Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jackie Morris - art

Jackie Morris's blog, an artist and illustrator.  Came across her children's books at Solva Mill, brilliant illustrations, did not buy one because could not see my grandchildren reading them and it seemed a bit much to buy one for myself!  But reading her blog on cats had to make mention of her.  She is on Wordpress, which is not a bad blogger once you get used to it......

Friday, July 27, 2012

Stately Foxtail lilies and an old oak

On a very warm walk round Hyland House yesterday to look at the flowers, came across these foxtail lilies mingled amongst the astilbes.  Glorious spikes of tall yellow flowers, it's a desert plant, East Asian, Afghanistan is thought to be one of countries it comes from.  Always have mixed feeling about astilbes because their feather like appearance looks false, but there again always found difficulty growing them.
The old oak tree in its special enclosure is about 500 years old, the groundsmen do not mow the grass over the roots of the trees in the park but leave a patch of long grass to protect them.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sci- Fi

A posting on Facebook this morning which caught the eye.  Always loved sci-fi since goodness knows when, perhaps when I was a child and  I saw a film about a rather kind robot who looked after the needs of a father and daughter, till he went feral;).  The other films I  liked was 2001 (?) and one about two little robots that gardened all by themselves on a spaceship after the humans had died or killed each other off. Must start reading Arthur C. Clarke......

Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.
—Arthur C. Clarke

Painting by Katsushika Hokusai, "Plum Blossoms and Moon," Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Posted from the free weekly Parabola Magazine. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ant flying day

Today is ant flying day though I suspect the ants do not adhere to specific dates, but it is one of those phenomena in the insect world.  It used to happen in the old house under the paving stones on the terrace and the other in our boiler cupboard.  This boiler was situated between the outer and inner front doors, so that the first thing to notice was the steady stream of ants down the wall, upon which the front door had to be opened sharply to let them out.  In the end I used to brush them up with a brush and pan and release them outside, marvelling at the flying ants.
Today also is my grandson's birthday he will be twelve today, and I shall miss the tea party in Whitby, the cake being brought in triumphantly at the end, it has to be chocolate of course.  The magpie is squawking outside distractingly, they have an ugly noise for such an intelligent bird, this is a young one that seems to haunt the garden for food.  He actually comes in for the food I put down for the little skinny cat, though of course other cats come as well for fish skins and the chicken bits.
Which brings me to food, The Cambrian Inn  in which we stayed has a pretty good menu, though they could do more vegetarian.  I don't consider myself a vegetarian, eat fish and chicken for a start! but mostly I will eat anything with lots of vegetables.  The management was new, and that is not to say that the old management was bad, but the young people running it are very good.  Breakfasts were enormous, and one favourite was french toast with honey and bacon, the eggs must have been beaten  with some honey in them and then the bread dunked, but you also had a little pot of honey to go with it alongside the bacon.
We did The 'Old Pharmacy' one night as well it being rather expensive, our friend had half a lobster, but no crab for my love who was looking forward to crab all week. I think you really have to be in love with lobster to go through all the teasing out and cracking of claws with various instruments to eat the creature, all I can remember of my meal was delicious dauphonise(spelling) potatoes, which I shall do one day, as also the spinach and ricotta stuffed cannellini at the Cambrian, just a hint of tomato sauce under the cheese sauce! 

Mysterious Wiltshire

Our one day round Avebury found us going to the Barge Inn, the home of crop circles, and UFOs probably, we had been to see what it was like for a meal and came away disappointed in the whole ambience of it.  For years it has been the meeting place for crop circle enthusiasts and as it lies near the canal, a whole load of way out hippies seem to live here on old barges, they are now sadly growing old with the passing of the years!  Well as you can see their barges line the canal and I took this expert barge dog leaping over two barges to the path. The inside of the pub is decorated with paintings of the Avebury stones and Silbury Hill, and the stone below dated 1990 at nearby Alton Barnes church is a reminder of the whole phenomena of crop circles.  Funnily enough there has not been so much crop circling this year, and the whole 'cult' seems to be at last disappearing....

