Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Last of the photos

You have to read these three photos backwards, it is the emergence of the yellow dredger as it goes out to sea.  The bridge has to be opened and all foot traffic and cars wait while boats sail under. Great crowds of tourists pass over this bridge which connects the two sides of Whitby, and when it was closed last year for refurbishment people were bussed round over the new bridge. 
Strangely LS is homesick for Whitby, it does get into your blood this vivid little town, summer tourists we could do without; wander along the left hand side of the quay and your senses are assaulted with a 'Southend' atmosphere, and you cannot move for the crush of people.  Yet its charm of old cottages and yards and the jumble of houses that totter precariously over the quay is a reminder of times past.

The bridge opening

Matilda not pulling faces for the camera

Lillie, yes this is a normal going out outfit! always ready for the camera.

Two of my grandchildren, Ben has grown like all our male teenagers into the person who lives up in his room playing games. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Blakes Wood and Bluebells

We had almost missed the bluebells in Blakes Wood, but they had appeared along with the stitch wort and yellow archangel, both happy woodland plants.  The growth is sumptuous, the colours of late spring so fresh  and newly formed.  Whenever you come across bluebells in a wood, the eye and imagination is caught by the dappled sunshine and that blue colour which is almost impossible to describe as it takes on a life of its own caught in the shadows of the trees.  

Stitch wort 

Yellow Archangel


Bluebells, coppicing and shade

clear back and regeneration

Sunday, May 26, 2013

North Yorkshire in late spring

A typical Yorkshire lane, smell the freshness of burgeoning leaves even if there is a sharp nip to the air.

Small woods everywhere, some with bluebells

Wind anemones on the bank with  ransoms below.

My migrating insect occasionally appears on the lense, the moor in all it rough state

Wade's Stone North

Curious sheep by the stone

This is my favourite nursery and proves you can grow flowers in the cold north. Old fashioned plants raised plus a  restaurant by the River Esk,  between Ruswarp and Sleights,take your cheque book they don't have a machine...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Flickr and kerfuffles

There is quite a stir in the realms of Flickr, they have changed the way your photostream comes up and most people are not happy, as my account is being renewed in June I cannot do anything really.   How to upload my latest photos; a long and circuitous method involves putting my photos on LS's computer, transferring them to Flickr and then back to my computer - joy, but still can't put them in folders.

Lastingham Church;

the chancel

Down in the crypt

Outside of church

the basilica

Cedd's Well, parts of which are from Rosedale

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Last thoughts

We leave Whitby tomorrow, having to stay another day because the children need looking after as my son- in-law has to go in for a scan today in Middlesborough. Later on the agent's photographer will come to photograph the room I am typing in, the attic and Laura (Visit England) is also coming.  It has been fairly busy during our stay, hanging rails have been put up, smoke alarms and a new outside light.  There have been dramas, our  neighbour has had to go into hospital, and her husband (they have been married 57 years) kept an eye on, he has visited the Scarborough hospital every day, but everyone seems to pull together in this small community.  Last night a grandson came to visit the husband, he had not seen him for 5 years, so there are small good things happenings amongst all the upheaval.
Snapped the above painting which is in the gallery at the Museum in Pannett Park, it is a favourite of mine,  (must be because it reminds me of my two granddaughters) it is a slightly slushy sentimental rendition, think it was done by one of the Staithes group of artists.  Children barefoot, the mud path up to the rickety cottage, very much a picture of these old cottages that cling to the side of the coastal villages.
Little Lillie has fallen in love with Captain Cook so I must find her a book in her style on the subject, here she is reading an inscription in the park, with Matilda just about to fool around in the little fountain at the top, and then the wet consequences as later Lillie slips in. The other day after telling her mum that she has had a horrible six years of living and falling into the fountain was the worst event;) luckily she did not fall into the pond behind...... I should actually put a photo of her when she is fooling around which is most of the time, she is a true drama queen...



Tall acanthus in the park

I love acanthus, if I remember correctly its seeds would burst out like a gun in the garden shooting them several feet away.  The leaves are of course its outstanding feature, we see them everywhere in classical architecture, saw them on the great pillars at Lastingham church.

