Sunday, May 31, 2020


We are being allowed more freedom, it is a bit like having a gun with one bullet in it.  Russian roulette is the game we must play, any one up for it?  I think most people will decide upon sensible decisions but the few that don't will put others in danger.  I have only one thought to add, what if the doctors and nurses, front line in the stakes of death, refuse to administer to us, as they have a right to.  After all 'free will' is the prerogative of all!  In the end it is  just not me, but everyone else that needs protecting...

And of course we are a sodding messy race as well;)

Gorgeous morning once more, Lucy and I walked down to the green, now is the time of the grasses (as tall as an elephant's eye) who remembers that song I wonder.  Also, of course their lesser brethren the docks.  One ugly plant amongst the soft rippling of flowering wild grasses.  I shall have to learn some more about the docks, for after all are they not the cure against nettle stings?

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Saturday 30th May - Allingham

The weather is so soft with its gentle warmth that one wonders if we are in for a drought?  The gardens remind me of a piece of music, for reverence of flowers is not a modern phenomenon.  The Victorian Garden was a television programme many years ago, I fell in love with the music and every time I hear it on the radio it brings back memories....  Here in this video Helen Allingham's paintings are shown.

"You have the radiance and innocence of reinstated infant divinity showered again among the flowers of English meadows by Mrs.Allingham and Kate Greenaway".  John Ruskin

Paintings of pretty gardens.  Her cottage paintings perhaps reflect more of a truth, the poverty of ramshackle thatched cottages, a bucolic England, now part of our culture  in  holiday cottages decor as they try to seduce you into spending your money on their second homes for a holiday in a cottage with 'roses round the door'.  Never read the history of Britain without realising the rich got rich on the hard labour of the poor.

Some time later: Well I remembered an article in John Ruskin's The Art of England, a rather worn copy of the 1893 edition I own.  It was about Kate Greenaway and Mrs.Allingham, though I could not find much about the latter.
But Ruskin and I are on the same page as to social conditions, he was talking about how children in Victorian Britain were often drawn being eaten by crocodiles and lions, this of course due to a religious bias that said you must frighten your children into obedience.

"But in England it was long repressed by the terrible action of our wealth, compelling our painters to represent the children of the poor as in wickedness or misery".
I like John Ruskin, he writes voluminously ;), the subjects racing off his pen, and like William Morris was a social commentator of his time

Wandering around as usual; But finding this book, an original, and I questioned its value on the net, well it will not reach the £85 asked by one bookseller mine is a rather  dirty copy.  But the cover is vellum, animal skin, and so should be able to clean up gently.  I remember an old friend who also collected old books, talking about the use of cigarette paper to mend a torn page. Remember when those who could not afford expensive made up cigarettes, pulling out their little boxes of Rizla papers?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A moment

Weather beautiful. The wind is still, the sun breaks through cloud and the garden is filled with bird chatter.  Chris Packham on Springwatch last night was so delighted with his world in the woods by his home near the New Forest.  There is an excitement in the air, we have pulled the hold called 'stop the world I want to get off' and it is so intriguing. Badgers coming out in daylight, dolphins swim into our harbours, the Thames in the countryside, clear and beautiful because there are no boats.  Chase the butterflies and bees take in the magic for this moment.  
My garden has grown with unrestrained vigour, the weeds, dandelion and creeping buttercup all but obliterated.  My favourites come into flower, the roses, honeysuckles, cranesbills and a couple of foxgloves from last year.
Now for a small video, I promise to improve but I still can't edit properly.....

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

stairway to heaven

Well yesterday I chased bees, there is a bumble nest under the roof of the old coke house.  A honey suckle sprinkles its magic over the fence and the ceonothus is just coming into bloom, its soft blue flowering habit somewhat unusual in a garden given over to pinks, reds and yellows.  My camera played up when I tried to film it, but I am going to give it another try.  Cameras have a language I do not understand, full of abbreviations, numbers and complicated instructions.

