Sunday, January 31, 2016


And here by the path on Hoar Stones Brow, 
I find a large, black feather. Crow rudder. 
The only testimony – on this blank morning –
 that the air bore something on its back.

 Lifted high on its shoulders. Singing.

Richard Skelton

Illustration by David McConochie Photograph: The Art Market

Collecting; this time Richard Skelton, language and video;  I have been reading, the storms hardly conducive to anything else.  Came across this interesting article about how eerie the landscape can be, written by Macfarlane and it set me thinking, mostly about fear.  Well fear is something I experience in my life, basically it is just to do with meeting people but I am never fearful in the outside world, the trees, rivers and the great industrialised farmed fields round here never provoke thoughts of ghosts.  Ghost live on the page, we invoke them with our imagination, when I go out at night to close the hens coop, I often look out over the grave stones and wonder about the people lying there, their lives, their time on this earth but it is curiosity nothing more.  
The book I am reading, "Candlenight" by Phil Rickman, has a scary theme but then it is fiction, a delicious need to frighten oneself! And strangely part of the plot is English people in Wales, and learning the Welsh language.It seems a long time ago when 'English' holiday homes were set alight by the Welsh, now the Welsh language is part of the curriculum and life seems to have quietened down.

The other link was how to put on an Iron Age torc, the article in a blog on the British Museum site.  I suspect this was mostly male jewellery with perhaps powerful leader females wearing them as badges of office.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday and a storm

The wind rages round the house like a banshee, chairs and milk bottles lie tumbled on the drive - another storm.  Tom my eldest grandson has just asked (via F/B) if he can use the cottage in Whitby this weekend, and I said of course you can ;) whilst keeping my fingers crossed that no parties take place.
Lucy by the way has been behaving very well at night, almost as if she has settled down.  She is a character that is very needy, a trait shared by most cocker spaniels apparently. She makes us laugh, LS calls her a Zen dog.  Trots around always with something in her mouth, teases us by getting our slippers, dusters she always presents to LS, my knitting she trails with glee, little tail wagging furiously.
My cold frames arrived eventually, ordered well before Xmas they have been a long time coming, apparently the carrier's  Tuffnell got flooded in Leeds, taking out all their computers as well. There was a visitation by people from Hebden Bridge to Westminster yesterday, when they laid out five hundred pairs of wellington on the lawn outside the House of Parliament, a reminder to Cameron to do something about this flooding.  I notice the Pickering flood defences are  being quoted more and more in the media as one way to go.

Some cheerful photos, I keep them in the 'retrospective folder' and they are definitely needed on days like this, now to go and feed the hens!

Misty Whitby

A wood near Bath covered with ransoms

Tom when he was still small

A dragonfly in the Bath garden

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Woolf and wolf moon

                           "No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.” 

It is Virginia's Woolf's birthday to day, I like her writing, and she is seen as a feminist, though her involvement with the Bloomsbury Group sets her back in some people's eyes. But 'accidents of fate' land us up with a rum lot of people ;)  You feel sadness through her work, an underlying feeling which is probably to do with the detail of her life.  Losing her mother at an early teenage stage, then her brother Thoby at 20 years old.  Her sister was the famous Vanessa Bell, a leading personality as well in the Bloomsbury Group, her half brothers apparently sexually abused her, though this I will not comment on, as it is hearsay.

"You cannot find peace by avoiding life"

Her tragic end in the river, filling her pockets deliberately with stones and then walking into the water shows a determined person, though she was given to mental illness. She obviously did not write the sadness out of her system, it must have followed her like a faithful dog, hounding her to the grave.

"the eyes of others are our prison; their thoughts our cages"

I quite like that quote, it is a good one for a blogger!  We must learn to write carefully, without offence, winding our way through other people's view of their worlds, though of course do we write as well as we should if we conform?

We have beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and of course a full moon this end part of January, a 'wolf moon', though this is a North American term, for when the wolves go hungry in cold January and howl at the moon.

There is an interesting article in the Reliquiae, on the last of the wolves in Britain, of course we will never know when the last wolf died in this country, we can only speculate and make up stories.  We hounded them out of existence because they were a nuisance, perhaps we could do with a few just to keep the deer numbers down now.....

