Monday, January 30, 2023

30th January 2023

Well I missed the news yesterday but really have nothing to say on the sacking of a person ready to perjure himself on non-existent tax paying.

That was the first sentence of this morning, then a migraine set in.  I hadn't had one for a very long time, and it settled with its usual wearisome headache, forcing my eyes shut.  I do think that as you get older you should be spared migraines, but not so it seems.  Well it is retreating as I said it would around three, think it has something to do with the universe, but I may be wrong!

Yesterday we went a walk, up to the ridge line of the woods, and I learnt sadly, that I am at last beginning to battle against my age.  Hills I can cope at a gentle walk, but the steps of various heights was more than I could tackle.  Andrew, who is a complete gentleman, gave me his arm up the steps and a gentle push now and then, but it was a bit of a shock to my pride.

But though I did not see many birds, I saw the biggest, a solitary heron under the bridge.  Apparently he/she has been living there for a few years and is used to people crossing the bridge and looking down on him.  Such extraordinary creatures, thin and ragged.

It was a mizzly day

Coming to acceptance of my age (79) has been hard, but I am still fairly healthy, probably due to being hardworking when younger.  Walking on the flat is probably the best for me now but I am lucky that I did a lot of travelling and seeing the countryside I love so much, so no regrets.

This blog here -Intake shows the countryside round here, and if you want to skip the writing do, but you will lose a lyrical hymn of Paul Knight's excellent recording of the landscape round Hebden Bridge.  He journeys with his young son over the moors and through the woods down onto the school run. 

There is a strong difference between the narrow valleys and the large open moors with their farms dotted around.  There are quite a few ruined farms that stand alone on the moors, and it seems that once 'Happy Valleys' is finished they may show 'Gallows Pole' of the life round here when once a man declared himself King of the area in the 17th century, should be interesting though it has a horrible bit in which I shall not want to watch.  Here is a short history on the 'coin clippers'

'King Hartley'


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

'Have a lovely day'

 'Have a lovely day' is something my daughter always says as she goes out of the door in the morning.  I pondered on it this morning, some food shopping, knitting and spinning and cooking a meal tonight.  Then I came across the following poem by Mary Oliver this morning.

Well the bees are not out in the garden yet, but quietness is a healing balm to the soul.  I come across Mary Oliver poems  a lot, she must be flavour of the month.

A new book by Peter May - A Winter Grave appears in my email, should I should I not spend some money on Audible to get it?  Yesterday I found 'Vera' on ITV and watched a two hour episode whilst I spun.

Enough entertainment to fill up the day already, so I must get dressed and start!

Edit; It is Burn's night today, how do I know? Because our organic food shop is doing a vegan haggis but can there be such a thing as a vegan haggis? Also someone is murdering  'Green Grows the Rushes' on the radio!

Edit: I just could not resist this photo, which will be briefly shown as I have pinched it.  In China it is the year of the rabbit, but what about a rabbit dressed up for Burns night.  And to top it all I got my calendar fr this morning from Ireland, in the Irish language! 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Green Men and Goddesses

The Green Man at Kilpeck Church

At the moment I am listening to the book called 'Queens of The Wild' by Ronald Hutton.  In it he argues the case that there has not really been a female pagan goddess through the Christian Medieval period.  You know those questions that slip unbidden to the top of your mind.  Was there really an Earth goddess transformed from the prehistoric age to run alongside the Christian medieval framing of sculptures, well that argument has been going on for the last 200 years.

Through Fraser's 'Golden Bough' book to Margaret Murray, folklorist, archaeologist and believer in a witch cult.  Or perhaps even Marijas Gumbita on her Gods and Goddesses.  They follow a pattern that probably led from the past Victoria age when there was a great revival of folklore history in the country, and there were attempted reconstructions of facts that did not exist.

But Professor Ronald Hutton allowed one male into his book and quietly smudged the legends around him.  That is the 'Green Man', an effigy you will find in some churches with writhing foliate coming from his mouth and around his head.  Hutton sees him as decorative, a fluid piece of art, grasped from somewhere, maybe from Indian culture.

Author unknown

There is a Medieval book called the 'Bestiary' showing animals both real and made up, morality storytelling being their function.  The congregation of most Medieval churches were not literate, why not surround them with carvings and images of visually frightening sculptures and art work so as to bring them to heel.

Professor Hutton ends up with a simple message about belief, don't look backward for your belief/spiritual system but forward and create your own.

