Thursday, November 30, 2023

30th November 2023 - Celtic Saint D

Well continuing the alphabet of the Celtic saints with the letter 'D', there are plenty to choose from amongst the Welsh saints but then of course I had forgotten Saint Dewi or Saint David Patron saint of Wales.  Dates of birth are given variously, starting from 460 to 520 and then death between 544 and 589.

But first I would like to write something else.  My viewing figures have just shot up in the last few days.  Well I like to live a quiet life on my blog, pottering around with anything that takes my mind.  I think the reason for the over the top figures is dear Weaver, who wrote a comment.  Can I just say that Weaver and myself have known each other through our blogs for at least as far back as 2011.  I admire Pat and am shocked and saddened by her latest news as everyone is, but I know she has a stamina which I envy and will come through strong. My feelings on the subject is that we all just carry on as usual.

So back to St. David, or maybe his headland which I have wandered over so often, tracing life back to the far reaches of prehistory.  His name is dedicated to many, many churches, even the famous Kilpeck one, though twinned with St. Mary.

He was canonised by the then Pope in the 12th Century, probably because he fought against the Pelagasian Heresy (it was rather a good heresy) and ensured that the Roman Catholic branch took power over Christianity.  Till of course King Henry V111 decided otherwise in this country.

St. David was a vegetarian, I suppose veganism was still to come into being, and David was known traditionally, as The Waterman as he and his monks were ascetic teetotallers and vegetarians.  Hmm, patron saint of vegetarians!

The more you read of these saints the more you understand the weird.  In this I mean the old customs and saint days - the hobby horses and dressing up or being a 'mummer'.

For instance, on the 12th March (old St.David's Day) in the Gwaun Valley in Pembrokeshire, the wax candlestick on the table would be replaced by a wooden one, signifying that supper could be eaten without candlelight.  And one should not forget the leek, an emblem of Wales.  For it is said that he told the Welsh soldiers to put leeks in their hats so that they would be recognisable on the battle field.

Breverton writes an amusing paragraph on the medical use of the leeks in the middle ages.  I won't go there, but if you want children, eat your leeks!

St David The town, is probably one of the smallest towns with a cathedral.  It lies in its hollow next to the ruins of Bishop's Palace.  The roof was apparently robbed by an English bishop in the dates of 1536-1538, the time when the monasteries and abbeys were brought down in the Dissolution.  He wanted the money to pay for his daughter's wedding!

St. David's Cathedral with the Bishop's Palace in the background
Ruins of Bishops Palace

St. David's Head - Warriors Dyke

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Caedmon's Hymn

The 19th Century  Caedmon Cross

Now let us praise Heaven-Kingdom's guardian,
the Maker's might and his mind's thoughts,
the work of the glory-father—of every wonder,
eternal Lord. He established a beginning.
He first shaped for men's sons
Heaven as a roof, the holy Creator;
then middle-earth mankind's guardian,
eternal Lord, afterwards prepared
the earth for men, the Lord almighty. 

There are plenty of Celtic saints with names that start with 'C',  Cadfael, Cuthbert, Colombo but I shall choose Caedmon, who wrote the above hymn whilst at Hilde's Whitby Abbey.  It wasn't always called Whitby, the original name was Streoneshalh, but after the Northern invasions it was called  Whitby - White Bay.
The story told by Bede in his book - An Ecclesiastical History of the English People, is that Caedmon, a poor cowherder and also illiterate composed the first hymn.  Bede translated it in Latin but other translations were Saxon, so if you know anything about Saxon writing of the time, each line of a poem is divided into two.  There are plenty of videos either singing or saying this hymn, but it is a rabbit hole that one fears to go down.
At one stage I fell in love with the sober tones of the organ, and also strangely enough with the chanting of monks.  There is something soothing in such music.  My records years ago reflect this, but then the old records are a thing of the past.
Looking at the Breverton book and I see that he says that the very first carol service in 1878 was held on Christmas Eve and was in Truro, Cornwall, he says
"The earliest carols were pagan chants and dances associated with fertility rites and the passing of the winter solstice".  Some carols are as recent as the 19th century, whilst others refer to earlier times.  Interestingly, the carol Partridge in a Pear Tree, is a symbolic way of teaching children, who could not go to church the basics of the bible.  For instance - Two turtle Doves - Old and new testament.  No wonder we love carols, well I do at least, the spontaneity of singing the 'Holly and the Ivy' or 'Away in a Manger' is a bit like the nursery rhymes of old.

