Saturday, December 31, 2016

fog (and notes)

“This valley bounds North-East Yorkshire on the south and separates it from the Chalk Wolds of the East Riding. More or less enclosed by higher land, it is a low lying basin, the average altitude of its almost flat floor being less than one hundred feet above sea level. Its length from east to west is about thirty miles, and its width from north to south varies from five to ten miles. The Limestone Hills overlook it on the north; the Howardian Hills on the south-west; and the Chalk Wolds on the south. The Vale narrows toward the east where it debouches on to the coast at Filey Bay. In the west, the narrow Coxwold-Gilling gap, about fives miles long by one mile wide, links it to the Vale of York or Mowbray."
(F. Elgee, 1930. 3)

“When I went to school I learned that the Vale in which we lived had once been a lake, but long ago the sea had eaten through the hills in the east and so released the fresh waters, leaving a fertile plain. But such an idea would have seemed strange to my innocent mind… I seemed to live, therefore, in a basin wide and shallow like the milkpans in the dairy; but the even bed of it was checkered with pastures and cornfields, and the rims were the soft blues and purples of the moorlands” 
(Read, 1933, The Innocent Eye).

I was going to start with photos of the foggy mist we have had encountered over the last few days, there are already dire warnings over the radio about the fog down south and here in Yorkshire.  But then I got thinking, really we have mists and fog round here because it is the Vale of Pickering, once upon a time a lake, home to the famous mesolithic Starr Carr settlement.  The Vale is surrounded by hills and the land is drained by many rivers, except the Derwent which at one point reversed its flow. See Note below...

She met an Irish water spaniel yesterday, not impressed.

You will see that our walk takes us along a bank, this is the protecting buffer against the river flooding onto the fields. This bank is on either side of our river Seven, the other side stops the river from flooding the village.  The river people have just finished shoring up the banks of the river just along here which are deeply shelving.  The river rises on Rosedale moor, one day I shall go and try and find it's place of beginning.
One of the links below in the Statements of Significance of the Land has the archaeologist referring to the ritual significance of its watery landscape, giving a 'sacred' meaning to the Vale, the backward flowing river Derwent being one such phenomena - mmm.  Could this be the 'Land of Deira' the Dark Age kingdom next to Bernicia, not sure, but the story of the Christian princess from Kent coming up to marry the king and converting him could well give rise to the early establishment of the Saxon churches round here, somewhere it states that nearly every settlement you see in the Vale has a probable Saxon beginning.

"Patterns of landscape significance continue through time with an excavated complex at West Heslerton, which is articulated in its final form as a Roman shrine, associated with both a well and spring. Though the earliest phases were unexcavated the assumption is that there was an earlier prehistoric use. An increasing number of Roman ritual sites within the Vale of Pickering seems to confirm that the Vale was sacred from early prehistory, perhaps on account on the ‘backward’ flowing river

 From the 8th century the Vale of Pickering is associated with the people of Deira, and may have formed its heartland, as the Vale has the highest density of early churches in the UK. There are a remarkable number of 7th and 8th century religious communities found on the borders and approaches of the Vale of Pickering (at Lastingham, Gilling, Stonegrave, and Coxwold). Within the Vale the survival of architectural or sculptural elements such as Anglo-Saxon carved stone and/or the reuse of Roman material (sarcophagi etc) and archaeology attest to the significance of sites such as Kirby Misperton, Sherburn, Hovingham and Kirkdale. These may all be associated with prayer houses or burial by Deira’s ruling elite. If the Vale of Pickering is the heartland of Deira it may account for anomalies in the faunal record at West Heslerton, where the lack of market age cattle in a huge animal bone assemblage may result from their being used in the payment of tithes or taxes. 

Bede describes monasteries situated in the wetland. This description chimes well with the probable situation in the Vale of Pickering in this period, with evidence suggesting a significant causeway linking Pickering to Kirby Misperton, and another similar causeway at Sherburn. This would again suggest that a number of these places in the Vale were occupying positions within the earlier sacred landscape. The sense of place and ritual associations of water within the enclosed valley, which were established as early as the Mesolithic, continue: the parish churches established at this point continue in use (albeit much modified) today.

