Saturday, February 27, 2016


I will not be angry this morning, the way of the world will not change because of a few words.  I shall concentrate on a rather cold world.  When I wake up and go downstairs in the morning, it looks as if a child has scattered all their toys.  Lucy is so pleased to see someone up that her greeting, always with something in her mouth is ecstatic. often it can be the inner pad of of her bed, folded neatly.  She brings tea towels when we finished our meal, someone has to wash up of course, and her bowl for any leftovers.
Yesterday we had lunch at the Plough, I went for the fish and chips, and LS tried a new dish which was a thin slice of fillet steak, seared on the outside and blood red inside with a topping of rocket.  LS enjoyed it but Lucy when given a piece spat it out in disgust, and much preferred my fish.  The time so many years ago when we bought meat for our dogs from the butcher have long gone and now they feast on little brown biscuits.
Her brown biscuits come from the agricultural merchants in Kirby, and yesterday as I bought a couple of bags for her, food for the chickens and the wild birds.  I wander round this rather bleak large shed, there is food for every animal on the farm, including guinea pigs.  Great nets of carrot for the horse in your life at £2.30, and I am almost tempted to buy a net for Nigel's two goats over the road, Nancy and Nora.
Both these goats are having an 'off' food moment in their lives, never knew goats were so choosy, their hay because it has come from a different farm recently is not too their liking.  Nigel grazes them on our  grass verge, and we have said he could use the front lawn as well.  Goats are such strange creatures.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A short rant

An anonymous doctor gives this eloquent reply about Jeremy Hunt's figures on a Question Time programme.....

"The stats are wrong.
“I agree with your point, 11,000 people do not die at the weekend. The stats cover Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. They do not die at the weekend.
“If junior doctor staffing at the weekend was a problem, they would be dying at the weekend. They do not. The highest death rate in hospitals is on a Wednesday. You have more doctors on a Wednesday than you do on a Saturday and a Sunday. It is not a ‘weekend effect’.
“It is misrepresented by Mr Hunt. It is misrepresenting and lying, frankly, because when you’re told something is wrong and you continually repeat it, it becomes a lie. He is lying about what is happening in hospitals.
“I am the doctor on call for the next two strikes. I am the surgical registrar, the junior doctor who will be looking after each and every one of you when you come in. I will make sure you are safe. I am the man below the consultant who will operate on you if you are sick. I will be there no-one will be out at risk. I will make sure of it.”

The more I read I begin to see 'conspiracy theories' running amok, but with an underlining truth that this government is wanting to get rid of the NHS, sheer instinct points me toward this thought.  Whenever I see Osbourne or Hunt my soul cringes with despair for this country.  The Conservative party are so few, we are so many, so what is happening?  News hits us all the time, in the end who do you believe, can a country run by millioniares even begin to understand the lives experienced by those less fortunate.. or give a damn?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tuesday - Let There Be Light

The church lies hidden behind houses in the centre of town, and is approached by steps.
Yesterday we went to a meeting, which packed the church at Pickering, they are trying to raise funds through a bid to the Heritage Lottery fund for one and a half million pounds to update the church itself and conserve the medieval paintings. Local news gives the gist of the bid...Father Prichett says..

“Pickering has one of the most complete sets of medieval wall paintings in the country, and increasingly they are being considered one of the most important examples of their kind in northern Europe.”

The paintings themselves have a history all to themselves, painted about 550 years ago, they were covered in a lime wash in Henry 8th's blitz on all things Catholic, and were only rediscovered in the 19th C.
Again, because the Bishop at the time was not keen on them they were then painted over in a lime wash, luckily the person who did it watered down the application and they were then uncovered again, unfortunately though at this time the paintings were somewhat 'restored' and if you look at the 'Martyrdom of St.Edmunds' you see a distinctly Pre-raphelite touch in the vertical flowers strip.

