Wednesday, May 29, 2024


 I can hear the plaintive meow of Mollie coming down from her attic retreat, she will have to share a bedroom with Matilda tonight. I see there is a discussion about the terrors (is that the right word?) of getting old.  But we should not forget from the moment we opened our mouths for the first yell in our lifetime, that death was always on the cards. 

Perhaps we should prod it to see what he has to offer.  Oblivion of course, but just imagine, just dream, maybe you will meet all those people you have lost through life.  The old achy bones will at last have rest and you will become once more star dust in the Universe.  To meld and mix with the rest of the wonderful expanse of 'nothingness' maybe?

I have been listening to Chris Van Tulleken - Ultra Processed People about all the junk food manufacturers fill our daily ration with but he points out millions of years ago when life began on this planet, the organisms were quite happily eating metals and minerals and living in boiling hot conditions - that rather pleases me, we can always adapt ;)

The other book I am reading at the moment is Horatio Clare's 'Truant'.  Sent, like all good middle class children to a public school (i.e. America private school) he was learning about cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and sex from an early age.  I suppose it compensated for the miserable existence within the school.  Apparently when you were found out and hauled up before the headmaster, all that happened was that you were exchanged with similar boys from another school.  See for reference the Conservative Party!

But salvation came along he was sent eventually to an international school somewhere round Cardiff, and found that 'foreign' people had a much better outlook than the British lot.  So that is why you will see at the end of this is a video of a 'flash mob' in Spain playing Beethoven's Ode to Joy', surely one of the most inspiring pieces of music.  Schiller's word appertain to God, and though I don't believe in any god, the thought that something must dwell beyond the stars. Is an idea to grasp and think about.

All the world's creatures draw
Draughts of joy from nature;
Both the just and the unjust
Follow in her gentle footsteps.
She gave us kisses and wine
And a friend loyal unto death;
She gave the joy of life to the lowliest,
And to the angels who dwell with God

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

28th May 2024 - Lass

 Tom Stephenson wasn't the only one who made their way to London over the weekend, my daughter did as well.  To see the following pair, her children Matilda and Ben and my grandchildren. So a proud granny moment.  Matilda has published her magazine, called 'Lass', though there are many contributions in it from her friends in university with her.

Obviously taking their mum on some sort of cultural outing.  Ben of course making a career as a stylist with a world famous racing car driver as his prize.  Matilda did an internship on a magazine called 'Notion' and has written many articles for them.

Perhaps not my choice, the high? or low life of London, the would be persons, the has been persons but both children are striking out.  But it is good to read what the young write and think.

Lass is about 'The North' and is about fashion, being young and the people you meet up here. It is very well put together and must have taken a lot of work.

Sunday, May 26, 2024



Foxgloves at Pentre Ifan
American friends at Pentre Ifan

St.Davids Cathedral

Fetching the sheep down
And here they come

This week I have been rather down, I know the reason and that I should shake it but this Sunday, the day of rest I shall find photos and rejoice in their memories.
One of my 'retirement' plans was to move to Wales and especially to Pembrokshire and Solva.  All that went by the wayside in other things happening in my life and I am happy in that life.  But I loved the emptiness and remoteness of Wales, though now, along with every other holiday destination in the world, the small town of Solva has been overwhelmed with holiday homes and tourists.  It is probably a seaside playground now.
I am not sure what I feel about this, more people mean more  movement the great stretch of the Prescili Hills will probably be the next on the list.  You may not know this but at one stage during the last war there was talk of turning this area into another Salisbury Plain, where the army could practice with their armoury.  Luckily someone fought against this idea and now it remains free.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Carlton Bank


Carlton Bank

Carlton Bank where a young life met a tragic end.  Today there will be adults who face the experience of being culpable for taking a group  of  young children  on a forest walk.  I do not envy them, feel sad for the parents who have lost their young daughter and we all will wait to see what the outcome will be.

You can see from the terrain, how easily it would have happened, the straight sides with hardly any vegetation cover.  The persistent rain we have been having loosening the soil.