Dominic Cummings is passing in a swirl of news, we all move on.  So the above video will please the heart, we are in a new era at the moment so how do we change the world?  Arundhati Roy, an Indian novelist talks about how the pandemic is a portal to a new world.

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.  On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing".

Yes I would like a different world, it will probably never happen but there has been a slight adjustment to the old world.  Here in our country and others we have learnt of kindness from the majority of people, we have learnt that we do not have to rely on the outdated stuffiness and crap of educated Eton boys.  The people who count are doctors, nurses, cleaners, dustbin men, supermarket shop workers and kind neighbours.  They have done their jobs in the face of a cruel pandemic.  We won't go back to the original world, this world and the air we breath is cleaner, pollution has fallen away.  The animals have wandered into our towns, are they really concerned about our welfare ;)

Will you really go into a changing room and try on clothes that someone else has worn, we now walk around with strictures to obey - two metres distance, it will be marked by yellow lines and chalked pavements. And of course we will all keep our fingers crossed that there will not be a second wave.

Guardian podcast on DC

Monday, May 25, 2020

Idle thoughts

They seek him here,
they seek him there,
those Frenchies/journalists seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven or is he in hell?
That demned elusive Pimpernel/Cummings

I had been worrying a bit where Dominic had gone, when last seen fleeing 10 Downing Street because of the virus.  Well he has made the headlines again.  Could we not have a bit of charity here?  As a letter from a headteacher in York described Dominic he suffers from 'arrogance personified' well we could all have recognised that, he has a personality deficiency, amongst other deficiencies.  Johnson also has not got the hang of running this country, his defence of Dominic really was a bit foolish, not Churchillian at all.  More like defending the back of an old mate!  Does he not realise that when you run a government you run it for the people (60 million and still counting) and not an air-head of a nonsense lad.  
Dillie Keane had it right when she blamed Cummings for the 'herd immunity' solution, and though looking back retrospectively is not a good idea, would we not have had less deaths than the 36,793 deaths up till today.  The headteacher who wrote above to his MP was angry that his mother died alone in a care home a couple of hundred of miles away and he did not visit her because of the 'lockdown'.  The bishops are also rumbling away on Twitter about the unfairness of it all.  
Forward good Conservatives, strike the serpent from the heart of your government,  And then all be quiet about him please, because Dominic should not be given air time, there are more important things happening in the world!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Let's get rid of the boomers!

Okay just found this funny  video from Dillie Keane - A Song for Dominic Cummings.  Poor man hounded from here to there and he was not doing anything really bad, just protecting his family, and unfortunately moving from one part of the country to another.  Obviously there is one law for some the rest of us have to abide by the actual law.
So to the anonymous troll, who sadly can't appear unless he shows his real credentials, we are getting the message ;) 

Jackie Morris and the Bookshop Band

This is a video of a concert since closed because of the virus.  It was to take place at St.David's cathedral in Pembrokeshire, a favourite holiday place.  Jackie Morris and Robert MacFarlane wrote the book of 'The Lost Words', which at that time certain words had been left out of the Oxford dictionary.  The young singer, Beth is  sweet  but I must admit I moved on through her songs.  The picture of the little daughter in her 'outfit' was charming, and the whole naive video of 25 minutes is a joy to watch.
It shows how people cope in this age of lockdown, and brings the message home that our young are still dreaming......... And it is going in my blog/diary

Friday, May 22, 2020

Friday 22nd May

 Serendipity;  the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. or.....

The faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.

I used that word the other day on Y/P blog and thought about it.  'Dipping into serenity' was my first thought, a clever use of a word, but it was Horace Walpole,  in 1754 who first used it and wrote it down.

old photo of foxglove
 So what was my serendipitous moment yesterday.  Well there I was reading about the mating of carder bees, when Brigit Howard put a little video of the act in progress, single bees, like the carder bees, are different in their approach to sex.  Has it never occurred to anyone though, that the queen bee is the residential head of the household, the male bee is very inferior and normally dies after mating, how did that switching of power happen I wonder?

Sometimes I love the shape of leaves better than the flowers
When I took my mug of tea into the garden in the evening, there were several honeybees on the perennial geraniums and a white tailed bumble bee in the bush my day was complete.

