Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Butterbur and churches

Butterbur  - Alien plant perhaps, strange flower that appears at this time of the year without the leaves showing first, a bit like the coltsfoot, which I hardly ever see nowadays.  Called butterbur because you wrapped your butter in its great leaves at one time. Gerard says that it was also used as a cure for the 'mistiness' of the eyes, and one of its local names is to do with mushrooms, which is not surprising. You can find more (better) photos here.

Yesterday I spent some time on reading up on the churches round here, trying to make sense of the Saxon and Viking input.  The first thing that struck me was how the churches had been 'patched' up over time, a bit like a quilt.  The stone masons would look for stone to hand and that is how we find old gravestones in the walls, though presumably later stone masons  had lost their respect for the dead of yesteryear.

Kirkdale, or St.Gregory's church, must have been an important church, a Saxon minster, snug now in the landscape with woods around it and the sound of a river in the background, and the gravestones parading their dead.

Sinnington church was another, with fragments of Saxon stone embedded in the Norman doorway now 'bricked up'.  These intricate carved cabled stones, were given a place in later rebuilding.

Our church has two  early gravestones situated in the porch, with a couple of interesting stones, one Norman.

Both cross shafts
Hopefully we shall go to Levisham church soon, there is a grave cover in the porch there, and it looks an interesting drive and walk.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Hoards - miscellaneous

On one side lions moulded in gold were to be seen on the ships, on the other, birds on the tops of the masts  indicated by their movements the winds as they blew, or dragons of various kinds poured fire from their nostrils.  Here there were glittering men of solid gold and silver nearly comparable to live ones, there bulls with necks raised high and legs outstretched were fashioned leaping and roaring like live ones.  One might see dolphins moulded in electrum, and centaurs in the same metal.   
From a description of Swein Forkbeard's fleet in 1013.

The Galloway Hoard

I cannot resist these beautiful artefacts, they appear in hoards that have been found by metal detectorists.  I think what I love about this Viking brooch are the 'biting animals', are those dragons that bite at the shield? or those elegant birds on top pecking away.  This brooch comes from the Galloway, Scottish Hoard

and was part of the treasure trove stored in this bowl below, a silver Carolingian bowl, along with other treasures inside the bowl  These are the objects of the Vikings that we recognise, savage warfare, looting treasure and generally bringing terror to the people around them.  But their jewellry was exquisite,  a fusion with Anglo-Saxon styles, their zoomorphic imagery adorns both stone, gold and silver. Such lovely terms as gripping beasts, you have only to think of the Viking hogback gravestones with bears on either end of the stone roof, gripping the tiles, to realise that the might and ferocity of animals were part of their lives.

“is a really very rare discovery,” says Colleen Batey, an archaeologist and Viking specialist at the University of Glasgow. Only six of these Carolingian vessels have ever been found, and many scholars think they were used during important ceremonies in the Catholic Church. It is possible that Viking raiders stole the Galloway vessel while plundering a wealthy monastery.
Inside the vessel, conservators found a stunning collection of medieval artifacts. Among the most striking are nine silver brooches, some richly ornamented. Most of this jewelry, says Owen, was made by highly skilled Anglo-Saxon metalworkers, and the objects would have been cherished by their owners. For the Vikings to obtain such a collection, says Owen, “some Anglo-Saxon monastery or settlement had a very bad day.”
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The Vale of York Hoard

The Vale of York Bowl
In actual fact the hoard was found near Harrogate in 2007 and has since been over shadowed by the fabulous Staffordshire Hoard, though in all fairness each 'find' is exaggerated by the media.  In the Anglo-Saxon Art book by Leslie Webster there are also four beautiful gold rings with filigree decoration from what appears to be the same hoard.

"The Vale of York Hoard was discovered in North Yorkshire in January 2007 by two metal-detectorists, David and Andrew Whelan, who kept the find intact and promptly reported it to their local Finds Liaison Officer. It was declared Treasure in 2009 and was valued at £1,082,000 by the independent Treasure Valuation Committee. The size and quality of the material in the hoard is remarkable, making it the most important find of its type in Britain for over 150 years."

And having spent a lot of time with hoards, a trip to the Anglo-Saxon Corpus, on volume 3 which lists all the stuff to be found in churches in Eastern Yorkshire, I have completely wasted a morning or have I?