My grand daughter is a scout's leader.  She has been on many a walk with the Beavers, and when on a trip supervising them, alongside other adults.  She comforts them through homesickness, throwing up, the coaches always breaking down (they do) but on the whole keeping the children safe on an adventure.

I remember my daughter going on one such trip, she managed to fall out of a top bunk and cracked her jaw,  So she was brought home to our local hospital.  It is scary.

One moment our children are there, the next going on a school trip to France or somewhere under the guidance of teachers and helpers.  Perhaps it was a foolish decision by the leader of the group to take children on this walk, all will be revealed in an enquiry but children need adventures in the end, even if it means getting lost on Dartmoor and as a child who roamed freely and had adventures I would ask for compassion in the judgement of the people who look after our children.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

23rd May 2024

 Just now: Crow babies are finding their wings.  A crow hullabaloo started outside,  Looking out of the window and there was a baby crow caught between railings.  Several crows were in front of it and then success the little one flew free. And did they really pull him free?  It sort of balances the world for me today.

Well here comes change in 6 weeks, the Election, of another party? of the same party? heaven knows but there should be a news ban is all I can say.  Gosh you can almost feel the excitement vibrating on the Today programme and the News at One.  Heaven forbid.  All I know is that our MP (Tory) Craig Whitaker is standing down, as many are in the Conservative party so that means a frantic effort to find suitable candidates.

What was Ricki thinking of when he stood out in the rain by the famous lectern.  The sound of music down the street - It will only get Better, a tad offensive.  As he spooned the promises, yet again, everyone knows this country is slowly sliding down into a pit, we will leave the snakes out here but to be brutal it is going to take a helluva lot of house building, better health services and tackling the poverty that now exists in this country. Also intrigued by the date 4th July - American Independence Day - will we become another state of America ;) No I don't think so...

After the terrible news about the Singapore Airlines plane dropping 6000 feet and injuring the people in the cabin, some quite badly and of course one British man dead, we are brought face to face with some of the rigours of climate change as the weather becomes unpredictable.  Here in Yorkshire, a 10 year old child was killed by a mud slide yesterday, as the rain once more started to fall, I think we are on 'orange alert' here but the rain has fallen quietly all yesterday and no talk of flooding so far.

Instead of moping about it perhaps we should be taking sensible measures of meeting the problems halfway.  We shall see.

Cooking: I tried the Orzo recipe with asparagus and leeks yesterday it was good, though helped with plenty of lemon.  Today I refused to do the pearl barley, the recipe had a whole roasted cauliflower on top, we are leaving Andrew to try that one out.   Still enjoy my cauliflower in a cheese sauce.  So today it will be sour dough torn into strips amongst roasted tomatoes, peppers and a jar of artichokes. 

It is also wise to get most of your ingredients from Ocado, they seem to have the spices.

It makes me giggle somewhat nervously, there is dire warnings of having a stock of water, food and other stuff, enough for three days, just in case something happens. Again, the news yesterday, is this called the 'distraction game' I wonder.  Or is the REAL world coming to our door and presenting itself!


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

22nd May 2024 - Pewsey Valley

 Well taking note of other blogs, I am going to have photo days.  The following is of the church in Alton Barnes in the Pewsey valley in Wiltshire.  I always thought there was something magical about this valley.  Somewhere I would like to live.  It just wasn't the pub which drew in the crowds over crop circles.  It was the Saxon road and the Iron Age fort on top of Martinsell hill, the area sort of oozed sanctity for some unexplained reason.  Two churches near to each other, one church having probably been built on a stone circle.  You went into the church, lifted the wooden lids and there were the two stones, which did not actually add up to a stone circle but then you would have to take down the church for confirmation.

We occasionally went to Pewsey church in the town because Paul's parents were buried there and we would take flowers and potter around.  The valley itself would probably been the way from Avebury to Stonehenge.

Viewing from the church you could see an 18th century white horse and up on the downs a prehistoric long barrow called Adam's Grave.  In Anglo-Saxon times it was called 'Woden's Barrow'.  Mentioned as Wodnesbeorh in an A/S charter of 825 AD. If I remember rightly there was apparently a Saxon hanging place along the top of the hill.  The naming of barrows of course is part of folklore, Adam was said to be a giant.  Information about the grave can be found on The Modern Antiquarian.