Although the Hubbard brothers in the 19th century wrote this;

The month which we now call January our Saxon ancestors called wolf-monat, to wit, wolf-moneth, because people are wont always in that month to be in more danger to be devoured of wolves, than in any else season of the year; for that, through the extremity of cold and snow, these ravenous creatures could not find of other beasts sufficient to feed upon. Richard Verstegan, Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in Antiquities 1673

Friday, January 22, 2016

Them and Us

Taken from Dorothy Hartley's book - The Countryman's England

Gypsies; Cannot you not spy the romantic vision of gypsies in this photo, though what stands out is their poverty....

When I read the blogs this morning there was Tom Stephenson going on about the fabulous wilds of Canada, and perhaps the 'hippy' tendency to go out into these wilds and live the solitary life.  Then there was Heron's blog about the shameful eviction of Travellers in Louth.  The first thing that slips through my mind is how you look at things, how can we, safe and secure in our own homes, not feel sympathy to the thousands of refugees that flow endlessly across Europe, and these Travellers in Louth made homeless by bureaucratic bungling, and the need to be vindictive to people who are 'different'.  Compassion and the need to do right are things we talk of but rarely succeed in.

Hippies are a bit like children playing a game of living outside, see they all have the same 'uniform' similar hair, clothes and of course flowers to symbolize their peaceful natures.  Photos taken from this site.

My mind is questioning why I put hippies and Travellers together, the answer comes back because they don't live by the 'norms' of the society they live in.  Hippy land started in the 1960s and took weird and wonderful  ways of interpreting the way these people wanted to live.  Spirituality was one of the things that stood as a signpost, the need to 'live off the land' and not take part in the commercial actions of polite society.  It went well for a time, but read anything up on the time and there comes the usual human emotions to breech their dreams and send most hippies on to a more rational lifestyle.
Travellers or gypsies start with a more ancestral connection, they are Romany, I know little of them, yet they are still part of our society and deserve our respect.  It would seem that standing out from the crowd is frowned upon by those of us who live, (what word would you put to describe your life?) a life that conforms with the marjority of people around, those that don't conform can be harassed by the civil authorities and by biased and racist groups of people - red doors anyone?

And on a lighter note ;)

Also before hippies there were Beatniks, thanks to LS for that...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Not much is happening

soon the candles will be put away
I shall just call this a compilation of things that flowed.  You can almost feel the lift in the air as the days grow longer, the birds sing in the morning, not quite dawn chorus but getting there, the earth is eager to come alive again.  The sun shines this morning illuminating the bare branches of the sycamore trees  in the front.  I have been patiently awaiting the arrival of two cold frames, which will need making up when they arrive, which will now be next Monday.  It is then that I can start sowing seed, taking cuttings and storing emerging bulbs.  Without the hens eating everything in sight.  We shall have to have a small run built at the back, they are such a nuisance.

The sun rises at the back
Just down the road at Hutton-le-Hole there is snow, lightly sitting on the hillside.

The muddy river banks slipping away on my walk with Lucy

I managed to find a Phil Rickman book, Night after Night at the library, which I can practically not put down, it weaves and tantalises round a plot, that has a 'big brother' theme in a haunted house.
Been knitting with chenille, a first, it is to be a cushion for my daughter, she gave me a book on knits for the home, and a couple of days ago she also sent an edition of 'Tom Bombadil' which I had never seen before, it had arrived in the Tia shop in Todmorden.

The sun goes down at the front of the house 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Foxes and badgers

Years ago I kept angora rabbits, they are those fluffy creatures with a beautiful coat, they had runs in the garden and one was always free in our large Bath garden.  One year a fox moved into the valley these gardens traversed, and the rabbits had to be more tightly controlled.  This fox would sleep in the flowerbed below the hutches, presumably ready to snaffle himself a ready meal.  The only rabbit he ever managed to get his teeth round (and she escaped) was Bracken, aggressive in her own right. There is a photograph of my young son sprawled on the lawn with the fox sitting quietly with him, this fox was tame.  Our friends in Weston Park, Henry Cliffe and his wife would feed the foxes in the evening, and these so called 'urban foxes' lived quite happily, though of course they became a menace in Bristol, due to health.

Our other visitors were nocturnal, badgers, you could hear their heavy breathing as they came up on the terrace.  One night I was awoken by the shrill notes of my two bantams, obviously running around the garden. So barefoot me and Moss, stood on the terrace as a hen came rushing up the stairs followed by a large badger in hot pursuit, it is not often known that badgers eat small rabbits, that is why their holts are often situated near rabbit warrens, so eating my chickens were on the menu.  the badger had forced the hen coop's nest boxes open, luckily the two bantams were feisty creatures. There followed in the dark, a chase to catch the hens, Moss was so surprised by the badger he did not go for him and eventually the badger disappeared and I was left with the unenviable task of trying to find and capture two scared hens, which I did in the following hour.

