Saturday, June 29, 2019

Tangled Woods

Old woods, old photos, this wood was coppiced many years ago, when I saw it a few years back it was neglected, trees fallen, boggy underfoot but of course it was making its own ecosystem.  Well on Gardener's World, the same point was made by 'rewilding' a garden, allowing the natural world to invade the 'kept' garden. 
George Monbiot is all for rewilding our country, allowing the uplands to become wild and less sheep ridden, the beavers to dam rivers and maybe even wolves to roam Scotland, that would definitely bring down the expansive deer population.....
Sometimes I am in two minds about this, the habit of growing flowers in gardens have brought the insects in to live and prosper, what of course we need are more ponds, the old village ponds have long gone.  Frogs and newts disappear and the water insect life is scarce.  We have farmed the land to within an inch of its life, the old meadows of wild flowers are long gone, councils plant wild life verges along the road, and we can only hope insects do not get killed by passing traffic.
We had that sad spectacle of builders and councils netting the trees and hedges so that the birds would not build nests, I am still trying to work out why?

Thursday, June 27, 2019


Bell flowers, a favourite of mine, I remember walking down a gorge in the Mendips and finding a wild plant and being thrilled.  Up here on the Yorkshire moors you will find the little harebell, nodding their heads furiously in the wind.
Cantebury bells, allow the words to roll around in your head!  I realise I haven't any in the garden but I do have ordinary bell flowers in the front, now beaten down by the rain, as was the lemon rose... captured for the moment.

I am sure this is a 'conglomerate' bellflower that is just coming into flower in the garden

This is a walk round the garden but outside on the verge of the church Keith has tackled the grass and spent leaves of daffodils, but look what he left standing - Orange hawkweed, brightly coloured against the green.  John of 'Going Gently' was talking about 'shedding' which apparently is the terminology of helping in your community.  Well Keith works so hard in our community that I think he deserves a medal.

So what else, a bumper crop of blackberries, my Rosamundi rose is starting to flower...... only two pears on the new tree and a meagre two plums on one of the plums.

The fat little bums of bees are always a welcome sight round the gardens

Stripped Rosamundi, echoing the past
Flowers have a history of their own, we have several wild bell flowers in this country, their shapes echo the bells in the church but the flower bells do not ring, only carry their own folklore along the way.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

St.Gregory's Miscellany

Well something totally boring, but not to me.  I received the rather sparse copy of the Archaeology at Kirkdale yesterday.  You can read about the Saxon Minster at the bottom of the page there is a link to more photographs.  But two fascinating facts popped up.  The stone below just outside the porch of the church, was it prehistoric? well as always speculation must be the answer but I will quote what the authors of the report said...

"Incised into this surface are very vestigial traces of decoration which can be matched by elements of that on a sculptured stone in the church, a cross of 10th century date.  It seems likely that our stone was a 10th century grave-cover, perhaps the cover of a stone coffin.  The stone was not, however, quarried or cut for this purpose, as it had earlier weathering i.e. it was available for re-use in late Anglo-Saxon times.  One possibility is that it was originally a prehistoric standing stone - a menhir like the great stone still standing in Rudston churchyard; or even one of a circle."

As Paul and I always look for churches that have an early pagan association this was not surprising, the aura of 'deep mystery' and history pervades this neglected corner of the world.  This stone by the way does not have the height of the great Rudston menhir but perhaps as Christianity settled on the land, the early monks, after all we have Lastingham just down the road, found this spot still encumbered with prehistoric stones and decided to settle.

Old stone with Paul for comparison

The other note of interest, is a bit like local gossip but I will record it.  Not far away from the church  the 'Bone Cave' or Kirkdale Cave  resides in which the bones of many different animals, including Rhinos and elephants were found.  Well the following story does not take place in this cave but another three some distance away, in these lived in 1699-1711.......

"An 'Ethopian' lady named Naggs who had 'four hands'; she was the mistress of Sir Charles Duncombe, who died in 1711.  The probable site of these caves have been located but they are now filled in."

I am still trying to work out where the second pair of hands were attached to but will not strain my mind too much.  These  three caves are now filled in, near Hold Cauldron Mill though.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Monday 24th June

Read with Care Andy Worthington - The Party's over.

Yesterday is the past, the future is unfortunately writ with dire warnings of climate emergency, though you would not think so in blog land.  I came across an article written by Andy Worthington, an author who wrote about 'The Battle of the Beanfield'.  He reminds me a bit of Corbyn, grasping to his chest strong beliefs about the state of the world and rising up for the dispossessed, in Worthington's case Guantanamala prison.  So read him as a political activist.

