Climate

"The priority for our communities, movements, and decision-makers must now be to end the era of fossil fuels and transform our societies and economies towards sustainable systems designed to address peoples’ needs, safety and wellbeing, not profit and greed."

Monday, May 31, 2021

31st May 2021




Bank holiday weekends do not often come with good weather but the sun shines and it is warm.  My two have arrived and the talk becomes continuous.  So glad to have my granddaughter sort out the couple of technical problems I have with computer and phone .



She also manages to find the old silver plated tea set from the depths of the cupboard, hidden because I hate cleaning silver.  Its incredibly tarnished surface says at least give me one more clean.  No one wants it, I suggest it goes to Oxfam, and my daughter says inexplicably, so you are keeping the prostitutes in Africa in business I suppose.  Light dawns, all those male Oxfam charity people who paid for the service of the prostitutes, how a story sticks.



Sunday we go for a walk in the fields, Teddy, thin whippet type dog, now 13 years meets five other whippets and a great tangle of leads of furious whippet's barking ensue.  We all move on, the riverside field have been somewhat disfigured by the new farmer, he seems to have killed all the grass on the bank, presumably to stop any weeds invading the fields.  I note that in all the mowing of roadside and garden verges someone has carefully mown round a clump of cowslip - good.  There is a red Midland hawthorn in the hedge and I wonder how it has escaped to the cold North.

And just because we have only  just lived through a pandemic I manage to put on entertainment in the afternoon, the annual tractor run comes through the village, and Lillie and I stand outside watching the tooting little old tractors and large new tractors potter past with cross car drivers caught up in the muddle.



Jo also comes over in the afternoon and chatters away for an hour.  She has also just lost her dog Marshall, and now his urn of ashes sit by the fire in Marshall's old spot, she is sad and doesn't know whether to get another dog.  They are both getting on and she fears the dog being left although her son said he will take it on in the event of their death.

We discuss the arrival of swallows, they have given up nesting under the church eaves these last two years but she has a pair in the ponies shelter, they have built their nest on an old light, and presumably the swallows will come back to the Gospel's house and fly up and down the straight Salton Lane.  She tells a funny tale about the charity tractors annual run down Salton Lane which is single tracked.  When out with pony and trap she met the run of tractors but managed to find a spot to take Charlie and the trap off the lane.

And so, a cynical view of the latest wedding.  Was it not convenient that it happened immediately after the Dominic Cummings appearance.  Of course it was not a distraction was it??? But it was definitely a managed press affair Carrie...


Saturday, May 29, 2021

29th May 2021


lonicera periclymenum 'belgica' or the early Dutch honeysuckle

 I love this corner of the garden, next to come out will be the blue Ceonothus, or the Californian lilac, next to what I think is a 'mock orange'.  The honeysuckle has cascaded over the fence onto the hedging in front, creating that 'wild look' with the hawthorn shrubs.
It reminds me of Welsh lanes where the wild honeysuckle grew and will be a good memory.  I am losing the sight in one eye, and not sure how to proceed, first of course a visit to an optician next week but the thought of hospitals frighten me, and anything to do with eyes especially.
But today two visitors, my daughter and granddaughter will stay over the holiday period.  My daughter has already sent a photo of a clear test, which made me giggle.  Testing seems such a problem, it is a shame that our phone can't tell us if we clear or not, like my son's diabetic reading on his phone.  Though I believe they are creating an app to do this job.

Democracy:  Just a short hint on how to keep in touch with things.  There is a thing called Government Petitions, if you start one and it gets up to 100,000 signatures and over  the government has to address the petition and talk about it in Parliament.  Well I signed the  “End child food poverty – no child should be going hungry”:
And whilst it will not be carried through as it is a general debate,

"This was a general debate. General debates allow MPs to debate important issues, however they do not end in a vote nor can they change the law"

the discussion is interesting and the transcription can be read on Hansard here.

I think what it points to (as always), that the question of feeding our children has never been addressed properly, or in fact poverty, so that from decade to decade we lurch inadequately in a patchwork of schemes with no overall policy.

