Sunday, November 29, 2020


We  have had beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and occasionally blue skies with extraordinary cloud transformations, like the one above.  Well today could not be more grey, fog has turned this corner of the world dismal.

A day in the life of Lucy, two nights ago she collapsed in the kitchen in the evening. Every time she got up she fell down but still wanted to go outside for a pee. I grabbed rugs for the slippery kitchen floor and hauled her round and she managed to get up and go out.  Last night she was her usual psychotic self, walking back and forth all the time.  Age related dementia, small stroke? goodness knows but we are happily back together for the time being.

Then we have the cats and cat's protection, I am now in possession of two traps, a kitten trap and the one I caught the little cat that I feed, now safely neutered as a male.  One down, three to catch and go to the vet, plus two little ones.  Though Jo phoned last night, she reckons the two kittens are buried deep in their hay in the barn and will not come out.

The holly berries are fast disappearing from the holly tree, but remember just three weeks to the 21st December, the moment in time when day time light expands once again. Yule is there on the skyline.

And a thought to play around with ;) if we had not arrived, who would be in charge of the Earth now?

Were the Earth to be started over again with all its physical features identical, it is extremely unlikely that anything closely resembling a human being would ever again emerge. There is a powerful random character to the evolutionary process. A cosmic ray striking a different gene, producing a different mutation, can have small consequences early but profound consequences late. Happenstance may play a powerful role in biology, as it does in history. The farther back the critical events occur, the more powerfully can they influence the present.
-Carl Sagan, Cosmos

And I cannot resist this elegant church doorway with two yews on either side, did Tolkien visit the church of St.Edward in Stow-on-the-Wold?

Friday, November 27, 2020

Neverland anyone?


Eilean Shona

Listening to a radio programme yesterday, there was a walking programme.  The interviewer was talking to Richard Branson's sister Vanessa, who like her brother owns an island but she had brought one  in Scotland - Eilean Shona. Intrigued I went visiting this tidal island.  So pretty, with about five cottages but so rigged out in  House Beautiful the cottages, you wouldn't know you were living in the wilds of Scotland, and of course a price to go  with all that classy furniture and paintings.  Holiday homes for the rich.  I had to read through a long Daily Mail sob story from Vanessa. Her husband's  infidelity led to a lot of tears, why she didn't leave him early on I will never know, maybe it was the four children they had conceived between them. But in exploring islands, if you are rich, this is a place you might want to visit and you do not have to take a sea journey across the Minch.

Why Neverland?  Eilean Shona  was where J.Barrie wrote Peter Pan one summer.

The Old Schoolhouse.  A glimpse from an earlier history


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Brief words

 It is Wednesday and I have remembered to put the cardboard recycling out at 6 am this morning.  Wish I had never started this catching cats business.  My cat so delicate and sharp has mastered the art of standing on part of the trap that has to set off the door closing and it does not shut!  The rest pad around it in frustration because of the food inside but dare not enter.  The only cat I have caught I had to let go because she was probably feeding kittens.

Yesterday had another Morrison delivery, unfortunately the substitutes did not have the same appeal but it was only some cheese. The lad stood at the door unmasked, so I hastily donned mine.  The shopping was heavy basically because I have ordered double of everything for the animals and yet I look forward to a point in my life when I shall be free of them - how strange.

Traditional blackhouse now probably holiday let

Reading Madeline Bunting's book - Love of Country (A Hebridean Journey). A history of Scotland as she moves from small island to island, Rum, Lewis, Eriskay, Staffa and St. Kilda. This was a family holiday place, a small black house next to water where the children roamed freely.  Must get 'I crossed the Minch' by Louis Macneice.  The further you delve into Scottish and island history, the more fraught it becomes.  Note we may call ourselves the British Isles, but actually the count is 6289 according to the article below! islands of different sizes around our shores, and mostly up North.  The only thing I have not spied in her book yet is the famous Callanish stones, truly the prehistoric temple of the North.

Our 1:625,000 scale database shows Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) has a total 6,289 islands, mostly in Scotland. Of these, 803 are large enough to have been 'digitised' with a coastline by our map-makers. The rest are recorded as point features.

Edit; My little cat is now at the vets, getting the 'snip'. 

The Long Read on Wolves

Monday, November 23, 2020


 Jan Morris died last Friday, she had made it to a good old age, so we should not be too sad.  She is one of those authors that I put in the top ten of my reading list, along with Madeline Bunting and Thomas Hardy.

