Thursday, September 27, 2012


Been packing this morning, I don't have many clothes which comes as a bit of a surprise, lot of it is due to  me hating shopping, can't be bothered to walk round shops anyway, and when a particular dearth of something comes around, it is mainly because a lot of stuff is in the wash regime, I will hasten to M&S online and order some necessity.  Sometimes I want to take myself in hand, order some natty jackets and matching skirts/trousers but never do.
So 2 minutes packing, or slinging some clothes into a bag, my love of course is so ultra neat that he looks on in horror at my untidiness.  This tidiness comes from past working in the studio and working in Japanese studios and museums having all his tools and brushes laid out precisely on the work bench, so that now it has infiltrated to books on tables, knives and forks it becomes a joke between us my habit of distributing books haphazardly on all surfaces, patchwork materials and my spun wools in baskets and dishes.
Today I have decided to spin 'Pegasus's' apalca fleece, a deep dark brown it leaves smudges on my fingers, I know Pegasus the alpaca resides in his field with companions just along the road to Middle Mill from Solva, such knowledge gives me pleasure as I spin. It reminds me of Solva Mill which I follow on Facebook, and I have a faint sense of homesickness.  But we are off on saturday firstly to Seahenge, been reading Francis Pryor on it, his wife Maisie conserved the timbers at Flag Fen before they went into the museum.  It is not a henge of course, maybe not even a circle more a shrine with the central upturned tree used for excarnation, Pryor likened it to the Street House ritual enclosure coincidentally, which is just outside Whitby, and I had just written about!
After Seahenge Whitby of course on Sunday, both looking forward to it, even if it is only for decent fish and chips and the Magpie restaurant, and my favourite walk by the East cliff, though I must not forget my grandchildren.
Also been reading Britain After Rome (The Fall and Rise 400 to 1070) by Robin Fleming, fascinating the so called 'dark ages' but it was complete breakdown after the withdrawal of Roman authority from Britain. Can you imagine our councils just not being there, roads and towns fell into disrepair, crafts disappeared no pots made, they were even to be found using the old prehistoric cremation urns as domestic pots, I suppose having emptied them out first. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Inside Welsh homes

Just love the old television in the corner

Photos collected by 'The Peoples Collection - Wales, of the ordinary, humdrum lounges, kitchen and bathrooms of Wales over the 20th century, fascinating for the curious ;).

Saturday, September 22, 2012


This is an ammonite quilt, that was displayed in the  quilting shop in Brunswick Road.
Picking up our threads in Whitby;  

Who is Peperoni?  Well she is a small silver-grey cat that visits the yard in Whitby.  Does she belong to anyone? I am not sure, but last time we were there she made her presence felt.  Our neighbour up the steps, is an old fashioned hippy, long grey locks and a loud Scottish accent, and it is here that Peperoni will head for morning breakfast, we will see her out of the window tail held high as she bounces up the steps.  Paul loves talking to (well just lets call him F) F.  We always get missed phone calls from him and we both picture him standing outside on his small balcony looking out on to the wilderness of wild flowers in front of him that is supposed to become several houses.  This walled piece of land owned by an absentee Irish millionaire, who also owns several other properties in Whitby, may not be developed, or it may, but long may it be a wildlife habitat.
This morning F said he was training two carrier pigeons as their phone calls always seem to miss each other.
His friends often pass our window, a Viking goth would perhaps explain one, Whitby is full of colourful characters another neighbour in the yard had her brothers down for the folk music weekend, songs and music could be heard coming from the cottage and A had bought a ukelele to practise on, as she has as yet to learn how to play...
But to return to Peperoni, a very pretty little cat, she came to inspect the cottage a couple of times, waltzing round the sitting room , under the bed on the first floor and then doing a daredevil act on the top floor window, which was open, till I rescued her.  We have seen her curled up fast asleep in the pub over the road,  M next door doesn't like her and so she gets shooed out, Paul worries about her crossing the road from the pub to the yard. Hopefully I shall take more photos when we go back and I shall try to capture Peperoni if she is still around.....

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sea Henge

Taken from  this BBC article
Holme 1
We will be going to Whitby in a few days, but firstly my son in law and Tom my eldest grandson are coming this weekend to deliver Tom to uni, and then the following weekend we shall travel.  We have decided to stop off one night in Norfolk to see the fabulous Bronze Age Seahenge timbers at Kings Lynn museum, and I definitely want to go to the Holme-by-the-Sea beach where they were first found and caused such controversy about their lifting from the sands.

