Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

A favourite rose

Well a happy New Year to everyone, may the sun shine and we have a marvellous summer to write, wander, craft, draw or  just stare and contemplate at this marvellous world we live in xxx

And then something to shake you alive from Greenpeace ;)


Well what passes through your mind in the middle of the night when you can't sleep? Last night it was the Ruralists and their paintings, which I fell in love with about four years ago when I had gone to see an exhibition in Bath.  I wrote at the time, about finding their home in Wellow, wandering along the lane with Moss on a hot sunny day,  at the time I wondered why none of the artists had gone up to Stoney Littleton long barrow to paint it.
Silbury mound and the owl floating in front of it first came to mind, and then I found David Inshaw's Silbury with the river Kennet and the moon and that became a favourite (£250 a print - yikes) so what else floated through?   Ann Arnold's little donkey, looking more like an unicorn, in its small enclosure amongst the trees.  She painted trees spectacularly, they were all fine artists, the may tree comes to mind a sparkling creamy mass that reminds you so much of the English countryside.

David Inshaw the Moon over Silbury Hill

David Inshaw - Owl and Silbury Hill

Friday, December 28, 2012

Past Ghosts

Castle Chillon in a stormy mood, Creative Commons - Pear Biter.

Watching an excellent cartoon Christmas Carol (Dickens) over the holiday period, the part where Christmas past comes to the fore made me remember, the Swiss Christmases I spent long years ago.  Widowed at the early age of 27 with a young daughter, I sort of got adopted by my then husband's family and my daughter and I spent our holidays in Blonay.  Blonay is a village half way up a mountain called Les Pleiades, the town below was Vevey and just along the lake was Lausanne and Montreux where my sister-in-law worked.  My other sister-in-law lived in Hong-Kong as a lecturer.
I must have spent about 14 christmases there, and of course summer holidays.  Con, my father-in-law had retired from Unesco, and in his retirement was faced by two young grand children, my daughter and her cousin Marc to entertain.  He would drive us up into the mountains to wander round a lake or to eat the most delicious meringues sandwiched with cream. 
Ex-pats of course live in Switzerland, though many of the people around us worked for Nestles the chocolate people in Vevey.  Down from Lotta's bungalow in our small lane there was a church 'house' which was used by vicars on holiday from England.
Lotta my mother-in-law was kind, had been very beautiful in her younger days.  She had followed Con round the world living in a whole host of places, in Africa, Mauritius, Haiti, Persia as it was then called, then Paris and America.
From the following photos you will see us all gathered, dressed up for a meal perhaps, Xmas Eve was the celebratory time in the household, midnight mass at Grandpa's church in Territet (he was a church warden) the xmas tree lit with real candles precariously held by snap on holders.
We could see the lake from the garden, and you could watch storms come over the French mountains, whipping the lake up to a frenzy in a very short time, so that the paddle wheel ferry boat would not be able to dock.  Out in the lake is a very small island, English owned, it was given to Queen Victoria in her time and has a small chateau on it.  Across from this on the main land was the famous Chateau Chillon of Bryon fame.

As I wander through the old photos remembering past times, and seeing the faces, some now dead sadly, it draws the nostalgia out of the air, the bright sunny crisp air of Switzerland, great brown cows with heavy bells round their necks up in the summer pastures, fondues, we still have the 'ritual' fondue at Xmas, the strong smell of Gruyere cheese at that pretty town, and on wandering through the net yesterday came across these few words about Con, a wise and gentle person who lived a good life.

"One of the troubles of living with the trappings of power, even though the power is very moderate, is that it quickly goes to the head even among those least likely to be corrupted. I noticed it in myself but I never noticed it in Conrad Opper, even though he had started his career in the colonial services in what was at the time Rhodesia. In Thailand he was greatly appreciated for his gentleness and was very content. In Tehran, where Conrad Opper was head of the UNESCO Mission, I fear that his gentleness was taken for feebleness and he was so unhappy that I fear he was 'walked over.' The day after I arrived there to join him, he was very happy to receive an invitation to move on to New York to serve as UNESCO's liaison officer at the head office of UNICEF, the UN's International Children's Emergency Fund"

front row; Marc, Karen, me; Back Row; friend,  Lotta, Florine, Sylvia, Eugene, Annabel, friend of Marc.

Note our finery, still got that dress!
Con, Lotta, me, Karen, Michael and daughter (Canadian side of the family)
You can tell from the photo that Marc is taking the photo and we are all cross with him..