My first encounter with a badger, had been in daylight, it had blundered across my path whilst out walking, probably as gassing them was popular at the time, the poor creature was completely disorientated.  At one stage in my life I joined a campaign to stop badger baiting, which happened up on the Bath downs, we were told by the police not to approach these men as they were vicious but only to report their white vans, dogs, men and of course spades to dig the badgers out.  The bill to protect these badgers went through, though of course they are now under a different threat sadly.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Wednesday 13th January

A trip to Castle Howard nursery, who were in the middle of stocktaking when we arrived, lovely friendly staff.  This trip was to buy a couple of rose bushes, and wander around looking at benches.  Lucy also came away with a new bed, which she slept in quite happily all the way home. We had hoped that it would stop her nocturnal wandering but I doubt it.

The thing that got me angry though was on coming back on the A170 road we saw land rovers parked on either side of the road, and a man throwing the body of a fox into the ditch.  I can only conclude that the fox had been killed by a car, but that he was probably being chased by a hunt.  We saw a lot of horse vans parked in a lay by, so hunts still chase foxes, although it is illegal! perhaps the man was getting rid of the evidence.  Why hunt near a very busy road though?  LS made a rude sign at one of the men as we went past, but said he would not do it standing in the road, these people can be vicious.

You may think that this is a 'townie view' of the countryside, not so, the odds of the chase, 30/40 people on horseback, same number of dogs just to tear a fox to pieces is inhuman.  I have often wondered if this is a 'class issue'.a resentful attitude on the part of one type of a person to these creatures who look down from us from their horses.  Galloping around on horses is fun, you just don't need to kill an animal in the process.

We also drove through Hovingham, a pretty village, when the sun shines but dull yesterday.  There is almost a  Cotswoldian feel to the cottages that line the villages, some very pretty ones in Helmsley, the modern blended into the old.

This is presumably the Victorian schoolhouse built in 1864  by Lady Worsley

Hovingham Hall

Helmsley Cottages

Last night I read parts of Bunting's book,'The Plot', little facts leap out to you.  For a start, William the Conqueror, savaged this part of Yorkshire into the ground, killing people, animals and laying waste to the countryside, that is the reason you will find Norman castles at Helmsley, Pickering and Kirkbymoorside.  The Scots were not much better at a later date,  British history has always been at the mercy of war, the people sacrificed to whatever cause.
I did not know that William Wordsworth was married at Scarborough, and occasionally walked with his sister to Sutton Bank, probably from Thirsk.
Dorothy wrote, when they had reached the top of Sutton Bank....

"Far, far of  us, in the western sky, we saw shapes of castles, ruins among the groves, a great spreading wood, rocks and single trees, a minster with its tower unusually distinct, minarets in another quarter, and a round Grecian Temple also; the colours of the sky of a bright grey and the forms of a sober grey"

Monday, January 11, 2016

Detail of Norman doorway at Sinnington

Detail: The above Norman doorway is blocked, but the stone material contains several pieces, of what is probably, A/S broken up pieces of the same grave slab?.  On the left hand side wall you can see a squarish stone with a hole in it, this was an old sun dial apparently.

In the west wall is a blocked Norman door with a round arch, roll-moulded chamfered imposts and side shafts. Immediately above it is a square-headed two-light window, probably of 17th-century date. Still higher up is a small round-headed Norman light. "

Not sure about this piece, one moment I see a man, with spear on horseback, the next a rather blurry pattern..

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Gruyere and marmalade - Sinnington Church

Yesterday was my birthday, and LS likes to have what he calls a 'memory' of the day to remember.  So how did it go, well firstly Jo and David came for a coffee and chatted for a couple of hours and introduced us to the 'gossip' of the village, which is of no importance though a wind turbine, fallen tree on a neighbour's roof did figure largely, breaking the village into two factions;)
My plan had been to have a fondue for our meal, but Pickering did not yield any gruyere cheese, though I found emmenthal.  So after lunch  we went to Helmsley to Hunter's delicatessen shop, and luckily they had some.  We had also decided to have a walk somewhere, so as we had been talking about Sinnington we decided to go there with Lucy, and found what I would call the memory of the day. a church at the top of a hill, my love of churches runs deep!
The river Seven (our river) runs through the village, and it was high and fast, all the rivers that have broken their banks are very dangerous and it is a wonder that hardly anyone has been drowned. but the Seven has some kind of flood defence somewhere apparently.  It is a pretty village grouped round a green.