So what caught my eye, well next weekend is the Glastonbury Festival, in which thousands of our young will gather together and leave their enormous mess of rubbish behind  (well unless a miracle happens) on the ground. The great and good will rattle and shake on the stage but all these well heeled performers and audience will have been raised in the recent modern culture of the 'me, me, me' society.  In other words they want to strut the stage of the world and get noticed for a brief moment in time.  Live for today and forget tomorrow.
Children it doesn't work that way! The 60s has a lot to answer for!  A quote.....

"Unfortunately, however, just as Thatcher and Ronald Reagan had reinstated capitalism’s broken narrative in the 1980s, particularly unleashing the greed of the banking sector, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton dutifully followed, unleashing an unprecedented orgy of consumer materialism, expanding on the 80s mania for outsourcing vast swathes of production to the developing world, further empowering bankers, and facilitating the growth of remorseless international tourism, fuelled by the essentially unfettered activities of the car and plane industries that has dominated our relationship to the earth — and promoted our inflated sense of self-entitlement — to such an extent that our very existence is now imperilled."

Strong stuff, agree or disagree, but our Western world has certainly prospered under a system, I won't name it but it is there.  Some would call it 'bread and circuses' a belief in a top down society, the 'upstairs, downstairs' of Downton Abbey. 

Worthington felt strongly about the phenomena that was the Midsummer Solstice at Stonehenge, though arguably it is the Winter Solstice.  Suddenly arising from the 'flower power' young people came to a new pagan religion.  Celtic at its fringes, it made itself. Looking to The Earth as a mother and that we had to protect her. 

Well there are some things you can't do in this old society, protest and gather together in large groups, remember how Maggie got the miners and printers?  Greta Thunberg is just the latest rising star in the protest movement, the elite of course have to be a little careful how they treat children, so they smile with wolf's teeth ;)

It has struck me writing this how I am really a socialist through and through, not envious of wealth at all, my own family saw to that with their bitter infighting over inheritance.  But also an observer, as I have watched protest in a different venue - road building - and seen the obvious pain of the protestors in their efforts to save the natural world.  The same of course as fracking rears its ugly head, this time I do not see the 'wasters, travellers' so depised by some, but people of my age genuinely worried about the future for their grandchildren.

But then some people put their money where it is needed, such as  David Gilmour auctioneering his guitars, into organisations fighting for the rights of the environment such as ClientEarth

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Walks I miss on a Sunday

Kelston Round Hill viewed from the racecourse

Yesterday reading Poetry in a Red Dress Blog a sudden shock of sadness for walks long gone overcame me.  A whole group of people had gone up to one of my favourite long walks to Kelston Roundhill above Bath for midsummer solstice.  Not that I wanted to be part of the group, only the memory of wandering up with Moss on a summer day to the small but perfectly rounded hill with its small copse of trees.  You could walk from Bath race course down an old track that would lead eventually to North Stoke village. But taking the track to the left would take you up the hill.  There was another walk up from our village, Weston but it was uphill all the way.
Over the years I explored this part of the world, watching on Sundays as the balloons sailed over from Bristol, often coming down on this higher land.  The wicker baskets bumping along the grass, no one got hurt.  On Sunday you could also get a balloon ride from Victoria Park in Bath, where Moss's ashes are scattered,  as a throwaway line!
In Deborah's blog she mentions that there was probably a bronze age barrow on top of the hill, years ago a tree had overturned in  a storm and beneath it's roots there was a pile of stones.  But of course the Bronze Age cemetery was on the race course and the field next to it, though sadly destroyed by time and the farmer.

Moss always waiting for the ball to be thrown
This wood was neglected and very boggy but I have a whole series of photos for it.

A small secret path, to the left if you went into the undergrowth it was where the deer stayed at night.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Saturday 22nd June

Well it has been a busy week, two visits to the hospital for various procedures, yesterday we arrived at 8 am and stayed till 6 pm.  But the whole atmosphere is so efficient and hardworking that one sits patiently, people watching. Also admiring dear old ladies who take all the procedures so bravely and cheerful.  Paul continues to mend slowly and we enjoy the journey there and back through the beautiful countryside.

On turning on the news we find that America has brought us to the brink of war that day with Iran, but the brink may only have been 'brinkmanship'. Our future prime minister has had a 'domestic' with his lady love,  intriguing what the ladies out in the shires will think, or do!  Can you imagine Johnson being pushed out of No.10 by an irate female, the cartoonists are going to have a field day.

