Monday, May 30, 2022

Memories - 30th May 2022

Vangelis died a couple of weeks ago.  So, you say, another death, who was he? but for me it brought back memories of the song I so love. I Will Find My Way Home by Jon and Vangelis.  I came to this music late in life, Paul would laugh as I demanded all conversation and movement must stop whilst I listen. I had it played at his cremation ceremony.  That day it was raining with such a ferocity that the fields as we travelled to York were flooded, and I believe a sink hole had appeared in one of the roads.  Our taxi driver was so kind, she had undercharged me but refused to take more money when I said I would pay.  

Those are the fleeting memories of one of the saddest days in my life.  I haven't played the music since until this morning when I thought I could tackle it.  It is about spirituality, acknowledging that we are always in the act of seeking, trying to find strength in the world around us.  I know us agnostics are a minority force, though I think that is changing and the flowing natural world stands in for religion.

I think Paul was courageous, when as a young man, he stepped off that plane in Japan, stood at the train station in Tokyo not knowing what to do.  He had thought he could get a train straight through to Kyoto at midnight.  Until the station master called the police and they drove him to a hostel for the night and his life  then began in Japan.  His year as a monk was to begin in the Ryozen-an temple  but was beset often by hunger  in a little hut in the grounds and according to the article below he lived off apples and peanut butter.

I have at my side an article written by one Geoffrey Murray - Paul Wills, Conserving an Artistic Heritage.  Its flowing prose perhaps exaggerates in its complimentary tone but I shall copy them for it is the intro to what I have been saying above.....

"The story of Paul Wills is a classic tale of the starving artist struggling amid privation to achieve a perfection that remains eternally elusive.  He is not, however, the archetypal eccentric genius in a drafty garret striving to produce a masterpiece of painting or sculpture".....

He came to Japan in 1966 as an aspiring student of Oriental art.  For the next few years, in order to survive, he taught English at night to be able to continue his day studies- first as a general art student and later as an apprentice of art conservation (a word he prefers to restoration).

That niggling over a word was Paul's attitude to life, his tidiness learnt from 10 years of restoring Japanese artwork, kneeling on a tatima (straw mat) floor and working at a long low trestle table with exquisite care at valuable artwork.  He of course grew tired of it as he grew older, kneeling for hours does not do your knees any good, eyesight began to falter and so moving to Yorkshire was probably one of the happier moments in his life.

"His workplace has been a small, cramped room cluttered with irreplaceable art treasures in a quiet, secluded basement of Kyoto National Museum.  The temples, castles, and palaces that are visible evidence of the past glories of the old imperial capital, making Kyoto a Mecca for the student of Japanese art, history and religion.

To be continued.............

Saturday, May 28, 2022

28th May 2022

 Haven't got much to say.  But I will allow the random thoughts that daily plague my brain to fall out.

 Tod news: There has been an uprising in the stealing of school, scout and every other type of buses used for transporting our young around.  The scout master was so pleased to be stopped by the police when he was driving a borrowed van from Shade (yes there is a place called Shade).  I reckon the police just have to read the Tod chat line and they could catch the villians in situ.  As for those two thirteen year old lads who stole the box of vapor things.  A message went up from the shopkeeper, sorry lads they are empty but could you return the box.

Daughter and granddaughter are staying the weekend over in London, it is a birthday treat so I am all alone for the weekend, which saves worrying on what to cook.  Yesterday it was butter beans in a tomato sauce served with plenty of mash.  The day before chickpea koftas with sweet potato wedges.

Beans are the great standby of the vegetarian cook, so much easier to add things to as well.  A slurp of wine, a dash of smoked paprika or curry, sweeten slightly with mango chutney the koftas.  Kidney beans can stand alone without the mince in a chilli sauce, and mushrooms in a stronganoff.

Also you can have fun with salads, slicing thinly, sweet hard pears with  avocado pears.  Beetroot with mixed beans.

Got caught walking alone along the canal the other day, by two who were working for the Canal Trust, once caught I could not talk my way out of becoming a 'friend' of the canal.  Luckily I did not have my card with me so the whole matter stalled much to their disappointment - £5 a month, should I find them next week I wonder.  My daughter reckons it is a racket, charity is big business don't you know, Oxfam are very good at it.  I have never quite found the answer to how much money you pay to the so many charity organisations that plague us.

Well the Sue Grey report went down with a large thump of disappointment, he crawled out of it again but the writing is on the wall says she hopefully, as people start to speak out.

As for the terrible happening in America, and the news that the police left it for half an hour before moving in.  The images are shocking in my mind.  To hear Trump on the news this morning, of course defending the right to have guns just makes me sick.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

26th May 2022

“a cesspit full of arrogant, entitled narcissists”.  A quote on No.10 Downing Street.  That is all my political crossness today, I have written it out of my system and will concentrate on other things.

F/B threw up memories today of a little cottage in a hamlet that we went to look at in 2014. All you had to do you was  walk up the lane to the moors.  It was dinky, far too small for all of Paul's great collection but so pretty.  Disadvantages, no garage, no storage, incredibly tiny bedrooms and a well shared with next door.

