Wednesday, January 31, 2024

31st January 2024

 I have been getting to know my Silver Crest sewing machine the last couple of days.  We set out just after ten on Sunday morning for Lidl, and perused the middle aisles for sewing machines but none were to be found. But as walked out of the shop, there on the last till was a sewing machine being bought!  Talked to the very nice Australian till person and apparently you had to ask as the machines were stored at the back.  So success.

Slightly different from what I was expecting - foreign goods pah ;). I followed the concise instructions in the booklet and eventually after a few blind corners got it moving and so I am on the road to patchwork.

Over the weekend my daughter sorted out the cupboards in the kitchen,  a new set of steel shelves had arrived, that stood against one wall, it is now custodian of a whole heap of stuff, even one shelf being dedicated to kilner jars of dried stuff (not labelled) but I am sure she knows what is in them!

All the cupboards in the kitchen are now sorted, some looking rather empty, the big school cupboard especially.  Next is Lillie's room, I won't go further then say it is always untidy but she has decided to be minimalist just clothes and college books.  We shall see.

Enough of domestic news, what else happens in the world.  It is all dire, did we ever imagine when the WWW was invented for altruistic motives that it would bring such despair and sadness right up to our doorstep I wonder.

Will the talk this morning of being able to go to pharmacists for small ailments and get checked by qualified staff be part of the downward motion towards private healthcare.  My daughter has just been to a clinic of professional help to see what can be done about her migraines.  It is physically just two minutes from us, opposite the great white elephant that was built to house doctors and nurses' for the health of Tod.  Sadly there is not enough doctors to fulfil this role and now telephone appointments (and diagnosis over the phone?) is the norm.  But then the NHS is slowly falling behind as it has to contend with more and more ill people.

I see this film down below is on Prime Amazon, which I do not subscribe to, I know Andrew has it, so perhaps I will try to see it on his tv one day.  It looks a gentle film with problems that were much simpler.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

28th January 2024

 In my younger days, don't giggle! I became obsessed with abbeys. I even did a course on them and had a 'viva' with a famous archaeologist of the time.  I write that not to boast but to show what extremes I went through to do a study on a way of life I found fascinating.  I was most interested in the Cistercian order, and my notes were on the Abbeys of Wiltshire.  Stanley Abbey was just down the road as was Lacock and not too far away Malmesbury and  Bradenstoke.  Then further afield was Glastonbury, set in a magical myth history with an attendant hippy culture - life was interesting. 

So when I eventually came to North Yorkshire I wanted to see the great Cistercian Abbeys up here.  I never saw many but the two that stood out were Rievaulx and Byland Abbeys.

There is something about these shattered buildings that makes one gasp with awe at the fine detail of the stonework.  The years of working in stone that went into building them.  Then the greedy 16th century entrepreneurs and king who just wanted to change wives and who brought these magnificent buildings down to scrap value.  

I visualised 'Utopia' in the dreams of the abbots and monks, as they crafted away at an independent life under the name of religious belief.  Our churches still hold the memories of such craftmanship. Carved wood, stone faces and grotesque animals writhe around fonts and pillars.  Aliens from another age, ones which we will never understand through the stories they told.

Rievaulx is deep in a wooded valley, a perfect 'escape' from the outer world

The Abbey

These tiles are very much like patchwork shapes but no 'flying geese'

Sun and peace

An entrance, fine detail on the columns

Think this was the warming room

An 'industrial area'.  Water tanks maybe

Here lies Abbot William
Ancillary buildings - dormitories?

Weird animals and cartoon figures

So much stone was used

Last of all, a happy Paul.  His old friend Chris from Hawaii is taking the photo.

I threw away the dissertation on Wiltshire Abbeys, sad really but life moves on,  And this last photo sparked the thought of the North Yorkshire ones

Friday, January 26, 2024

26th January 2024 (that month went quick)

E.F.Schumacher - Small is Beautiful - A Study of Economics as if People Mattered

Limits to Growth -  Donella Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Willam W. Brehens 111

These two books were the most important of their time for Green appraisal but obviously not world news.  'Small is Beautiful' became a catchphrase, and perhaps if it had been heeded we would not have had Amazon.  Things move in mysterious ways.  Is it easier to build monolithic supermarket, malls and great warehouses posting out goods (mostly rubbish) to an ever consuming society?

The consequences of growth is beginning to show wear and tear at the edges.  Climate change is making itself felt.  Little pinpricks at the moment, unusual weather patterns, important world canals that are drying out.  The cynics would argue that this is the way of natural happenings, the comings and goings of the Ice Age.  But they have no answer to how we might overcome it, they are prepared to go their own sweet way and not worry. I wrote this yesterday, wasn't going to publish it, but it was something I felt at the time.