The old Caedmon Cross

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

28th November 2023

We may have snow, my news feed talks of a 'snow bomb' where are the journalists coming from today?

Snow: it is that white stuff, beautiful until it gets walked upon, then it goes down into a sludgy mess.  People complain, their cars get stuck, the roads and pavements gets gritted, and as we sprinkle salt on our steps to stop the icing up, it becomes a nuisance.

But I have been away to the far reaches of Shipley, which is roughly about an hour away on the trains.  That is if they are running of course.  One notice up on the train board, was that the train had not left the depot and immediately this train had a personality, and I saw it sulking in its shed because it hadn't got its favourite driver.  Roll on Thomas the Tank Engine.

But its bleak out there in Bradford as you cross from one station to another. I marvel at the great retaining walls that protect the tracks from landfalls.  I marvel at the great Victorian buildings of this civic town.  They tower above me crushing the human spirit and carrying the message it is only money that can build in such style.  We pass the rail arches, last time there were tents housed in these dark holes, and my daughter would not let me take photos because I was so angry about them.  This weekend they seemed empty, but she reckoned they would be back at night.  She and Andrew had come by one night when the food van was there and she said hundreds were there, maybe we could reduce that figure down to a hundred but this is England in the raw. 

Andrew is such a good host ;) food delicious.  The flat overlooks the canal in Shipley, and so one is entertained by cyclists, runners, dog walkers strolling along the path and once I had told Andrew to fill his bird feeder immediately, for the small flock of sparrows that live in the hedge below.

We went to Salt Mill, I have written of it elsewhere, a great cathedral of a place, once dedicated to the thrum of looms.  Wandered round its vast interior and had tea and cakes in its brightly lit (and warm) cafe.  On the ground floor, there is a generous display of art books, I would call them 'coffee table books' to impress one's visitors, and I bought a couple of cards of an artist Simon Palmer, who had a space down there.  Mostly his artwork is about trees and landscape in an individual style.

Ascending from the Bridge - Simon Palmer

It was darkening outside but as went down by the paintings and drawings on the wall there was the most beautiful music.  A choir reverberated from the tall ceilings and it caught the heart, people stopped and just listened.  A magic moment.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

26th November 2o23

I'm off to the outer reaches of Shipley.  I think the family feel I have been neglected somewhat so need an outing. This is written 'tongue in cheek'. What about Mollie you may say, well she will just have to have one night without me.  I shall leave the duvet folded back, for that is where she likes to sleep during the day, Lillie will be here to feed her.  So she can't come to much harm.

It is very cold the little temperature gauge down below says 0 degrees and it feels like that.  Maybe we will get to Salt Mill, though it is a bit of a walk to go there and I can just imagine how cold this enormous building will be.

Below is a photo of Puala Ubin in Singapore, it often flips up on as a screensaver.  Its radiant green and stillness a balm to the heart.  You could sit by the side of this pool and dream your life away.

We are still in the time of the 'ceasefire', hostages on one side and prisoners on the other side.  There is now talk of usage of language in describing the actions of both sides. Sympathies lie on both sides, a criticism on Al Jazeera by BBC journalists.  I would probably argue on the side of the BBC that it is difficult given hundreds of reports to always use the right language.  Don't we all have that trouble?

The above reminds me something I read once about the mountains and lakes of Tibet.  That in their religion, the man was the mountain and the woman the lake.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

25th November - Saints 'B'

 Well I have already covered two saints who's name begins with 'B'.  In 2009 I found Beuno, very cross at the Saxons moving in with their terrible language and vowing to move deeper inland.  You can find him here and he protects Curlews, though he is not doing a very good job at the moment.

Then there was Brynach, let us think of him as protector of cuckoos in his church at Nevern.  Renowned for its Bleeding Yews, the church is pretty old and the story of the cuckoo flying back maybe just a story but funny how these things still cling to the folds of Saint Brynach's robe.  Anyway, you can find his story here.

But there is a third with a very similar name to Brynach, not exactly a saint but a king, King Brychan.  According to his story he fathered 24 male children and 24 female children.  One's suspicions grow at exact numbers, magic numbers in the Celtic period are more likely to go for, 3, 7, or 9.

He was the first king of Brecon after the Romans left, the girls (all 24?) led saintly and virginal lives 'dedicated from their youth to religious observance'.  But both sets of children seemed to have become saints and their names are all given by Breverton, though there seems to be some marriages in the family.  His wives were, I think they should be mentioned for their heroic ability to have so many children  - Eurbrawst, Proestri and Rhybrawst.