The bathroom was carpeted in pink right to the top of the bath, it was in fact a memorial left to a deceased wife by the then owner.  The garden was beautiful but peer over the wall at the back and you were looking down a deep ravine, not conducive to young children.  The two rooms downstairs were opened up and an open backed fire stood in the middle.  All beams and chintz, it was cosy but way over the top, I just loved it for its remoteness.

I tried to find some photos of the cottage but obviously I could not have taken any in the cottage.  As I thumbed through 2015 photos came up of Lucy who we had just 'rescued' from Blue Cross in Thirsk and also my trio of hens pottering around. Allowed at last to have a dog, Paul had always said no to animals because of hairs in the studio. I was thrilled with my untidy spaniel and my three hens.  Paul who had never kept a dog in his life, of course fell in love with her as well.  We picked her up from the kennels and drove back up Sutton Bank, we stopped at the picnic place at the top and shared one packet of sandwiches between the three of us, not knowing the song and dance she would lead us through her life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

25th May 2022

 Amelia the nurse phone me yesterday with the result of my blood test.  All is well and functioning, most of me passed my MOT, except for one small bump.  My cholestrol is a bit high she said.  My love affair with butter must come to an end I have decided.  Not that I am giving it up, just reducing my intake.  Would you want to take statins she said, no way said I, diet will have to be the method.  The only pills I take are for blood pressure, and that was fine and normal she checked.  Well I am at last in the hands of the NHS, it has been rather worrying when you change districts, as to how much of your information travels with you but having entered the computer database - I am recorded;)

When I told my granddaughter she said good granny now you will get your 100 years achieved telegram from the Queen.  No way said I, no intention of living into very old age, hopefully the plug will be pulled quietly somewhere in the next few years.

Actually I am more likely to die of stress, waiting for the above call with my mobile switched on to catch it, and not losing it in  the time consuming performance of finger press of recognition always reduces me to a tizzy of fury at mobile phones.

I think New York is celebrating the ending of public call booths as well, theyll be sorry when the internet gets trashed ;)

Monday, May 23, 2022

So now the copper weather cock is dead?

 Experimenting with fonts.  I wonder what Eric Gill would have made of our computer fonts?

A few days ago someone asked me what was my favourite poem and without thinking I replied 'Lob' by Edward Thomas.  Forgot about the poem until Sue of Suffolk mentioned the wild plant 'Jack by the Hedge' and wrote a small history of this rather unintrusive plant, only to be found at this time of the year with the orange tipped butterfly paying tribute to it.

I typed the name into my search box and Lob, amongst his many disguises through the ages came up as Jack The Giant killer who must have killed many giants from Yorkshire to Wiltshire.

What does Thomas catch in his poem?  The essential 'Englishness' of the countryside, the bucolic labourer who fishes for the moon in the pond, the richness of the hedgerows and the specificity of belonging to the land and its stories.  Some would argue we are trying to pick up those threads once again with our nature writing.  We live in a time when the assault of modernity strips the countryside of its magic.  Of course it can still be found if we go out and search for it caught in the fold of  the root of a tree, a lone violet holding on as bikes and feet thunder by, the intense blue of a bluebell wood or the heady honey scent of thick edges of cow parsley.   Turn our thoughts inward and tread very gently.  John Constable captured the magic at the mill, for one moment the world became still, the river slowed its flow, the dog stopped barking and the horse stopped drinking.

Tread lightly upon the Earth because the faces of the unborn look up at you. James Cameron.


Lob by Edward Thomas

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.

"To turn back then and seek him, where was the use?
There were three Manningfords,--Abbots, Bohun, and
Bruce:And whether Alton, not Manningford, it was,
My memory could not decide, because
There was both Alton Barnes and Alton Priors.
All had their churches, graveyards, farms, and byres,
Lurking to one side up the paths and lanes,
Seldom well seen except by aeroplanes;
And when bells rang, or pigs squealed, or cocks crowed,
Then only heard. Ages ago the road
Approached. The people stood and looked and turned,
Nor asked it to come nearer, nor yet learned
To move out there and dwell in all men's dust.
And yet withal they shot the weathercock, just
Because 'twas he crowed out of tune, they said:
So now the copper weathercock is dead.
If they had reaped their dandelions and sold
Them fairly, they could have afforded gold.