But I shall lose those thoughts for a while.  Yesterday I visited the charity shops looking for backing material for when I start patchwork.  Luckily I found an almost new duvet cover for a fiver and have already deconstructed the pillowcases.  All I need now is a cheap sewing machine.   Lidl in its advance literature is promising one next week, so if they manage to get down to the wilds of Tod will get one.  

I have been watching the videos of 'The Last Homely Home' on Y/T.  Kate is a pleasant lady so happy with her life in a rented cottage, with her cats, garden and patchwork she has set up a little kingdom on Y/T.  I wonder if we would call her an eccentric, or just someone who is still part of the past.  It is not often that you find someone so 'green' in her philosophy, but since suburbia has moved into the countryside her skills are well liked and respected. I will try and find a video that explains her more.  

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Past Times - 1970

Whole Earth Catalog

Well there I was reading the Guardian this morning and came across this article of Nicholas Saunders an entrepreneur in the 1960s and probable founder of Neal's Yard in London, where you will often find two of my grandchildren.  The time when we were young and optimistic and ready to change the world.  Where the capitalism of the young was enervating and seeking a better life for everyone.  Self sufficiency reared its head and we were off.  Sadly we ended up in today's society, miserable at the failure of this society to actually give anything palpably enterprising or encouraging, with the fat cats helping themselves to anything going!

But it triggered a memory, 'The Whole Earth' magazine with its 'Blue Earth' frontispiece. As I read through this Wiki article, names jumped out at me, people I  had read, eager to share their knowledge.

Children we knew about systems way before Steve Jobs came on the scene, the books were there as the young tried to create a different world to the tragedy left by war and incompetent men, for women were still to make the scene as entrepreneurs.  So 'Whole Earth' started  out as a tool magazine but also encompassed a philosophy, a Western one of course, that seems so at odds today with what is happening.

"We are as gods and might as well get good at it. So far, remotely done power and glory—as via government, big business, formal education, church—has succeeded to the point where gross defects obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains a realm of intimate, personal power is developing—power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested. Tools that aid this process are sought and promoted by the WHOLE EARTH CATALOG.

I am still optimistic, still read 'Resurgence' and 'Permaculture' magazines because there have been doomsters ever since time began.  We should speak out against the things that happen today, even such things as the terrible genocide in Palestine.  Even if it does not fit in with the views of our world leaders. We tear our world apart for profit and seemingly for war.  

Monday, January 22, 2024

one small human burial cradled inside the 'crown' of oxen horns.

west Kennet Long barrow

But the masons leave
for the lime-pits of time, with flowers, chaff, ashes,
Their plans are spattered with blood, lost,
And the golden plumb-line of sun says; the world is leaning,
Bedded in a base where the fingers
Of ancient waters touch the foundation.

But feel the walls; the glow stays on your hands.

From the House of the Dead - Part one; taken from Richard Bradley's book The Significance of Monuments. The actual poem is from Ivan Lalic, 1996 'Of the Builders'

 When you have nothing to say, it is perhaps better to say nothing!  But I shall proceed down this chain of nothingness.  Also I shall play Leonard' Cohen's 'Hallelujah' to highlight the mood.  He has such a sexy voice.....

I am reading Horatio Clare's Heavy Light on madness.  Horatio Clare lives in Hebden Bridge  Just one incident amongst the many.  He believes there is a whole spy network out there, with people spying on him, FBI or M15, the foolishness would be funny but of course it is very, very sad.  

He got it into his head that he had to drive into the reservoir, I don't know if it was the Gadding one up on the moors.  But he sits in a layby plotting this, then strips naked and drives the car towards the edge.  He jumps out of the car, it goes over a shallow dip and lands on a drainage outlet, straddling the concrete.  And there he leaves it.  He frightens some people in a camper van and someone who lives on the lane.  Eventually the police arrive, and very gently look after him.  

This happens many times the police having to attend these moments of madness, whilst family and friends worry about him.  I have just come to the moment he is sectioned to Wakefield Hospital.  People gather in his flat, so many.  Ambulance men, social worker, doctor, police and family and friends.  I know there is going to be a reasonable ending for he has written this book on this period and now at least is in our world.

Chopin is playing at the moment, gentle drowsy music.

I have also listened to the music on 'As it Happens'.  Modern music, jarring against the nerve ends but in truth saying something.  It captures the moody landscapes round here.  The strangely shaped rock formations, reminding me occasionally of the tors of Cornwall.  Giant pebbles thrown around by the gods, is that what prehistoric people thought about them?


