  It has been an interesting time in the media as they follow the score, lots of heroic talk but it is action we need from everyone.  If we are to steer our planet to being safer for future generations then it is up to us to speak out and definitely not to say, well I won't be there to see the collapse.

I love John Constable just as much as I love my country, but romanticised views are not really the truth,  The pretty country cottage did not always exist in Victorian times, we imitate but do not understand the history.

The foolishness of Shatner having his 10 minutes in space probably underlines it all, an act of gratification for him, can't someone tell the poor bugger that it will takes decades before we will even find that 'other' home in space.

I'll finish with another Constable, Old Sarum.  It stands fortress like on its hill with a great history that runs through it.  From being an Iron Age fort, then Roman and eventually medieval, when it housed a small settlement and a cathedral.