Well the cottage has passed its test, lots of little ticks means I may get a star or two, my initial grumpiness with our Visit England representative has been put to one side.  Why? well her husband owns half a trawler, not doing any fishing at the moment because he is working for a scientific group who are checking out the Doggerland scheme of wind turbines, something i'm interested in.  It is to be the biggest turbine farm in the world and the misgivings that it is going to take a lot of money, consequences of putting the turbines in the sea will mean rusting, and the terrific amount of infrastructure to bring it back on land are adding up to another disaster.
And of course fishing is going to be affected as well, we learnt a bit about Whitby's departure from being a fishing port, it is sad, no fish market now and everyone eating cod and haddock with their chips when they should be eating other types of fish.  Apparently quite a lot of the fish in the shops is frozen at sea and docked at Peterhead something I did not know.
What did we fail at, well a wastepaper basket in the attic, and no pictures on the wall in the bedroom but we all agreed better to take time choosing something good than sling anything on the wall;)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lastingham and Rabbit pie

Lastingham Church

Today we went back to Lastingham village, again to see the church of Cedd and to have rabbit pie but it was not on the menu, they sold frozen ones so we shall eat a pie tomorrow for tea.  Left Whitby in a mist and then ascended over the moors in a complete fog, so that we had to drive carefully for about 10 miles without another car in sight, until one came upon us unexpectedly - no lights and grey colour, just missed them.....
Descending into the dales and Rosedale the world turned magically into a beautiful spring day, thick clusters of cowslips, primroses, starwort all along the banks, and masses of other flowers - stunning, this place we both agreed is beginning to feel like home.  Arrived at the pretty (but expensive no doubt) village of Lastingham we went to the Blacksmith's Arms pub, its old and opposite the church.  Tankards line the ceiling, bright copper pans and bits and pieces adorn the fireplace.
There is a feeling of excitement as we enter the church and then go down to the crypt with all its Saxon stones laid out and I have written about it here, I think it is because Cedd in the 7th century, came to this lonely spot and decided to build an abbey, and the church today reflects this. But what a place to build something, in the middle of nowhere, on the edge of the moors with a great ridge behind, strange but for all this it did not stop the Vikings from laying waste to the monasteries round here.
As I familiarise myself with the countryside, I realise that the places we have been looking at are near to each other, firstly Wade's Causeway or the Roman road, in actual fact goes straight to the Cawthorn Roman Camps and if you look at this map taken at Cawthorn Camps you can see how the landscape works, with Lastingham and Rosedale Abbeys in the distance.

These incense stones are Romans and are in the church, there use though is rather macabre, the soldiers, in some sort of rite were supposed to burn charcoal in them, if they refused, they were not Christian and therefore executed.

One of the plants we saw lining the banks in places was Angelica Archangel (I think) is a beautiful tall plant,  pale creamy white umbelliferus flowers, and this is one I took last year overlooking the harbour.

Alexander Angelica??

This photo echoes the landscape seen in the Cawthorn Camp illustration.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tessa's sister Jan showing off

Jan at 14 weeks

This is a video of Jan  the collie bitch and the sister of Tessa who was flown to America and you can see why Tessa was so wanted.  Jan's video shows a a 14 week old puppy doing exactly what a trained collie would do though this is her very first time with sheep, it is extraordinary how grown up she is and knows exactly what to do.  She has a very proud breeder over the moon with his new protege, though Roy will not begin training her till she is 7/8 months old, doesn't look as if she needs much.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Catching up

Catching up... We went for the most glorious drive to find a prehistoric stone the other day, it is called Wade's Stone (north), it all began when we turned off the main road and followed one of those little lanes to the sea. Past muddy road farm houses, and then sharp downward travel amongst old woods, three fords we crossed.
The woods were in that old stage, trees falling over on their own volition, mossy green from the damp air and the faint haze of bluebells in the depths of the wood.  Wind anemones clung to the banks, not quite open but shaking their white heads in the faint breeze.  Ransoms on the verge as well, introduced LS to the taste and we brought some home, to be used sparingly in cooking - very sharp and garlicky. 
The stone we found easily, as the farmer and his friendly wife were just parked near the gate to the fields we had to walk through; instructions were don't take bags as the sheep will think you are coming to feed them.
The first field we walked through had the remains of a largish olive coloured egg, maybe pheasant, also little lamb tails.  Second field held the selfsame lambs and their mothers, nonchalantly lounging about, the lambs in pairs playing around the stone.  This stone has been restored (it fell over) by North York Moors organisation, and there is a companion stone about half a kilometre away, the South one, which we saw but did not walk up to.  Perhaps they are marking stones to the sea.  
Had to get back for a lunch date with my daughter and her husband, and we tried the food at Wetherstone, cheap with a drink thrown in, but not good the food, they need a better cook.
It is a shame I have no photos of the wild flowers to put on and not being able to put them together with my diary/blog means that I shall seriously think of a new computer soon.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


This is Shamrock she came into the Animal Asia sanctuary in January with 5 other bears.  This is a bear that has been caged for most of her life and suffered pain through bile extraction.  She was encouraged out of her indoor enclosure by placing food tidbits hidden in various places.  What is she interested in? it's the sky, that marvellous blue thing above her head that fills her world of freedom as the food fills her belly.
As I have watched the photos of these poor maligned bears on facebook, the thing that is so impressive is their gentle natures as they adjust, sometimes after many years, to this new natural world outside the realm of their caged existences.