I have only read one of her books, 'The Matter of Wales' and immediately understood her claiming back of Welsh heritage and love of country.  I am not a traveller, I do not wish to take long train journeys abroad and see cities, no I am happy on home ground.  It was always a joke in the Swiss contingency of the family, my love of Britain, it is not nationalistic, our people terrify  me but then I have always been frightened by the people around me.  It is the countryside and landscape that appeals to my soul.

Today had an email from my granddaughter Matilda, she wanted the recipe for my vegetarian gravy for the Xmas meal she was going to prepare at her flat.  I told her the tale of her great grandma Lotta.  Who when I was young and with a young toddler came over for the Xmas break.  We had cooked the turkey and everything, then eaten the leftovers in various ways (remember them?) and I had thrown it out in the dustbin.  She rescued the carcase with a great tutting and said there was still plenty there, especially for soup.  

Lotta was a strong minded woman, and rich, but her training at finishing school during the war had taught her to use every scrap of food and soups were always the standby  at supper.

Well my little cat has managed to get in the trap, and eat some food, and  has not released the catch so she is still swanning about the garden, some thought needed. At least she is familiar with it!

The world outside is frozen white, but then in  day it will warm up again and then go cold as a blue sheet of cold stretches from the North

Sunday, November 22, 2020



The lass who drops kittens everywhere!

Sunday and still dark.  Not much news but yesterday the young woman from Cat Protection turned up with a trap.  I had invited Jo and David to come over as well.  And we discussed the feral cats issue. Lotta decided that we should not trap the two little kittens yet because they might still be feeding, but the mother would definitely have to be caught for neutering.

So it was left at that, as for my little cat, Lotta left an enormous trap to catch her.  If I catch her then off down to the vets for neutering and Cat's Protection pays apparently.  My little one sat on the fence all the time the visitors were here,  and I wondered if  she was cross at all these intruders in her territory. 

Jo has four feral cats in their barn, the whole litter but she feeds them, and she also looks after a blind sheep and an old pony but like me she is getting old and acquiring new animals leaves their future in some sort of jeopardy.

Lotta says to leave some food in the church yard, and has left me with a tin of tuna.  As an advocate for all animals, fish and plants, tuna is on my list of not eating (or feeding to cats) but still.  

Christmas may look a little different. So how is the lockdown affecting my family.  Two grandchildren in London at uni, may be allowed to come back to their home at Xmas if they test free of Covid. My daughter is furloughing whilst Lillie the youngest, and still at school, will be home from next week - 25 teachers from her school are off, either with the illness or contact with the virus in others.  Tom my eldest grandson furloughed in Manchester and my son able to work from home, has been at his home since the very beginning.  It has gone on a long time!!

Any good television programmes?  Yes DNA a Scandinavian series was good, I love the grey cool colours of the countryside, and the plot eventually ended with a happy but sad ending.  Both myself and my daughter trail through the BBC Iplayer for boxed sets, I find some of them particularly nasty, especially Cardinal a Canadian series.  Inspector Montalbano for its Italian scenery and its warm weather but not for its occasional bad acting. 

And some things from F/B and a friend with a funny sense of humour

Friday, November 20, 2020

Exploring words

Watching the birds out of the window and thinking they had stripped the old hawthorn of the plentiful supply of haws or hags.  I noted that there was about a dozen blackbirds flying back and forth feasting and also I think the mistle thrush, though for one moment I did think it was a fieldfare.

Haw/Hawes;  The name Haw is tied to the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of England. It comes from the Old French personal name Haueis and the Old German personal name Hadewidis, which literally means battlewide

Whore; A prime example is the case of the root *kā–, "to like, desire." From it was derived a stem *kāro–, from which came the prehistoric Common Germanic word *hōraz with the underlying meaning "one who desires" and the effective meaning "adulterer." The feminine of this, *hōrōn–, became hōre in Old English, the ancestor of ...

It is just funny how one word sounds exactly like another and yet have totally different meanings.  The hawthorn has been stripped now of every red haw, and suddenly I am reminded of the Glastonbury thorn story, which supposedly flowers at Christmas.  Brought to this country by Joseph of Arimathea, and apparently Jesus who tagged behind as a boy in this Glastonbury myth. Grigson says that this thorn had developed into two trunks, one of which had been felled towards the end of the 16th century, the other during the Civil War of the 17th century, this recorded by John Aubrey in his 'History of Wiltshire.'

But Grigson recorder of small but fascinating facts, says sex enters into it because of the sweet but sickly smell of the white blossoms which contain trimethylamine in its scent.  Hawthorn, white thorn, May thorn, when a young man's fancy turns to marriage?

