Sunday, April 30, 2023

The Stone

Arthur's Seat courtesy of Wikipedia

The Stone of Scone

Those of you who haven't read 'Gormenghast' by Mervyn Peake will perhaps not understand the sheer delight I take in the coming coronation.  No I am not going to be horrible I enjoy the spectacles, but the Stone of Scone is coming down from Edinburgh to lie in state beneath the king's throne.

As a small point my daughter this holiday weekend is in Edinburgh with Andrew's family, they planned a walk up the hill to Arthur's Seat, three of them achieved it!

You can see the start of the ceremony here on the BBC website.  This precious stone was stolen many years back by four students.  Here is the most marvellous story of it being stolen in the 1950s.  

It broke in two, and in the days when there were not too many police around they manhandled into the two cars.  One piece was buried,  they got worried it might  weather in the soil and they went back to collect it.  Unfortunately a traveller's camp had settled on the stone but the travellers were quite happy to help them dig it up.

Amongst all of the wonderful completely bizarre ceremonies that will take place at Westminster Abbey, the Stone has its own story.  Yes Scotland one day you might be free of the tyranny of the English government but our king still sits on your stone - completely mad.

Our bronze age coronation rites seem to speak to a modern love of the sacred

Friday, April 28, 2023

28th April 2023



Have you had your invitation yet?  Look who is lurking at the bottom of the invite, old 'Green Man' a somewhat indifferent deity of the pagan movement.  But he does adorn a lot of our churches as well.  Probably though in a disciplinary manner.

A quiet provoking addition is this creature, amongst the wild flowers, birds and wild creatures.  Well done King Charles, being subversive on the part of Nature is Good!

The Guardian article is here with tongue in cheek

But a more sensible article covers paganism here.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

27th April 2023

I feel like a washed out rag, squeezed dry and sleepy.  Fish and chips for tonight's tea and a salad to go with it.  I came back very stiff from all that walking my dear daughter has decided I need a pair of walking sticks!  They arrived by Royal Mail this afternoon.  Goodness knows how I will get on with them, I can hardly find change in my purse and keep my shopping bag from tumbling to the floor.  Am not really contemplating any great hikes over the moor and wandering about the towns round here with them will be an embarrassment.

So a few photos to be going along with, I found the statue of the alpacas outside the little cafĂ© in the park where we had cornflake cake.  Titus Salt used Russian wool and Alpaca in his weaving.  Apparently he was not a great recorder of the how's and whys of creating a village and large mill.  Though of course it is much better to keep all the operations of weaving under one roof.  So it was with his workforce, he created an environment of good housing, school, college and social clubs. The almshouses were beautifully carved stone masterpieces and there was plenty of green spaces to quieten the eye.  It is called 'paternalism' and one should make up one's mind how you see it.  But it is a long way from the Conservatism we see today, perhaps the party should learn a little of Salt's ways.

Living by a canal in the reaches of a town as Andrew does means he has a quiet place to walk every day.  The train station is but ten minutes away and Lidl not much further.  So walking everywhere is easy.

Apparently because there were so many windows in the mill it was difficult to hang paintings

Blossom everywhere at the moment.  I saw fritillary and cuckoo flower or Ladies Smock in the park.

Saltaire United Reform church


;the alpaca

The frontage of the mill

In this rather elegant building in Bradford is housed Waterstones

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

26th April 2023 - Jonathon Silver

Mill Race of the River Aire

The visit to Saltaire and Shipley is over sadly, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  We pottered round the streets of Saltaire and of course visited  Salt Mill.  One fact I did not know was how David Hockney came to be so much a part of the mill.

It started simply at school, and a meeting in a burger bar. Jonathon Silver a schoolboy wanted an illustration for the school magazine and he wanted a drawing and Hockney drew him one.  Their relationship developed from there.  Jonathon Silver became an entrepreneur buying businesses, at one stage he had 13 men's clothes shops and dabbled in antiques something he enjoyed.  Jonathon sold up his businesses up at a later stage and took his wife and two young children to America to travel and see the country on the proceeds. 