Friday, May 28, 2021

28th May 2021 - The Mildenhall Treasure



Yesterday I found a book I had been searching for months through the bookcases.  It was one I had bought Paul and called 'The Mildenhall Treasure' by Roald Dahl, with illustrations by Ralph Steadman.  The true story is simple enough, and tells the tale of the Roman treasure of silver tableware found in 1942, absolutely magnificent, found by ploughing in the field by a chap called Butcher, he was ploughing this four and a half acres of land for sugar beet.  On contract to a farmer called Ford.  

Now as the treasure was revealed Butcher who was a simple man did not know its value, and gave it to the farmer, who, strangely enough, secreted it away and it was only discovered later by a visitor a piece adorning the mantlepiece.  Now I will quote from the book....



"In England there is a very curious law about finding any kind of gold or silver treasure.  The law goes back hundreds of years, and is still strictly enforced today. The law states that if a person digs out of the ground, even out of his own garden, a piece of metal that is either gold or silver, it automatically becomes what is known as Treasure Trove and is the property of the Crown.  The Crown doesn't in these days mean the actual king or queen.  It means the country or government.

The law also states that it is a criminal offence to conceal such a find.  You are simply not allowed to hide the stuff and keep it for yourself.  You must report it at once, preferably to the police.  And if you do report it at once, you as the finder will be entitled to receive from the government in money the full amount of the market value of the money.........

....The other curious part of this curious law is this: it is the first person who discovers the treasure in the first place who gets the reward from the government.  The owner of the land gets nothing - unless the finder is trespassing on the land when he makes the discovery.  But if the finder of the treasure has been hired by the owner to do a job on his land, then he, the finder, gets the reward."

There is a whole can of worms here. Today, metal detectorist clubs use this law to detect on private land with the consent of the landowner and suitable splitting of money if the 'finds' become Treasure Trove.  As such, there are many cases of roguery and many objects slip through to arrive on Ebay or even the higher echelons of auction rooms such as  Sotheby or Christies.

Dahl was angry that Farmer Ford got the credit for the find and the poor old ploughman got nothing, so he resolved to do something for Butcher and wrote this book and gave half the proceedings to him.

But it is Ralph Steadman art work which so shouts out from the page to you.  Chaotic, you have to study them for the detail, and my camera has not captured the vivid colour.  Sadly also my camera does not catch the vibrancy but if pictures speak more than words than Steadman caught the life in the fields of Suffolk.





You can find  replicas of the Roman silver treasure at Mildenhall Museum here.  Paul and I were I think the first visitors to see the opening of the exhibition of this treasure, it was cold and damp, typical English weather.


Roman Ryedale Hoard

Thursday, May 27, 2021

27th May 2021

 

Going for a walk yesterday, looking over at the grave yard and a roe deer suddenly looked up and then scampered off amongst the yews.  First time I have seen them in the village, though I once pulled a dead one off the road.  A medieval deer park used to exist for the use of hunting by the monks in past history but I doubt that the little deer I saw yesterday was the ancestor of them.

Anyway I went for my walk but took the wrong direction for as I went over the bridge into the first farm a muddy river of trampled mud by cattle at the gate stopped me. My walk was to see the barn owl or even the heron, both of which I was missing.  Also to check bluebells in the little wood and the bluebells that bloom on the wayside verge, to see whether they were true blues or the modern variant the 'Spanish bluebell', larger, lighter coloured and given to other colours.



The bad weather we experience tells its tale in mud.



Spanish bluebells

River Seven in full spate

Real bluebells


The little copse by the farm

New growth.  The yews by the church shed their pollen earlier in the year, this fir I am not sure what it is.

Spent a lot of time  yesterday listening to Cummings pulling wings off flies in an effort to bring down Johnson and Hancock.  Thank god I missed public life ;)

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

26th May 2021

Battling with words, this time 'woke'

Members, ministers and MPs had grown increasingly frustrated with Mr Parker's chairmanship, which critics said he used to take the 126-year-old charity in a 'bourgeois' and 'politically correct' direction.