Just been shopping at 7 o clock, joy of joys, my weekly outing, along with Lucy who just likes to ride in the car. A grey horse and rider went past the gate and we greeted each other - life is so exciting ;).  I have taken to do my weekly shop in the small Co-op in Kirkby, it is easier they have all that I need, and the shelves are already beginning to fill up, could it be that the panic is over? Toilet rolls on the shelves, read an interesting  article on bidets yesterday, not something cultivated in Britain but I will not digress into the subject some might find  it distasteful but they do save an awful lot of tree lives.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

World Bee Day

Its about Bees today, clever poem by brian Bilston

Wednesday 20th May

It is going to be warm today, the day dawns with immaculate beauty, cool at the moment.  The news hits us like a typhoon wave, but most people have turned their backs on it, not entirely a good strategy. Today it is diabetics that are pulled to the fore, as they calculate at which age stage the virus is most dangerous.  My son is type 1, healthy and slim, Monday he was talking about coming down, and my heart filled with fear.  Luckily train times don't marry up and it is postponed for the time being.  Of course I want to see him but travelling on trains? no is the answer.

The older I get the more I see that the system is broken, the country is almost running itself, London-centric politicians flounder in front of us, pissing in the wind.  Best they keep their mouths shut, for what comes out is derided the next day by an ever hungry news lobby, whose only function is to strike us with fear.

Well that's off my chest ;) First time yesterday I asked a volunteer for help in getting my prescription from the chemist.  I somehow felt that the chemist might be a place of contagion, weird surely?

Today I will make a virtual tour of Cornwall and its cromlechs, remembering that the weather was not too good. Also there is a fatless teabread to be made and blackberry jelly to be simmered gently until it reaches that stage of firmness and clear dark purple.

this would you believe is a settlement on the moors

The faded carvings of old church porches

The captivating small Duloe stone circle of quartz stone

Trevethy Quoit

Lanyon Quoit

Ultimately we don't know! - Steven Bush Quote

Will there be a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year? We don't know. What are the long term health effects of having the novel coronavirus on those who get it? We don't know. Is longterm immunity from the disease even possible? We don't know. Could the novel coronavirus vanish unexpectedly? We don't know. Are schools significant vectors of infection? We don't know.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Tuesday 19th May

Wake up again to more rain, thank goodness.  There is a song on Camelot, singing the praises of rain at night and sunny weather in the day.  Two videos today one of the rose bed and its promise of flowers, and the other continuing the theme of food by Liziqi.  How to prepare a squash in several different ways.  The sheer scale of self-sufficiency in her video is breathtaking and you begin to realise that humanity cannot take this path, she is living out a dream but her videos allows us to explore different ideas. And she is probably packing in a great deal of money but I don't like being cynical! I just love the scenery.

My second video is just me with an ever hungry bantam following, there is a big sign above my head obviously to all the animals - SHE PROVIDES FOOD.  The bantams have given up on corn and now demand cooked potatoes, rice and pasta, so it is just a question of doing extra.  Forgotten toast as well but they still manage to lay eggs.  Lucy is also getting into that mood as well, human food is better than dog food, and she will leave hers until there is no more chance of it coming from above.

There is a ceanothus just by the coke house, which has quadrupled in size over the winter, I love the powder blue of its flower against the dark green of its foliage.  Blue flowers are special in the garden, always wanted the blue poppy but of course it only performs on acid soil.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Monday 18th May

A light shower freshens up the garden, I let my squawking hen out, she demands her freedom every day. Fill up, once more the fat balls for the birds. I have tree sparrows, coal tits and jackdaws feeding hungrily on them and also of course the starlings who are raising a family underneath the roof next door, the babes always clamouring for food.
Watched Nigel Slater, probably the only cook I admire for his gentle ways and enthusiam, he was travelling in Lebanon, and was very complimentary on all the food he tasted.  It did bring home the message that you eat what the agriculture of your country provides.  Rosewater and Orange water to flavour, what pictures it brings to the mind as he collected with the owner,  who had planted many types of fruit and roses, the fragrances  of roses and fruit.  In fact it was two sisters that had started this company and a table full of delicious fruit preserves and jams was laid before Slater.
Coincidentally talking to my son later on, only to find he was also interested in Lebanese food and had sent me some photos of what he had cooked last night.