But to a quieter person who I came across this morning, Doris Hatt, a painter born in Bath.  She was born at the latter end of the 19th century, and later on inherited money from her aunt, allowing her to build a Bauhaus/Art Deco house at Clevedon, Bristol. She lived a fairly long life to the 60s, influenced by all the happenings around her.  Communism floated through her life as did the painters of this period, and her paintings reflect this.
Brandon Hill

The Farm

A favourite, 'Still life with goldfish bowl' (anything but still)  all photos taken from Wiki under the name of  Sunnysideman.  Thanks to Deborah Harvey for introducing her.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Thursday 20th June

Ceanothus, much bluer in real life
The garden outside is a medley of bird song, the harsher noise of jackdaws followed by the more mellifluous sound of blackbirds and the chittering of the  house sparrows.  The sky is not as blue as the top photograph but it is sunny.  Roses tumble with abundance, foxgloves peek out host to bumblebees and the blue of the ceanothus attracts honeybees.  Everything vibrates with life as we near the Summer solstice. The Earth's heart is pounding vigorously in this corner of the world.

Perennial geranium
We have a problem in the house Paul's mobile is not working properly.  So tomorrow we have to find a mobile shop and get a new one.  The phone has already been ringing this morning but is unanswerable, so I shall worry who it was, have a feeling it was the hospital.

Jam and Jerusalem rose
At the political hustings: Well we already know who will be our next prime minister, the Tories are voting for their lives and the party of course in Johnson, more fool them!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Guy's Rants

Well something to mull over, Riverford's video on plastics.  The trouble is he doesn't have a long term answer.  Today is a hospital day and I am not feeling too clever myself, but my aim is to keep on looking for other materials to wrap things up in.  By the way Guy doesn't like Gove, neither do I, still call him Mr.Toad and last night meeting of minds, did not change my mind one jot.....

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sunday posting

Karen's grandfather

It is Father's day, well I was brought up by my grandfather, my daughter Karen also lost out on a father figure due to death and here she is with her grandfather in Blonay, Switzerland.  She goes back this week for a holiday to see her two aunts.
As she grew up we went back to Blonay for Xmas and summer holidays, and along with her cousin Marc, she spent many a happy hour in the company of her grandfather.  
Annabel, Marc's mother, was like me a 'rescuee' from the dramas and tragedies of life.  The time in Switzerland a happy break.  It is a country that is well governed, tidy and on the whole wealthy.  Go up into the mountains and you will find the traditional wooden houses, dark and shutters, but also the bright geraniums in window boxes enlivening the dark wood.  The cows on the summer pastures, a bell dangling from the leader, and mountains that look so tall against the blue of the sky.
Lake Leman could be viewed from the bungalow, the paddle boats making their way to France across the lake.  We always had to carry our passports, even the dogs, because there are so many frontiers in Switzerland.
To remember him on this day, his poem, a longing for England maybe, from someone who spent most of his working life in Unesco.

The Tourist's Lament by C.J.Opper

A rainy evening in Vevey,
Fills me with intense dismay,
The faded splendours of Montreux
Leave me feeling rather blue;
And if we must stick to verity,
I don't go overboard on Territet.
And, I must say,
Whoever got hooked on La Tour de Peilz?
For Corsier, Blonay, Chebres and Corseaux,
I'm unequally unmoved or even more so;
If there's a place I'd rather not be on
Its the top of the tower of the Chateau de Chillon.
In Southend they would'nt have the cheek to serve,
That cupper tea we got at Villeneuve
We got fish and chips just beside the church
But you have to ask for fillet de perche.
So..... you just ask your mother why we're here,

When we might have been on Wigan Pier.

I shall photograph my old photographs, or perhaps even scan them, for they capture a way of life the ex-pats enjoyed around this place, and it is good to remember that Conrad was also a church warden at the English church at Territet.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Saturday 15th June

I will start with a jug of roses, though life is not always a bed of roses, and the weather remains cold and rainy.

Or perhaps a newly trimmed Lucy, looking slightly slimmer having just been to Aislaby in Kate's slightly messy car for a haircut.

She is getting better, doesn't even look ill and is knocking back the food in her usual guzzling self.
Paul continues to improve slowly, he sleeps a lot, there is a new regime to cope with and we both move forward. Yesterday I got his prescriptions, and the protein drinks presumably designed to give him strength, and yes they are produced in little plastic bottles.

We still live in the mess of B***** and the anointing of the new prime minister - will it never end - as we face canditates of unspeakable horror ;).

And then there is the gathering storm cloud of the American/Iranian conflict, will it erupt? who do you believe? Will the Gulf become a war ground....

