Thursday, June 28, 2018


The roses will come to an end soon, and maybe this blog for the time being, as I consider the way forward. But some flowers the garden has produced and a new rose, the stripey 'Rosamundi' an old rose that always intrigues me.

Dark and dramatic mallow, must have grown it from seed, there are pink and white forms in the garden

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Debatable Land

Are the goldfinch ghost children
Their cattle chores done for two thousand years.

A small token from a long poem written by the printer artist, Colin Blanchard.  It is about the Iron Age hillforts above the White Esk river, three so far. This hill fort Bailiehill lies above the conjunction of the White Esk into the main river The Esk.  So many stories bounce around in the air, as the occupants all those years ago guarded their stretch of the river.  If you go but a few miles to the North, in fact just before the Tibetan monastery there is a Roman Fort (and bank barrow), did the Romans destroy these strongholds in the hills?

Bailiehill; As you explore this site you'll find features resembling those of Castle O'er about 3K to NW. Were they both at one stage frontier fortresses? This may have been "Debatable Land" between the territories of the Novantae to the west and their neighbours the Selgovae in what are now the Borders. There were probably clashes from time to time.
The first sizeable earthworks on the way up are probably the most recent, comparable with the 'annexe' earthworks at Castle O'er. They may have been used to for cattle ranching in the later life of the site. Looking over the wall, you'll see that, because of agriculture over the centuries, it's now impossible to trace the continuation of the 'annexe' earthworks in the two fields to the east of the site.
Moving on up to the summit, you can see that it is crowded with circular house scoops or platforms of two kinds:
  • larger buildings defined by a ditch and outer wall foundations -'ring-ditch houses'.
  • simple round platforms on which wooden houses were built. Smaller than the 'ring-ditch houses'.

for the Castle O'er 'estate'. Keen eyed watchers would miss very little that went on in the upper valley, and would be able to send a runner along the ridge to Castle O'er in good time for reinforcements to be on their way to help deal with any threats approaching down the valley.
The pattern with fortified holdings elsewhere in the valley is for the entrance to open onto the yard, with the roundhouses on the far side from it. Find the entrance (SE) and look for evidence of a similar pattern here. Tussocky grass makes this difficult. A patch of rushes may indicate where at one time a well existed.
As at The Knowe, imagine the ramparts about half as high again with some form of palisade built into the structure, and the ditch half as deep again, and this may give you an idea of the site when it was fully defended. Again as at the Knowe there is little fortification overlooking the abrupt slope down towards the Esk. Only the most determined enemies would attack up this slope!
Canmore explanation

Castle O'er Hill fort;  As you approach the top you see two and here and there three separate ramparts, which in places are cut into the bedrock. It's likely that in the early period of the site none of these existed, and that there were only huts surrounded perhaps by a palisade.
On the hilltop it is suggested that the innermost ramparts on the edge of the summit (II) were later insertions inside the earlier ramparts, which were downhill from them. (IA, IB). This, in the form of a thick stone wall, gave defenders a smaller perimeter to defend against attack, and with better natural advantages. The imposing entrance fortifications to the southwest also belong to a later stage.
Having reached the top, look first at the circular "footprints" of the dwellings. They are huts (round houses), apparently lined up along a 'street', but be wary of assuming that all of them were lived in at the same time; in fact their footprints overlap. You can check by pacing that some were about 10m in diameter.
Much later the outlying annexe (defined by the earthworks C) was added to the settlement. These formed a boundary rather than a defensive wall, possibly for herding and containing livestock. The site plan also indicates that the fort is at the centre of a mysterious system of linear depressions with earthworks beside them. It is thought that these might have been to aid the herdsmen as they drove their cattle and sheep up towards the settlement.

These settlements/hill forts were settled over a long period of time, I suppose the gentler Bronze Age gave way to warring, perhaps over land or animals, and of course the rivers, the sole means of transport would have been vital highways.

Girdle stones; is this the entrance two stones with other stones brought here by later farmers as they cleared the fields?

Do not get lost in the woods!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Three days in Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway

Mostly this post will be taken up by photos, three marvellous days in a remote place but with a zing that is hard to put down. We went to the Samye Ling monastery, and one of the female Buddhists told me all about the founding of it.  So simple, there was me thinking Cistercian monks finding a place in the wild - but it wasn't.  Two Buddhists were offered a falling down old house because the owner could not keep it up.  Over the years it has turned into a complex of dormitories, retreat, magnificent temple and shop and small cafe. Is it not extraordinary?.... inner sanctum is full of detail.

