Friday, May 26, 2017

Byland Abbey

Yesterday we went off to Byland Abbey, not quite sure as to where it was and we called in at The Temples and Rievaulx Abbey on the way.  We were actually heading for Old Byland village, which had had the abbey there for a short time in the 12th century.  In this quiet village we asked the postman, and he gave us explicit directions as to where to go.  So we travelled along the tiny lanes, only to have him chasing after us because he thought we might have meant Rievaulx, kind person that he was.

Old Byland

The countryside at its radiant best, the steep wooded hills enclosing small valleys and old cottages. Very different to where we live in Yorkshire, both abbeys are only a few miles from each other, and yet are defensively hidden below these hills.   Of course not from King Henry and his need for money and divorce in 1538 at the Suppression of the monastic houses.

Byland is a large abbey, but its early beginning was as a Savigniac foundation and it only later changed to the great Cistercian order that it became and became one of the largest Northern abbeys up here.
Imagine a small town, for this is what these abbeys became, self reliant, bringing its food in from the surrounding granges, there would be a bakery, brewery and infirmary for all the pilgrims that arrived, divided between the proper monks and the lay monks who did all the work.
Looking now at what remains and the size and sheer effort of work strikes you, the stone was carted off to build cottages and houses for the rich, the times were not so different to now, the 'fat cats' moved in, took over the wealth, whilst the monks were disbanded with small pensions, if they were lucky enough and escaped the hangsman rope.
The ruins were once roofed, the monks moving silently amongst the rooms,  walking round the great covered cloister, warming their hands in the warming room, perhaps after working in cold conditions scribing books.  A peaceful life, the life of the farms chugging steadily along.  We excavated a priory once in Norfolk, returning each summer to excavate, the area down by a canal that had been dug to bring the boats up with their goods to the barns.  A round brewery with kilns was excavated, just scars on the surface of the soil, the spill of stone from old walls.  And if you have ever drawn a metre thick  medieval wall accurately you will know that a straight line was not necessarily aimed for.

the half moon of the great rose window

capitals lovingly carved so long ago

The warming room

The sacristy

We also saw the only white horse in Yorkshire, very disappointing. Can you make it out on that steep slope, think the original must have been painted on hanging from ropes.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thursday 25th May

The sunny weather is beautiful, but it brings on my migraines, yesterday with such ferocity that I would gladly have given up living...Walking in the morning helps. The flowers suddenly greet me on every side, in the garden the first deep red rose perfectly formed, the pale foxgloves are beginning to open their bells.  And who knew I had planted irises but I did, apparently, the purple Fleur De lis shape  reminding me of its historical journey.
The world has become enchanted with itself, that moment at the beginning of summer when everything is fresh.  The jackdaws tend their young in the old tree in the grave yard.  My love takes me around to see the little mouse in the church, so delicately carved on the font lid.  They had rearranged the pews this week and someone had said mischievously that there are more people in the church tending it than there are worshippers on a Sunday. Paul is quite in love with this little church!
The cows are out in the fields, up on the hills, someone has moved young horses into another field and stables have gone up in a couple of days.   The birds seem to dance for joy in this warm weather.  Tame as they feed their hungry young. 
The vitality of life for a moment obscuring the terrible happening in Manchester.  

closely compacted panicles of something that looks like cow parsley but isn't

cow parsley

Ladies smock, hiding amongst the nettles

Claire's place

red campion

A  simple font

the little engraved mouse, fading away with time.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Peace please

I walked down to the river today just for the quiet peace that it offered, I walked with this hysterical mutt who kept us up at midnight with her shenigans as we watched the terrible news unfold in Manchester.

So there has been another terrorist attack, this time in Manchester. Shock hardly describes it for all those parents and grandparents who are having to live through terrible times today, I offer them strength to cope with the waiting for news of loved ones. Praise must of course go to all those people in the emergency services for being there so promptly and coping with a devastating attack on young people, children even.  The ability of the community to pull together, taxi-drivers taking the young home for free, hotel managers taking them into their hotels - humanity has a lot going for it and the people of Manchester taught us an important lesson in this wretched time.
And for that selfish moment when I gave thanks that my teenage grandchildren did not go last night to this concert I trust that their young ones are safely home today, and that the nightmare will eventually fade from their minds.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday 20th May - time is flying

Just thinking out loud

A yuppie

a fashionable young middle-class person with a well-paid job.
"stereotypical 1980s yuppies obsessed with material objects and financial success"

What is a 'yuppie' the answer lies above.  Why did I need to know, reading an article on the French elections, it talked about how the population had divided, the young middle class picking up cheaper housing in the towns, doing the houses up and changing the poor areas of the towns and cities.  I had seen this happen in Bath, the Georgian terraced houses had  their basements converted into long kitchen/cum living areas.  All to do with being fashionable of course.  This of course pushes their poorer residents out to other areas, but as a conurbation has to be 'serviced' immigrants have moved in to cheaper areas, making the 'class' of poorer citizens outcast in their own country - no wonder the resentment. This had happened in the French country towns and villages outside the urban areas, results in earlier deaths also.  So what is experienced is a greater divide between the poor and rich, hence the anger and resentment shown in the rise of the far right wing, also found here in our country when UKIP* took to the stage.