River Derwent note; Before the last Ice Age the waters of the upper Derwent flowed east and discharged into the sea at Scalby, near Scarborough. The River Hertford, the present middle Derwent and the River Rye flowed east and discharged into the North Sea near Filey Brigg.[5] During the Ice Age these outlets were blocked by a tongue of ice which extended down the North Sea basin carrying with it large amounts of glacial detritus. As the ice melted the detritus was deposited to form the Wykeham moraine and permanently blocked the eastern exits of the watercourse. Water from the melting ice and the North York Moors formed a lake in the Vale of Pickering which expanded and deepened until eventually the water escaped by overflowing at the lowest point at Kirkham. The water cut a gorge through the Howardian Hills as it drained away southwards, breaching the Escrick moraine just east of Wheldrake, and joining the Humber glacial lake

Thursday, December 29, 2016

29th December

  Two old photos..
A blistering hot day with Moss my old dog in Bath

Solva, the woods opposite the Cambrian Inn

A fog descends on us like the 'peasoupers' I experienced in Wolverhampton as a child when hurrying home from school.  But yesterday as the fog lifted by lunch and the sun came through, the world became crystallized by the hoar frost that lay on the land - so beautiful.  The world is and can be a very beautiful place, nature makes it so.  Sadly I did not take photos of the walk, just marvelling at the crystals that formed on each blade of grass, and the spider webs caught up in the tracery of ice..
So the 'Grim Reaper' is taking his toll this winter, each morning more news comes after each death, celebrities we have known.
A small story from before Xmas, there was a burial a couple of months ago and the headstone was erected recently, also about two weeks ago a stonecarver came and cleaned up the stone next to the new arrival so I went to look.  Now I could be making this story up but I came to the conclusion that two brothers had been laid side by side with a gap of 80 years between them.  The first a toddler of 19 months had died in June 1936, the second much older person had been born in August 1936 and had died in June of this year..  There is a story everywhere you care to look, I marvelled at the longevity of love for this little mite so many years ago, no photo because there are names.

Still reading Rickman's 'The Fabric of Sin' in which is mentioned Garway Church, which incidentally does exist and was built by the Knight's Templars, the tower is joined by a short passageway, obviously it was defensive, all photos from Wikipedia....

The story is set in Herefordshire on the Welsh/English border, and this church is not far from the more famous Kilpeck Church.

The 'green man' looking not very green, no foliage for a start, and his fingers seem to be in his mouth, and is that a cord and tassels, or maybe a snake?

Now this below is the dovecote, on private land, apparently according to the story it has 666 pigeon holes inside?? not sure I believe that, it looks rather harmless.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

27th December

The world is still dark outside, and the house quiet, Lucy has had something wrong with her paw for sometime, so walking has been stopped the last few days.  She of course brings it on herself by scratching at the door of the hens, think she reckons they have better food than her! Too dozy to wake up for opening presents but she does at last and is happy with the snowman.

Well I had  Phil Rickman's books, one already read the Susan Lulham, it did not have a satisfactory ending though, you have to get the next book written from this novella.  Nigella always appears at Christmas for me mostly cookery books from my daughter, and she also bought me Kaffe Fassett 'Glorious Needlepoint' plus a large saucepan for cooking all the pasta they need when they come!

Sometimes I think Rickman has been crossed with Steven King and a historian...

Christmas day was spent in the morning talking to family on the phone and then lunch time next door to the pub. The girls offer a free drink, though we always try to pay.  Neighbours from across the road came in with their family, all over from Australia, two darling little girls skipped around, the fire crackled and the world was at peace.  LS, or Paul, is over the moon living in this village, all that I can ask for says he............ 

Two storms have rattled through, rain on the wind, which blows from the West with such ferocity, luckily the leaves are down from the trees.  Note how I can always know the way of the wind, it is because we live next door to a church, facing east/west.......

Which reminds me of two articles I have read online, the first is about trees and the fact they are living organisms, able to communicate with each other, and also feeling pain, the link is here.   And the second is only of interest to those that love megaliths..

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Xmas tidings

 Happy Christmas everyone, may your family and friends be with you on this day, and may the New Year not be as eventful as 2016.  Love Thelma xxx

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Day before Christmas

The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He'll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

Well a simple nursery rhyme about the robin is something that went through my head this morning, though the Darkling Thrush by Hardy would seem more appropiate to the wet, windy and cold weather... I just love Hardy's mournful gloom his books a great favourite when I was younger.

The Darkling Thrush
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
    The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
    Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
    Had sought their household fires...

The rest of the verses are in the link above.

