Friday, November 27, 2015


 More photos from yesterday, first time I have seen grouse on the road.  Our neighbour called later in the afternoon, they live on the other side of the church in a new house that has only recently been completed.  He was indignant, the planning officer had called on him earlier in the week, why wasn't his  front wall brick, as it had been when it belonged to the Margaret Wood's cottage - Willow House that had once occupied the site, he also wanted the laurel hedge removed and............ the whole length of the garden abutting the church which has wild hedge and wood fencing, this to be removed and a brick wall built.  This of course was in the hands of a builder at the time, did the planner not come out I wonder?  Anyway it seems the rules can be relaxed, scary though considering we have just put up a wooden fence, though in the style of the pub next door.  J also came round to say he would make us a compost bin, wood is expensive, I thought of asking if he had ever thought of pallets but decided not to, and we have agreed to it, think his wife is finding him jobs outside the house though;)

red grouse at the side of the road

the stones that mark the road

topping the hill

Goathland church (Or Aikenfield if you watch Heartbeat)

A rather blurred 'Scripps' of Aidensfield

The Bronze age barrow on the road to Whitby

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Journey to Wheeldale Moor

Today we went to a favourite place taking some coffee with us. The journey started grey and dull but as we travelled over the moors blue skies started to appear.  So that when we got down to the Wheeldale Beck, the sun appeared.
Here by the water, with the old gnarled hawthorn trees and stones, peace is at hand, the sheer breadth and width of the moors is reduced to a small valley through which runs the beck.  Lucy had a lovely time, she even managed to jump into the beck unseen, and as she raced round smelling all those different scents that dogs love, we shall definitely have to bring her back again, though next time a towel would come in handy!

Someone's happy

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


The following little motif from the exploits of Peredur is a favourite. It is so 'Celtic', the actual romantic story meanders down through later tales, mostly as one of derring-do, as our young knight sets forth on a series of adventures, but within the tale of this young man, certain pagan images emerge.  It was one of Lady Charlotte Guest's story in the Mabinogion.

"Peredur rode on towards a river valley whose edges were forested, with level meadows both sides of the river: on one bank there was a flock of white sheep and on the other a flock of black sheet.  When a white sheep bleated a black would cross the river and turn white, and when a black sheep bleated a white sheep would cross the river and turn black.  On the banks of the river he saw a tall tree; from root to crown one half was aflame, and the other green with leaves..."

R.J.Stewart interpretation of the above;  The Waters of the Gap

"In the Christian expositions of the Otherworld, its balanced duality has become separation, with Heaven and hell battling for supremacy and the possession of the human soul. The pagan concept as outlined,  in the extract from Peredur, was that life and death, positive and negative, were balanced aspects of one whole picture.  The exchange, of the sheep across the river dividing the two worlds illustrates this, as does the dual nature of the tree, which has the green leaves of the natural environment, and the magical flames of the Otherworld."

Stewart has concentrated the Christian version of the duality between evil and good as a battle for supremacy over the soul.  We know from medieval church history, this battle rested on scaring people by the awfulness of the punishments in hell if they did not behave.  A social trick for an obedient population to obey in both their religious and civic roles to their king and his lords and of course the priests.

The Celtic 'otherworld' though has a more peaceful tradition when it comes to death, you change one world for another, sadly it is a bit like what we are experiencing at the moment with the Jihadists, who also in their fantasy world go on to better things once they die.  The Celts, also fighters, had this sure religious knowledge of a better place on death.
What is there to say, when a false dogma lies at the heart of a religion?

 a black would cross the river and turn white, and when a black sheep bleated a Yesterday I looked at the history of Stewart, who once lived in my home town of Bath, and found out that he had written many other books in the now modern style of interpretation of the Celtic world, or the neo-paganism we see today, he was also a folk singer as well.  The ability to write and tell the tale from a different angle, or at least interpret it to fit in with one's own view is occasionally a bit worrying..  - drafted in May




The wood pigeons are stripping the holly trees of their abundant red berries, so none for the festive day it looks like.  As it gets dark we hear the loud cry of the pheasants as they go to roost in the graveyard trees.  Same thing in the morning as it gets light and they fly down, noisy creatures......
The ivy creeps through the trees, it has flowered and its dark black berries soon will be more food for these hungry and rather lazy pigeons.  We are surrounded by the festive winter season of evergreen trees, ivy, holly and of course the old yews that overhang the garden and present such a dismal dark green to the world.

It struck me yesterday as I padded round in one slipper, the other lost by Lucy, that I was like the monopad dwarves that appear in C.S.Lewis's 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader', so I went and read up on these strange creatures that hopped around and find that they appear in mythology according to Wikipedia, They appear firstly in Greek myth, the 'shadow foot', often as I sit I can feel a gentle tug on a slipper or sock from Lucy.

The news is incessantly miserable, as if all the talk would make a difference, just been reading Frankie Boyle, who says it as it is, as well as Will Hutton who is angry about the NHS service, that neglects his wife in hospital at the moment.