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Post Christmas

Well a rather smudgy photo of the fire, first of the year as the weather has been so warm, but I found something on the dial of my camera that takes the 'real' warm glow.   Lovely quiet christmas, we had visitors yesterday and will today, my partner's sons and the oldest, A showed us all his artwork in his studio and some that has appeared at galleries - proud dad ;) - on the computer. Friends in America are debating whether to come over for the Ice Age Exhibition at the BM in March, they will probably stay with us for some of the time so Sea-Henge, Sutton Hoo and hopefully Bartlow Roman Mounds will be on the menu.
A visit to Germany early January is also to be looked forward to, to take back some scrolls, old and new boxes to a museum there.  These scrolls have been round for 10 years waiting to go back, but apparently it is some sort of anniversary of the person who gave them to the museum and LS is to lecture on them.
So a happy but busy start to the New Year, and I still haven't got my old photos out to get nostalgic about. 
Forgot to get cat food, but luckily 'Skinny' was not around yesterday, though her friend, much plumper and sleeker was, this cat I call 'Buttermilk', a yellow tabby, who is well fed though greedy and I have to stand guard between the two of them.

Edit;  A parcel came this morning from Japan but was not opened till coffee time, inside were two gifts. LS's head of the Japanese conservation studio,Usami Shokakudo  had died in October, he was in his 80s and LS had sent flowers, these gifts were in reply to the flowers, the card accompanying very beautiful.  To understand the formality and ritual of Japan, all of this can be found in the wrapping and giving.  All shop assistants are taught to wrap properly, only three small pieces of cellotape are used, elegant points and paper that tells you the nature of the gift.  As you will see the pattern of yellow and white on the paper reflects death, in earlier days the tie would have been straw. A wrapping cloth was one gift and green tea sweets the other, accompanied by the letter from the son telling us  that eight generations of the family had worked in the studio, LS was deeply touched, he misses this old life.....


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Summer thoughts

It cannot get any darker or gloomier than it is at the moment, rain beats at the window and the wind gently howls, so LS said yesterday what was the best megalithic site visited this year and came up with Garnwynda.
Bright sunny day, through Welsh small lanes, parking on the verge, then walking up a cool green path shaded by trees with a stream running down, past a small derelict cottage and then the rocky outcrop on top. Garnwynda sub-megalithic cromlech is hidden against the rock face but once found is marked in the mind.  Not exceptionally beautiful as Pentre Ifan or Carreg Samson cromlechs are though, these are magnificent as is the third of the trio who's name I always forget, except that it has Arthur in it somewhere......

A visit to Jennie's house up the winding lane, just found a couple of photos with us sat round the table in her beautiful kitchen, all in full flow of conversation  And then of course our American friends BuckyE and Loie, who did the great tour of the house, Keith  beating BuckyE (very difficult) as to being more knowledgable  - think it was about wood!  

The sweet smell of honeysuckle

Loie and BuckyE at Pentre Ifan

Foxglove and nettles

Summer light, grass and a Jersey/Guernsey cow?

St.Elvis Cromlech with the long line of cows coming out from milking in the background

Garnwynda with the sea in the foreground
Beautiful Wales and then Solva with its tranquil harbour, there is a familiar noise as something taps the sails of the boats as you walk along the sand when the tide is out.  The Cambrian Inn, good food and Welsh whiskey for those who partook of it (not me).

Probably used up my photograph space by now.....

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Christmas

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Wishing everyone who reads my blog, and all those blogs I have been introduced to over the year,

A Merry Christmas and a fascinating and interesting New Year XXX

Taken from Jane Tomlinson's site  and there again if you are childish a Jacquie Lawson card

Friday, December 21, 2012

Spinning and Mozart

And of course Ravilious's painting of the White Horse at Uffington *(no it's not it is the Westbury Horse you idiot; thanks Heather) as you come to that dreaded place Swindon.  Sorry to all that live in Swindon of course!  I remember driving my son to a job interview somewhere near Coate Waters, and he came out and as we drove back along the M4 to Bath, the phone range with a job offer, he quietly and politely turned it down.....
The painting is a favourite because of the quirkiness of the subject matter; Mozart's Clarinet Quintet & Concerto is  playing at the moment, a piece of music that has accompanied me through life and of course I'm spinning,  something that quietens and gentles the soul as does music of course. Also the starlings are joining in with the music, as the music swells so does their chorus...
So we arrived back in Essex yesterday, driving through the rain for 5 hours, the spray of those great liners of the road covering the car, but strangely it was an easy drive for LS. Fields are flooded and the great rivers that we passed are overflowing, lapping at the edges of the banks like an over full bath just about to spill.  The Yorkshire Moors were a dark grey mist of rain and probably the worst bit.
The cottage all clean and tidy, always a wrench to leave, Frasier our next door neighbour, away somewhere in a village, phoned as we drove along.  His Scottish accent normally leaves me puzzling, what the hell is he saying? He has a key to the cottage and is not well, one lung collapsed a few months ago so he has a range of ailments, must of have been a hippy in his day, travelled the world and enjoys conversations with LS about Japan. 
Another very large painting rolls up (via the internet), apparently in Germany and my love says no, its a Chinese scroll which has been Europanised, ie. the silk has been glued (heaven forbid) onto a canvas and so it sits prettily (it is pretty) in its frame 6 foot by 3 foot, to come to England will mean a large crate.  The last painting from this person who lives in Australia was rather beautiful, the gold work and turquoise, must find the photo one day.......