There is a reconstruction of the timbers, smooth side facing inward, bark on the outside and that fabulous upside down tree root in the centre, a mystery as to why, but in feels like the Celtic otherworld/underworld has some meaning here. The controversy centred around the fact that these timbers were sacred according to the pagan communities and should be left in situ to be slowly eroded by the sea.  There is another timber circle close by, to be left in situ by English Heritage, this is called Holme 11 and there is apparently a timber trackway to this timber circle.

The Sea Henge timbers went to the  Flag Fen Centre for immersion in water and a wax substance that would penetrate the timber and preserve them.

Map reference; Holme 1 - TF711452 Sea Henge,
                         Holme 11     TF752453

Trees mirrored in the river one cold and snowy morning

Monday, September 17, 2012

A walk by the Chelmer river

The gypsy ponies are doing well, fat and sleek in the sun, their foals play and joust round the old leat.  I counted about 18 ponies, the picture sequence shows the first mum charging down the field for a drink, the second are the two foals pawing the water, and the third well I think that is the stallion at the back, but not the old one.
This is the old stallion from 2009

Peaceful old Chelmer river

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Loftus - Street House neolithic burial/Anglo-Saxon Burial

Saxon Jewellery
Street House Anglo Saxon Cemetery
Loftus, North Yorkshire a slightly nondescript town, near the coast between Skinninggrove and Whitby and not far from the Boulby Mines.

There are times when history takes you by the throat and shakes you, today I came across a  Saxon princess grave from the 7th century that  had been excavated earlier on in this decade, it was a 'bed burial' (only 12 such exist up to the present time in this country)  several rather beautiful brooches were discovered in the grave.   Saxons are far and few up in North Yorkshire and it is supposed that she had married a local man.

The Wossit Barrow/ritual enclosure

Then on delving deeper came across this Neolithic cairn which was overlaid by a Bronze age round barrow, which is unusual but, anyway to me, fascinating, this long history of burial on one site.  There is not much to see though I note on an old map that a tumulus was marked on this farm.

An Early Neolithic cairn and mortuary structure overlain by an Early Bronze Age round barrow. Excavated in 1979-81, a shallow plough-damaged earthwork circa 6 metres in diameter proved to represent a multiphase Neolithic funerary/mortuary monument. An east-facing timber facade fronted a narrow mortuary structure set between low banks of clay and stone. Behind the mortuary structure was a sub-rectangular enclosure defined by a stone kerb and containing two paved areas. The latter is interpreted as a mortuary enclosure, used for the initial laying out of the dead prior to deposition within the mortuary structure itself. The latter contained the fragmentary burnt remains of several individuals. The facade comprised near-contiguous timber posts. The largest at the centre, directly in front of the mortuary structure (another post setting occurred at its rear). Most of the Neolithic pottery recovered came from the upper fills of this facade trench. In front of the facade were traces of two rows of post holes, possibly representing an avenue approach or other structure. Radiocarbon dates suggest that the monument was constructed in the early to mid 4th millennium BC. Subsequently, the whole monument was converted into a single low trapezoidal cairn by the extension of the mortuary enclosure kerb as far as the facade, and the addition of cairn material over the whole monument behind the facade. The timber elements were burnt, and subsequently unburnt timbers were removed. In the Early Bronze Age, funerary or related practices immediately preceded the construction of a kerbed round barrow over the eastern half of the long cairn. Despite plough-damage, four collared urns and an accessory vessel represented secondary cremations inserted into the mound. Two of the collared urns were associated with Grooved Ware sherds. A deposit of circa 20 jet buttons was inserted into the tail end of the long cairn. The flint assemblage included some possibly Mesolithic items.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Indian summer

September has arrived with beautiful weather, some would say hot, but I shall desist from saying it.
Yesterday we wandered along to Paper Mill, lots of people at the tea place, slice of carrot cake and a mug of tea went down nicely.  You can feel autumn in the air though, it is in the muted  colour of the grasses and trees, a slow turning of the season.  In the garden I cut the heads of hydrangeas and lacecaps for drying for winter vases, remembering the golden rod and tansy I used to cut years ago for the same purpose, there bright yellow colouring turning to biscuit over the winter months.  The bumble bees dance ahead of me in the garden alighting on the cosmos and two collared doves tamely peck round the lawn as I garden, we are used to each other.
The willows on the river are a lovely silver-green, it never ceases to amaze me this soft green, the leaves turning in the wind silverside up and that soft whooshing rattle of noise.  I should be dyeing some wool, but natural materials are hard to find, so I continue with my patchwork.  A design has been decided on 4 square pattern alongside a pale cream square, Cotton Patch has sent me a catalogue with a whole load of templates and rules, I am hardly past the 'square' stage so a 'log' design is some way away yet.