There is a dragon in there somewhere!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A sequel

Yesterday was another gorgeous today, so after shopping we went for a walk to Spring Wood, which is part of an old deciduous wood, but the rest is forestry planting.  The thing I notice about Google Earth, is how far the farms are way into the landscape far away from the roads, approached by tracks of half a mile or so.  The other thing you notice that wandering amongst these great fir trees is the lack of bird life.  
There is a dry beck that runs alongside the track, Lucy managed to get down there and scampered back and forth through the pipe that ran below the track, at this point we met two beautiful horses, one being ridden and the other exercised by a woman and she gave us a progress report on Lucy's appearances.
I see on the map that tumuli is mentioned in the part we did not go, but could not see them on Google,  there seems to be an old stone road, which led up through the steep part of the wood and pointed to a farm in the distance.  At the top, there was a contraption of about 12 feet in the wood, should have taken a photo, can only think it was for sitting and shooting anything that came by.  

the dry beck

lanky forestry growth

Wonky bridge with holes

LS and Lucy along the old road

Lucy happily rolling in the dry leaves

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday and blue skies

A Somerset view.  Even today I can trace the path with my mind, the secret place where the deer slept.

Nature and Art - H.D.Thoreau

All nature is classic and akin to art-the sumack and pine and hickory which surround my house remind me of the most graceful sculpture.  sometimes the trees do not make merely a vague impression-but their tops or a single limb or leaf seems to have grown to a distinct expression and invites my life to a like distinctness and emphasis.

Taken from; Reliquiae - compiled by Autumn Richardson.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Photos; Lucy 'helping', LS was looking for Japanese papers for some visitors tomorrow, she enjoyed the experience turning out the dark under stairs cupboard. She can be so funny, that even when she is scolded she produces a lopsided grin.  Tea towels and dishcloth can often be presented after tea, followed by my knitting, Lucy actually knows what you want.  In the garden it is hand tools she will bring from the garage.

I'm coming to.

Any mischief going?

Daffodils at the old orchard

must find out about these, not sure they are spurge

It takes me a long time to fall in love with daffodils

verge daffodils

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday, 22nd March

Today, Tuesday the weather is beautiful in the early morning.  Cold of course, already we have the dawn chorus interspersed by pheasants and the cock over the road.  I go out to let the chickens out and feed them.  Also fill the bird table with bread and seed, first to the table will be the squirrels and pigeons, the thugs of the fauna race, the two collared doves will appear alongside the blackbirds who appeared about three weeks ago.  The rooks and jackdaws occasionally make low level swipes for the bread on the bird table.  As the larger brethren have their fill, the smaller birds will take their share, chaffinches, tits and robins, thought I saw a hen blackcap yesterday and of course the little wrens will flutter along the ground like brown butterflies.
Celandine on the verges, the occasional glimpse of a bee, snowdrops dying down and the wreaths of daffodils that decorate the verges are beginning to flower.  Blackthorn blossom in sheltered places, all show spring is on the way.  The rooks that are building nests in the small copse behind the garden are making a mess, bird s--- everywhere and the lawn strewn with twigs.  The jackdaws have their eye on the church, saw one fly into the porch yesterday, surely they are not going to build a nest their?  Soon it will be the turn of the swallows to build their nests under the roof of the church.  We moan the loss of many birds but there are still plenty around, I suppose you would call them the 'common lot' but still welcome.
My daughter came down for the weekend, the children went with their father to the cottage at Whitby, there are family changes on the way sadly.  We went for a meal at the pub next door, K and I had a rather delicious chicken in wine and cream but LS had something that did not agree with him.
We met a local farmer who lived at Riseborough, must write about the place some day, he had bought in a couple of dozen eggs in for Harriet, but he complained that she could not keep them in the kitchen of the pub but upstairs because they were not marked (little lion, remember them) and bemoaned the bureaucracy of today.  The man who provides the logs for the pub also came in, but his wood did not seem to burn too well on the fire, elm, sycamore, etc.  Then there was the gaitered man, beautifully dressed  in tweed as a countryman, he described himself as a hunter, mink and rats I suppose.
When I went a walk yesterday, four baby rabbits disappeared down a freshly dug hole by the river when we made an appearance, I have a feeling that the rabbits in the long bank by the field have been killed.  But after all this land was described as a 'Warren', you can occasionally find pillow mounds, built for the rabbits in medieval times, and an easy source of food.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


The history of a village changes with time and so it is with our village. Yesterday we went out for a Chinese meal with four of the other 'newbies' in the village, and there was a lot of discussion because their hedgeline of laurels in front of their two new houses has been grubbed up by the builder on the advice of the planning officer, and one presumes at the instigation of the church wardens who wanted something different but not a laurel hedge.  They are to have a 'native' hedge of hawthorn, etc and they are not too worried as it is the builder who will fork up, both literally and metaphorically.  I am rather surprised that once you have bought a house, it is still subject to the restrictions of the people around you, and if you want controversy, the people who lived in the cottages across the road were cross about the 'empty' view of the new houses across the way - no pleasing some people!