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A killjoy

Spider webs captured at Gors Fawr

Today my world is hot, and dare I say it, I don't actually like hot weather, it sucks the energy out of you, a perpetual bright sun beating down.  The wind hardly stirs, the wood pigeons and collared doves send their monotonous but so soothing talk out as they perch in the maple tree.  The little sparrows squabble at the feed holder, practically emptying one out every day.  Since we have come back the lilies are starting to burst into that exotic flamboyance, with their scent filling the garden every now and then. Bright orange nasturtiums tumble down, the first cosmos flower has shown its delicate petals.
Still my mind lingers in Wales, following the river Solva tumbling down its way or the bridge that we perilously crossed to see Jennie, the water tumbling down underneath. To be truthful it is not perilous just narrow but a good story has to have some drama.  Walking around the circle at Gors Fawr, the small stone circle almost hidden by reeds, treading carefully as the ground gave way in a squelchy manner, then the two tall stones a 100 yards away, start of a processional pathway, who knows but with Carn Meyn in the distance a 'sacred' site.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Solva River lies at the foot of the lane running to Middle Mill

Narrow lanes

A splendid holiday, the weather was good most of the time, we managed to see various members of our family on that first day in Wiltshire, we saw Jennie and husband next day, and then managed to guide our friends round, or at least to several cromlechs, though they did not get to see the 'sacred' spring on Carn Meyn because of the 'swamp' they encountered on the side of the outcrop, though they saw the solitary hawthorn marking the place.
It was a joy to see Jennie and Keith again, Jennie as ebullient as ever even though she was still ill, and we sat round the kitchen table and there was a great discussion on archaeology and the 'way out' theories that still attend such marvels as the bluestones.  Our American friends were most impressed by the house and their guided tour, BuckyE  prodding every piece of wood.
Carn Meyn home of the bluestones was rather 'mizzled' on the first day, in other words foggy and the clouds sat atop the hills, so we did not go up but went and looked at the three most impressive cromlechs in the vicinity.  It was also very wet, the moor round this area, full of reeds and gorse, was deceptive when you walked on it, and one's feet were liable to sink into waterlogged grass.
Sheep I have already featured, ponies also mooched around on the moor as well, not many visitors either here but it is such a way out spot. Next day we tackled Carn Meyn, wandering over the top and viewing it from a distance, BuckyE and Loie decided to walk to it, so we left them and wandered back, spotting that sheep round up as we waited.  Waiting was an anxious game, I suddenly felt guilty letting them go but BuckyE is an experienced walker and I should not have worried but it was an enormous relief to see their hats in the far distance coming down to the car.
Next day they left, so after my favourite walks round Solva and a visit to Middle Mill to take in the tranquil surroundings and note that the quarry was for sale, yes we are looking for a house round here, we went for a walk down to St.Elvis cromlech, with its little chapel in the farm yard.  It is about a half mile walk down the farm track and of course we met the milk lorry rushing down.  LS has problems with narrow lanes and large vehicles rushing round such as the school bus, post man, milk vehicles, dust carts and tractors to be met round the next hidden corner..
The next day we went to Carn Wynda, another 'hidden' cromlech beneath a rocky outcrop.  This one is difficult to find, it can be approached by a public footpath from one lane, which we missed so had to go round to find another path.  The little village that sits at the foot of the outcrop is probably typical of these outlying settlements.  If you were to walk along the first path you would come to a small schoolhouse lying derelict in the fields, but if you were to take the next path about a mile away, parking at the side of the road and take the green lane....
First of all a substantial house, with chickens in a yard and a child's garden on the verge full of things collected.  Walking on past into the beautiful green shaded lane and you come on a small house seemingly completely overgrown by trees and shrubs, the odd rose bush poking through, and bird holders as well, maybe it is occupied but falling into disrepair so quickly that it will disappear in a few years.
Wales is verdant and the rain has made the countryside glow with that iridescent colour that is a joy, wild flowers line the verges of the motorways, all this rain has given the place a vivid living pulsating life, so we may moan but nature seems to have got on with it. 

Carn Wynda

Pentre Ifan

St. Elvis
Garn Wnda additional information;

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sheep - Presilli Hill

Well these are just photos, three quad bikes arrived on the scene whilst we were waiting for our friends to return.  Actually they may be called something else, but each vehicle had three dogs apiece.  On this bike, two of the dogs leapt aboard and went over the hill in style, only one ran up the hill in about 2 minutes making a mockery of our 20 minute hike up.  The other 6 dogs  made it to the top in fast time as well!  The whole scene enacted out in front of us, the quiet sheep grazing in different parts of the area, were brought at a gallop down the hill to meet up somewhere in the distance.  It was quite spectacular, the little lamb rushing along desperately after his mother, the sheep in another field went over the cattle grid hopefully she was rescued.  Horses also roam this narrow cattle gridded lane, young foals as well.