Patchwork:  I have learnt that a left handed person cannot use a right handed cutter, hopefully easily remedied.  Must learn to make lists and include everything I need on that list - have no backing material! 

Also have received two identical books when I asked for two different books, who is the idiot that thought that one out?

So what was I writing in 2007?  did I understand it? 


Long Barrows 

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

16th January 2024

I was reading through 'Careering Through Nature' and saw the little yellow winter Aconite photograph.  It seems so early for the winter flowers to come out but no, bravely they show their faces against the biting cold.  Pat has given a list of plants that are flowering in her garden.

Sadly I cannot comment on 'Through Nature', Google says it is something to do with something;).  Have I accidentally  tapped something that puts restrictions on my comments I wonder? Never mind.  As it seems to happen on other blogs I think it maybe to do with some outlying programme that has access to our computers.  Here I mean either Microsoft, Window, and Bing.  If I knew how they all constructed their programmes, which are always updating, I might solve it, or not.

The bright yellow aconite triggered a memory of one I saw in a church in Sinnington.  It has the brightness of a buttercup (it is in the same family) with a pretty little frill of leaves around the flower.  It belongs to a poisonous range of flowers.  Monkshood is one of them, but the poison resides in the root, so don't plant it next to parsnip.

Well the news this morning brought a cry of fury as I learnt that Trump is doing well in being chosen to appear in the runoff for the presidency.  Turned to Radio 3 immediately vowed never to listen to news again but of course it trickles in on every station.

So the brave aconite who had somehow strayed onto the path at the Sinnington church, brought back the memory of this cold day.

We have snow, just a light dusting, but its whiteness (like the old Omo advert) cleans everything up and gives a purity to the scene.  Over the road at the old people's block of flats (that is what the family calls it) half a dozen men in yellow high viz jackets potter around in the rather small carpark spreading salt or grit, who knows?  The plumber came this morning, we need a pipe jetting out in the cellars.  We both agreed we liked snow but our daughters this morning had both pulled up their noses at it.

Monday, January 15, 2024

15th January 2024

It is going to be cold, well maybe not in Iceland as the volcano spits and bursts forth but this week we are to experience a cold front from the North.  To be quite honest I think the cold front is living with me anyway!
I have been lost in my own world, dreaming away about times past.

Listened to a good podcast on the 'Bloomsbury Group', one of the speakers was Francis Spalding I had read a couple of books by this author, dense biographies is her job and she does it well.  She seemed to think that this little group had an effect on society which has somehow got lost.  Maynard Keyne on economics and Virginia Woolf on feminism.  Also Roger Fry on art.  I came across a book I had not read before by Virginia Woolf - Three Guineas. It is on line as a pdf so perhaps I shall get back to reading it.  It is about war, and the difference between the approach of men and women to an understanding of it.  Virginia was a pacifist.

One thought came up (thoughts are getting pretty thin on the ground at the moment) that I should start doing patchwork again, so have ordered some material and a cutter.  Sadly I gave away my sewing machine, though I could buy myself another one, or go down to the college and use one there, but winter isn't the time to explore cold colleges.

One piece of good news is that my son, along with a friend is coming to visit in the spring.  Luckily they are driving down, so Ephraim's car will come in useful.  Mark, my son works from home but every so often has to fly to the Isle of Man to the firm he works for.  I have become a bit of a hermit, could go to Bath but the whole train journey is off putting.

Dear Pat has come aground with one of those silly to-dos that happen in comments.  Comment etiquette is something I do not understand, especially as I tend too speak my mind.  Righteous indignation what a funny thing it is.  It flares through the body, gets written down and then becomes somewhat embarrassing to its author.  Luckily there is a delete button to hand.  Pat envisions a cosy sitting room, a bit like the Bloomsbury Set where we all sit round discussing things in an amiable manner,  though of course the Bloomsbury Group got up to a lot more ;)

Lansdown in the grip of winter
Old photos of Hoar frost

Friday, January 12, 2024

12th January 2024

Birthday presentsTwo beautiful art books on the Japanese Edo period of flowers and birds from my son. From the family I have a voucher for willow weaving and need to choose my lessons.  I am torn between making baskets but also bird nests and there is rather an attractive weave for bottles. Andrew has promised an outing to Shibton Hall in Halifax and lunch, so I have been spoilt. When I first looked at the weaving literature, the first thought, 'you want me to weave my own coffin?' Inability to take life seriously is one of my faults!

Lost and found dogs in Tod have had a good week, all lost dogs found their way safely home.  It is quite extraordinary the use of drones to find lost dogs it is happening all over the country.  I have a crap news feed on my tablet but it throws up odd pieces of news.  There is a sort of hero-worship for dogs, cats not so much.  These poor animals can be tarted up with clothes and if you have ever seen a dachshund in a raincoat you would plead with the owners to not dress their poor dog up and just dry them when they get home.