Jonathon came back to the North, and for some reason bought the big, old empty mill, with the vision of turning it into a retail centre and also a venue for music and art.

The friendship between the two men was strong and Hockney rather loved the way Jonathon exhibited paintings and so the partnership and the permanent exhibition became part of the mills charm.

There is something quintessential English about the partnership and the fact that Jonathon was very much like those old patrons of the arts, using his money for the happiness of the people, though of course that enormous mill still needs money for upkeep.  London art galleries did not seem to be interested 'Up North', but I love that David Hockney being local chose the biggest venue out for his paintings!

Sadly Jonathon died at an early age in 1997 but the mill is still run by his daughter.

Some references:

Telegraph Article

Wiki Entry

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Sunday 23rd April 2023

 I am off to Shipley today till Tuesday, but Pat's mention of Marconi bought up happy memories of Chelmsford and the 'Edgeland' round the town.  So an old blog to remind me.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

20th April 2023

Thanks to Aril for this.  Her visit to Bristol reminded me of the two great things that came from that city.  Banksy of course and Nick Parks of Aardman fame.  The plasticine figures that took an incredible amount of patience to move round for their animation.

Well you all know 'Chicken Run' Wallace and Gromit and Creature Comforts, but I remember when they were unknown and started out.  Using ordinary people of the streets of Bristol they would animate animals to go with the voices.  It reminds me of all the silliness of humour so many years back when there was an innocence to the world!

Here is a video from Bristol Zoo, which I believe is closing down soon.  It was here many years ago that I as a class helper took my little entourage of 8 years old and looked after them.  When the elephant sprayed me with a trunkful of water, and I counted my children time and time again to make sure I had the right number.  Then that awful moment, as we made our way back to the bus and the children rushed forward to hang over the polar bears den.  I was one child missing and as I approached with dread the wall surrounding the enclosure with the polar bears in the pit, looking for the missing child, the sheer relief as he wasn't in there, just further along in the crush of the crowd as they looked over at these poor creatures.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

19th April 2023 - One bag of Peruvian Wool

 I am a knitter and a spinner of fleeces, this hobby, call it what you may, is a part of my life.  Nothing too elaborate, it has to be easy but relaxing.  At the moment I am knitting a lemon jumper with two balls of wool, one is a mix of wool/alpaca, the other mohair/silk, it makes a 'haze' around the finished garment and to my mind must be warm as it traps air as well.  The brand name is Drops, and their wools come mainly from South America from Peru and doesn't use chemicals to wash the wools.  

Well recently in my F/B news, there has been a lot of news of Saltaire, home to the great Salt Mills, once considered the biggest wool mill in the world, now of course its great cavernous spaces are used for exhibitions and various retail shops.  

We went to a David Hockney exhibition last year here.  Sir Titus Salt, a philanthropist built this great mill but also created the town of Saltaire for his employees and their rather lovely terraced houses will be another blog, should I ever get round to going there again.  Though,  it has been proposed in a couple of years time we should move there.

But that is neither here nor there, what came from reading up about Sir Titus Salt is the fact that he experimented with Alpaca wool, it was a weft and warp problem, which he finally solved by using the alpaca wool as the weft, and either cotton or silk as the warp.  His jotting down of his experiments can be found in the Day Book, contents of which are not recorded on the net.

What seemed forgotten in all this though is that his son the younger Titus Salt Junior staged an exhibition to finance a School of Art and Science building, which sadly caused financial problems but it was a large exhibition featuring many things.  I read about this in this article in The Telegraph and Argus.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Sometimes there is no sense

Thanks to Hiawatha's House blog - Spam, I have just located my spam folder.  About 20 proper comments have been released into freedom.  Like butterflies they fly off and land with a gentle thud on the appropriate words.  Apologies to everyone.

