Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore--
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visiter," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door--
Only this and nothing more."

Well it is that time of the year, and the fog this morning has transformed everything into a gray gloom so that lurking gravestones can easily move out of the corner of your eye......  The rest of this very long poem by Poe can be found in the link below, and does not necessarily apply to Halloween, as December is mentioned.  Poe frightened me as a child, as I eagerly devoured every book in the library about ghosts and horror stories.  There was someone on the radio this morning saying all that flesh taken out of carved pumpkins should be eaten, rather than going into land fill waste!  Must say I cannot stand pumpkin pie.....


Sunday, October 30, 2016


Just a few photos from the walk yesterday, lovely mild weather, which is set to continue.

The notice says that the potholing cave is on private land

Typical forestry a smatter of indigenous trees hides the great straight lines of  evergreens behind

wet and muddy underfoot

Lucy who enjoyed the pond like puddles

LS who did not

a track through the trees

Sit in comfort and shoot any passing pheasant....
I have written about Halloween before, mostly about the Welsh tradition, so here are a couple of earlier blogs.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday 29th October

Pat (weaver of Grass) mentioned the other day that it is often difficult to find things to write about every day, not sure what to do about it either, occasionally (or perhaps most of the time) I become boring!)

We have hit a slump in the weather the shortest day grows near, and the gloom of the day meets the dark of the night.  Tomorrow the clocks change once more which I find very frustrating, it reminds me of a radio play I once heard, when TIME was different all over the country, and this time keeper went up Great Britain,  travelling I think by train, adjusting the clocks all to the same time.  Now we wander along in a rather soulless world of clocks all telling the same time, and the annual ritual of 'changing the clocks'.  How many can you count in your house, there is the cooker, the light timers, actual clocks, except the one which is miraculously governed by a satellite.  Computers can do it themselves, as can the boiler - life can be very complicated.....

My daughter and Lilly came down for a couple of days, along with their dog Teddy, who is a whippet and cannot be allowed free run round the chicken run.  He even contemplated jumping over the church wall presumably after the rabbits that come over from the field, unfortunately there are J and Rs sheep in that field, havoc would have taken place!  Lucy has accepted him into the house, they eat together, Teddy sleeps in Lucy's basket which she has given up since he started sleeping in it, but they get on pretty well, but whippets are definitely not country dogs.

Yesterday came across an interesting article in the Guardian, enterprising entrepreneurs are building long barrows in the style of the prehistoric ones, there are niches for the cremated bones, so you can't take your most treasured belongings as they would in the Neolithic, not sure I would be happy jostling dust to dust next to someone else, I shall be 'scattered' ;) somewhere. Someone joked about having a ritually sacrificed labradoodle and a samsung on one's chest, reflective of our age, it does give food for thought, but on the whole an efficient way of burial, those terrible London burials that are occasionally found by archaeologists great death pits of plague remind us that we are all only part of a great  tide of humanity.

Enough of death, coffee time soon, Lucy moaning gently because I am on my computer and not downstairs....

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tuesday 25th Octpber

Yesterday I snapped the nasturtiums and campanula on the front,  today the flowers might have caught the frost that now covers the fields, the weather changes so quickly.  The cold East wind has disappeared, the showers becoming less.  On Sunday as I walked Lucy over the bridge a car stopped on the other side of the road. Thinking that I was about to be asked for directions to a place I did not know I stopped.  But no, the lady in the car said - I just had to stop and point out the rainbow to someone, and turning round there was indeed a rainbow behind me, thanking her for such a lovely reminder we walked on, Nigel was on the grass verge as well gathering 'browse' for his goats.

Yesterday I planted pots of lilies, to be stored up the side of the garage, amongst them was 'tiger lilies', which reminded me of my childhood garden.  Our gardener, would plant a large central bed with what seemed to me every flower under the sun, edged with nemesia flowers, the tiger lilies browsing amongst delphiniums and lupins, I think from this flowerbed my love of plants developed. The tall gladioli and irises that surrounded the sand pit at the end, here in this summer paradise of flowers I would read my Saturday quota of books from the library......long summer days

last roses, with dried heather behind

There is so much colour around in Autumn, the dark red chard, and the red of marmande tomatoes which have produced a heavy crop which has been turned into soups.  Cooking this morning some cakes to make, Lucy's chicken thighs to cook, tomato soup and breadmaking.  Turning up an old 'apple' cookbook, I see you can also chutney crab apples, not sure I will try that, but crab apple jelly has stood in well for redcurrant jelly.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday's meandering

"Gormenghast, that is, the main massing of the original stone, taken by itself would have displayed a certain ponderous architectural quality were it possible to have ignored the circumfusion of those mean dwellings that swarmed like an epidemic around its outer walls."