A serene Whitby, though parts of the cliff under the church above has slipped again, not many photos this time, mostly I took rather boring ones of the yards and their entrances.

*Reason, shows I was not looking at the painting properly!! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Well three books bought recently, the first is 'Boneland' by Alan Garner and the sequel to the trilogy of Moon of Gomrath  and the Weirdstone of Brisingamen.  Had to read these two books before I read Boneland, which surprisingly is aimed at grown-up people.  This of course due to to the fact that Colin has grown up and needs the help of a psychologist who is probably the old witchy person in the first two books.
Did I like it? difficult to say, his characters are very thin and I definitely did not like the  psychologist and Colin has grown up into a 'sauvant' extremely clever scientist but he is a bit 'wet'.  The story is told in what I can only describe as a poetic prose form, short, short sentences and the fact that he is trying to find his twin sister Susan, now locked up in some star galaxy is the theme, perhaps in real life we would see it as a rationalisation of a lost sibling which resides deep in his psyche, still an interesting read, and it is not  Garner's fault that I fall out with his witch/psychologist character....

The second book which I have read through is about the Yards of Whitby, which of course is just history but fascinating all the same, and I shall write about it later, my love picked it up and then reading through it in the book shop (he always reads them in the book shop) found our cottage photo in the book with its date stamp of 1736 so we had to buy it.

The third book just started is Stephen Moss, Wild Hares and Hummingbirds, he writes occasionally in the Guardian in the Country Diary bit.  He lives with his family near Glastonbury in a village called Mark, the hummingbirds by the way is the hawkmoth, to be found occasionally in the south-west, I used to see it in the garden feeding on the soapwort, it acts just like the bird with its long proboscis, it comes to England via France I think and a great thrill to see in motion, has a short stubby body and is not particularly colourful.  Reading the winter months at the moment and he is bemoans the loss of many birds, especially the sky lark, which I used to hear over the downs at Bath racecourse, their lovely song as they rose high in the sky leading you away from their nest in the grass.  One of those moments to remember as well is of course the barn owl floating so silently over the watery meadows of Avalon marshes, saw it on tv once, and we had the same experience just round Avebury one night as an owl floated silently alongside the moving car - magical..
Photos from now on will always be on the Word Press site, when I remember to put them on ...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Settling In

Settling in to Whitby takes time, we came over the moors about 3.30, that time is important as the sun was going in that last moment of glory only cold weather can produce.  The vast moors, dark brown with the withered heather, snow still caught up against the banks, the sun in all its magnificent glory put on a show not to be missed. There is such an enormous space to be filled, clouds chasing across in the wind, the dark mass that proclaims rain is heading for Whitby and then this marvellous peachy coloured light from the sun warming up the heather.  Nature has a magnificence we should be in awe of, it can colour our thoughts with such vibrant images, only Turner could have captured this spectacle, and frail humans would not be able to paint in this icy cold atmosphere.  How the Bronze age people would have interpreted heaven knows.  Passing Horcum Hole, it had a dark pit like spirit of terror...
But then Whitby, cottage was warm, the heating has been sussed, the sun and moon instructions finally worked out by my love.  The router arrived on tuesday for the internet, though in fact the computer started to pick up on wifi beforehand, but of course it was an unprotected connection.  So I can now type, albeit with the computer snuggled into the duvet, because we need a table of some description up in the attic.
Matilda's birthday party was a great success, takeaway fish and chips and large birthday cake, she already had had her big present, so her mum had spent £20 at Boyes and the Pound shop and bought about 15 little 'opening' bits and pieces.  I had bought her a pretty jewelled photo holder, with photos of herself stored in the back, apparently her great grandmother had also done this in her time, plus a jewellery box with odds and ends.
We went up to St.Mary's church to see the Xmas trees, link here for photos, the church is something else, apparently it was built in the 18th century, on a much older Norman church, so that there are still bits of the earlier church caught up in the more modern fabric of the church, its unusual design can be put down to the fact that it was built by shipbuilders and fitters.  At the back of the church, the boxed pews have the name 'maids' and church wardens, and above on some shelves are loaves of bread for charity.  Apparently this tradition kept up today is by the same family who started it all those generations ago.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