And for Ireland it has a magic because the fairies live by and under the thorns, explore any Irish tales, as William Allingham points out...........

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!

Yes we near  the time of Xmas, with its dire warnings due to the cloud we live under. Now on the radio farming programme this morning,  fresh food held up at ports and schools should keep long lived supplies.  I think you would call this thinking the worst but I think I shall grow some bean sprouts as winter vegetables just in case.  My tri-coloured Christmas cactus already heralding the day....

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Foel Drygarn

Foel Drygarn settlement

Well another favourite place, I even contemplated moving to Pembrokeshire years ago, but then other events happened in my life and I ended up in Yorkshire instead.  But the Preseli Hills have always been a favourite place, wandering around with Moss at heel, even took Paul and friends once at a later time.

So it is Foel Drygarn cairns that I highlight, you can hear, no that is wrong, for you must read the sub-titles in English, for it is narrated in that wonderful lilting language Welsh, in the video below. A  romanticised version of an archaeological trip but enjoyable.

Everyone should know that the Preseli hills produced the bluestones of Stonehenge, although it is hotly contested in some quarters. How they moved them, either by land or sea, we will probably never find out, or that in fact it was by glacial movement, but mystery is a vast field always waiting to be plumbed.

The stories around these three large cairns will be found in the video, how they are the tombs of three kings but no one knows, except that they are late Bronze Age, with a settlement around it and stone walls that makes it a hill fort.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Tuesday 18th November


Well there she is her vampish beauty playing the coquette with the camera. Who? Nigella Lawson, as she munches her way through bowls of delicious meals. I like her, she makes me laugh for a start. Yes who doesn't know the ratio of butter to toast, applied as the toast begins to cool, and then those lovely puddles of golden goodness dot the brown of the toast.  And yes my breadmaking is almost the same, except for adding a couple of tablespoonfuls of butter to the mix -  nix, waistlines Nigella?

She reminds me of a very good friend from long ago.  J was Algerian/French, and flirted with such determination with any man she came into contact with but it always reduced me to giggles. She was adamant about my daughter causing the blackberry stains on the white dresses of her two girls, that we probably fell out over it.  Last seen when she enrolled my services as a 'respectable married woman' to sit at a lunch party of  the solicitor she hoped to marry somewhere in a town in the New Forest.  I don't think her seduction came off though the cross faces of the solicitor's adult children round the table spelt trouble.

My ten minute worry today.  Will be about two darling kittens that turned up in the garden yesterday, wild and feral they need to be caught, so must phone the Cats Protection about them, or we shall be overrun with cats.

Fenella Fielding - a real classic vamp ;)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020


Taking a leaf out of Tasker Dunham's blog, I am reverting back to old blogs, this one from 2008 describing a trip to Silbury Hill.  I have been listening to a podcast about Pont-y-Pridd druidical stone circle and pottering back came upon this.  Yesterday I received an email from a dear friend in the village and I replied, unfortunately I had changed my avatar to Moss Wilcox and she thought it was a scam so would not open the email. So she had sent me a second email and the same name appeared again.  It resulted in her coming to call to see if I was alright and I had to explain my change of avatar.  So here is my favourite place accompanied by my beautiful Moss.


August 2008 - Silbury Reflections

Yesterday I walked all round Silbury on a warm sunny day, that by happenstance turned out to be Lammas so I was rewarded by the event of a Druid ceremony on top of the hill, though in truth I was supposed to be recording what was happening with the contractor's work to restore the mound to its original state.

Moss and I commenced our walk from the carpark, over the road, and there is the river beautiful as ever, long green fronds moving under the water, always invoking Rossetti's Ophelia drowning. Though rotten Rossetti made his wife lie submerged in a bath of cold water to get the effect, and probably gave her pneumonia. 

But the river is sparkling clear, making those soft chuckling, rilling noises as it flows under the silver leaved willows. There is a green verdancy about after all that rain, an exuberant green energy, broken by patches of flowers and the field of ripening yellow wheat. As we walk along the path I spy a partridge ahead, suddenly little chicks appear from out the undergrowth, maybe eight,I hold on to Moss's collar as they awkwardly take to the air, the mother continues along the path with a little one following furiously and they escape under the bar. Continuing to the bridge, and over the stile, where I see a hare sitting as bold as brass in the grass, his ears are a much darker colour than his body and so enormous, I sit on the stile and he sits in his field, Moss investigates the hedgerow, a perfect moment, magical of course a hare on Lammas day.