Taken from the Daily Mail 

Tim Parker has resigned from the National Trust partly because he has drawn attention to a truthful piece of history, that many of our wonderful large houses were built on the earnings from slave labour.  Well you could go back to Elizabeth 1st for such stories and I would definitely not consider pulling them down as may happen to some statues.

I must admit when first looking at Tim Parker, in my eyes he looked like a weedy modern 'Londonesque' type of chap, not someone who knew his history.  The group by the way who challenged him was called 'Restore Trust'.  But my sympathies have somewhat fallen on the side of Parker rather than the old-fashioned values of this new group.

History and its truth cannot be denied, it should of course be open and transparent but not used in a modern context to score current political points, in this case the BLM awakening. 

Looking through for articles on this subject, and I only pay up to the Guardian, this article came up from last year.  I have always thought the best answer for living is to live in the present and welcome the future.

To be honest most of us Englanders live in a fuddy-duddy, cosy contented world of placid ignorance* - sorry ;).  In fact the way we ignore our greedy billionaires of today underlines a need not to focus on the nitty-gritty of how money is made.  That statement by me would be called 'Marxist' by right wingers, which I am not, but just stating how I feel.

But in all this I would fight to the end to preserve all that beautiful, and sometimes not so beautiful, architecture, craftmanship and most of all gardens, that through time have developed into a distinct facet of our culture. but we should  pay lip-service, or indeed written testimony,  as to how they came to exist on the backs  of hard working  cruelly kept slavery.

* Same here

Monday, May 24, 2021

Examining Past histories - Solsbury Hill

The meaning of Woke - alert to injustice in society, especially racism.

Adrian Arbib site


Exploring words and actions.  Well Solsbury Hill bought up the memory of the widening of the  A46 road controversy in the 1990s and the bypass to Batheaston.  So I went back to an old link Adrian Arbib had created and all the videos of road protest he had documented.  As I wandered through the rather naïve and innocent ecowarriors, thin and underfed, fervent in their protest against road building and protection of the trees.  I saw strangely enough how modern 'woke' had been created, in fact protest which has happened all through the centuries is nothing new.

  1. There are the small-minded suburbanites who declaim loudly against the scruffiness, and presence of such people and wish to outlaw them,  yet in many protests there are what we may call the 'ordinary' people involved, you and me.

  2. Conservatism as a political frame of mind may ring out loudly for the forces of the law and repression of all counter arguments but beneath the surface there is a need for fairness and democracy in the hearts of most people.
  3. Whether the argument is for or against, or indeed a personal viewpoint of having one's house knocked down, there will always be an outcry.
  4. Anyway it is quite interesting to thumb through these videos, some are already beginning to deteriorate, too see old newscasters as well and to see Bath galvanised by a cause.  The road building firm used security thugs, police were rarely brought in.

It is all on Vimeo.....



        https://vimeo.com/channels/268535/33334386 - No Excuses - documentary
 
         on Solsbury Hill

 


Sunday, May 23, 2021

23rd May 2021 - music






Music for Sunday, Leonard Cohen has been dismissed for his gravelly voice this morning and I have chosen Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill.  And yes there are definitely no eagles flying over the hill, though one day there might be!

I find the blog on which I recorded the link, such a long time ago, the steep climb up the lane to this magical Iron Age settlement, sometimes I hate to call them forts, more like defended settlements, but they existed all around our countryside, and the Cotswold ridge that folds down near Bath has plenty of examples.



And a very young Gabriel 'Shaking the Tree'.  I actually liked the version with Youssou N'Dour but the following video  has Gabriel and his band dancing.


This must have been round the time when Mark my son and Ephraim went off to Ghana for a year or so, and loads of photos came back from their trip there.  Which I still have on an external drive.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

22nd May 2021

I wait for the arrival of  Paul's  sons.  Lovely lads.  A creamy lemon chicken dish cooked to go with rice, if they don't want it, into the freezer for next weekend visitors. I forget that Japanese type meals do not figure cream, well then salmon sandwiches next choice. I will introduce them to their father's cupboards of neatly boxed stuff, much of which I do not wish to open because the stuff will require decisions.