Rice with vermicelli, green chilli, spring onion, pomegranate seeds and bacon. On the side I had kibbeh, humus, red harissa and eggplant tomato stew.  Not forgetting the salad...

Is the whole nation turning into cooks I wonder, my daughter is always asked at breakfast by her almost grown-up children what she plans to cook for tea, and has been concocting sophisticated complicated dishes for  them.  What will happen in the future though as Brexit drives its heart through the country.

Me on the other hand, drags out the Dorothy Hartley's book on 'Food in England' to see if she makes potato pastry, I very much doubt that pomegranates are to be found in either Kirkby or Pickering!  He has offered to buy me a book on Lebanese cookery, but will I use it? or more to the point will the poor postman have to hump even more parcels to the door?

Mark has also been out walking, there is a path not far from his home that leads up the hills that surround Bath.  His goal is Beckford's Tower, and I see from the photo he sent me Kelston Round Hill in the distance and the village of Weston.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sunday 17th May

Green Eyes thinking

Words fail me, so a little 'stream of consciousness'.  There is a terrible piece of music on radio 3 - dying, dying, dying - wish he would not take so long over it!  Apparently Tennyson wrote the original poem?
I moved my computer downstairs on to the table, and now I can look out on the back garden and the birds, and the kitten growing larger by the day, she sits by the french windows looking in occasionally.

Barack Obama has added his voice to the controversy.......

“Do what you think is right,” Obama told the students. “Doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy — that’s how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way — which is why things are so screwed up.”

Screwed up is the under statement of the time, everyone is arguing about whether to let us all out in a limited freedom, or whether this move will encourage the virus into a second wave.  The teachers are under pressure to return to school along with the children, everyone is uncertain of what to do.

View from the stones of the village

Yesterday I mooched around the photographs of Eskdalemuir, though of course holidays are off limit, especially in the other three countries of Britain.  Will there be a break up,  Brexit news is going along very quietly, the government have one hell of a distraction issue in the virus, no-deal Brexit might well creep through, as also many other unsavoury items such as chlorinated chicken.

Internet has been off, so I watched Nigel Slater in Lebanon, he is so enthusiastic about Lebanese cooking but then being London orientated he can shop in the relevant shops, think I shall check on how to make flat breads just in case we run out of yeast. But we are not starving which cannot be said for India as people traipse hundreds of kilometres to their home villages.  My only 'want' at the  moment is coffee beans for grinding, been off the shelves for weeks.  So I picked up some ground coffee but fear it may be decaffeinated unfortunately.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Friday 15th May

My day as usual started early, I had planned to go shopping at the small Co-op in Pickering and arrived just after seven. All change again, sanitation station outside with different coloured sanitary bottles.  No black shopping baskets, you have to use the trolleys, the arrows have become more definitive, you walk a determined path. Less food but a good choice of a very limited nature though. But aubergines have suddenly appeared which is a first time.  A large part of my shopping is cat and dog food and necessities such as cheese, milk, butter and fruit.  Next to this small Co-op was the Kia garage and car centre but now all the cars have disappeared and it would seem that a new much larger Co-op will be built.
Reading of some people's washing of food coming into the house, must say I am very negligent on that point, just washing my hands and the odd fruit.  Lucy helps me unpack, she adores pears and once managed to eat two after one shop.
The two gold finch are on the lawn, I stop to watch, a pair of jewels in the greenery, they are eating the dandelion seed.  One moment there are dandelions everywhere, their bright yellow faces reaching to the sun and then we are left with the feathery seed heads, spreading their young to cover the verges and wild spaces once more.
I have kneaded dough for bread and made a mushroom sauce, not sure what it is going on but there was a surplus of mushrooms.  Grated the old bread for fish cakes and now waiting for lunch, which will be hard boiled egg mayonnaise sandwich with lettuce from the garden.
Rachel on her blog has written about the things missing in life, or not. There is only one thing I miss, and that is Paul, but he lives in my heart if not my head all the time.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Thursday 14th May