But enough of the weather, and those poor birds at this time of the year, I have fed them, and there is as yet still no snow. But is it not appropiate for Xmas Eve, that we do gather by the fire.  Yesterday a visit to the dentist, all clear thank goodness, the sound of the drill in another room made my stomach turn over!
The other day Weaver of Grass (Pat) had problems with which charity to give to. I am not sure on this, I suggested the 'White Helmets' of Syria who do a much needed job of rescuing the wounded from the buildings that have been bombed.  A volunteer group of Syrian people seemed right.
But it made me remember last weekend when we were watching Peter Pan, and my daughter seemed very knowledgeable on the story of J.M. Barrie, she revealed that actually she had the Wiki entry on her phone.  Well said I, thank goodness I gave a donation the other week to Wikipedia, it is a non-profit organisation and educates people all round the world. 
It is difficult to choose a charity at Xmas, we are beset on all sides for pleas for money.  Home charity is the 'Salvation Army' or 'Shelter' of course for taking the homeless of the street but do they do it all the year.
Medecins Sans Frontieres is of course another one, as is the Red Cross or Save The Children.  Whatever their are plenty out there and don't get me started on animal charities, pictures of ill abused animals are there to set your heart off, as are of course the terrible pictures of children suffering.  Should we feel guilt? the answer is of course yes, but perhaps also we should be nagging our governments as well, after all they have the biggest pots of money.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

22nd December

"What is he who dreaming sees, and after 'dreaming the imprinted passion Remains, and to his mind the rest returns not, such am I, for almost utterly Ceases my vision, and even distills my heart the sweetness born of it."
- Dante, Paradiso, Canto XXXIII

Qual e’ colui che somniando vede, che dopo ‘l sogno la passione impressa rimane, e l’altro a la mente non riede, cotal son io

For Littlestone, who has nagged so much for me to take photos of the restaurant! And also Pat, thank you for the Solistice poem, LS also put one up as well for the Solstice, a Seamus Heaney one, Heaney of course did an archaeological course in Ireland.

Lunch out yesterday, LS's birthday treat at The Plough Inn at Wombleton.  What does he have? the same as always, tempura prawns with a salad and a side bowl of fries, me I try the cashew nut/fruit curry, good though rather sweet, Lucy shared my poppadum.  We have to lunch in the bar above with Lucy but I have now taken photos of the restaurant bit, rather empty yesterday.  There are a few pubs like this round the area, gastro-pubs I suppose they are called, the girl who served us spoke highly of our pub  the Sun Inn next door and was going with her boyfriend for New Year.  It has quite a reputation the Sun Inn, serving massive meals for the locals, who will of course include farmers and putting on 'events', all run by Harriet, under 25 years old, Lucy, 16 years old and still at school, and William their brother who helps out. Gastro it may not be but their pies are greatly sought out ;)

The Wombles of Wombleton

Inner dining room

the other end

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

21st December - or Solstice Day

People belong to places rather than places belonging to people;  Michael Newton

Well good news this morning President Obama, has at last used legal means to protect the Arctic and Alaska from further drilling for oil and gas...of course we will all have to wait to see if Trump can overturn it.

"Barack Obama has permanently banned new oil and gas drilling in most US-owned waters in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, a last-ditch effort to lock in environmental protections before he hands over to Donald Trump.".

Our fracking appeal appeal in North Yorkshire unfortunately  failed yesterday but the anti-fracking people are still fighting on - watch this space.

Another interesting facet as we fight for the rights of our environment is that in New Zealand the River Whanganui and all its tributaries has been granted Personhood, which means it has the same legal rights as an ordinary person, therefore the Maori people can go to law to protect the river.  In 2008 Ecuador became the first nation in the world to recognise the legal rights of its mountains, rivers and land, and subsequently in 2011 the River Vilcabamba came before the judge of Loja, to stop an adjacent road being widened forcing debris into the river.  The court case was successful.

So where am I going with all this, well as it is Solstice Day, and the dark turns towards the light a fascinating article in my magazine Resurgence by Madeline Bunting caught my eye, not only for the beautiful photographs but the thoughts expressed about the island of Jura in the Hebrides - Language of the Land.

Does land have a language? of course it does, evocative, it will speak to us like the tree whispering its secrets, laughing at us short-lived humans who bring our dreams to it, the land patiently endures us, only in the high and mighty mountains does it holds on to it's wilderness. 

Some land like the islands of Scotland are so poor in our terms for farming, but not of course in their own ecology, that people do have a hard time surviving on them, especially in the teeth of the gales and storms that sweep over from the Atlantic, and trees are almost non-existent. It requires a special kind of nature to survive and perhaps more importantly a sense of community.  It is expressed in the word Duthchas.....

