Monday, August 30, 2021

If we had kept on walking

We could have reached Stoodley Pike but stopped for our lunch at the Shepherd's Rest. As ever intrigued by this monument I wikied it, it commemorates peace, ironic isn't it.  It fell because of lightening strikes but was rebuilt, as our hopes must be for the future of Afghanistan.  Though reading the news this morning apparently the Chinese are moving in on the mineral reserves - history goes on.


Wikipedia photograph 

                                                             A PEACE MONUMENT


From the bottom of the valley we followed an old lane, now turned into a public footpath, through woods, up steep steps and slopes.  My breath held out though I did stop quite a few times but managed.  The area is rather intriguing, a row of old terraced houses, dark and thin on the slope at one point with the sloping field boundary almost up to the back door.  A small farm settlement of half a dozen houses in the fields just before the pub. I find the landscape rather brutal, but we had magnificent views, stretching across the Calder Vale,  two lots of wind turbines on the horizon.  Looking down on the town of Todmorden, and you realise how compact it is, following the line of the river and the steep slopes.

I had leek and mushroom stroganoff, a bit peppery but good, the pub was busy, either with walkers coming up or those that had driven.  The Shepherd's Rest pub sits two thirds up to the ridge but above is Gaddings Dam, a Victorian enterprise. No road up to it and no facilities when you get there, you just have to walk up to the ridge.  Many people come because of the draw of its small beach.  They cause terrible problems with parking on the road and are probably rather dismayed at the walk and badly prepared.

This is a problem the country faces at the moment, the flight of the urban population into the countryside, holidaymakers bringing in their wake rubbish and sanitary problems.

This little video shows the way up but their enthusiasm grates rather.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

29th August 2021

 It is Sunday a time to write something.  We shall be going out to lunch today, walking up the hill and across fields to a pub, it sounds good.  It is difficult to write at the moment, the news is relentless and miserable and sad, and one can only think of those people in Afghanistan trapped and frightened. 

Yesterday I walked along the canal to the second bridge, in the distance were white geese bobbing on the water, three lined up facing the bank.  A dozen more scattered around.  The water of the canal is a chocolatey brown anointed with thousands of feathers that float gently, a peaceful and calming sight.  Apparently the geese gather there for the owner of an Indian restaurant who always brings the leftover naan breads for them.  Here at this spot there is a tea barge called Shanti Tea, run by a very hippish lady, she passed me by wheeling a trolley with a canister of gas and a couple of dozen eggs, you can have waffles to.  When I was a child we had a waffling iron, in which you poured the batter and then honey to fill the holes of the waffle - delicious.

I walk back, still I can't video from my camera, a couple of bikes go past, dog walker and then another hippy this time with a baby in a carrier he smiles at me and wishes me good morning.  Todmorden, apparently according to my daughter, is having the off spill of Hebden Bridge housing market, people are moving into the area and up marketing it. Going posh as you might say!

I have found that it is colder this side of Yorkshire and the clothes I picked are too summery, so I am quickly knitting stuff to keep warm.  It has been a strange summer weather wise, they say it is the hottest due to climate change but it hasn't felt particularly hot.

I had forgotten this video from yesterday.  It is about Doggerland, a lost land under the North Sea.  I fell in love with this notional Atlantis.  A land mass that joined us to Europe, it eventually went under about 8000 years ago and now here we are sitting in 'Brexit Land'.

When it was a fully functioning landscape there roamed extinct animals and also Neanderthal people, who weren't the numbskulls we depict them to be nowadays.  As the fishing boats have trawled the stone tools from the bottom of the sea, another picture has emerged. It has subtitles, the language is Dutch, and comes from the Rijkmuseum. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Catching up - Bradenstoke Abbey

Bradenstoke Abbey

Cro made mention of how old barns in France are being remodelled into homes to live in as in England.  Well it brought to mind Bradenstoke Abbey and William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) a newspaper mogul, think of Robert Murdoch for a clearer picture.

I have followed the story of Bradenstoke Abbey's stone as it lay about in a warehouse in America there is even a film* showing the packed craters below.  For a good period of my life I was married to an archaeology lecturer and so the history of Wiltshire and its remains were part of my background.

I remember visiting the farm on which the ruined remains of the Abbey were found, we were taken by a relative, his name was David and belonged to our group.  There was a furore at the time that the stuff that Hearst had taken had lain around for years in the warehouse in America completely forgotten, why could it not come back to England?

I see I have written two blogs on the fate of the stones and that over time the ruins that Brakespeare recorded in his time have at last come under official care.  All to the good.  Really one cannot build up an old historic building as it was before, but the sense of loss by the villagers of Bradenstoke, and perhaps the sense of ownership was strongly felt.