Though the legend of the 24 girls is wound through a very Celtic story assigned to a river.  That they remained virgins and on their deaths were transformed into rivers flowing into the River Severn (Hafren).

Breverton gives their place of living as on a crannog (fortified island) in Llangors Lake in Brecon.  This according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 

The written word was the task of monks, many books may have been copied, almost like ledgers of the names of people in the small tribal areas of this country.  Some of these books were obviously lost to Viking raids and various warfares, but what remains, either copied or original gives a visual impression, of often battles, but just as importantly, the 'royal' nature of the families.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

23/11/2023 - Celtic saints

 Well I am taking a leaf out of Sue in Suffolk's book on an alphabet of things.  My alphabet will be of Celtic saints, those that cover the first 1000 years.  Of course my reference for these saints will be from the Welsh, and the book T.D.Breverton - Book of Welsh Saints.  Not forgetting Gildas, Bede and Geoffrey of Monmouth all early writers who wrote down the stories they had heard.

Well the alphabet begins with 'A' and there are a goodly few in this chapter.  I was going to begin with Aaron, (died after 287 but before 304). Aaron with Julian were executed at Caerlon for their Christian beliefs.  They were romanised Silure, it was under an edict by a Roman emperor.

Martyrdom claims great advantage for the church and it is believed that the two saints were buried at Goldcliff.  In digging out the foundations for a new house in 1785 in the 'Field of the Graveyard', stone coffins were found by a Yew tree.  But unlike the Glastonbury use of  bones for relics, the bones of our presumably two saints were left undisturbed. Here for a fuller wiki

But there is a more interesting saint to think about, and of course Elvis Presley.  Look at that name. Were his parents Welsh? well according to Breverton it seems strange that Elvis had Welsh names - Presley could refer to the Preseli range of hills and Elvis to the saint Ailbe (d 527 to 531).

Breverton evidence for this is that Elvis parents were called Vernon and Gladys, and his still-born twin brother was Jesse Garon (St.Caron?).  Now whether this just a nice story or perhaps there was a thin vein of Welshness running through the veins of Elvis I don't know.

But the church, now no longer there, its remains  can be found outside Solva in Pembrokeshire near to a double cromlech.  This cromlech was blown up by an irate farmer in the 18th century I think but still impressive today.  The early Celtic saints often settled near to the pagan element.

Baring-Gould, another profuse writer born in the 19th century, wrote the following that Ailbe is known in Wales as Ailfyw or Elfyw, who founded a church, now a ruin, called St.Elvis, in Welsh Llanailfyw, or Elfwy near Sain David's consequently near where lived his aunt, St.Non.

It is said of this saint that he remained in Menevia till David was born.  He baptised the child and fostered him, before going to Ireland.

Always wandering these monks bringing the word to the people.  Cannot you just see them? with their bell which called the people to listen to their service, often as we see from the above photo by the side of a cromlech.


Rebecca Solnit on the rich

Wednesday, November 22, 2023


 When I was small and attending Sunday school, about seven years old, I looked down at the picture in my prayer book.  All the people were white, and the thing that struck me, where, and what God did all the other people in the world worship.

My history as an adopted child was kept hidden from me but I was adopted by a Jewish person called Maurice.  I cannot tell you much about my would be Belgian stepmother for she died when I was very young.  She was called Catherine.

The tale told by my grandfather, for that is all I remember him as, was that they had fled the German soldiers whilst living in Belgium.  They had taken the new car and with a mattress tied on top of the car made their way to a ship and escaped to England.  Catherine had a small dog snuggled in her fur coat.

At no point in my childhood was I ever introduced to Judaism, it was as if it did not exist.  My schooling was Catholic all the way.  I remember the nuns at nursery school, moping up after a child had peed on the floor.  The kind nuns at Brewood nursing me back from illness for months when the family broke down once more into divorce.

I despise religion for what happens in its name, a belief system that makes people do terrible things, as we are witnessing today.  Whichever branch is called upon, there is an arrogance of belief that dictates terms,

Like the child I was then I would say with absolute conviction that that funny man with a beard up in the sky does not exist.  That good comes from a moral code, not of righteousness, but because instinct knows how to behave.

Somehow along the way we have been - the human race - corrupted by greed and power.  It doesn't happen to everyone, thank goodness, but its simplistic sway on the human race is most manifest in the arena of war.

While our hearts break because of the killing of people both in Israel and Palestine, it doesn't mean we support one side or the other, rather we want the evil that is war to stop and for those in power to see sense.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Dyeing - not that one, the other one!