Photographing Silbury now, I notice the monorail running like a zip up her side, the rail is aligned with the straight ditch that leads to the river, and I wonder if they are draining the water from Silbury this way. Though later I am told there was no need to drain water. Up Waden Hill to take in the view, West Kennet long barrow in the distance, crowning its ridge amongst the vast space that is the Wiltshire downs. Sweeping round now to Silbury, the neat square of the archaeological/contractors compound under the hill, on top men in bright orange move around the great necklace of its silver fence which sits ungainly on top.

Moss is on his back rolling happily in the grass and we descend to follow the path once more. More photos, there is a crane hiding neatly in the hedgerow away from the compound, and as we come up to the road, a crew of two, camera and interviewer, one of the men rushes over the road to me, had I seen the druid procession along the path. I hadn't, no one had followed me, and I am glad that the partridge and hare are now in hiding and can watch the humans play their games.
Walking along the road to the visitors centre, I meet two women with pushchairs, plump and slightly panting from their exertions they are definitely druidical in their colourful clothes, we greet each other. Further on I pass three people coming out of the compound, the two girls are in shorts, archaeologist team, but the man is dressed in a formal brown suit, it looks like Professor Ronald Hutton is here to witness the pagan ceremony, coincidentally I am reading his books at the moment, a sceptic like me, he is honest in his appraisal of this 'otherworld' and records, like all good historian should, the passing of this particular history.

I stop and take photos of the entrance to Silbury, a solitary helmeted Skanska man stands guard just below, waiting for Terry the Druid to make his climb to the top of the mound. People are gathering, but I go on, first to stop at the visitors centre to gather information. During my conversation with the girl there, we got to talking about the platform on top, and maybe its levelling during the Saxon period, when it seems to been made into a stockade, evidence of postholes in a trench have been found, but as only one trench was opened I suppose this can't be confirmed.

Walking now down to the little bridge, here along the path I can watch Terry the Druid conduct his ceremony, Hail and Farewell rings down from the top of the hill, part of the ceremony is to go to the four quarters of the hill and call on Lightening, but sadly (or happily) it does not appear, he kneels down and seems to dig the earth, is he taking or giving I wonder?

Musing at the bridge, watching the clear water make its way down the river, one realises nothing really matters in the world, the moment is captured, Moss will at the end of the walk take one last cold drink from the river, sating his thirst and resigning himself to the end of a happy ramble looking for elusive mice and voles.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Monday 16th November


Last night having fallen asleep in front of the television, a nudging on my legs woke me up.  Lucy was in a state.  She loves her idea of being naughty, which happens every evening.  Pulling magazines off the coffee table, grabbing a ball of wool and generally dancing round the room jumping up and down like a fat dowager.  But this time she had taken it a step too far, a long thread of wool out of her mouth told me that she had swallowed a helluva lot.  Wound round her legs as well, I grabbed her and slowly began to pull yucky wet wool from her mouth, several yards but it came out.  She won't learn though, anything chewable will go down the same way, but I'm glad she had a little fright, mine was larger though!

I watched Simon Reeves once more on Cornwall, this time in tears over the lovely farmer Chris Jones who had introduced beavers to his farm, to help stop the flooding lower down in the village.  He was so proud of his small family of creatures creating dams and ponds, you can see a video of beavers in other countries at the end.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Sunday 15th November

Decisions arrived at, the Stonehenge tunnel that goes South-West  is to be built to take all that traffic on the A303 and relieve the pressure on the stones.  Good or bad news I cannot say, it will create more chaos over the years as it is  constructed.  Watching the arguments, for and against, still I do not know my thoughts on it.  Apart from one, if it takes years, will we not have a modern update on how traffic will be moving in the future.  Archaeologists and Druids fume against it, along with various bodies such as Stonehenge Alliance.

Some would argue that the big honey jar is Stonehenge and as far as English Heritage is concerned  is that they have won the argument but surely the resultant road works will be enough to put many tourists off anyway.

And why does Arthur Uther Pendragon and his small huddle of pagans have a say in the matter.  Claiming Stonehenge as their temple is patently untrue, the stones lie in prehistory, Druids maybe part of the later Iron Age and now represented by the latter modern day pagans.  I am not going to be derogatory about the New druids, people have a right to worship who they may but I find appropriating other remnants of old religions a bit difficult to come to terms with.

I quite like these words from Jacquetta Hawkes, in her time there were but a few cars on the road, it shows how history and time moves on, when now we have all these cars streaming past the stones to get to the South-West and Cornwall.

