Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday and truly into spring

Mostly photos...

tulips I grew in pots, love the cool green white look!

Latest knitting, 4 ply alpaca

pretty patchwork material

Lucy who chases the sun's rays every day

Glorious blue skies

There are good things and sad things happening as spring turns the corner.  Yesterday I saw a rabbit with what looks like Myxomatosis, it sat on the side of the road with eyes shut not moving.  I also had to haul a large badger off the road that had been killed by a car. Think it was a sow badger and pregnant sadly.  But the sun shines, crisp mornings, frosted grass and gentle mists lying over the fields.  Other rabbits frolic in the sun by the river so not all is bad.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday, 23rd March

I must mention the terrible tragedy that happened yesterday on Westminster bridge, if only to record a date that brings terrorism into the heart of London.  We are used to random attacks after all not so many years ago the IRA put us on alert as we boarded trains or went shopping, not to leave luggage or put our bags down.  Suicidal terrorists are more difficult to get away from, especially in charge of a moving vehicle.  What happened on Westminster Bridge was brutal and murderous, the French school children a vulnerable target, my heart goes out to their parents.  What I have noticed though through all these tragedies, are the people running to help, the great kindness of the ordinary public, the emergency services, the whole running like a well oiled machine, we do not leave people to their suffering.  I do not listen to the platitudes of politicians, even though they were in the forefront when this attack happened, it reminds me that the people of this country are well prepared in looking after other people caught up in distress, it gives me confidence that we do not have to rely on our politicians.

The edge

The sound of hens and especially cocks crowing outside greets me this morning, a couple of days ago in the evening I heard Nigel's little duck running along the road, it is a bit of an escapologist that duck, cars were slowing down so Nigel must have been in hot pursuit. Nigel's smalholding is echoed across the road by Nelson's smallholding on our side - happiness is about having a few sheep, hens, ducks, and geese.  Nigel spends most of his time outside messing around in his half dozen sheds, chopping wood making enclosures, nursing his two goats.  I learnt something the other day about goats, a couple had come for coffee from the other end of the village, they also have a smallholding and goats.  Well I always thought to get milk from an animal they had to have young, but no, maiden goats will also give milk.  We have an invitation to look round their few acres, they have a small wind turbine as well and their daughter works with dogs, often exercising a whole posse of them in the fields.
My hens have been laying well, was getting quite worried a couple of days ago as the cartons started piling up in the fridge but then Irene and then Judy came for some  eggs and they all disappeared.  We went to a 'social do' at a friend's house on Sunday, everyone was there chatting away so loudly that I lost track of most of the conversations. Paul said that really most of the village were incomers, and someone had mentioned that what the village wanted was a housing development, which is true, there are not any children around, and the few teenagers could not afford anything for sale in the village, this is true all over the country of course.

My photos reflect the pattern of the harmonies that we meet in the world, the first photo warlike, trampling horses in London, the second, the peace of the countryside.  The third just captures the joy of exuberant growth under a clear blue sky, something we are promised this weekend!

And then something to stabilise the world we live in.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday 21st March

How the weather does change;  Sunny but cold, there is though the gentle unfolding of all the buds, we go from the white of the snowdrops to the yellow of daffodils and celandine and of course the pussy willow soft catkins.  Garden plantings have tulips and crocuses to add to the mix, and even my little cowslip I planted last year is beginning to thrust up flower buds.  
The sense  that is most used at the moment though is hearing the sound of the birds, dawn chorus, the squawk of the pheasant, he now has a family of five hen pheasants, the call of the barn owl that glides so softly around Bridge Farm in the morning, there is another strange cry from the young of the crow up in the copse behind the house, but of course my favourite call has also  returned, the lovely sound of the curlew, this video happens to be in Ireland, which always reminds me I am in Yorkshire and need to visit the moors.  There is one more sound that I hear on a morning walk, and that is the river as it falls ever so slightly over the stones in the river.  We have a sulphur spring bubbling up in our river. The river also rises very quickly the water coming down from Rosedale Moor, which means that flooding is always a worry.

monitoring station


This strange alien plant has made an appearance, related to coltsfoot, which also appears in flower form early on in the year.  I have traced it to another part of the river bank as well, the flower heads wander along in fairly straight tracks, they disappear very quickly and then the giant butterbur leaves appear, to wrap, of course, the butter in 19th century England before the dreaded plastic appeared.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday - sometimes life is too short to take in everything!