The weather temperature on my phone is 7 degrees, it is cold.  Out in the garden two goldfinch rest on the lawn after stuffing themselves with dandelion seeds.  A squirrel chews peanuts contentedly on the wall, I throw them a handful out every now and then.  They are experiencing their 'hungry period' through summer.  

At one stage I was going to write about Once Upon a Time in Iraq, but its sadness got the better of me.  I watched the whole five episodes but it is past understanding  and I bet those who said they would watch, did not, for it uncovers a world so different from ours that we must flee to our own Western culture of bright inane lights and frippery.  Yes I know about the virus, but the virus  can never reflect the absolute cruelty of men, calmly putting bullets into lines of men, or the unspeakable butchery of chopping off hands.

There was flashes of bright light though, the young Iraq boy of five years old, shattered down the left hand side of his body was sent to America for surgery, a grown teenager now he is reflective about life.

Gosh I hate waiting................

They are gone, no hugs yet but lots of talk and they have worked out things to go into storage.  Sprinkling of dust went with laughter, as we imagined Paul joining in, my so meticulous lovely soul mate, would have been happy to see his boys in the house that he  loved.  Perhaps he was even sitting on the bench drinking a beer in the shadows which we could not see.

The boys went round touching things excitedly they had known from childhood, recognising familiar things.  A lot will be kept but many of the books will need to go to a museum because they are rare.  Next visit will be in a van for storing stuff in London.


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

19th May 2021

 A good morning:  Put my spinning wheel and sewing machine on Freegle, and the spinning wheel has already gone.  Took the old antiquarian books to Helmsley, a very pretty little town, wish I was a cat with 9 lives sometimes and I could live in Helmsley for a time.  Took the books to Oxfam, knowing how they love books and Helmsley being very County.  The volunteers were happy with them, and were already delving into the first bags as I collected the rest from the car.  One of the joys of being a volunteer in a charity shop is you never know what you are going to find.

You can find photos in this old blog

Of course what you find when out, not having driven for days, is that life is going on as before.  The motor cyclists are out in their phalanx's of noisy machines.  There were plenty of tourists in Helmsley, the car park full.

I am watching on Iplayer 'Once Upon a time in Iraq'  bitterly sad, and covered from both the American side and the Iraq side.  It gives a picture of what is happening between Israel and Palestine, and the terrible events that happen all round this part of the world.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

18th May 2021

Among others, keep a check on your speech;
When alone, keep a check on your mind.

Lord Atisha’s The Bodhisattva’s Garland of Jewels


Well I started to write, in fact had  finished some words on the Bronze Age barrows, at Nine barrows and Ashen Hill Barrows, and then went to publish it and all those words had disappeared, except for a paragraph.  So I will start again not about early B/A barrows, though it is an interesting subject but I have been over the landscape in my mind with dear old Moss and it is not worth repeating.

It also fulfilled something I had read about in a Guardian article this morning, and that is Curiosity.  Which leads to a better frame of mind and happiness so I am told, a bit like the hobbies people have been talking about in the blogs.  

The weather is that mixture of sunshine and rain, the mistle thrush has been in the garden, think there are also some young around and there was a couple of goldfinch as well.  Carrot/sweet potato soup is cooking on the hob, I love the colours and a dash of cream always suits the final spin.

I have tackled the phone, hate talking to people but it has to be done.  It was Scotland yesterday, and their lovely Scottish brogue needed a great deal of concentration.  Oxfam in Helmsley will take my old antiquarian books which is a relief.  Why have I hung on to them I wonder? Because they look pretty in the bookcase, someone else can enjoy that experience now. 

A couple of photos. The top photo shows the bullocks we had to walk through, Moss on a lead and as I look at this scene where did that nonchalance come from.  Walking on my own except for a dog was quite natural to me, what if those creatures had attacked though?  The subject of women walking alone, especially after that policewoman out of uniform was attacked and killed whilst walking her dog recently, was perhaps a one off.  It happens, but then get in a car, who knows what will happen on the drive.