We are off to Whitby tomorrow, the weather seems fine for the weekend so we will make the journey.  The bag full of clean sheets, and towels bulges, and I still have not tackled the problem of a chest of drawers and bedside table for the attic bedroom, problem is it is all money, and then trying to get them up narrow steep stairs, Argos flat pack is perhaps the answer.
Matilda's birthday on monday and LS on the 18th, so one reason to make the journey for the celebrations, perhaps a birthday meal in the Magpie.  Funnily enough I had a card from my next door neighbour in Bath yesterday, who does not like the people who have moved into the old house, and she had been to the Magpie on a visit up North.
Fraser, our next door neighbour at the cottage, phoned up last week when it was snowing to warn us about the snow, apparently the one person occupying the terrace of cottages that had been affected by the landslide was his friend, Whitby is very small. My son-in-law sent a photo of the cottages already being demolished, I presume the council are not hanging round because there are more rows of houses underneath.
Well if all things go right next week, we should have the internet installed there, so maybe I shall be able to write then, traipsing round to my daughter's house for wireless can be a bit of a bind as I join everyone else with their laptops, wireless is a godsend when it works.
We were discussing how towns shape out the other day, Chelmsford for instance is thoroughly modern, takes an age to get there by bus really leaving you reliant on the car.  Both my children do not drive a car, simply because they were brought up in Bath, where buses arrived every 10 minutes (I exaggerate slightly) and you could catch a train to London or Bristol, or Wales travelling through the dreaded leaking tunnel under the Severn Estuary   Bath had a lot of people living in the centre which made it more safe and lively at night and created a more secure atmosphere of restaurants and shops, Chelmsford by contrast is empty of living places in the town centre and suffers accordingly.
Whitby of course, though a bit like Bath because of the tourists, is different, lots of little local shops, locals gossiping happily within them, everyone seems to know one another, and it is very 'Northern'
So back to packing, and which books to choose to take down...
A couple of photos on my Wordpress blog, see Em has been there, thought no-one visited, it needs sorting that blog but I notice the really, really good templates you have to pay for!
Whoops, the car is out, must stop and start packing......

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Poison Tree by William Blake

There is something rather cruel in this poem, Blake wrote it against the Anglican church (he was a dissenter), but it also brings a half smile to the mind.  There is apparently a drama on television coming out soon called 'The Poison Tree' it was seeing this that bought the poem to mind perhaps the poem explains the drama!

The Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I water'd it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night.
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veil'd the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

Bringing the sheep back home

Have to leave a record of this marvellous Youtube video(8 minutes long) of a sheepdog moving a small herd of sheep down a very steep hillside.  The dog has a camera strapped to its back, moving through several fields he finds the sheep and then starts bringing them back, what is extraordinary that towards the end a sheep challenges him (several times) and one is confronted on camera with a stroppy sheep but the dog wins and faces it down!
This was sent by a friend who rears sheepdogs down in Cornwall, and has a litter of puppies coming in February from his bitch called Missie, think Chief sired them.  Chief is a dog I have watched on videos who patiently follows his master around on his megalithic tours, much as I would love another dog, don't think it is possible till we move. But puppies are so gorgeous......

Friday, November 30, 2012

Whitby mud slides

Photos taken by my son-in-law from his office at the top of their house.
Well there I was saying that Whitby would escape the flooding, but they have been hit by mud slides due to the heavy rains.  Yesterday it was reported that 5 houses had had their small gardens washed away and that the terraced row would have to be demolished.  The houses are very near to the abbey, overlooked at the back by fields and seemingly approached from there, and today according to the local news they are building a steel road across the fields to access the damage.  But it is not only these houses that are affected but the cliffs behind the cottages in Henrietta Street have also had mud slides, with part of the cemetery washed over, or at least a few bones from the 18th century.  The news can be found here and as can be seen from the photos St.Mary's church is very close to the cliff edge.  It must be terrible for the people who own houses along Henrietta Street, though many will be holiday homes, but every time we have walked along the street to the East Cliff quay we have both said no way would we buy a house with a cliff at the back.  My love has written on the fact that Fortune Kippers little smokehouse may be lost.
All those beautiful tiers of terraced houses must now have the threat of water building up in the land behind, who would have thought such a thing could happen.......

BBC news Whitby landslip

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Today I saw on the news that the Rolling Stones had a concert over the weekend, can we all be so old? I still dance to their music.  First thing that came to mind was Eel Pie Island when they were far from famous and we danced in the dark hall to this fabulous beat.
Email from friends in America commiserating with our wet weather, I know it is pretty bad down in the south west and up in Wales, but here we are not flooded.  The wind did howl round the windows on Saturday night though, it whined, moaned and buffeted the window with rain and I lay there worrying about all the birds in the hedges and would the hedgehog drown if we did flood....Well the latest from my daughter in Whitby, is that it is just as  terrible up North, though Whitby being very hilly only floods near the river.  Now, (I'm picking up the threads here) more news of all those poor people in North Wales with their flooded out houses, dismal thought, the weather getting colder as well, ones heart goes out to them.  The river at York has overflowed into the city but I presume the barrier gates to all those houses along the river in the centre of the town should have held. Pickering has also flooded and a village near Malton, and then the news this morning that dryer but colder weather settling in with snow in some places, especially on the North York Moors, that will probably mean the road closing over the moors.
Weekend has been spent in spinning blue-faced leicester wool, which when I have spun enough will dye  to join my bag for experimental waistcoat courtesy of Kaffe Fassett pattern. Knitted hats have fallen off my needles plus fingerless gloves, not terribly exciting.

No photos because I am out of space again according to Google....