A night of frost, though tender plants were in the house.  The back lawn looks like a storm has hit it.  Leaves and young branches are scattered around, dandelions shorn of their yellow flowers and odd feathers sticking up, presumably left by the playful kitten.  Green Eyes follows the hens around as if they are playmates.  Various members of her family skulk through but all are wary of Lucy.
I have managed my two jobs a day and feel virtuous, a walk round the garden watching the buds of roses break, and all the lavender plants  waiting to break into that soft purple buds of sweet smelling scent.
Not sure whether to take Lucy for a walk, her front feet bleed occasionally and last time we went she lay down in the middle of the lane, on a corner, to lick them.  We had fun this morning clearing out a cupboard to put all the animal foods I have acquired, I found one of those neck collars, which she wore for 5 minutes.
Restrictions are easing on the lockdown but many people are still wary.  Given the question would I let my child go back to school, the answer would be no I am afraid.  Did a fun survey on F/B and the end answer, was "stay the **** home" .  It would seem to my simple mind that congregations of people will of course spread the virus amongst themselves. The answer is of course that the economy must survive, measuring lives against money though? 
The care homes and their vulnerability were dusted under the carpet at the beginning, now truths are beginning to out, we were so unprepared for a pandemic, though warnings have been on the radar for a couple of years.  Many old people have now died unnecessary earlier deaths, the lives of the care workers put at risk with no PPE to be had.
A pair of gold finch have been around regularly on the lawn, such bright little creatures they must be nesting in the yews.  Starlings are nesting under the roof tiles next door and Irene says the mistle thrush seems to have given up building a nest in their trellising, which is sad.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A Touch of Homesickness

There is a beautiful Vimeo video of Bath in Lockdown.  Empty streets and alleyways, shorn of tourists.  The bare bones of its architecture laid bare by drone camera.  Thank John Wood for that. Is there a trace of a Masonic key as we look down on The Circus, walk down Gay Street and then arrive in Queens Square? There are masonic little attributes elsewhere but you have to look first.  History covers many periods, here we had in John Wood an 18th century character who developed his vision of Bath on the superstitions of past history

The Circus

28 years I lived here, children brought up in its schools, taken to its hospital when needed.  One reason neither of them drive is because this small city does not do cars. Train station, buses and mum for taking and collecting were always there.  And to be honest to walk round was a treat.  Often I would set off on  a spring morning from the house down Weston Lane, across Victoria Park, cutting through  The Royal Crescent, down past the Guildhall and then Milsom Street, taking in all the Georgian houses in their solemn parade of exactness.

Bath, like Rome, has seven hills surrounding it, so impossible to grow outwards, it sits in its bubble of tourism, restaurants and shops.  Expensive houses of course and the famous and well known flock to grace its large houses, in the countryside around.

This is an old hawthorn in the churchyard in full glory, grown to the size of a tree, its branches of white mayflower hang heavily.  One reason I am trimming our hawthorns that grow on the verge outside the garden, though I must admit with the over-exuberant honeysuckle rambling through it does give my heart pleasure, is the thought that they grow into such a size.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020


Well I started the morning with not being able to get into my computer, the password I usually use was overtaken by a request from Windows to establish a pin.  **** and all the rest of the swear words, having demanded of me a password for my email, it said it was wrong several times.  Frustrated I just shut off every time and it eventually cleared back to its original password.  My son always used to say, mum just put your finger on the 'off' button for 20 seconds and it will disappear!
I had a terrible weekend, mostly caused by Lucy, who went into her longest agitated mode for ages.  We both fell asleep yesterday afternoon and awoke, me refreshed, she in her normal sweet mood.  The Newstatesman came yesterday and two articles caught my eye one was by Paul Collier - Remaking Britain - Capitalism after Coronavirus.........

