Monday, August 29, 2011

They are back safely - thank goodness

The beginning of the journey

the car loaded to the gunwales on the way back to Whitby - 2200 miles all told

The land rover arrived early saturday morning, they had travelled from Vevey to England without staying overnight in France, so everyone was tired.  Apparently they sat outside our house from 4.30 onwards and then went and found breakfast at McDonalds.  The fridge was temporarily completely filled with chocolate and cheese, my daughter having raided Migros in Switzerland, she has a fascination with supermarkets, Whitby only having the Co-op.
Switzerland is lovely but expensive, you need to earn  quite a few thousand each month to pay the bills; from their flat balcony they watched the house over the road which had an electric lawn mower which came out at 6 every morning and mowed the lawn all by itself, something I've never seen in England, but my son in law was captivated by the country, especially the town of Gruyere, and the children did eat the many dishes of a raclette their great aunts had cooked for them, cooking one's food at the table was a great treat.
And just to add to the weekend my son and his friend showed up from a wedding they had been to in London, and I was given another side of the story about Gadaffi from an African point of view - interesting,  in that what we take for granted in our propaganda is seen very differently in the African states where his money has helped.
They also did a tour of the sushi factory that my daughter's cousin owns, the funniest photo of them all dressed in plastic, even little Lillie who had to have parts of her overalls chopped off.  Sushi was tasted but not I think by the children, though Tom the eldest is always adventurous in food, sushi is of course always a source of topic in this household, and it looks like we maybe be going to Kyoto in November, though sushi is not exactly my favourite but the temples and moss garden are on my list of things to do..

Matilda trying her hand at woodwork

Crashed out whilst watching a video

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cockle Spit - Bradwell on Sea


Cockle Spit salt marshes

St.Peter's church; The altar lit up by the sun falling from the window

The grass verges on the Roman road to the church

Cockles piled thickly everywhere on the mudflats

Friday, August 19, 2011


Whitchurch, near to Solva
19th Century well down the lane from the church
Old settlement above the well

wall through the woods showing old field layout

If I had more time on this earth, I would solve some of the puzzles that irk my curiosity, one of them is the history of the area around Middle Mill, two places come to mind King's Heriot just up the lane, and Whitchurch - the white church, which is also on one of the lanes leading away from the pack horse bridge at the mill.  Welsh history is a self-sufficient tale of small communities, reading as I have been this morning on a survey done on church/chapel attendance on a single day in the 19th century and you will find that chapel attendance was well attended the church not so. The church above was on the pilgrim trail to St.David's Cathedral, and if you were to follow the lane past the church to that small city you would find on your right an old airfield as shown on this map.,225500

The photos above show the church, it is supposed to have a cross-stone by the gate but I have never found it, walking down the lane from the church to Middle Mill, there is a small footpath on your right into the woods, just opposite some cottages.  Taking this footpath you come to the rather pretty 19th century well deep in the wood, to your right there is the wall of an old field and above you can trace the outline of an old settlement.  What the old settlement is I can find no information on, Magic Map (Scheduled Ancient Monuments) gives no clue; it could be Iron Age or medieval, but its distinct narrow pattern plus the bank, points to I/A.

But the reason one falls in love with Wales is because so many parts are neglected, overgrown and beautiful, sadly because  there is literally no way of earning a living in the more remote parts. Life had always been hard, the brutal force of Norman castles bears testimony to overlordship, the topography of the land difficult for farming.   Solva and St.Davids rely on tourism, but they are protected from the worst influxes of the tourist trade by the fact that it is a protected National Park along this particular part of the coastline.
But if you wander around the area as I have done for many years, mostly looking for prehistoric stuff, you chance on other stuff.  One of them is old airfields, the defence of the Atlantic coast in WW2, meant that this part of the coastline seems to have a disproportionate amount of airfields.  Brawdy for one, still occupied just outside Solva; the disused airfield that borders Whitchurch and Solva, and another disused airfield out of Upper Solva which lies just above Nine Wells.