This a video of Peter, very reluctant at first to leave the shelter of  his indoor den, and the report by the sanctuary's vet Vic...

"After his tentative first steps Peter’s courage has grown with each passing day and he is now enjoying the whole area and what it has to offer. He’s moving log and rock piles and learning to forage for the goodies hidden by staff as he follows their scent around the enclosure.

“He enjoys stretching to retrieve food hidden by the team in log walls or on the firehose hammock. His steady character has served him well through the whole process of rehabilitation. His long body is also beginning to fill out and we are now getting a glimpse of a magnificent adult male bear he was born to be. He had his monthly weigh-in this week and is now a healthier 124 kg opposed to the 107 kg he was in January shortly after arriving. This gentle giant of a bear really is learning and experiencing that life can be good.”

This film, taken by Bear Team Supervisor Ai, captures Peter walking round his enclosure on a beautiful day, birds singing and butterflies fluttering - following a trail of treats laid out by staff trying to encourage him to forage as he explores. Peter is becoming increasingly brave - even doing his best to ignore an occasionally noisy neighbour in the next enclosure."

Penny Hedges

Weather here is so cold, as I suppose most of the country is..... well they did say that climate change could go one way or the other, obviously we are heading the other way!  Life is spent catching up on things to do, hanging rails for the bedroom are up, towel rails of course, one sits behind a beam and the other over a cupboard doorway, Laura (Visit England rep) has not visited though yet but the bookings are coming in and I doubt if we shall come back to the cottage this summer.
Last week we missed an old ceremony down by the quay, the Penny Hedge, the following Wiki explains it, 
it feels like a  slightly earlier 'Celtic' tale with the boar seeking shelter in the sanctity of a monks hut, but the ceremony still goes on and the wattle fence is still built, apparently according to my daughter when the tide is out you can still see the old hedge of last year, did Canute inspire this tradition I wonder?

The Penny Hedge is an ancient tradition in the English coastal town of Whitby in Yorkshire.
The legend dates back to 1159, when the Abbot of Whitby imposed a penance on three hunters, and on their descendants for all time, for murdering a hermit at Eskdaleside.
The hunters were following a wild boar near Whitby. When the boar took refuge in a hermitage at Eskdaleside, the nobles set upon the monk living there, who had closed the door on the hounds. Before he died, the monk consented to forgive them and spare their lives if they and their descendants would enact a penance.
Each year, on the eve of Ascension Day, on the shore of Whitby, they had to construct a short hedge from stakes woven together, able to withstand three tides. The instructions stipulated that a knife "of a penny price" was to be used.
The ceremony is still performed in Whitby every year on Ascension Eve, by the occupiers of the land formerly owned by the Abbot. A horn is sounded and followed by the cry "Out on ye! Out on ye! Out on ye!"
Whitby Abbey

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Part two

Today we went to Todmorden, down the Caldervale  valley, alongside the Calder River.  What to make of it, first visits means you have to take in a large amount.  Firstly the steepness of the valley, high ridges, but woods cling to the side with that disparity of colour that makes it all beautiful.  The flat land along by the river has villages and small towns, an untidy jumble of houses, dark and dour I must say, the grime of years past has gone but the colour of the stone is cold.  There is an industrial air along the road, where there once large mills, open spaces now predominate, you know that weaving took place in many of the houses because they have those glass panelled long windows on the first floor for light.  It was a dull day, so the sun did not enliven the scene, when we arrived at Todmorden, but it is a traditional Yorkshire town, pretty in places. There was an open air market, also a covered market as well but that was closed today.  We wandered along the canal path, and admired the beds of vegetables and herbs which you are invited to pick, the bed round the market was the best, gooseberry and currants already forming, how do you stop yourself from being greedy and picking the whole lot I wondered?  Good things are cheap houses, a very cheap meal and of course tea and chocolate cakes for the girls in the tiniest of tearooms surrounded by bits and pieces.  I could grow to like this corner of Yorkshire especially as my family are determined to live there but at the moment I feel lost like a piece of flotsam on the sea - too many changes recently.

Weaver windows in a typical house - Jonathan Long  @ Creative Commons

Just along the road from Todmorden is the Lancashire border and I must say that the countryside is weird, again fairly rough and wild but strange formations meet the eye,  I am sure a certain amount of the land must have been mined, along the valley there are the occasional tall brick chimney stack as well.  I have grown used to the moors of North Yorkshire, their brown bleakness offset by green valleys have a less closed in appearance, each landscape so different and yet part of the same county.