A new book to read, To the River by Olivia Lang, it is said to be in the style of Robert MacFarlane, I am not so sure  When it hurts, we return to the banks of certain rivers, gives us a perception of one of her motives, a past love affair haunts the pages, also history comes alive along this particular river, which is the River Ouse, famous for Virginia Woolf's suicide.  Laing has done a great deal of reading, Woolf quotations meander through the chapters, but a return to the wilderness it is not.  This southern river is too tamed, to near to towns to give a feeling of lost landscapes, it is more a historic trail, a palimpsest of historical layers, one page sinking into another,  and yet her descriptions of the wild flowers that  lined the  ditches of fields of wheat, shows that our native wild flowers are still with us.  Still I have not finished reading, yet to arrive at the sea - the endless motion of water. 

one step-width water
of linked stones
trills in the stones
glides in the trills
eels in the glides
in each eel a fingerwidth of sea

Alice Oswald - The River Dart.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Changes, changes

A lot has happened in the last week, my family in Whitby have decided to move back to Rugby, which will of course be nearer to us in Chelmsford.  This has not shocked us, my daughter had been unhappy in Whitby for quite a while, the shock came when having only put their house on the market last week, two offers were made on it and they are off looking for a new house this weekend.
One of the motivating factors was my eldest grandson results in his 'A' levels or whatever they call them now, he passed with a distinction in law (he wants to work in the police force) and he gets his uni of choice which is near London and us.  I shall miss them in Whitby but we will still keep the cottage, because everyone loves it.  Sometime next year it will go with a holiday letting agent mostly so I can pay utility bills on it, I can have it when I please for family and friends so the contract is not too stifling.
This week I also experience difficulty with Eblogger and photos, so I turned to Wordpress blogs, their photos come up a lot clearer.  I've used WP before so it was not too difficult, but still like the comparative ease of this blog, and it would be sad to leave it.  There again my computer has been playing up in other areas, I have a feeling it is to do with these ubiquitous cookies that appear every time you go to a link but who knows..... Northstoke2

Tom looking 'cool' note both the younger children on their computers, they all have mobile phones as well, though the little one has not got an account!

In the dark wood

A walk through Blake's Wood to see if the sweet chestnuts were ready (they are not) and some fungi hunting, but all there was to see were puffballs, creamy yellow by the paths. The woods were dark, overgrown with young briars and grass, summer is slowly dying.  No wind, but the trees talked amongst themselves, gently creaking and snapping, this is part of an old wood's history, we came to the coppiced bit with one tree tall standing amongst the great heaps of branches shorn from the felled trees. A hawk flew off, cross perhaps because we had disturbed his sanctuary, strangely there are not many birds in the wood, a tiny mouse-like wren alighted on a stump as we walked by but apart from wood pigeons and the far 'chink' of a blackbird it was ominously silent.  
The brightest thing we saw was  fireweed, Rosebay Willowherb something I had been meaning to look up for a long time.  We all know its history, this ragged flower of the roadside, said to sprout on all waste ground enlivening the areas round towns.  So turning to Geoffrey Grigson I learnt a little of its history.
Gerard is the first to talk about it, he grew it in his garden in Yorkshire and describes it thus
"it grows to the height of sixe foote, garnished with brave flowers of great beauty, consisting of fower leaves a piece, of an orient purple colour".
It was the industrialisation of the country alongside the railway and the second world war that spread it far and wide, those "downie matter" seeds blowing far in the wind, coming to rest on fire bombed land, it has become so 'common' we ignore it.  
In America, around Seattle (remember Grigson is writing in 1958) they make Fireweed Honey apparently and it grows in greater profusion than in England.  As you can see from the following photos Angelica is also growing in this damp environment, a rather splendid plant, dark purple stems and feathery white umbrels.
Whilst reading about fireweed came across that other 'common' plant that has spread along the railways, Oxford Ragwort - Senecio Squalidus. Yes, it was named as a squalid plant, whether because of its habit of travelling far and wide or because it just happened to alight in squalid surroundings I'm not sure.  But Grigson defends it stoutly as a cheerful plant like fireweed (though I do hate these two colours together (yellow and pink).
So what else spreads itself with wanton ease, well the pretty little Ivy Toadflax which grew in my last garden hugging the steps and walls for shelter and warmth, and of course the Red Valerian which adorns our walls with equal enthusiam.