Martinsell Hill, I am walking along the old Saxon road here.


The church

The UFO pub in 2012?
Over parked
Modern cup marks dated 1990.  Could that be the date when crop circles were imagined into reality.  The UFO theories? Nope, 1960s

The canal that runs alongside the pub

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

21st May 2024


A new cook book.  I like roasted vegetables and the idea of one-stop dishes.  These dishes can be served with a salad on the side because they are very rich.  I have already tried two of the recipes and another two this week.  We have a selection of Creuset dishes for putting in the Aga oven but soon the Aga will be closed down because it is too hot in summer.

The goat's cheese recipe did not go down to well, though I liked it, but sweet potato toppings with feta cheese crumbled through is good.  We had the classic whole camembert on top of the sliced potatoes, mushrooms and onions, it melts down into the dish.  Thin sliced potatoes require cutting on a mandoline, so you have to be careful of the tops of fingers!  

I have decided to go to another meeting at the Folklore centre in June.  It is about Nick Drake, Syd Barrett and Pantheism.  I am not sure how you can turn the lyrics of 'Pink Moon' into the neopaganism of today but it will be interesting to find out.

Also been watching 'The Killing' on Channel 4.  Excessively long and the plot twists and turns through a variety of would be suspects.  I am sure I have never come across a plot quite like it.  But today I am giving it up and going to the last episode, then it will be finished with.

Came across something last night, due to Mollie being very wide awake for about three hours.  This is  Word Clouds - "visual representation of text that give greater rank of words that appear more frequently than others".  It had been set up by Rory Stewart and Alistair Campbell in their podcast, you can guess what words Johnson and Truss accumulated.

It seems that as a country we all think much alike on the state of our politics.  Also the game of worst and best event in life was played during the podcast.  Campbell worst experience was the death of Doctor David Kelly in 2003. Campbell was Blair's right hand man.  The suspicious suicide death of this person who worked for the government on military matters and the examination of weapons in Iraq, shocked many of us, and we have never forgiven Tony Blair for this unexpected death.  The BBC report can be found here.  The details of the inquest into his death were not fully released and went under the  70 years rule before the final release of the report becomes public. 

Monday, May 20, 2024

20th May 2024 - London 2014

Well photographs: this time of a trip to London in 2014 to see an exhibition about Stonehenge in a strange place, the narrow gate triumphal arch leading up to Buckingham Palace.  I wish I knew the name, I suppose someone will tell me but all the photographs are of London.( no need, it is the Wellington Arch)  The small exhibition was set up by Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology.  An acquaintance of Paul, Pitts used to work at Avebury in his younger days at the museum and is author of books on the subject of archaeology.

I was particularly take with the statue of four horses of the Apocalypse, galloping over one's head they looked dramatic.  But on trying to find the right place of course led by the 'stupidity' of my search effort, came across the last event when four cavalry horses unsaddled their riders and went galloping through London in a bloody condition, I think they all survived and were caught and hospitalised but in the photo below you can see them at a more calm ride through the streets.


The four horses of the Apocalypse

Vertical gardening, think it must have been a hotel.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

19th May 2024 - time flies

Stanton Drew Stone taken by LS

This morning is gorgeous, the honeysuckle outside the backdoor has broken into flower, there is something intrinsically beautiful about the shape of its cream and pink colouring.  I saw a bumble bee in its cup yesterday.  Nature is always producing the most vivid of pictures. A few days ago I spent ages looking for one of my terrible videos, I found two both with bees on it.  One is the ceanothus, its blue so cleverly crafted and the bee nest above in the old lock up building in the graveyard of Normanby church.  So as I am crap at editing, it will feature at the bottom with all its faults.

Yesterday I went to a meeting at the Folklore place about Pennystones, our local history person John Billingsley gave a talk on the game of throwing pennies. He also talked of the custom of stones, often set at the edge of a village which were called 'plague stones' Simply put, before you entered the village in the time of the Black death which ran rampant the hollowed out stone would have vinegar in which you dipped your hands.