Early Bronze Age barrows, highlighted by golden grass.


Well one of the things yesterday on my mind was around Swallet holes.  To be found on the Mendips because of the porous nature of the limestone. There is a large underground of water and rivers that can be found in the caves.  But I had already written a lot about them, never quite getting to that feeling or at least explanation of their use in a ritual landscape, and after all was it a ritual landscape?  The four Priddy Henges point to this not very far from the barrows, and it could be that these henges were situated by or near the henges.  Swallets being a place to deposit stuff.



https://northstoke.blogspot.com/2009/09/rivers.html

https://northstoke.blogspot.com/2008/04/etymology.html

Sunday, May 16, 2021

16th May 2021

Should we be despondent?  Is there another crackdown about to happen, as we worry about the spread of the new variant.  The future is all a gamble at the moment and we have to take whatever happens in a calm manner.  Paul's two boys are coming down next weekend from London and my daughter and granddaughter the following weekend and suddenly everything is up in the air once more.

I came across a good expression to cover the latest royal tittle-tattle, 'Royal Suffering'.  How to suffer in a eleven million dollar house, having been bankrolled all your life by your family (but of course it was a wicked family).  Short of two bricks?  Harry and Meghan are missing a wall for goodness sake.

It is still cold, I need to buy more oil in the middle of May, perhaps it won't be a heatwave because of climate change but a cold wave.  Radio 3 on Sunday morning is always full of quiet music and birdsong, just now Butterworth's 'Banks of Green Willow' once a favourite of mine.

Just to add to the general chaos that is always happening in the world my internet keeps beeping off, there is nothing more annoying when typing a long comment for it to fail, sometimes you can go back and capture it.









Saturday, May 15, 2021

15th May 2021

Bullfinch eating dandelion clocks

There I was washing up and looking out of the window at the same time and this little bird caught my eye busily demolishing dandelion clocks.  Not a very good photo but such a simple and innocent act it brightened up the day.
Dandelions appear the moment the lawns are mown, you can never keep a good dandelion down, I believe they are grown as proper flowers in America, but their bright yellow faces bring thundercloud faces to many male gardeners in this country.

Rod left some lawn unmown round my small patch of bluebells as well, they grace the verges round here also, when we are all dead and gone, wild flowers, their seeds lurking in the soil over many years, will raise their banner of stubbornness and flower, the raw nature of life.

Even Chernobyl, 33 years now since that terrible event, is thriving...

But today, 33 years after the accident, the Chernobyl exclusion zone, which covers an area now in Ukraine and Belarus, is inhabited by brown bears, bisons, wolves, lynxes, Przewalski horses, and more than 200 bird species, among other animals.


Today I am feeling rather sad, they are coming to collect my old desk, I have had it now for forty years or so, bought in Calne from an antique shop it glowed golden in the evening sun last night but giving it away to another life seems practical.  It will go to a young man who will be working from home, his parents come to collect this morning.  My loom  went to a lady who has a craft summerhouse in the back garden.
It reminds me when in my twenties, newly married and carrying my daughter, I had to get rid of my horse, Sue.  So naively advertised her in the local newspaper as 'free to good home'. Foolish action, as the replies poured in.  So in the end she went to a children's home in the Midlands, to be petted and loved by them.

Friday, May 14, 2021

14th May 2021 - End of an Era




Well on a lighter note I watched the three episodes of 'Pursuit of Love' written by Nancy Mitford, featuring Lily James as Linda and Emily Beecham as Fanny.  Beautifully and subtly produced against a background of a large house and grounds.  Pretty dresses of course, would it not be lovely to swan round in that era.  But we can't - housework calls.  

I visualise the time as a cup of black coffee with a whirl of whipped cream on top, my favourite as a child - but now coffee has grown up into an adult of many ways and taste!

The darkness is there of course, women's lives pinned to a rigid discipline of being feminine,  rich and middle class  women were still to arrive in the jobs category though this was beginning to happen through the second world war.  The communist bit was almost like a shock of water thrown in not quite as realistic as expected.

