Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Dried flowers

A Short History of Enclosure;  This essay by Simon Fairlie is published in The Land magazine* and is a rather long essay on the enclosures of our agricultural land from the common lands during the 18thC and the 19thC.  Fascinating and interesting, it almost traces the rise of capitalism and the consequences we are experiencing today.  Many would say that ownership of land in the hands of the few was the most economically sound way of feeding us all, others would say that land ownership to the many was equally as valid.  But it is wise to remember that the small farms and the bucolic charms of this British countryside, rests on appropriation of  7 million acres of land 200 years ago, and of course the trend that we will experience into the future is the expansion of large 'lot' farms, farmed on an industrial scale similar to the America style.

History is of course just that, and judgement with hindsight - no use whatsoever- the Industrial Age evolved out of this removal of people from the land into the towns and cities, we became wealthy by exploited cheap labour, which makes for good television programs now about mills and landed gentry and which we sell abroad!

Good news is that according to my Resurgence magazine "The Indian government have banned all forms of commercial entertainment involving dolphins and orcas. In an unprecedented move, cetaceans have been recognised as 'non-human' persons whose right to life and liberty must be respected."

Waiting for a frame!
* The only place I have found The Land Magazine in is in the very good independent book shop in Whitby

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This and That

Banksy's pitch will come to an end in New York by Halloween.  Listening to Grayson Perry this morning in the Reith Lectures are these two artists representative of the mood set of today?

The wind rattled round the windows and we experienced the storm, but apart from the fencing getting very wonky, and is now held up by a couple of garden forks and a post we were fortunate. Other people's fencing came down and the ridge tiles next door were skewed, quickly mended by a couple of other neighbours.
Today, after an unexpected call from gardening contractors, (we were on their books for work in the future) but they happened to be cutting down a tree that had fallen in the storm in the neighbourhood, our front laurel hedge is now being cut down to shape as it had become too much for both of us.  There is a lot of laurel hedging round here, and it should NEVER be planted as hedging as it has rapid growth and a vibrant energy not seen in other shrubs, whatever happened to privet?
The hedges round the greens are all native species, so home to the crows, magpies, sparrows, starlings and many collared doves that frequent the area.  My solitary dove came down yesterday in the midst of the storm rather scared with all the weather and kept LS company as he put up the fencing.  Think she is a she, being courted ferociously by another, but will have nothing to do with the overtures, faithful to her dead partner?

Matilda getting ready for Halloween
The storm did not hit so hard further North, but last Friday in Todmorden, it rained very heavily for half an hour, causing flooding on the main road.  The problem is of course the wash of water into the houses down the main road and the side roads.  Apparently my daughter said, the inhabitants will bring the traffic to a halt  to stop the water washing into the houses; the local taxi driver lining his cars across the road.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Dali's clocks slowly melt over the edges of nothing, clever play on time, not sure but original of course and slightly bizarre.  We have measured time to seconds, minutes, hours, right through to billions of years of evolution of this earth.  So has every clock in your household been changed? LS started yesterday half were one hour the other half later, confusing me of course.  This morning the clock that gets changed by the satellite whizzing overhead is the right time, a second older 'satellite' clock sits by its side waiting to change, apparently about eleven as its satellite takes its course over our heads. Weird, just like time, and we still haven't figured out how the whole thing started, I mean the universe, the 'time' before, we have reduced our world to a comfortable fit of night and day, sun and moon but time is really quite ephemeral, gliding past us invisible taking our lives with it.  And before I get too morbid, I have also been told off, because I ask (every year I do this) what is the 'real' time now, I must adjust to the time that has been designated by outside forces.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


this is a Prestcold, fridge on top, vegetable storage at the bottom

Each day I see on F/B my son-in-law's excitement as he reveals just another layer of the history of the new house, he was very much like this when he did the cottage in Whitby, he is in his element revealing the Victorian history in the house.  Already they are buying stuff, an old fireplace yesterday and, I still can't believe this, an old 1950s Prestcold fridge, this is my daughter purchase..... 
To see a fridge from my childhood brought back memories of the one in the scullery we had.  First image that springs to mind is of course the whole salmons brought back from a fishing trip near where Bovey Belle lives, in fact from the same river.  We would eat salmon for days! 
I have always meant to write about this home, the garden of which was a paradise for children.  The house large late Victorian house, fronting the street with a lawn to one side and driveway on the other side, large garage with inspection pit, washing area for the car, and the various outhouses for coal.  But I shall desist only to say that the kitchen, had a proper kitchen range in it, which glowed warmly every winter morning when we had breakfast, there were the servant bells on one wall, which didn't work and then there was the scullery attached, with the fridge and cooker and large white sink at the end. I come from a strange family, with a complicated history, suffice it to say I was brought up by my grandfather, and though having three stepmothers, the person who looked after us was Louisa, our Italian maid, until she got married.