"The Gaels of the Highlands held a very ancient tradition and belief stretching back into pre-history, it is what lay behind the origins of the Highland Clan. This tradition is known in Gaelic as ‘duthchas’ and in Welsh as 'cynefin'. It is impossible to accurately translate the meaning of those words into English, but it expresses a sense of belonging to a certain area of land, of being rooted by ancient lineage to a particular place that was communally held by all the people of the clan. This idea of holding the land communally was never written down as was the custom of the time, it was simply an idea that was accepted by all as being the natural order of things."

Do we not see strands of the same thinking in the Indians at Standing Rock?

The Gaelic way of life is an antithesis to the way of capitalism, people work together but not in competition, we often see this on television programmes, the crofters gathered together to bring the sheep down from the high pastures, dipping them, and the rather marvellous way each person in the community may have a series of jobs serving the island so that the infra structure runs smoothly.

A famous story well known,  Lord Leverhulme had bought a large estate on Lewis, he wanted to bring the slippery thongs of capitalism to the islands, he promised jobs in his new canning fishing factories.  New homes, electricity and railways, but he was not prepared to let his land become communal and was taken to court.  A crofter stood up in court and spoke these words;

"You have bought this island.  But you have not bought us, and we refuse to be the bond slaves of any man.  We want to live our lives in our own way.  Poor in material things it may be, but at least it will be free of the factory bell; it will be free and independent".

Freedom of course is the answer but within the strict terms of the community......

A friend has just emailed a time to remember the Nattie Fonten well, so here are his words taken from TMA for the Old Wives Well; A Happy Solstice everyone xxx

"In 270 a.d., the Emperor Aurelian declared worship of the sun god, Sol Invictus, an official religion throughout the empire. He dedicated the Sol Invictus Temple in Rome on December 25th., 274, and declared that day Dies Natalis Solis Invicti – the Day of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun. Our midwinter festival has been held on 25th. ever since. 

If this spring had previously hosted a winter solstice festival, then the Romans patrolling the nearby Wade's Causeway would have referred to it as Fontana Natalis – the 'Birth Spring', or 'Winter Solstice Spring' (the winter solstice being the birth of the year – in the Welsh language, Christmas is Nadolig, in Cornish it's Nadelik, both words derived from Latin natalis - 'birth'). 

Centuries later, a folk rendition of Latin fontana natalis (perhaps influenced by Norman French 'fontein') was all they could manage. But it's there to this day – Nattie Fonten. Roll on, roll on."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tuesday 20th December

Two pictures, the foggy fields that are part of the weather every morning, and then that glorious photo of the bridge in Spain which appears as my desktop photo when I switch on the computer. Surprisingly I still love this wretched English weather, the middle tree is the 'buzzard tree', it's shape is distinguished by the ivy that clings so lovingly to the trunk.  Familiarity is of course the name of the game, we look out constantly on the outside world, watching the moon wane as it is now, waiting for Solstice which is around this time, as the year turns neatly round and we head towards the light.  All is measured, time is not an element just something we measure our lives around.  I could tell you that all the rabbits have disappeared in that long bank, Nelson must have shot or trapped them.  Occasionally I hear a dog in his caravan, probably lent by another poacher.

Normanby's weather

puente nuevo bridge spain
The weekend has gone, not read a scrap of news, though have watched the evacuation of children and adults from Aleppo on the television, how are they going to rebuild these towns, do they want to?
Assad in the comfort of his palace must be brought to justice for what he has unleashed on his people, but what to do about all these homeless people; give money to the various organistions for sure but who will comfort those children from the horrors of war.
To return to home news, the safe and comfy life we all lead, and which is denied others on this planet. Lucy had a wash and clip yesterday by Allison down the road, her parents live on a small holding, which is apparently registered.  E was complaining that they had no notification about the Avian flu from Defra, as we all know the first confirmed case is in Lincolnshire amongst a group of turkeys, all will be culled of course, and a family will lose a substantial part of their income. N has built a small run for his chickens and ducks, but E says her ducks don't like being shut up and have gone off their food.  I bought my little lot some wood shavings to play around in the run, which keeps them amused and they are still laying plenty of eggs.

Pub tea with the family, my daughter loves our pub, the 'characters' you meet is her excuse, here they are choosing music to play, second one down and our glamorous Matilda, looking somewhat like Heidi with those pigtails keeps her phone constantly to hand, her hair is a source of crossness on my part;), Lucy has become somewhat blurred, constant movement is her problem.