Dr.Kate Giles gave a very enthusiastic talk on the wall paintings, someone asked are they frescoes, but they are not, as a fresco is painted on a wet surface apparently, these paintings are on a dry surface.  You can see much better photographs here on Dr.Giles PDF - Marking Time.
Conservation as opposed to restoration is where the work will be conducted, a light washing of the dusty paintwork is all that is allowed, restoration is not an option.  There maybe also earlier paintings underneath which will be searched for, apparently in the 19th century certain fixatives were tried, this is not a good idea, the paintings under a protective cover could get damp.
Along with paying attention to the wall paintings, the money will be spent on a new heating system, Father Pritchett had had the heating on for four days for the meeting; new loos, better lighting, though LS does not like the idea of LED lighting. Also a glass door to create an inner porch, shut out all those drafts, one of which I sat in.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Visiting - Appleton-le-Moor

Today we visited Appleton-le-Moor, about four miles from our village.  It was a pleasant surprise, for a start you have to drive through a small bit of moorland, covered densely in sheep before you reach the village.  The village is mentioned in the Domesday book, and still retains its early medieval layout of a single road village lined on either side with cottages which would have had a long piece of land at the back about 330m length, it is called croft and toft.

The church is beautiful (yet ugly. with its over the top columns and sgraffito) but only in a very stylised sense, French Gothic built in Victorian times, the photos will give you an inkling of its grandeur, money spent by a local who got rich on boats, and who lived in the house opposite.

Perusing the website, there really is not much on the history one, and you begin to see a somewhat typical Yorkshire village done good.  Holiday cottages are advertised, there are several businesses, knitting designer, potter and a charity for art but no shops or post office, and there is also  a  pub with good food (at least a good menu outside) which also welcomes dogs.

Lucy was funny in the church, she explored almost every inch, up and down the benches, I must admit my heart slightly quaked when she went up to the altar with LS, my Catholic conscience coming to the fore and the wrath of God descending from the heavens, but as LS said she is one of God's creatures, and she thoroughly enjoyed herself - funny creature.

The village itself is very pretty, all the cottages are well cared for and present different styles, a wide road with verges makes for easy walking and it is on the route of one of these long distance walks.

Friendly gesture - tea and coffee

burnt out house

centre window has been 'window taxed'

village hall

The cottage in the centre has those special leaded windows, there is a name for them. As you can see it is recycling day

The moorland is divided between village people

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Galanthus Nivalis

Answering my own question, are snowdrops wild and Geoffrey Grigson (The Englishman's Flora) has the same problem of identity.  And as a note Grigson's book will be the one I pick to take to my 'Desert Island' for the sheer delight of invoking our native plants so tied up with our history and religion.
Firstly, the names this little flower accrued in late medieval times - candlemass-bells, dewdrop, dingle bell, drooping lily, Eve's bells, February Fair Maids to name but a few. He says it may or may not be native, it grew in Elizabethan gardens and was seen as a 'bulbous violet' until the end of the seventeenth century.  We probably take its name snowdrop from the German Schneetrophen.  The flower was  called 'candlemas' for it appeared in February near the date Feb 2nd The Feast of Purification which is of course also the pagan Imbolc time as well.  The two religious dates marrying the same celebration. In some counties they were thought of as Death's Flowers and it was unlucky to bring them indoors.  The 'wild' snowdrop was first recorded in the seventy-eighties in Glos and Worcs.

I have lately been reading Phil Rickman's books on the clash of Christianity and Paganism, thoroughly fiction, nevertheless he explores both the church and paganism, and his vicar Merrily Watkins, rather an anti-heroine in the stories fights or tries to come to terms with the many and varied aspects of paganism.  It reminds me that as a child I read an awful lot of Dennis Wheatley, and devoured every book on ghosts in the library.

What does Grigson say about Dog's Mercury, (Mercury perennis) the answer lies in the use of the word 'dog' it being an inferior plant and poisonous as well.
Its name are thus; adder's meat, boggart flower, dog flower, dog's medicine, snakes flower, etc.  It is an emetic and useful for making enemas.  In Germany the name Mercury, is translated as Bad Henry, the evil goblin or the evil boggart.....

