Sunday 31 July 2016

A Nose Around Croft Castle

Now the interior of Croft Castle may not have done much for me on a personal level, but I still thoroughly enjoyed my excursion and it was not without a few delightful surprises.

As one with a love and an appreciation of the skill involved in both needlework and miniature work this set of pictures really pleased me.

A rather charming reminder of life from a bygone age. The castle's fire engine.

Moving onto modern times...I think this must warrant as a five star bug hotel. Any critters in my garden certainly don't get such plush living conditions!

Finally the Croft family tomb. Sir Richard and his good lady Eleanor......a sensible affair and much like other ones I'd seen before....or so I thought......

Except I thought I saw something slightly odd out of the corner of my eye and went back to take a second look....ta-dah....bonkers lions grinning like Cheshire cats and pulling faces. To my untutored eyes they seem totally at odds with the rest of the piece. Perhaps others think the same as me.

It doesn't matter how much strangeness I encounter and log on this blog I still am often floored and dumbfounded by what turns up!


Saturday 30 July 2016


It wasn't a conscious decision as such, but whilst away the furthest we travelled from the self catering cottage was fifteen miles. Instead we spent our time pottering in the local vicinity exploring the towns, making small discoveries along the way, supporting local businesses with our choice of where we ate and with what we bought in the way of gifts. Being Scottish NT members led us to spend one of our days just up the road at Croft Castle.

Frankly the interior of the castle wasn't to my personal taste, but the big fat tick from this dame. There are various waymarked trails of different lengths around the park land from which to choose and seeing as the weather was, let's say a little mixed, one with coverage and not too long a hike was ideal for the day's conditions. Throw in the prospect of Croft Ambrey Iron Age hillfort and I'm in!

This particular route is noted for its stunning ancient more than delivered.

Copper Beech

 The Croft Spanish Chestnut which, along with other saplings, was supposedly taken from the captured Spanish vessles during the battle of the Armada [1588].

The lumps and bumps of old age.

Flora and fauna seen along the way. Beetles and harebells.

Old man of the woods watching over you.

And the Daddy of them all. The recently discovered Candelabra oak which is estimated to be 750 years old. I've included a piccie of my gurning next to it to give you an idea of its size.

As ever I left with a great sense of peace which I never fail to find in the woods of my homeland.


Friday 29 July 2016


Yesterday we awoke to find we had no water coming from the cold tap. I am so used to it being available that hands up I totally take it for granted. My initial reaction was one of slight panic as I worked out what we needed to do to not empty the tank too quickly....not run the washing machine, strip wash for everyone etc etc Once I'd found out that it was due to a burst pipe just round the corner and that the problem was going to be fixed within the next half an hour I was able to relax. Later on I realised what a first world problem that temporary blip in my life many parts of the world have no access to clean water or they have to walk miles to get it every day so today I am extremely thankful for one of the things I scarcely noticed or gave much thought to. This timely little film popped up on my feed today.


Thursday 28 July 2016

The Peace of Wild Things

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world and am free.

Wendell Berry


Wednesday 27 July 2016

Flitting in.

This wasn't quite the post I had planned to write for today, but events in real life [thankfully now fully resolved] conspired against me. No matter it can keep.

Instead I thought I'd share a new-to-me discovery with you. Last Saturday we were invited to dance at the Fleur de Lys's 40th anniversary bash in Godalming. It was a smashing day and I got to see the clog side Customs and Exiles in action for the first time. They took my breath away. Unlike the frenetic madness which is the bedlam border style of Mythago, they follow the North West tradition which started out in the mills. It is precise and long and I thought they were absolutely fantastic.
Here they are in action [they start from 51 seconds in]

On another, but kind of related note, another dancer approached me to say she reads my blog. I was genuinely gobsmacked and touched that she took the time to introduce herself. Sadly it was rather a rushed conversation as we were all about to go on so I didn't get her name, but thank you as it gave me a real boost. I "know" theoretically that people kindly read my witterings but I still can never really quite believe it if you know what I mean!


Tuesday 26 July 2016

Fleecing the Flock?

This is the cathedral of the Cotswolds. SS Peter and Paul in Northleach, Glos. A small little place I am sure you would fact it started out as a very modest size, but the wool trade made many merchants extremely wealthy and they stumped up for a bleedin' great extension which has made it the behemoth it is today. One such chap John Fortey bequeathed the not so inconsiderable sum of £300 in his will in 1458. I don't know what that it would be worth in today's groats but a fair whack I would imagine.

The same Mr Fortey forms one of the cast of characters which make up the impressive set of brasses within the church. These are not your usual set of knights and priests, but the local civilian woolmerchants, tailors and mercers. I was delighted to see the detailed clothing on the depictions. Indeed here is Mr JF himelf- if you squint carefully you can just about make out that he's standing on a woolsack.

A his 'n' hers one. John Taylor plus wife plus their 15 offspring. 1490

And Agnes with her two husbands.