On Saturday we went to a lecture on the Saxon Princess at Street, Loftus, given by Dr.Sherlock, it was very well attended and the exhibition of the finds in the museum very well done. The Saxon burial ground with about 120 burials lined neatly round a square, was in actual fact on an earlier bronze age/neolithic age burial ground and also Iron Age huts just to add to the confusion of the excavation, so one must imagine that this was sacred ground. One of the other things was the fact that some of the jewellery was reused by the Saxons, Roman and prehistoric beads, glass and I think gold remade into different objects.
I need a link for this one...

or two; Loftus Saxon Princess Word Press

Street House Burial

Friday, May 10, 2013

This and That

Early morning....just listening to the seagulls that live and sleep on the chimneys round here.  Sometimes they sound like a dog or a cat, occasionally in the middle of the night a great cacophony will break out as they all talk at once. Pale blue eyes and a sharp beak that is how they first strike you, pretty chequered black and white tail on the one that flies down into the yard braving our next door neighbour running down the steps and shooing them off.  We have starlings, sparrows and pigeons as well in the yard fed by my other neighbour.
We have made arrangements for the spare bed to go to a charity, and he arrives this morning to take it away.  Yesterday evening we had the electrician, Chris in to 'pass' all our electrical stuff, took two hours, surprising what you have in a small cottage!  They all have their small 'pass' tickets now, tis an odd world we live in, making safe everything that could possibly go wrong - is it possible?
Yesterday we braved the new enormous 'Wetherspoon' restaurant, pub and hotel which has gone up in lightening speed next to the harbour; all chic and modern, not my favourite place and the food did not look inspiring.  But we made arrangements to go to Todmarden with the family on Sunday, they are so impressed with the place.  Saturday there is a lecture at the museum on the Anglo-Saxon Loftus burial discovery, but I have a feeling I am expected to go out to tea with the children, so no lecture for me.
There is something also to keep an eye on in my old town Bath.  The council have put forward a plan for the building of several hundred homes on green field sites (yes welcome to the new planning laws bought in by the conservatives- sod green belts! ).  One estate is to be built up on the downs at a village called South Stoke,(South of Bath of course as is North Stoke - North; A/S names) and the people of South Stoke are not too pleased about it.  Further it blights part of the Wansdyke that starts at Maes Knoll hill fort, though there is some disagreement here.  The 8th century Saxon dyke is very slight here round Bath, it is probably a territorial mark, and apart from using the River Avon as part of the 22 miles length also took in an old Roman road over the downs to Chippenham.  Most people are familar with the East part of the dyke that runs over the Marlborough downs and its much more substantial  bank and ditch. Battle has commenced with early medieval historians taking up the campaign and Rescue making a weighty objection.
Bath has of course a Saxon history as well, and I have probably written about it elsewhere but not on this blog, North Stoke has an old church built on the foundations of a Roman building, making it slightly angled from the position of east/west.  The late Roman villas round Bath were very substantial and though most interest is in the Roman baths plenty of stuff round the city attests to wealthy, presumably 'veterans' Romans taking up residence.  Just reading a very good book on Boudicca, a stormy lady no doubt but with a good cause......
Old photo of Egton