Memories: F/B is good at finding your photos on its site.  This one came up this morning.  My dyeing of wools, the act of finding dye material, the mordant and then the final appearance of the wool.  Natural dyes have a softer appeal than the chemical dyes.  Looking at the photo, I think the brown is the only chemical dye.  One of the 'magic' moments of  dyeing with indigo is when you pull the wool from the dye bath as the material hits the air the oxygen turns the wool blue from the green.  A sort of oh moment. You can see a full explanation here.  

It is thought that in the Iron Age, the woad plant (Isatis Tinctoria) a species of the indigo family was used to colour the skin but of course none of that can be proved.

There is a chemical indigo now, growing the indigo woad plant, takes a full two years when the leaves are ready, and a steeping in urine was the preferred option in the olden days.   Though wood ash can be used in the mordanting moment.

Thistles 2008:  Even Moss lifts his leg with great delicacy against this thistle;)


Indigo: Then there is this from 2011, when I tried the artificial indigo

But perhaps, rather sadly, but I am really glad that I found this particular blog, is the Japanese collection of materials collected by Paul, all in indigo.  


And just to finish off a video of the process. Liziqi, the person who makes these videos of a farm idyll in China has somewhat disappeared off the radar but appears in other social media.  She has/had millions of viewers to her videos, but obviously is doing something wrong the Chinese authorities think.

So another video here will show you how she dyes, firstly with the plants and secondly the application of wax on the material to create pattern.

What is interesting about this, is the similarity to the 'lost wax' techniques found in the making of metal objects.  Wikipedia will fill you out here.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

18th November 2023

All alone:  Quite happily of course because it means I won't have to worry who is coming home at what time and I can eat when I want.  Lillie is going up to London to visit her preferred uni.  She is going first class, paid by the uni, apparently they pay first class if your disabled.  Lillie is not but it was a late request.

My daughter will go tomorrow morning to see her two other children and Andrew to see his child (all grown up of course).  What magic does London offer our young I wonder.  I did think of having a flutter on the Omaze charity site, there is a London home being given away as a prize but I doubt it would have fallen my way, so saved my £10, which I think is rather exorbitant.

I am actually donating to the Folklore group round the corner, which I think is a brave attempt to make a venue to entertain  people and also gather knowledge through books, it can't all happen on the internet after all.

There was a painting I saw today, the Clapper bridge in Dartmoor which was taken from a book and was painted by an artist called E.W. Hazelhurst (12th November 1866 to 3rd July 1949) for a series of books on 'Beautiful Britain' brought out by Blackies.

It reminded me of another painter who also lived about the same time Heywood Sumner (1853 to 1940) you can find him hereThere is a certain similarity in colouring.  Bucolic Britain romantised.

John of Stargoose and Hanglands has once again taken some beautiful shots of the landscape of his latest outing  and  immediately my mind goes back to the Brecklands of John Seymour and self sufficiency and the sandy soil.
The mind is a curious thing, it works non-stop, flashing thoughts and images, your own world is encompassed in this physical, is it an organ? lump of matter, as you get older does it cluster your memories closer together, or is it like the computer I am typing on, almost similar?

Thursday, November 16, 2023

16th November 2023

Most people contribute to society, often through voluntary work. This little town seems to be run by voluntary work, ideas, and downright ingenuity.

The Hippodrome down the road is looking for cash to alter its venue somewhat, the new cafe in the old Co-op shop is being transformed by volunteers as is the town's green appearance.  We have a Climate college, (don't groan back there, climate is really on the change) with rooms for making stuff, and repairing.  Society can sometimes do a much better job than government.  We even have social housing taking place on an old site with the Town money granted by the government.  Money of course that comes from the taxes we pay.

So the other day, a thought popped into my head, who else makes financial donations to good works.  Well we all know the many, many charities that ask for money and to which we donate.  It is a bit like finding the right one pinned down on a great spreadsheet. 

Apparently Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, donates 15% of his salary to the homeless charity set up in his town.  You can read about it here, also it gives an interesting take on charity giving.  The other person I came across was Sir Christopher Hohn, he made his fortune in the city on hedge funds (milking money from what?) but now he is an advocate for the green movement, which by the way has many organisations under its umbrella.

Can't resist

We have come quite a way in green politics, unfortunately not in seats in Parliament.  It will be interesting to see who will replace Caroline Lucas in Brighton.  Will the Greens still hang on I wonder? 

How to open a loo ceremony.....