Daffodils are not for eating Mr.Pheasant!

First violets

A quick flip through my f/b profile, and all I see is THAT man.  A worryingly frightening creature, who apparently upset the Irish, Mrs. Merkel (not shaking her hand) and our country by accusing us of spying on him - as if?  That was yesterday.  You would think in our larger than life world there was other news, but baiting Trump is the game, everyone says he is on the way out but when?  

One other thing I noticed in the news, or at least on Twitter, is that Laura Keunssberg was pulled up by Jon Snow for calling the latest scandal of Tory expenses during the election as a 'mistake' when it is a police matter and therefore criminal, all of course to do with the 'tame poodle' of the BBC who are running scared of the Tories.  As I like both political journalists for their outspoken journalism that was a shame.  I see in today's news that the BBC is outsourcing it's religious content, which in actual fact might be interesting, will we have humanists, atheists and agnostics also having their three minutes every morning?

Something for the weekend reading; Temple of the Celts  a glorious walk into an inner sanctum of Scottish wilderness to look on the strange small temple of seven small stones, (originally twelve of them), in the valley of the Cailleach, the Tigh nam Bodach secretly abides in the fastness of an empty landscape.  It is a mythological story that excites the imagination, for there is no answer as to how this little stone house with it's occupants ended up here, but the photographs show their remoteness.

"The Cailleach is, in the Highland tradition, the queen of the winter and the ruler of the wild places. She is described as a hideous old woman with one eye, whose skin is blue from the cold, and who wears a great hooded cloak wrapped around her body. She is the archetype of the witch; the potent, female magical force that lies beyond the edge of civilisation, drawing its power from capricious heathen energies. The deer are considered to be her cattle; down into recent centuries it was the custom of hunters to offer her a portion of the venison they caught in exchange for her assistance on future forays. She dwells on the summits of certain particularly high mountains, where the winter never really ends; "
William A Young - Feralwords blog.

There is one more thing to listen to as well, haven't done it yet, but Mary Beard's - Woman in Power, over an hour of talking but  just taken note of.......

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wednesday 15th March

Simply Red - Holding Back the Years.  32 years ago this video was made in Whitby, it is a reminder of the happy times spent in the town with my family before they moved out.  Whitby is a town that has no classification, robust seaside town, fish and chips galore, the centre for Northerners to promenade with their families and dogs, never forget the dogs for they are 'allowed' in the town. An old town full of cottages and yards, the smell of the sea, wheeling sea gulls and crab baskets on the quay.  The family are elsewhere now in West Yorkshire, and we live in our small village. Occasionally though it is nice to wander down Church Street, past Argument's Yard and up to the smoked kipper place backed up to those crumbling cliffs

loookimg down on Whitby from the church yard

the famous steps

the cottage being restored

pretty victorian fireplace

Lillie amongst her toys

She ate every crumb of that chocolate cake

Serious reading

Monday, March 13, 2017

Monday 13th March

There is nothing much to record, except the sun is shining on this rather cold morning.  The memory card in my camera refuses to work, and then there was of course Lucy's night of madness on Saturday.  Ever since we have had her (2 years out of her 9 years} she will start out acting strangely pacing from one room to the other, trying to hide in dark corners.  It doesn't happen often thank goodness, and we have always put it down that in her old home she was locked away by 6 in the evening in a shed.
Well this time in the middle of the night she locked herself in the study downstairs, she is very good at closing doors.  Unfortunately there were three large plants on the downward spiral in there and so they were knocked over and the compost spilt everywhere (on a cream carpet it looked shocking) as if someone had opened a bag of compost and spilled it randomly.  So there we were at 6  in the morning slowly brushing and then vacuuming, madam had by now recovered her mojo and looked on with interest.  This is the second time she has reduced a room into a terrible mess.  The other time was the study upstairs, where on shutting the door she had found a long length of that terrible white plastic that is used for protecting wooden furniture.  She had reduced it to its minutest form, the room looked like a snowstorm had hit it!  We never tell her off, but accept that she had problems in the past, and still love her dearly, though there will be dark mutterings under the breath all day!
Well an American cocker spaniel has just won Crufts, now I hate Crufts for the foolishness of pampered dogs, and that spaniel certainly takes the biscuit on this one...  Gun dog??