Well acted, good set of actors, though I found Linda a little overplayed, but basically it was a story of Linda going from one man to another and me bleating in the background - where did all the f****** money come from!

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2021/may/09/the-pursuit-of-love-review-absolutely-glorious

https://www.newstatesman.com/2021/05/the-pursuit-of-love-nancy-mitford-literary-legacy

Thursday, May 13, 2021

13th May 2021

Stoney Littleton entrance stone


Well I have probably got it wrong so apologies to Tom about missing ammonites.  But Stoney Littleton long barrow was a great favourite of mine.  So I went and found it in my blog posts.  How I studied and dreamed of those long barrows that had disappeared in the valley around this particular long barrow.  It was August 2007, and then as I read through the blog, written in my usual naïve 
enthusiasm I saw there was one comment at the end, it was from Paul/Littlestone, at the very start of our relationship.  Here I must add much to the horror of my daughter (mum be careful of online chats!) Later on we met at a social gathering at Avebury and everything developed from there.



Strangely enough I was chatting to our lady window cleaner yesterday and we talked of grief.  She had lost her much younger husband to cancer three years ago, and had two large dogs to keep her company, one of which was in the van because he was needy;)  As we chatted it turned out that she was a Jehovah Witness, but seemed to believe that humans should live forever to experience this wonderful world.  When down to earth me said, ALL THE PEOPLE, wasn't it easier to listen to the young crow fledglings in the copse, knowing that they will be born, live and die.  I have read a lot about spiritual beliefs and accept we must all believe in what we believe, it is not for me to scoff, or that matter for you;) Paul never knew she was JW or he would have argued it out with her, but she is a gentle soul making a living by cleaning windows (could do better though).


Acceptance of grief is impossible, you live with it, it breaks through the wall stabbing the heart with its pain, but in the end most of us have to face up to it, the tears a relief.

So the blog I wrote on that day 14 years ago. I took Paul up to my favourite place later on, we explored so much together round the area of Wiltshire, especially churches, and so that whole frame of happy memories linger on. So this is for me!




Wednesday, May 12, 2021

12th May 2021

It has been a busy morning coping with emails, yes there are offers on both the desk and loom.  Checking why had not my cardboard boxes been delivered, could it be the York city in my address?  No they had apparently called while I was on a 10 minute walk down to the green.

Whenever I get frazzled I go to mostly dog videos on F/B for relaxation but have just watched a video of a poor old man in America being denied money at his bank because his identity card had expired??? What was in the Queen's Speech yesterday ID cards for General elections, and who does it affect so much, the elderly, and  the disabled.  Considering actual cash and the banks are also slowly disappearing from our streets, will our banks go there I wonder?  Internet banking is used by many people but there are many who cannot get on to the system through the internet, or who have the know-how on its use.

The end of the story for the old man was good, the kind policeman took him down to the ID centre, where it was renewed took him back to the bank for his money and then home.  It won't always happen like that of course.  

It was a lousy Queen's Speech, not addressing the problems we are currently seeing, but as always a political one, for the next election maybe?

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

11th May 2021




I have bitten the bullet.  Started packing my stuff up, put my old loved desk and a table top loom on Freegle and even sealed three boxes.  Now I must go through all those box files.  Correspondence before the advent of emails is enormous.  A box on divorce, a box on the Whitby holiday cottage and a box on all the foreign students I cared for.  I no longer exist in those worlds though, to be quite honest I am enjoying myself getting rid of stuff.

Books have been difficult,  I have three bookcases, one has been emptied and most of the books reside in carrier bags because they will probably not appeal to charity shops.  The other had craft books and those have gone to a local charity shop, the last has special books that I shall keep along with the glass fronted bookcase they reside in.

I have watched others move in blogland and realised it is a hassle but not as difficult as my mind says it is.  

Down sizing is  a good exercise, I shall stay with my daughter for a while and we shall look for something to rent for me around the area, my granddaughter is already looking forward to stopping with me.

