Saturday, November 29, 2014


Today it is just photos, the early morning sun caught these berries with a couple of blackbirds feasting on them.  Then I remembered the fieldfares that should have arrived in November, perhaps this year the berries are so fruitful elsewhere they have not made it to this corner of Essex.  Also geese flying over, honking away, where were they going I wonder?  
Keisuke, the conservator at the Japanese department in the British Museum came the other day, to mark out what he would take, there are antique papers and books,  and they are sending a van to collect soon.  Lunch was sage and lemon chicken, with thinly cut roast potatoes, beans, and red cabbage (my favourite winter dish).  This is the third time I have met him, living with his young family in London is not the most ideal of situations and he will return to Japan next year.  Funnily enough he had been up North to the Lake District and York, and had wanted to taste the fish and chips of Whitby, if only he had known about the cottage.....

Berries waiting for the fieldfares...

I love dried flowers, a collection fading into cream

Fireplace with its collection.  The rocking horse was bought last Christmas, after I lost my favourite in the move.

At last finished, oatmeal blue faced leicester spun and knitted.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


The fresh blue of a campanula, with what looks like a nicotana in front and the feathery fronds of 'love in a mist' or nigella damascene to the side.

Two words chased through my mind this morning, egalitarianism and parasitical;  Partly Weavers of Grass blog fault yesterday when she talked about personae, it got me thinking how we see other people, what lense of the social eye do we siphon people through who we meet in the street, was class involved?
Things that make me mad (most of the news) Tony Blair being awarded the Save the Children award, and David Mellor and his stupid (and the man is stupid) swearing rant at the taxi driver.
So when L/S asks me first thing this morning what am I thinking, I say parasite, my mind on the bumble bees I rescued on cold spring mornings, when weak from the cold they lie on the ground. Taking them home, watering down some honey on cotton wool, then putting them in an old margarine tube, until when fully revived and furiously making their presence felt I would release them.  Well once one of the bees had small parasites crawling all over it, not sure if it was the varro creature, but I carefully picked them off with a pin.
Is a parasite though only following the rules of nature, the survival of the fittest? so therefore the human parasites that were tramping through my mind at the time, and here I include bankers, loan sharks, landlords and solicitors who live off other people's woes,  bad as I think they are, or are they not following the instinct of survival.
Getting cross at the news is not a good way to start the day, to ignore it though is to abdicate your responsibility to the people around you but one thing becomes more clear capitalism is not the answer but then is an egalitarian society any better? when the struggle to succeed leads to competition.  We are seeing at the moment the balance being tipped precariously towards capitalism and the old slave poor serving the rich folk, as in Roman times, how do we control the balance?
And after those musing a Happy Thanksgiving Day to all those on this American day of sailing safely to the New Land,;)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


This morning as I spun decided to listen to 1970's music.  The 1970s were for me the 10 years of being a widow, not miserably I hasten to add but with the mindset that I would never ever get married again. But listening to Don McClean singing 'American Pie' it bought back the memories of dancing around.  The first song though was YMCA, bringing back memories of taking a small Tom to playschool at the local  Bath YMCA branch just by Save The Children, where I volunteered a couple of days a week.  LS told me, something I never knew, that YMCA stands for Young Men's Christian Assocation, which of course makes sense of the words of the song.

Playing with wool, these wools have been hand painted as tops, so when you spin them they meld...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