*This film erroneously shows Bradford on Avon tithe barn, and the information that the stones went to the building of the 1958 Madonna hotel, I am not even going write of this terribly themed hotel but yuck!!  But in this two year reassessment, I am so pleased to have found Brakespear online, a favourite historian  from the past.

And not forgetting St.Donat's Castle where Hearst undertook  a 'brutal' restructuring....

Hearst undertook a "brutal"[ expansion, including the incorporation of elements from other ancient structures such as the roofs of Bradenstoke Priory, Wiltshire and St Botolph's Church in Lincolnshire. His approach to architectural reclamation was controversial and the destruction of Bradenstoke was opposed in a vigorous campaign organised by the Society for the Protection of Ancient BuildingsBernard Shaw described the castle after Hearst's reconstruction as "what God would have built if he had had the money".  Wiki on St.Donat's Castle

Things that go Missing 2017

Remembering in 2019

Monday, August 23, 2021

23rd August 2021

 Sunday meal.  We went out to the Italian restaurant, smart, simple lines, sat out in their conservatory which was rather cold, where has the warm weather gone? I was facing the canal and the opposite bank and so took in the fact that there was a steep road up the hill and a very large house opposite amongst the trees (the camera will come one day).  Apparently flats now and an old rectory, must be to do with the Unitarian church.  Further up the lane are these two very tall, thin houses, obviously being renovated.  Why are they so tall?  could be to get some sunlight to the rooms but houses on slopes are a bit of a worry.

We all had different dishes of pasta, mine passed muster but was rich and a little too al dente for my taste but of course I enjoyed the company.  We must have been a disparate group.  L with her red hair now fading from two weeks camping with the scouts. T my grown-up grandson, reserved and gentle. My daughter, slightly flamboyant in her long black 'Sherlock' coat, and me perfectly respectable ;) ;)

Walking back I noticed some 'weaver' windows along a row of terraced houses, a man was sitting watching out of the window. Here are some from Hepstonstall..

The houses fascinate me, 18th to 19th century, working from home is no new idea but probably not well paid in these centuries.  Heptonstall is one of the places I will visit.  Weaver's window are of course do with light for the process of weaving in the home which the man normally did, the wife spinning the wool maybe, until the great industrial revolution overtook this valley and the weaving mills with their machinery took over the jobs.

Heptonstall is famous because of Sylvia Plath (Hughes) grave in the churchyard.  This American poet, married to the handsome Ted Hughes was humiliated by her husband and in a fit of despair killed herself, a story we all know well.  But the name Hughes on the gravestone has several times been obliterated by people angry about Hughes behaviour to his wife.  There is probably reams written on this sad subject.  It fits in nicely with what I think of as the women's movement for 'rights and equality'.  But their personal lives should of course exist within the realms of privacy.

Update on flying people out of Afghanistan

Sunday, August 22, 2021

22nd August 2021


Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt, crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, 
tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely,
with too high a spirit to be cumbered 
with your old nonsense.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

What to write about on this Sunday morning which will not be about current news.  I thumb through my blog posts, this time on Waldo's poem and become immersed in other things.  For a start Geoffrey Grigson scholarly and intellectual essay on Stonehenge to be read on this link.

I find photos of Lucy asleep on the sofa, of Paul cooking the Sunday breakfast, which took at least an hour of gentle frying  but i could not find the photo of Green Eyes as a kitten, peering seriously over the church wall as she contemplated our lives from her feral overview.

Read yesterday of three old feral tomcats in Amotherby, never been caught, ill and badly fed but still surviving to spread their  progeny.  Green Eyes now lives in a barn in Slingsby with two other cats, her future assured hopefully.

So what about the poem.   I came across Waldo Williams on a drive to the Presceli hills, his memorial plaque on a bluestone, across the lane from it is a another bluestone commemorating the time when a bluestone was taken from the top by helicopter, was the stone used for Waldo I wonder? If Grigson had been writing the present day history of the 'tunnel' to be built next to Stonehenge to take all the traffic and all the 'findings' of the original quarry from which the bluestones came from, he would have calmly laid it by all the famous people who had once speculated on the building and written it down as history in the making.

Williams reminds me of that other morose Welsh poet - R.S. Thomas and on reading the Wiki on him see he is described as the "Solzhenitsyn of Wales because he was such a troubler of the Welsh conscience". He was too put it bluntly bloody miserable but a very good poet.