But then he produced at the end a pretty crap bit of video, done with his phone of the sunset against a barrow up on Midgeley moor.  The sun seemed to climb the barrow, reach the summit, and then slowly disappear as it rolled down the  other side.

There are many things I miss from my old life and  the stones are one of them.  Sometimes I feel it is a desert here with hardly anything of note. Wiltshire spoiled me with its Avebury and Stonehenge.  Then of course Somerset with Stanton Drew Stone circle.

I miss Stoney Littleton Long barrow, West Kennett long barrow, even Silbury Hill and the great soft chalk downs of Wiltshire, and can quite understand why the landscape round West Yorkshire was so miserable to the prehistoric people ;)

The Cove stones outside the pub in Stanton Drew, though later identification says it may be the remains of a long barrow

Stanton Drew and its stones

Friday, May 17, 2024

17th May 2024

 Many years ago I hosted language students from countries all round the world.  I became a mother duck with some of the young ones worrying about them being out late at night.  But it was Andrew (from the High Rise blog) that invoked a sharp memory when he was talking about transport in his city.

This tale is about the Brazilians, who, and I can never understand this, came in the cold months of January from the hot temperature of their own country.  

I had just picked up my next person, a Brazilian policeman, with his unexpected luggage - his girlfriend, from the rail station in the evening.  They had wanted to find a guest house for her but I said no, not driving round Bath all night they could use the attic bedroom which had a futon.  This room much prized by my children, housed anyone spare at the time.

We had stopped at a red traffic light, my policemen said rather incredulously, do people stop for the red light here.  I assured him we did and that if we did not and caused an accident we would end up in prison.

We got home, panic set in, he could not unlock his suitcase, daft idiot had  thrown his keys into the suitcase and then locked it.  With all his money and documentation in it. We had a basement with plenty of tools so he ended up down there furiously sawing at the padlock.  He emerged triumphantly later. But this was not the end of it, the next day the school were taking some of the students to a pub.  Off they went, but he came back later full of woe, someone had nicked his belt bag off the table where he had so carelessly thrown it, again with all his important stuff.  This is a policeman we are talking about.

But this is England and next morning a call from the school, said that a small girl with her mum, walking along a country lane had found the bag and could we go and collect.  So girlfriend and  not forgetting in his push chair Tom walked down to town and collected it from the insurance offices where the mum worked.  Life was peaceful after that.  They were a sweet couple ;)

The other Brazilian drama was a pretty blonde Brazilian girl, her father was a 'chief' of the Fifa lot. She arrived through the front door supported by her friend.  Immediately burst into tears as she stepped over the threshold, and comforting her I said I would make some tea, at which point the phone rang.  It was her mother who obviously knew what was going to happen and she quieted down.  Next weekend she was out partying up in London - and her mother had other things to worry about!

This reminds me that there was no mobile phones at the time, and our house phone was forever ringing with relatives for the students.  Many of the students wanted to stay on over their allotted time, and we let them, giggly Japanese girls, Swiss engineer, and one poor chap who had been sent to boarding school in England for most of his life and was obviously not wanted back  home.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Other things

Enough:  When things become overwhelming I play Nick Drake - Pink Moon.  A sad young man who killed himself but left behind his music legacy.


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

May the month of merriment ;)

Cooking:  Tartiflette, a delicious word but we haven't tried the recipe yet, probably because we haven't found the Reblochon cheese.  It is pinned to the fridge with a magnet, the other recipe I tried on Sunday, chicken thighs on Ouzo pasta with tomatoes.  As a vegetarian not eating the chicken but found the added fat of those creatures not to my liking.  Yesterday was macoroni cheese a favourite of my granddaughter.  Today I have been instructed to try out a new recipe, which seems to have a lot of ingredients but basically is another type of puff pastry tart decorated with asparagus.
We have returned to rain, dripping outside but at least it is warm. The leaves grow at an amazing pace, one minute I am looking at thinly veiled branches the next their skeleton shapes have been covered.  Summer is so eager to make a showing.
Combing through my memory bank on the internet are bluebells, washing the ground blue amongst  old coppiced trees.  What makes bluebells beautiful is the wash of colour that floats through the shaded area of woods but in bright sunlight becomes much paler.  In this blog in Blake's Wood is the sound of a cuckoo as well.
So to photos.........