Environmentalism has experienced a new revolution because of Climate Change, and yes people I believe it is happening, so no arguments there please. But  it has made us look at the natural world around us, Lovelock's Gaia theory took hold at one time, seeing the Earth as female, people hug trees in the hope that the life of a tree will bring them comfort, as does walking in nature of course.

But don't go off the edge of sanity, as this video of females, who stayed but a short while at Hebden Bridge, before moving off To Donegal, and created a cult of simplicity.  Now I shall go and try and find them to see what happened along the way - chuckle.  Thanks to my daughter for this reference, who always says Hebden Bridge is full of old hippies.

Edit;  Well they lasted 10 years and evolved into play-acting Victorians.  History is a delightful humdrum affair!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Bright Daffodils


Daffodils;  They come this time of year in small bunches of tightly sealed buds, and I always say Cornish daffodils and think of the daffodil fields that slope down to the sea in Cornwall.  First name to mind is Derek Tangye and his Minack Chronicles.  That little ramshackle cottage with the cats and donkeys.  There was a time when life was much simpler and Derek and his wife Jeannie took off from London and lived their self-sufficient life.  

So I always welcome the daffodil for the first flower of the year, its unfurling in a vase and bright yellow colour.  You can keep all those other brightly coloured flowers of the supermarket, the daffodil brings hope of Spring.

The reason I snapped this picture, was the 'gurgling' water jug who look like he wants to snap a flower off.  By the jugs side is honey from Cadiz, brought back a couple of weeks ago, and behind you see the Aga in all its splendid warmth.  

Actually it is being kept low, as it is a great guzzler of gas, but we can toast on the hotplates and will probably use the slow oven for casseroles leaving them in all day.

Below is something I grabbed from Rebecca Solnit's book - ''The Mother of all Questions''  Being hopeful is the only thing we have to hold onto in this world, apart from making the changes needed.

My partner likes to quote a line of Michel Foucault: “People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do does.” You do what you can. What you’ve done may do more than you can imagine for generations to come. You plant a seed and a tree grows from it; will there be fruit, shade, habitat for birds, more seeds, a forest, wood to build a cradle or a house? You don’t know. A tree can live much longer than you. So will an idea, and sometimes the changes that result from accepting that new idea about what is true, right, just remake the world. You do what you can do; you do your best; what what you do does is not up to you.

The Mother of all questions - Rebecca Solnit

Thursday, January 19, 2023

19th January 2022

I have deleted some of the things I wrote yesterday, everything changes so quickly nowadays. So to families, our royal one has everyone debating the 'book'.  Jeremy Clarkson has been sacked from Amazon for his wretched misogynist comments on Meghan.  So his hopes of generating money from his farm and restaurant, may have just gone up the creek but I am sure he will be back in some other disguise.

I think Tina Brown's article in the Observer clearly lays out for once and all the nonsense of the wretched publication of 'Spare' here.  Her sharply worded article is good.  I mean why is everyone so predicated on an idiot Prince who should have just kept quiet, well there is one thing predictable an idiot public have bought the book and registered the cash till in Harry's bank.

So who is the other family, that is the Marten family, aristocrats who have lost their daughter Constance along the last eight years, a family fallout, or the fact that she has just had a baby, presumably by the man who is accompanying her, Mark Gordon, a man who has been in prison in America for 20 years for raping a woman when he was 14 years old.  Should his 'sin' haunt him for the rest of his life? also he is black, which doesn't help.

Constance's father made a heartfelt appeal to his daughter, it is really the families business, why are there 200 police people dedicated to the search I wonder? All I do know it is click bait and you can bet your bottom dollar in a couple of years it will make a nice fictional story on some TV channel.

I will leave this last paragraph in, just as important but doesn't have all the salacious force of the above.

What was more important news is the effect the Taliban are having in Afghanistan, people need aid as always, the girls banned from education. This downgrading of females to a secondary role is the most horrific act, misogyny does not describe it.  A senseless religious cult dictates the dominance of women by men. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

16th January 2023 - Nettleton Shrub and lectures

 All is doom and gloom in the news and in some blogs.  War rages on one side, economic gloom on the other and it is winter.  The weather is cold here starting at 2 degrees this morning and travelling downward during the day. But the Aga man is coming at 9 to put the new 'whatever' into our white elephant to make it work.  We are in a situation at the moment, when, there is plenty of credit in the energy bill and a fixed contract, so the Aga can be allowed a few days of work!

Yesterday I listened to Ronald Hutton on 'Paganism in Roman Britain' a subject close to my heart, especially on the subject of Bath and to learn that his favourite place was the temple at Nettleton Shrub.  It brought back memories of walking with Moss in the quiet sanctuary of the valley, following the river and rejoicing in the protected wild plants.