So now with some of the restrictions lifted it is time to move on and live that last bit of life left.  I shall carry memories of this house and the happy times lived here and still hanker after an old mad spaniel.  My feral cat is also a bit of a worry, but will talk to Lottie at the Cat Protection place.  How do you rehome feral cats?



And this morning notice that my Antiquarian answers went up.  Thank you Alan ;)

Sunday, May 9, 2021

9th May 2021

Well we have done with voting till the next time.  Good and bad things, vote left or right and meet the anger  of either side.  But focussing on the good side, the two mayors of the major North and South cities - Manchester and London are in the hands of Labour.  My daughter pointed out it was because there is mainly a young tribe of people in the towns and they just don't vote for the Right but vote for Labour, only the old vote Conservative!  

And the Greens are making slow but positive waves, I shall probably be dead before they get more politicians in parliament, but 8 in Scotland will balance the call for independence with the SNP.  Also done well in the councils.

Andy Burnham made a humble speech, touched upon devolution, he is my hero at the moment, please don't let him be seduced by becoming the head of the Labour party.  Yes, I know Starmer has not made the grade yet, but brains and rhetoric might win the day.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

8th May 2021

Exploration: For those of a squeamish nature I would advise not to read, or at least go to the links, because I am about to tackle  sheela-na-gigs those ugly grotesque depictions of sex and fertility.

Actually I had started with the font at Cowlam church in East Yorkshire, expansively decorated with depictions from the bible, it is considered to be clumsy in its carving, but nevertheless fascinating.  Then noticed another church nearby North Grimston which had a male and female sheela-na-gigs.

Why are they so high up in church walls one may ask, what are they telling us? sex is ugly, one of the sins of humankind is the answer the old Norman churches seem to say as they trail their messages across their religious walls.  But what if they told of fertility and fecundity, the spring awakening of bouncing lambs and emerging plant life.  Two different interpretations, what sparked the interest though was this March 2021 article in the Guardian in Ireland.  The depiction of sex is so different today of course, or is it?  porn is a dominant aspect of the internet, okay the girls have to be slimmer and not have child bearing hips as their attractive features.

So what period of history do sheela-na-gigs come from, maybe guessing but from the Saxon period, a changeover period when the old pagan gods were morphing into the Christian God, fertility is after all a strong contender in keeping us alive.   If you go back onto the site for these strange creatures, you will find them linked to Celtic mythology, the tale of the' old hag' and many theories beside - but there is not an actual factual answer!

What also struck me from these two churches and nearby churches, is that there must have been  a school of carvers in this area a bit like the Kilpeck church in Herefordshire.  And should you drive on you would come to Wharram Percy, the deserted medieval village set in the fields about a mile away from the road. 

So......... on this grim wet day take a walk when it was sunny.  I have often wondered how the people in this DMV moved around, there must have been another lane to other villages but only a map will tell.  But now caught in a time trap in the middle of neat and tidy modern fields, this settlement recorded over the years by dedicated archaeologists with its ruined church and renovated empty farmhouse are all that is left, may it always remains so.












Random words picked up today - Paul Waugh on Starmer. A description of all those politicians today. Johnson being the foremost!

"It was a word salad with croutons of random verbiage."

Friday, May 7, 2021

7th May 2021


 The Gods of the North are obviously stomping around somewhere.  Every morning waking up to ice and coldness is getting troublesome.  Put it down to Climate change, even Greta Thunberg cannot get rid of it.  Will we turn into one of those Northern countries, iced out of existence.  So I knit and crochet and curse my middle finger which is painful at the moment, I sliced a bit off on my mandoline slicer trying to imitate the potato dauphinoise Pat described.  I love this bit of kitchen miscellany, but it works so well and there you are slicing potatoes happily away and then your finger is there!

Finished my book on The Black Hill and looked up the word pastiche which seems the right word to describe Chatwin's writing, but nevertheless a cleverly written book.  There is a certain amount of analysis on the book, the twins in the book represents Chatwin's dual nature but I can't be bothered to go into the belly button contemplation that is so indicative of our modern society.