This is the nearest I could find, double oven, poor Louisa keeping the fire going, but it must have the only source of hot water heating.
There is something quite funny about writing about range fires, yesterday we discussed about getting some other heating for the sitting room, and lo and behold today the boiler broker down, luckily the man is coming this afternoon, so hopefully it is not too serious.  All the other rooms in my childhood house had gas fires, no central heating in those days, just ice inside the windows, and baths that cooled quickly!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Loose Tea

Darkness, rain and wind first thing this morning, I unlocked the gate because am expecting a parcel of tea.  Remember the tea bags versus loose tea, well there is no loose tea in either Asda or Sainsbury, no choice from them you have to buy tea bags!  Well not to be beaten ordered some tea from Twinings and in this very wet weather we should take delivery of ten 125g boxes of tea sometime in the near future according to the tracking device in the email from the carrier.  What surprised me, apart from technical wizardry, is the tea has come from Belfast, and is flown over (all for £3.95) to the East Midlands depot.
What a fine mess we find ourselves in as we approach winter, energy bills going up by 10% (that is one big hike), and if it is cold it might get turned off anyway, how can we let a load of fools govern us year after year, who cannot make sensible decisions as to the basic necessities of life.  Green energy is to all intents being thrown out the window, no joined up thinking, just let the market rule and the rich invest in what they consider will make them richer.  Are we ripe for a socialist rebound? probably not, Labour is but the shadow of the Conservatives...  We do have an open fire, which is used in the winter, so there is some comfort there, and I expect we will all have to stock up on candles.  Chelmsford council has been turning off the street lights at night time in an effort to save energy the last few weeks, but the game of politics takes another twist as Sir John Major calls for a 'windfall tax' on the energy firms, which does not seem like a particularly good idea, who will pay for the tax (us) and who will reap the benefits (the government).

The world is still a beautiful place though

And we must not forget that Halloween approaches soon, ghouls, ghosts and the 'Wild Hunt'.

Also tacking on Russell Brand's brilliant diatribe on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman

Sunday, October 20, 2013


A visit to Hyland Gardens just outside Chelmsford yesterday.  The One World Garden falls with such grace into Autumn, a soft haze of colours dying gently, the orange, yellow and deep red hues tinging the green of the summer bounty.

Gunnera in flower
Dying hosta leaves giving one last flamboyant spurt of colour

Hyland House

View from the Fox and Raven looking over to the river.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bad Banksy

 Bristol old 'Banksy'  street art

Okay what made me smile yesterday, was the news that Banksy is in New York putting his thumb to his nose at the local dignitaries.  Banksy as a graffiti artist was part of the local scene in Bristol, and of course it spilled over into Bath.  Luckily for our local anonymous socialist recorder of  history he became famous and his artwork adorns many a famous city.  But  mayor Bloomsberg does not like him in New York Get Banksy article written up by my other half tells the tale.  Bad Banksy even sold some of his works for $60 for a day when he could have sold it for something like £20,000.  Was he remembering  the graffiti lump of concrete prised off a London wall and then sold for £75,000 in America by some get-rich-quick merchants much to the disgust of the locals.  Note that there was only about 6 works sold at a cost of $420 dollars in the video, will the penny drop when the recipients discover they have original Banksys....

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wedding dress and knitting

I love this story, it perks you up on a sunny day, Bride Gets Married in Dress Worn by her Mother and Grandmother, especially as it has taken place in a favourite corner of Wales, Solva.  We have not visited this year so missed seeing Bovey Belle sadly. Just look at the 1974 wedding, does it not bring memories back of hippies and long hair....
The other link is to do with knitting and the event that has taken place in the Shetlands.  Jamieson and Smith, I love the whole nature of the community knitting together out on these far off islands.