Many years passed, and I went back again
Among those villages, and looked for men
Who might have known my ancient. He himself
Had long been dead or laid upon the shelf,
I thought. One man I asked about him roared
At my description: "'Tis old Bottlesford
He means, Bill." But another said: "Of course,
It was Jack Button up at the White Horse.
He's dead, sir, these three years." This lasted till
A girl proposed Walker of Walker's Hill,
"Old Adam Walker. Adam's Point you'll see
Marked on the maps.""That was her roguery,
"The next man said. He was a squire's son
Who loved wild bird and beast, and dog and gun
For killing them. He had loved them from his birth,
One with another, as he loved the earth.
"The man may be like Button, or Walker, or
Like Bottlesford, that you want, but far more
He sounds like one I saw when I was a child.
I could almost swear to him. The man was wild
And wandered. His home was where he was free.
Everybody has met one such man as he.
Does he keep clear old paths that no one uses
But once a life-time when he loves or muses?
He is English as this gate, these flowers, this mire.
And when at eight years old Lob-lie-by-the-fire
Came in my books, this was the man I saw.
He has been in England as long as dove and daw,
Calling the wild cherry tree the merry tree,
The rose campion Bridget-in-her-bravery;
And in a tender mood he, as I guess,
Christened one flower Love-in-idleness,
And while he walked from Exeter to Leeds
One April called all cuckoo-flowers Milkmaids.
From him old herbal Gerard learnt, as a boy,
To name wild clematis the Traveller's-joy.
Our blackbirds sang no English till his ear
Told him they called his Jan Toy 'Pretty dear.'(She was Jan Toy the Lucky, who, having lost
A shilling, and found a penny loaf, rejoiced.)
For reasons of his own to him the wren
Is Jenny Pooter. Before all other men
'Twas he first called the Hog's Back the Hog's Back.
That Mother Dunch's Buttocks should not lack
Their name was his care. He too could explain
Totteridge and Totterdown and Juggler's Lane:
He knows, if anyone. Why Tumbling Bay,
Inland in Kent, is called so, he might say.

Kent, is called so, he might say."
But little he says compared with what he does.
If ever a sage troubles him he will buzz
Like a beehive to conclude the tedious fray:
And the sage, who knows all languages, runs away.
Yet Lob has thirteen hundred names for a fool,
And though he never could spare time for school
To unteach what the fox so well expressed,
On biting the cock's head off,--Quietness is best,--
He can talk quite as well as anyone
After his thinking is forgot and done.
He first of all told someone else's wife,
For a farthing she'd skin a flint and spoil a knife
Worth sixpence skinning it. She heard him speak:
'She had a face as long as a wet week'
Said he, telling the tale in after years.
With blue smock and with gold rings in his ears,
Sometimes he is a pedlar, not too poor
To keep his wit. This is tall Tom that bore
The logs in, and with Shakespeare in the hall
Once talked, when icicles hung by the wall.
As Herne the Hunter he has known hard times.
On sleepless nights he made up weather rhymes
Which others spoilt. And, Hob being then his name,
He kept the hog that thought the butcher came
To bring his breakfast 'You thought wrong,' said Hob.
When there were kings in Kent this very Lob,
Whose sheep grew fat and he himself grew merry,
Wedded the king's daughter of Canterbury;
For he alone, unlike squire, lord, and king,
Watched a night by her without slumbering;
He kept both waking. When he was but a lad
He won a rich man's heiress, deaf, dumb, and sad,
By rousing her to laugh at him. He carried
His donkey on his back. So they were married.
And while he was a little cobbler's boy
He tricked the giant coming to destroy
Shrewsbury by flood. 'And how far is it yet?
'The giant asked in passing. 'I forget;
But see these shoes I've worn out on the road
And we're not there yet.' He emptied out his load
Of shoes for mending. The giant let fall from his spade
The earth for damming Severn, and thus made
The Wrekin hill; and little Ercall hill
Rose where the giant scraped his boots. While still
So young, our Jack was chief of Gotham's sages.
But long before he could have been wise, ages
Earlier than this, while he grew thick and strong
And ate his bacon, or, at times, sang a song
And merely smelt it, as Jack the giant-killer
He made a name. He too ground up the miller,
The Yorkshireman who ground men's bones for flour

"Do you believe Jack dead before his hour?
Or that his name is Walker, or Bottlesford,
Or Button, a mere clown, or squire, or lord?
The man you saw,--Lob-lie-by-the-fire, Jack Cade,
Jack Smith, Jack Moon, poor Jack of every trade,
Young Jack, or old Jack, or Jack What-d'ye-call,
Jack-in-the-hedge, or Robin-run-by-the-wall,
Robin Hood, Ragged Robin, lazy Bob,
One of the lords of No Man's Land, good Lob,--Although he was seen dying at Waterloo,
Hastings, Agincourt, and Sedgemoor too,--Lives yet.
He never will admit he is dead
Till millers cease to grind men's bones for bread,
Not till our weathercock crows once again
And I remove my house out of the lane
On to the road." With this he disappeared
In hazel and thorn tangled with old-man's-beard.
But one glimpse of his back, as there he stood,
Choosing his way, proved him of old Jack's blood
Young Jack perhaps, and now a Wiltshireman
As he has oft been since his days began.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

19th May 2022

Yesterday, I went for my fourth vaccination and joined a medium sized queue.  The vaccine receptionist asked me to keep an eye on two mature ladies in the queue who were sitting down waiting for their turn.  The first went through, but the other came over and joined me and chatted away.  We talked of the face masks we had to wear, mine is always so annoying, if my glasses don't steam up, they fall off my nose as I remove the face mask.  She talked about wearing a gas mask as a child in the last war.  How uncomfortable it was but every Friday they were made to sit through a school day wearing one. 