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Buseok Temple

Yesterday we did some birthday shopping both of us having birthdays around xmas (sadly). My love's choice is Maplin home to the myriad things that are technical and computer rated, this time we came out with a slide converter - it changes old slides into proper photographs on your computer.  But whilst in the shop I found some speakers for my laptop, and now I have more wires hanging out everywhere.  Of course I can now listen to music on Youtube, so Mozart's clarinet and flute music, Lark Ascending, Teenage Kicks and Dire Straits are variously explored as no doubt a lot more to follow when I can remember their names!
We went on to have lunch at the Viper pub (a shared sandwich), nestling in the woods, you can walk along the trackway opposite to some cottages that must have been an old hamlet in its time.  The cottages are pretty but of course belong to the rich now, unfortunately I did not take photos, but the autumn shapes of the trees were beautiful, leaves have all but gone but there were golden mellowed thick woods on the drive there. They edge the fields so sharply these woods.
There are autumn colours in this video of Buseok Temple in Korea, another land, another religion, enjoy.....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Golden Feverfew or Chrysantheum parthenium

Found at the Cat's pub, golden feverfew is a favourite of mine, once you have it, it will distribute its seed quite happily.  A sport of the ordinary green herb, it makes a pleasant change as a background plant amongst  other brightly coloured plants.
It is an old physic herb grown partly to get rid of fevers and also to get rid of headaches, which was needed in every family down through the ages.  There have been trials in this country to be used against migraine, whether they succeeded or not I do not know, but I have taken it. (5 leaves in a sandwich, because of its bitter taste) but it did not seem to work! Grigson reckons it was introduced in the Middle Ages, and it accompanies Tansy (chrysantheum vulgare) that other spicy medicinal plant in the books I have.
Feverfew is a corruption of the Latin word febrifugia, the distinct spicy smell is chamomile camphor oil, which if you ever rubbed the leaves of chamomile you would recognise.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Cats

This is more a photographic record of yesterday going to the Cats pub for lunch, we have not been out for weeks, so the splendid autumn colours were a bonus.  Have decided to dye some wools, a whole range in the lemony/orange/buff/brown coloured leaves would be fun but I am thinking of a waistcoat for someone, so a palette of browns,violets and greys at the moment, dipped in weaker and weaker solutions should give interesting graduations.

This is a favourite patch of lane, you can see that Essex is not all flat,  in early summer the verges will be white with  cow parsley and stitchwort.

The Cats only opens a few days a week, it is run by Wally who collects steam engines and Anne who makes the following delicious ploughman's.  No dogs (or children) are allowed and you always see the same faces no matter how  long you have been away.
Essex horse in 'emperor' purple coat,  he stares down regally at us but then flips his heels and canters away
These untidy four made us laugh, they have a great steel rack of hay to the side which accounts for  somewhat untidy appearance.  Think they were looking for an aperitif of apples and carrots

Should have moved further away for this picture

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rain falling on Bulguk Temple in South Korea

The large carp picture that sits above the fire box
Bulguk Temple

The gentle fall of rain, and black tiled rooftops surrounded by misty trees.  Such an alien temple to our grey churches. Still with the grey weather outside and several grey collared doves in the maple tree, greyness is the order of the day.  A video sent to my love for his blog, (best viewed full screen) so I nicked it and will play it several times today if only for the music that reminds me of wind chimes in the garden.!

These are Japanese tiles very similar to the Korean tiles in the video.
Chrysanthemums motifs for the emperor and lotus flowers

This is the fire-box they are kept in, lead-lined it would sit under the table to keep you warm

Not all is Doom and Gloom

Friday, November 16, 2012

Technological madness

Telephones, those old fashioned things that used to sit in the corner - one per house! No in this house we have a phone in every room divided between business and private lines, so I never know which phone to pick up.  Then of course we have mobile phones each and everyone one of us, with enormously complicated   large numbers.
Today, one phone revealed in the kitchen (the one that wasn't working) that my daughter had left a message, fish my mobile out from the bottom of my bag, battery dead, recharging as I write.  Use spare mobile to phone her only to end up waking my grandson (at 10 a.m) at uni, yes I had forgotten that the family had swapped all their phones as they upgrade to better ones, ones you can speak into for text messaging....
P explains (once more) the system, look out for the little yellow marker on the phones, and the answering phone system which also confuses me......
We also have another technological crisis looming on the horizon, the cottage is going to get broad band by the end of this month, but at the same time we are upgrading BT broad band in this house (this was a fatal mistake to do at the same time) cos we don't know where the little package with cables that arrived  yesterday goes!
The tv is now accepting the dongle for internet transmission, one success to date but we now wait for the upgrade.... Life in our modern society is too complicated, especially packing fragile birthday presents this morning which is taking ages but that is another rant...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Elizabeth Blackadder

Sometime you wake up in the morning with a name in your head, today it was the Scottish painter, Elizabeth Blackadder, I had seen, a few year ago, paintings of her flowers in the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath.  Delicate and light, the fragility of flowers are captured against  the white background. She travelled extensively and there is a lovely Youtube film of her in her studio in 2011.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Little Giddings - T.S.Elliot

The following few lines are taken from Elliot's - Four Quartets, and we found them taped to the kneeling chair in front of the altar at Lastingham church.  Bleak of course, like a heavy hand christianity takes hold of Elliot's words and forces you to think on death, a good subject of course down in a crypt.  Still the church sitting proud on its mound was reminded by the pub opposite that there is also cheerful optimism in the human race as well.