Old scruff with sock

Smelling sweet, tail wagging

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Saturday 17th December

A lovely little video made in 1978 about two girls bringing up a baby blackbird, and it survived. Reminded me of the story about the little grey kitten that stood on our doorstep meowing piteously early one morning. Getting up, probably to go to the loo, I heard this noise and upon opening the front door the most beautiful long haired kitten sat there with a great long bramble caught up in his tail. Quickly came in, I got my son up who would have been about 12 years old to hold the kitten whilst I teased out the bramble.  The kitten fell asleep on his lap, and he knelt there on the hall carpet for probably a couple of hours whilst it slept.  We had that kitten for three weeks, though I advertised him all over the village, we had thought it would stay with our two cats, so I took him to the vets for a check-up and worming.  Couple of hours later, the phone rang, the owner had been found having just rung up the vet.
To say that the owner was happy is an understatement, over the moon more like it, he came into the sitting room his face fell as he saw our two curled up on the settee, then he spied his little poppet and his life was restored ;) Later that day two carrier bags of goodies landed on our step in grateful recognition for looking after his little kitten, my son was not too happy though!
Well the family come down today, and it is LS's birthday tomorrow, so it is the weekend before Xmas!  Our friends came for coffee yesterday and chatted all morning, they are going next year for a boat ride, okay cruise around the Scottish Islands, dearly as I would love to do that those fierce seas would put me off.  Apparently the people of St.Kilda, who as we all know were taken off their Island, rather then being put in one place together were separated on the mainland, and according to J the last person has just died.  Another interesting fact, originally the islanders all lived in a rounded block of houses, think Scara Brae because they were protected on all sides from the weather.  Well those dratted missionaries, or their equivalent came along in the 19th Century and made them live in that long line of cottages, which of course was open to the terrible storms of the sea.  Must find a book on the subject.

St.Kilda's High Street

Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas comes to Normanby

Aliens arriving in Normanby last night, no it is just Father Christmas on his sleigh collecting for charity........... the men wore multi coloured lights in their hats

The church decorated in holly and ivy for the Carol Service, Jo and David, had partly stripped our holly tree the day before, but the displays are simple but beautiful.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Grace of Nature

Yesterday on our walk across the fields, two birds made their appearance.  The first was the beautiful Barn Owl, it floated out gently in front of us, not afraid it circled around us, hunting probably, across the field it went back and forward, no camera to record but a marvellous sight.  At last it disappeared into the rickety old buildings of the farm house.  Look at that face, almost comical but adapted to hunting by day or night.  I wished him success.

So what was the second bird, a buzzard, probably my favourite, watching them turn slowly in the sky wheeling around on an updrift, always sends an optimistic thrill through me.  This one I see most times  around the field I even know his favourite tree,  as he registers our presence for sitting in, whilst we wander along the path, and hopefully disappear from his life, we don't as we have to make our way back because of the mud the river people have created.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Yorkshire - Wednesday 14th Dec.

Photographs are so easy these days, snap the picture and then put it on your computer, nothing more. Remember the old days, fiddly film rolled round the little clasp, (do not get light on the film) and then removing the finished film, off to the chemist for development, and then those photos that never quite hit the mark....
Well time for computer photos, taken over the last few years, churches figure extensively alongside their accumulated history. Then there are the moors, barren places, sheep grazing, the call of the curlew and the grouse.  
I am in a nostalgic mood this grey day, as the skeleton trees and dark sodden leaves lie heavily everywhere, the slow uphill grind to the 21st of this month, when  the year, or at least the sun. will turn round and flood our part of the Earth with light.  So here we are............

A typical small hamlet

My heart always jump as we go over the cattle grids onto the moor.

Grazing sheep

My favourite part of the moor

A quiet Whitby

Looking across to our bit of Whitby

The woods before we get to the Cawthorn Roman Camps

One of the camps covered in heather and long grass

The  Roman ground defended from those warlike tribes of the North!

Sheep graze the church yard at Lastingham

The sheer solemnity inside a church, which still takes my breath away

This Christian cross would had stood 24 feet high

The museum pieces lying in the crypt of Lastingham, the Viking carving hardly decipherable

Viking pagan snakes invading a church

And last but not least the heather burning on the moor, and a tiny speck of a grouse., for which the burning of the heather which encourages new growth, so that the grouse will feed, produce more young, for them to be shot!  Weird old world we live in.