Taken from the internet...

It was but a mile away from our lodgings which were also Tibetan inspired in the colours of yellow and orange.  And then just down the road we had a couple of stone circles Girdle Stanes and Loupin Stanes and this on the 21st June, the longest day of the year.  But these stone circles event happens at the other end of the year in November.

All this in a countryside somewhat overshadowed by industrialised forestry but beneath the great trees the bones of the earth were beautiful.  Rivers shallowly murmured their way along, lapwings flew overhead, the valleys were gentle moulded, a bit like when you knead dough.  Houses, some in a terrible condition, as if the owner had died and left the home to rot, with cars overgrown with vegetation and dirty curtains flapping at the broken windows.

The river had moved and cut this stone circle in half, across the river to the right was a small graveyard with old graves but no church in sight and no houses either.  Weird, had they planted their dead by the circles?

The sun shone  most of the time we were there, and following the line of the river through the valley we came across some beautiful places, even the dark spooky atmosphere of tall evergreens can hold their magic, though not the great lorries full of tree trunks we met on the first day.

The other smaller circle

The negatives: Two towns both about 14 miles apart, Langholm and Lockerbie.  Langholm was a disappointment, we managed to find the Co-op  stuck at the end of a housing estate.  And of course no pubs in the vicinity as well for Paul!  The place we stayed in, Eskdalemuir was sparsely inhabited though it did have a marvellous cafe called The Hub that had been built on to an old school which housed an art exhibition of prints. Trying to buy one at the moment....

Monday, June 18, 2018

thinking historically

 "The accession of a female ruler in Mercia is described by the historian Ian Walker as "one of the most unique events in early medieval history".  Whoops why are women who have MADE IT in English history, so exceptional?  I suppose the answer is we never think about it.  Elizabeth 1st (and 2nd) are both figureheads as was Victoria but the rest be they artists or writers miss out on the important person list;)

So who is Walker talking about, well it was King Alfred's daughter, expect you have heard about him but her history has also been noted for her ability to run the Anglo- Saxon kingdom of Mercia. Aethelflaed, for that was her name ruled from AD 911 to her death in 918.  There is a video of her mock burial in Gloucester .I believe the Saxon women had much more equality than their later medieval sisters and a burial of a presumed Saxon Princess just by the coast near Whitby at Loftus gives some idea

I have been reading  Virginia Woolf, her writing is so delicate, can think of no other word as her thoughts sink into the written words.  Her book ' A Room of One's Own' strikes out in a true feminist mode but of course is a historical account of the early 20th century, we have moved on though.  Though there are plenty of threads that still need picking up so that equality rules supreme!

Anyway a couple of thoughts I picked up from her, the first, like a snake we slough off our ruffled emotional skins of the day, is rather comforting.

The second, an analogy of mirrors and warfare not too sure about this, brings to mind the Celtic mirrors for some reason.

Iron Age Mirror
1) I thought at last that it was time to roll up the crumpled skin of the day, with its arguments and its impressions and its anger and its laughter, and cast it into the hedge.

2) Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of  man at twice its natural size.  Without that power the earth would probably be still swamp and jungle, the glories of all our wars would still be unknown.  We should still be scratching the outlines of deer on the remains of mutton bones and bartering flint for sheepskins or whatever simple ornament took our unsophisticated taste............Whatever may be their use in civilized societies mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday's this and that

Sunday; From where I sit I can see three collared doves, two of which must be the young for they harass the third. Then there are the phlox coming out, remnants of the old garden.  Some flowers hang their heads after the wind and the storm we had yesterday evening, the honeysuckle remains upright as does the blackberry, full of flower and the promise of blackberries and then a red rose.
The plum tree branches hang heavy with green plums, threatening to break the young branches, behind them a rose I am not too keen on think it is Clarence House, must check.  Then the roses that bind the church wall, Jam and Jerusalem, magnificently coloured, (almost too much) flirts with the grass, must cut it back after flowering.  The pink roses look blowsy but there is a yellow/pale pink that holds promise.

I see a 'worthy' gentleman of the land has been appointed as a 'tree guardian' Sir William Worsley lives just down the road (well about 10 miles away) at Hovingham Hall.  Michael Gove our environment minister has appointed him to look after the trees of this country, without pay as well!
My estimation of Gove has gone slightly up, perhaps thinking of him as 'Mr.Toad of Toad Hall' got him his job,  as to what needs to be done for the environment but I am not holding my breath.
Huffington News gives a breakdown of the news, first time I have come across Huffington on the internet, it used to go through F/B but now I never see it.  Well I wish Worsley all the best in his job, he has plenty to do, what with stopping the decimation of trees in Sheffield, and what is this the firm who are cutting down the trees hold Sheffield Council to hostage with a 30 million pound contract break fee.  Then there is HS2 and the cutting down of old woods along the new trackway.  Does the North need this new rail link from London, or would it rather see the money spent on linking Northern cities with each other?
Time for coffee.....