Those fields – I’ve walked across them - they are
Extraordinary fields, though inaccessible to the seeker
After transcendence this is no loss for the page
Holds them in view and they extend into the margins
Between field hedges and the nets of the Hunter

In many places and times where time
Is arrested and held captive by a tether
Of stillness long enough to feel chastened by silence.
Sunlight touches a wall on a summer afternoon,
Shadows enclose a moment which passes from forever

To forever: Such blessings are felt to be precious.
But hearing beyond them voices calling in a common
Tongue of work and worship echoing through centuries,
And knowing that they witness this moment
When all is still, so that being alone

Is to be with them, resonates beyond solitude.
Voices heard in the echoes of whistling lapwings
Tremble to life over empty meadows; each hand,
Each tongue unique in the passing of time yet fused
In a moment making one of many things.

Waldo Williams

Presceli Mountains

Saturday, August 21, 2021

21st August 2021

 Yesterday was my daughter's birthday, no cake but a lovely recipe from Nigel Slater of a cream chicken dish, made by my granddaughter Lillie for tea.  There was a long conversation with all the family over the phone with Matilda in London in the evening.  Seeing as well as hearing people on the phone is one of the advantages of the new technology.

There you are family if you are reading this, perfectly bland and acceptable ;) no fault picking whatsoever just like a blog should be! Today my daughter after work will be going out for a meal with friends in Manchester.  Tomorrow Tom will come to celebrate the birthday, this time a takeaway.  Living in a town, should you be lazy there is a variety of takeaways to be had.

Yesterday I walked along the canal videoing from my phone but obviously forgot to press a relevant button.  The sun always shines brightly one way, so that the ducks and Canadian geese cannot be seen.  Feathers float on the dark brown water and the canal barges sit quietly by the towpath, some occupied as I watch two boat owners chatter, and notice for the first time, the mown grass on the land of  two of the barges.  Home from home or is it a permanent home anyway?

At Lidl there is an old man in front of me in the queue, explaining to someone that his left hand is all clenched up and doesn't work.  He is a sweet old man and when he moves forward drops his stick.  I pick it up and the till man comes out and hands him his change and puts his shopping in the back pack.  Small kind gesture of caring. 

I have worked out how the water is funnelled in this valley, on one side we have the canal and the other is the river Calder.  I walked along the town bit of the river the other day, apparently like the river Seven in Normanby it can go from a gentle flow of two feet up to fifteen feet when the waters come down.  Some of the water when it floods is redirected into the canal but the river of course enters the houses near it, many of which do not have basements.  Schemes of tree  planting and slow damming ponds, often called attenuation ponds to slow down peak flow are being put forward with land grants .  Though my ever sceptical daughter says that when grants are forthcoming there is greed involved.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

19th August 2021

Listening idly in bed to the news this morning the money side of Today interviewed James Wilthew from The Afghan Rug Shop in Hebden Bridge. It brought the whole terrible problem right here, right on one's own doorstep.  Looked him up and you can read what he is doing in the above link.

Also and I am going to quote from F/B the following which was on his page......

If you are frustrated with the situation in Afghanistan and want to help those not eligible for immediate resettlement - vulnerable groups such as women’s charities, journalists, LGBT groups, artists, interpreters - then please use this link.
Charter planes are being funded to extract the most vulnerable, this is immediate help and several hundred have already been flown to safety.
It cost about $250,000 per flight so don’t think that the large sums you may see are already sufficient. Every penny counts.

I know people talk of wanting not to listen to news and also legitimate monies which have fallen into the hands of the unscrupulous people but there are refugee organisations such as the UNHCR.

And think about buying the imported stuff that is made in Afghanistan don't be put off by negative speech it all helps.

By the way, these beautiful rugs are so expensive, last time I owned a Persian rug was years ago when my then sister-in-law bought us back one from Iran.  Dark brown and patterned it had a velvety feel to it but the dog chewed great holes in it so off it went to rubbish., though I could have probably made a footstool.  

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

17th August 2021

Another disaster is being reenacted right now, people falling from American planes, panicking as they flee to Kabul airport, and the slow wringing of hands as our governments wash their own hands of the responsibility of the terrible fate which may befall the country of Afghanistan.

How do we react, well I would think not with hate filled comments because hate breeds like, and the matter has to be handled with proper sensitivity.  We have, the Western world, interfered with other countries for gain and political supremacy.  Now we reap what we have sown.  But others suffer, women's rights have been hauled back to a medieval nightmare of inferiority, but those young Afghanistan women have tasted freedom it will reside in their souls, quietly taught to their children, this is change.

Will the Taliban keep their killing off the streets, we must all hold them to account, we must learn that though we may find religious beliefs childlike we are prepared to accept that different philosophies are the right of others.

Above all we should protect those that flee, listen and understand the tears of our own military men, shocked by the sudden withdrawal and perhaps put  reserve soldiers in to the cities to protect the civilians, a big ask I know. 