The photos below are of somewhere on the Presceli's; parking further along the road from Waldo William's stone,  from here is one of the places you can walk to Carn Meini and the Bluestones.  Several years ago meandering along on a long walk that way I happened to come across the remains of a plane and a dedication to the men who had lost their lives in the crash.  As you can see it must have been one of the planes coming in to land on one of the coast airfields.  70 odd years later, traces still remain, though I have no history of this for the moment, my partner wrote a small article on The Journal entitled Battle of the Prescelis , which shows the interest the War Office had after the Second World War to turn Prescilis into a permanent military training area, similar to Salisbury Plain by Stonehenge, which is ironic given the Bluestone connection.

Refs;  Trevor Bloom - History of Solva

Note; The Heritage Journal is run by a small group of people, ostensibly for prehistoric stones protection, but we have been running other articles as well....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Trip

Part of the 99 steps down from the abbey

Lillie happy amongst her toys

At least 6 layers of paintings to be scrapped off by my SIL, though I did my bit as well!

Family on the old viaduct

the church of St.Mary, arrived too early to look inside.  It opens at 10

The multitude of roofs and buildings that make Whitby such an exciting place
The Great Trip; or how the machinations of one's family produces spots before the eyes.

Loading the land rover; all the following could be headlined as each separate event took place, for instance packing consisted of 6 large black bags that fit into the carrier strapped onto the roof.
So the children laid out what they thought was needed for the holiday and this was reduced or added to, various technical pieces of wire and recharging equipment for the various game boxes they own, plus of course the three scooters had to be packed as well.  Sleeping bags for the flat in Vevey, a constant reminder to the children that they would eat Sylvia's minestrone soup, they are all very rigid in what they like, so no pulled faces or outright refusals to eat what was put before them..
My son-in-law's bike perched perilously on the top, (he did 3 hours cycling by the lake in Switzerland on sunday morning), completed the loading, various replacements car documents arrived in the post the day before we started off, in all it was a bit nerve wracking.
Currency, a great deal of it, was bought as world markets swayed on the brink of disaster, the children keyed into the currency calculator on the computer just to keep check of their small sums.  Too many euros bought by mistake will have to be used up in petrol across France, Swiss francs got suspended at one time but luckily they were already bought. Ollie the cat delivered to the cattery, the house vacuumed through and then the fitting of children into the car surrounded by bags of 'stuff'.
First part of their journey bought them to our house, and I did literally climb out of the car with those dreaded migrainal wavy lines in front of my eyes, luckily I took a pill before it could take affect. Fish and chips in the newly opened restaurant followed by a walk for the children.  Then the next day they crossed to France and I received texts of their various stops and then their safe arrival in Switzerland....

continuation with photos as soon as Eblogger rights itself..