Now Lillie and I argue as to who knows the most facts, she is doing this particular period for history.  Now as a Doctor Who fan, I remember the series when all these little children (Empty Child) wandered around with gas masks on, totally frightening for my sensitive nature ;)  But sadly the real gas masks were dangerous in themselves, having asbestos in their makeup - 10% of the workforce died of cancer related to this.

Read the article and find out that Churchill was not too adverse to using poisonous gases on the cities of the enemy.

 "We could drench the cities of the Ruhr and many other cities in Germany in such a way that most of the population would be requiring constant medical attention... If we do it one hundred per cent. In the meanwhile, I want the matter studied in cold blood by sensible people and not by that particular set of psalm-singing uniformed defeatists which one runs across now here now there." 

So the old quarrels of the liberals that we face today is but a streak that dominates our history.  Churchill was prepared to get nasty in war and use gas, who stopped him I wonder?  The photos of gas masks are terrifying, even if they did make Disney type ones for the children, so a lesser evil.

Gas masks

"Gas masks were neither easy nor comfortable to wear. The gas-like odour of rubber and disinfectant made many people feel sick. One child wrote: "Although I could breathe in it. I felt as if I couldn't. It didn't seem possible that enough air was coming through the filter. The covering over my face, the cloudy Perspex in front of my eyes, and the overpowering smell of rubber, made me feel slightly panicky, though I still laughed each time I breathed out, and the edges of the mask blew a gentle raspberry against my cheeks. The moment you put it on, the window misted up, blinding you. Our mums were told to rub soap on the inside of the window, to prevent this. It made it harder to see than ever, and you got soap in your eyes. There was a rubber washer under your chin, that flipped up and hit you, every time you breathed in... The bottom of the mask soon filled up with spit, and your face got so hot and sweaty you could have screamed." 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

18th May 2022

My granddaughter takes me in hand on the train journey to Manchester (she loves doing that).  As a matter of fact I hate Tod station, this is where I tumbled and fractured my ankle and had to sit on urine smelling steps for a couple of hours waiting for an ambulance.  But she does all the necessary flashing of cards at the ticket machines.

Planning...  So we wandered around Manchester and its very tallness assaulted my senses.  Large buildings everywhere, some grand and Victorian, others modern and of course the biggest shopping mall you can imagine, the Arndale Centre.

I said, could see the disapproval in my daughter's eyes, that there seemed to be a lot of foreigners around.  It is like London, different languages everywhere, and young people, dressed up and pretty, the vitality of  city life caught in tourists and the young.

Our first port of call was a bra shop, there is another prom dance in the family in July and everything is geared towards that, and of course the exams at the moment.  A lengthy period of sitting down in the basement whilst we waited and then off to meet my grandson at the curry restaurant,

The word I would use to describe the restaurant  is 'artisan' a £4 plate of three curries (dollops) on rice, it was alright, except one of mine was too strong and brought tears to my eyes.  It was fashionable for crowds of young, presumably male students.  Anderson eat your heart out, the young cannot manage on 30p meals!  We had that delicious Indian Lassi drink of mango and yoghurt.  Then rather stuck after we finished our meal, it was decided to hunt out an icecream and tea for me.  

We ended up in the food court of the Arndale. I people watch, from the little girl playing in the mechanical children's car to the young man who desultorily wipe the tables,  They fall into that empty space of my mind, noting the father of the child is sitting  at a table with his computer whilst keeping an eye on his child - is the mother shopping I wonder.  Security men stomp round in red shirts, obviously bored out of their minds.  Always I am aware of the young, how cities attracts them.  A third grandchild is on the phone to his mother, my daughter, he is looking for a flat in London and downloads the viewing of the flats he is looking at - life in the fast lane!

Then there is my eldest grandchild, gentle Tom, sitting there, asking politely what do I do with my day.  I laugh inwardly, for I am always busy during the day - busy doing nothing I suppose is the answer but then what are all these people doing around me I wonder?

We wander back through the elegant clothes of the young, for surely only the older shop at M&S.  A young shop assistant flits through the rails, it is getting late and she is in charge of all these superfluous clothes.  

We make our way to the train station, say goodbye to Tom, and he goes and catches a metro tram, which always seem overcrowded. We speed back through the industrial detritus of outer Manchester, I look back at the tall skyscrapers of flats, looking so out of place in the landscape.  The sad thought comes to mind that just like as in Ukraine, these eyesores would be easily bombed and reduced to a wreckage of concrete and steel girders.  Back to the relative safety of Tod.

This is the Football Museum, see how everything, building wise, jostles out of blending with its neighbours.  Planning?? what is that all about?

Just one other thought. I read this morning that the centre of government should move from London, (House of Parliament are already crumbling)  and set up either Up North in Manchester or in the Midlands in Birmingham. Not that it will ever happen because of tourism and all that but Manchester is becoming a media centre.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

17th May 2022 -

 I'm off for my annual MOT, or blood test.  Don't like it, reminds me of Tony Hancock's famous line when he had to give a pint of blood.  A pint, a pint ? that's a whole armful!