Well maybe The Houses of Parliament is not exactly Gormenghast but watching a documentary yesterday on the comings and goings, one was reminded of Mervyn Peake's trilogy.  The principal door keeper and chief clerk fulfilled roles of obeisance in their duties, the parliamentarians brayed like a load of donkeys as they debated and it was like looking through the wrong end of a telescope, mostly scary!
So maybe rather than spend a fortune on refurbishing the place, a new building is required with a proper debating chamber and efficient facilities, rather than a very attractive large Victorian building which really does not work in the 21st century. We should really be walking away from outdated rituals of Black Rod, fusty old uniforms, hall ways of interminable books on parliamentary etiquette and maybe invest in something sleeker.
Then this morning the news revealed that Prince Charles was not happy with his brother Prince Andrew, for asking for jobs and secure incomes for his daughters Beatrice and Eugenie - the line should be drawn somewhere Charles is supposed to have said.  Bad blood between the brothers, Andrew was outed for sleeping with an under-age girl may have contributed to that. Can't resist this one, get those hats, only don't, they are terrible!

And then quieter moments, holly berries are red already, will the pigeons give them a miss before Xmas?

On the way to Whitby last Monday

Whitby Harbour
Whitby in the distance
Click on the pictures to get a larger image ;)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Saturday 22nd October

Grabbing my day, or perhaps being paranoiac.  Last night I put my settings on 'private',  I had noticed an unusual spike in my viewing stats, they all seem to be coming from one source, a blog domain. Poland first spiked, then America with over 500 hits, visions of spammers, or hackers came into view.  LS said don't worry but I did and I shall continue with 'private' settings at night for a couple of days.... 

Life is pretty quiet, I am in a headache zone, which means I can't think straight a lot of the time.  Yesterday I sorted out bits and pieces in the garden, there are lily and tulip bulbs to plant, some trees and soft fruit to buy.

Walking soothes the head, though the brain gets annoyed at the dead white colour of the rocks they are laying on the terrace above the river, and the river board people are very noisy as well.  One of the problems is there is only two walks in this village, unless you count the one up the old green path and then on to land you are likely to get told off on!  So I am longing for woods or the moor.*
This morning Clair Balding, on one of her walks around the marshes of Dunwich with a writer who mentioned psychogeography.....

Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals”.  

Actually, or to be more precise it is about the urban meandering indulged in when you go for walk around a city but seems to be used in a context about the countryside as well.  Take the long word away it is about the emotional and physical enjoyment of just pottering in the open with hopefully not a care in the world.  But it just happens to be wrapped up in one if those jargon words.

When I bought my new computer I also indulged in a new external hard drive, small and neat it came with a set of gobblygook words which threw me, but not giving up I just installed it and then went to my photos to find the 'command'  word, which worked. Still haven't worked out 'Office' and 'pdf' files but one day maybe.................

A walk is a tangle of branches and leaves, with glimpses of the river and then stopping by old giants and greeting them in the morning.

So what grabbed my interest yesterday, perhaps a Russian warship, an aircraft carrier (we don't even have one!) sailing past the white cliffs of Dover, bluff or bullying?

And then this;- You Want it Darker video, some how two thoughts coalesced....

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday 19th october

Where do you start when one gets angry.  A level art, and A level archaeology off the list of subjects to study in 6th forms. People are getting cross at the inroad to our own culture, (or to any culture) is nothing sacred as we type away on little hand held squares that transport us to the latest love life or bosom of the new nonentities that strut the stage at the present time.
Maybe I am really and truly getting old, when the idea that learning through education and reading is thrown on the scrap heap of worthless time wasting.  Water down the world into economics and jobs, forget the pleasure of knowledge for its own sake, seems to be the new way of life.

edit; so what did Steve Jobs say.."Technology alone is not enough - it's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields the results that make our hearts sing"

What else has caught my attention, well now this is news reporting on archaeology.  Some archaeologists are so busy trying to get into the news that a few have made rather stupid errors in their interpretation of what they have found.  Mike Pitts gives a list under Strange Case of the dog in the Tunnel.  Could not agree more, a 7000 year old dog tooth found at Blick Mead near the magic Stonehenge, use Stonehenge in a headline and you will have a rapt audience so the media seems to think.  Anyway this dog tooth metamorphosed into an 'Alsatian' making its way down from Yorkshire to the South, all this you can interpret from the isotope analysis of the tooth, and presumably its size.