                     Map showing the location of the two vessels as of 08:00 GMT

We, like a lot of others, who do not have access to gas in the district, use oil.  Up the road at another village there is Bata, a farming firm, which not only provides the feed for the animals but also provide oil.  Well those Bata tankers have been going past as people fill their oil tanks in the middle of summer, though it could also be because the weather is so flippin cold.
We live on the edge of a precipice, though all around is calm and smooth, blowing up oil tankers is a nasty business, though I have read somewhere that it could easily be a third tribal force that is causing the upset.  It all boils down to religion of course.
But today we have strawberries and cream in the church, Janet hopefully has found enough punnets  (plastic?) of this fruit, and cakes have been made.  But of course such low key activities does not bring enough money to mend the crack in the church above the altar.   Old buildings move with the movement of the ground underneath, having no foundations which does not help.  Medieval buildings were built on solid walls, I remember having to draw the outlines of a wall at Castle Acre priory,  a metre thick,  bending slightly, but as always the stone robbed above for some other building. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019



Victorian cemeteries and gardens do occasionally go hand in hand.  Yesterday the gardening club travelled to Scarborough, meeting on the way mist turning into fog from the coast but no rain.  Gloomy and atmospheric was the cemetery, the garden bit was the long ravine that travels down to the sea, we only went part way along it the trees on either side towering above us like a rain forest.  They are careful not to cut down the trees because leaving a funnel for the wind will destroy others.

There is always a Temperance man in Victoria times

Our small band of gardeners

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


Sod Spammers: took me about ten minutes to clear all of my blogs.  Now do they think anyone is going to click on them?  This one, not sure whether the language is Chinese or Japanese is fairly persistent, I notice our Indian spammer has mooched off elsewhere.  No I am not in need of escorts ;)

What was exciting yesterday.... as I drove into the drive and stopped the car a young song thrush landed on the bonnet.  We all looked at each other rather bemused until it gathered his wits together and flew off with another one.  That morning looking out of the window I had seen, at first I thought a green woodpecker but it was rather gray.  Then realised it was the Mistle thrush, a much larger version of the Song thrush, later on in the church yard there were two Mistle thrushes, again one of them must have been a young one.  Since we have been here both these birds breed either in our long fence with ivy/virginia creepers that stretches and bounds everywhere.  Home to the noisy sparrows it will have many nests.  Or, in the great yews in the church yard, we know they are there because of the battles that take place between them and the crows.

So though we are missing the swallows we do have our thrushes returning home to breed.

The mistle thrush, which is the largest thrush at 11 inches long.

The song thrush

Both photos are from the internet, the Song thrush sounds lovely in the evening, but I am not sure I have heard the Mistle thrush, called thus because the bird eats mistletoe berries.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Tuesday and what this day brings

Well it is another trip, and another test at York hospital today, and I am desperately hoping the rain keeps off.  Tomorrow is a gardening monthly visit to Scarborough Cemetery to see the work in this large park but I am not going if it rains.
But things that keep me happy, new potatoes grown in bags...

And then there are the roses, with ceonanthus and mock orange breaking flower, and roses put on their show.

But facebook occasionally puts forward old photos you have uploaded, and suddenly there are the Essex photos.  Bluebells, the river and of course the old Cats pub in Woodham Walter, wonder if it is still going?  I am quite happy to find these photos, my old external hard drive refuses to work.

New Word;  Speaning

Monday, June 10, 2019

Thoughts on monday

Hubble-bubble pipe or hookah
When I was a child we had one of these in the house, I always thought it was for opium smoking but no it was for the use of flavoured tobacco smoking!  It fascinated us as children as did the big brass Russian samovar.

Well not mixing politics with drugs, I shall only mention Gove in passing.  Why? because I believe that the moral laws of yesterday are somewhat different to the more modern morals of today.

Over the weekend my grand daughter went to a music festival, she is a sensible, intelligent girl, but then thoughts of Ecstasy and its sometimes fatal end, and or spiked drinks and we all get worried, especially her mother.  But as we know we all go through 'rites of passage'.

The question that went through my mind though was, are drugs a 'class' problem? Ask on that Google and you will get Sajid Javid making claims against Gove for obvious political reasons.

There is a forum I read on which someone who seems to be on a high most of the time with his gibberish talk frustrates any sane comments, note I said forum not blogs ;)

To be honest I have never taken drugs, never wanted to or was interested in them, my cousin brought back from squats in London, inlaid with grime and  his face a green pallor that was my antidote. He was also brought back from India, the 'in' place to be in the 60s. The family cared.