Todmorden Mayor

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Part Two - PHP article

I shall skip some sections, as they ramble on.

"Several letters were exchanged with the Kyoto National Museum.  Finally, he was interviewed by Naoyuki Usami, a recognized authority on conservation, whose ancestors for the past eight generations have been restoring art treasures to pristine condition.  (The Usami workshop is one of two private groups attached to the museum.  The workshop originally worked exclusively on Buddhist Sutra scrolls and paintings, stored in a temple opposite the family home.  Only in the early 1950s were they invited to work inside the museum.  The other group deals exclusively with sculpture.

For the first six months the Englishman was an unpaid observer who  hovered in the background absorbing the atmosphere of the workshop.  He watched Mr.Usami and his staff  work laboriously piece together tattered manuscripts and scrolls, mend holes, remount paintings and painted door panels, and even reweave elaborate brocade ceremonial robes with suitably aged threads.

A sense of historical continuity pervades the cloister like calm of the museum workshop with the irreplaceable national cultural treasures spread out on the worktables.  The visitor tends to be on edge picking his way across the tatami, on which are spread the delicate slips of paper, which are the delicate remains of a 900-year-old hanging scroll being lovingly preserved from total disintegration.  There is always the fear of accidentally sticking a hand through a painted silk screen from the former imperial palace that awaits a delicate touching-up of tiny holes.

Some conservation projects take several years to complete.  Treasured paintings have to be laid face down on moistened special paper; numerous layers of backing are then stripped off until all that is left are isolated islands of the original paint or silk.  One false move that disturbs the fragments would destroy a priceless historical object,  With nerve-wracking painstaking the conservator fills in the gaps with colour matched paper or silk before finally remounting.  The same applies to ancient manuscripts which may be in such tattered condition that they are virtually little more than solidified ink, with a few strands of paper clinging to the letters.  It takes year of study to be able to appreciate these kind of challenge.

After six months Paul was accepted as an apprenticeship to Mr. Usami. But his apprenticeship was unusual in many ways.  At first, there was the problem of being a foreigner.  Although he had picked up a certain amount of conversational Japanese, daily conversation was completely useless when it comes to understanding the special vocabulary of the ancient craft of conservation.  So in the beginning, certain allowances had to be made..............

Finally there was the problem of understanding the concept of conservation.  Conservation in Japan proved to be nothing like Paul imagined.  He had been raised on images of Western laboratories and Western attitudes to restoration.  And Japanese conservation was completely different.

He began his apprenticeship with the most basic job of all; making the special paste that hyogu-shi (traditional art conservators) have longed used in their work.  The process begins with ordinary wheat flour, but the protein is extracted  because protein makes paste-adhesive hard and brittle.  The pure starch that remains is a paste that looks like milk.  The young apprentice stirs this until it becomes extremely stiff.  However, the paste has to be stirred for at least an hour, a back and arm breaking task that is repeated every day or two.  Gradually, however, the novice begins to realise the vital role this paste will play in his future work.

Some of the paste is stored in ceramic jars topped with water and left for ten years.  The aged product is a weak, special kind of paste that can be applied very thinly (this quality is especially important for old scrolls where suppleness and ease of rolling are prime considerations."


The above writing by Geoffrey Murray is slightly over the top in my reckoning but he was a journalist of longstanding.  see here

We had two 'ali baba' pots at home, one lived in the garden. And  the other heavy green paste bowl became Lucy's water bowl.  She had a delightful habit of picking up her lightweight bowls and flinging them across the floor, this one was too heavy for her.  You can see them on my blog  'Aged paste' which goes into more detail.

Monday, November 13, 2023

14th November 2023 - Intro

The last post is but a short intro into a large article which I shall type out each day.  I know that one of my grandchildren with his partner will be going to Japan next year, so perhaps I should introduce this article as a history of what Paul achieved in his lifetime. 

I answer Lillie's need to know in which societal bracket we live, or at least how our 'non' wealth is arrived at.  Basically wealth is a fool's paradise in which you just can't own everything and can only drive one car at a time. Aspiration either to do good or follow a career  was the pattern of the time I lived in.  

Paul's background was fairly poor when he got to Japan, for one year he became a monk not mentioned in the article.  Here he starved, mostly living on peanut butter and apples.  The hut in the temple gardens was cold and he had large insects to contend with.  But he persevered, something that you can hardly say of myself. 