'Dufflepuds', a tribe of monopodal dwarves, 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Things to collect

Recipe for Yule Wassail

3 red apples 
3 oz brown sugar 

2 pints brown ale, apple cider, or hard cider 
1/2 pint dry sherry or dry white wine
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger strips or lemon peel

Core and heat apples with brown sugar and some of the ale or cider in an oven for 30 minutes. Put in large pan and add rest of spices and lemon peel, simmer on stove top of 5 minutes. Add most of the alcohol at the last minute so it heats up but does not evaporate. Burgundy and brandy can be substituted to the ale and sherry. White sugar and halved oranges may also be added to taste. Makes enough for eight. Wassail!

Barnhaven primroses they are so luscious, though the nursery is in France

Fancy taking up weaving again

Sometime this blog is just a diary, a reminder of things to do.......

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Trumpet's Loud Clangour

I start with a photo of a book which I shall probably buy for my grand daughter Matilda. She was booked in for a school trip to to Paris after Xmas, eagerly looking forward to going to the Louvre. Will she go? I don't know, everything is on a knife edge now, we endure and live through the mindlessness of M&S Christmas adverts, etc and make plans.  But the Western world is facing a crisis not just from Daesh but from the influx of refugees, we wobble around with plans for this and that, never taking a determined stand on anything. Should we go for Assad or Daesh, my answer is simple go for both, but then, more people are killed, and others forced down the refugee road, so that is no answer!

There are two news items that have touched a raw nerve, the first is of the photographer's, Magnus Wenman journey photographing where the Syrian children that are sleeping on their long trek across Europe.  It is totally sad and harrowing, the terrible memories will always be with them, the actions of war leave many victims.

The other video is of a little boy in Paris with his father being interviewed by a reporter, his fear of the 'bad men' and leaving home.  Reassured by his father that the flowers and candles will protect him, we know that this is not true.  We have arrived at a point of history, there have been many, when we must take decisions.

Today is  St.Cecilia's day, Handel and Purcell composed music from a John Dryden's poem, it does not quite fit the bill, but so many people have risen above the bloodshed and have been courageous, that perhaps this 'A Song for St.Cecilia's Day, written in  1687 will do.........

From harmony, from Heav'nly harmony
               This universal frame began.
       When Nature underneath a heap
               Of jarring atoms lay,
       And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
               Arise ye more than dead.
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry,
       In order to their stations leap,
               And music's pow'r obey.
From harmony, from Heav'nly harmony
               This universal frame began:
               From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
       The diapason closing full in man.

Blue skies and leafless trees this morning

Friday, November 20, 2015

More photos

Yesterday we were out getting coal and logs for the coming cold weather.  Think we need to stock up on food at some stage as well, just in case the winter becomes prolonged with icy roads. Lucy has now been insured against the supposedly horrendous bills should she become ill in the future, it is weird how we are held to ransom by people who can quote enormous figures whether vet or dentist, perhaps we should question their bills more sharply!

Feed me please. Yesterday when the man who had come to service the boiler, stood at a table filling in a form, she very carefully dropped her food bowl on his shoes in anticipation...

Her one and only trick 'high five'

I need to walk in a wood

A typical village we drive through, Middleton I think

Yes, all the roads are up, once more.

Meandering around, my mind has almost stopped working so I shall concentrate a bit more. Back to my books I think, but just one more thing,  Lucy today, came across our two squirrels running along the church wall and tried to jump up, but she will have to jump higher.  We have both decided that she is compromising on our rules, off the furniture by day but on by night.  Wonder if the 'reward' system works....

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


In spite of 'Barney' that storm which has since passed over, Lucy and I went for a walk in the rain along the river.  Should have taken her photo as she trotted behind carrying her lead, no need for recall she stays to heel.  The weather is drear, the countryside echoes it, and even the river is dull, but at least not risen, as the rains have lashed down.
In the second photo down you see an old orchard and some farm buildings, I think this farm is empty but do not have the courage to explore as there maybe farm workers around, there was definitely bullocks around up to a few days ago.
The farm at the end of my walk, is up for sale with a million pound price tag, though not sold.  I find it rather ugly, there are farm buildings and ruins round the farmhouse, but I presume it is the land that is of value.

Things to remember;

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday 17th November

A journey: photos from our trip to Whitby yesterday.  The moors are dark with  dead heather, the sky though is like an enormous canvas over which scurry small clouds, over  much larger gatherings. Sun, fluffy clouds, storm clouds, the bleakness of the moors is highlighted by the green fields that crop at the edge.  The road is busy with an electricity cable being laid alongside from Pickering to Whitby, it has taken months and will go on well into next year. The underground pipe will replace the great pylons that march over the moors reminding me of the machines in War of the World.  The 'listening ear' or Fylingsdale  warning system stands out like a sore thumb.......