And not forgetting the dropping of 'nature' words from the Oxford Dictionary for children, replacing them with the new technical words.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday 17th October

“A Robin Redbreast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.
A Dog starv’d at his Master’s Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus’d upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fiber from the Brain does tear.”

A quote from one of William Blake's poem, I caught on TV news last night the rather meagre sentence given to two men for horrifically abusing a dog, it has haunted my thoughts ever since. Amongst all the terrible acts of war we watch in other countries sometimes the cruelty to animals in this country seems small fry but it is well to remember that cruelty happens everywhere and needs to be spoken about.

A fallen branch by the crab apple tree

the willows turning yellow by the river

This is how it often looks in the morning

flood defences: no this earth is not too protect the road, it is the great staack of soil that has been taken from the river bank to terrace it.
and then there is of course Keat's Ode to Autumn

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness, 
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; 
Conspiring with him how to load and bless 
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run; 
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,         5
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; 
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells 
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, 
And still more, later flowers for the bees, 
Until they think warm days will never cease;  10
For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells

the crab apple harvest on the ground

We went for a meal with our friends on Friday to the Plough Inn at Wombleton (yes there is another place called Wombleton) and they have a couple of Wombles in their bar.  No one was very adventurous in their food, I had fish and chips with mushy peas, though I think squidging up green peas as opposed to marrowfat peas is not on.  Lucy always comes, Ben the manager normally gives her a biscuit or two, well behaved dogs* nowadays are allowed in the bar area but not restaurants, which is a good compromise.

Saturday we went out to Helmsley and whilst LS did some shopping at the Co-Op Lucy and I walked along the back street, next to the moat, where I noted the narrow stream which runs through it is paved and I watched a couple of jackdaws having a thorough wash in the water.  No photos but such pretty terraced cottages, a small calm backwater against the busyness of the main square with its tourists, Helmsley would not be such a bad place to live.

* Lucy is always well behaved if she can go out in the car which she loves, only at home does she let her hair down!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday thoughts

So, some people are cross about choosing Bob Dylan as the new Nobel literature figure, the fact of the matter is though we have to take on new thought which applies to the times we live in, whether we agree with it or not.  I do not like abstract paintings but that is not strictly true, images flashed before my eyes I remember going to an exhibition in  Switzerland with my then father-in-law.  It was the paintings of  Paul Klee the Swiss artist which changed my mind somewhat, then I thought of Kandinsky, thought by some to be the first painter of abstract art.  Then Cubism and Braque came to mind, and I realised that absorbing things unconsciously I had actually looked and enjoyed these paintings, now who did that multi- legged dog with his many footed owner taking him for a walk, clever idea and no doubt discussed into the ground by many an art expert......

Bottles and Fishes -  GeorgesBraque
Paul Klee
Wassil Kandinsky

I went through a period of Ruskin and the Pre-raphaelites but their heavy lidded eyed, ripples of red hair models left me feeling slightly wanting, and the 'Light of the World' reminded me of all those prayer books at the convent. So I moved on.
Latterly, it is Paul Nash and Eric Ravilious that catch my breath, if not my eye, clear light filled paintings with subject matter of an earlier time.  Amongst the 'brown' paintings my favourite resides in Bath, the geese crossing a ford..... Watersplash by Henry le Thangue, its soft mellowed sun and shadowed path with a daft gaggle of geese always makes me smile.

All this talking of art has jogged LS into thinking of his own art work, though of course he went in a different direction in art and became a conservator, but he was talking about The Six Persimmons this morning so a hunt on his web site brought it up here.

And what I don't like!!

Damien Hirst's animals in formaldehyde
Tracy Emin's bed
Weiwei's sunflower seeds - slight repetition there, and this display went down in the house like a ton of bricks, smashing up antique bowls, etc, not sure what he did with them...