Britain is heavily over-invested in its belief in the efficacy of centralised state direction. Underpinning this belief are two fallacies. One is that the top knows what to do. It knows best, because it is staffed by those of the highest calibre and they draw on the finest expertise. The other is that central control is necessary for coordination. These sound – at least to the people to whom they are congenial – obvious. Indeed, anyone hearing them would judge them to be common sense. How could either possibly be wrong?

He goes on to explain that perhaps central control does not work as efficiently as we like to think, that there are many more bodies in the state, wired up, intelligent enough like universities and non-political groups to solve problems.  He makes a point about resilience in sustainability of supplies, something companies seem unable to do because of capitalism.  We have seen the shock of the virus hit supplies quite drastically, food and medical gear and medicines - Switzerland could show us a much better way.  All in all an interesting read.

The tabloid press – and its alter ego television news – is also hot. It likes fear. It certainly has a role to play in airing the public’s feelings, insecurities and sentiments, views that may be dangerous if suppressed. But it rarely delves deep, and its targets are random. The other side of the same coin is social media – free of editorial control or regulation and the disseminator of panic, such as fake news about 5G causing Covid-19. The “bias against understanding” is the occupational disease of emotional journalism.

Then there is Simon Jenkins - The BBC and the Journalism of Fear.  Yes you have experienced it, each day we are given a statement of facts, above and below, not only is the daily press conference excruciating but embarrassing to us and the people who give it....... I am not saying it should not be there but the tone is wooden and dull, a list of deaths, always light after the weekend, and then the factual statistics, which are very much the same from day to day.

The public was left with a wooden daily press conference, with a few wooden questions and excuses, as the nearest it got to accountable government. 

Enough of politics, but I am intrigued to know where shall we end up, as this lightening strike of a virus from the natural world turns our more humankind world on its head.
How should we fight this epidemic with fear? or solid rationalism and intelligence.  One of the things that is beginning to emerge is the goodness of our population, the need to give and help but I would hate to see it used in a politically narrow minded way by the incumbent government, to be quite honest I think they are as flummoxed as we are.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Monday and a birthday

Paul Nash it is his birthday today, 11th May 1889.  Probably one of my most favourite artists, though his war paintings,  which are justifiably some of the finest paintings of war, are also the most terrible, should perhaps have been celebrated yesterday to underline the sheer horror of war.  But I like him for his dreamlike paintings of the landscape as he 'tries to get behind the nature of things'.
Was he looking for a spirit in the landscape, a deeper meaning as the world unfolded its annual pageant of seasons.  For me living for 10 years in the market town of Calne in Wiltshire, 6 miles from Avebury, his paintings still evoke a homesickness for walks on the downs, Moss by my side and an antique landscape of neolithic barrows and the great Avebury circle to wander around and ponder on prehistory.
There is something about the soft rounded appearance of chalk downs, the white chalk breaking through the soil, the beech clumps of trees.  He is most famous for his paintings of Wittenham Clumps in Oxfordshire

a pencil sketch

"Nash is also one of the most interesting British landscape painters of the 20th century, much loved for his pictures that divine the “spirit” of Avebury, Wittenham Clumps and other English places with which he felt a strong, almost mystical, connection. His work Wood on the Downs (1929), a study of beech trees and chalklands, has been subject to constant reproduction since first exhibited, and its popularity is unsurprising: it is a hugely pleasing coming together of Englishness and modernistic art. His pictures found a refreshing, contemporary way to express a deeply felt communion with the English countryside – trees, paths, birds, hills.  The Guardian

I could fill the page with his paintings, capturing the moon, sun and sunflowers, he has been described as Modernist, surrealist, etc but in the end he was someone just trying to express what he saw around him.  He is a true historian of his period.

And for happy memories wandering around with Paul in our first meetings around Avebury.........

The Avenue at Avebury

Silbury Hill

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Sunday thoughts

Things I love. flowers;  They melt away, brief lives of the plants but meadowsweet is something I always look out for.  A strewing flower in the Middle Ages it will appear in June.  There is some along the old green lane in the shade which flowers each year.