Then this afternoon being picked up by my granddaughter and a train trip to Manchester to see my eldest grandson Tom and his beloved.  We are all going out for a meal, Indian curry I think.  Did I ever say that life terrifies me? getting lost on trains, in towns, not being able to find people you are supposed to meet. 

The doctors will be a new experience, yes I only go once a year. so you can be sure my blood pressure will be up, it is normally third time lucky as it goes down and then they stop checking it.  I mean, here I am, still alive, so there can't be anything wrong with me. Can there ;)

Monday, May 16, 2022

16th May 2022

 The day breaks grey and miserable, rain gently thrumming against the window.  Teddy has been howling through the night, my daughter reckons it was because the weather got blustery.

Yesterday, Sunday, there were photos of all the people working on the green spaces of Tod, at least 50.  The weather  will freshen up all the planting.  We went to the garden centre and came back with a lot of stuff, we are going in for 'vertical' gardening against the fences - new trend.

I hate it when people and bloggers become all self-righteous, it will follow from the fact that some people do not have enough money to buy food or fuel.  So the cry goes up educate the poor, make them work for a living.  Fine, but life doesn't always work out that way.  Jack Monroe has gone into battle mode, watch out Lee Anderson, she is a mean bitch when aroused.

I don't know the answer, except, I do not wish to live in a country where children do not get decent meals and are hungry and that includes their parents.  Will the Green's eternal cry of a decent Basic Income work, or perhaps a form of food rationing cards, so that no one has to struggle for food.

Or perhaps? this is Utopia of course we can share enough of our great wealth in this country in a more fair way?

Who else to have a niggle at.  Well the PM and Jacob Rees-Mogg are demanding everyone back to work behind their desks, a sort of retrograde step you might argue.  Of my limited experience of two people who work from home, they do their work, exercise daily and are quite happy.  Okay they work on computers but so many of the workforce do just that.  Should we be actually listening to politicians telling us what to do and how to run our lives?

996 - Then there is Elon Musk praising the slave labour techniques of the Chinese workforce as they work 12 hour days 6 times a week, this in the Shanghai Tesla 'giga factory'.  Not a very nice world, and I noted yesterday that the Chinese have their own model of electric car at $5000.  Now that's cheap but then if you are driving people to exhaustion the cost is high.

Friday, May 13, 2022

What makes life bearable.

 Listening to Spiegel im Spiegel as I switched on the radio this morning.  Reading John Crace for his sarky tongue, the PM has become the Convict now not the Suspect.  Also reading Murrmurs on her witty discourses on America and nature (though catch the despair in her tone)  There is of course despair at the state of the world but wasn't it like this always?

What else, the delightful goings on in this town.  I reckon there are more cats and dogs lost here than anywhere else.  Has anyone seen this cat/dog? A regular appearance, you will be glad to know all are returned to their owners eventually, after the dogs have romped around, either up on the moors, in the woods or the park.

But what is this we spy in the park? three highland cattle and sheep, creating much bigger poops than the dogs!  Angry complaints, why doesn't the farmer keep his fences strong.  Someone even shows a photo of a person sitting on his sofa nursing a lamb, taken in as a refugee of the animal world.

All change is coming to Tod with that 17 million pounds.  An elegant piazza is about to be reconstructed on a small carpark near the market, but what about the market an irate stall holder complains.  Tell you what they will be demanding those cute little German sheds Bath used to put out every Xmas market next.....  Consultation when did that happen someone queries?  Welcome to the world of council officials who 'do' what they think best for us, and of course the pockets of those lining up behind them.  It was ever thus.

Just to add to the general jollity, we have only one main road running through the valley, well for the next 30 weeks, roadworks are going to happen on several sites.  New crossings, drivers will be so pleased.  Cobbles are being relayed, absolute hell to pedestrians by the way but it gives a 'cutesey' look to the place.

The message is of course you can't keep everyone happy but a few people will come out happy!

Link for Murr

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Yes, I am still childish

They have just played the music of Bagpuss on the radio, would it not be lovely to regress to childhood and not live through these times?

But I shall follow this thought, for a friend has just left the joyous new that there will another  Detectorist long film on the BBC.  We should be able to wallow in this gentle funny comedy about the art of the detectorist so expertfully handled by Mackenzie Crook.  Set amidst the rather beautiful countryside of Danbury not far from where we lived in Essex. His pirate role in 'The Pirates of the Caribbean' was first class, and his sympathetic role in Worzel Gummidge made me smile.

It reminds me of Una Stubbs, when  she played 'Aunt Sally' in the same story.  This rather frightening compilation from a 1980s Christmas show shows the raw cleverness of television as it tackled the scary scarecrows...... I am so pleased that the BBC is still with us, filling up every nook and corner of our lives with music and entertainment.

'The Magpie' sung by the three sisters I think of the 'Unthank', bringing to mind the ending of the series, when out two heroes set off in the evocative golden light of the field in the evening.  Unsuccessful, no coins to be found, but as they pass the old tree with two magpies in it, we see their nest of gold coins.  