Before all this the land belonged to Margaret Wood, a grand old lady who lived to just under a hundred years old, and her cottage on this piece of land eventually fell into disrepair, (wonder if anyone complained then?) and she was forced to go and live in a bungalow, though I believe she came back at night to sleep in the old cottage.

Margaret Wood at Buckingham Palace in 2003
"After her brother's death in 1982 Margaret sold various parts of the orchard and Fish Pond Field to builders who called the area  "The Warren" on account of the rabbits in residence.  Today three properties, Walnut Cottage, Felbridge and High Gables, stand on the land, with sheep pastured on the remainder of Fish Pond Field.  Taken from Margaret Wood's history"

Looking into those blue eyes I can almost hear a chuckle ringing down the years, as there is a lively conversation in the village as to who instigated the planning officer's visit before Christmas.  Poor E who had the week before carefully transplanted snowdrops all along their hedge, had to take them out a week later but she giggles like me at the kerfuffle.

We also have new neighbours, the rooks have decided to build their nests in the copse behind the house, the lawn is strewn with dropped branches and there is a lot of talking between them but they are welcome, though the windows bear testimony to their constant flights...

When we got home from our meal, plentiful and beautifully prepared with Lucie's doggy bag of pork, but just before, everyone wanted to call into the pub. Now our pub is a good old fashioned one and it was absolutely heaving with people from the area, mostly men, apparently it was the finals of the darts game.  It says something about the village, the next pub along the road is closed, our Chinese restaurant is in what once was a pub, and mostly the pubs around are more genteel and do meals, our pub (she says with pride)still sticks to serving drinks and massive simple meals for the locals, those farmers can't half eat!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Yesterday as we drove home from Whitby there were yellow signs saying that 'The Flying Scotsman' was at Grosmont station, ready to ply and wend its way from Grosmont to Pickering over the next few days.  All tickets are sold out by now, but the run is pretty, through the steep valley that runs through the North Yorks moor.  I have only ever once taken the steam train out of Whitby with the family (it is expensive) and we stopped for tea at one of the stations, Goathland I think, but we all had to rush back, with cakes in hand, before it pulled out.

I like trains, when my brother and I came back from our schools in Wolverhampton to Willenhall, my brother Peter would attach himself to an unsuspecting person and get a free ride home on a train by sneaking on the train. Whereas I would go home on the bus and have to wait for him to join me so that we would arrive home together!  This was fine for a time, but the day came when the housekeeper saw this and because she was 'wicked and nasty' held it over our heads should we not do as she said.  Luckily she was found out it in the end, I had been ill and she had concocted 'scrambled eggs' the bits were rolling round in milk, yuck.  I was in tears  over this horrible meal when my grandfather came in to the bedroom and the whole story was told, and luckily she soon  disappeared, she was a true Mrs Danvers.

The other train that leaves lasting memory was the one to Switzerland, the journey obviously follows the 'Orient Express' passage, through France and then waking up early in the morning and seeing the mountains in Switzerland is a magnificent sight.  Getting on the train at midnight at Vevey, finding one's couchette, and then one terrible Christmas, our luggage with all the presents was stolen, probably somewhere in France..

Yesterday as we drove to Whitby, LS said years ago he would not have believed that one day he would be living in Yorkshire handing out eggs to villagers who every now and then pop by for a few to bake a cake ,etc. Someone had dropped in yesterday for half a dozen, our 'terms' are a donation to the church, and he had chattered for a long while delaying our journey.  He is a collector of Victorian stuff in his little shop in their garden, and I had mentioned Jenny and her wondrous finds in Wales at Antique fairs.  I am not a collector, though once did have an interest in Victorian books, but books take up space....

Monday, March 14, 2016

Life can occasionally be rotten

Easter bonnet it is not, but Lucy has to walk round with this ridiculous collar halo until her foot mends.  Spaniels have apparently two weaknesses, one are the ears and the other is their paws.  Like Hobbits they have very furry feet, and Lucy has managed to have an ingrowing hair on one of her pads, which turned nasty.  Antibiotics and a special wash will help but as she limps round banging into chairs and corners her life is far from quiet.  Appetite unfortunately is still the same, she has put on a kilo since last at the vets, so cutting down on tidbits.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

In, Out, or shake it all about!

Well it does feel like that at the moment about whether we should stay in the EU or not.  All I want is some figures and a clearly stated argument (on both sides) of what it all entails.  Not, of course, what the Queen has said sometime ago, she is after all quite free to have an opinion but that is the way of the media (and I include the BBC in this criticism) to lead us down futile paths of nonsense.
Will the weather ever change, is my moan at the moment, if I was to pick up my camera I could take photos of flooded fields, ditches overlapping with water, roads with deep puddles, even the lawn is a squelchy morass, poor chickens I feel sorry for them.  Lucy has to be forced out, she is not a great lover of cold wet weather.