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always

Taken from Allspirit it gets gloomier of course.  And for an explanation as to where Eliot was coming from this Wiki will explain

E.M.Forster criticised the poem
"Of course there's pain on and off through each individual's life... You can't shirk it and so on. But why should it be endorsed by the schoolmaster and sanctified by the priest until the fire and the rose are one when so much of it is caused by disease and bullies"

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Skinny cat

Because of the work that is done in the studio, delicate Japanese scrolls, animals are not allowed in the house because of hairs, but it doesn't mean I cannot feed 'Skinny' cat, when she comes calling.  Slender but fed elsewhere, I think her owner must be out all day because lunch time Skinny will occasionally be found asleep on a garden chair and wake up hungry.  She is very timid, raises a paw should I try to stroke her; we have known each other for a couple of years and when she is hungry stands by the kitchen door  her coat has a good gloss on it though, she has acquired a friend, large pale tigerish tabby cat better fed by the looks of him....

Pansies on this cold morning, woke to a frost on the green, and these pansies hanging their heavy heads covered in dew.

As for bird watching, well a gathering of about 16 collared doves on the green yesterday, P saw two crows sending off a cat, no wonder I occasionally see a cat racing across the green, it must be dangerous territory.

Friday, November 9, 2012


We have been hearing over the news about migratory birds falling from the sky, clinging to the anoraks of the fishermen in their boats, if you look at the news this has been happening quite often, no explanation except that they are weak through hunger on their long flights.  Well our robins and blackbirds seem to have arrived safely back on this east coast.  For the last few days I have been woken by the gentle song of the robin, probably ensconced in the red berry tree I wrote about the other day, and then there are three blackbirds in the garden this morning, one taking a bath!

I woke up on a dream that my angora rabbits were starving in their hutches, so in the dream I went down the garden to feed them, but they seemed chirpy and someone had put a plateful of chicken, for my vegetarian friends? for them taking up a lot of space in the hutch.  Weird, but it reminded me of the fox that would come to the garden in the afternoon and sleep in the flowerbed below their hutches.  Now my rabbits had runs on the lawn and there was often a rabbit out in the garden - not good.  He was a friendly urban fox, I have a photo of him on the lawn with my son, my son's hand and the inquisitive nose of the fox almost meeting.  The gardens were large and part of a valley, so plenty of space for badgers to come roaming and foxes to live. A friend lived in Weston Park and would feed foxes on his terrace, so no wonder they were tame.
Now I know our friendly fox only had one thought in mind and that was to get a rabbit, and one day he almost succeeded, but he picked on a stroppy, very furry female called Bracken, whose yells brought me outside and she was saved.
Apparently according to the local paper the other week, we only have about 1500 dreams a year, I don't believe that but still who counts?

As for badgers, one dark night about midnight was woken by the terrible squawking of the hens, so barefoot with the dog went to investigate as I stood at the top of the terrace a terrified hen ran past me followed by the ghostly white figure of a badger in the torchlight, even the dog was dumbstruck with awe not knowing what this creature was.  Now badgers are carnivores, but luckily after a few minutes he disappeared leaving me to spend the next hour finding a terrified hen, she went into silent mode and it took ages to find her, probable taught her not to sleep in the nesting boxes, which the badger had managed to dislodge the top off.
So why this prowl back into the past, not sure perhaps because wildlife action seems to happen more in our urban places then the sterile countryside we so often visit, perhaps because reading the latest edition of Resurgence it said we should be more proactive in our efforts to save our dwindling wild life, cute pictures of gorgeous tigers down to a couple of hundred demanding money for them to be saved may be one way but it really needs more action on our part.

Reading Stephen Moss and Paul Evans articles, both marvellous naturalist writers in the Guardian, and Moss says;
"But we must all share the blame; consumers who demand cheaper food at any cost; successive governments of all political colours, which seem to regard wildlife as a bolt-on extra; and apathetic city-dwellers, who accept the countryside lobby's warped logic that only people who actually live in rural Britain should be allowed a say over its future"

Those bright green,' nitrogenous', fields we rest our eyes on are only really sterile deserts for the shrews, field mice that our beautiful owls feed on, our hedgehogs are in fast decline, as for badgers who knows their fate, only that there are many that fight for their survival against the latest need to eradicate them.  And when that latest claim for buzzards to be culled because of feeding on the millions  of young pheasants that are bred for shooting my crossness knew no bounds.