First quad bike with three dogs

Sheep coming down the hillside 

Move on 

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Saturday and the rain still beats steadily outside though it has of course been sunny some times this week.  Canvas bag on the bed to be packed and then we're off on Sunday.  Avebury first, then Pewsey Church to take flowers for LS's parents.  I've always quite liked Pewsey as a place to live, one of those quiet forgotten backwater towns.  Then a meal in the evening by the side of a canal, with family and friends.
Then next day the excitement of travelling to Wales, the bridge over the Severn estuary confirming that you are entering a different country. My love affair with Wales started young, living in the Black Country as we did, weekend breaks over to friends who owned a farm was a joy.  We would stop by the roadside and my grandfather would cook bacon and eggs over some sort of stove.  These were hunting and fishing trips for him though as children we also sent to this farm in the holidays.  As I grew up, my elder brother kept a boat at Aberayron so I would go down there with him in his posh sports car.  Boats and my stomach don't necessarily agree, so it was riding for me with the landlord's daughter.  My friend in America came from Lampeter and we would go dancing in the evening, sadly she did not like Wales and has lived in America happily for the last, goodness knows how many, years.
Monday we shall be visiting Bovey Belle which I am looking forward to greatly ;) with American friends in tow, then Tuesday my job as a tourist guide begins, St.David, St.Non and then the three cromlechs round Newport. Wednesday will be a whole day round the Preseli hills to go spring hunting on Carn Meini, and I expect I shall shall again miss the chevaux de frise at Carn Alw but one day I will take the walk out to it.
So that just leaves us two more days on our own, which must always include Middle Mill the long walk down the pretty lane, high hedgebanks filled with flowers, somewhere I would love to live the mill by the bridge and the quick running River Solva.
 Going back to Solva is always tinged with sadness as well, as I miss my old walking companion, Moss so sensible and beautiful, always leading the way, and finding the way back should I get lost ;) , but I'm sure he comes with me in spirit.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


The rains have hit this part of Essex this morning. Steadily falling now, maybe there will be floods elsewhere but round here we have lots of green space to soak the water up.  Yesterday on the green in front of the house people did their exercises with a trainer.  This is a recent phenomena, people exercising on the green, we even have boxers training as well now, the steady thump of leather is a sunday morning noise. The greens are for dog walkers, children playing and teenagers chatting, a free space, one of the things you notice about Chelmsford is the space, large ample green verges, public gardens cycle paths and public footpaths, it does make people walk and cycle though.
Me I'm listening to Kate Bush's Aerial, a favourite but not every one's cup of tea and I am also spinning yarn, the sound of the wheel has a pleasant rhythm to it, the music helps, sound of the rain soothing.
Facebook informs me that the family is still at the Premier Inn in Manchester, they have been visiting relatives and will presumably travel back soon, I am always happy when they get back safely home.  Weird isn't it the computer plays me music, keeps me in touch with family, sadly it won't go down and make the coffee but still you can't have everything.
The old maple tree red leaves are a dark black now and I can spy a collared dove amongst the branches, flowers droop heavily in the garden, one shrub over burdened with flower lies almost on the ground.  My lilies are budding and I hope they don't flower whilst we are away.  They have that pretty red lily beetle that eats the leaves, I  remove the wretched creatures and transport to the front garden, not sure if they come back though. I under plant the lilies with nasturtiums, always love the bright orange of the flowers tumbling to the grass and they provide welcome colour before the main event of scented lilies.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Chalk; A poem by Jeremy Hooker

This poem came from a library book long out of print, called Soliloquies of a Chalk Giant by Jeremy Hooker.  The book had to go back to the library but I managed to copy a couple of the poems, and I must have written to him about the provenance of another poem.  Hooker came from Southampton but a lot of his working life was spent in Wales as a lecturer.  His heroes were Edward Thomas and  Richard Jefferies and his writing here captures the essence of chalk on the downlands and the long line of prehistory as those first neolithic people settled on this dry upland.  So as I have no title I shall call it Chalk, to go with a youtube video on meditation that Bovey Belle has put up on her blog  and also to speed  BBs recovery too getting better.
Collecting a stone, feather or a shell stays with us from childhood, the act of collecting a wild flower or some token is a reminder of the natural world and our place in it.  Macfarlane would always collect a stone from where ever he walked, the bright whiteness of quartz, or the the dark stones of the cliffs.  Natural chalk figures can be found round Avebury, take the Green Road up to the downs and you can pick strangely shaped lumps of chalk or even flint nodules their shiny surface sometimes like striped toffee. Such collections will litter a window sill with their untidiness, I remember picking up a small bluestone stone, and marvelling at the slaty-blue colour not quite believing that this particular type of stone was quarried here on Carn Menyi  in South-West Wales and transported all the way down to Stonehenge in Wessex.  But at the same time that small fragment of stone held in my hand felt like something special, and now with the new theories they are saying that the building of Stonehenge was a way uniting  the many clans and tribes from all over Britain perhaps those special bluestones were transported down to the sea to follow the paths of sea and rivers till at last they arrived in another land.......
From my walk yesterday, I bought home the barred brown feather of a hawk and some wild oat grass I think, as the grasses and the red flowers of the docks are at their best alongside the pale pink of the mallows...