One of three churches that reside next to each other in Brunswick Street
Lucid, transparent, pellucid - playing with words, trying to frame the atmosphere of light that we experienced as we drove back to Essex.  The last days of Autumn are glorious the branches of the trees are lightly framed in such glorious colours, starting from the lightest lemon, tumbling down through copper. gold, amber, orange and bronze.  The lattice branches making dark patterns against a grey sky.  Why was the light so lucid, I think because of the rain that had fallen  still hung in the air, the tyres swished through large puddles, occasionally hitting parts of the road that was flooded.
That was Sunday. Saturday had been a day of fog, driving across the moor there was nothing to see but the straight road ahead, the fog rolling back now and again as we hit a dip in the road.
Fog obliterates the world around you, a soft blanket and we did a lot of driving that day.  First visiting Church House where I managed to leave my camera in the pub.  A disaster that was only retrieved much later in the day.  We had gone to 'chat up' a would be neighbour, if we ever moved there and learn a few facts about the risk of flooding. Then driving to Newton-on-Rawcliffe, for a late lunch (Truda forgot to turn the oven on), and being greeted enthusiastically by their two dogs, as I looked up out of one window I saw their black Shetland ram standing looking forlorn in the mist, he seemed to have had four horn; he was forlorn because he is not allowed in with the sheep.
We have only seen three houses, that really was all there was to see, and balancing the last two we come out at 50% a piece each, so as I always say - we shall see, fate will have a hand in all this.....
Both of us agreed however that we love the cottage, and if we were rich enough we would keep it for ever.

I wanted to capture the roof lines between the two churches. Whitby is a crowded place, every square metre is covered by houses, of all shapes and sizes and ages as well.

Things to 'pin'  this is John Freeman's work, an artist who works in Whitby, and I happened to notice a painting of Delve Cottage at the selfsame cottage when we were there.... 

Little Beck by John Freeman

Monday, November 24, 2014


It is Matilda's birthday at the beginning of next month though they have already been out celebrating at Cafe Rouge, probably in Leeds this weekend. She will become a teenager, bright and intelligent, always dancing when she was young, I have caught her in this photo listening with great intent to LS, she was the only one to master some Japanese words.  LS is a little scared of my two grand daughters, he was shattered last visit when they unlocked his briefcase in a matter of minutes, sussing his code for the lock.  How did they do that he asked me several times, but it is a long explanation to tell a male that females are both intuitive and equally as clever as males ;)
She is opinionated and speaks directly to the point, and during her early years fought her father with a mulish stubborn nature, he of course adores her.... I had to make her rag dolls when she was a baby, lost two of them along the way, and I remember her toddling into the room about to have a paddy. She found her rag doll, carefully laid down in the doorway (so that we would all trip over her) and then let forth her howls of rage....
Her mother messaging on Facebook said she had just won a prize for her peace poster, and I suspect Matilda will also go to university though whether it will be an art college is another matter.  Four grandchildren, all growing up fast.  Tom, now 20 years old at university in London, Ben 14, not sure what he wants to do, but so talkative when we last saw him.  He has been so quiet over the years, as for Lillie, the spoilt baby of the family, she must grow out of addiction to chocolate cake....
All through my photos are pictures of birthday occasions, they are looked forward to with great relish.  Matilda has expensive taste in clothes, and this year it is to be a coat she is to use her money, and already has one present, brought in the summer, a pale green radio, still packed away to be opened on her birthday - she has a very strong nature!

Friday, November 21, 2014

And so it continues

Deep ravine at the bottom of the garden but what a view
Delves Farm Cottage just in case anyone else would love to live in the middle of nowhere

Like Em says house hunting can be exciting and throw up exciting possibilities and so it was with this cottage today.  Why we had asked ourselves was the place full of gothic furniture, of course the answer came when we met the owner, a stone mason named Paul, 80 and still going strong, Yorkshire air is extraordinarily exhilarating!
The cottage was delicious, LS said how would you describe it quirky maybe? no said I made by someone who loved it dearly, and though tastes differ, it was all  frills, furbelows and roses in the bedrooms there was some remarkable craftsmanship by a man who carved stone for cathedrals.
It had been brought about 30 years ago an old wreck of a barn, and when Paul and his wife moved in eventually he had restored it to a long narrow cottage, with a lovely garden.   His wife had died 10 years ago, and everything remained very much the same from that period.
It sits high above Egdon up a steep and narrow lane in a hamlet of four houses, so probably when the snow comes that's it....... Travel further along the lane and you are over miles of  moors down to Rosedale Abbey.
The central part of the house has a small minstrel gallery, below is the dining room leading off into one corner, in the centre is an open chimney, so that you can have two fires, one in the hall, and the other in the sitting room.  There is a small kitchen, off which there is what Paul calls a 'breakfast room', again small, originally a study.  Water is indeed from a spring, and there is electricity, phone and hopefully internet access.
The garden is beautiful, walk to the end to the white balustrade, and look down on one of those deep ravines, coloured by the dying leaves of larches on the other side and the river rushing below.  The white balustrade would have to be sandblasted back to its original colour, white is too off putting in this landscape. There is another area of land, belonging to the tenant farmer of Lord Normanby alongside which Paul also keeps neat and tidy, he has fashioned it into two smaller gardens, though of course it is an ideal building site, unfortunately, or fortunately there is no mains up here for it to be developed.
Pretty place, but slightly out of the way...  We had lunch at Lastingham, famous for its church, there is a pub opposite the church, in which you can buy rabbit pies to take home...