The solemnity of eating out at a pub on Sunday livened up by a pagan show, Morris dancing....the English at play.  The black and white person is a badger.

"Morris dancing is an ancient seasonal pagan ritual male custom associated with the bringing of luck, the fertility and regeneration of the soil and the promotion of the cycle of the seasons...... In the dances there'll be much jingling of bells."

Okay I have found a Youtube video, taken by me some time ago from Gnat Bottomed Towers blog.  The title is 'Billy Had a ten foot willy' but then the month of May is all about fertility.  Note also, that it is not just men who do Morris dancing.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

12th May 2024

 May your winters be beautiful, springs bright, your summer unfading and your autumns rich and fair.

A rather good blessing.  It is at the end of Horatio Clare's book  - The Light in the dark, A winter journal.

He is a fine writer, lyrical explains his writing better. A prose poem that like the Illiad captures words - his words fall like snow to the ground.

What he did do however was that he explained to me the dreariness you find in these steep valleys, the overwhelming feeling of being hemmed in.  When I see other people's photos of the moors above, I find them bleak places.  The ruined grey farmhouses, blank windows, roofs that no longer exist, small fields clustered around derelict houses.   Of course it is not all like that, there are still working farms up there, as there are small terraces of houses amongst the trees, telling of earlier histories when people worked in the mills and took the pathways down through the trees to the towns.

There are good people today (they call themselves The CROWS) who work up on the moors relaying the paths, gritting the boggy parts.  And of course 'Slow the Flow' volunteers wind the fast flowing streams down the hill, so that they slow down their force and enter the town in a more genteel manner.

This world has of course been lit up the last couple of days by the out of space Universe conducting a light show for us.  Sun flares from the sun whirling away through the darkness to spark colour into our world. It can be rather frightening when we contemplate the Universe, with its millions of stars echoed by the millions of questions we want answered on its being.

It is said that the bright creatures, young or old, who grace Hebden Bridge town, are from hippy eras, the slightly offset people who do not quite sit in the Yorkshire Style but come from those other glittering places like London or the South.  As a 'foreigner' myself, I just like to observe.  What I do see is people actively looking after their small territories.  They moan quite a bit, the closure of the road to Rochdale was particularly funny.  And as for dogs and cats going missing, blame it on a town squashed up tight with no gardens to the houses. 

When I go shopping to Lidl, my eyes are always raised to the trees that climb to the moor, a particularly beautiful sight at this time of year in their fresh greenness, the moors edge can be seen also as can that funny lump of a hill in the following photo.  You will see a large building in the centre of the photo.  This is Tod College, owned by the town and given over to many different things.  Volunteers man it, the Makery resides here, where my spinning wheel got mended.  You can bring anything to be mended, bikes, computers and household goods.  People are kind, the one word spread around town. 


I haven't said anything about the book but it is about being depressed in the dark days of winter and the accompanying SAD, which can only be lit up by artificial light.  Also because it is Horatio Clare the mind bending event in his dark days as he battles against the troubles that besets his  mind.
But funnily enough I am not aware of it as I read only the landscape which is the background to its writing.  

Then there is 'Kindness' a theme of Tod, as today Sunday, the volunteer gardeners will be tending the public spaces of the town and then eating lunch up at the church.

And on a meditative note: A far cry from capitalism and privatisation ;)

Friday, May 10, 2024

10th May 2024

 All is well in this quiet spot of the world.  The geese have flown over to their daytime home on the canal.  Someone even suggested a simple solution to the problem of the water leak at the garden centre which has blocked the road there.  Catch the 590 bus up to it, walk the 100 feet or so round the problem and then catch the next 590 bus to Rochdale.  But I am sure there will be grumbles anyway, I call that slow living.

Yesterday my books came through from WOB (World of Books). Four to be precise, one was free, but it cleverly balanced the parcel up nicely.  You pay about £3.50 for paperbacks, often in a very good condition and you can return them and get some of your money back.  A bit like the leaving of books on public benches started up a few years back.