I suppose my blog is jottings from what I think about.  During the last few weeks, thoughts have been somewhat distracted from the terrible things which goes on in the world.  I have a view but  shall refrain from saying it.  And like the magpie I have often referred to will still record things that catch the day.  Sadly my sense of the absurd will always be on show, take it that I see the world with a pinch of salt.

As in..... the government choice of new Secretary of State, how does the EDL (English Defence League) far right view a string of government ministers who come from other countries.  This to me, enrolling different ethnicities is perfect justice towards a better world, when we can understand each other there maybe peace.  

PHP - A Forum for a Better World; article on Paul Wills - An Artistic Heritage

 The artistic record of Japan's ancient history 

is endangered by many foes.  Fortunately, however,

in the timeless battle to protect works of art,

traditional conservators have passed on their

secrets to handpicked apprentices willing to

undergo a demanding ten-year apprenticeship.

After an apprenticeship that was just as

demanding with a master conservator, Paul Wills has

learned these secrets and will soon be sharing them

with the West and carrying on a tradition with

a unique approach to protecting art treasures.

 An article written by Geoffrey Murray 1980

"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 archetypical eccentric genius in a drafty garret striving to produce a masterpiece of painting or sculpture.  But he is as important to the art world as the artist, for he is seeking to protect the works of past masters from the ravages of time, the elements, and neglect, and save them for future generations.

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 time studies - first as a general art student and later as an apprentice of art conservation (a word he prefers to restoration).

His workplace for the past eleven years 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,  making Kyoto a Mecca for the student of Japanese art, history, and religion, are close at hand.  Squatting on a tatami mat (straw mat) floor, and working at long cumbersome wooden tables, the young Englishman had laboriously learnt the secrets accumulated over almost 2000 years of repairing and preserving religious and secular treasures, which are written, painted, carved, or woven records of Japan's rich and ancient cultural heritage.

In September 1980, however, Paul Wills will be finally returning to England after fourteen years in Japan.  At the British Museum in London, in a replica of the Kyoto museum workshop, he will be in charge of a department charged with preserving the museum's collection of Oriental art.  This department will be the first of its type in Europe, and it will differ from the three already established at American museums be being headed by a non-Japanese.  Will's new appointment is, to him, an encouraging sign that the Western world is now ready to acknowledge that it has much to learn from Japan about the preservation of historical art treasures.

The Englishman finds it very difficult to say how he acquired his interest in art conservation.  His mother encouraged him to paint, while his father tried to direct his attention towards some knowledge of engineering techniques.  And then there was his grandfather, somewhat of a shadowy figure, whose keen interest in history, religion, linguistics, archaeology, and just about everything else, influenced him.  When Paul Wills was about five or six asked him, his grandfather asked him: "what do you want to be when you grow up" without knowing why, the youngster replied "An archaeologist".  His grandfather immediately gave him two large, dusty old volumes on archaeology.  (Wills later brought them to Japan where they have been lovingly rebound.

In his teens, Paul Wills studied for three years at the School of Art in Swindon, a town in Western England rich in ancient tombs and the legends of Stonehenge.

"My major was Impressionist painting; it had nothing to do with Oriental art or restoration" he recalls, "I'm not really sure when I decided to come to Japan.  The books in the school library on Chinese and Japanese art aroused my interest in the Orient, and that interest grew until I wanted to go to China.  At that time, it was of course impossible, so the next logical choice was Japan.  I applied to the Kyoto School of Art and spent three years studying Japanese painting  and sculpture there.  But at that stage had no idea where my studies would lead me"

13th November 2023 - Mildenhall, Norfolk

Both members of the family arrived back within half an hour of each other soaking wet. As my daughter said, it rained in Geneva, Manchester and then Tod.

Lillie had walked up to the moor with a small group of scouts carrying an American flag, to the American bomber that had crashed up there and they had a little ceremony there.  You can see details of the crash site here.  The plane had come from Norfolk and it had failed to rise above the moor, I suspect similar to the one on Prescili Hills.

It reminded me of a visit to Mildenhall in Suffolk where another famous American air base is.  We had gone to see the Silver Mildenhall Roman treasure, that had recently been opened in the small museum in the town. The usual damp cold day made the town miserable but the replica treasure was absolutely beautiful and I wrote about it here.  Feeling sad for a dead 1500 year old Saxon horse, seems ridiculous now, but......