"The traveller who wishes to approach Stonehenge most fittingly should keep along this road, crossing the little river Till at Winterbourne Stoke. As he reaches the quiet crossroads on the summit, he will be on the edge of one of the greatest, and certainly the richest, congregation of burial mounds in all Britain. Here was a kind of vast scattered cemetery on ground hallowed by its proximity to the renowned sanctuary. Barrows cluster round Stonehenge on all sides - three hundred of them - but here to the west is the greatest concentration and the area most sequestered from the blighting military activities of Amesbury. Close within the north-eastern angle of the crossroads is a well preserved longbarrow and its spine acts as a pointer to a line of round barrows starting just beyond the small wood. These in their range of forms make a typologist's heaven. First there are two striking bell barrows and on their left two disks - one of normal type, the other with twin tumps. Just beyond them is perhaps the best known example of that rare variety - the pond barrow - which consists of a circular depression with a low bank on the lip. Back on the line of bells are four bowl barrows, and there are many more of this type beside the left-hand road as it leads very happily northwards to nowhere.

Jaquetta Hawkes on Stonehenge

And talking of Cornwall, have you seen Simon Reeves on Cornwall, you can pick it up on BBC Iplayer, channel 2.  It may be alright for the tourists, this strangely beautiful part of England but for locals it is a misery, especially during the lockdown.  Expensive second homes deprive the local young of homes, Simon Reeves highlighted a food bank, whose usage has shot sky high.  The broken down towns as businesses were forced to shut.  He emphasised the very simple fact of the terrible divide that befalls our country between rich and poor.

The photo shown above today is King's Arthur Hall, set out on Bodmin Moor this 'squared' pond of prehistoric stones is a mystery, why is it there, are the stones reused at a later time, perhaps in Medieval times for there is a boundary between two estates that crosses at this point.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Good News


Good news from Rachel as to Weaver's progress,  she is soon to come out of hospital. so let us all pray that Pat watches her step carefully and finds security and contentment in her bungalow and maybe Percy will once more become her trusty steed.

That box was small, did he sweep his desk with his crooked elbow shovelling everything in, flouncing out with a petulant smirk on his face - never to return.  No I am not talking about Trump but Dominic Cummings, our senior advisor to the prime minister.  Did Johnson, backed by Carrie (and why is she not at home looking after the baby for goodness sake;) say 'enough is enough'.  Will wait for Tom Stephenson's excoriating analysis but for the moment rejoice in the 'interesting news' that is hitting the s**t fan.

It is Saturday and I will miss the weekend papers, the cartoon in the Guardian will splat its interpretation of the latest news, think I will invest in The Observer tomorrow.

'Don't Worry' is my choice of video today.  A couple of days ago decided to defrost the freezer.  My fridge/freezer is a double act shyly hiding behind a boxed in cupboard, the switch is located in the adjacent cupboard. Not for me a grey monster dominating the kitchen with its all dancing all singing ability to work out what I am running out of, no just your usual white stuff.  Everything went fine I then went to switch it back on, deathly silence, no reassuring flicker of light, had the old thing conked out.  Here is where the 'Don't worry' theme comes in, I have a much newer one in the garage, almost in the same style, all I needed to do was transfer.  Luckily before I went down this road and phoned the local shop, I checked once more the switch, there were two lurking there and the other switched it on. So always check and don't panic.

This is a 1950s 'Prestcold' fridge, we used to have one in the scullery when I was a child, all I remember of it being full of salmon when my grandfather had gone fishing in Wales.  The story is though is that my daughter bought one for her kitchen, I suppose it is called 'retro'. It worked, but its monstrous presence always upset me.

Friday, November 13, 2020

To Weaver's son

 I miss Pat/Weaver's blogs everyday.  Such sensible reflections on her life and an optimistic tone chased away the gloom of the day.  We have all grown to love her and this missing her and not knowing how she is faring is worrying.  I hope her son will take pity on us and note the genuine feelings we all express and give us some news as to how she is progressing.

Hospitals are scary places but staffed by loving and good people, who do their utmost to make their inmates comfortable and well  I can just hear Pat chuckling at being called an inmate.  She has commented on my blog many times, we both live in this part of Yorkshire, though quite a few miles apart as Yorkshire is almost a country in itself, and love it dearly and also share knowledge of my home town Wolverhampton, where Pat taught in earlier times.

Her presence in blog land, as a sensitive, caring and above all fair minded person gives our blogs respectability, (she would giggle at that as well)so please dear son some news for us and best wishes and all my love to Pat on getting better.



Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Wednesday 11th November.