Grandchildren; who of course grow up sadly, but hey-ho there will probably be great grandchildren to see in the future.

Matilda showing off, quite different from the picture below.



Saturday, May 9, 2020

Sometime words are not enough

The day is over we have reincarnated the past in honour of all those people that died in that terrible war, the Queen has spoken uplifting words and we once more return to a state of lockdown and social distancing. Nothing is quite the same though is it?
Well my television watching last night was Mary Beard programme on culture in the lockdown.  I admire Beard for taking me round Rome, a historic Rome that still has its history writ large over its landscape like broken teeth in a mouth.  She also mentioned the Greek island I went out to all those years ago at 21, it was Delos, an island of ruins.  We visited Mykonos which is nearby, and the thought comes to me that at the age of 21 I was not ready for history, or the heat.
But to get back to Mary Beard and culture, Anthony Gormley's  was one person she spoke to, his figures stand so evocatively on the beach and then as the sea takes possession of them disappearing quietly.  Gormley seems to be a one thread man, solitary figures but eye-catching in their starkness.  Beard is not so taken with nature writing though, which is puzzling.  Does her analytical mind baulk at fancy sentiment I wonder. Does the historian look through the words and see them wanting.

I read Brendan Montague most days, he is editor of The Ecologist, a magazine founded by Edward Goldsmith, who later in time turned over the editorship to Zac Goldsmith who ran it for a time.  Someone interested in green matters.  Well Zac as a Conservative politician has not done good, either in green matters or politics, I think he fumbles on the edge not knowing quite what road to take.
But anyway an interesting article on socialism, and why people like me are confused by the many forms of this belief system but how we also turn away from capitalism with disgust.  Brendan Montague

Socialism is the claim that everyone is equal. There are good socialisms and bad socialisms. There is good faith socialism which is an attempt to create a world where we are in fact equal. This cuts against the logic of capitalism, where the person with the greatest wealth has the most power.

But there is also bad faith socialism. There is a socialism that cares about equality among humans but will deliver this at the cost of nature. It seeks the short term benefit of those who support a particular union or party, ignoring the long term cost of mass production, pollution, even colonialism. 

You get to pick your socialisms. You can pick many other isms. You can pick none. But - somewhat ironically - you never get to pick your capitalism. Capitalism is always about profit, and never about people.  
And it is in any case entirely unnecessary for people to take up the banner of socialism for them to come together and unite for what is a common, and a natural want.
We know a return to the past is both impossible and undesirable. We want our future back: a future where humans are nature, and where nature is resplendent.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------And now for something different;  My video of the church bells of Normanby is not very good, I learnt to cut and the process takes hours.  But from 5 minutes down to two and half minutes.  The person appearing in the middle is John, occasionally called 'The Squire' because of the way he is always telling people off around his boundaries.
Criticism of filming!  Badly focussed ;)

Friday, May 8, 2020

Friday 8th May

The day dawns again with beautiful weather, and we are plummeted into celebrations of the end of the second world war.  The radio is alive with Vera Lynn, and the country has to celebrate without being together.  Bunting lines the garden of Jo and David, and Jo will ring the church bells at 12 o clock.
I think I will record our battered old bells and think of these two, both over 80 years. David carries a photo in his wallet which shows them as children in India, yes they have known each other that long, and this most romantic gesture tells me all I want to know of them as people.  They are active members of the society around them, David a town crier, Jo sings in a local choir.
The church has been empty since before Christmas, as religion slowly draws away from society.  In fact I haven't seen anyone visiting, occasional visitors in the churchyard to attend graves but that is all.
Only one small excitement, drawing the curtains the other night at dusk, I spied two people outside the front gate, opening the front door, it turned out that they had seen a leak in the stopcock outside the gate.  It is not particularly large and I notice yesterday the Yorkshire Water has marked it in blue with an arrow pointing towards it.  They turned out to be people I knew Nina and Paul who lived in the next village, she owned a fish and chips shop in Leeds, and had brought us all those years ago Pekin duck and the relevant pancakes to cook.  She offered in that  kind manner so many people are taking on to do some shopping for me, trouble is my list would really be long and full of heavy stuff but I do appreciate such kindness.