Definitely prefer my slightly mentally delinquent Lucy with her spotty legs, who doesn't think much of guns either, than this over groomed, funny headed creature.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Women's International day

A somewhat belated thought, and don't watch the video if blurry naked bodies worry you;)

"I'd like to see the evidence for attributing gender to any ideas from any prehistoric period . "

An impossible task of course, I picked this statement up on a forum, could have argued that the contrary applies we cannot say that women were inferior during the prehistoric era because we cannot prove it one way or the other, but that only the appearance of burial of men seemed to imply that grave goods denoted war objects and power just because a sword/knife is placed across his breast.  But evidence that women were respected only came from a later age during the Iron Age/Celtic.  Evidence can point towards the 'magical' gifts women had as shamans, and later as witches, but we become undone by the usage of words.  You can almost hear the sneer as I mention witches so lets call them 'wise woman' instead, it wasn't just the male monks who practiced herbal cures after all!
There is a feeling, and of course a recognition that women have had a rotten deal in the fact that their artistic talents have never been recognized we are so used to viewing the world from the male perspective that women in earlier history passed by without so much as a mention.  Now we live in an age when this view of history is questioned and women, whilst not dominating, play a greater role in the world of work.

The British Museum blog on 'Women's International day' started this thought, but maybe it was perhaps listening to a radio talk on Elizabeth Gaskell and thinking what a marvellous lot of female authors came out of the 19th century,  willing to judge the times they lived in.
There were female archaeologists as well  as there were female artists all through the centuries, but they just haven't been noticed;)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thursday, 9th March

Lady's Mantle or Alchemilla Vulgaris

'In the night it closeth it selfe together lyke a purse, and in the morning it is found ful of dewe' William Turner in 1568.
the best photo I could find  

This is a post in praise of a plant, I have missed Lady's Mantle (alchemisa vulgaris) since being in Yorkshire, thought at first it could not grow up here.  I love it for  its pale lemon mists of tiny flowers, its leaves unfolding and then folding at night, when it rains it holds the raindrops in its cupped leaves like jewels. Yesterday we went to a local nursery, firstly to look for a fruit tree or two, and bought two plum trees, Early Rivers - prolific and Victoria Plum, which should be delivered soon.  As I wandered around the perennials, a section of scruffy pots covered in dead leaves took my eye, and my heart took a leap, found, and sure enough under the dead leaves were healthy young plants.  Everyone at the desk tutted as I paid for them, pulling at the dead leaves, but my heart was content ;)
They have a long history according to Grigson, magical plants that they are.  For instance should your cow be 'elf-shotten' sick, it had been attacked by a wicked elf with one of their flint arrow blades, then you must make the cow, drink three times from a concoction of the plant.  This medicine had also to have water used from the meeting of three parishes, all magical of course.
It was a cure for wounds, inside and out; for making maiden breasts lose their fullness, and also an aphrodisiac not just for humans but cows as well.

Alchemilla = little powerful one, little magical one....

It has a history of goodness, it's  Christianised name coming from Mary of course, the shape of the leaves also resembled the palm of the hand.  And one other thing to mention for it being magical, is that it had nine lobes of the leaves, which would indicate that it had an Anglo-Saxon history as well.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Things that go missing

I don't mind this missing fireplace that got taken to America, it is magnificently ugly and truly decadently embellished but I do mind about the old tithe barn of Bradenstoke Abbey that Hearst took, what is left of the ruins of the abbey is very small.