Governments take a long time to act, it is up to the ordinary people of this country to bully them into humanitarian action.  It is not just about money but about peace and calm in a war ravaged country, that should be the end goal.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Rehashing old blogs

At hawthorn-time in Wiltshire travelling
In search of something chance would never bring
An old man's face, by life and weather cut
And coloured,--rough, brown, sweet as any nut,--
A land face, sea-blue-eyed,--hung in my mind
When I had left him many a mile behind.
All he said was: "Nobody can't stop 'ee. It's
A footpath, right enough. You see those bits
Of mounds--that's where they opened up the barrows
Sixty years since, while I was scaring sparrows.
They thought as there was something to find there,
But couldn't find it, by digging, anywhere.


The River Ter 

Rehashing old blogs.  Well it is Sunday and I had thought to bring Edward Thomas's very long poem 'Lob' to the fore.  A nostalgic and romantic figure of someone who is everlasting and part of the Wiltshire countryside.  Many times I have said they don't write the prose as they did in the olden days, and this is so true of nature writing.  Edward Thomas and Richard Jeffries are two favourites of mine, were they exaggerating though, the storytelling, catching up with their imaginations and letting fly.  So a blog not about Wiltshire this time but Essex, the little river Ter just outside Chelmsford.  

I loved the drive to the little lane where we would park the car on the verge.  Running alongside in the hedge were hops, grown wild now but probably from cultivated stock a long time ago.  The bridge went over at this point, and if you looked down on one side you would see the waters choked by water plants, the yellow Iris flag beautiful in its stiff straight stem.  But on the other side it was clear, and sadly fished out for the grayling fish, sometimes I would see them but by the end of summer they were gone.

Last sunny day yesterday, so we went out to the pub for a ploughman's, it was also a treat for me, knitting and finishing a sweater for my love! This little river always calms my soul, the old giant willows lining its banks and then toppling across as old age finally gets them.  The first thing to strike driving along the lanes is how much water is still coming off the land, there has been no significant rain for about three weeks now.  Many of the fields are still brown soil not sown with seeds, I suppose because of the late cold weather.

What draws me to this insignificant river heaven knows, compared to a Welsh river tumbling over the rocks there is no comparison, I suspect it is the graceful willows and the old oak, still not in leaf, though driving in this limited countryside that beautiful fresh pale green flush can be seen everywhere, spring has truly arrived.

Blackthorn blossom strides through the hedgerows like lace, and in the field we heard our first skylark, rising up to the sky with its beautiful indignant song as we must have disturbed its nesting place in the field, as always, higher and higher till it seems to disappear into the blue.
The garden birds have settled to nesting, our noisy male blackbird sits quietly in the maple now, his mate found and presumably sitting on some eggs, and the collared doves bill quietly there.  Bumblebees have arrived thank goodness, hunting for nesting places in the shed or woodpile, they love mouse holes, that little bit of hay in the mouse's nest seems to make them happy.  Sadly we have no mice, but do have a hedgehog under the shed, who is out and about this last week; not seen him/her but  leaves traces behind, this is the one I rescued from the public footpath in Autumn, although there has normally been one living under the shed for years, so it might one and the same, very young though....

I love white deadnettle, it has a creamy white texture and its hooded flower is loved by bees, so on looking it up in The Englishman's Flora (this by the way is the book I would take to my desert island) I find Grigson whittling away on dead/dumb/deaf nettles, of course we all know why because it doesn't sting like its superior cousin Urtica/nettle - devil's playthings. 
The naming system of such wildflowers devolves often from a religious background, wicked stinging plants are assigned to the devil, useful/pretty plants become 'angelic.
Well in  Grigson's tale of this common wild plant we have it called 'Adam and Eve in the bower'
turn the plant upside down, and beneath the white lip of the corolla, Adam and Eve, the black and gold stamens, lie side by side like two human figures.
Grigson goes on to describe the flower....But the flowers also have a great charm of shape, colour and texture, from the time they lie like soft knobs within the long green teeth of the calyx.  The knob is formed by the upper lip, curled over before its expansion.  When it does expand into the hood. look at it with the bare eye or with a lens, see how it is felted and fringed with soft white hairs, like a moth.
A beautiful botanical description, not quite before the time of television but it does teach us to use our eyes more.
Whilst writing this, a poem came to mind it is by Edward Thomas and called 'Lob' a mythical figure.  The poem is very long and written in 1917 but captures that dusty chalk Wiltshire during WW1 and before, the simplistic naming of the landscape, the old English history that runs like a thread through the landscape and the minds of the country folk, picking up different coloured threads and stitching them into the tapestry of fields and woods.  