I am speechless, well perhaps writer less, or even wordless when it comes to blogging at the moment.  It is as if a fog has parked itself in my brain.

There is also the undercurrent of criticism that lies like a throbbing pulse underneath the surface.  So for lighter relief I have been watching 'Endeavour',  Morse as a young man played by Sean Evans.  Morse is always in trouble because he believes in TRUTH.  As he doggedly trails the clues and of course always comes up with the answer to the crime committed I begin to wonder if there is anything that is really true.

It is as if the human race like a dog is just chasing its tail round and round, repeating the same mistakes and writing the same words of how to make everything better. Except. That. Doesn't. Happen.

I signed the Greenpeace's petition for the banning of private helicopters, I will tell why later on.  But I was in two minds, my grandson last week was flying in one in Mexico with a famous racing driver, how do you fit the two sides together?

Why? By now you will see that I do not go down the path of believing conspiracy theories, for me the way the world works is chaotic, butterfly wings cause the chaos. Or perhaps, action and consequence are not considered but only the forces of greed and ambition take hold. 

There is though the splitting of poor and rich and the heart aches for those on the wrong side of the barrier.  Here we are in this country of ours selling our old buildings to the buying tourists and yet there are a great many people our young ones as well, living in terrible conditions in old housing who are at the mercy of greedy landlords.

Basically those taxes that go through the Treasury should be creating a fairer more equal society but they are not.  It is time for the Conservatives to go?  Yes I  know what you are thinking, are they any better? the answer is a sad no to the Labour party but at least they are a little bit better.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

12th April 2023

Gough's Cave with the river running through it.

I have been listening to Robert Macfarlane's book 'Underland' a second time.  I am not easy with making critical appraisals of books, but his sheer knowledge is awe inspiring and also because he reads his own book tranquil on the ear.

The first chapter is about the Mendips, that outcrop of limestone gorges and caves that are but a few miles from Bath and supply the hot water for the pool in the Roman buildings.  Can you imagine percolating rock, caves with stalactites and stalagmites of creamy hue often buttering down to a rich toffee brown.  The river that snakes through this underground system, it is indeed a fantasy place for the imagination.

I have walked round that area over the years, finding the nine barrows he talks about but he makes  no mention of Priddy Circles, smaller version of the three Thornborough henges.  Or the Cold Comfort Inn.  He is lost in a geological world of aeons, the Anthropocene Age we are supposed to be living in now according the scientists.

What is the Anthropocene?  Break down the word Anthropo = which is humankind, cene = new.  Why? because it is humans that have caused mass extinction amongst the animal and plant life, polluted the oceans and altered the atmosphere.  Sad but true.

But to get back he goes down into some of the caves, the Aveline cave is one that had the early bones of man and animals.  Also tells of a tale in the Derbyshire district which is rather sad.  It involves a caving enthusiast called Neil Moss who got stuck in a shaft.  You can read about it in the link just attached. He died because of lack of oxygen, and they could not pull his body from the shaft.  His father said to leave the body there with the shaft cemented up so that it would not happen to any one else.

The second chapter of the book was about Boulby Mines and no I have never been down this very, very deep mine, where it is possible to study the universe from.  He was taken down there and explored the mines which run for miles under the sea.  Which apparently leaks in occasionally and they spend an absolute fortune on electricity pumping it out. 

As an addenda to this my daughter says she has spoken to people who have worked down these mines, and they describe it as HELL.

The great machines which tunnel and cost millions, once they fail, are driven into old tunnel workings and left to rot there like ungainly dinosaurs a remnant of our civilisation.


Mind Journeys

There is a group of seven barrows and a group of nine in this area. Burial memorials to make you think about the vastness of time/

When nature is unfettered it becomes like a green paradise.

