Thursday, May 1, 2014

Walking along the river bank

Stilled legendary depth:

It was as deep as England. It held

Pike too immense to stir, so immense and old

That past nightfall I dared not cast

I start with Ted Hughes poem of Pike and you can find the rest here,  one of my favourite poems, he starts the poem with the tiny pike caught and living in an aquarium eating each other up, and then goes on to describe the old monster pikes that live in the monastery pond.  Well yesterday whilst out walking along the river and admiring the baby ducklings, three separate clusters, we came up on 5 little ducklings with no mother, they had I think been swept out by the current of the mill water into the river.  As they swam around unsure, there was a great rustling and upheaval in the water and one duckling pulled down.  Pike said I sadly, luckily the duckling surfaced and swam frantically towards the bank where he seemed to have climbed up wet and bedraggled.
This is of course nature, the pike has to eat and ducks bring a lot of babies into the world, so this sudden tragedy witnessed unexpectedly by us is no more than a happening on the river.
I have started to use the video part of my camera, so at the moment you will only get brief flashes of what takes my fancy, such as this swan, which swam calmly by.  Uploading to Youtube takes ages, considering I only take about 20 seconds of filming.  But these little ducks seem safe behind the boom that keeps the detritus of the river from the mill stream.
Cruel Coppinger;  This is a supposedly true tale of one of the wreckers taken from R.S.Hawker's book. Coppinger was a Dane who had washed up on the beach by Morenstow, a great wreck of a man he married a local girl, took possession of her home when her father died, and terrorised the neighbourhood beside being very cruel in the shipwrecking business, (probably a good model for Du Maurier's Joss).  But this  tale tells of one of his little cruel tricks.  He had invited the vicar of Kilkhampton to dinner one day, now the vicar hated rook pie, so Coppinger had the table laid with a rook pie and roast rooks, which the poor vicar had to eat as he was hungry.  A few weeks later the vicar invited Coppinger to a meal, and they also had  pie, whether rabbit or chicken Coppinger could not say.  But after he had left he felt inside his pocket and found a cat skin and head, so the vicar had had his revenge....  But not for long,  the vicar whilst out walking along the lane heard the sound of hooves behind him, Coppinger came riding by on his wild mare, and beat the poor vicar to a point of nakedness, so that all his clothes lay in stripes... now those were the days of lawlessness!
What else?  Well of course, this first day of May, and the hawthorn blossom sparkles along the hedgerows, much earlier in its timing then Geoffrey Grigson's mentions in his book of May 10th.  It is a magical plant of medieval times, said to keep away fairies and witches and also storms. Though blackthorn is much earlier, hawthorn is one of the true signs of spring and May Day.

Paul's Scarlet I think, the hybrid hawthorn out at the moment 


  1. May blossom is not out here yet Thelma - I love the smell and the sight of it. When it arrives I know that Summer has finally arrived whatever its mood will bring.

    Morwenstowe is a place I know quite well - it is a place full of folk lore and mystery, including Rev Hawker and his hut, I believe the hut is still there and is owned by the National Trust now.

  2. Hi Pat, have not seen the hut but think it was made out of pieces of wood washed up on the shore (probably the shipwrecked ones). Out of the window at the moment is a gorgeous garden hawthorn, deep pink and red, think it is a hybrid of the 'Midland' thorn