Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Local rivers

This is my walk along the river, monitoring, for me anyway, the river's progress. from the chart below there is a large spike and then the river returns to normal, though of course you can see the sides of the banks have been scarred by mud.

Starting from the bridge

This is the bank to protect the fields from flooding

saturation point, many field going towards Salton are small lakes.

You can see where the river has risen to almost flooding levels, the flow gauge counter to be found here recorded on the 26th December over 3 metres of water, chart taken from the Environmental Agency.  Old Malton was flooded by the River Derwent;

River Seven flow gauge at Normanby

Rivers; Derwent at Malton;
             Seven at Normanby
             Dove at Kirkbymoorside
             Rye at Salton
             Riccal at Nunnington
             Pickering Beck at Pickering

Interesting observations by Monbiot on Yorkshire Grouse Moors and their role in the floods


There is a new exhibition of Gertrude Hermes 1901 to 1983 work at the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery, mostly sculpture it looks like, but on checking her work, the drawings of Stonehenge are masterly, rather than beautiful, and perhaps reflect her need to carve.
I had seen her Stonehenge drawings years ago, so finding them on the web was an opportunity to highlight them, also her plant drawing are rather beautiful and precise.

Spanish iris

Monday, December 28, 2015

Keeping abreast of things

Meals to feed 200 people, this is what the above family did, driving from Bradford to Todmorden. Single acts of kindness.  LS said put that on your blog, and what you see is just probably the tip of how volunteers are helping.  Cameron is to visit the 'Northern towns' today, the people are organising themselves better though.  Do we really need government, when local people pull together so efficiently. The latest from Todmorden Town Hall is a need for cleaning materials, disinfectants etc.  The floods have not been so bad in Todmorden,  Hebden Bridge seems to have fared worse. 
I must admit though many criticise Facebook but when action is needed it is the place to go, roads that are flooded are posted, help centres spring up.
I could fill the page with Monbiot's articles, who blames many farming practices but I will not, after all this is a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.  Government legislation of course does not help, as of course 'conveniently' forgetting climate change.  But I predict one thing the people in this country do a lot better than a government's rhetoric of 'how they will help'

Sunday, December 27, 2015


Well it is beautiful and sunny today, we await the next batch of rain though on tuesday with some trepidation.  The family are cleaning up their basement, and those terrible pictures of flood fill the television news.  Rivers flow so fast that it is truly frightening, caravans are smashed against bridges, people's homes are awash.  We lost our internet for a few hours today, but the waters have receded from the roads through the village.  
What I noticed is that there is a certain amount of traffic that seems to be 'tourist inspired', or as Nigel over the road said them 'idiots' who like splashing through the water, to do this you need a 4x4, jeep, land rover or maybe a tractor.  Small cars  though get  water into their engines and come to a halt, there are a few still round the village, waiting redemption by their owners!

Our river went up to, probably, 13 to 14 feet, but it runs through a fairly deep cut and has banks, or is it 'bunds' on either side.  The larger bank is the village side, so that the water will run over the large flat fields.  One of the problems is saturation of the earth, it literally cannot take anymore water, and drainage is slow.

The other end of the village, drains forcing up water....

Top ribbon of water river running high and the green road below filling up

Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink, my daughter's message this morning.......
Morning survived the night. Just been down to cellar it's carnage!! However no water! Electrics are partly working and hoping that boiler ok. Don't think we'll be down your way just yet. Just about to go to town hall to see what help there is. Hope your flooding subsided a little bit. Love Karen xx

Bealtiane Cottage - Climate Change

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Boxing Day - raining, raining and more rain

Christmas was quiet, peaceful and utterly Christmassy.  The fire blazed, we had lunch with all the trimmings and watched television all afternoon.  Outside of course it rained and rained, and this morning before it is even light I can see the glimmer of water on the road, I presume another pond has appeared.  Lucy will not go out for a pee in the rain, when she does we both stand there like idiots getting wet.  I forgot, we also went into the pub next door for a pre-lunch drink, which was on the house. courtesy of Harriet, which was very sweet.  Talked to a couple about the house they were building in the next village, they lived in a couple of statics for the time being on three acres with their two dogs, three horses and some sheep.
The family come today, unless the roads are too bad, the 'flood warning' was sounded yesterday evening in Todmorden, they should escape its worst effects, though their basement could be flooded.(the basement is flooding)  It is sooooooo dark, no sign of the 'Xmas moon', I can hear a cock in the distance, who obviously believes 6.30 is the time to welcome the day.  How are all those poor immigrants in their canvas tents surviving in Calais, and those still trekking to more friendlier countries across Europe in this terrible relentless rain, or perhaps the rain has not reached them......