There is also a lecture of 'Gods of Prehistoric Britain.  Professor Hutton is a gentle humorous man who knows his subject well so the lectures were pleasing and informative.  I had seen him in Avebury when the pagans met for ceremony, wandering amongst them with a quiet smile on his lips.  I note on Audible that his latest book 'Witches' has been recorded, though nothing could beat his 'Mistletoe and Blood'.  He has that logical frame of reasoning mind that says we don't know anything of what it is like in past history, we can only surmise and quantify from the facts - how it may have been.

Also learning as I tried to knit a mitten that my industrious knitting nature is coming under the threat of not being able to see properly what I am doing. I solved the problem of trying to knit with four needles at once for  knitting in a circle by scraping that plan and knitting in the straight and then sewing up.

Nails of Gold, or Kingcups

The Roman Temple of Nettleton Shrub

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Gathering a story - The Pointed Stone in the Icy Nook

Collecting stories is a hobby of mine.  This one years ago conjured up many an idea.  This strangely bowed prehistoric stone caught up in the outside wall of the porch of Corwen church, just begs the story of 'the hag turned into stone'  It has early Celtic dedication of two saints Mael and Sulien.  
Breverton books on Welsh Saints is a revelation on Welsh history, just checking his reading list, and I can only use one word 'voluminous'! Such dedication to his subject.
So I have collected the information as I find it.  Stories are just that, some would argue that many folklore stories came in the nineteenth century and were made up, but many stories about the saints (usually male) were carefully scribed in monastic houses, giving family detail and often the saints were related to the royalty of the many subdivisions of Welsh tribal Celtic areas.
I always think in English terms also of the bickering and war that went on as various lords strove for dominance, nothing much has changed in that respect.

The church at Corwen was dedicated to the saints Mael and Sulien from the 6th century according to my book by Breverton. A quote...

Sulien ap Hywel ab Emyr Llydaw settled at Bardsey with his cousin Cadfan.  Julien shares a joint dedication with Saint Mael at Corwen parish church (formerly known as Llansilien) Llandrillo near Corwen and at Cym near the coast of Northern Flintshire.  There was a Ffynnon Sulien a mile away from Corwen church, and the water used for its baptisms."
Isn't the Welsh language complicated especially to a novice like me, but it is still taught and used in Wales, and long may it be. I came across the first reference to the stone in Google's books, mentioning a book I had  sometime ago by Elizabeth Rees - Landscape of Celtic Saints.

We fall in love with the romantic past, of course it is embellished along the way till the true tale becomes lost.  The need for the patriach societies we have lived through to honour a man, produces a sense of a superman apart from humanity.  A monk becomes a saint and is lauded for his piety but it is just a part of a thin sliver of a need to gain control over the population - to have one's religion foremost.

Ref: Elizabeth Rees - Celtic Saints in their Landscapes
       T.D.Breverton - The Book of Welsh Saints
       And then there is always Rhiannon, and her folklore on TMA


Friday, January 13, 2023

13th and a Friday - be careful

But now 'tis Winter, child,
And bitter north winds blow,
The ways are wet and wild,
The land is laid in snow.

Taken from Robert Bridges - The Idle Flowers

Almost getting lazy, though each day I do virtual jigsaws and Wordle of course.  I have listened to Peter May' s 'Lewis' trilogy as I spin.  Must not listen to any more of his books, because I know the way his plotlines work.

It's wilderness charm of bleak crofts and Machair grass is beginning to wear off and the last book in the trilogy was a rather bleak look at the romantic life of the protagonist which got rather boring.  Sometimes one wonders whether the author's personal narrative wandered into the fiction.
The Ruralists 1976ish

I see I have 'The Brotherhood of Ruralists' noted for a blog.  I have written here of them some years ago.  They lived and worked in Wellow, well I can't think they all lived in the old redundant Station House.  But Wellow is a pretty village, buried somewhat in the countryside a few miles outside of Bath.
I think my question at the time was why did they not paint the marvellous Neolithic long barrow called Stoney Littleton, not the outside, for that is just a rather  lump on the surface but inside with its beautiful stones, some impregnated with fossils.  Outside of course the great fossil at the entrance.  What did those fossils signify I wonder?

I welcomed the wild flowers that grew on this grassy barrow, marooned amongst fields of 'weedless' wheat, and the tranquility of the open countryside down an old farm track that had once linked two villages together.

Odd fragments of history captured everywhere, in the village an old manor house and newish church, outside the village a prehistoric tomb, faced on the other side of the valley by a Roman villa, each noted in its own right.