The Church;  We walked up the hill to the church with a couple out walking, and they explained the history of the old manor that once stood up on the hill next to the church.  All that is left is a 'great hall' on the outside is a 'leprosy' squint window, I think at one time in the 12th century this hall was a convent for a group of nuns from Yedingham.
What makes the church so interesting is the Anglo-Saxon pieces of stone that are built into the fabric of the church, also parts of a Viking hog backed tomb.  Sinnington is not far from Lastingham and many of the churches round here still have evidence of the earlier Saxon churches. The following is taken from British History online, which gives the details to the ownership of the manors.

Preserved in the church or built into the fabric are numerous fragments of pre-Conquest sculpture. Over the porch is a stone carved with a man riding a beast, possibly part of a Norman tympanum, and in the south wall are two cross-heads, one with knotwork and the other with a roughly carved figure of the Crucified and a serpent. Near by is a portion of a shaft with two standing figures. In the west wall inside is the base of a shaft bearing a bound serpent and two other fragments bearing knotwork. Inside the north window is another base of a cross shaft. There are numerous other fragments in various parts of the building, including a hog-back built into the north wall and the base of a shaft on the north side of the quire."

And so to the photos; did I miss the hog back on the North wall I wonder ?

The leprosy window

The Great Hall surrounded by farm buildings.

All Saints church

Solitary aconite pushing up through the pebbles of the path

An entwined dragon ? -

Man riding a beast, over the porch

Cross-head -

"The modern timber bellcote at the west end is surmounted by a spirelet and contains three bells, the first being mediaeval and inscribed 'Sancte Petre ora pro nobis,' the second is recast and the third is modern. The church fittings include a communion table with turned legs of circa 1660 and some good Jacobean pewing in the nave. The bench ends have small carved panels in the upper part and on a window-sill is a piece of oak inscribed, 'harken unto the lord's word and let it dwell in your harts.' Preserved in the church or built into the fabric are numerous fragments of pre-Conquest sculpture. Over the porch is a stone carved with a man riding a beast, possibly part of a Norman tympanum, and in the south wall are two cross-heads, one with knotwork and the other with a roughly carved figure of the Crucified and a serpent. Near by is a portion of a shaft with two standing figures. In the west wall inside is the base of a shaft bearing a bound serpent and two other fragments bearing knotwork. Inside the north window is another base of a cross shaft. There are numerous other fragments in various parts of the building, including a hog-back built into the north wall and the base of a shaft on the north side of the quire"  Taken from British Online
And the fondue was delicious, though it did make Lucy sick..... The marmalade was brought from the church sold in aid of a charity in Africa, and still to be opened.

Source of the River Seven high up on the moors outside Rosedale. near Fat Betty!

Creative commons; Colin Grice/Geograph.

Friday, January 8, 2016


Keeping in touch with the River Seven at the back, Environment Agency chart shows we had a high of over three metres yesterday.  The road flooded once again from the backup valve that resides in the drain outside our house, and cars swished through.  The pub's doors was sandbagged as their car park flooded. And now today the rains still beat down, over the road Nigel's small flocks of hens are being kept in, also his goats, as their little paddock turns to a duck pond.
Reading through the news this morning, and I find the much heralded Pickering flood defence scheme is taken to task by Jeremy Biggs in the Guardian, he reckons that the town did not flood because their was not much rain over the Christmas period on the moors, believe what you may but at least the Pickering flood defences 'seemed' to have worked, with obstructions and the holding pond.

Flood defence at Newtondale
Enough of water, a new book.... slightly esoteric, bought because Landscapism blog recommended it. Beautifully wrapped in tissue paper, with a pretty card accompanying it, it was a pleasure to open the parcel.  It is writing, fiction, non fiction and poetry.  The first poem was 'The Combe by Edward Thomas, Jennie will recognise it! And also there was Thomas's Lob poem, one of my favourites you can find it here on my other blog, long again as poems go, slightly nonsensical but very evocative of the villages of Wiltshire.....

If they had reaped their dandelions and sold

Them fairly, they could have afforded gold.

Soon we will be going in Pickering for a coffee with a historian, we had been planning to meet since we arrived here,  Hopefully it won't have flooded...

  The Calder Vale 'Our Little Valley', following link, which does not work copy and then put in your own top line...