Also I was to learn later how the treasure had been found.  I presume as the Roman Empire fell into disarray, the wealthy family who owned the silver must have buried it and fled, hoping to retrieve it later.  So one cold miserable day in the 20th century  a farm labourer ploughing the field upended one of the silver plates.  He went to the farmer who owned the land and they dug up what was there.  But the farmer did not report it to the authorities and just like Smaug the dragon sat on his treasure for quite a time.  But one day an archaeologist called at the farm and noticed a piece of silver on the mantlepiece.  The game was up and the treasure slowly came into public ownership.

Now in the arcane rules this country so loves, all treasure belongs to the crown, and the finder has the reward, in many instances it would be the farmer but at this time it was the farm labourer.  He got nowt, the farmer pocketed the lot.  Roald Dahl came to hear of this and was so angry about it that he wrote a book, meaning to give the proceeds to the labourer.  The book was illustrated by Ralph Steadman, scary to say the least, I bought a copy for Paul, but the illustrations jump at you, a gash across the page.  

Anyway you can find part of the story in the following blog.

Mildenhall Treasures

The geese have just flown over, the world still flows into the future.  And I have decided to copy out that article about Paul, written so long ago.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Life goes on

 Well my first private blog.  It is Sunday a day of quietness for me, when the world becomes less noisy.  Not this Sunday of course elsewhere the drums of war are biting into human flesh.

Lillie comes down whilst I am making my breakfast, her first remark, granny you've gone private. She had been baking yesterday evening, chocolate cakes for the scouts today. As she fitted the cakes into boxes we talked of conscription, I somehow equate the scouts with the National Service conscription of long ago.  Was it a good thing?  

The scouts today will march through town, they start at 10.30 for the 11'00 silence.  After that it is a walk to the site of a crashed WW1 plane.

It reminds me of coming across a similar site somewhere remote on the Presceli Hills, I have photos somewhere.  A few bits of metal, a small memorial of the men who had died and a red poppy.

Karen has just said via F/B that she is waiting at  Geneva airport to come home.  She went on a very short visit to see her Aunt Sylvia, Hob and Jeannot. Sylvia is married to Hob, an American. ................................


So this is the first record written to myself, and one or two others it seems when I have learnt how to manipulate the back plate of my blog.

Through all this Mollie the cat has been ranging back and forward giving full vent to her vocals about life, one of her expressions sounds like 'what the hell'. She has just zoomed in and out (19 years old) which means she has just had a 'c**p in the litter box.

And here they are in this blog; taken from this blog

Lillie has just waltzed in showing off her nekka, (it goes round the neck) wound tightly in a spiral way, and I ask what about the blouse.  Ironed she says 'I am perfect' wisely that girl has too much confidence in herself.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Gone fishing

Whether temporarily or permanent I don't know.  But for a time I would like to write privately.   xxx


Friday, November 10, 2023

10th November 2023

 So what to write today? World news is horrifying. I have just listened to a podcast about Suella Braverman's article in The Times.  We all know she is pushing and shoving for leadership in the coming election, or maybe even before.  But it is a brave person who takes on the body of the police institution, what has Britain fallen to???  

Will there be trouble at  Remembrance  Day on Sunday, who knows but the ceremony will go ahead.  Will the protest march affect it, it doesn't seem likely as it will be taking a different route to the one held at The Cenotaph (an empty tomb of someone who has died elsewhere). 

There is a small vigil group in Tod that stand outside the Town Hall on Sunday at 3.0.clock but not this Sunday.  There are many Muslims up in the Northern towns, Bradford probably being the most well known.  But they are integrated into the communities. We have an Indian prime minister (although probably not for long) and a Home Secretary (racist sadly) with a similar background.  One day I will not have to write as I have just written we will be a homogenous family of cultures and colours that are not important.  But for now we struggle through perceived truths about race. 

Wide blue skies and upland - Preselli

Something gentler maybe? I have been in the land of stones.  Well not actually, more in my head of course.  Thinking about the Preseli Hills, and all the tombs dotted around this area.  Watching by the way two delightful Welsh men argue the toss about the history of Wales. The Dragon has Two Tongues  And wishing just for a moment that Moss and I could go to Carn Llidi at St. David and once more visit this implacable headland and its tombs such as The Coetan Arthur cromlech below.

Or maybe the two hidden cromlechs against the flanks of Carn Llidi, I think they are Neolithic

These are hidden cromlechs but just look in front of the cromlechs, a concrete stand for a gun during the second World War. 

Sacred landscape

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

7th November 2023

 Yesterday's post was short and really was a light look at someone happily doing her craft.  Yet if the truth be told what we have is bleak miserable news to contend with every day. Simon Jenkins puts it well - We cannot turn away from suffering. As he so rightly says news by  television and most commentators is a voyeuristic journey of pain and horror.  Of course I am not denying this but could we not have a much broader discussion about solutions.  One day there is not enough relief medicine, water and food getting through the next few days suddenly it goes silent on this.