A memorial of its origins, chalk in barns and churches
moulders in rain and damp;petrified creatures swim
in its depths.

It is domestic, with the homeliness of an ancient
hearth exposed to the weather, pale with the ash of
countless primeval fires. Here the plough grates on an
urnfield, the green plover stands with crest erect on
a royal mound.

Chalk is the moon's stone; the skeleton is native to its
soil. It looks anaemic, but has submerged the type-sites
of successive cultures. Stone, bronze, iron; all are assimilated to
its nature;
and the hill-forts follow its curves.

These, surely, are the works of giants; temples
re-dedicated to the sky-god, spires fashioned for the
lords of bowmen;

Spoils of the worn idol, squat Venus of the mines.

Druids leave their shops in the midsummer solstice;
neophytes tread an antic measure to the antlered god.
Men who trespass are soon absorbed, horns laid beside
them in the ground. The burnt-out tank waits beside
the barrow.

The god is a graffito carved on the belly of the chalk,
his savage gesture subdued by the stuff of his creation.
He is taken up like a gaunt white doll by the round hills,
wrapped around by the long pale hair of the fields.

No photos from now on, unless I get particularly wealthy, which is really not on the cards...

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Well my photos have come to an end on blogger I seem to have used up my 1GB unless I want to pay monthly to Google, so maybe I am to be restricted to words but a bit of experimentation on Wordpress will not come amiss. So should produce a few photos from today.
We walked down to the river to see the ponies and their foals.  It was a hot and humid day and the foals, about 7, were lazing around in the grass, if not asleep they would wake and go and have a feed from their mothers.  Blue damselflies and demoiselle fluttered about over the leat.  This old leat has filled with water with all the rain we are having at the moment, so we stayed on the other side and watched them roll happily in the grass, sleep and thoroughly enjoy life as only young animals can.
Tonight of course the rains come back, another deluge is forecast for the Midlands, a month's supply of rain in two days, not sure that we will have it so bad but rain is definitely coming over from France.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Awbury - Cope family

Awbury House part of the larger Cope estate link

'In 1852, Henry Cope, a Philadelphia ship owner, bought forty acres of farm land in East Germantown near the home of his daughter and son-in-law, Mary Cope and John Smith Haines.  At that time, Germantown—which was not yet part of the City of Philadelphia—was largely undeveloped and an ideal place for country living.  A large house was built on the property as a summer home for Henry, his wife Rachel Reeve Cope, and their grown children and families. 
Henry Cope named the estate after the village of Avebury in Wiltshire, England, from which the Cope family had originally emigrated. The Henry Cope house and the Haines house were the first of what would become an entire community of houses at Awbury built by various members of the Cope Family over several generations. When the Henry Cope house became too crowded with children and grandchildren, Henry's son Francis built a new house nearby in 1861.  Soon after, three of Francis' children built houses at Awbury for their growing families.  Other cousins in the family of Francis Cope's brother Thomas did the same. By the 1920's 24 houses had been established throughout what is present day Awbury.'

about three years ago I came across a poem by Mary Cope, she had written a poem about Avebury in Wiltshire, date 1866 but she had come from America to see this village her ancestor's home and it intrigued me to go on and discover who was the ancestor and I wrote several unrelated blogs about the Cope family.  Well that took some time, but if you were to turn to Awbury in America, then there is a clue.

The ancestor she spoke of was Oliver Cope, a tailor living with his family in Avebury, he had three children and the biographer Gilbert Cope in his book says that Oliver bought some land in America, 500 acres in two parcels bought off William Penn and recorded May 1682. Gilbert Cope's book was on online and though there was not much written about Oliver what it did turn up was that subsesquent generations of Quaker Copes became rich and a family estate was born called Awbury and which is now an arboretum.  Two things stand out, the humble beginnings of Oliver and the role of Quakerism in building up the family fortunes
And as an aside, last week when the truth was revealed about the mendacity of our banks, a couple of letters in the Guardian, amongst many furious ones had said what if our banks had been ruled by decent Quaker bankers, we may have had a much better system and not the 'bollinger lads' who have brought this country to the verge of bankruptcy with their greedy ways.