Narrowed part of Ebbor Gorge

Monday, April 10, 2023

Cuckoo for the 7th April

Courtesy of Countryfile

A story associated with Saint Brynach is about the cuckoo, and of course birds are very much a part of the druidic Celtic religion of the Iron Age,  that first call in mid April that we still look forward to was still coming all the way from Africa hundreds of years ago, perhaps it also came at the time when the prehistoric stones were raised and the stone people would here its famous cry on the wind.

 The story of Brynach's feast day was that on the 7th April, this was the  day  the cuckoo would fly back and perch on the great Celtic cross at Nevern Church and this would be the signal for the priest to say mass. 

But one year it was late, and everyone waited patiently for several hours to appear, when it eventually appeared the poor bird was so exhausted after its long flight that it dropped down dead. According to the legend it had battled its way through storms to reach the church because it knew it could not fail its ancestors who had the honour of starting mass on St.Brynach's day.

10th Century Celtic Cross at Nevern.  Wiki attrib.

Saint Brynach (d.c.570 AD) Was an interesting person.  Irish by birth, he was chaplain to a warlord King Brychan but the daughter of a ruling nobleman seems to have fallen in love with Brynach and tried to seduce him with a love potion of wolfbane and he fled, so she sent men after him to kill him and he fled the country.
But he must have been a handsome fellow because when he eventually arrived in Pembrokeshire he was met by "propositioning" women and just to tell another portion of his story a portable stone altar.
It is said that he sailed to Milford Haven on a 'stone', so perhaps rather than taking this literally, he would have had his stone altar in the boat.
He is mentioned in many Welsh churches, the names roll off the tongue descriptively as they name the landscape.
Cym-yr-Eglywers (Valley of the Church), which is just above the Gwaun valley.  The church is now ruined but it was here that St.Brynach was said to talk to angels in the prehistoric fort on  Carn Ingli (Rock of Angels).
There seems to be another church in this area dedicated to him in Pontfaen.  According to his 'Life' he seems to have fled from here chased by evil spirits (women again?) to Nevern.
In fact he had many churches named after him, and as Pembrokeshire is alive with prehistoric history so this 6th century saint stirred up many stories of his own.  I am quite sure that the history of Pembrokeshire is a fascinating story of a Christian religion that chased across the prehistoric monuments as the so called saints tried to stamp out paganism.  
The dear old cuckoo story was related in medieval times by George Owen.

Sunday, April 9, 2023


A few days ago I came across Coltsfoot (tussilago farfara) snuggled in a gravel path on the canal path.  I had always seen this plant on the tip of foundry rubbish in Willenhall where I lived for a time as a child.  The flower comes up first and then the leaves.  I had seen it as a cough medicine as well and Geoffrey Grigson in his study of wild flowers called it a demulcent.  It was smoked as a herbal tobacco, apparently for the relief of a dry cough.

Why 'Coltsfoot'? because of the shape of the leaves.  Grigson goes on to say that pectoral? beer, jelly and wine can be made of the leaves which are large and downy.

It has a plethora of local names, cow heave, dummy weed, foal-foot, tushalagies* and so forth.

Courtesy of: By Andreas Trepte - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,

* whoops that caught my dictionary out!



Bunny, eggs and the dark forces of religion follows this movable celebration day.  So Happy Easter..

Cuckoos by Andrew Young

When Coltsfoot withers and begins to wear
Long silver locks instead of golden hair,
And fat red catkins from black poplars fall
And on the ground like caterpillars crawl,
And bracken lifts up slender arms and wrists
And stretches them, unfolding sleepy fists,
The cuckoo in a few well-chosen words
Tell they give Easter eggs to the small bird.

Which reminds me I saw coltsfoot along the canal the other day, reddish in parts, I had not seen it for years.  Also someone had planted cowslips in one of the flower beds in town. As for the cuckoo I must hunt his story out.