Gwydir Castle’s missing Tudor oak parlour. Photograph: Gwydir Castle's 1921 sale catalogue

News is a strange affair, reading in the Guardian about Missing Uk Treasures that have gone to America, it made me remember years ago the tale of the  Bradenstoke Abbey Tithe barn being taken by Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate, firstly to Donat Castle and then shipped to America, to be part of a hotel I think.  The stone remains of this barn, are still in their wooden boxes, unless someone has built anything with them as in the video below states.  We had a print of Bradenstoke Abbey in our hall way, a great deal of indignation was felt by the people of Bradenstoke village that these stones had been 'stolen' and they wanted them back, there was a campaign but not very successful, shipping them back would have been very expensive

Bradenstoke Tithe Barn from Wiltshire, England removed by Hearst in 1929 and shipped to San Simeon, Calif. Hearst gave the structure to Alex Madonna in 1959, moved to san luis obispo and now removed with hopes to re-build a 630-year old structure on the hillside of San Luis Obispo.

My favourite 14th Century  beautiful tithe barn  in Bradford on Avon.  Photos taken from Wikipedia

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Saturday 4th March

Carreg Samson - Pembrokeshire

Pentre Ifan - Pembrokeshire

Trevethy Quoit - Cornwall

To return to a favourite subject, megaliths, and my mind has been occupied with thoughts of Pentre Ifan, and I note an academic paper has been brought out by Vicky Cummings and Colin Richards on Portal Dolmens  and there I am in my mind amongst the stones of the Preseli mountains, and standing by Pentre Ifan silent at its sheer beauty.  Notice how the large capstone balances on the pointed stones, similar of course to Trethevy Quoit in Cornwall.  So the paper argues was the idea of dolmens not places of the dead necessarily, but a coming together to raise the great capstones, some of which weigh many tons, a respect for the stones themselves.

Near the cromlech
lies my favourite.
It’s fallen out with the others,
left out of the circle,
ditched in a damp hollow
like a huge toad
keeping its head down.

Megalith, giant stone.
Nobody knows it’s there,
hidden in long grass
cooling its bluestone bones,
asleep under the sun,
under the stars
for four thousand years.

So when I stroke it,
I’m sure it’s the first time
anyone gave it a friendly scratch
for at least four millennia.
I’m sure its stone heart
is beating under my thumb.
I’m sure it’s breathing.
Gillian Clarke


Dyeing;  I have finished spinning some silk, it will be used for fairisle and am contemplating whether to use a purple or emerald green dye.  These are acid dyes, and silk picks up colours strongly, so this is the 'before' stage...  A delivery man has just brought my ordered deep red wool to the door.  Reading in the Guardian this morning, that these 'self employed' (it's called the gig economy) men do not have any rights as to holiday pay or sick leave.  On the contrary, should they miss a day they have to pay the company who they work for £150 for a day missed, plus losing out on their £200 earnings a day. Slave labour can be found everywhere!

feeding time

This is a picture I took this morning, the solitary jackdaw has managed to get a foot in on the food, greedy pigeons dominate this time of day.   The hens at the back having been having an hour out a day for the last couple of days, not sure whether the ban has been lifted, looking on the Defra site and they have only a 2014 exclusion map on there....

Not forgetting that I have finished Calum's Road by Roger Hutchinson,  I need to read more about the crofting life of the people who have lived on the Scottish Islands for generations, not the people who make lifestyle changes.  Calum, took ten years to slowly bring together the bare bones of a road to his home in Arnish, he had started because people had started to move away from the small settlements on the island of Raasay, so that in the end only his wife and himself stayed at the far end of the island.  He had wanted to see people return, especially the children who were sent off at the age of 12 to the senior school in Portree on the main island of Skye.  This often meant that the children never came back to the small islands. 
He became a celebrity, interviewed by the likes of Derek Cooper, but at the end of those ten years the Highland Council were not prepared to fund the finishing of the road by tarmacing and this took years to negotiate, eventually it was done, and now - holiday homes in the crofts that were deserted - sad.  Calum and his wife Lexie led a good life on their croft, sheep and cows, home grown vegetables, self sufficency, Calum even had two knitmaster machines for making jumpers.  He held down two part time jobs in his life, one as the postman, the other as a relief light keeper on the island of Rona.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thursday 2nd March

Reading through the blogs today, I noticed that Sharon on Mornings Minion, had been at work in her garden, but seemed to be experiencing the same type of weather in America as we are having....
So I pottered round outside to look what was happening in our small part of the world, firstly I went to the church, as daffodils, though in the 19th century they would have been referred to as narcissus, were coming through.