I know its the algorithms that sort your news feed, and there are sensible news articles but most are junk.  Funnily enough there is an art lady on F/B Christa Zaat, who publishes lots of art work,mostly Dutch, but has been having trouble with F/B itself as some of the photos are blanked out as being troublesome but when you eventually click on them are innocent of any crime, perhaps she has too many photos on her site but it is interesting what automatic computers see as deletable stuff. 

And now a small video of the Calder Valley and the ways of slowing the water down as it starts at the top of the moors and then meanders down into the valley bottom below.  Chosen for its soft sibilant sound of water and its down to earth volunteers solving problems, and also of course for the woods that cloth the valleys and give the sights from the railway carriage such spectacular views.  I am sad that Paul Knight's year blog has come to an end as well.  He has explored, often with his son, the moors with their ruined farmhouses and their land and the woods that are so densely packed everywhere.  Perhaps he will make it into a book.

 Slowing The Flow Together (

Thursday, January 11, 2024

11th January 2024

Who is to blame? The saga will go on, each drop of evidence forensically screened by government and media but no one will bring back the normal ordinary lives of the sub-postmasters.  They have featured in a television show describing the awful time they went through as they were accused of stealing sums from the post office.  A computer programme called Horizon that went wrong and then the subsequent cover-up by a whole host of people?

Was the fault so enormous in the Fujitsu system that no one dared to call it out, like the little boy who shouted out 'the Emperor has no clothes on'. The vast amount of monies spent could not be lost in a truth needing to be told, no the small people had to suffer for this big mistake.

2019 is the date the courts finally agreed that the Horizon system was faulty, it had been working since 1999!  The Post Office needing to defend the system through this time sent a load of private investigators, probably inexperienced, and the mounting prosecutions through the courts was a disaster to many an innocent person.

The moral of the story - do not believe that computer programmes have the answer to all truths and don't bully the little person, because in the end when truth does out - hell has no fury like the wrath of fair minded people to see justice done.  

Note: haven't watched the programme yet, it will probably make me too angry. 

Monday, January 8, 2024

8th January 2024


Yesterday we went out for a birthday meal, a treat from me. I wanted a traditional pub with good honest fare. The 'Staff of Life' provided it.  Adequately named of course.  Five of us squeezed in a taxi, Andrew in the boot area, because it is two miles from Tod.  Andrew actually walked back after lunch, not because of having to sit right at the back but because he likes walking.

Tom and Ellie had come down from Manchester, Lillie was working so could not come. It does have a very good record as far as food was concerned.  I had mushroom bourguignon which was delicious, garlic bread and chips to accompany.  Also I now realise I can drink red wine which is a joy, not that I shall turn into an alcoholic, but a glass now and then won't go amiss.  The others had roast beef with all the trimmings, not sure what Ellie had but she is mostly vegetarian as well.  Puddings afterward, not my thing but of course the old favourites of sticky toffee puddings and Andrew had jam roly-poly with custard, didn't even realise that jam rolls still existed.

It wasn't raining.  News is filled up with rivers over running their banks and houses flooded which must bring some hearts to despair.  Fingers crossed Tod is still clear as is Hebden Bridge, whilst I watched a stream gushing down the steep hill opposite the pub I am glad that volunteers are arranging the woods so that there are water catchment areas zig-zagging through the woods, to slow the flow of the water from the moors.

Friday, January 5, 2024

5th January 2024

 I am reading a book at the moment. Horatio Clare's - Running for the Hills.  It tells a simple tale of how his parents bought a farm in South Wales in the 1970s.  The story rests on his memories from childhood and his mother's diaries.  A pretty young journalist, she falls in love with this 70 odd acres of land with a farmhouse set below the mountain and sheep to tend.  

The marriage soon breaks up, the father goes back to London to work as a journalist and the mother decides to stay on the farm and raise the two boys Alexander and Horatio.  Yes a name to think on, but she did tell them tales of daring-do, so perhaps she is forgiven by her children for giving them unusual names.

The flight back to a sustainable life: Yes, we have all done it and I am rather glad that I did not end up on a Welsh farm, hauling bloodied lambs from their mother's backside. But his mother was made of sturdier stuff and manages to run the farm with occasional help from the people around.

The boys had an idyllic upbringing in the countryside, though some things are made of nightmares.  Predation on the sheep by foxes or crows, the 'fly-strike maggots' are just a couple of things to deal with.  No television or radio (because the mountain behind the farmhouse cut out signal) is perhaps a good thing for expanding one's thinking from the daily routine of news.

