Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday 29th Sept.

Well there I was thinking of something to write this week, my mind has been elsewhere, for a start on Aubrey Burl Stone Circles of Britain, and his writing on the stone circles of Bodmin.Moor.  Chasing, at least in my mind round the circles and stone rows.  So what has peaked my interest, on Facebook I have 'Natural Homes' that delivers  crazily built cob houses, wooden houses and all types of self-sufficient housing which I love dearly and I spied a photo of a room with seating arrangements that looked over a glassed over area of plants and fell in love with it, but when I went to look for the photo it wasn't in my files and I happened to stumble across the one below.  So nostalgia rolled in, this was the house that belonged to my first in laws in  Blonay in Switzerland, they were my 'mum and dad' for many years and it brought back happy memories. The children, Karen and her cousin Marc playing in the pool below, the wood strawberry plants abundant on an awkward slope, mum going through the compost stuff because someone had thrown away a silver spoon. Grandpa reading the two children stories in the afternoon, Marc terrifying Karen with terrible stories of Persian giants one day as a great crashing thunderstorm rolled over the French mountains, lightening streaking across the lake. The paddle boat was stranded out in the centre of the lake as it could not dock and all the little boats hastily came in. 
Now they are both grown up, approaching middle age no less, how life moves on, I shall find the photos of them both and translate them to this web mode, so that the grandchildren can look back as well.  They have all survived in the caravan, no tv but survive quite happily on early nights and a DVD on the computer. One house exchanged and the furniture out of the old Whitby house next friday hopefully to be moved into the new house but there is still an element of uncertainty, as the signers are away on holiday.
The children have settled in to their new schools, my daughter says everyone is very friendly in Todmorden, I note Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall was down there last week-end celebrating the food grown in all the public spaces.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fungi hunting

Yesterday we went in search of the amethyst deceiver mushroom, pretty blue one and fairly edible so we were told, but could not find it probably too early in the year.  Fungi hunting at Hanningfield reservoir is one of those things we undertake once a year.  Follow the narrow path betwixt fields and woods, and they are to be found nestled deep in old golden-brown leaf litter, twigs crackle underneath your feet, and you slowly become dizzy as leaves turn into mushrooms.  So none of the ones we saw last year,  though there did seem to be an aspiring stinkhorn, and we did find Alfred's Cakes fungi, black, but on the ground so had someone pulled them from the tree?
It was a relief to emerge from the dark atmosphere of the conifer woods into the green of the older parts of the wood, past the pond that is slowly disappearing under a deep vegetation of bulrushes and plants, blue tits darted round making a pretty picture. Have never seen the fly agaric in these woods either, this reserve is the headquarters of the Essex Wildlife Trust as well, slightly run down but with composting loos and hides to watch the birds on the reservoir.

goodness knows what this one was..

rosehips and blackberries dripped from the bushes in profusion.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday 20/09/2013

It is a quiet week, nothing to write, lots of spinning of the black Welsh fleece as the slow pace of Autumn unravels itself.  The wretched cat that comes into the garden  has killed one of the collared doves, and lurks behind the flower bed in the hope of killing more birds.  I counted 6 cats this week progressing through the garden, the sparrows, and blackbirds have disappeared, maybe because of the cats or maybe because they have moved on now the breeding season is over. So enough of cats....
Have been looking for a house down Cornwall way, an exercise that will probably take a year or two, apparently at this time of the year a lot of holiday homes come on the market, and there is indeed a fair selection, we rather fancy a barn conversion, but I note that most places have oil heating which must be expensive to run, what you need is a multi-burner stove/aga maybe.  
We would have gone down around this date to see the unfolding of the quartz path way between the Hurler Stone circles, there is a dig taking place to uncover it but it is rather an expensive trip when you cannot be sure of the weather down there. Still I look forward to the moment it is revealed, everything centred on the Cheesewring Tor, stone circles and Rillaton Barrow.

This is it in 1938 when it was uncovered, and the report only came to light recently, when someone unearthed it at Bristol University.