A Robinson illustration

There are still plenty of snowdrops scattered around.

So what is happening in the garden, crocuses of course, dwarf irises, primulas, a cultivated primrose, who's name eludes me, a triffid like hellebore that has appeared in the front bed....
Another Robinson illustration of crocuses


dwarf iris

The hellebore, will it be white?

Murrmurrs  Lifted the day with her take on baptism, one of my abiding interests is, as everyone knows churches, which always have a baptismal font in the corner, how many squalling babies have emerged from the cold waters over the century, somewhere I have a quote as to why we were all submerged of course, here it is Bede in the 8th Century.  The fact is that sadly young babies who died without being baptised, got 'buried by the wall' with no stone to mark their little grave.

'Only the piety of the faithful knows that a sinner descends into the font, and a purified person comes up; that a child of death descends, and a child of the resurrection comes up; that a child of original sin descends and a child of god comes up'.

You were in fact 'unshriven', this fact for LS who asked what it meant to be shriven the other day, well according to the dictionary, impose penance on a sinner, grant absolution to a penitent, to hear a confession of a person.

LS thinks I am an expert on christianity, basically because I went to a convent, this is not true, like the blogger on Murrmurrs, religion passed me by when I was a child, could not see the reason for it.  So my enforced stay at a convent, due to a divorce in the family, whilst not unhappy, except for the food, was one of curiosity and then illness as I succumbed to a dreadful bout of flu.  But I did learn my catechism,  got confirmed and witnessed, the picture of which stays clearly in my mind, nuns prostrate on the floor of the chapel.  I have nothing but admiration for people who can devote themselves exclusively to a religion, my cynical mind though says it is all there to trap people by those who want power.

And a quote from a previous blog of mine, a lovely myth of nothingness about dragons, where are those dragons today I wonder ;)

First of all we come to dragons and the Tree of Life, the snaking foliage that we find in the font at Avebury; a quote from the “Book of Bestiaries”

“The perindens is a tree found in India; the fruit of this tree is very sweet pleasant, and doves delight in feeding on it. The dragon which is the enemy of doves, fears the tree, because of the shade in which the doves rests, and it can approach neither the tree or its shadow. If the shadow of the tree falls to the west, the dragon flies to the east, and if the shadow is in the east, the dragon flies to the west. If it finds a dove outside the shadow of the tree it kills it. The tree is God, the shadow Jesus Christ”...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wednesday 1st March

Woke up this morning to a beautifully streaked sky of pink and blue, icy cold, the birds singing, the soft rose coloured sun hitting the windows of the church, sadly my camera battery was charging.
On yesterday's walk Lucy and I wandered along the river, and I filmed it's brown surface and listened to the noise of the water over the stones.  Lillie said on the weekend walk, 'granny haven't you got any birds on the river?' Unfortunately not, no swans, no ducks, not the sharp blue of the kingfisher, just the occasional heron or moorhen.  Arrow shaped leaves are gathering and pushing upwards on its banks, ransoms,  bringing the early smell of garlic to grace the world.

I am so sick of Trump and Brexit in the news, why have we become such a self-serving narcissistic world of people, why can't we worry about the animals that are forced out of their lands, forests destroyed for palm oil, jungles cleared and encroached on so that the beautiful lions become scarce, and the elephants killed for their ivory.  We watched a film on Friday, The Fifth Element, complete foolishness but in its terrible cityscapes with cars flying by, you could almost see our time with everyone glued to a phone and not caring for anything outside their scope of life - which I find really frightening.

An experiment follows, will blogger upload the short, very short video I took yesterday, well not very good but it vaguely works in small size!