Just to add to this date, the sparrows and starlings seem to be returning to feed, and the hedgehog has also made an appearance, probably coming back to snuggle under the shed for the winter - what does he know?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Badgers and politics

22 Reasons for the Bedroom Tax

Because the Badgers are moving the goalposts.
The Ferrets are bending the rules.
The Weasels are taking the hindmost.
The Otters are downing tools.

The Hedgehogs are changing the game-plan
The Grass-snakes are spitting tacks.

The Squirrels are playing the blame-game.
The Skunks are twisting the facts.

The Pole-cats are upping the ante.
The Foxes are jumping the gun.
The Voles are crashing the party.
The Stoats are dismantling the Sun.

The Rabbits are taking the biscuit.
The Hares are losing the plot.
The Eagles are kicking the bucket.
The Rats are joining the dots.

The Herons are throwing a curveball.
The Shrews are fanning the flames.
The Field mice are sinking the 8-ball.
The Swans are passing the blame.

And the Pheasants are draining the oil from the tank-
but only the Bustards have broken the bank.
Carol Ann Duffy
Clever poem found in the Guardian today, there has been much 'play' on the poor badgers 'moving the goalposts', and Duffy gives this explanation to this nature inspired poem..she writes - "an explanation that makes as much sense as anything else in recent politics".
There has been a dismal output from the shooting cull, basically they have not killed enough and now want to extend the time for killing but this news on the Kreb report tells a different story.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Museum at Mildenhall - 2

High chair, not sure if this was not Edwardian

How to wash your clothes in the 19th Century

Bread making

Brings back memories

What can you say, except we saw a gigantic tv the other week for £36,000

The farm

Note his smock

Museum at Mildenhall

The wind is chasing the leaves off the tree outside, the weather has turned cold and was equally as cold in Mildenhall yesterday.  There is not much to write about this little town, it has a pretty market centre and that is about all.  The small museum has just had an extension and was officially opened on Tuesday, we went on Wednesday, and probably their first public visitors.  We were greeted by the three volunteers, very friendly and charming and the husband of one took us round and explained everything. The heritage grant had been spent well, museums can often be tatty because of lack of money, this cottage museum housed two very fine collections, copies of the silver hoard of the Mildenhall Roman Treasure and the glass cased Lakenheath Saxon Warrior with his horse plus of course beautiful prehistoric hand axes, arrowheads, bronze age pottery and the various implements of the 19th century kitchen and farm.

Saxon warrior with his trusty steed
LS photo

Note the bucket, food for the horse in the after world
LS photo

This horse is my favourite, when his master died, poor creature must have been poleaxed on the forehead, so that he could accompany him in the grave.  Must have been about 17 hands high, sturdy bones almost shire like and a beautiful skeletal head, LS noted filigree on the head bones, marks of his harness. The Saxon warrior has his shield boss, all that remains of his wooden shield  on his chest and between the two skeletons was a smaller skeleton of a sheep, food again for the after world.  There is a tale to be told about the bucket, the glass casing which is hermetically sealed, was made in Edinburgh, and cost a lot of money, when it came down to the museum and was assembled, as they lowered the top covering it broke on the bucket, which was obviously higher than the sides. So that is why you see a round disc for the bucket.
LS thinks that bones should not be on display in museums, an act of disrespect, it is a very controversial subject, without these bones we would not have this rather hauntingly beautiful tableau of 1500 years ago. It is an educational tool for all those children that will be brought to the museum though.  How can we approach such dilemmas I am not sure, I know within the Pagan fringe that they demand the reburial of many prehistoric bones, especially at Stonehenge.
My photos did not come out well, there seems to be some shake on my camera, must really get down to buying another but the following of the Mildenhall Roman Treasure replicas will have to do, the story can be caught on the Museum's website of their acquisition, there may have been more stuff, which got sold abroad.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Chinese cups


Elegantly dainty these cups sit in the glass fronted cupboard, the pattern is wisteria flowers with what looks like pinks on a background of gold.  Porcelain so thin you see through them, they belonged to my mother-in-law all those years ago.  She had inherited them from her parents, her father being the Dutch ambassador to China in the 19th century. There has been one or two breakages over the year, they came in a black box lined with red silk, as I doodle through my photos memories are brought up.
LS restored a large 16th  Chinese box a couple of years ago, they held books, black pages if I remember correctly with  gold writing, it was to make an appearance in one of the exhibitions at the British Museum..

