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.

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