The day has dawned in that beautiful soft light from the sun, a warm glow as the wind rattles in from the West.  Outside the gates I notice that the road is reduced to single line and traffic lights at either end leaving me in the middle not knowing which colour they will show. Well I am used to lockdown!  It is that dratted stag pipe in front of the house which seems to give trouble and which I thought the water board had removed.  Nelson who used to fill his water cans there, no longer does, so he must use the pub's water facilities.

Large lorries occasionally sail slowly majestically past, the 30 mile speed limit respected for once.  Everyone in the village has nagged for years about speeding cars, yelling at people shaking their fists.  We even had a notice from the police a couple of weeks ago acknowledging we were a 30 mile limit  - well blow me we have known that for years, but when are they going to moderate it!

Today is the 11/11 of the month, and yesterday I read Hugh Dormer's diary on his mission to France.  It was lively, minutely dealing the events of the two secret missions undertaken.  I went with him as he crouched behind hedges or threw himself into ditches.  Chased by bloodhounds through the woods.  All the time I of course knew he would meet his death from driving a Sherman tank on his last journey to France in January 1944. The first mission did not materialise but they went back, all six of them on the second mission, tied their explosives to the retorts at the mine, warned the french workers, and then were successful.  But only two of the men lived to tell their tale, helped by French farmers and others, Dormer and his companion, the other four were taken by the Germans and executed.

It was such a minute by minute account, as he struggled over the mountains to Spain with six other fugitives, there must have been a very good network of French families who helped.  Guides all along the way.

Looking back today it all seemed so primitive but foolishly brave, his faith was in his God and when he was in England would often talk with Dom Julian Stonor, who seems to have resided at Downside Abbey in Somerset. 

Collected blogs on Rievaulx and Bylands Abbeys.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

meandering thoughts.

 A Note written by Hugh Dormer 1943 taken from the Diary.

"Again and again one gets that moment of intuition, that sudden vision of how the old world is falling into chaos around us.  Ideas and principles that have never yet been challenged in the centuries are questioned for the first time by scientific unbelievers:  the traditions of the army, the security of classes and the respect of man for his superiors. the value of religion, the sacredness of the family itself are all violated and derided.  While every thing that he has been brought up to believe in falls around him, man feels that he must strike out alone into the new future and seek out for himself the unprecedented pattern of the adventure of his own life."

The last few days of American politics has wound itself round our screens with all the human drama we are badgered with these days.  The idea that the world always sits on the edge of precipice seems real.  But how many times has this fear been enacted through history.  Hugh Dormer a highly articulate Catholic killed in battle captures his fear for the future in the above quote, almost conservative ideals still spoken today.  People still shy away from the word socialism, though in fact all it means is...

a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

Still our countries are divided between capitalism and socialism, either here in Britain and also America.  Some would believe that individual gain is the goal to be achieved whilst others believe in serving the community.  Our country works between these two goals, some would argue not very successfully but we proudly point to the NHS as something we are justly proud of.  The government, led  by the conservatives, have by the terrible forces of the pandemic been made to hand out large amounts of money to the community as lockdowns continue and people cannot work, as indeed has America. The divide ceases to exist?

Polarisation in politics is on the whole a bad thing, the left/right argument just takes us down a road of nastiness and wasted time and space.  When we should be looking to the future and options to overcome present problems and perhaps looking back on past history to see if we have made any moves forward.

Catholicism stands at the back of Hugh Dormer, as it did John Bunting.  Two other writers come to mind Tolkien and Lewis, it would be interesting to actually study deeply this time of two world wars, the gradual progressive changes and the role of religion had on it all....

Sunday, November 8, 2020

John Bunting

 Deep in a book, Madeline Bunting - The Plot (The Story of a Father and an English Acre), and checking the internet find I have already written a few words, see below.

But whenever I look up at the print over the fireplace it brings back memories.  Sutton Bank is a cliff escarpment and you must go down a very steep road with a switchback of bends, in winter it may be closed down and you are told never to drive down it with a caravan in tow.  But it is the only road to Thirsk from where I live.  20 odd miles to get to this small market town, the last branch in the area of my bank being there,  and will result in one or two visits.  But it was the advent of Lucy coming into our lives that we had to make the journey.  She was to be found at the Dogs Home just outside the town.  Still with her owners but on offer because of the life she had to lead.  Which basically meant being shut in a shed early every evening with two other cocker spaniels and barking all the time.

We fell in love with her prettiness and agreed to come back and collect her at a later date.  Little did we know, the handful she could be!  We picked her up and a broken piece of crockery (her treasure!!) and drove home with her on the back seat.  Paul had never owned a dog in his life, except for a brief flirtation with a puppy which his mother had got rid of after a few days.