Saturday, August 14, 2021

A chalk landscape

How not to photograph a crop circle which was by Silbury Hill.  All I remember of this photo was that we passed several dozen butterflies feasting on wild flowers.

Just drunk my morning coffee, the pink kettle flirting gently with my midnight blue coffee pot on the Aga.  Toast was made on the slow hot plate in a griddle affair.  I wonder how many people are still using an Aga?

I footled through other people's blogs and found a good link on Aril's, 'Future learn', a place where you can go and learn for free, though there is a rising pay scheme.

I chose the Archaeology of Pewsey Vale, somewhere I know and have memories of the landscape.  It has an ancient history starting from Mesolithic times and settlement flows through right down to this day in the villages. 

On top of Knap Hill Enclosure with Moss and his ball. A game he played up here was to let it roll down the hill and then chase after it.  Can you see the lynchets behind him...

Paul and I would drive through occasionally to see the graves of his parents at Pewsey church and also to stop off at the Barge Inn. In fact there would be two pubs we would visit, the other one was the haunt of the crop circle people, this being 'crop circle land', though let us be honest the clever manipulation of the patterns on the wheat fields had more to do with a local group playing around at night.  The farmers weren't too happy either!

The painted crop circle ceiling

The funny thing about crop circles is that on the ground you are not really aware of the patterning, it is only when a drone is flown that you begin to see the rather clever patterns from the air.  It is strange to think that in a hundred years time, the people will look back at this antiquated art form and marvel that there were some who believed in aliens from other planets coming down at night.  Just as we take today the story of the 'moonrakers in a Wiltshire pond' as nonsense.

Adam's Grave in lonely contemplation of the downs round Avebury

From the great long barrow on top of a hill, the Neolithic Adam's Grave or Woden's if you prefer, for the Saxons settled in this valley as well, or to the two churches below set near to each other, the solid weight of history resounds round you.

The old Yew in the Vale of Pewsey, 

One of the church's foundation has prehistoric stones to stand on, you can lift the wooden lids in the church and peer down.  Now whether it stands on a stone circle we will never know, but just look at that lovely old yew tree in the graveyard and guess its age.

Martinsell Hill

I can remember this one hillfort on Martinsell Hill, that day the sun shone and as I walked along the old Saxon road/trackway I looked up and saw this hill.  Only later was I to find a book written by the Hubbard brothers in 1905 that said this hillfort was guarded by wolves.  So remember not everything you read is true ;)

But the chalk landscape of Wiltshire was the settling place of many early pioneers as they wandered the land of Britain.  It is the convenient way to travel along the way from Avebury to Stonehenge, two of the most important sites in Wiltshire, joining the Wiltshire chalk downs with Salisbury Plain. 

Chalks and Flints of Wiltshire by Lothar Respondex

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Climate Change

Bill McKibben recently praised Bill Gates for “his membership in the select club of ultra-billionaires not actively attempting to flee Earth”.

As I read my emails this morning, Greenpeace was saying 'I told you so' but of course they did not want to say it. For we are beginning to see the full weight of Climate Change affecting our planet.  Fires erupting everywhere, there will be excuses of course from governments but as the weather deteriorates we will all be caught up in the storm.
What makes me so sad, is all the life that Earth holds precious will become extinct.  Can you not think of the list, it is enormous, the lions, elephants, giraffes, the great whales of the sea, the trees, plants and what in the end will be left?
Today in my comfort zone I watched a herd of orphaned elephants led by a matriarchal female taken down a track to wander their way through the environment of their habitat.  They are orphaned by poachers who kill the adults.  After their valuable ivory tusks but even this crime seems a lesser evil than the wanton destruction of their world and ours.
Everywhere on my F/B account there are heartwarming stories of animals yet this is not the whole picture, cruelty lives alongside us, even if we do pretend it doesn't exist. Small wars rage across the
world as opposing sides try to inflict their beliefs and power over others.
I despair that we learn nothing that the same attitude of economic success still runs our world, that the people who govern us are scared cowards afraid to actually acknowledge the future they are leaving our children and grandchildren.
So I may not yet join Extinction Rebellion, but I shall definitely cheer them on  in their protest on the 23rd August, because someone somewhere has to be doing something about it! 

Monday, August 9, 2021

9th August 2021

Touching on sex slightly ;) Cro has drawn attention to Manga art and its sexual implications of how young girls dress, presumably for the lascivious eye of older men.  Don't be too horrified look at Hollywood for a start and all those films of young females dangling on the arm of an older man.

But as I thumbed through my blogs I came across Kesaki, a conservator at the British Museum who had had a small exhibition on the subject of erotic Japanese books and paintings in 2014.  The exhibition was called Shunga and I don't know if it was a success or not but Kesaki invited us to see the exhibition as it was being prepared.