This is the magical 10 year old paste being stirred for use

Neatness personified

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Catching the moment

Horcum Hole in North Yorkshire
Time has been interrupted by migraines, three days they have appeared like a slow rolling thunderstorm they splice the day but now they are over, so not much written or done which by the way always annoys me intensely.
Pulled out some patchwork yesterday, not sure what I am going to make but ended up with greens, soft and cooling colours.  Materials even tumble around the computer, I am very untidy, luckily LS who is the tidiest person on this earth loves me;) and closes his eye when entering my study.  Downstairs in the sitting room my chair is surrounded by all the dyed balls of wool - a feast for the eyes. But if you were to go into the studio next door, the pristine nature of it all would strike you. I would like to start weaving, but as everyone knows you need room for warping, and the studio would be ideal, but no ordinary table there just the long low work bench.
My daughter called yesterday, they are finally in their new house much to her relief. Apparently you can exchange contracts over the phone, so all last week they phoned the solicitor each day, no luck then come thursday the phone call came through contracts were exchanged, five minutes later the two Pickford vans rolled up outside their old house, that was really cutting it! The new house needs a lot of work done on it but size wise is about the same as the old, and it looks like it is going to be a great adventure doing it up...
Todmorden is the town that they have alighted on, and I have said before it did not strike me as particularly attractive but they have fallen in love with it, and of course has a reputation for the way it grows food in public places - edible Tormorden.  Lots of places to walk round there, woods, river and the canal though it does flood and they do have a basement.
Tomorrow we go to Mildenhall Museum, which will be quite a drive, think there are replicas of the Mildenhall hoard, and of course a Saxon warrior skeleton with his horse, which should be fun.  At least I shall take some photos which have been rather thin of late.  Computer or camera? both need money, but I also need 'Word' for writing in and downloading all the stuff our Cornish friend sends - decisions, decisions and money of course.....  A photo of Todmorden...

The bird of passage known to us as the cuckoo. - Pliny quote

Cuckoos by Andrew Young

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

Cuckoos or gowks if you are Scottish.  A bird that seems to be disappearing here in this country, a discussion elsewhere about gowk stones begged the question about this word.  It is said that it comes from the celtic, maybe, but I am sure it has more to do with  medieval naming, and that   time in history when pagan ways were overlaid by the Christian church.....

Things that were frowned on by the church; Snakes, the devil, fairies and sex.  Does sex equal being 'cuckolded'? Checking through Grigson's Flora, there are many flowers that have local dialect names for cuckoo, but mostly to do with the 'sexual' appearance of the flower (see orchid mascula in medieval tapestries for association). So that the beautiful tall straight bluebells of the woodlands,  in the index of local names, has the following listed...
Welsh - botasen-y-gog  =  cuckoo boots
Gaelic - brog-nacubhaig = cuckoo shoe
Cornish - blejen-au-gucu - cuckoo flower

Wood Sorrel - cuckoo bread
Cornish - bara-au-gok
N.Ireland - gowk's clover
N.Scotland - Gowk's meat
France - pain de coucou

Cuckoo Pint is self evident in its name Lords and Ladies, and there is an amorous love cup  in the orchid blog which was probably the 'viraga' pill of its day....
Metropolitan Museum -Unicorn

Well the cuckoo has plenty of legends

So there we are in medieval illiterate Britain, the naming of the wild flowers interpreted a bit like a saucy Southend postcard, their hidden meanings providing a giggle now and then.....