I choose this photo to remember this day as so many of the terrible photos and paintings are of war torn Europe, it just wasn't us who experienced it.  I remember as a young child drawing a picture of a horse and cart with a family and their belongings piled high.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020


Last night I watched a programme on Churchill's painting.  Surprisingly he had painted about 500 paintings, often at Chartwell but abroad as well.  In this time of lockdown, art sweeps the board on BBC4, it is also at the end of this week the end date of World War 2 - 8th May 1945.  He painted the fishpond at Chartwell many times, and one of the paintings was sold for the pricey sum of two million pounds.  I am not going to give a judgement about his art work but its exuberance cannot be faulted.

The goldfish pond at Chartwell
He lived a comfortable life with many friends, also of course a very cerebral life writing all the time.  One of his friends was William Nicholson, an artist, whose paintings of the ephemera of ordinary household items captures more intimately home life.  I was struck by his small posies of flowers displayed carelessly in small vases and the silver being cleaned.  For I have one of those silver plated tea sets, it sits unloved and unpolished in a cupboard, a wedding present from long ago.

The sweet smelling white Nicotiana - William Nicholson

The Art of War  Paintings of the horror of the war, to be found in a Canadian gallery, I remember as a child a portfolio of war drawings in the house, never knew what happened to them though.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020


I dedicated my weekly shopping trip yesterday to go to the Organic Shop in Pickering for bread flour.  Normally a bustling little town with a traffic jam of cars, it was empty except for a few solitary people, lifeless.  Anne, the owner only lets people into the shop on Saturday morning she told me but she was quite happy to see me. The shelves looked rather bare, but plenty of flour she said, in fact I had walked past my flour outside in a box.  She is truly worried about the strictures around social distancing and would ask me to move if she had to pass, her write an 'email and then collect' seems to be working.
Things I have run out off; dog poo bags and yeast, sent off to Ebay for both and hopefully they should arrive in a day or two.  I actually don't want to make the life of my postman miserable but some things are essential.  I have tried making a sour dough mother but it seems to be wanting some bubbles!
In fact my life is good, I stress this because watching videos of other countries, such as Venezuela, where people traded one tomato and one onion at their local shop for a meal was such an eye opener as to how many of the people in the world live in poverty, no wonder they are emigrating to our over indulgent Western world.  And if I read another recipe about wretched avocados, they know where they can put it, the well heeled have no such problems, this of course is being mirrored in this country, as poor areas have more death with the virus than richer areas.
What I do hope is that the history chroniclers capture a true picture of what is happening as we go through this period of crisis.  What should never be forgotten is that it is nothing like flu, it makes people very ill and will result in death for a few.  Stay at home is perhaps the best medicine for all of us, learn to live within our means at home, and of course say thank you to the people who are out there in the front line making our world work.

Some Vimeo videos: Plante,

  New York restaurant  

Monday, May 4, 2020


Alexandre-Isidor Leroye de Barde 1777-1828

Magpie instinct made me pick up this painting yesterday.  Cabinets of Curiosity.  Just love the fine detail of the artwork and the layers of thought the extraordinary shaped shells bring to the mind.  It mirrors a picture of a wonderful exuberant world at the bottom of the sea.  Seventeenth century and men were travelling to far distant lands to bring home these exotic specimens.
No television you could just look at these cabinets and think about the wonders of the world, no wonder Darwin came forward with good scientific conclusions.
This painter seems to have been someone who only painted cabinets, the odds job man who painted pictures for your wall.  No cameras, still to be invented of course.  But compared to the trivia we are offered today in our very visual world, his detail is immaculate.
I have always fancied a Cabinet of Curiosities, we have enough stuff of Paul's littered on every available window sill, but the one overriding feeling of a cabinet is death I think, something that has gone.
So I collect dried flowers to see them gather different shapes and colour.
Dried flowers, tulips

The above tulips once picked