Sunday morning

Snowdrops they are everywhere, along the road, in the fields, trailing along the river bank and of course in people's gardens.  Dainty, delicate but not wild flowers, or are they? It is people that have planted them along bridleways, and birds or insects that have scattered them.  Here as you look back at the old farm orchard you can see the straight line of daffodils planted.

I thought on this walk to discover what survives in the verge and hedgerow, think I have spotted ransom, and of course dog mercury's gentle little flower, whispering woodland a long time ago.

Further along on our walk and we come to the 'bunny bank', the bank has many holes and often a flash of white tail will tell of a guard rabbit.  Baby rabbits play on the ploughed field their colour blending well with the soil.  On this walk was a covey of what I think maybe pheasant babes, though from their sandy colouring from a long distance they could have been partridge.

Traces of water still lurk in the fields and we seem to be, this far North, on the cusp of the cold/warm weather fronts that sit across England. Does that mean rain I wonder?
In the following photo, just before the bridge and you can see Nelson's land in the background, here he lives in a caravan with many hens, some geese and half a dozen sheep.  Not sure he legitimately owns the land but there does seem to be some questioning by the pub's owner.

And there is also of course moles they cover the fields by the river with their mole hills, there must be quite a few of them.

Our internet has been playing up the last few days, but LS phoned BT up, and they seem to have fixed the problem by remote control, updating our router and going back to the source, clever though I find it a bit scary when someone in India can take over your computer.....

Madam, who has been over-hyped all night, resulting in a couple of hours sleep for me,...

Thursday, February 18, 2016


This morning the phone rang at seven, it was the Bata oil man delivering some oil, they are just down the road at Amotherby, so LS rushed down stairs to open the gates.  That is the most exciting thing today though the day has yet to unfold and we have to go into Pickering.  So a couple of snow photos from Monday...

Someone said the other day, why don't you grow a hedge along this wall but the truth of the matter is we love this view, and have a discreet blind to pull down should someone be in the grave yard!

Lucy prefers the warmth of the house to snow..

The yew trees add their dark solemnity to the scene

this shape fascinates me, so church like rock solid in the concrete

Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday morning

This week end the family visited, it is a not particularly happy time for them, but hopefully an answer will be arrived at.  My daughter is off to Switzerland on Thursday to see her great aunts, one day perhaps we will go out to visit.  Matilda is off to Paris for a few days with her school class, some of the visits have been curtailed due to the terrorist attacks but they are still going.

Yesterday two hens disappeared in the afternoon I scoured the area but no sign of them, Fluffybum always independent stayed behind luckily and mithered around the garden complaining.  Then as dusk started to settle two little figures were spied on the grass heap in the grave yard hurrying home, they had been over the fields.

Snow fell for a brief time yesterday and has settled lightly on the land. When I was out walking the fields, I came upon a rabbit burrow, from a distance I could just see the white underbelly of a lookout rabbit.  The whole village seems covered in snowdrops, they must seed themselves everywhere, along the river bank and verges.  Daffodil leaves nuzzle out of the verges as well but no flowers as yet.

My daughter's cousin Marc runs a Sushi factory in Switzerland,which is about to be taken over by a large supermarket, though he will still be charge.. Sushi has become such a feature of supermarkets here as well, you can buy it in the Co-op at Pickering, not my favourite food but interesting.  I watched  a programme about fat yesterday, the interesting thing about fat is it is in most foods, try to live  without it though and the body begins going through peculiar experiences.  We need fat hurrah;)
I suspect that with all this emphasis on what we eat in the wider world, the truth of the matter is it should be as near to its fresh state as possible and home cooked.

As I grow older, the things I like less are the sweet things, biscuits, cakes and puddings but can never resist a box of chocolate, I always need a fillip of something sweet after the evening meal, this is of course when your glucose levels go down after a meal.