Tuesday, May 10, 2022

10th May 2022

 My phone has been pinging a lot this morning, my daughter and Andrew are having a short break, firstly in an Airbb in Hull over the weekend and then today driving to Ilkey Moor.  I mentioned that the Twelve Apostle stone circle was somewhere, and sure enough a very short video of them at the windswept  stone circle has just arrived, triumphantly I might say;)  Also she found me a curlew atop a weather vane.  Like sending children off on a treasure hunt for goodness sake.

Twelve Apostle stone circle on Ilkley Moor.   By Adam Guy, Wikipedia

Stone circles are dotted all over Britain, but, and this may become a surprise, I reckon the North ruled rather than the South.  The Isle of Lewis with its great Callanish complex is an advanced temple of sophistication and the archaeology of settlements and burial around Scotland are striking.  
Many go to stone circles in expectation of a religious experience, as I have already pointed out earlier at Stonehenge.  Though we cannot say for certain stone circles were centres for worship. Paul always reckoned make some hurdles, fit them round the circle and you have a cattle pound, they do have a profound sense of something that appeals to the soul though, maybe because they have survived in isolated places and the landscape enfolds them in an embrace.  It is said that the mountains ranged round Castle Rigg stone circle just outside Keswick in the Lake District are imitated by the stones.

 Callanish stones on the Isle of Lewis.  attr; to Netvor - Wikipedia

Yesterday I wrote in a hurry, such a busy life I don't think!  But one of the things I wanted to put down on my blog, if not on paper, was the fact that Callanish maybe have been hailed by the Roman writer Diodorus Siculus ...... But there again speculation reigns!

This situated North and is inhabited by the Hyperboreans... And there is also on the island both a magnificent sacred precinct of Apollo and a notable temple which is adorned with many votive offerings and spherical in shape.... They say that the Moon, as viewed from this island, appears to be but a little distance from the Earth and to have upon it prominences like those of the Earth, which are visible to the eye. The account is also given that the God visits the island every nineteen years, the period in which the return of the stars to the same place in the heavens is accomplished.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Holding the Years

 Yesterday I wrote about people playing but it was also about Whitby.  A stroll through my 'search' brings up numerous blogs I have written on this town.  But certain things popped out.  My intense curiosity as to everything around me as I travelled through time and put down what I saw and also people's comments.

The first thing I came across was Paul's coverage of the 2012 landslide, that not only threatened Fortune's Kippers but a much better photo than I had taken. It is still open, after all a few 18th bones will not keep us from our kippers!  And yes the contents of St.Marys church graveyard are sliding down the cliff face.

I had also written about the land slides that affected about 6 houses, the BBC news is best listened to here.  Small disasters feeding into the bigger picture of climate change one might argue.  But excessive rain as it build up on the moors and uplands will coming rushing down into the valleys just like Todmorden.

But to less dramatic happenings.  I also came across a very bad video of the good ship Endeavour, but it still brought tears to the eye, as the ship sailed out of Whitby Harbour, and Tigger's comment of being fearful of sailing through the narrow opening was well illustrated. The guns fired, the bells rang and a saucy jig filled the sound, reminding us that Captain Cooke had been brought up in this area and had probably sailed from this self same harbour all that time ago. There are several reconstructed Endeavours by the way, either in museums or in harbours. 

I think that reconstructing our past is how I see 'people playing' from medieval jousting to dancing round the maypole - we just love it.

So here is a collection of videos, starting with Holding On by Simply Red, filmed in Whitby.

The next one is Endeavour arriving in Whitby.  It is badly taken, but its essence is captured by the long lines of people waiting along the quayside and the flotilla of boats fussing around it.

Another longer video made in 1997.  Miss the first couple of minutes when our guide dwells a mite too long on the length of the mast and carry on as the Endeavour goes through the bridge and out to a rather choppy sea with its little flotilla of boats surrounding it.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

8th May 2022

'People at Play'.  The Druids, or neopagans skirting the great bank of Avebury.  The little pleasure ships leaving Whitby harbour.  

At one stage I was fascinated by the pull of the Avebury and Stonehenge stones to these new pagans.  I am too grounded in a sensible attitude to actually play at dressing up but I remember following this group around with the 'famous' leader - King Arther Uther Pendragon  Famous only in the sense that he stood for a made up religion.  A soldier, a biker, his bike represented the horse of the mythical King Arthur.  He gave English Heritage a helluva fight over 'his temple' of Stonehenge, and they have acquiesced slightly to his rights for the breaking of dawn through the stones meeting, when people flock to the stones, but sadly leave all their rubbish behind.  You can find Pendragon in this clip

I am not sure whether this street scene is from Robin Hood's Bay or Staithes.  The narrow lanes mostly forbidden to cars has all these charming cottages, sadly many are now second homes, but the need for flowers, even if it is only a few flowerpots strikes a colouful note.