Friday, October 14, 2016

Thursday - a poem

Curlews in April

Hang their harps over the misty valleys

A wobbling water-call
A wet footed god of the horizons

New moons sink into the heather
And full golden moons

Bulge over spent walls

Ted Hughes

Well I start with a poem by Ted Hughes, thumbing through his book of poems 'Remains of Elmet', looking at the dark black and white photographs of Fay Godwin and I am back on the train travelling to Todmorden through the Calder Vale, home to both the old Celtic land of Elmet, and home to Hughes of course.

There is a darkness, think I called it a funerary aspect to the valley, the houses, especially the weaver cottages, stained black by industry, the close hills on either side, the dark muddyness of the river.  Hebden Bridge, a potpourri of touristic shops, a hippy residence, pretty by the river, a typical small Northern town.  Further along where my family live in Todmorden, less glamourous, small shops of antiques and galleries amongst the cafes, the growing of edible plants in every spare corner, a 'green' domain caught up in this small town, or is it the overspill of the hippy residence of Hebden Bridge. 

One interesting fact is that the boundary line between Lancashire and Yorkshire falls straight through the Town hall and river to the North, reminding me of those small tribal countries, that once this country was made from between the time of the Romans and then the Normans, who strode onto the scene today I think, a few centuries back, and changed some of our ways - but not all.

My interest had been captured by the photography of Godwin, today we all have cameras and some of us use them with brilliance and yet Fay Godwin with her black and white photos was famed in her time.  She was a landscape photographer capturing the moment when the sky met the land and the seasons changed. 

She had been to the Isle of Lewis and photographed Callanish the great stone circle of the North, one could almost say the prehistoric cathedral of the North, far greater in its intricacies than Stonehenge but needing a pilgrimage of great stamina to reach!  Callanish after hail storm, you can buy it as the blurb across it says ;)  In her photos of the Caldervale she has captured the grittiness of the land, darkness holds sway, mirroring the dark Celtic tone of Hughes
Well all I can say that our part of yorkshire is dark and filled with rain, the leaves lie golden on the lawn, the trees drip with water as I let the chickens out this morning, but at least we are going out for lunch with some friends which should inspire the day.  And of course the thought of curlews in April though several months away gladdens the heart, thought I haven't heard any up on the moors this summer, except they have been in the fields round here.  The secret is to always look forward to the future!

a recognition of all those words and music of 1963 that inspired a generation to look at their world in a different way.  Bob Dylan has just won the Nobel Prize in literature. Has it changed?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tuesday with a thought

             Naive or brave?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sunday reflections

Perfectly beautiful Sunday morning, Lucy and I slowly walked along Salton lane, there were pale headed birds flitting along in front of us, no they couldn't be buntings could they?  Each day I make a mental note of the birds around.  For a start three pigeons have met their deaths in the garden the last few days.  We thought at first it was the hawk, but it could well be that weasel lurking on the other side of the fence in the copse, the chickens sounded the alarm several times during the morning, and LS spied something happening behind the chicken coop.
Life and death are all part of the countryside, that beautiful dead swallow I found at the side of the lane a few weeks back, perfect in shape and colour, the lesser deaths of the plants as they raise their dry seed heads to the sky.  In the garden the long fence with Several Virginia creepers is toning down to a soft dark red, dark berries whilst the holly tree's berries turn a vibrant red.  Last roses fill you with melancholy, and the dark draws in more quickly every evening.  And the bats come out to greet the night as I go to shut the hens in, in the morning when I let them out, I am greeted by the cawing of the crows in the copse, not sure whether they are greeting me or grumbling at my appearance.
Out of the dining windows, on the little hillock between the graveyard and field, early morning, and I will see the sheep pressed against the fence nibbling whatever has fallen, a trio of rabbits sometimes appear and recently the appearance of young pheasants, all in a small space.  Across the road Nigel's Shetland sheep group themselves on a high bank under the hedge, whilst his two goats potter in their paddock.  Nigel goes out every day to glean the hedgerows for his goats, with his dozen or so sheds in various states of disrepair guess he and his wife have found Nirvana ;)
Whilst Nelson with his acre of land, goodness knows where he sleeps on it, though he probably has a disreputable caravan somewhere, and untidy sheds, cackling geese and wandering hens , not forgetting his half dozen sheep, has found his place on Earth as has Bealtaine Cottage owner Colette.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday 7th October

Teasing Lucy to get a good photo.  No she does not drink beer, it is biscuits that have attracted her attention.