The start of the journey, we have just come over the bridge and I always take comfort from the fact that the downward slope of the hill shows we live on slightly higher ground

Blue skies and an endless view of moor stretching into forest and then another ripple of moor in the far distance

Speeding by the Hole of Horcum

the world darkens

Rain starts as the clouds come even lower

a beck that rarely flows

mending the bridge

Almost home, the village of Marton just before ours, very neat and tidy, they also keep a defibrillator in the red telephone box

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday the 16th November

Off to Whitby today for various things to do. We have not been for ages, and will be taking Lucy of course.  Very good in the car, warm and snug she often refuses to come out of it! She has the making of a cartoon character, with her four short speckled legs and ability to carry around anything that comes to hand.  Completely won over LS, even when she does something wrong.
Today seems to be the only dry day we will get, though I saw pink skies this morning, and the remnants of Abigail raged around the trees again last night.  My family in the Calderdale district are always at risk of flooding, they have a large basement into which the water will presumably end up in.  The narrow valley down which the Calder river flows, is also fed by waters from the steep hills on either side.
Random photos of this bustling town......

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday, the 15th November

Life is quiet, probably down to the weather, the wind through the trees sounds like a sawmill, the rain splatters teardrops against the front of house windows, which are west facing.

A tragedy has just unfolded in Paris, and everywhere the news is full of it, if I were to write about it, I would quote friends who are rational and understanding.  Someone on a forum has given a whole list of things to read about the 'Arab Affair', the whole thing is so complicated, will never be finished for years to come and therefore we must live with this unholy war.  We can only stand and grieve with the loss of loved ones.

Yesterday called into our local nursery and bought a gooseberry and blackcurrant bush, they had lovely looking blackberries and raspberry canes as well, but a tad expensive.  Questioning that there was no redcurrant bushes, he said that they had to throw away a lot of the soft fruit plants away last Autumn because people did not want them, and they had lost hundreds of pounds because of this.  Redcurrants berries are beautiful hanging from the bush, translucent red berries they are dearly loved by blackbirds, and of course make a delicious jelly.

It is Sunday, LS was looking forward to scrambled eggs and bacon with our coffee, but we have no bacon..... I have made lately potato cakes, which you can eat as part of a breakfast or with apple puree which I prefer.  Now I must work out what to cook tonight, sage and lemon chicken comes to mind with roast potatoes... 

I feel slightly washed out, nothing comes to mind to write about, I should do more reading but my campaigning nature has quietened down, I need to visit a church and wander amongst the dark gloom and old Saxon stones that lie forever embedded in their grey walls.

Random photos ;)

Friday, November 13, 2015


The winds have passed, forcing our heavy drive gates open in the night, and LS is already working out how to stop this process, bolts having to be driven deep into the driveway.  Wednesday we went to Castle Howard, and I bought three climbing honeysuckles, which are still to be planted.  LS went round the expensive farm/delicatessen shop whilst I walked Lucy.  The chickens who were out in the garden were eager to get back into their house as the winds blew yesterday afternoon, still producing three eggs a day, surpluses build up.  LS makes pickled eggs, I contemplate souffles and lemon curd.

Christmas trees already grace the long pathways to the great house at Castle Howard, and a hint of fear enters my soul, as I contemplate LS's plans for the event on Xmas, he has a birthday on the 18th December as well and wants a 'drinks' party.....

Some photos of the two great sycamore trees on either side of the garden, that are slowly losing their leaves and revealing an elegant skeleton of branches.  I can look at these trees for ages watching the bird life potter around.

Mournful Lucy, always has something in her mouth.

Is she settling down? yes, demanding attention, but at night she wanders the house, so I have taken to sleeping on the settee from about three onwards, which always quietens her down as she curls at my feet.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


David Inshaw - Silbury Hill on a Starry Night

Yesterday evening we went for a talk on barn owls at our neighbouring village of Marton  at the little village hall.  It was well attended, and the man who gave it interesting and completely obsessed by his subject.  But there again where would we be if people did not devote their lives to saving small things.

Facts I learnt;  from a high of 14,000 pairs in 1932, we are now down to 9.000 pairs.  They prefer field voles to eat, but these little creatures crash in numbers every 3 to 4 years. The owl man, called Robin, did not like the estate agents Strutt & Parker, for their ability to urge farmers to sell, sell old barns for conversion, neither did he like 'The Yorkshire Post' though I can't remember for what reason.  Did you know that if you interfered with an owl nest, you could be liable to prosecution, £5000, or 6 months in jail.

But there again you can put up barn boxes either within the barn or outside.  One farmer, and Robin likes farmers, had turned his barns into an upmarket set of holiday homes, and built a nest box attached to the wall, he had also attached a cam recording of the activities of the owls to each of the holiday homes to keep his guests amused.

I can remember watching a television programme of barn owls, quartering the meres of the Somerset Levels, soft slow flight, there is no noise from their wings, they are the most beautiful of birds in flight, and I have seen them on several occasions round Avebury, when  we have come back from an evening meal, so that is why you see David Inshaw's 'Silbury hill with Owl' at the top.

And another illustrator that comes to mind is Robin Tanner who lived in Wiltshire and has a very particular style, must get his 'Woodland Plants' book

And just as a note we should welcome back the activities of Abigail the hurricane, who apparently is recharging her energies to once more sweep across this part of England and Scotland, but it was a beautiful mild day yesterday.