Then there is Whitby chief holiday resort of Yorkshire, though some would argue that Scarborough holds that title.  Fish and chips and icecream. A bridge full of people with cars inching through, then the bridge has to open to let ships through, and you must wait for quite a while, crowds building up, the only other bridge about a mile away.   

a newish green marble stone outside the tourist centre

ships passing through

The ninety-nine steps to St.Mary's church.  There is a coffin way as well but these steps are the dreaded steps that lead to the church yard where you might have found one of Dracula's victims sitting on a bench.  Not true it was but a story ;)

Those that came before the human race, their bones  interred in the cliffs as a warning that life is short but sweet.

A local history, it was ever thus. Drunkeness and rowdy behaviour.

Henrietta Street, where kippers were smoked, dark and golden the kippers as was the interior of the shed.  A true English delight. You can see the smoke coming from the shed.

The cliffs around this part of the coast often move, here the sheds have slipped gently down the slope, see how close St.Marys church is to the edge.  Whilst we were there a house slipped and was demolished.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Spinning the day away

 So what has the beginning of the day brought me.  Well it has rained overnight as it might have in Camelot. Sour faced Richard Burton will tell you so!  Yesterday afternoon a half dozen spam calls from goodness knows who, my phone dealt swiftly with them, marking them up as 'suspicious spam' and I haven't even put it on my Mcfee account for protection.  There are little gods of providence out there protecting us I think.

The tories have pulled through 'Up North' though not down in the mecca of London and statistics show we would, according to the voting of the country, be under Labour control, the Greens have done well also.  Greens always do good in parochial matters.  So Johnson's fate still hangs on the balance of a thread, me I would cut it but we must wait and see what happens.

We are witness day after day to the cruelty of war, something of course history will tell you happens all the time.  Our anguish has not stopped it of course, and we fight a proxy war sending necessary weapons of war to the brave Ukranian people. We feel the pain but are one step removed from it.

Listen to music, Mozart's Clarinet Quintet,  Schubert's The Trout, as the fish tumble through the water reminding me of dancing Welsh rivers.  Listen to the cuckoo's and curlews that people bring to this clever little machine I am typing on.  The sound of the morning chorus as the strong call of light revives the presence of life in all the plants, trees and animals.  First time yesterday I heard the mating call of that funny little pig like creature, the Muntjac deer.  Stray foreign import ;)

What have I been listening to, well the Viking book has at last been finished, their blood thirsty voyages wreaking havoc wherever they went and I am now listening to Rebecca Solnit's exploration of her Irish connections in her book 'Book of Migrations'.  Let me say one thing politically, the Conservatives as a government, should be read through as to past history of 'The Famine of Ireland' and the 'Highland Clearances', only then will you see the greed and brutality that the need for power brings.

Or is it only an interpretation? In the library of books at my old home in Bath, and we had many books, there was two, whole, books on ants.  I could never quite fathom that ants had such a long history to warrant a book but they did.  We are like those ants, a tad cleverer of course, but repeating the same mistakes over and over again, following little ant roads of destruction.

Do you remember The Reader's Digest, we had this funny little magazine of tales when I was a child.  Well there was one story, when the ants were on the move in Africa, they gathered together in a huge mass and relentlessly moved through the jungle eating everything in their way.

The writer had to protect his home from them, for it stood directly in their way.  He dug a great ditch around his house but the ants just floated across on anything they could find.  A nightmarish thought.

So I spin, I make my daughter happy that I am at last content in an undertaking, like a wandering waif I am now in the bosom of my family, gathered up ;)

I have explored William Morris's 'The Unknown Church' which can be found on the Project Gutenberg site and thought about philosophers and poets, a question in Mark's (The Bike Shed) latest blog.  Answered to my own satisfaction, of course poetry is important and went off for a hunt of R.S.Thomas, that brilliantly miserable Welsh priest who captured his congregation so well.  I could name many, many poets.  Keats, Meredith, Heaney, Hughes that have locked my thoughts into their imagery and learnt from them as well, in fact like Paul, who collected poetry on stones maybe I should also try to collect favourites in another blog.  The link is here 'Megalithic Poems' for Paul's collection.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

5th May 2022

 I have at last grasped the tensioning on my spinning wheel and have spun my first small ball.  It will need some practice in the future but the wheel works fine.  

Household duties in the morning have been done, washing winter jumpers too put away, apparently we are in for a mini heatwave??  My plants arrived yesterday from 'Rocket', beautifully and gently wrapped in cardboard and all looking fine. Hyssop, lavender and thyme.  I need rosemary as well, a herb I love strewn in fried potatoes.

Just been watching this Arte video on the Scottish 'Isle of Rum'.  Only 35 people live on the island but it is a gentle smooch round their lives.   It has a fascinating history this inner Hebridean island, a long history of ownership by many people. All of this can be read here on the Wiki.  Suffering a terrible fate in the Highland Enclosures in 1828 when the tenanted croft people on the island at the time were loaded on to two boats and taken elsewhere.

Good news on Colin the cuckoo, he is safely back in England after his long and strenuous flying from Africa.  A birding friend on F/B has many photos of this, not exactly beautiful bird, which he photographed over the weekend.

On this day I voted Labour, they can't do much worse than the present incumbents!

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

At last

 Ready to work, except it needs varnishing.  Thanks to Karen and Andrew, who spent most of yesterday afternoon making it up for me.  I have always rejoiced in the simplicity of spinning, but on putting a spinning wheel together not so!