Oswald of Northumbria; 604-642 AD

Fascinating character, he ruled over both the Northumberland kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira, and was for a time Bretwalda or overlord of a greater part of Britain.  The church at Lythe was named after him, at his death in battle at Oswestry he became a saint.  His history is to be found in Wikipedia, but what is interesting about him is the fact the he was a pagan turned christian, and in many ways responsible for the eventual adoption of christianity in the North.  In the battle against the pagans, Penda of Mercia was the opposing side, Oswald was killed, and in the gruesome detail of the time (thank Bede for this) his head was spiked and limbs chopped off.  But, and here I quote,

 " Reginald of Durham recounts another miracle, saying that his right arm was taken by a bird (perhaps a raven) to an ash tree, which gave the tree ageless vigor; when the bird dropped the arm onto the ground, a spring emerged from the ground. Both the tree and the spring were, according to Reginald, subsequently associated with healing miracles. Aspects of the legend have been considered to have pagan overtones or influences this may represent a fusion of his status as a traditional Germanic warrior-king with Christianity. The name of the site, Oswestry, or "Oswald's Tree", is generally thought to be derived from Oswald's death there and the legends.".

So Oswald on his death becomes a saint  spreading his miracles through this magic, the soil from where the dropped arm was taken firstly cured a dying horse and then various other people till a very large hole appeared in the soil!  These tales of miraculous happenings are of course the stuff of legend, but it is interesting how Christianity took hold of pagan's ways and gave them christian credence.

St.Oswald Church at Lythe

Human head at centre of cross stone

Interior of this church restored in 1911 in the Arts and Craft style

And of course another pagan incursion in the 9th century AD

Music to go with some of the beautiful skies we have been having of late.  Nick Drake a long vanished voice, pinched from one of the blogs on the side.. Northern Lights

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mirk Mire Moor stones

Way marking stones on the moor; these two holed stones are about nine feet in height and stand on either side of two lanes that meet directly into a point, as the car bumps over the cattle grid, this is the first sight that greets you, speculate as much as you want as to why there are holes in these stones, but there is no answer as yet, the article mentioned in the Leyhunter will give you some clues, but then I don't believe in leylines  The other stones follow the path of the straight narrow Roman road, marching past the Three Howes Bronze Age burial mounds, down to the little gill in the valley.  
LS has written about them here, he wants the mystery resolved but these moors have many histories long forgotten and not written about.  Beautifully built grouse butts march in a line along the hilltop, I do not like the killing of animals for pure sport, but often as you walk through the heather you will start up a black grouse lying low.  
Looking at this particular file of photos from March 2012, and I suddenly realise how much I try to capture with my camera, an old well house by the side of the road, Robin Hoods Bay, Yorkshire farmhouses set high on the moors, bleak and grey with their ancillary farm buildings.  Sheep get little attention as there are so many of them, they blend in with the stones in the dark brown of the heather.  Even now as I write I suddenly feel the squelch underfoot of hidden water as you negotiate the tough heather.  The moors are a beautiful waste land, probably created by Bronze Age people as they stripped the land of the trees, stop the car and take in the silence, and then the bubbling sound of a bird melting away in the distance.  The wind may catch your breath, I remember the little harebells protected by the heather but swaying in a strong breeze, never get caught on foot on these moors in the snow....

The Wheeldale Roman Road as it looks today, and this (not very good) photo, probably taken in the 1960s when it was more cared for.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A few photos

Action at Staithes

Everyone was enjoying the moment, Bernard Cribben as a sailor.

Regimented rows of gravestones at St.Oswald Church, all facing out to sea

Display of Viking cemetery stones in the church

12th century green man

Three Howes tumuli again on the moor, probably following the line of the old Roman road

Part of the hogback grave

How to make one!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wheeldale Gill

Photos of Wheeldale Gill, across the Mirk Mire Moor, very descriptive name for a moor!

Outside the craft centre, with the budleia  bush, at Staithes.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wheeldale and its environs

Today, Friday will be spent here, the door jamb needs mending, and there is a puzzle how to mend it.  It is supposed to rain as well, which will be welcome for the plants back at home.  Yesterday was down to our favourite spot over Murk Mire Moor, past the holed stones along the narrow road, heather still purple in places, large angry red signs saying 'no fires' and it must be a worry for the moors, you can see several small fires have started by the roadside already.
The drums of war are always on the radio, two days running we have seen fighter planes swooping low over the moors like angry bees.  At the beginning of the Iraq war when I lived in Bath I heard the bomber planes go out, then  saw Baghdad going up in flames on the television as they arrived at their destination, then during the night heard the low throb of their engines coming back.  Just signed an Avaaz petition suggesting that Obama and  President Rouhani of Iran come together in diplomatic talks, what will happen though heaven knows........
But to return to yesterday, we came down the hill to the ford and its magical gill, brown peaty water making music over the tumble of rocks, little rills feeding in from the hills around. The two old gnarled trees, maybe maple, I must check, their  trunks are grey with the dampness of the hills, walking further along the banks and there are three magnificent rowan trees full of berries, demanding attention and as we run our fingers over their peeling barks I am reminded that these are magical trees,  Odin came from the ash but his wife came from the rowan, its folklore is Scandinavian, though it creeps into our folklore by way of the fact that it is a good charm against witches.  On two of the trees, there is a little bronze memorial plaque, saying that the two names mentioned loved this place, not sure I like trees being desecrated but you would have to hunt round for these plaques hidden in the boughs.  Berries must have been scattered on the hills around for there were quite a few saplings of rowan, and the hedgerows were full of them.  I suspect because the climate of the moors must be similar to Scandinavian countries, birds must love them, though they are very acidic and can cause cancer I believe unless they go through a 'freezing' process and the acid is transformed.  When I was a child we had a large rowan tree in our garden, and my cousin in one of those 'dares' said he would eat some of the berries, which he did and got stomach ache afterwards, I was terrified he was going to be poisoned and die but he survived obviously......