It is rather a gloomy top photo, the lights were on for crib service Xmas Eve, well I was going to add a cheerful photo, but on going out to take some photos, the flooded road outside the house!

For posterity and my diary ;)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wednesday - a dip into Druidism

Even the stones at Castle Rigg are experiencing flooding

Celtic Devotional by Caitlin Matthews

You have been called from the place of your dwelling,

May blessed soul-friends guide you,
May helping spirits lead you,
May the Gatherer of Souls call you,
May the homeward path rise up under your feet
And lead you gladly home.

Pat (Weaver of Grass) asked if I was a Druid, no said I but I am fascinated by them and have written quite a lot.  My mentor would be Professor Ronald Hutton in this, his extraordinary book Blood and Mistletoe (The History of the Druids in Britain) covers the progress of the Druidical faith through our history.  
Now I am a convent educated person, brought up in the Catholic faith, though sadly never believing in any god/gods, so the Druids were hardly likely to make me 'believe'.  Belief, and here I will give a Wiki understanding is...

Belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case, with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty. In other words, belief is when someone thinks something is reality, true, when they have no absolute verified foundation for their certainty of the truth or realness of something. Another way of defining belief is, it is a mental representation of an attitude positively orientated towards the likelihood of something being true.

But I also believe that we should at least respect others when they choose to think one way or the other.  If I have any belief than it is in the natural world around us, the living force and vitality of every species on this earth, their absolute right of existence, and that one species should not dominate, though of course we humans do. 
So I have written and thought, and from that top Druidical prayer at the beginning, I have meandered without actually coming to any positive outcome.  A church will silence my thoughts, its gravity held within its stones and altar will make me stop and contemplate, but a flower will also have the same affect in its structure and logical beauty, they are both part of a world that is infinitely educating, opening the mind to explore.
So why return to 'old stones' for Solstice, it is not for their proposed ability to focus on the sun coming up, but it is for their great age, stillness and a sanctity I find hard to explain, the earth uniting with the air and sky, clasped forever, circling forever in the vastness of the Universe.
And a tale from yesterday.  I bought my daughter's Xmas present, which turned out to be Nigella Lawson's Christmas cook book, and there in the opening chapter she confessed to liking the Druidical aspect of Xmas, and had read up through the Pagan Federation on its history.  Now I am not really a fan of Nigella but that did surprise me ;)

Stonehenge on Solstice 2015 crowded as ever

A collection of blogs on the subject...

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Quiet and Happy Solstice

The return of the light, the year has tipped, albeit slowly, into longer daylight and towards spring and summer, for this reason alone we should welcome Solstice.  Thinking about where I would like to be and my mind settled on The Hurlers stone circles, under the great tor devastated sadly by quarrying, with Daniel Gumb's ghost wandering amongst the stones and the great Bronze age burial that harboured the gold Rillaton cup.  A rich prehistoric landscape, with its humps and bumps from the later tin quarrying history.  Will the sun rise on a particular stone? who knows, the wind is rising outside and mocks the thought.

Hurler Stone Circles
Looking across the land from the top of the tor
Or perhaps the quartz laden stones of Duloe stone circle, though one feels that this is a final resting place for another.

Duloe stone circle quartz stone

Sleddale Stone circle

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Saturday 19th December

Occasionally we wake up to glorious skies

Saturday morning, the paths gleam with rain once more, but of course it is that fabulous moment in time when the year is on the cusp of changing over to longer daylight.  We had a delicious Chinese meal last night to celebrate LS's birthday.  He had fried squid with noodles/beansprouts and I had the noodles with broccoli/garlic, which may seem strange but I do love my vegetables, plus a side helping of spring rolls.  We had often passed this large pub which had changed into a Chinese restaurant but the overall impression when you actually go in is enormous friendliness.  The owner Mandy is Vietnamese and her husband is English, she called him an inventor and the whole large house is very 'green' with underfloor heating, special lighting and.......... in the loo when you stepped on a granite slab by the wash basin, the water switched on - totally impressed.  
The couple had looked at the house of the people we had had drinks with last weekend, just because it had the river running through the grounds, he had thought to harness the power of the river for one of his green schemes, not sure it would have been allowed though.