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Waiting for tomorrow

The children have vacuumed the house, the clothes are waiting to be packed and I have a headache, mostly from Lillie screaming I suspect.  7 of us will travel down to Chelmsford tomorrow in the land rover, with the luggage in a carrier on the top and a bicycle atop that.  Currency is bought, even amongst the up and down of swiss francs and euros and falling markets, and this little family will hit Switzerland on Sunday and stay in a flat, luckily I will be left in Chelmsford!
Their great aunts will have a handful on their hands, and I can only hope the children will eat what is put in front of them without screwing their noses up.  The final work in the cottage, and there is a lot of it, will be finished in September, Jason the builder says the scaffolding will go up for the chimney when everyone comes back from holiday, the electrician will do the electrics, and then the final painting, which we will go down to help with, and then carpets and furniture - joy..
Riots have subsided everywhere, though a neighbour apparently ordered his daughter to get back from London. to the relative safety of Whitby yesterday.
And why relative safety?, well because though the looting moved up North and Whitby would hardly be affected being  a very quiet place, we witnessed yesterday an altercation between three youths which was pretty scary, someone got punched on the nose in town and a lot of foul language filled the air.  I suspect though with all the people that have been arrested and going through the courts, there will be less looting come the weekend.
The world is quite a weird place at the moment, if you have green leanings, there is a feeling of 'well I told you so' the greed displayed in our society has brought it all on their own heads but of course it runs through society like the silver thread through a fiver, the bankers, footballers, celebrities and Uncle Tom Cobley and all, took as much as they could get and look where it has got us, its going to be a long hard road to some sort of viability in the system.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Grabbing the computerr when it is free can be quite difficult, but 3 members of the family have departed to the business centre to do some work, Lillie being amongst them, Matilda off to the park with her friend and the boys elsewhere in the house.
The weather is gorgeous, Whitby full of tourists, we did Boyse this morning, the shop which sells everything but the kitchen sink, but I bet you could find one if you looked hard enough.  Children love it, trashy toys, even I love it for its cheap wool! Today 2 more scooters were bought for Switzerland, dvds for the car journey, goodness knows how everything is going to fit, I have also cadged a ride back to Chelmsford as well just to add to the capacity of the land rover; my son in law is also debating putting his bike on top of the carrier thing as well.
So general excitement in the house about the big trip abroad, strange pieces of technology have arrived for tolls across France plus satnav maps and sticker for the car in Switzerland, said car has just been to the garage for a new radiator.
The cottage, which I have visited is in a state of 'mess' but boiler and radiators are in, and  the bathroom suite all working.  Piles of stripped wall stuff everywhere, and my son in law, is taking paintwork back to original surfaces which is hard, and I would not have had the courage to do.  Though small this cottage, and three hundred years old, it must have been renovated in the Georgian period,  because the plastering on the front is mock.  The windows are original, the downstairs still has shutter hinges on the outside.  A small cupboard has been found under layers of paint, the only clue, butterfly hinges showing faintly through. Lots of cupboards everwhere, under the stairs, next to the large fireplace in the top bedroom, all fascinating, but the standard of workmanship from the 1970s was botch work, so when it has been done over, at least we shall have added to the housing stock and given it a proper lease of life.  The chimney still waits to be done, flashing is letting water in but once done it should be cosy.
It is situated in a 'yard', so you have to live with neighbours, the outlook for instance is not too good, but it cosy, safe and quiet right in the middle of town, and my SIL has managed somehow to have the keys to two other 'holiday cottages' one of which is sharing the bill on scaffolding. My next door neighbours are quite sweet and helpful, and on the other side is a holiday cottage I think.  Rescued a great grey seagull chick the other day which had become trapped in her entrance, all in all its an exciting period of life...

Monday, August 1, 2011

poems and photos

I seem to have difficulty today in uploading photos, but the river bank is becoming overgrown, tons of pond weed has been skimmed off the river and rots gently in the water meadow field. All sizes of fish are at the edge of the mill water. And then some poetry from Edward Thomas and Robert Frost, an interesting article in the Guardian about 'The Road Not Taken'...
which probably tells us not to take words or ourselves too seriously, poor Thomas took the poem to heart and went off to war to be killed in a few weeks, or perhaps there was another story there...
Off to Whitby tomorrow on a long train journey..
Frost's poem is a favourite of mine, I'm sure he wrote another 'cottage' one too.

The pretty but unwelcome policeman's helmet


An acre of land between the shore and the hills,
Upon a ledge that shows my kingdoms three,
The lovely visible earth and sky and sea
Where what the curlew needs not, the farmer tills:

A house that shall love me as I love it,
Well-hedged, and honoured by a few ash trees
That linnets, greenfinches, and goldfinches
Shall often visit and make love in and flit:

A garden I need never go beyond,
Broken but neat, whose sunflowers every one
Are fit to be the sign of the Rising Sun:
A spring, a brook's bend, or at least a pond:

For these I ask not, but, neither too late
Nor yet too early, for what men call content,
And also that something may be sent
To be contented with, I ask of Fate.

Edward Thomas

hundreds of little fish

The Chelmer

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping hear
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep

Robert Frost