Paul after leaving art school, made his way to Japan to study there. On his arrival standing on Tokyo station late at night waiting for a non-existent sleeper train, he was rescued by a night worker, who phoned the police, who came and took him to a hostel.  His life panned out differently in another country but drugs were not on the menu, neither was much else as he lived in poverty for a while.

So are 'recreational' drugs bad? As we know the question divides into two, the problem of the user and their reactions, and the problem of the people who sell drugs and live in a criminal world.

p.s. A facebook message flashes on my screen, "Matilda arrived home 11.30 last night and is now sleeping it out on the sofa"... all is well that ends well.

Sunday, June 9, 2019


Trooping of the colours: Though not an immediate fan of the Royal family, I am glad we have one, the Queen is the solid backbone of this country, and her birthday celebrations are fabulously colourful.  Out comes the  coaches, the splendid red coated soldiers with their glittering swords, and most of all I enjoy the sleek black horses as they parade round.  But best of all the two drum horses, belonging to the Queen and having the title of Major.
Do we love our animals too much? maybe but for a moment we take the 'jewels' amassed over centuries out of the cupboard and put them on display.  Trump never got a look in on this over the top display, he never got the crowds the Queen draws and he will never get the love and respect shown to her....
Whenever I write I am always aware of the history that lies behind everything in this small country, the wars so bitterly fought for power.  The poverty that hounded many people through the Victorian era, and the slow rise of equality, now of course, receding fast under the tide of capitalism.
We are watching the world shift, like the great continental masses that grind together mysteriously under the sea, Russia and China maybe becoming uneasy bedmates, or perhaps Europe will hinge itself on to Russia.  It is a vast game of chess, who will win?  America withdraws into itself, and all the machinations of Brexit will not convince me that America will be our saviour in the form of privatisation that happens there.  When you construct a world for the rich, the poor have to suffer.
So I shall get back to horses, one of the drum horses was a milkman's horse in Edinburgh.  The Queen saw it and it was bought for the prestigious role of drum horse.

The Blind Harper by Kate Rusby.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Continuing temptation

Lead us not into temptation;  That brought up a memory, in my late teens I read a lot and rather than Tolstoy I read Dostoevsky.  There is a chapter in 'The Brothers Karamazov' the chapter may even have been called Auto-da-fe, the burning of heretics by the Catholic church.  The story is told here, basically Jesus has wandered into a city and been captured ready to be burnt.  The Grand Inquisitor though admonishes him for not giving way to the devil on the Mount, it would have been so much easier for the church......

 "Jesus begins performing miracles, and people recognize him for who he is—and he’s arrested, of course, by the Inquisitors, who sentence him to be burned to death.
The night before his sentence, the Grand Inquisitor visits Jesus in his cell. Jesus doesn’t speak, but the Grand Inquisitor speaks to him at length about how the church doesn’t really need Jesus anymore. And that, frankly, his return at this point is just disruptive to the overall meaning of the church. In other words, the Grand Inquisitor says that the church’s mission in preaching Jesus has become more important than Jesus himself."

Somehow this prose has resonated in many minds, the abduction perhaps of a good person in Jesus by the church and then manipulated for the purpose of power.  It must never be forgotten that the church ruled with fear and persecution, those powers are long gone.  But stop and look at the stonework of any church, or those faded paintings at Pickering church on the wall, and you realise they are there to strike terror in your heart.  Hell is a vivid image, now we play with vampires and gothic tales in our stories but in the middle ages it was a real story.  Except for the few that questioned it, but their fate was death. 
Pedro Burrugete - Saint Dominic presiding over an Auto-da-fe in the 12th century

We may well question his sainthood.  I have never looked for the saints of the Catholic church, my interest has always been in those early men of the Celtic church.  They wandered lonely with their bell and stick turning the population away from paganism towards Christianity.  The first letter that  Gregory The Great wrote in 596 AD from Rome to England, was tempered with a prudent hand...

Letter from Gregory taken to England by Mellitus;

When almighty god has brought you to our most reverend brother Bishop Augustine, tell him what I have decided after long deliberation about the English people, namely that the idol temples (fana idolurum) of that race should by no means be destroyed, but the idols in them. Take holy water and sprinkle it in these shrines, build altars and place relics in them. For if the shrines are well built, it is essential that they should be changed from the worship of devils (cultu daemonum) to the service of the true god. When these people see that their shrines are not destroyed they will be able to banish error from their hearts and be more ready to come to the places thaey are familar with, but now recognizing and worshipping the true god.

It is strange how  one sentence can bring back memories so quickly, but The Church has a lot to answer for today as well as yesterday.