Funny little sign
Grouse butts up on the moor

derelict tiny cottage

I presume this cross is for pilgrims down into the valley and Rosedale Abbey

The house saga

Yesterday we went back to see High Street Farm cottage, our first choice, LS wanted to measure one of the bedrooms for a study and we had a long cup of tea with Truda, going there for a meal on Saturday....  It was freezing cold, the garden is unkempt, yet still has that pull with the sun-trap wall. But there is a lot to do, kitchen to put in plus garage. The barn that Truda and her partner David live in, and are converting is enormous, and at this moment in time is full of building stuff.  The outside is finished, they have put in one of those underfloor heating systems in, one mile of cabling lies under the ground outside to capture heat, very complicated system.  A great battery of switches designate the different zones that is being heated, and the plan with the solar panels on the roof is to be self sufficient in energy, even getting paid for some of the electricity they produce.
Today we are off to see a third cottage, chocolate box is how I would describe it from the brochure, with  plenty of gothic type furniture inside, it should be interesting.  It has a spring LS says, hopefully it has mains as well, and a lovely looking garden. It is near Egton Bridge down a lane called Delve.
Which brings me to the fact we have not done any sightseeing of the countryside, something I miss, house hunting can be very boring.
We finished off the day yesterday with a meal at the Magpies, LS had oysters followed by squid and I had the salmon and haddock gratin which was delicious but rather rich. I cannot do oysters, they are not pleasant to look at, and squid is another no-no...
So tomorrow back to Church House for another look and then off to Newton-on-Rawcliffe.

Photos of Egton on a bleak January day in 2012

The chapel just outside the village.

gravestones looking out over the moor

A rather blurry Egton packhorse bridge

The river tumbling away

Like most large villages, Egton has no shop, just one pub, and a school.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


I start this morning with the sound of beer kegs being rolled down to the cellar somewhere at the back of the cottage, every Thursday this happens, clump, clump clump, very exciting to live in the middle of a town. 
Bit of of education to go with Church House.  I have a good eye for landscape, it comes with staring endlessly into the distance something I love to do.  On travelling out of Pickering I noticed how flat the land was, farmed and uninteresting but I also noticed the word Carr in the names around, and if you love words the following should be of some interest..
carr is a type of waterlogged, wooded terrain that, typically, represents a succession stage between the original reedy swamp and the eventual formation of forest in a sub-maritime climate.[1] The name derives from the Old Norse kjarr, meaning a swamp. The carr is one stage in a so-called hydrosere: the progression of vegetation beginning from a terrain that is submerged by fresh water along a river or lake margin. In sub-maritime regions, it begins with reed-swamp. As the reeds decay, the soil surface eventually rises above the water, creating fens that allow vegetation like sedge to grow. As this progression continues, riparian trees and bushes appear and a carr landscape is created–in effect a wooded fen in a waterlogged terrain. At this stage the pH is not too acidic and the soil is not too deficient in mineral elements. Characteristic trees include alderwillow and sallow"

So it must be the draining of the moors above the Vale of Pickering that had created this landscape thousands of years ago, in actual fact it was a watery landscape, and as I typed in the words, 'flood' and 'Pickering', I learnt several things.  The rivers flood round here and Pickering had been flooded several times, quite badly in 2007 and 2008.  The River Seven that winds its way so enticingly around the village also joins a confluence of two other rivers, hopefully after rather than before the village...  The little inn next to church had in fact had its cellars flooded at the time, so the seller was being a little circumspect about the risk of flooding, which he said had never happened.  We will see what LS does about this, as he likes the house...