Sutton Bank is beautiful and we stopped on the way to eat our one bought box of sandwiches, which we shared with Lucy.  She now has plenty of soft toys, often left out in the garden to get wet.  She is a lovely companion except when she is having one of her psychotic turns and then she is horrible, as she knocks things down and creates mayhem - was it the shed?  Luckily age had somewhat calmed her down.

Reading Bunting's excellent book, must be the third time now, and I relate to all the places she mentions, Rievaulx and Byland Abbeys, the Kilburn White Horse, taking photos on a hot summer's day.  Not quite being able to make out the solitary White Horse on the steep cliff it had been etched upon.  We ended up in a tangle of little lanes, heavily banked with trees giving us respite from the sun.

I realise I have covered much of the area Bunting lived in, Oswaldkirk where she was born has two churches, one Catholic, probably related to Ampleforth Abbey school.  The other of a much older dedication - St.Oswald and Martyr, 900 years old but today it is a modern version.  Though still with some telltale signs of its earlier history - must visit.

The history of the Scottish wars under Bruce of Scotland in the 14th century is interesting.  He laid waste to the countryside round here, killing people, slaughtering animals, destroying crops and King Edward 11 our English king, was hopeless in strategical battles and lost at the Battle of Old Byland.  Just a couple of miles away from here in the village of Salton, the church also bears witness to a fire which happened at the same time.  The villagers had barricaded themselves into the church which was set alight by the Scots.

Her book is a delight, it explores the difficult man her father was, the reasons he chose to build a chapel in the middle of nowhere to war heroes that he knew of, especially from Ampleforth College where he taught art.  He was a sculptor by profession, a worker in stone and some of his work can be found at the chapel.

John Bunting's carvings

A soldier, see the rosary beads in his hand?

Mary and child

The Chapel

Dearly beloved

Today is Remembrance Sunday conducted away from the Cenotaph because of the cloud of the pandemic we all live under.  Each year we remember the dead from the first World War, the horrible cruelty war inflicts on soldiers and civilians but rather than the poem - Lest We Forget - I read this morning Margaret Atwood's 'Dearly', you can hear it here' in the Guardian.

A mantlepiece of photos, memories of  happier times that chase through my mind daily.  Today, Sunday, apart from the two minute silence, I shall light the candles and incense for my love Paul as I do every Sunday.

Sometime I think life is a far harder taskmaster than death.

And then I will talk of the print that hangs above of Sutton Bank and the memory it captures.

Caught in Time's Current - Margaret Atwood

Saturday, November 7, 2020


 Happy News America

               "We did it Joe"  Kamala Harris

Friday, November 6, 2020

Friday 6th November 2020

Yorkshire has had floods  by the rivers and snow on the higher ground, the weather turns with its usual rota of happenings.  This morning it is fog, cold and clammy, my adopted cat peers in at the french doors at 5.30 this morning, hungry already.  Here she is yesterday enjoying the sun.

The leaves continue to fall in their thousands and I scoop them up to put in the compost.  This tree leaves are still to follow, in the front I am scolded by either the wren or the robin - territorial wrestling with underweights;) 

We are told of course to leave this mulch of leaves in place for the insects to hide under over winter and I shall leave some of course.  Rod will mow most of them  away though when he eventually comes to do the last mow. And as he needs work for winter I will ask him to trim the hedge outside the fencing. 

I am thankful for my friends in the village, Rosina says I can keep my hens till I leave but she is booked for the coop and runs.  Christina for the apples she left yesterday.  Jo for her endless stories and Irene who always keeps in touch.

Autumn can become a bedraggled month, stone grey and brown but then the sun will come out and the little cat will be found sitting round the garden as in the photo.  She tends to tease the hens and there will be a great hullaboo in the garden and the hens retire to their run to sulk.

Quite a few years ago

Building Power in a Crisis - The Ecologist

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Milk Thistle - Silybum marianum

Can you not see why I giggled as I typed the latin name of milk thistle.  Considering I had asked for it as an indigestion remedy at the Organic Food shop and she had offered me a packet of this remedy at £12.  I refused of course, got mint at home was my reply.  

But I thought to look further into this plant, and went to Grigson - The Englishman's Flora for an explanation.  His little essays are a delight on the wild plants of England.  He first traces the history of the name, you can see marianum, which points to the Catholic reference of Mary.  The white veins to  be found in the thorny leaves represent the milk of Mary of course.  But Grigson who always goes back to John Gerard herbalist's book, says that Gerard only acknowledges silently the Catholic history, for by then Protestantism had become the go to religion of the time.  Though John Evelyn in 1699, says that it was a 'great breeder of milk' and a proper diet for wet nurses.  This is all a nonsense during the  medieval period, the similarity of plants to the various parts of the human body.