Shock and horror being expressed on the news, Labour has lost an important town, Hartlepool.  I am not surprised, Starmer as the 'safe' man definitely does not inspire.  One day, the 'South' will  stop dictating how this country is to be run and we will have a party that runs England in a sound manner.  Note I do not say the united countries of Great Britain, because they are all starting to pull away, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - interesting times ahead.

Apart from feeling very down at the moment, I have also been watching the Scandi series The Killing, which does not help the mood. Dire, dark and snow everywhere and the plots are pretty nasty as well! ;)

Then of course there was this skirmish off Jersey.


Sunday, May 2, 2021

Exploring - Bruce Chatwin

 As Nicholas Shakespeare writes: "These were private and religious farmers whose ancestors had come to Patagonia expressly to get away from the kind of Englishman represented by a young man with a socking great forehead and blue staring eyes who bowled into their village wearing green Bermuda shorts and announced himself in a ringing public-school accent as Bruce Chatwin."

How we do identify people by class, there I was yesterday not knowing a thing about this man, and then I find, his interpretation of truth, whether it be fact or fiction leaves a lot be desired.  For a start he lived in the 20th century, and died of that unfortunate illness called Aids at a young age.  What you read about him is  that his storytelling beat the boundary betwixt fact and fiction.  Excellent writer but prone to tell lies, this was the general view, but a bloody good writer.  Given that their was still a stigma attached to homosexuality during the 20th century, his fibbing that he only had a 'fungal disease' might be excused.  It was his habit though to embellish his travel stories with extra detail.

" was interested in asking big questions about human existence, sharing unusual tales, and making connections between ideas from various sources. His friend and fellow writer Robyn Davidson said, "He posed questions we all want answered and perhaps gave the illusion they were answerable."

Chatwin is a colourful character of that there is no doubt, he encapsulates the modern 20th century, his dashing appearance no doubt helping in the cause, almost a Lawrence of Arabia figure, perhaps that was his hero.  Isn't it funny that in the early part of the 20th century we had begun to discover sex, and it, by its discovery, became the focus of much literary art from that time. 

He inspired Rory Stewart, a lesser tory member of parliament, so whenever you see Rory's angular face on television on one of his journeys, remember it was reading Chatwin that set him off.

Well this small amount of research has all been done on my computer, I started off with a thought and found along the way, his book which I am listening to now, 



On the Black hill by Bruce Chatwin

It's place of origin has it in the near the village of Craswall, and is the tale of twins and how they grew up in their Welsh valley.  From what I have listened to very evocative for a writer who had never lived in Wales except for a holiday.





Saturday, May 1, 2021

'Thin places'

They are the places where the past can almost be touched.  They are a myriad worlds clashing against your brain and yet you do not have the key to open them.  What the hell is she talking about?  Well perhaps you can only see them on Sunday, when the world quietens down for a start.

I do not believe in spirits and ghosts but there are times when they drift past, elusive just like the memories in your brain.  For me a thin place is St. David's Headland, with its cathedral snuggled so neatly into the valley of the town and the prehistoric barrows scattered on the headland strewn with rocks.  The meeting of land and sea, the elements all add to the timelessness, the magic of 'place', when you can almost reach out and touch past worlds, still riding the Universe in an endless cycle.

Another thin place is the valley around Llanthony Priory, the narrow road that takes you past Welsh farms and the tiny church of Capel-y-Fin.  You will eventually arrive in Hay on Wye. the 'town of book shops', something Bovey Belle wrote about the other day.

Wales is a country landscape full of greyness, grey houses and grey rocks.  Its hilliness makes farming difficult, sheep scatter the uplands but it is also green and damp, there is a poem somewhere on this blog about one of the beat poets Allen Ginsberg visiting Capel-y-Fin  "Heaven balanced on a Blade of Grass"

Enjoy the video, I need coffee and a scone that I have just baked..........


https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2006/may/03/unitedkingdom.onlocationfilminspiredtravel.culturaltrips