This is a photo nicked from F/B, from Under the Cat's Paw site, it just puts the giggle into the day!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

He has won

It's 7.0 clock, we have been up since four so we already know that Obama has won thank goodness, and I expect the rest of the world is happy to as the vote put out by the BBC came back resoundingly in Obama's favour.  Listened to his speech half an hour ago and he seemed to be modest and reassuring, thanking everyone who had worked so hard for him.  Romney's speech at about six was unceremoniously cut off by radio 4 and we had 5 minutes of religion, so what happened to the shipping forecast then?
On Facebook the news that Japanese fisherman have killed the pod of dolphins in The Cove, except for two which will be kept confined, was very sad news, how dare they kill such intelligent creatures.
Most days I sign something against cruelty to animals, yesterday dogs kept for meat in the Philipines, very badly treated, the pictures are heartbreaking.
There are arguments for and against Facebook, but there is plenty for all, Ravilious, Jackie Morris, other artists flow through my news, and cat photos which often make me laugh, the secret is a neutral tone, don't get on your high horse as there is always someone out there ready to jump on you!

Resolutions; 1) To record the birds out on the green and in the garden, not a terribly impressive list but I love them all, whether they be starlings, collared doves or the great crows. We also have a hedgehog under the shed, noticed droppings all summer but when P went down to the shops the other day found a baby hedgehog on the pavement, and as it was only about 50 feet from the house we presumed it was ours, so I picked it up and put it by the shed where it dived under quite happily.

This is the very full berry tree outside the house.
Second resolution is to make a small xmas room box for Lillie, took me ages to tidy the dollshouse yesterday.....

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Family have departed, (and have arrived home safely in Whitby) the house sinks quietly back into itself, until we see them again.  They all grow so quickly, Tom arrives on the train Friday evening, the others have arrived a couple of hours earlier.  Grab my camera for the reunion between Tom and Lillie, she comes scampering down the stairs rushing through the sitting room and throws herself at him.  Her slave, she adores him and has missed ordering him around, big hugs all round she clambering all over him in her excitement. But he seems to have has already grown in confidence at uni and answers all the many, many questions fired at him by his mother, seems to be settling in well.
They all go go shopping the next day, we stay behind, shopping is not my favourite pastime, they have a family lunch at their favourite restaurant and then in the afternoon take Tom to the station.  As they walk back Lillie starts to cry as she realises Tom has once more disappeared, "we are not a family anymore" she says and of course sets her mother off in tears as well, but he will be back for the xmas hols......
In the evening when we are playing with the dolls house I tell her the tale of Tom aged about five tying up the Victorian dolls with a chain and stabbing them with the spear she has found, and it brings back memories of my miniature work and the 'Farleigh Hungerford' hall i had created in which he had hung the dolls! She of course plays the same game, with the witch doll, the dolls house is once more in a mess and will take a couple of hours to sort tomorrow, think I will buy her a room box to play with.  My spinning wheel has been spun within an inch of its life, so that the string falls off and it will need realigning.....

Shopping she has brought herself a large Enid Blyton - Brer Rabbit stories, Matilda has bought the hoodie she wanted, Ben buys himself some sport shoes.  Each child is very special, Lillie being the youngest hogs the limelight for the time being. Fireworks have been going off the last two nights, though it has rained very heavily through the day, and snow in the West country, apparently it is the remains of the Sandy storm which has wreaked such havoc in America.

The journey home.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Flicking through my Welsh Saint's book for stories on this ;
Halloween is of course the popular name for All Hallow's Eve, and is a night of superstition and ghost stories,  so the Welsh  have the same traditions as in other parts of the country, and of course a great feast which we sometimes forget about.

The reapers supper in Carmarthenshire usually had whipod - rice,bread, raisins currants and treacle.
In Anglesey the feast consisted  of potatoes, turnips and oatcakes.  In Carmathenshire, writing in 1760 "the contents of a brewing pan of beef and mutton, with arage and potatoes, and pottage, and pudding of wheaten flour, about 20 gallons of light ale and about 20 gallons of beer"
In Montgomeryshire on Nos Galan Gaeaf, a mash was made of nine ingredients (3 times 3 is a lucky number); leeks, potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, peas, fresh milk, salt and pepper.  A wedding ring was hidden in the mash (bit like a sixpenny bit in the xmas cake) and young maidens would dig in with wooden spoons anxious to learn their fate.
In Carmarthenshire the ceremony was also a feature around 9 ingredients, this time a pancake called stymp naw rhyw which was made by 9 girls, who ate a piece each.
Apple bobbing was popular, and wassailing was also carried out, with punch being drunk from 'puzzle jugs'