Rambling on in this early morning light, waiting for LS to surface so that I can make the tea. There are times when I miss Switzerland, the clean sparkling air, the different foods you can buy, watching the cows come down from the mountain pastures late summer, bouquets of flowers on their heads, the bells round their necks slowly clanking.  It is all such a long time ago.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Perfect balls of fluff

There is a feeling of renewal in the air, bird song round the garden, the young squirrels playing helter-skelter round the trees.  Nuthatches have been spied on the bird table, and also tree creepers are around, and I am sure I saw a few green finch on the lawn the other day.  The little wren flies round like a small moth, the screech of the returning blackbirds heralds battles galore on the lawn, all in all a welcome sight. The owl/owls must live in the grave yard for we hear them as dusk settles and then first thing in the morning.

Coffee mornings this week, plus yesterday we had coffee in town with C who is helping out with a meeting for the wall paintings in Pickering church to be given heritage lottery money for some restoration I presume.  The family are coming this weekend, not sure how that is going to go but fingers crossed.

Rachel brought some homemade jam and marmalade, don't need to make any of my own, and whilst she was with us Christine came round for some eggs.  Our three chickens have produced three eggs nearly every day since we have had them.  We have been putting them outside for people, free or a donation to the church, but I shall have to keep a dozen for my daughter this weekend.

The chenille cushion is finished, was for my daughter, but LS thinks it goes with his large carp painting and so seems to have migrated to his chair! No photo at the moment blogger is refusing...

A frosty morning

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"A world-tree of balanced stones"

The world-tree is of course the Norse Yggdrasill Tree

Today it is just about words, how they flow when we come across them.  Why Heaney's Belderg? it just happens to pop up quite a lot in my visitor's counter.  It is almost as if Heaney is dreaming of that world beneath the turf, I see history as a book lying on the landscape, you can turn the pages, going deeper into the soil and find a 'happening'.  Sometimes people say that there is not an inch of land that has not been walked on in the past.  The 'peacefulness' of the present moment is not really a truth, if time was many times running parallel, you would feel the busyness of the world's continuous existence around you.
The first set of words below I found somewhere, no author to ascribe them to sadly.  We are always trying to find the second world, never quite getting there, there are some who say they have achieved it, maybe they have.  It has a certain Celtic ring to it, we are unhappy with our first world and so create a second world to dream in, but is it deeper?

"The idea that there are two worlds, or two rivers is found in many spiritual traditions. The first, is the world of our day-to-day functioning with all its dogs of commentaries, opinions, ideas as well as the emotions that move through us like the weather. The second world is completely different. It’s related to silence and seems composed of an entirely different order. This second world is always beckoning to us, but it is hidden behind the veil of the first world."

Rain falling on a temple - Korea


Belderg by Seamus Heaney
'They just keep turning up
And were thought of as foreign'-
One-eyed and benign,
They lie about his house,
Quernstones out of a bog.
To lift the lid of the peat
And find this pupil dreaming
Of neolithic wheat!
When he stripped off blanket bog
The soft-piled centuries
Fell open like a glib;
There were the first plough-marks,
The stone-age fields, the tomb
Corbelled, turfed and chambered,
Floored with dry turf-coomb.
A landscape fossilized,
Its stone wall patternings
Repeated before our eyes
In the stone walls of Mayo.
Before I turned to go
He talked about persistence,
A congruence of lives,
How stubbed and cleared of stones,
His home accrued growth rings
Of iron, flint and bronze.
So I talked of Mossbawn,
A bogland name 'but Moss'?,
He crossed my old home's music
With older strains of Norse.
I'd told how its foundation
Was mutable as sound
And how I could derive
A forked root from that ground,
Make bawn an English fort,
A planter's walled-in mound.
Or else find sanctuary
And think of it as Irish,
Persistent if outworn.
'But the Norse ring on your tree?'
I passed through the eye of the quern,
Grist to an ancient mill,
And in my mind's eye saw,
A world-tree of balanced stones,
Querns piles like vertebrae,
The marrow crushed to grounds.