But it is true that milk thistle can be used for medicinal purposes, but properly.  And as my herbal book says Treatment with Milk thistle should be medically supervised in no uncertain tone for it can have side effects.

You can also eat it, having first of course plucked off the spines on the leaves, young shoots and root as well, if you want that is.

Edit;  What has kept me sane?  The Vicar of Dibley and Alice (Emma Chambers ,such a sad loss)


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

twenty-five past midnight

I read an interesting tidbit of news on Huffpost.  'Should Trump lose' than he will have to be escorted out of the White House in January 'an irate pensioner having a toddler's fit'.  America's secret service has the plan to do this.  Hope stands strong in my heart that this will be so.  For now music will hold the rein in this house.

One of the down sides to the changes in the seasons are electricity cuts and getting the clocks to work too exact time.  Oven won't work if the clock doesn't work, electric clocks flicker on and off till exasperated you find the necessary leaflet that tells you which three buttons to hold down (that clock is broken now).  Than there is the 'satellite' clock up in the bedroom, which has given up the ghost, is not connected to electricity, or batteries? so has the satellite sailed away?

Then there is the old clock that chimes so beautifully, and which I can never marry up to chime the right time with the actual hour.  Time is arbitrary I suppose, the thought flowed through my head yesterday, whether my time was up, as each and every clock in the house told a different time.  There was a story, not sure if it was true, but a timekeeper, got on the newly developed Victorian trains and travelled through our land adjusting time to the exact nature we find today, it made life a lot simpler.

Or my grandson when he was young and we had brought him an analogue wristwatch for his birthday.  He looked at it with some surprise, then confessed he did not know how to use it as he was used to digital.

Life moves in mysterious ways clocks or presidents all have a time limit though ;)

Monday, November 2, 2020

diary entry - 2nd November 2020

Listening to ambient music at the moment, why does Radio 3 find the noisiest classical music out first thing in the morning?  Well they all are arguing on Radio 4 about the unfairness of the lockdown - why should the South suffer when the North has the most cases - no answer.  For a bit of light relief Nigel Farage has risen up, and when his job as the fawning idiot of Trump is over he is going to come  and start a new party - joy of joys.

Last night I attended the All Saints and Souls service at the church, remembering all the people who had died in the village.  It was a gentle affair, though religious!  But we hung our labels on the white lilies to remember those who are gone.  I had just heard yesterday in fact of a very good man, who I had been talking to just a few weeks ago had gone because of cancer.  Death is part of life of course, a constant reminder when I look out on the graves in the churchyard, especially the young lad who hung himself and I grieve for his family as I see them tidy his grave, and for his, I think, younger brother, who comes and sits besides the grave and talks to him.

So on to more cheerful things, a British Gas man is supposed to come today to instal a smart meter, will he turn up? After the strong winds of the weekend, it is a mild gentle day but the catch on the heavy drive gates has broken.  I left them open but with the animals it is a bit of a worry.  My bantams must have been out all day yesterday after finding one of their doors open, but of course would not run away and when I went out in the afternoon, the sound of little running feet behind me demanding food and of course to be let in by their 'proper' door to the run.

I have this big sign over my head, it reads 'food' the little feral cat has the same reaction to me as well, two breakfasts in the morning are demanded, then late lunch, then tea.  Lucy, on the other hand, waits for my tea, she obviously thinks I eat better than she does and then only then will she deign to eat her food.

I have been reading a fascinating book, John Marsden - Northanhymbre Saga (The History of the Anglo Saxon Kings of Northumbria).  One of the fascinating things about the churches round here, is the A/S fragments of stone caught up in the fabric of the church.  And of course the Viking input at a later date, whenever I see the squalid arguments about immigrants coming into the country, I would dearly like to point out our ancestry rests on immigration from Europe, etc. 

And, that even further back the ancestry belongs to dark people with blue eyes.

Cheddar Man in the Mesolithic period  A reconstruction of this man who lived in the caves round Cheddar, hasn't he got a lovely face?

Explanation of how his appearance was arrived at.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Old Crone at Samhain - update


Incense, strange gods and my 'elephant in the room'  but all was quiet in the graveyard, not a bone stirred.  Underneath this window sits a seated Buddha charming the ghosts away.  In Whitby just around the corner from the cottage was a Goth's shop, and Paul always had his eye on the 'Welcome to Hell' sign for this house, not exactly the right image for a cottage sitting next to a church.