Monday, May 2, 2022


Knap Hill - Neolithic causewayed Enclosure. Cold and bleak in the Pewsey Valley

Walking: Do we do it for health or for the marvels of the natural world.  I expect both.  I miss taking a dog for a walk.  My last dog Lucy did not like walking particularly especially as she grew older.  She did not like other dogs, was queen in her own garden and sleeper on the sofa, till she was too old to jump up. I miss her still, even her mad moments.  Goodness knows where they came from, my daughter would probably say she was on The Spectrum, apparently we all are.  It gets you in the end, all those funny ways you have can be attributed to a particular happening in childhood maybe, there are plenty of initials to describe what you are suffering from.  Just don't grab too many.....

Moss my collie was my favourite walking dog, sensible creatures collies are.  They can find paths through gorse or heather and get you back to the car if you get lost.

The Knap Hill photo brought back memories of Pewsey Vale, they now have a Crop Circle information centre at Honeystreet if you want to visit.

But in 2006 as I sat in the bleak cold mist with Moss rolling his ball down the slope and then leaping forward to catch it, I found what I wrote on TMA...

Visited Knap Hill early in February, a cold misty day and most of my photos reflect this. Adams Grave is probably contemporary with Knap Hill and the landscape round here is luminous with the past. If someone from the neolithic past had sat down beside me and Moss on top of that hill I would'nt have been surprised. We would both have been looking at a lunarlike landscape, hills and downs defined by sharply etched lines that meet the plain below. Perhaps in neolithic times the land below would have been marshy and tree covered, but in the distance Picked Hill would have stood out, as did Silbury in its time, was it a sacred hill? could the inhabitants of Knap hill look out and brooded on the meaning of life as they went about their daily tasks - who knows.. But this area is so imbued with man's need to imprint himself within the landscape, The Wansdyke on the other side of Adams Grave reminds one of this. The colossal effort that went into making one's mark, whether in death, or defence, or as a boundary to define the edges of territory.


Swatting news - I will write something nice later

Quoting Stewart Lee

"It’s Wednesday morning. A quarter of a century ago, I made the mistake of getting out of a Jeep in the Lake Bonney Riverlands of South Australia, and suddenly every square centimetre of my face and body was covered in swarming black flies. That’s what the news feels like now: so many sick stories coming at you all at once. What is it you want me to satirise this week, liberals of Observer-land? Brexit-supporting holidaymakers incensed by passport controls they voted for? Or Nadine Dorries’s downstreamed tennis pitch dyslexia? Covid cash millions in disappearing suitcases? Or billions wasted on contracted cronies? Sexual misconduct in the cabinet? Or frontbench porn from the internet? Broken replacement red wall funding promises? Or the end of educational Erasmus opportunities? Raw sewage discharging or more fines for partying? Lawnmower insurance dividends or government human trafficking? Channel 4 cultural vandalism or care home Covid scandalism. Which of these news flies to swat first? Answer me!  Barrel Scrapper Grant Shapps is Taking us for a Ride"

In the non-sleep zone of last night I read a couple of Guardian articles that made me think and laugh out loud Stewart Lee.  Ride-on lawn mowers, yes of course we all have got one and £50 saving on insurance - wow.  I know, I'm a Guardian reading sodding liberal, but somehow they just seem to get to a truth I see and it is only Stewart's opinion! Read him here. And don't forget  two years before you need to get a MOT, saving you some more money - not much mind you.

What else, a good book called 'Chums: How a tiny caste of Oxford Tories took over the UK a look at how a small Oxford elite has taken over running the country to their own advantage, and we voted them in for god's sake.  Perhaps Dominic Cummings in the end got sick of it all.

Does class rule? Downton Abbey you have us at your mercy;) though I believe the new film is just a frivolous romp ending up in the South of France. 

Kuper argues that though the clique around Johnson believed they were born to power, unlike the swashbucklers of empire they admired, they lacked a cause to fight for. His book details how that “cause” was eventually drummed up by three other near contemporaries at Oxford, all of whom fell under the sway of Norman Stone, the polymathic history professor, alcoholic and sometime adviser to Margaret Thatcher. The first of those was a young Scot, Patrick Robertson, introduced to Stone by Gove at a Burns Night dinner, the second was Dan, now Lord, Hannan, and the third was the most intense of undergraduates, Dominic Cummings.

I will leave the article on Rees-Mogg out, only because this clown jester of a man was given the rotten egg job of sailing Brexit through our respective intelligences and will be the fall guy for when it fails.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

1st May; Blessings on this Bealtaine Day

 Just a short note to thank Rachel for pointing out that comments might be going in spam.  Well I have fished out a few, Debby and John of Stargoose and Hangland Fame.  I shall know to check next time.

I have been happily ranting to myself in blog posts which you probably won't see.  But it clears my head if no one elses!

Elegant creature.  The Concorde still the best looking ex-plane on the planet

The Concorde above the clouds in 1985.  

Transhumance, they are going up into the hills for summer.