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saturday 16th June

Well watching a robot funeral service this morning from Japan and captured on a National Geographic video, I sat slightly stunned by it, wondering where the overlap of religion and robots evolved.  In the video it was stated that Buddhist thought encompassed all things, but respecting technical gizmos?  Evolution is a funny old game, we evolve to keep up with changing circumstances, hopefully as climate change takes hold we hope that both flora and fauna will keep up, but transferring our 'feelings' to a walkabout dog takes some beating.
Yet there was a farming programme this morning talking about farms completely run by technology, the only drawback is not very good satellite or internet coverage in some parts of the country but robotic running of many businesses is now round the corner.  Think Amazon's drone service, though not up and running yet, and slightly scary given Cro's video this morning of someone nicking the parcels off the front doorstep.
Science fiction scenarios are beginning to emerge, must admit I prefer them to be fictional stories, artificial intelligence is a bit scary.  An airway of buzzy drones over your head, little balls floating around keeping an eye on you, what will the human race be reduced to?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday, 15th June

There should always be an elephant in the room!
 This photo will remind me of the storm, it took Rachel's rose bush off the surround of her front door, it will remind me that honeysuckle is a favourite plant and is garnishing the wild hedges of Wales.

Do you remember Mog, his author Judith Kerr was 94 (it might be 95) yesterday
I have always loved the picture books of younger children and took great delight in the stories of Mog.  I read an article about Kerr, who was Jewish and her family had fled to England.  She wrote that famous story 'The Tiger who came to Tea'.  The tiger walked into this little girl's house ate all the food up, drank all the water and then left, never to return.  Well this critic said that the story rested on the fact that Kerr's family had to flee Germany, 'rubbish' said Kerr I told the story, completely made up, to my young son. Sometimes we become too educated in our analysis and forget simplicity.  As for my other favourite children books, Asterik takes some beating and then there is Graham Oakley's 'Church Mice',
"The Times Literary Supplement, for example, noted that Oakley shows "how effectively words and pictures can be crafted together, so that our understanding of the story depends on the two"

Sadly my grandchildren have all grown into far more sensible readers, Lillie at 11 years old has was reading 'The Handmaid's Tale' last time I saw her, not exactly cheerful!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thursday 14th June

Order, Order;  Yes The House dissolved into another day of silly squabbles!  How can I live in a country with such an antiquated system of government and politicians who sound like a herd of over excited animals.  Whoops and an enormous spider has just flipped across the carpet, it must have come in to escape a very windy outside, Storm Hector has arrived. (All that hot air in parliament had to go somewhere!)
I have noticed unhappiness creeping into several blogs, there is no solution as this country creeps nearer to meltdown, what do we need? probably more people to pull together, as they did in the village yesterday.  Keith tackled the overgrown verge in front of the church with lawnmower and strimmer and then someone came along, think it must have been David and painted the bench, quietly done, no fuss.
Well I just went along to a local garden opening, the garden was beautiful and sooooooooo well kept. Delicious cakes went with the tea served, welcome to middle England, and I never thought I would say that.  Politeness reigned, the flowers bloomed, hard work everywhere.  Vegetables planted so neatly in rows (he was a farmer in another life), no weeds in the beds, wild flower meadow, it was like a sanctuary of peace and quietness.
And the icing on the cake, a couple of house martins on the green outside.

you can just see my two friends on the right.

Hawkweed in abundance
My blessing for the day would be: ;) May your vegetables grow in straight lines, and your mind rest easy in tranquility and peace.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wednesday 13th June

New heading I know it is a bit gloomy but it puts history into perspective;  England is so lush at the moment, that I am beginning to worry that climate change is forcing growth, the grasses are so high and even the flowering plants come and go so quickly. The roses hang their heavy heads and I need specimen vases to capture their singular beauty.
So Trump has made a deal, how long will it last?  Skepticism by many analysts seem to say that it will not last, we will see. remembering Ozyimandias ;)
Lucy barked a lot in the night so I stayed downstairs with her, she is having a 'nervous breakdown' day.  Too much walking which made her paws sore and her legs ache and then final indignity at the end of the day by being bathed and clipped, shorn now of her beautiful locks...................AND everyone keeps saying she is fat!