I have collected books  for years, and over the last few years have had major clear outs.  At one stage in my 20s had a love affair with Victorian writers.  Carlyle and Ruskin come to mind though William Morris wrote plenty.

You will see in the rather bad photo that three are by Horatio Claire, he is an excellent writer.  His lyrical prose flows so easily, especially in the book I have started to read 'The Light in the Dark - a Winter Journal' catching that terrible gray coldness in this part of the Yorkshire landscape.  For someone who is used to the soft creamy tones of Bath's building, the grey round here brings the soul to a sad place. Three books by him and another by Olivia Laing.

On top of the books is one I could not give away, 'Aesop's Fables' by Samuel Croxall.  A small book of silly tales dated 1847.  The other old books kept back were the six small volumes of the Illiad, probably for those word that appears somewhere in them - "his words fell like snow upon the ground".  Melting away into one's consciousness I think.

A painting by John William Inchbold, A study, in March 1855 taken from Christa Zaat compilation of artists that runs through her F/B site. She gives a detailed account of this artist.  I see he is moved by the Pre-Raphaelites style but develops his own in the end.  I am not snobby about the Pre-Raphaelites;) I know words like 'drippy females' are given to the paintings but they were painting, and writing very dire poetry, in a time when there was a breakaway from the 'brown studies' of the earlier painters.
The following words taken from  Christa Zaat site.

"Inchbold was one of several young landscape artists to be inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites. The praise and patronage of Ruskin launched him on his career in 1855, but by the late 1850s he had moved away from the tenets of strict observation towards a more personal style and a looser, more experimental technique. Like the painter AW Hunt, he was also a poet, and he found it hard to make a living by his watercolours. In 1886–7 he made his last long painting tour, exploring the Mediterranean coast from the south of France to Naples; "

And now for coffee.

Edit: I had forgotten to write about the roses Lillie brought back from Aldi last night. Three bunches, pink, yellow and a deep red. They are for you granny she said and to make the house nice. So as I record the roses I love through F/B has she understood that one can love flowers for their own sake. She is a very giving child and hardworking as well. As she goes off to Beavers or Scouts a couple of evenings a week. Then working at the cafe over the weekend, though she has her full grant for uni.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

9th May 2024

 Lillie comes into the kitchen excitedly we've got to get the bus up to Bacup she says.  Transport has gone awry once more.  The Rochdale road is closed after Riggs, the nursery centre, because of a water leak.  You can drive through Riggs car park and go round the centre and out the other side.  But hey this is the main road to Rochdale and there will be terrible confusion.

This comes from the fact that all transport out of Todmorden has only three road exits through the narrow valleys.  The only other option is to go up over the 'tops' or the moors.  My daughter who always travels by train, can't catch a train because they are on strike today, so rather than come home tonight she will sleep over at Tom and Ellie's house.

The infrastructure is definitely creaking, and who were the persons who could not be arsed to get HS2 up here, can we please have any of the money left over from that debacle to upgrade.  Firstly, our roads, then the bus system and then the railway.  Cars (going into deep waters here) are a nuisance, everyone for a start wants the ability to draw their car right up to where they want to go.  Complain bitterly about the price of car parks.  I join with Andy Burnham here modernise the transport system.

When I have my tablet out early in the morning I watch little videos of other countries.  This morning it happened to be Russia.  High up in the tree covered mountains, a little old lady of 96 years cooked the meals for herself and her son.  She spun wool quietly I expect from the goats outside, cooked on a Russian stove and generally coped with the life given to her.  The other family featured  obviously had more wealth in animals.  Two horses, cows, chickens and cats and dog.  Obviously wealthier as a farmer he also had a tractor used for clearing the snow, piles of which grew taller than the houses.

The farmer's wife, cooked a large chicken till it browned beautifully, made strange little flat dough cakes which she solemnly ate with her old mother and a friend, after having said their prayers.  Do you remember when we had to say Grace when young.  It is a good habit, overstuffed supermarkets have taken away the act of being thankful for food, but it is wise to remember that supermarkets are but two days (or maybe more) away from empty shelves when we all panic.