My internet Xmas card above needs a bit of work, though to do on  the door as I had managed to make a wreath out of an old heart shaped ornament, notice the two white butterflies, we are even losing all our butterflies as well in this country....

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


This is the weather on an almost daily basis, grey overhanging clouds, rain and a warm west wind.

“All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others.” 

― Virginia WoolfTo the Lighthouse

That quote has nothing to do with anything, I just happened to pick it up because I was reading the book... Shirley Hughes for Lily, always loved her 'Alfie' books.

Like many people I have problems with the weather, it constrains one to the house, muddy paws slurp their way across the kitchen, even the chickens are fed up with it, roll on spring!

Go away I'm sleeping

So what to write about before our visitors come for coffee, well before the folder for all the new photos there is the 'apple' folder, where I recorded some of the many apple trees I had planted.  There is also Carew Castle and the Tidal Mill at Carew, so some old photos to cheer the day up.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday -14th December

Nikolai Astrup - Norwegian Painter.  As one flips through the news, something catches the eye.  Well it was the yellow marsh marigolds that lined the brooks and water of this painting bringing back a rush of memories, and a blog I wrote in 2007 about 'nails of gold'.  I often look out for marsh marigolds along rivers but sadly they disappear as we apply more fertilisers and pesticides to our fields.

Nikolai Astrup - A Clear Night in June 1915

Nikolai Astrup, Marsh Marigold Night, c.1915, 
Yesterday we went out for drinks and nibbles with a lot of other people in the village to a rather beautifully decorated house.  Everyone talked, and I shall not give my opinion of people's characters on my blog, though I would dearly love to!  Two elegant black long haired retrievers, so gentle and dignified, plodded round the guests and the table was laid out in 'feast proportions' though sometimes you get tired of all these little balls with unidentifiable food inside..

Saturday, December 12, 2015


We went to Helmsley yesterday,  I wanted something to read and had noticed a bookshop on the square.  Six books and two games came out with me, 3 of the 'Classic' books were only £1.99 each and the fourth, which was a 'treat' buy on kimonos was remaindered at £4.99, the girls got one each as well.  The square was full of the friday market, and as I sat in the car, a van pulled up alongside, it was Yorkshire Radio, and the man interviewed a local person who trains falcons, etc.

Afterwards LS said what about lunch and we went to The Plough at Wombleton, which welcomes well behaved dogs, so Lucy came in as well and was made a great fuss of.  LS had frittered scallops on a bed of rocket and pears, that sounds funny but the language that goes to describe meals today has taken a fanciful turn,  I plumped for nut roast and ratatouille, which was delicious, though my ratatouille is a tad different.  Maybe if the family stays long enough we will take them for a meal here....

Jo has been trying to solve the problem of Lucie's nocturnal waking, but I am not sure her method works, what I have been doing when she barks in the middle of the night or knocks something over for attention I think, just go down, let her out and then make a fuss of her on her chair - which works.
Lucy is up early to but then so am I, that is why I am on my computer at 6 am in the morning!  Roll on spring when it is actually light at this time.

Jim, our neighbour on the other side of the church, came in yesterday afternoon to say that the wood he had ordered to make our compost bin was a third cheaper than quoted.  He was a tax collector in a previous life, and he and his wife lived in Scotland, which one day we will visit as we have managed to halve the distance to it by moving up to Yorkshire.  

Two of my books are by Virginia Woolf, and I see she has also written a story about 'Flush - A Biography'.  Well Flush is of course Elizabeth Barratt Browning's  cocker spaniel dog, so a rather long Victorian poem, and not terribly good but I do love the line about the ears."Flow thy silken ears a down "which describes Lucy's long luxurious ears exactly..

To Flush, My Dog 

LOVING friend, the gift of one,
Who, her own true faith, hath run,
   Through thy lower nature ;
Be my benediction said
With my hand upon thy head,
   Gentle fellow-creature !

Like a lady's ringlets brown,
Flow thy silken ears adown
   Either side demurely,
Of thy silver-suited breast
Shining out from all the rest
   Of thy body purely.

Darkly brown thy body is,
Till the sunshine, striking this,
   Alchemize its dulness, —
When the sleek curls manifold
Flash all over into gold,
   With a burnished fulness.

Underneath my stroking hand,
Startled eyes of hazel bland
   Kindling, growing larger, —
Up thou leapest with a spring,
Full of prank and curvetting,
   Leaping like a charger.