So to return to the normal part of this diary like blog.  What is the weather today like, beautiful and sunny, when I went out to feed the chickens, there was a little blue tit managing to get the last scraps of the insect log inside the feeder, tiny creature had squeezed through the bars.  All the birds are so much tamer at this time of year when they are feeding their young, the  song thrush hops ahead of me on the lawn quite unconcerned that I am behind.  The blackbirds are harassed by their young and the whole family of tits raid the seed holders without a thought that I stand behind them.  Lucy cavorts on the lawn like a young pup as I feed all the birds, her turn for a small handful of biscuits for breakfast when we go in.
In the week we went to Castle Howard garden centre, Paul spends most of the time talking to a Chinese English teacher, the Chinese seem to like this English country estate, there are many of them wandering around.  Bought an everlasting pink sweet pea, it's foliage ripe with energy and it is to go on the willow trellis I bought for a rose that is starting to grow up the church wall.  You can just see the tower of the house above the tree line.

*And luckily has fallen of that stage!

Friday, May 19, 2017

19th May

I am just beginning to wonder if the North/South divide is actually happening.  Talking to my daughter yesterday she mentioned that when she was working in Hebden Bridge, Jeremy Corbyn came for a meeting in the Town Hall a couple of days ago and attracted a large cheering crowd. So there we have the media and here I mean the BBC, who after all are our main source of news, saying nothing about this.  Not fake news just manipulation by the London based media to play down what really happens.  Does Theresa May attract large crowds, nope.  The same happened in Leeds large crowds turned out for Corbyn to cheer him on.
The mantra one hears is that Theresa May will take us through a 'hard' brexit, she is the only person to see us through safely - don't believe.  Like others I wonder at Corbyn's strong brand of socialism, the talk of nationalising some of our utilities, and to be honest I am almost in favour of such a strong political move.
Politics are being shaken up all over the world, not counting Trump who was the most idiotic of choices for a president of America, what comes out is that people want change, the French threw out 'Le Pen' not taking a step too far to the right.  If more young people engaged with the politics of their countries we would perhaps get a different world, maybe not what we older people wanted but still the answer lies in our geriatic aging world of coming into closer contact with the younger, probably more selfish up and coming leaders like the French president Macron. 

leeds crowds

And to something totally different the Viking Winter Camp at Torksey in Lincolnshire in 872/3

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

food porn

Avocados;  A favourite of mine, but they are going up in price see this article.  There are a variety of reasons, mostly to do with Mexico where 70% of the fruit are grown.  Mostly it is to do with poor crops, good and bad years, the Chinese developing a liking for them and of course Trump with his Mexican wall. 
I consider avocados a luxury food and don't get them often but watching a Waitrose advert the other day with mashed avocado on toast and a poached egg dripping enticingly over the dish, thought I would try it.  Now I am not in the business of food porn, so my photo looks rough and ready but it wasn't a bad dish and does show the egg my hens produce as a damn good egg;)

Paul was taken the way on the television they produced a poached egg, you know twirling the water and then dropping the egg in the water as the white slowly strands out.
Food porn, I blame Yotam Ottenghi for all this, have you ever looked at one of his recipes with at least two dozen ingredients, half of which you will not have and then turned the page to other things.
Sometimes our Western world is so taken up with the look and taste of food that we forget that a good half of the world is starved of enough calories to furnish a working day.  Perhaps we should concentrate on that.  Someone on the radio yesterday said that it would not make one iota of difference to food production if we turned to GMOs as a way to grow all our crops, thank goodness for that, avoid them like the plague they will ruin the ecosystem.  I know there is always a great battle in the green world against Monsanto, and its modifed seeds.  And as the honey bees and bumble bees continue to disappear a need to concentrate on the natural space of flowers and fruit trees needs to be taken into account - don't poison the Earth...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Something frivolous

Jessie Arms Botke (American painter) 1883 - 1971
White Peacocks and Blue Delphinium, 1924
oil on masonite

The countryside around us has taken on a cloak of white. Cow parsley froths along the verges, rampant ransoms cover the banks of the river and then there is the hawthorn's flower.
So that rather gorgeous painting of white peacocks strike a note, what a delicate painting.
Well Paul has just come back from the church, they moved the pews yesterday for the men to come and spray for woodworm.  Yesterday they found a secret wooden box under the pew which contained a collection box.  Today on turning the baptismal font's wooden lid, which has a dedication of 1930's, they found on the underside of the lid an engraving of a little mouse!  Doubt if it has anything to do with the now famous 'mouse' furniture maker, as it seems rather early.  But then the original founder Robert 'mouseman' Thompson  was working during that period.

To return to mice, we had three living in the garage up to last week, they built a nest in the car, somewhere by the fan so that the engine rattled.  The garage cleared it but at some cost.  So Paul invested in a humane mouse trap  and we have deposited three very live mice into the countryside, they were fed peanut butter!