Yorkshire road

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Whitby's crowd has thinned out since the Bank Holiday Monday, when we arrived on Sunday it was even difficult to get into the car park, but not difficult to park near the cottage in Flowergate.  So the desk unloaded fairly easily.  Next day taking the bed down was fairly easy and so the desk is installed in the attic and the computer has a home.  Sadly the computer is having problems, though it works normally on most stuff, little things keep happening, my Microsoft Word has disappeared, photos won't load up and icons refuse to reveal their source, all annoying.  Maybe I need a new computer, spent £100 last year on having the programme taken off and then reinstated, so it would probably be cheaper to get another laptop in the end......
Yesterday went for a drive after shopping, took the little lane down to Grosmont, whenever I am tempted by cottages in the country, this lane always tells me another story.  It clings to the side of a fairly steep deep valley, and is a bit of a roller coaster ride, the gardens of the occasional cottage cling to the side of the valley. Absolutely beautiful of course, and especially late spring with little lambs gambolling around and cowslips in the hedgerows.  We did not stop in Grosmont, a small stopping station for the steam train but went on to Egton; wide green verges back on to an ideal Yorkshire village with neat houses of Yorkshire stone. Sat outside the Wheatsheaf, and watched the house martins wheel and dive in a clear blue sky.  Next to us a company of sparrows flew in and out of bush busily doing sparrow work.  The landlord said that inside one of the rooms in the pub it sounds like an aviary for they occupy spaces within the roof.  The pub which was also very pretty, seemed to have had the old village school attached.
The moors are dark, dark brown, from Horcum Hole, and there has been a big fire on Fylinsgdale Moor, so a blackened charred landscape greets you on the left, this, believe it or not, was caused by a spark from the steam train which I mentioned earlier.  The train can be seen cutting through the ravine that dissects the moor at this stage - dramatic landscape.
Monday evening we wandered down to the quay, along the arcade centres on the front, and then had a cone of chips from the Magpie.  People were of course queueing to go inside the restaurant, mostly people eat the fish and chips from this famous restaurant, but it offers a whole menu of different fish with new potatoes and vegetables or salads, it is a  pity this side of the business is somewhat neglected.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Tessa is a 12 week old border collie puppy and yesterday (thursday) our friend Roy drove down from his home in Cornwall to Heathrow Airport to put her on a plane to America to Chicago to her new home.  Unfortunately, let us say it was a 'cock up' she was sent to San Diego instead.  This is a three month old pup, leaving her mother and litter behind, stressful enough, but one of the requirements was that she was not fed, so an empty stomach as well.
This is to be the rest of the journey.........

 I can't apologize enough for the added stress in moving your puppy. with pet express has her set up for Delta flight 1406 departing at 1055 p.m tonight arriving in Detroit at 0623 tomorrow morning the connecting flight is Delta 6070 departing at 8:51 arriving Grand Rapids at 9:44 tomorrow morning.The agent for Pet Express will call you in the morning........ 

Apart from the worry by both Roy and the new owner, all this travel for a small pup is not good, not sure what the moral of the story is, perhaps do not rely on British Airways to ship animals, anyway they are getting a very strong complaint from Roy.

As everyone must have gathered by now I hate cruelty, so my concerns are with a young puppy who has not been allowed food on flight, hopefully she will have been fed in between flights and hopefully strongly worded emails will have some effect.......

 JCS said she was not to be fed as it was not allowed before wheels up and would be fed on arrival at Chicago. That would mean she would be going without food for over 24 hours before arriving in the USA. If the same policy was enforced prior to her two further connecting flights then she is going to be in serious trouble both physically and mentally. Can you confirm to me please that she was fed and watered on arrival at San Diego or prior to any further flights.

Not sure what poor Tessa must be feeling but I'm sure everyone will be thankful when she finally arrives at her new home.

Update; 4th May she has arrived safely thank goodness.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Photos and nostalgia

Yesterday picking photos for May Day, I came across some of these on my Flickr, though not the one at the top, which I love for its smooth sage green landscape and the feel of the dusty downs in hot summer.
Early morning walking all those years ago, gave me an insight into the animals, foxes, deer and hares that lived up on the downs, the golden plovers that rested in the grass up there.  Creeping up one morning on my knees to them to take a photo, with Moss standing quietly behind me, obedient to not disturbing them. The rutted stone lane of the sheep photo reminds me that this path has probably been used since prehistoric times to go down to the River Avon, from Solsbury Hill several miles away, further along the path are the remains of an old cottage and stone building, which probably were part of the quarrying that took place in the 18th/19th century.
The blue of cat's mint against the grey of its leaf is a good garden colour, the sharp astringent scent one of the memories of the garden; the Penstemon 'red garnet' was a cutting taken from many years of owning this plant, which came from a Devon nursery.
What can you say about Carew Castle, elegant Norman castle transformed at a later date built for keeping the Welsh in order by the wicked English, romantic ruin now, but very elegant and quietly situated by the small lake that keeps the water in for the tall, rather graceless mill.  On the other side the Milford Haven tidal estuary, some would say where the bluestones for Stonehenge were floated down, but who knows? 

James Russell, short extract from his book on the painting of Chalk Roads on the South Downs

This is an Eric Ravilious, 'Chalk roads on the South Down', seen on F/B this  morning via  James Russell

This is Carew Castle next to the great tidal mill at Carew

Golden plovers in flight on the Bath downs

Favourite walk and lazy sheep under Littledown Hillfort

Cat's mint and penstemons

Old garden

This was a 'secret path'  turn right and you went into one of the high fields bounded by old woods, turn left and you could find where the deer lay at night.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Happy Beltane Day or May Day

Photos from 2006 the canal path from Bath to Bradford on Avon, it is a beautiful valley and the river Avon runs alongside.  Some of the canal boats that line the path at Bathampton....

Moss gets by safely from these hostile swans