But all I heard in the news that someone 'had crossed the floor' yes they are deserting the conservative party.  Well not exactly only two have crossed over for the moment.  One very right-wing, so it will be interesting to see how she fares.  I expect when she has stopped bobbing up from behind Keir Starmer, she will gracefully exit towards the back bench.

Give me strength!

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

8th May 2024 - Reincarnation must not include 8 legs!

 And so the stories begin: This morning I rescued a spider. The female element in this household screams when they see one.  It was small about 8 millimetres, not 8 centimetres, which even I would have had trouble with.  It is now safely outside and not sucked up by the vacuum cleaner which I think is a terrible death.

The above photo is of Paul and Moss in a church porch, I think probably in Maldon in Essex, for there are flints on the wall.  I remember having read of the Battle of Maldon, a poem in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and been intrigued as to where the island was on which the battle was fought, I have written about it elsewhere.  I framed this photo because it caught Paul's smile and Moss's eagerness in our exploration of churches.

But what came to mind today was the cockchafer Moss brought into the house one morning in May many years ago.  A large, what I thought at the time was a beetle,it is a  type of beetle but classed in a different classification  and has plenty of stories to tell through time.  Of course it eats our crops therefore war was declared on it, though I think they now use a nematode mixture on them.  And if you read the article in the Wiki above you will find it will metamorphise into different stages of egg, larvae, pupae and adults.  It is also called the doodlebug, and when in later years I looked out for it, it did indeed have a slow bumbling flight.

The common cockchafer

It falls under the classification of Scarab beetle, and the link with Paul is that he always wore a Scarab beetle gold ring when going out, which he had bought in Egypt.

Which brought to mind the other story of a beetle I had written about, this is the Tamamushi beetle in Japan its vibrant colour used as decoration in the early Asuka shrine, the beginnings of Buddhism in Japan.  Paul had one in his collection of minerals and paint materials, you can see how it gleams.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Painting with flowers

T.J. Maher - artist, gardener and Buddhist, he lives in Ireland, Wicklow I think.  His garden is based around colour and I found him on F/B a few weeks back.  He is obviously in love with the growing of plants blending their colours together.  He says in the video that he loves the animals and insects that are attracted to his garden.  And only yesterday I heard that it is our gardens with their mélange of plant life that is the most popular with our insects and birds.
I lost the text of what I was writing, on a hunt for Claude Monet's painting of Irises at Giverny, but he was the only one I could come up with.

Joy in life and of course the 'now' of life is expressed in the word Maher chose to call his garden Patthana and I notice he offers a retreat this summer.

Monday, May 6, 2024

7th May 2024

Ricki Sunak says the results last week were 'visually disappointing'.  A slight understatement but come on Conservatives gather your forces and enter the battle with noble hearts!  The thing about the British mercurial voter is they play around with their vote.  But I am just happy for the fact that the mayors are Labour here in the North and that devolution has begun.  Taken from this link

I hope before the Grim Reaper takes me, to see more Independents running for office and government taken more seriously, less in-fighting and hopefully a stop put on the Stock Market selling our assets and utilities as a way of making a profit for the few.  For letting those same utilities fall short of good working conditions is a disgrace.  Like the fly-tippers, water companies have now used our rivers to dump sewage.


Listening to Olivia Laing's book this weekend and doing some research work on her.  She lives in a small village in Suffolk, with her husband Ian Patterson, who is a poet.  They have bought the most idyllic house called Magnolia House, 18c with a garden, which is not particularly big but has 'rooms'.  It was designed by a previous owner, Mark Rumary,  a garden designer.  There is a 'paradise garden' which has a quatrefoil pool and a library garden.  When first bought, not so long ago, the garden was neglected but Laing worked tirelessly on it and it can now be seen on those special garden days (9th June) when gardens are open.  The link is here.  A gorgeous photo of a rose covered front to the house, but who gets up there and deadheads I wonder ;)

I have finished Horatio Claire's book Heavy Light. A good description of a book that covers madness.  I think the author has done a very  perceptive account of his illness.  But the last few chapters, exploring the medication of mental illness is very striking.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

4th May 2024

 We seem to be in a period of nostalgic music in our particular corner of blogland but for me the following Victorian Garden Suite by Paul Reade is still a favourite.  I loved the television programme many years ago and this music captures the melancholic notes of a garden.  There is a delight when spring comes around, everything is fresh and vital, pale green turning to a darker hue and then that moment in August as the dustiness starts to dry out the leaf and death takes centre stage, but it is a long time coming.