Leap ! thy broad tail waves a light ;
Leap ! thy slender feet are bright,
   Canopied in fringes.
Leap — those tasselled ears of thine
Flicker strangely, fair and fine,
   Down their golden inches

Yet, my pretty sportive friend,
Little is 't to such an end
   That I praise thy rareness !
Other dogs may be thy peers
Haply in these drooping ears,
   And this glossy fairness.

But of thee it shall be said,
This dog watched beside a bed
   Day and night unweary, —
Watched within a curtained room,
Where no sunbeam brake the gloom
   Round the sick and dreary.

Roses, gathered for a vase,
In that chamber died apace,
   Beam and breeze resigning —
This dog only, waited on,
Knowing that when light is gone,
   Love remains for shining.

Other dogs in thymy dew
Tracked the hares and followed through
   Sunny moor or meadow —
This dog only, crept and crept
Next a languid cheek that slept,
   Sharing in the shadow.

Other dogs of loyal cheer
Bounded at the whistle clear,
   Up the woodside hieing —
This dog only, watched in reach
Of a faintly uttered speech,
   Or a louder sighing.

And if one or two quick tears
Dropped upon his glossy ears,
   Or a sigh came double, —
Up he sprang in eager haste,
Fawning, fondling, breathing fast,
   In a tender trouble.

And this dog was satisfied,
If a pale thin hand would glide,
   Down his dewlaps sloping, —
Which he pushed his nose within,
After, — platforming his chin
   On the palm left open.

This dog, if a friendly voice
Call him now to blyther choice
   Than such chamber-keeping,
Come out ! ' praying from the door, —
Presseth backward as before,
   Up against me leaping.

Therefore to this dog will I,
Tenderly not scornfully,
   Render praise and favour !
With my hand upon his head,
Is my benediction said
   Therefore, and for ever.

And because he loves me so,
Better than his kind will do
   Often, man or woman,
Give I back more love again
Than dogs often take of men, —
   Leaning from my Human.

Blessings on thee, dog of mine,
Pretty collars make thee fine,
   Sugared milk make fat thee !
Pleasures wag on in thy tail —
Hands of gentle motion fail
   Nevermore, to pat thee !

Downy pillow take thy head,
Silken coverlid bestead,
   Sunshine help thy sleeping !
No fly 's buzzing wake thee up —
No man break thy purple cup,
   Set for drinking deep in.

Whiskered cats arointed flee —
Sturdy stoppers keep from thee
   Cologne distillations ;
Nuts lie in thy path for stones,
And thy feast-day macaroons
   Turn to daily rations !

Mock I thee, in wishing weal ? —
Tears are in my eyes to feel
   Thou art made so straightly,
Blessing needs must straighten to
Little canst thou joy or do,
   Thou who lovest greatly.

Yet be blessed to the height
Of all good and all delight
   Pervious to thy nature, —
Only loved beyond that line,
With a love that answers thine,
   Loving fellow-creature !

That was an exceptionally long Victorian poem, this is how people occupied themselves before  television.  But the next thing to focus on is Woolf's 'stream of consciousness', I though we all did that in our daily existence though.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wednesday 9th December

Foel Drygarn @ Alarmy

Probably the Preseli landscape is my most favourite place on this earth, the mind sinks into its peacefulness, the stark outcrops of rock, the supposed place from whence the bluestones of Stonehenge have come from.  The above photo came from the Country Diary feature in the Guardian.  He mentions Waldo Williams poetry, a poet who fought for this pristine landscape to remain free of military activities.

"The making so many conjectures at the reality, when they know they can but guess at it, and above all the insisting so long is but amusing themselves and us with a doubt, which perhaps lies the deeper for their search into it.” - See more at:  Geoffrey Grigson's magnificent summing up of the history of Stonehenge.

Today I have been reading Mike Pitt's article on the two quarries that might have supplied the bluestones.  My British Archaeology is an online edition, and as I read the excitement of digging for evidence is there in the article.  There are a lot of nay-sayers on  forums, forget them, they have never felt the exquisite thrill of land that holds its prehistory so sharply.  I have written of it many times, firstly wandering with Moss, then the climb with LS to the top of Foel Drygarn with the three great stone cairns on the top, and lastly with our American friends, who went in search of the hawthorn by a 'sacred' spring on Carn Meini but encountered a 'vertical swamp'!

Presceli Hills

Carn Meini