I would love to do different walks, but the fields are very muddy and you are likely to lose wellingtons in some of the mud round gates, the only fairly dryish areas, eaten down by the rabbits is the bunds that line the river, though the window cleaner said the river was running high yesterday through Marton.
The walk this morning; the river had been eight foot high but when I photographed it had gone down to six foot, this is the run off  from the moors at Rosedale.  The iron bridge you have to go down to get over the river, with a rather scary disused garage at the beginning.

Creepy garage, sure one day I will find a body in it...

In this photo are Rachel's sheep with the church behind them.

Rachel's two dogs contemplate joining us over the river!
Wind turbine with two geese at the base, this little smallholding belongs to Elaine and husband

On the market for two million pounds, plus 62 acres!

The bridge that brings us back to the road

And our pub!

You may think it is a dull walk, especially as the whole grey atmosphere is hardly enlivened by the brown of bare branches.  Yet life lurks, celandine, hardly yellow but grey with rain, odd patches of daffodils everywhere.  Over the first bridge,  chaffinches and long tailed tits move through the trees and over the second bridge a pussy willow reaches out to you.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Monday - 7th march

All photos are from an August visit

  Nunnington ;Nonninctune, Noningtune (xi cent.); Nuninton (xiii cent.).

Nunnington is a parish covering about 2,000 acres in the valley of the Rye. The Rye itself flows through the centre of the parish from west to east, while its tributary the Riccal, flowing south-east, joins the Rye about 3 miles east of Nunnington village.

The southern bank of the Rye at this point is a long, gentle slope up from the river to a hill called Cauklass Bank, which is crowned with an avenue of firs; this avenue forms the southern boundary of the parish. From the hill there are wide views over the moors to Cleveland, and on a clear day over the valley of Pickering towards the sea. A 17th-century map of Nunnington shows an old race-course marked out along the ridge. (fn. 1)

At its eastern end Cauklass Bank is crossed by the road from York to Kirkby Moorside, which runs directly north down the hill and over the Rye by Nunnington Bridge. It passes through a fine avenue of limes and sycamores which extends the whole way down the slope.

Yesterday we went for a walk at Nunnington, not to see Nunnington Hall, Lucy was with us but just to wander unfortunately I did not take the camera but it was sunny. We went down the village street, pretty cottages and gardens on either side, we were following the signs to Bils&Rye's gallery.

Quite a revelation, a very friendly owner offers tea or coffee as you go in and he wandered around with us explaining all the art work, which was way out of my pocket but there were things I loved.

For instance Bill Zima's wax and ink paintings of trees, there was a certain Japanese air to many of the ceramics and even in Zima's paintings of trees....

Zima seems only to paint trees, and the above is not one of his best but going to his website and there are plenty more, he now lives in Scotland.  And as a note looking out of the window this morning in the gathering light, I saw the silhouette of a large owl in the tree, first time I have seen it, though hear it most nights.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Thursday 3rd March

A quiet life but still rather busy;  Each day I do about an hour's worth of spinning, reading books is my other delight, almost finished the sixth book by Phil Rickman, glorious imagination that man has got... Yesterday we put together another run for the chickens, it tags onto the other bits, Lucy  was much in evidence as we unpacked the run, breaking up the plastic as it made a noise she likes, till stopped and then she pottered around the cardboard and cage we seemed to be making.  I have grown rather tired of the hens helping themselves to the plants in the garden, especially the herbs, so I have decided that they get one hour a day freedom run, which does not entail them going over into the church yard as well.
We have still to make the two cold frames I bought, which to a certain extent will protect my vegetables from aforementioned hens, spinach, and  then lettuces are important to meals.

Alice Starmore and her Fair Isle knitting book was another acquisition from the Book Depository all books about half price or less as far as the Starmore book was concerned.  Love my fingers to be busy;).  Now of course I need a range of colours in 2 ply wool to pattern with!
We went out to tea the other day, to friends across the way, the cottage was absolutely filled from top to bottom with all manner of things.  Paintings filled the wall along with certificates ( for best town crier) and in one lit corner a whole host of lead animals. Jo had lived in India as a child, and many of these things belonged to her family and she was justly proud of them, she and David had known each other since childhood, he even carries a photo in his wallet of them as children which is so sweet.
One thing I learned to do with springer spaniels who chase sheep, is to lock them in a shed with a ram for a night, think it is called make or break, not sure I approve....