I am still reading the book but have also acquired another book of his called 'Heavy Light' The blurb says this of him....

"After a lifetime of ups and downs, Horatio Clare was committed to hospital under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act, from hypomania in the alps, to a complete breakdown and a locked ward in Wakefield, this is a gripping account of how the mind loses touch with reality, how we fall apart and how we may heal"

Apparently Clare now lives in Hebden Bridge with his family, he has worked for the BBC, and has had a radio programme on Radio 3 about walking through Greenland which I must find.  Thanks to Sara of Sussex for mentioning him.  Another rabbit hole to be explored.

For Tom Stephenson:  Don't know if you would be interested but this came in my email this morning.  A long but fascinating article by Mike Williams on 'John Wood's Moon Temple' on the Lansdown, he seems to work for Bathscape.  

Wednesday, January 3, 2024


“In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself." - Arthur Schopenhaur 

I like solitude, though as a person I am supposed to crave human companionship but though I enjoy having people around me those moments of being alone with soft music playing on the radio brings peace and quiet.  It is like listening to the blackbird at the moment, chattering his heart out and greeting the day.

That is why I like the above quotation, we are blessed with active minds, some might say overactive but it is like carrying an enormous book in one's head.  The older one grows* there is more accumulated, so that brief pictures pass through the mind, and luckily they are happy memories mostly. 

Today Sutton Bank, overlooking the Gormire Pool.  Where once a monk turned into the devil and sent a young man and his horse over the cliff edge to the pool below. 

Gormire Lake from Sutton Bank - copyright Michael Hutchinson Geo.

On this particular journey of the mind, I asked the question did William Wordsworth write about solitude, for he and his sister Dorothy walked this area from Thirsk, through Helmsley, Kirbymoorside and other places, when they were on their way to his sister's friend Mary and the marriage between Mary and William. Interesting information can be found here on Dorothy's diary keeping.

Then there is the following poem by Margaret Atwood.  Clear in its simplicity, yet laughing gently at the fact of getting old and the young not knowing what a 'polaroid' photo was.  Those of us who had one bitterly regret the fading of these photos but does it really matter?

*As for age, next week I turn a decade, 80 years old to be precise.  In fairly good health with my family around me, who reckon I should live to a 100 - God forbid!

Margaret Atwood reading  her poem 'Dearly'

Monday, January 1, 2024

1st January 2024 - Grandpa's book

 I 'disappeared' my blog last night.  Why? well I seemed to have had an awful lot of visitors the last few days and I wondered if they were bots. Bad ones of course, sometime I imagine there are a villainous group of people out there, stalking my profile and trying to investigate my world.

Well it worked.  This morning there was just one visit not the couple of thousand before.  Sorry to all those genuine readers of blogs, I am not sure why anyone reads my blog, it is purely my own thoughts on subjects.

So we are now in the New Year, clean and pure for the first few hours, then realisation of the suffering in the world breaks through, should we be guilty of our good lives I wonder?

Lillie is down with the flu, and I hope my daughter will make it to Paris this week without having caught it.  The Euro channel flooding won't help, and as there are about 30,000 people stranded by the first mishap, all later people waiting to get on planes and through the tunnel will also be delayed.

Flu at this time of the year is common, I can remember going to Switzerland one Xmas and the whole family had it and we all stayed in our separate bedrooms being ill, including the Canadian side.

One of the things I must record down is that grandpa's book has been written down on the internet.  We have all had copies but it was never published.  It was only the sad event of Hob's illness when his children came over to be by his bedside that his son worked on it and put it on the web.  So the link is here -  New Lamps for Old - C. J. Opper.

He was an Education Officer in Africa in the writing of this book, and it of course written in the style of the 1930s but fascinating.  A small nugget.

"Nelson Mandela was rusticated for a time to the Farms school for some unremembered misdemeanour, and during that period, the school glowed with his vitality and became a nest of songsters."

It is so much easier to read it when you can just thumb through the pages.

So though I may moan about bots, there is a lot going for the technological age we are living through at the moment. I think politically change will take place in this year it seems in this country that people are taking matters into their own hands. Will Hutton wrote a good article in the Guardian about the absolute foolishness of building an economy on the wealth of our homes and pensions. Apparently similar is happening in Australia, where young people cannot afford not only to buy a house but even to rent because of house prices. Oh dear aren't we experiencing the same?

Conrad Opper and his granddaughter Karen

Hope:  Nelson Mandela taught me this: hope survives wherever people come together | Gordon Brown | The Guardiane

Life is good for Baby boomers