Monday, January 9, 2023

9th January 2022

Byland Abbey

Many years ago I did an archaeology diploma, I decided to study Wiltshire Abbeys and fell in love with a Victorian gentleman called Harold Brakespear, an architect and archaeologist.  They are such a delight these hardworking nineteenth century people.  No radio, no television, they must have worked diligently writing away at their desks.

I lived in Calne, and just along the road was Stanley Abbey remains, though I never went there.  There was the beautiful Lacock Abbey as well, not forgetting Malmesbury and Bradenstoke.

They are part of a lost landscape, Henry Vlll sold them out to the rich entrepreneurs around his court.   These magnificent buildings were taken apart, and maybe used for building fine houses, or robbed slowly over time to build the small cottages in the area.

Should have Henry done this, it was of course because of his selfish needs to get rid of the Catholic church and a divorce, as he had failed miserably in producing an heir.  But suddenly he drew a curtain over a way of life that was self-sufficient and religious.

Here in Yorkshire there are magnificent ruined Cistercian abbeys, in North Yorkshire we visited Byland (see here) and Rievaulx abbeys.  This summer we went to Bolton Abbey, though I had visited before with my young son and watched him play in the river that ran alongside.

At Castle Acre Priory whilst working there, I would often sit by the dried out channel of the canal, wondering about the boats that had sailed up there with the supplies for the priory.  Stories abound in these places, the round brewery, whose foundations I drew, remind us that people did not drink water but made beer.  If you were to go to Bylands Abbey now, you would see all the necessary workshops, the great kitchens which served the monks, always reminds me of Gormenghast's kitchen with Swelter in charge.   

There was of course two classes of monks, the lay monk who worked out on the granges, harvesting the food, and the 'proper' religious monks who saw to the writing of books and worship.  Also of course, the Infirmary, where the sick would come to be healed.

One of the most 'magical' abbeys is of course Rievaulx, (see here) hidden in a wooded area, you drive down the hill to see the buildings framed at the bottom by the hills.

Rievaulx Abbey

Friday, January 6, 2023

6th January 2022

Nothing to say, busy spinning. Thinking of colour and summer weather and not dank dark days.  So Collin Blanchard's hare amongst the primroses, the deep dark colour of a mallow that always used to thrill me.  The stripey Rosa Mundi and the brash colour of an Essex house in Terling.

So here is a blog about wolves and January....

January - Wolf Monet

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Maidens and Mother-of-All


taken from here

Not what you think, this is about spinning wheels.  Yesterday the tensions on my Ashford spinning wheel went haywire and it took me over an hour to find the problem, but I did and now it is flying along smoothly.  Mine is a simpler version, and when it arrived was put together by Andrew with the help of Karen, after our disastrous getting a piece stuck in the drive wheel hub.  Thanks to Todmorden Makery it was solved.

You may wonder why do I spin  wool, the answer is I am not sure but wool keeps you warm it takes you back to what I call 'slowness' and it reminds you of all the processes it goes through from sheep to jumper.

What happened yesterday was the tensioning went haywire, and I tracked it down to a little cup hoop where the nylon wire kept jumping off.  The whole point of spinning is the interaction between the big wheel and the bobbin on the flyer wheel.  To spin the fibre, you draft it through your fingers, in I think the 'Z' mode and when you ply you reverse the action into the 'S'.  

My spinning wools are confined to soft natural coloured wools such as Blue faced Leicester sheep, if I want to dye, then the white Merino is what I choose.  I had found some Tussah silk.  Beautifully soft it is slightly inferior to the super white silk being a pleasing creamy colour.  As you can imagine it slips through the fingers like silk and I intend to leave it in its one ply mode and at some stage probably dye it to accompany some other wool.  This seems to be the rage at the moment knitting with two strands of different wool for softness.

Real wool is expensive, try Rowan's for a pattern and their gorgeous wools and it will tot up into a hundred quid but hand craft is something people enjoy.  Note I say people for men enjoy knitting as well.

As you can see from the illustration spinning wheels are quite complicated, they require balance and tension to work properly.  I sit at the window watching the world go by as I spin.

Caught up in the web: an article by A.S.Byatt

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Don't rain on my parade!

 Happy New Year Everyone

Could not resist him, Thor the Walrus has landed in Scarborough and stopped the firework display in case it frightened him, though I think he may have left by now after a nap on the causeway. His trip round England is going fine, he has one message, though he hasn't been to Todmorden yet but that is Be Kind in the New Year.