The back of the house, did not take the front..

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Goth shop we pass on the way from parking the car.

Church house; A modern, large, and essentially featureless stone house, but well built and having loads of space.  But it was a bit of a surprise as we turned into the drive, the estate agent and his wide lense camera had lengthened the driveway several times, so at first it appeared quite small.  The owner is a smallholder, one of those lovely Yorkshire people you meet every now and then and we seemed to spend a couple of hours in his company touring the house. We wandered around outside afterwards, and certain problems arose with its location.  Basically it was very near the banked Severn river, and though the bank was still about 10 feet above the river you could see places where it had  been undercut and the soil had started to slip.
The garden abuts the church yard and this is rather an interesting feature, for instance you can look out of one of the sitting room's windows straight onto headstones, picturesque and the church was quite pretty to, at least you would have silent neighbours!  Well I could just about fit my hens and dog into the spaces, though it was all open plan and would need secure gates to stop said dog running through with muddy paws.  I think it lies on the table as a possibility..... Things in its favour, the bird life was superb in the churchyard

From the rather bare back garden, perhaps you should draw the curtains on All Saints night

Corner of the house

The church is much restored from the 17th century but the nave may date back to the 12th century
Time for coffee

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Journey's end

A few photos of the journey, it takes five hours from Essex to Whitby, stopping off a couple of times at the motor way services and of course Little Chef for a break, though nothing bought.  It was gloomy most of the way, I could just hear Kate Bush calling 'Heathcliff' as we drove over the moors, and as we descended into Whitby already getting dark at 3 0 clock.
Yesterday odd jobs to see to, LS repaired a broken slat on the new bed, and also touched up the paint in the bathroom which is either hit by the shower head or peels itself of the wall.  More tiling is called for, but can't be done unless we stay a couple of months.  The cottage is not being let out as a holiday cottage from next year, I am tired of the hassle, its future is undecided.
The neighbours are still the same, Frasier grumpier than ever, and Jim next door 81 years old looking more frail than ever.  His wife Mary is in Scarborough hospital, she has poor lady lost her memory, but occasionally comes back to their cottage, Jim is devoted to her, although they seemed to fight when they were together. A sad tale.....
Wish I could have taken a photo of the goth in Sainsbury's yesterday, great giant of a man with what was left of his hair pulled back in a pony tail, and an enormous leather coat.  Male goths always wear black leather it goes with the pale skin and blood red lips!  There is even glitter in the carpet here, always a sign that a goth has stayed, or perhaps Marks and Spark's 'fairies' have been around.  LS said we should go up the 199 steps one night just to see how ghostly it is up at the church yard, but I'm not sure I want to just in case.
A new house to see today, called Church House, situated between the churchyard and a tiny pub....

The moors are extra gloomy in grey weather.

Catching glimpses of the little railway valley

Horcum Hole, 

Pickering as we  pass through

Just outside Pickering these hens graze the verge happily, they live in the field and I have never seen them on the road in all the years we have passed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting  
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

Dark rocks keeping the sea at bay and the town safe

Exploring Mary Oliver's poetry yesterday and came across the above poem, we have heard the geese flying over several times in the last few days, perhaps bad weather is on the way.
Sunday morning, and we wake up to a misty morning, today in about an hour we will start the drive to Whitby, I'm packed, but LS takes ages for everything to be quite right. I shall leave the doves handfuls of seed, but it will soon be gone and they must forage elsewhere for the coming week. We go to see the cottage we like and on which we have an offer, but there are a couple more LS wants to see as well, it is probably going to be a busy time, no driving over to Todmorden this time to see the family, though the housing market of course will become very quiet as we head towards Christmas.