Now in the studio at Chelmsford, there were 'pillow books' to be mended, collected by a client of Pauls. And I remember the Japanese kimonoed courtesan who hung on the wall for a while with a tissue delicately held between her lips.  There was also the graceful lissom body of a young man half undressed that needed work done on it.

Such things as the pillow books became outlawed though, they are actually poking fun at you and are slightly cartoonish.

Japan I think is slightly behind on the implications of the equality of male and female as shown by the Me To campaign, but as everything in life it will become part of the mainstream of Western culture.

I found these old blogs just by typing in a name to search, never having used the labelling section.  All because today, I found at the bottom of a carrier bag, the old Japanese dark brown butter dish, that my daughter had swiped off the kitchen windowsill the small items there, such as the wooden Japanese garlic box, to remind me of all the stuff I had used.  There is an incense bowl and the little cupboard god, praying neatly.

Things Move on.

Goldfish and Carp

Sunday, August 8, 2021

8th August 2021

 Yesterday my daughter said had I written anything on my blog.  It reminded me of Paul asking the same question, "have you written anything sweetheart" and when questioned why he wanted to know, he  once replied 'because I will know what you are thinking'  So what to write on my blog as the Bike Shed reminds us we need to note the blogs we are thinking too write, sorting through them and discarding on the way. 

Well to day it will be about Leni, I mentioned in my last blog.  She was Jewish and lived to be a 102 years old.  She lived in a small Swiss house near to the train Halt underneath the Chateau de Blonay.  You went down a little unmade track and her house and garden greeted you, one of her friends lived further down.  I have a fading photograph of my daughter and her standing under a large sunflower. Also of going to tea with those delicious Swiss cakes you could buy, and of course the fruit tarts which we would buy on Sunday for dessert.

She lived through the whole of the 20th century, two World Wars and escaped the terrible fate which befell some of her family in the concentration camps.  My granddaughter Matilda found an online Google book written by Leni's nephew and in it he gives a paragraph of her life.

"My father's youngest sister Leni was a free spirit and wanted to be a ballerina but Opa did not think this was a good life for an upper class Jewish aristocrat.  Leni left home anyway and became a dancer with the Hamburg Stadt Oper, during her time there she met and married a British Petroleum oilman and moved to Isfahan, just before the war, becoming a Christian and a British Citizen, and a translator from the German into Persian and English of messages intercepted by the British Foreign Service.  She worked out of the British Ambassador's office in Teheran.  After the war she taught at the Laban Art of Movement Guild in London and retired to Switzerland, where she passed away at 102 years of age.  After her death, The British Foreign Office recognized her war time service on behalf of the allied cause."

Ref;  The Meyerowitz Family from Konigsberg: Contemporaries of Hans-Joachim Schoeps.

And there she is on the right, 50 years ago at my daughter's christening in Switzerland.  It was done at 'grandpa's church' down in Territet.  It obviously wasn't his church, but the English church there where he was a church warden.  There was also an English church in Vevey to serve the people who worked at Nestle and all those rich retirees who took to the slopes of the Les Pleiades mountain.

From the left is Florine a friend from America and a godmother and in the middle my daughter's granny.

Friday, August 6, 2021


 Today we went to Hebden Bridge and it rained all the time but we had an enjoyable time.  The bus journey takes you along the narrow valley of this area, lots of traffic, but also lots of terraced rows of houses, some with weaver windows.  The houses are often bang, slap up on the road, and the windows reflect the dirt.  We passed the scene of the water burst, which left us with a mere drizzle out of the tap yesterday, 'famine or feast' my daughter said.

She had returned from her London visit to see Matilda and Ben, sadly Matilda was confined to her quarters at the university as one of the residents had come back with Covid.  Karen says that the amount of beggars and people on the street far outstrip Manchester, where at least there is a definite movement to house the homeless.

Arriving in Hebden Bridge, the rich hippy town round here, we went for a coffee at Leila's, an Iranian cafe, with a delicious slice of cake, going back for a meal soon.  In the family we always call Iran, Persia a hangover from when my daughter's grandfather worked there for Unesco in the time of the Shah  As we sat and chatted she remembered her grandmother's best friend, Leni, who lived to be a hundred and died in Switzerland.  Leni was a dancer and taught dancing but had married a German and found herself in Tehran.  Apparently the husband had developed a tumour on his brain and had gone slightly mad. So one day he had taken Leni out to the desert and left her to die, there is a donkey somehow mixed up in the story but I know not where!  Anyway she did not die and went on to marry someone else. So a happy ending, I still have her silver fish forks as a reminder.