Yesterday I found Olivia Laing's - Garden Against Time on Audible so shall listen to it.  In the first chapter I recognise old names as she sweeps from Sissinghurst to Great Dixter.  Vita Sackville, Christopher Lloyd and of course Gertrude Jekyll and just to remember my favourite gardening book W.Robinson as he ponderously writes in the late Victoria era about the 'The English Flower Garden'.

Interesting news: Not exactly.  Marc Quinn a modern visionary, taking in several art forms has an exhibition at Kew Gardens of giant bronze flowers, bonsai and other things.  Listening to him this morning, he made the excellent point that flowers look very large to bees.  But a bit like another artist who pickled poor calves in formaldehyde, he uses blood to smear on his statues?  You should read what he did to his head??

Something calmer anyway.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Hands across the water

 The Family:  Lillie is off camping in Harrogate with the Beavers for the weekend - 60 of them and approximately  half that number of adults.  She is a scout leader.

Four days away, a rather large amount of luggage, and for the last few days, most of her wardrobe which had been washed hanging around in the kitchen, ready to be taken.  Luckily she desisted and took what was required on the list.  But this morning a large white carrier bag was on the table with the blow-up mattress.  The bag had gold leaf writing and sported the name that it was Prada.  Who shops at Prada I asked surprised the bag was of course from Ben, who is often over in Paris buying stuff for his clients, he is an up and coming stylist and it struck me this morning that he looks a lot like Paul MacCartney in his younger days.  This was courtesy of Tasker putting on the album of PM.  I will put the link down below, it seemed such innocent days then.

I brooded on the brother and sister relationship, Ben and Matilda in London, out to seek their fortunes, one dark haired the other blonde.  They will be a help to each other, Matilda is aiming for fashion journalism, so they are always going to be fairly close.  She has just finished her exams and messages came through she had voted, though they had not wanted to see her ID at the polling station.

Lillie of course was demanding we all vote, I did postal.  It will be interesting to see the restructuring of political parties today.

And here is Tasker's link to the music, which I will probably play all day! Not forgetting to listen out for the Amazon driver who has a parcel for Lillie.

Post script: Today I woke up miserable had had an unsettling phone conversation with someone in authority yesterday, but there again I have been watching older people talk of finding peace in their world - balance one against the other!

Edit:  Book on my must buy list Olivia Laing - The Garden Against Time
There is a guest essay from her in The New York Times.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Creating a space

Thoughts drawn together; Or, "clearing the mind and sliding into that created space"  I have two pretty granddaughters both entering the world as independents.  They are not defenseless but well aware of the world around them but then things do happen. Lillie came back  last night she was worried about a man who sat down beside her on the bus when there were plenty of empty seats, this wasn't the first time he had done it.  Matilda got harassed by someone on the internet, luckily she is a student amongst other students who come from the good and worthy families of this country.  And one of the fathers had a contact with the FBI and the wretched  man  disappeared off the net.  So no matter how careful we are, our young are vulnerable.

But earlier that day I had been perusing my F/B page and looked at Rebecca Solnit column and found out that there is an ongoing thread about bears, comparing the danger of bears killing woman - 8 and men killing women - 12000.  This of course in America.  It led me back to Smokey the Bear, I have copied Gary Snyder's Smokey Bear  here

Most men act round women in a normal day to day way, but there are a very small percentage who view, and a great deal larger amount in other countries, who see women as inferior (no jokes there please).  Picking up the thread who view women as prey.  I doubt that it will  be otherwise, and for all the talk of cancel culture, wokeness it will always be there.

Actually yesterday I listened to the problems of teenage boys on Woman's Hour as to how to approach females when they wanted to go further then a chaste kiss - always there are more problems than answers!

Still it brought me back to Gary Snyder and his poetry - 'Mountains and Rivers Without End'

And just something musical.  A rather sad but silly green protest on You Tube