This tale I find funny;  In the Vale of Glamorganshire, spirits roamed the churchyards at night, and the bravest villager would don his coat and vest inside out, reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards as he walked around the church a number of times.  Then he would walk up to the church porch and place his finger in the keyhole to prevent spirits from escaping!  It was also believed that apparitions of those about to die could also be seen through the keyhole.
And the tale of trick or treating? Well in other parts of Wales, youths would dress up in girls' clothes and vice-versa and groups of young people would wander from house to house in the dark chanting verses and soliciting gifts of fruit and nuts..In other areas men would dress up in sheepskins and blacked their faces and were given gifts of nuts, apple and beer.  These groups were known as the
gwrachod  (hags, or witches) and were meant to bring good tidings and expel bad spirits from the household.
And as the celtic 'old year' disappears, on this last night it was a tradition for a local Ladi Wen (ghost of the white lady) too appear, but then in North Wales it was more often the terrible Hwch Ddu Gwta (tailess black sow - another celtic tradition).  Bonfires were lit on hillsides, apples and potatoes were roasted and the watchers would dance and leap through the flames for good luck in the forthcoming year.  Stones were thrown into the fire, and as the flames died down, everyone would rush home to escape the clutches of the great black pig.  If you found your stone in the morning in the fire then luck would follow, if not misfortune would follow...
Tales told from T.D.Breverton - The Book of Welsh Saints.

And wishing we were in Whitby so that we could experience St.Mary's churchyard this night, a tale told in the Guardian;

If you like spectacular ghosts, they don't come better than the phantom hearse of Whitby. They say that when a Whitby sailor was buried in St Mary's churchyard, a large hearse with four jet-black horses would appear beside the grave at night, ready to take him away. A group of ghostly mourners would appear from the coach and remove the body from its grave. The spectral coach, lit by burning torches and driven by a headless phantom coachman shrouded in a black cloak, would then gallop away at speed and plummet over the cliffs into the sea.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bits and bobs

Something I miss - the sea
Things that keep me occupied; patchwork, a quilt, which ground to a halt because I was not sure how to finish it off, in the end I decided to mess up the green stripe edging (my original idea) and introduce strips of the bright red poppy material I have.  So yesterday and today I will be tacking the three layers together.

My knitting is supposed to turn out as a shawl cardigan but i have problems with the pattern, the wool was brought from my favourite wool shop in Whitby, it's called Bobbins, an old chapel with various, normally very expensive, yarns hanging round the narrow passageway that you perambulate around.  They do the traditional fisherman's sweaters in dark navy with the cabling and patterns as well.  It took me a long time to choose the wool, and I kept noticing my love stood at one counter all the time, paying for my purchase went over to see what he was up to, well he was measuring the egg timers, turning them over and calculating with his watch - yes, well, he did actually buy one in the end much to the amusement of the people working there.

This weekend the family comes from Whitby, mostly to see how Tom is getting on in uni, they stay a couple of nights and Tom is coming through London with a friend to Chelmsford.  He seems to be getting on well, joined the rugby club, been 'initiated' (don't ask, you get stripped down) and looks gaunt according to my daughter, so plenty of feeding in the Xmas holidays is what is needed.

Touching on Time;  So the clocks go back once more, how many clocks does a household have? we have quite a few, the most accurate one had to wait a few hours for the satellite that changes it to go overhead, but the rest still lie in various different modes, yesterday as i sewed the old  clock behind me had stopped an hour behind, it just hates being messed around with, the small clock that resides by the fireplace was an hour ahead - totally confusing.  We even have Japanese time in the kitchen which is a few hours ahead (or behind).  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

St.Mary's Church- Lastingham

Holiest of places in the North? Perhaps, but this was a church I wanted to see and to quote Bede
in the haunts where dragons once dwelt shall be pasture, with reeds and rushes, and he wishes the fruits of good works to spring up where formerly lived only wild beasts, or men who lived like beasts; Isaiah.
This the place that Cedd chose to build a monastic house early in the 7th century, Cedd, one of four brothers at the Lindisfarne monastic community, left the Lindisfarne community  and in 664 on a visit to Lastingham he was to die of the plague and was buried here. Cedd is of course the patron saint at Chelmsford and I have already written about the church he founded at Othona.  This Norman church stands on high ground and the early Anglo-Saxon church is somewhere below its foundations. Strange church, very Norman, rounded apse, and exceptionally well built.
The crypt was where all the Saxon and Scandinavian carved stones were kept, and was not too scary, the little altar down there being very similar to the one at Bradwell on Sea's Othona chapel.  Photos did not come out too well, but the crypt was well lit and and rather beautiful pillars,  and it is the only crypt in England to have an apse, together with a chancel, nave and side aisles.
In the guide book is the head of an 8th century dragon head, which was part of the Abbot's chair and which is now in York Museum so we did not see it, but loving dragons as one does, it is well to mention that apart from the St.George's dragon at Pickering church, there is also a lovely dragon on the wall there swallowing the sinners as they march into hell. Dragons depicted in church stone engravings never cease to fascinate, cos we know they don't exist but there they are!
There be dragons

Sheep in the church yard

The crypt

Entwinned snakes

Crude engraving of a sword

Carved stones

Danish and Saxon influence

Early 8th Century Sculpture.