We wandered round the town, it is very picturesque, wait till I get my camera, with the waterway tumbling through and the ridges of trees above the town.  Not many tourists, though it is a tourist's spot.

It is town full of restaurants and cafes, and shops that sell trinkets, we bought fresh baked bread for lunch and made our way back home.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

5th August 2021

I am missing my camera now as the torrential rain of last night is finished and the sun shines. Looked for a cheap one online and think I have found one but it needs some thinking about.

It was beautiful this morning, sun shining, and I walked down to Lidl to get a few things. Across the road from the house, through a car park and then down the steps to the canal.  All along the side against the walls wild flowers jostle along with tamed varieties.  Fireweed pokes its head up amongst Lady's mantle and perennial geraniums.  A tall six foot lovage plant sprouts gaily away, I always found the taste of this celery like plant too strong but it is a handsome giant.

I meet a couple of dog walkers and we dance round the large puddle under the bridge, a panting walker overtakes me excusing herself that she is on a fitness walk.  I smile inwardly, walking slowly has always been a pleasure in my life.  I am not getting from one point to another but mentally snapshotting the things I see about me. 

On the canal side, there are oxeye daisies lining the path and meadowsweet is emerging as well. On the far side there is a line of canal boats, looks like they are all unoccupied, they do not have the little flower gardens and mess of stuff on top as they did in Bath and Bradford-on-Avon.  Neat and tidy but uninteresting!  I see my first butterfly on a buddleia bush and hear a cock crow hidden in the trees.

When I descend the stairs to Lidl looking up and I see the high ridge of the valley and wonder why the inhabitants of Todmorden did not worry about living at the bottom of a valley.  

And as for local naming, two of the nearby villages.  'Wal' is interesting because it means a foreigner, Bath has similar in Walcot Street.


Walsden's name is of Anglo-Saxon origin meaning "Valley of Foreigner" or "Valley of he who is Foreign". Foreign refers to the Celtic Britons who lived in West Yorkshire at the time of the Anglo Saxon Petty Kingdoms. Thus, it has the same root as Wales  and as Wallonia in Belgium. It has been said in the past that it comes from "Wolves' Den", this is dismissed as a folk etymology

The name Todmorden first appears in 1641. The town had earlier been called Tottemerden, Totmardene, Totmereden or Totmerden. The generally accepted meaning of the name is Totta's boundary-valley, probably a reference to the valley running north-west from the town.[5] Alternative suggestions have been proposed, such as the speculation "maybe fancifully" that the name derives from two words for death: tod and mor (as in mort), meaning "death-death-wood", or that the name meant "marshy den of the fox", from the Old English. From an original ''tod'' (the saxon name for fox) and ''moor''/''moore'' ( a common toponym termination) could have been derivated a significant Deanery of the Moor of the Foxes. From this latest, perhaps the malapropism Todmorden.

Mankinhole: The name "Mankin" is believed to have Celtic origins, with the OED recording its first meaning as "fierce wild man". The surname Mankin is found in parish records of the township of Langfield and the parish of Halifax. One theory is that the name derives from an area of caverns, inhabited by mankins. A second theory is that the name means "Mancan's Hollow", with Mancan being an Irish surname, suggesting Irish-Viking settlers

Info taken from Wikipedia

I remember the tale of Saint Beuno about 'foreigners' whilst walking with his followers on one side of a Welsh river overheard a Saxon voice  calling his hounds on the other side... 'let us leave this place for the nation of this man I heard setting on his hounds has a strange language which is abominable'

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

3rd August 2021

Rabbit holes, dive deeper and the connections flow together.  As I was thumbing through Unitarianism, and boy does it have a long history in Wiki.  Why Unitarianism? this is the church of fame in Todmorden built by John Fielden's sons in memory of him in 1867, now defunct but held up by a charity it is now the meeting place of the Incredible Edible people of Tod, who were working on Sunday round the gardens and came back and dined on Asian and Indian food, probably kindly donated by the two restaurants I spied a couple of days ago.

I came across the fact that this theology theory was firstly adopted and taken up by Joseph Priestley. (1733-1844)  I know him said my mind, my daughter used to go to his primary school in Calne, Wiltshire.  He was the scientific mind that explored oxygen and gases.  He worked at Bowood House just outside Calne, lived on The Green, where my daughter went to nursery school, and he would have wandered the many places I did especially round the River Marden.

Calne has a small memorial to him in the square, see here.  I can only remember Calne town by the statues of pigs that wound their way in the central area.  This was of course because of the bacon factory that once dominated the town, now pulled down and nothing remains.