Roy's Chief sitting below the Tor at Stowe Pound

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday - storms

Storms: And they are still with us, what we don't see is the damage to farms, not only in loss of animal life, but the landslides that have happened in Cumbria for instance.  When I checked through my news this morning they were highlighting the dam that had burst in Brazil in November of last year cascading tons of toxic water down to the sea, it was remarked that you hear nothing of this catastrophic happening in the news, no we are entertained to the latest on Assange and his break for freedom.
This morning on 'Farming Today' a woman farmer was talking about a landslide on her small farm, and of course the consequences this would have, it would be a long term problem, as she could not get her sheep up onto the fells.  The photos are of another farm that experienced a landslide at the back of the farm.
As waters tumble furiously in the rivers up in the North of England and Scotland, one wonders what will this back to back storms have on the coming farming year.  We all look forward to the sun of spring and summer but the fields are still heavily flooded with water in others lurking underfoot.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


Warmer days;

Social events;  We had been out to coffee at a neighbour's house earlier on this week, even Lucy had been invited.  J is a marvellous storyteller, a retired tax man, he sits amongst his paintings and books well satisfied with life. His wife E, though rather deaf lip reads very well and she has offered to look after my hens if we go away which is very kind of her,
Yesterday  was a carvery at the pub next door and a good half of the village went, we all seem to sit in the same place as the last event.  It is very noisy, lots of laughter but Harriet (the licensee) had the meal beautifully organised.  Everyone came back to their tables with enormous plates of food and it was good,  I had vegetarian sausages with lots of vegetables.  Our table was the 'newbies' there are three couples, and the next table was also a newbie builder who had arrived nearly at the same time as us and who thought the village was wonderful.  Raffle draw produced a bottle of wine for me, and there was a 'tips' collection. I think making the pub the social hub of the village is a good idea.  We had had a couple of villagers for coffee the week before, LS is fascinated by how the land is owned round here, and P can give all the history of the church and its role in the village.  
The next gathering apparently is a leaving party for the vicar at another village hall, there is of course only a Sunday service at the church every fortnight and the vicar perambulate around the churches, not sure how many churches this vicar has.
Next on the social calendar is a gardening quiz down at Marton village hall next Tuesday for a fiver a year and a yellow card which gives you 10% discount at all the local nurseries, you get talks, etc and days out of course.
I must take some photos of the pub, there is an untidy air to it but there are many local characters that live within its vicinity.

And what is Yorkshire famous for at the moment;  Forced rhubarb, those delicate pink spears that lay as the base for rhubarb crumble, watch the video! As a child a stick of raw rhubarb and a bowl of sugar to dip it in was delicious, not sure I could do it now though.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Monday and the coming storm

Yesterday we went to Whitby, things were beginning to run out, coffee beans, Dove's Organic bread flour and things we cannot buy in Pickering, so it is Sainsburys at Whitby we return to.  Though very windy because of  the storm  rain was not predicted till late afternoon.
It was a very noisy storm, the wind roared through the trees in the garden, and over the moors the sun chased showers, whilst the clouds put on a spectacular performance.  I took Lucy for a brief walk on the moor, hardly able to stand upright.  We followed a little green sheep path, till it led to a boggy burnt square, full of sheep droppings.  Poor sheep, the only creatures capable of living in these conditions.  I long to hear the curlew cry but for the moment can only listen to them on Youtube.
I am up early in the morning and later watch the sunrise as it breaks eating my breakfast,

you can see an old nest in the tree.  Early and late afternoon the rooks gather in these trees and have a noisy conversation together, love to know what they are talking about, probably where too roost for the night.  Soon as it grows dark the owls will be around, you will hear them in the night if you wake up.

rain spatters the car windows as we race past

sun and shadows

In the distance you can just make out where a very large lorry overturned in the wind, as we went by there was a couple of police cars and a fire engine.  Going back the scenery was a magical fairy land of mist and far horizons.

A farm just below the ridge