Robert (mouseman) Thompson

Monday, May 15, 2017

Monday 15th May; Ruminations

Echoing the photo at the top, in this instance the prehistoric stone is caged so that it will not sully the christian church;)

First rain for days, a time to plant out the beans and plants I have been growing.  Bird life is at its best, goldcrests came through yesterday, the song thrush has raised her young, the two robin bully and beat their way through the gardens and the blackbirds become bold as well as they hunt for worms.  Not forgetting that the swallows have returned to their church nests over the weekend, and the brightly coloured bullfinch on the lawn this morning with a goldcrest, we too have strongly coloured birds amongst the brown and greys of sparrows and pigeons.

So what to talk about, definitely not all the promises of the politicians as they battle their way through, but I have invested in some print material to read about why we have politics!.  A neighbour and friend takes The Economist, so he gave me a couple of magazines, too impersonal for me so sent off for the Newstatesman, which is far more interesting to read.  It reminded me that many years ago I took up reading it because my then father-in-law also read it, maybe it turned me into a socialist....

Looking through my photos this morning for some thing interesting to write about, came across doll house photos, this house has been with me for many years, my daughter does not want it and is happy to leave it with me.  It reminded me that Jssie Burton, author of 'The Miniaturist' has a new book out 'The Muse'.  Which seems to have a plot line about a mysterious painting.

Not that the children have not played with it, the front door was ripped off  by Lillie's elder brother Tom when he was about three. And he hung the dolls with a chain. in a medieval construction...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Unexpected visit

Yesterday having noticed on F/B that a very old friend was in Yorkshire we agreed to meet up in the city of York.  I took the train and met her at the station. J had been a next door neighbour when my daughter was growing up, and J had three sons.  J now travels everywhere but still lives in the same house in Calne.  Just before her coach trip to Yorkshire she had been to Tashkent and seems to be always on the move.
So we caught up on old times whilst trying to find Bettys the tea shop, all to no avail when we did eventually find the shop there were queues for the tables and we went elsewhere.  The group were all retired teachers from Devizes, and as we ambled around 'The Shambles' we kept meeting up with them.  They belong to the U3A, University of the third age, perhaps I shall look into it here.
We parted outside the Minster and I felt so sad as she walked away and disappeared into the crowd.  We had churned up old memories, caught up on family and then she just melted away.

York Minster

lots of chocolate and fudge to be had but desisted. Further on a famous newscaster interviewing young people about how they felt about university fees ;( caught it on tv when I got back

Waiting for the train to go back, have sat in this station on many an occasion

Thursday 11th May

A walk yesterday, the sun shone, the hare scampered ahead of us, and the hawthorns were flowering. At the end are bluebells but I don't think they are wild ones but made a pleasant scene in the little wood by the old orchard.  As we head into drought, some trees seem reluctant to come into leaf.

the old orchard

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Saturday morning precis

Yesterday evening we went to the parish meeting, next door in the church.  Cold as always especially in this weather, the chairman David had resigned, so after the formality of reading out everything we changed to a farmer's wife.  David is also a church warden and mentioned he was giving up that as well, also and this is sad news, that when he does the church will be locked, and maybe even closed down.  It has but half a dozen attendees, all old, religion just does not figure in peoples lives anymore.  
Open churches are just one of the wonderful experiences when you go to a new village and explore, locked churches are unwelcoming.
Various other things were talked about, the church funds contribute to the local bus service which runs three times a week.  They also contribute to the library at Kirkbymoorside.  The running down of libraries is just one of the catastrophes that we are living through at this time.  The councils are shutting them down but there is a lot of dissent, people have to volunteer to run them and now contribute towards the utility bills.
So how did the voting go, well the national news say conservatives swept the board, and they did in our parish ward, but only by two votes, expect there was a recount on our one.
Interestingly the defibrillator was discussed, and as our new chairperson is a nurse, she reckoned it was an expensive move with not much to offer, you have to do CPR as well which is very hard. And the idea that  a St.John's Ambulance session would be a better option.
As Pat (Weaver of Grass) mentions, the wind from the NE is bitterly cold and though the sun shines, when it departs we get frosts at night. The wind is cold due to coming over the North sea, and as we live nearer the north, are, like Scotland troubled by the vagaries of the cold, and where is the rain? looks like we are heading into drought.

Friday, May 5, 2017


Some of the things that I have been doing, the first are string bags knitted from white cotton, and then dyed, the dye did not take too well, which explains the light pink which should have been vermilion.

Here we go the frackingcompanies dividing up this part of Yorkshire into fracking licences. Scary.

I have two frames mostly used for growing stuff but also starting off plants.  This frame contains lettuce, made some delicious soup this morning with that. Runner beans and french climbing beans are being grown this season.

Runner beans are being nibbled by slugs and need to go out in the garden, six courgette plants, hopefully some to sell for the church. Excuse the camera strap.

And last an alpaca wool sweater, very light to wear so it should be a summer sweater.

We have a baby song thrush in the garden either hiding under the lavender or the nepeta, so glad our song thrush made it back this year through the killing fields of Cyprus, it seems our government is doing something about it.  Mist nets used on our MOD land in Cyprus which is the under protection of the army are being taken down and people prosecuted in the courts - it is illegal to net migratory birds.  The locals make a dish of these birds, a wretched business.