Looking through the long list of dissenting upstart interpretations of the Christian faith,  Unitarianism was all over the world, it seems quite a refreshing evaluation, not too believe in the Trinity, or the words of the bible.  It is surprising how the Victorian era bought forth so many great men (and women), exploring and challenging the world around them.

Perhaps we need them back again to pull us out of this black hole called Climate Change but yes they do exist alongside the milksops of the Bullington Club world.  Brains sparkle in our professors and some leaders, the vaccination programme showed how quickly we could work to overcome the imminent fear of dying of Covid.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Following St. Cedd From Essex to Yorkshire

A blog written in 2009 I think.  Derek Jarman came too mind yesterday, and I watched his Avebury video (remastered) and thought about his garden and shack on the shore.  It is up for a tidy sum nowadays by the way...But it brought back the memory of St.Peter-on-the-Wall, called thus because of its Roman connections set in the marshland that is part of the Dengie Peninsula in Essex.  One thing I never mentioned at the time is the Bradwell-on-Sea nuclear power station that also stood on this shoreline.  Over the years since I last saw it it has been decommissioned, but a Chinese company has taken the site over to build another one!!  So at the moment it is in a 'quiescent' state but future plans lie here.

Landscapes are a wonderful way of discovering the world, everyone so different, all down to of course the geological rocks which dictates the plants.  There is definitely a feeling of loneliness on the marshes.

And so the virtual visit, but this time in the mind only.

"In a blog on my other site, I mentioned Saint Cedd* as he sat beneath a great oak tree, and I shall perhaps write about this saint later, but on Tuesday we visited the Saxon chapel of St.Peter on the Wall, founded by Cedd in AD 654, the chapel still standing in a bleak location by the sea.

Firstly you must imagine the scene, the flat Essex landscape merging with the great estuary, and then the drive through the village of Bradwell on Sea to the position of the chapel on its promontory facing the grey expanse of the sea.
Park the car in the grassy car park, walk along the straight long track between brown ploughed fields to the building sitting on its grassy knoll; you are one of many pilgrims to have walked this way, this may be somewhere to visit as a tourist but never forget that pilgrims came with a great deal more in their hearts.

The building is not beautiful, uncompromising it has stood for 1400 years. Grey in the sunlight, it is made up of reused roman stone and tiles, refurbishing tiles and bricks complete the top half.

It is built on top of roman gateway, foundations to a fort, the old Fosse running parallel to the entrance of the chapel, the Roman fort of Othona it is thought, one of The Forts of the Saxon Shore.

Touch the rough texture of the worked stone at the corner, look down at the half hidden buttresses in the grass layered with the red of Roman roof tiles, turn the ring on the great oak door pushing its heavy weight till the interior unfolds before your eyes. The austere simplicity of rough grey stone and flint walls dimly lit by the light from the windows. Benches in front of the modern altar to sit quietly on and take in the atmosphere.

Now let the mind travel along its walls, here are the arched domes of the waggon doors when it was used sometime in the medieval period as a barn. There is another arch facing you, now blocked in, that would have led to the basilica type apse at the East end. Focus on the great colourful cross high on the wall, for this chapel is still used twice a day by a local 'Othona' Christian community. then note in the right hand corner, a long vertical stone with a candle on top, at the base is a large rounded stone, with flowers grouped around it. A puzzling enigma, is there a touch of paganism here?
One more thing to note here is the modern altar, a square rectangular slab of stone on three pillars, and here we come to the Celtic heart of this chapel, for it is these three modern stones that represent Saint Cedd's other communities..

The left stone is a gift from Holy Island, Lindisfarne, it was here that Saint Cedd was trained by Saint Aidan.
The centre stone is a gift from the Island of Iona, the Celtic mission in Britain started here; it was here that St.Colombus founded a monastery where missionary monks were trained.
The right stone is a gift from Lastingham, Cedd left Bradwell to build a monastery at Lastingham in the Yorkshire Moors, and it was here he died of the plague in AD.664

The bank of the promontory folds down into a boggy sea marsh, a nature reserve, filled with wild plants, a pleasing palette of greys and browns, shot through with the red of plant stems. A lone birdwatching hide stands almost bird shaped itself on its long poles, gaunt and lonely looking out to sea.

Going back to the car and settling into its warmth from the chill Essex winds, picnicking on hot tea and rolls a great flutter of wings and young starlings fell around us settling to drink from a puddle. Soon two more waves of these birds landed, harassed, ever so slightly by a blackbird, a thin flutter of nervous excitement running through the flock as they perceived danger, each a perfect image of his companion.

Information taken from; A booklet by H.Malcolm Carter - The Fort of Othona and the Chapel of St.Peter-On-The-Wall...