Exuberant colour

Jean's photo of Lucy

dark purple mallow, grown tall

Monday, June 11, 2018

Weekend 11th June

Rievaulx Abbey.  Though we did not go in we managed to get into the new visitor centre and I photographed the tiles, different shapes, different styles.  Love the landscape round this deep valley. How many poor ponies and horses slogged down the steep lane bringing goods.

Saturday we went to Hutton-le-Hole for lunch, and Sunday it was The Vine at Helmsley Walled Garden.  Poor Lucy was so stiff this morning from all the walking, and then final indignity being clipped and washed at 5.0 clock, that she could not jump onto the settee.
My old neighbour J spent hours talking about the old times and my daughter Karen was happy to see her.  My daughter bought me a present (it looked like she was getting off the train with a rubbish bag.  But it contained a Jacob's fleece, which I shall have too wash, card and spin.
Trains are working fairly well, though J missed one connection because the first train was late.  She then got onto the wrong train at Leeds (late train arriving, not going to Scarborough but to Middlesborough. Anyway, if it ever happens to us, get off at Thirsk, take the train to York and try once more......
We are going back to The Vinery soon it is such a pretty place to eat, and the food has lots of vegetables and herbs.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Writing it out of the system ;)

So my sun will rise in the East
And my heart will be at peace.

Words from my favourite song, which I now and again play to give me courage, it is from Vangelis, I'll find My Way Home.  I found myself singing it as I went down the path next to the church yesterday, this was having just learnt that someone was suffering from the dreaded C and that things would change in this small world.
Last week was another event I have hardly mentioned though it worried me for days on end.  My daughter has just gone through a divorce, final decree had been settled (guess who settled;) and her erstwhile ex was getting remarried on Saturday, with three of my grandchildren going.  I wasn't happy about this, but said nothing after all this was their business and my grandchildren can hold their own in any company.  My worry was for my daughter, but she had gone off with her best friend for a meal.  
Divorce is a messy affair, but she will be much happier now, running her own life and the financial disaster that was her ex will now no longer have a hold on her family.  Paul and I had discussed what would happen if D ever turned up here, he had thought he would allow him a cup of tea and that was that, me no way!
We gather like the proverbial rolling stone, moss along the way, I don't actually hate D, he is free to do what he wants, maybe he could have contributed to his children's upkeep the last two years  but they know him for what he is and Matilda has used the excuse of exams all these last months to avoid a monthly visit.  I think his  sensitive son Ben has found it the most difficult, it is not easy seeing your father getting remarried.
Anyway it is all over and the future holds it promise, with the roof over their heads safe and secure from D's promise to throw them all out. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018


Another parish meeting yesterday evening, two people standing down therefore we can no longer hold official meetings.  It is all fairly interesting, each parish can ask for a precept from the council - it comes out of your rates, so in actual fact you do pay for it.  Our precept has been paying the rental for a solar 'slow down' sign that is erected every so often at the beginning of the village - £1400 a year.  It did not work properly last time, think they put it in the wrong way round, not facing the sun but this year we come out of the contract.
The next thing is to ask the council if we can build our own footpath along a rather dangerous verge we walk on to do the circular walk of the village, they have (the council) promised 'pedestrians in the road' signs.  Yes they won't give us a pavement, unless one of us killed or injured.  Volunteers were asked for but no one signed up for death.
I have a friend coming for a few days, and of course she is worrying about the Northern trains debacle.  I think it will be alright for her, as she travels on different companies, everything is getting so overcrowded nowadays and especially in those Northern cities and then this worry for commuters as trains timetables are altered and train service reduced.
Life is falling apart, they have just announced on the radio that the stock exchange is closed down due to some computer faulty glitch?  So what with TSB and Visa perhaps we should go more carefully with our reliance on technology as we get shut out of our bank accounts, or can't even reach a bank to check.
But my stately pink foxgloves still strut their stuff and there is a beautiful perennial geranium, purple I would say that is coming out everywhere, indifferent to our human problems.....