But to return to Oliver making his way in Avebury, Gilbert Cope says that the family were not Quakers (see the Dissenter link) but at this moment in history, the dissenters were having a tough time and maybe owning up to being of a different religious persuasion was not deemed prudent, the Five Mile Act forbade clergymen to move out of the prescribed zone of their limits and hefty fines were imposed on people if you did.  Eventually this ban was overturned in 1702 by the king.  Here is a link to the Devizes dissenters and it is mentioned that Avebury did not have a chapel built till 1670 and today that same chapel is of course the tourist centre for information.

Oliver's mother Elizabeth died in 1681, but the family did not embark on their great adventure to start a fresh new life till 1682 a year after his mother's death, perhaps she had left them some money for the journey  They settled in a place called Naaman's Creek,  in the County of New Castle, Pennysylvania and it was here that Oliver died in 1697, and I will reproduce his will in full for what he owned and now left his four children and wife.......

I, Oliver Cope, now of y countie of New Castle, being weak in body ie but of sound and disposing mind and memory, praised be y lorde for it make and ordain this last will................
Item; I give and bequeath that what horses and mares my daughters have, shall be and remaine their own.
I give and bequeth unto my daughter Ruth, three wether sheep, and one ewe and lamb
To my son William, one ewe and lamb, and as for my stock of cattle, I will that
my wife shall one half of them, and y other half of y cattle chall be equallie
divided between my foure children.
I give to my son William £17
I give to my daughter Ruth, £3.10s.
I give and bequeath to my son John, y old bay mare and her two colts
I give more to my other son William, all my other horses and mares
I give and bequeath y one-half of all remaining part of my estate, both real and
personal, between my foure children - my two sons to have a double share of it
I give one horse to my wfe. The other half of my estate, I give and bequeath
unto my wife during her widowhood. When I make my full and sole and if my wife happen to marry that then part shall be equallie divided between my foure children........
In the year of our lord 1697 - Oliver Cope
Also signed by Rebecca Cope

He had had 15 years or thereabouts to make a living and support his family, what we see is a small farm, a few horses, sheep and cattle, and everyone keeping their own horses and the rest of the  small farm fairly shared between the four children.  John who got the old bay mare and her two colts went on to make his fortune in the world and the fortunes of future generations, so perhaps the old bay mare was lucky!

In Oliver Cope's story we can see the generations of future Cope families making their way in the country of America, he did provide a better life for his great grandchildren, and then that moment in time when Mary Cope coming back to visit Avebury and writing her poem in 1866, is contrasting the smallness of the English countryside compared to the vastness of America, and yet, she was the beneficiary of a courageous act of emigration.  I love the poem, it lurks at the back of memory, the peace and quiet of the Wiltshire downs, its small villages, still really intact though of course their social structure has been replaced by a different elite......

From western lands beyond the foam,
We sought our English father's home 
by few or known or sung.
Which 'neath the quiet English skies,
far from all busy haunts it lies
the wide chalk downs among.

Huge druid stones surround the spot,
Which else had almost been forgot
By the great world without.
The mystic ring now scarcely traced
Is by a grassy dike embraced, 
Circling the whole about.

Deep hangs the thatch on cottage eaves,
And buried deep in ivy leaves
The cottage window gleam.
There little birds fly to and fro,
And happy children come and go
With rosy cheek and rustic walk,

They curtsy for the gentle folk,
As they the strangers deem.
With pinks and stocks the beds are gay
,And box and yew their shapes display
Fantastically trimmed.
And each small garden overflows

With scent of woodbine and of rose
Above the borders trim.
The ancient little Norman church,
With quaintly medieval porch,
Stands 'neath the elm tree tall
Sunk in the graveyard plot around,

The moss-grown headstones scarce are found
Few stoop the lettering to trace
Which time's rude hand will soon efface.
Some there may be of highborn race,
But none the names recall.
The many gabled manor house,

With winking casement sheen,
Seem in the summer light to drowse
And dream of what has been
And we may dream of earlier days
,When the old convent marked the place,
When nuns in gown and coif complete,

Paced the green paths with quiet feet,
And gather herbs and simples small
Beneath the high brick garden wall,
Finding a safe retreat.
Like some small nest securely placed,
With ferns and grass interlaced,
But open to the light,

The hamlets seem to lie at rest
Upon the common's ample breast,
Secure in loneliness of space
From aught that could the charm efface
Of innocence and old-world grace
Worn by ancestral right.

Home of sweet days and thankful nights,
Fair fall on thee the morning light,
Soft fall the evening dews.
Wild winds perchance may sweep the wold
But age, untouched by storm or cold,
In memory's sight thou standest there,
Encircled by serenest air,
In changeless summer hue.

Mary S Cope. 1886

Gilbert Cope's book