Friday, April 7, 2023

7th April 2023

 It started out a long morning.  Locked out of my mail and blog, my phone refused stubbornly to reveal a verification code. Having tried all ways with Google I decided to tackle my phone, served by Vodafone.  You have got to giggle I still needed a verification to get through.  I sorted that eventually and entered into a long text conversation with someone and told them my troubles.  They stuck with me for about half-an-hour (apologies to all those people in the waiting line).  And we eventually sorted something out of the mess, my phone was saying 'no mobile network', by going to my Sim card  and of course, by turning off my phone and resetting it.  It worked, so to my son, who has always said just press the off button for twenty seconds and it will go away - it did!

Yesterday was my second visit to the ophthalmology department and so we three set off, Lillie came to.  My daughter has worked out the app for Uber cars, and they are brilliant in the big towns and cities, arriving in less than 5 minutes on our journeys.

We arrived at the hospital during the lunchbreak and it was quiet, then my doctor came, and I spent a good hour with him.  Tests and then the talk of what is to be done, I am going for laser treatment on my good eye and allowing the bad eye to be.  As he said there is a 50% chance of the treatment working, it could not work in other words. So ghastly thoughts of needles, but the trainee nurse sitting in talked me through it and said they covered the eye during the operation. 

My poor family had to sit for hours whilst all this went on and I am eternally grateful to them.  Fish and chips for tea and I won't see anyone for another 6 weeks.  Thank god, sort of ish.

The crazy Brimham Rocks.  Glacial formations

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Remembering Cornwall

And the dull rainy weather that accompanied us everywhere!

Duloe Stone Circle: A small circle, it could even have been a burial place, there was a urn found under one of the stones.  It is highlighted by the fact of the whiteness of the stone which was quartz.  Stone circles come in many shapes and sizes but this one is small but chosen for the jewels of its stone, almost a crown.  
I love the fact that just by colouring it black and white you can introduce a feeling of drama into the circle, has that stone be roughly shaped to look human like, did he glower at night by the light of a fire.  The hedge slightly spoils the ambience of the circle which by the way is in the village of Duloe in Cornwall.
It is totally different to the three Hurler Stone Circles found on Bodmin Moor by Minions village.  They are large, and why three? did the first two not meet requirements? or was it a grand show of having three to parade through.  They unearthed a path way up to the first circle, at one stage it was described as a quartz path.  I love to think of these prehistoric people choosing the stone and shape to put up within their circles.  Just like us they were choosy over the aesthetic appearance of their circles. 

Seeing things in a different light

Did this rough stone represent a 'god' figure?

The small quartz Duloe stone circle.

The Cheesewring Tor and quarry

Top of the tor with prehistoric settlement

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

5th April 2023

 Rentier capitalism describes the economic practice of gaining large profits without contributing to society. A rentier is someone who earns income from capital without working.

The precariat represents the closure of the cycle from industry replacing the artisan with manufacturing and office centres to the creation of artisan freelances that work into what used to be organisations. Drivers, writers, graphic designers, IT professionals and even chefs and personal assistants among literally thousands of other professions now operate outside the sphere of the organisation while directly influencing its trajectory. For the employer this means that there are cuts in costs as healthcare, sick and maternity pay, and other employee benefits don’t have to be met while getting a similar service out of the loose networks that it exploits to achieve the same aims it once had as a brick and mortar office block.

Okay politics anyone? Well at least it keeps us from the drivel of news about Trumpism, as he once more squirms in the public eye.  No I have been listening to Guy Standing, sorry Cro, he is so left he almost falls of the cliff.

The 'rentier' class is taking off with a flourish, people queuing for hours to get a flat because we do not have enough housing stock, simples isn't it?  Rent prices leaping up and the ubiquitous Section 21 giving the landlords right to evict.

Naivety in the ways of the world is something I suffer from, but truly I never realised people lived in their cars in America, and you can add Canada and Australia to that.  When I came across a 66 year old woman in the news this morning, doing the same in this country, I was rather shocked.

Not only are we having problem housing the refugees that come to this country but even the person who lives next door to you may be in trouble. 