Well good news peeps out occasionally, the Great Fen project in Cambridgeshire is suddenly coming to fruition.  Land given over to growing food is now being turned into a watery wildness.  Though, yes there is an extra thought, what with all the rain we are having isn't the rest of Britain turning into a wet marshland?

I made a silly mistake last night, got my am and pm mixed up, the meditation session on a meeting was in the morning not in the evening, my granddaughter pointed it out to me when I couldn't get on to the Zoom meeting. I find Zoom a bit clumsy but will work on it.  I even managed to set up a Zoom meeting myself yesterday evening, but sadly there was only myself to talk to!

This photo seems rather appropriate - A rainy day in London - which I came across the other day.

Monday, November 6, 2023

6th November 2023

For those who like patchwork I came across The Last Homely House. It is extraordinary how many people choose to make a small living out of You tube. It is a soft very feminine approach in this video.  The cottage just that, no elaborate modernising.  When I looked through the interior decoration on the site of the photographer the other day.  Classic but oh so boring design, swept surfaces that just had one or two highlight notes, everything perfectly matched but not a damn thing to do on any surface.  Books are also uncomfortable, unless of course they are arranged in ruler state precision as coffee books on the table.

Anyway the video will cheer people up with its gentle patter on quilting.


Saturday, November 4, 2023

4th November 2023

 Yesterday I watched the new 'Shetland' drama with Ashley Jensen taking over Douglas Henshall's role.  Well it is the same old format, bad gangsters from the mainland of Scotland, dead bodies everywhere, scattered over the islands.  I expect the new female star will blend in quite easily with the old background of the show.  A Shetland islander had written a letter though saying how untrue it was to the actual truth of living there.  When ferries and planes were delayed for days because of bad weather.


The wild remote Scottish islands are changing now, heaven forbid there are now second homes and large liners pulling up at the quayside.  And to change the subject slightly I could weep when I see Arctic pleasure liners photographed as a backdrop against beautiful icebergs.


"I am unable to speak over the phone due to a serious throat pain caused by laryngitis"

A spam arrived in my email box a couple of days ago, I recognised it instantly, knowing full well this friend who was asking would never ask for money.  The email address had been cleverly doctored by just placing one letter in front of the real address. When I asked what was the favour needed, a second email arrived asking for a gift Apple voucher for £200.  Short shrift answer!

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Ciaran at Whitby

 There are only two words to use, one not really suitable.  But why are people so stupid?  Three cheers for the Coastguard Rescue.

Edit: Andrew's dad is appearing again tomorrow for a short piece on Gardener's World....

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Things that cheer me up

 Slowly a feeble sun starts to appear and my mood changes as I walk to Lidl and look up at the trees, they also are colouring slightly.  Tod is getting to be the second 'Hebden Bridge'.  What I mean by that is that HB has a reputation for being sophisticated (yes they do sophistication down North).  Tod on the other hand is a town bisected by three main roads and has no centre to talk off.  But that is changing, the ponytail grey haired male is appearing in this town, 'yummy-mummies' as well.  Though don't ask what they are about, I pick up jargon willy-nilly.

I was going to talk about chicken.  Every fortnight or so we have a chicken, roasted of course, but with half of it remaining for another meal, everyone's fingers are kept off it.  Then it is my job to strip the carcass, which takes ages.  As I do this wretched job, the song that comes into my mind is Pickin a Chicken with mesung by Eva Boswell in the 1950s and sung by us as children.  The chicken dish made  has tarragon, mustard, cream and cheese - very rich, but is a great favourite of the family.  I do not eat chicken by the way, a vegetarian compromise you would think but I  cook whatever other people want.

Have just been through my email, and find Andrew has sent me a set of photos of his father's garden.  Andrew's father made a garden from an old quarry, so that it has the right ecosystem for the plants he grows in it. It is called 'Jack's Jungle' and has appeared on Monty Don's gardening programme.  It was sad last week when one of Monty's dogs died, I think it was Jen, but as always dog owners always have younger dogs to replace the old as and when they go.

But to return to the garden, it is alive with exotica and native plants and you can see why his dad is so proud of it.  There is a photo of him amongst the pictures and you can see that Andrew will grow into the spitting image of him as he ages.

*Listening to the music once again all I can say that as children we had crap taste in music!