East Pier

Friday, November 14, 2014

Carn Meini

When I put the photo of Carn Meini up in the Preseli Mountains as the 'changing landscape' photo, it is for me a most evocative photo of this area, I remember sitting with Moss on this ridge, soaking in the heat of the day and the stillness broken only by some ponies in the distance as they moved amongst the grass. But there is also a feeling of guilt, my emotions play havoc with my peace of mind, and I should be able to get past it.  In reality when I went back a third or fourth time with LS and American friends, Bucky and Loie I took them over this route just for the magnificent sight of Carn Meini, the place of the supposed bluestones of Stonehenge, though now we know of course that it was probably further along the ridge that the stones came from, or even the alternative theory that the stones were transmitted by glacial movement to the site of Stonehenge.
So why the guilt? well Bucky had wanted to explore the hidden springs around this area and I could have taken him a shorter route by Foel Drygarn, but I chose the longer route. LS and I did not descend into the valley with them, and as they took off I was already starting to worry.  We made our way back over a rocky terrain and indeed came to a hidden spring, the water trickling under the rocks making a pleasant sound and we sat and listened just being part of the moment, no Neolithic thoughts whatsoever!  Though this natural rock formation would put you in mind of long barrows.

Anyway we arrived back at the car, with a wait ahead of us, waiting for the two intrepid explorers to get back.  Whilst we were there we saw the farmer and family bring down the sheep from the hills, the collies being a lovely soft brown colour, all from the same family.


Watching the sheep stream down the hill was a bit like milk being poured out, and I began to get anxious, no sign of Loie and Bucky making their way back, so when two small figures did appear there was relief.  They had not been able to manage to get to the rocks, this because Bucky said that the bogs went up hill, not too sure about that but you definitely need a week to explore the area.

The wanderers return, thank goodness

Seen from a distance with the dry river of stone that winds round

Looking back towards the road and the other part of the moor were the Gors Fawr stone circle lies

gorse decorated with dew and spider webs at Gors Fawr stone circle

Bucky and Loie left for a further trip after three days, whilst with us we took them on a quick visit round Pentre Ifan, Carreg Samson  and the Coetan Arthur cromlechs.  At Newport where the last cromlech is situated somewhat foolishly amongst a small development of bungalows (but that is another story}  We visited a delicatessen in which was purchased an expensive bottle of Welsh whiskey, which taken back to the place we were staying was consumed by the three, I don't like whiskey, but the friendliness of the Cambrian Inn stays on in the mind.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Whilst thumbing through other people's blog I came across Ed Kluz an artist mostly working in collage.  What caught my eye was his painting of Fonthill Abbey, a folly if there was ever one built by Beckford  and which within a few years started falling  down because of its immensely tall tower.  It stretches to the sky like something from the 'Lord of the Rings'

Ed Kluz needs to reconstruct the past, so if even the building is not there, he will paint it and that is in itself rather intriguing bringing back to life other people's dreams and vanities, especially follies.

Whilst watching a short film of Kluz talking about his art, he mentioned his 'cabinet of curiosities', an evocative term, and my immediate thought is that what LS wants for all the fossils and stones that litter the window sills and tables, brought together in one whole cabinet.  It reminded me also that another artist from The Brotherhood of Ruralists had also painted a picture of a curiosity cabinet, but I cannot find it at the moment but it has set me on a journey through my books.

There is a cabinet in this picture, now whether Graham Ovendon did the background to it I do not know, but it is probably an illustration from  A.G.Housman's Last Poems

A book falling apart, the pages are loose, the extraordinary lengths people went to building grand houses, as I take  photos from this book (Early Renaissance Architecture of England by J.A.Gotch) I find the buildings very ugly, over ornate..  Two gateways to remind us of the great gulf that exists between rich and poor people in their dwellings, and still does today of course as this Guardian article outlines in London.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Paper Making

This is a collage of a paper maker....
Just a couple of photos from a box of paper goodies that LS went through yesterday.  There were leaf plates and cigarette boxes as well but I did not photograph them.  My interest was drawn to these paper dolls, a perfect miniature scene perhaps in a tea house, which I started to make a couple of years ago but never got round to finishing.
A medley of Japanese people all made in paper

A present to give, presents are always beautifully presented.  This could be for putting money in at a wedding.