We could demand that a building programme takes place, it has been promised for years, but I am sure 'nimbyism' will creep in, we are after all a small country.  As the elegant mills of the North have been turned into upmarket flats we should perhaps look at the buildings, both office and shops that are standing empty in our towns.

We have suffered under a Conservative led government for too long, I am not going to accuse the politicians of corruption, though there are a few but as our utilities suffer under foreign ownership, lets call them to account, we still have reasonable judiciary in this country.

I shall go and find some pretty photos for my next blog ;)

Monday, April 3, 2023

The restrained hand

 Weeds.  Should we live with them?  Yesterday on Morning Minions blog in America she mentioned the bad weather she was having and how the frosts had cut down precious plants and how much weeding needing done.

Although our weather can be pretty bad we muddle through with our plants, though my heart always sinks this time of year when I see the buds of magnolia, brown after a night of frost.

So this morning I was just going to find a photo to put on my blog and chanced upon some videos I made.  I am hopeless at this by the way, especially the speech part.  Notice how words fly away from my thinking for a start!

But this one shows my 'lazy approach' to weeds, allowing them space, and as the spaces get filled up with a variety of things, the less appealing weeds disappear.

I did not 'fight' the garden with chemicals, if something appears in the lawn I would plant a stick by it to protect it.  For instance bluebells would trace through the lawn.  They were a reminder to me of how history falls down through time.  For instance in the graveyard, there was a slight slope between wall and flat area, and here violets grew out of the way of the tidying lawn mower.  This is how wild flowers survive.

Sadness is part of our make-up and leaving the garden made me very sad but I have sown seeds here, herbs this year with plenty of orange nasturtiums to brighten up the soul ;)

Sunday, April 2, 2023

2nd April 2023

My daughter and Andrew have gone camping over the weekend.  Really to test out the camping gear Andrew has brought for a longer camping trip in the summer.

I used to take my daughter when she was small camping as well.  Also when she had grown-up would go camping by myself in Wales, though after a time I succumbed to the comforts of a holiday cottage.

My first tent was  an old secondhand canvas one, slightly torn in places so patched with Laura Ashley patches. We went off to Devon with that one and then to the New Forest.  Here a stampeding, alright it was only a rustle, of cows went through the night, but scary still!

The one camping trip we all remember was the Forest of Dean.  I packed my small car, with camping gear, two dogs, daughter, son and grandson. I had bought two tents with us, one very new, and I remember Tom, aged about 4 years old saying 'granny this tent is broken' 'nonsense' said I but he was right, those stupid strings within poles had broken so went off to the nearest town and managed to find replacements. My son had just finished his gcse and was exhausted and seemed to have slept most of the time.  It must have been not long after he had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and as always that was a worry for me at the time.

We all loved the forest and went to a little museum of the coal miner's houses.  Tiny inside but cosy, of course in their day it would have been completely different, a two up, two down cottage filled with children probably, but as a nation we do like to romanticise the past.

Talking of which, I pulled out H.J.Massingham's English Downland book yesterday.  The photos showed empty lanes and beautiful countryside.  Houses nestled in hollows, none of the wires and industrial bric-a-brac messing the countryside up.  A true Garden of Eden.

Photos are like that, they snatch a perfect moment in time, but of course reality proves otherwise.  The only chapter I really read was the Wiltshire one, the great chalk land tract that gives us crystal clear little rivers, or did, now with the news that the River Wye (surely the loveliest of rivers) is being polluted by chicken waste I believe, who will fight for the chalk rivers?

Massingham sang the praises of the two great prehistoric centres of Wiltshire Stonehenge and Avebury.  He sees them as two great cathedrals, the necropolis of Stonehenge with all its barrows clustered round, and it reminds me to see if I have saved Jacquetta Hawke's book from going to Oxfam on her journeying round prehistoric Britain.

But for now it is coffee time.

Women Archaeologists

Stonehenge News