March 2012

Of course there are the great tracts of evergreen firs that are on the moor and of course detract from the view when encountered.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Staithes once more

A friend in Cornwall sent me an email yesterday joking, O said he, you are going to to one of those bleak east coast villages looking over a barren sea, well perhaps in winter the bleakness of these fishing villages is hard to miss.  That steep walk down  to the village is a bit off putting, as cars are not encouraged through its narrow lanes, and will of course end up nowhere but in the sea.
There is a bleakness to the cliffs, (I could see a tumble of sand streaking its way down the face), layered rocks and soil/sand, fossil rich of course, it does not have the charm of the West coast of Pembrokeshire but the Yorkshire villages definitely have more style than Welsh villages. We ate our sandwiches overlooking the harbour then walked round the pub to the quay only to find a television crew filming. What this funny little scene was about I could not tell maybe a children's programme, Bernard Cribbens dressed sailor fashion, a lady dressed in old fashioned style on a bike receiving an empty cake box from another lady which tumbled to the floor several times in as many takes, she was also 'famous' but I don't know who she was.
After this we walked up to the arts and craft exhibition in a small hall, some beautiful stuff there maybe we will go back this week, I do feel that it is important to support such craft work, must be heartbreaking making things all the time but then not selling.
Anyway just outside the hall was a little garden at one end a large buddleia bush, all I can say that it was filled to capacity with butterflies living up to its reputation as the butterfly bush, could have sat there all day watching them feast.  We had noticed earlier butterflies seemingly come in from the sea, though probably had they been to drink at the small river that flows into the sea I wonder.
In the evening we went had a meal at the little Italian restaurant in Skinner street, an anniversary meal, my pasta was a bit too lemony but was delicious, and finished with a dessert (don't normally do puddings) but blackcurrants and gooseberries were in two of the dishes.  Sadly the gooseberries had been left at home so I had to have strawberries and raspberries in the pavlova but delicious anyway.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Diary notes

Whitby basks in fine weather and it seems set to stay the same for the week, still the same as ever, tourists abound, though we met a lot of sunday traffic of cars and caravans coming away from the coast.  
Family discussion last night,  three of the family go down to Todmorden this afternoon towing the caravan behind the Chrysler with trepidation, and it will probably take the more sensible road to Middlesborough, and not try the steep hills of Sleight and the one before the Hole of Horcum. My daughter and Lillie below will stay behind, we had a take way of fish and chips last night from Fuscoes, probably the best fish in town after the Magpie, below Lillie is waiting for a different take away.  

She sweetly read us the Owl and the Pussycat whilst her parents were on the phone dealing with another problem, she can be such a darling at times though mischievous.  Today we are probably going to Staithes to look round the shops, LS is reading Jamaica Inn at the moment for a passage about a stone circle, such things he collects and notes down in his blog.

Of course none of the above happened, just shows you when a diary entry can go wrong.  All of them decided to go, my daughter has just phoned, two children safely delivered to new schools, the other goes later, caravan arrived safely, neighbours helped with the installation of the electrics and they all slept happily in it. They are coming back the weekend, so we shall see them before we go....
Went to St.Oswald's church at Lythe, which has quite a few Viking carved stones, hog backed grave stones, the photos will have to wait till next week.  Excellent display in the church, the lights go on as you approach the stones, and there are large illustrations showing this Viking cemetery which overlooks the sea towards Whitby Abbey.  When you approach the church the first thing to strike is the solid lines of gravestones, maybe a couple of hundred facing out East to sea, it gives a feeling of rigidity to the whole grave yard, and a sense of the strong community feel about the sea.