Thursday, October 3, 2013


There has been an interesting discussion elsewhere about the nuisance of overcrowded roads due to all those  people who use their cars without really counting the cost to the environment, etc.  My reaction was of course most people need to use their cars to get around for shopping, work and children, society has evolved that way and there is little we can do about it.  Buses are rare beasts out in the country and a quick search will tell you, many services are taken off because they are little used.  In fact when I checked on Bodmin Moor the one service they did have was to be cut in November of this year....
Both my children growing up and now, use buses and trains because they have never learnt to drive, and images of my daughter and a couple of children at foot emerging from a train with a great deal of luggage strapped round the buggy still haunts me.  The reason they do not drive is because having been brought up in Bath, trains were on hand to take them anywhere in the country, and buses were efficient especially as we lived near a hospital - a 15 minute service, the same applied to Bristol, so university and jobs could be achieved by an efficient bus service.
But my logical side tells me, not everyone can get on a bus, suburbia is often situated miles from the centre of town and cars become a necessity.  Out in the country it is impossible to carry home all the shopping home on a bus for a family, cars are needed.
Travelling can be a bind, I used to love the journey from Bath to Whitby, though it took all day, early start catch a train to Bristol, then 4 or more hours wending our way through the Midlands and then through the countryside.  York station, I have stood on that station many times, arriving in the snow and worrying that  as there were not many trains around could I continue? Round the corner to catch the Scarborough train, which took an hour, and then hanging round waiting for the bus, which took another hour, then to Whitby arriving exhausted at the bus station  and maybe someone from the family waiting  to help carry my luggage up the steep hill.  At one time you could catch a bus outside York station, it took two hours taking detours, picking people up and dropping them down in the villages, we would go through Goathland, the 'Postman Pat'
song ringing in my ears as we went over the little bridge that was so like the cartoon one. 
Once waiting for that bus in York with my 18 year old son, we had taken up different places as we waited the long hour for the bus to arrive.  A girl came up and gave my son a 'sob' story about how she had no money for the fare and could he lend her some, being a wicked mother and observer of the human race to boot, I watched amused to see how he would handle it, and of course as he was kind  was in a turmoil on how to react.  So I intervened much to her fury, and she gave me the 'evil eye' but it was an interesting interlude....
What will happen though in the future? as this government takes a firm grasp on all public spending, how will those in  the countryside survive if they do not have access to cars or buses, shops are being closed down everywhere, villages and small towns, supermarkets spring up outside town making a car a necessity. Progress moves forward all the time, less use of cars and lorries on the road will lessen the environmental destruction, especially of the ice melt at the two poles but how do we move from one scenario to a more sensible state of affairs?


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

frugality and poetry

I love the mistiness of Bodmin moor, my resolve is to explore the other two large moors of Dartmoor and the moors on Land's End.  Yorkshire moors are somewhat different but travel across them in the mist or the snow and they can be just as exhilarating.
It rains this morning, dullness everywhere, a bleak greyness but I like this soft autumn feel to the day, and today its Poetry day, what to choose, my poets seem all gloomy sadly; What about R.S.Thomas, vicar in Wales, a miserable writer of poetry;

There is no present in Wales,
And no future;
There is only the past,
Brittle with relics,
Wind-bitten towers and castles
with sham ghosts;
Mouldering quarries and mines

I shan't go on because he becomes rude about the people and I happen to love Wales and its echo of past history. There is Ted Hughes being equally moody in Bridestones and yet I love his descriptive images in The Hawk and Pike, shall I turn to Gary Snyder which I quoted as winter started to settle in some years ago, it captures the nature of 'thinking', already I see the still waters round the standing stones on Bodmin Moor float through; the reeds blowing in the wind, saturated land lying atop rock.

Clearing the mind and sliding in
to that created space,
a web of waters streaming over rocks,
air misty but not raining,

The Piper Stones on Bodmin Moor

But enough of that what took my fancy yesterday, listening to how to be frugal on the radio, the blog in question Frugal Queen has had blog awards so I found it on the web and read her blogs, such a robust clear-sighted person rather terrified me in her confidence. But anyway, apart from being completely sensible she gave links, one of them was for this company who make clothes in Derbyshire, rather beautiful  but expensive of course - David Nieper.  Of course they are British made, and reflect that in their price, though having watched  Panorama show the terrible conditions in which some of our clothes are made in Bangladesh, perhaps we should learn to save up and just have one or two choice items.... But then LS pointed out how would these people ever get out of their poverty, he likened it to when Britain was struggling through the Industrial Age, and the terrible conditions that existed in the mills and work houses... the world is a wicked place.
Frugality is the watchword of self-suffiency of course, I have rather lost my way there now, though have always practised it through my life but times are different, no hens at the door at the moment! But if I take anything away from her blog it is that if you have a £100, spend £85 and put the rest away, there again the world might slip into a black void taking my savings with it ;)