Harvest Festival yesterday at the church, pumpkins, marrows and chrysanthemums, not forgetting the bountiful harvest of apples.

The village of Marton, seemingly without much history, no church but two chapels, which would give it a 17th century date maybe. Note the muted paintwork and the door which I rather like.

The 'journeyman's' small cottage in our village, stuck between the old forge and the larger cottage.  A journeyman seems to have been a craftsman who moved from town to town, but one could also see this small cottage as a place to lay one's head at night.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tuesday 4th October

wath. “Middle English, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse vath ford; akin to Old English wæd ford, Old High German wat ford, Old High German watan to wade.” That’s where the cattle were led down to the river here to drink on their way to Malton livestock market a few miles away.

A word we learnt from Bernie the other day, of a causeway down to the river by us.  The road outside would have been the highway for hundreds of cattle going to market, plodding their weary way, I feel rather sad for them.  O he was enthusiastic our Bernie, there I sat with a second day of a migraine thumping over my eye, and he seemed to go on for three hours, think I achieved martydom at some stage.

Not being mean, he was very interesting, and in actual fact LS looked up the word.  What is so surprising is how this village of very few cottages managed to get several ale houses, though presumably they would be cottage ale houses, a blacksmith and butcher shops within its small confines. The families were local and married into each other, though not of course Mary Wood, there was another single lady who was courted for years by a man with a van, but the day came when he had to choose between marriage and a new van, guess which he chose?

The weather was absolutely beauitful yesterday and I opened my box of bulbs, nothing like looking towards next summer, well I planted irises, and soon all my flamboyant tulips will take their turn beneath the soil.  Being extravagant, I bought several species of lilies for pots, and also Eremus or foxtail lily, which is a very delicate creature at the best of times, it needs afternoon and evening sun, fairly dry and settled on sand.  Well I have decided it will go against the warm church wall under the yew, its pretty orange colour echoing the wall and it resists rabbits!  Unfortunately it is difficult to grow. I love tall spiky flowers in a garden, the foxgloves with the bees drifting in and out, delphiniums with their hosts of blue variegations and especially larkspur.

Yesterday I swapped apples for eggs with Jill, do like this bartering, and the local news has just come through of the apple juicing that takes place at Kirkby.  Thank goodness they don't slaughter the home pig anymore in the country;).....

The fabled 'Hob' also has his stories in Yorkshire.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sunday 2nd October

I have just made some scones for our visitor coming today,  Bernie, historian of our village, though he lives down South.  We should be primed to ask him lots of questions but my head still echoes to a migraine.  It is a bit like a Kinder egg my head, a fragile shell of white chocolate lines the inside.
The last migraine, several years ago, had me in tears because I could not remember the names of my grandchildren, it is as if your functioning thinking goes to pot amidst the pain, and the past comes swirling back in disjointed memories.
Today it has been wonderful to wake up and feed the birds, several pigeons, the jackdaws flying quickly in to take the bread and my favourite the little collared doves.  Our large band of sparrows are still to make an appearance, as are the chaffinches, blue tits, little wren and robin.  They are part and parcel of our lives, and guess what they are singing (not the sparrows of course) 'Mud, Mud, glorious mud' a childhood song on Radio 3. 
Memories float back from Todmorden,  Lilly racing along the road to see why her friend was not waiting for her, her friend was sick and so we walked together down to her school.  Lilly adores her school.
Matilda stayed with me all day, her shy friend Ella came for tea one night, and there was a lot of giggling and laughter from the bedroom.  We watched films on the TV,  Nanny Mcphee and Bridesmaids, and rather a good film featuring a young Johny Deppe and Leonardi di Capri it featured a place called Eldorado....
Train journeys slightly unnerve me, the bustle of the station, especially when you have to find the right platform, luckily after Leeds, high with tall skyscrapers, you go on smaller trains that are definitely easier to find.
Someone else in the village has written a book, which in all fairness I should buy, as has the old landlord from the pub next door. 
It can be boring sifting through history to find some clues, there are so few, I remember doing a small history of the family of Cope who emigrated to America from Avebury, in the 17th century and being fascinated by the store of stuff on this family in America.