Blick Mead and Starr Carr - Mike Pitts

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Endeavours - the ships of course

The replica Endeavour being pulled into Whitby Harbour.
Whitby News;  Though we no longer live there I keep abreast of its news.  My daughter is taking a holiday there with the children in July, mostly for them all to catch up with friends.  But today I watched a video of the replica Endeavour being pulled into the harbour, the bells rang out from all the churches and there was a warm welcoming crowd to watch it reach its resting place, soon to be a museum, for it cannot run under its own steam.  Though it can hardly show the welcome the other Endeavour showed in 2002 down below, there is a pride in the history of Captain Cook and his adventures.  Visit Whitby once, for it is terribly crowded, the smell of fish and chips will hit you in the back of the throat, the seagulls will swirl around you.  Yes it is the Southend of the North, but it is  also a magnificent historical account of a coastal fishing town with its little streets and cottages.  With a religious overlay from Saint Hilda's Abbey and all the churches that line the streets.  And remember to visit the Museum in Pannett Park, to see a fascinating collection of the treasures of Whitby, and their art gallery is pretty good as well. Look out for this horror, 'The Hand of Glory'  

An earlier video of another, powered replica Endeavour sailing into Whitby Harbour in 2002 from Australia, the video is rather fuzzy, but the crowds, the church bells and the flotilla of boats accompanying the tall ship brings a lump to the throat.

Sunday, June 3, 2018


Ted Hughes - The Swift's Return

Behind elms.
They’ve made it again,
Which means the globe’s still working, the Creation’s
Still waking refreshed, our summer’s
Still all to come —
And here they are, here they are again
Erupting across yard stones
Shrapnel-scatter terror. Frog-gapers,
Speedway goggles, international mobsters 

Found this one verse in The Times yesterday in Nature Notebook by Miriam Darlington and came across the idea of eco-churches, in other words turning those grave yards into places of wild flowers and not cutting the grass.  Paul said the other day, that the unnatural vegetative growth of grass found on the verges of our lanes and roads, is not only caused by the nitrogen sprayed on the fields but also by diesel fuels as well.
When we feel down and blue it is best to look outward at the blossoming world around us, not that I feel down, just walked round the garden photographing the rain drops on the plants.  Capturing the plum harvest, and the beans doing their Giant Beanstalk for Jack to climb up;)  The doves followed me around plaintively calling for their seed but it is too early, I still have my own breakfast to eat.
I bought an iris from Jill the other day, and it made me think of the 'fleur de lis' motif.  Symbol I suppose of the Norman invasion in this country, Catholic and French.  But which iris would it have been?  Well it is the communal flag iris that you find in your pond, the extravagant  coloured plants we have today are but hybrids.  I love the yellow iris, rising from a garden pond ready for the damsel fly and dragonfly to climb up it, shed its pupae skin and emerge into the light a radiant colourful insect perfectly formed.  

Photo: Myrabella
You can read all the long history on the Wiki, but if you are ever in an Abbey, look down on the floor and see if there are any encaustic medieval tiles with the fleur de lis and see those three petals representing so much, whether religious or part of a statement.....

Grigson mentions it as well, also that a black dye and ink can be made with the rhizomes.  Came across another wild iris, though one not seen much.  This is the Gladdon - Stinking Iris - Iris Foetidissima.  I remember it in the old Bath garden, most striking for its seed cases that spilled its seed in the capsule.

Looking at its flower a pale purple and white and I can see where the iris I bought came from.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Promise

A couple of videos that my friend sent yesterday, the first two minutes long, shows a pair of nesting magpies where he lives in Cornwall, the second shows a crow helping himself to fatballs.  Happening in exactly the same way in our garden, as jackdaws and crows raid the feeders.  Survival of the fittest I think....

What else, 'the promise' is the opening of the foxgloves, magnificently identified by Paul as hollyhocks, he has the same problem with potatoes, he does not understand the difference between new and old potatoes, or, in fact how the various types of potatoes are used. Comes of living in Japan for such a long time!

I played around with photo imaging for the foxgloves, this one is called 'Icarus'. Well that pulled up a lot of memories from college, dissecting the following poem...... Icarus's little legs are just disappearing by the boat by the way, lower right hand of the painting.  Perhaps my title should have been 'futility' Auden was a miserable soul but the roses springing to life, the constant up and down of the great farm trucks rushing by with cut sweet grass for silaging tells me that life goes on no matter how much misery there is around.

Musee des Beaux Arts
W. H. Auden
About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Breughel - The Fall of Icarus

Just set off all the smoke alarms in the house, electrically connected they make a helluva noise and all frantic waving of teacloths is useless, it was Lucy's dinner! still edible anyway, just overcooked..

And then the roses by the long wall of the church yard holding their promise of careless beauty, and I am glad that I did not have a bed dug out for more flowers here, the wall and the roses are just perfect.