There is much else of interest within the building. There are some rather weather worn foliate heads dotted around together with the figures from yesterday's post. The font has angels playing early instruments with naughty devils below being crushed by the power of Christianity and I enjoyed encountering my first ever double squint.

So there you have it.....pitstop report completed and submitted for approval!


Monday 25 July 2016

The Mary Whitehouse Look

Now let's be benevolent to this lady and say she has the look of one who spends a lot of time sucking on a lemon. Those with a slightly more malevolent disposition might cruelly say she looks like a bulldog chewing a wasp. Perhaps we should cut her a little slack though as she has to share her church doorway with this chap.

I am not entirely sure what is causing him to gurn quite so freely, but I strongly suspect it has lavatorial connections! Given the same view for several hundred years I think I'd be frowning too!

We happened across these two characters en route to Tewkesbury. More about this particular pitstop tomorrow.


Sunday 24 July 2016

You Can Leave Your Hat On.

I only have to hear Tom Jones singing "You can leave your hat on" and it reminds me of The Full Monty. If you enjoyed the film as much as I did this little clip might just make you smile.


Saturday 23 July 2016

On parade.

Once again as part of my time away, I was lucky enough to be able to be a part of the annual Tewkesbury Medieval Festival. If you're ever up in that neck of the woods it's well worth going to as it's free and really is a spectacle.

Last year the organising committee set up a parade that went through the town on the Sunday morning. The whole community got involved and it was a tremendous success. Based on this it returned bigger and bolder in 2016, as I hope these few shots of the day will attest. A fantastic atmosphere with everyone pitching in and a great way to re energise the event on the Sunday when all of us are a tad weary from the shenanigans of the day before [note I am not admitting that the possible imbibing of alcohol the night before might be a contributory factor. I am however, willing to own up to sampling my first ever pink gin!]

This is the plague doctor I do believe. They also had a black rat and the children dressed in bloody bandages!

Then there was this cast of is certainly never boring when you go to these events!

Oh look and who's that old bird with the Mythago flag...except she shouldn't have been carrying the flag at that particular point in the proceedings...instead she should have been dancing, but she hadn't spotted her name on the schedule. I idly wondered which dancer was missing and causing mayhem behind me little realising that I was the culprit. Oops!


Thursday 21 July 2016

Poor Man's Weatherglass

Poor Man's Weatherglass so called because it only opens its flowers when it's sunny. Found growing on the edges of fields and rough ground, it is one of our few native arable weeds. Many will know it by its more common name of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Strangely, the same plant grows in Spain and has the same name yet the flowers are blue! It's known that this is due to the sunnier climes, but as yet it remains a mystery why they are blue rather than one of the other known colour variants. On a personal note it is my favourite flower and the first one I ever correctly identified from our wildflower book. I am always secretly thrilled when we happen across one during one of our wanderings.


Tuesday 19 July 2016

Wild Bunch

Being away and having time to do some walking [we're not talking great hikes here....six miles is perfect for me], it's reminded me how much I enjoy it and how important it is to me. I try to get out into the great outdoors as often as possible, but the call of the grunt work and the guilt if it doesn't get done, keeps me behind closed doors more than I care to admit.

As far as I'm concerned a verge or field edge, as in this photo, trumps any floral arrangement artificially created by human hand.

Or this. Zingy Knapweed and Orange Hawkweed. These are growing in the churchyard at Clun and are part of the God's Own Acre project. This initiative encourages the cultivation of wild spaces in burial grounds in order to allow the natural flora and fauna to flourish. These are not created by sprinkling packets of wildflower seeds, but are the species native to that region.


Monday 18 July 2016

A Punishment To Fit The Crime

Now this certainly was one thing I didn't expect to encounter within a church! A cucking stool [Saxon for scolding] or a ducking stool as many will know it. Originally the perpetrator of the crime simply sat in the chair in a public place and was subject to humiliation from the baying crowd [rather akin to the stocks or the pillory].

Later on it was adapted to include the element of ducking into the water. Generally it was used as a punishment and deterrent for minor crimes and was not just restricted to nagging scolds, but those who sought to deliberately adulterate food and find ways to cheat the customer by short measures etc. 

For me though, knowing how many innocent lives were lost due to intolerance during the terror of the witchcraft persecutions, I would be a liar if I said I didn't view it with a degree of unease. This example is one of a handful of rare survivals and is in Leominster. It was last used in 1809 and nationally in 1817.


Sunday 17 July 2016

Evenin' all!

I am back from my a-wanderings...poking about in the dusty recesses of old buildings, drinking in the views from the top of the Shropshire Hills and now carrying a little more weight than I left with thanks to all those glorious buns and cider I have tidied away. Normal blogging service will hopefully resume once I've got my head and homestead straight again. Having left it in the capable hands of the teenogre these past 9 days I am delighted to report that he's done me parties and he's kept it respectable.

So before I wend and carry on with the onerous task of unpacking etc etc, these three homes amused me no either need to own all the properties or be on the same wavelength as your neighbours if you're going to strike out and do something as bold as this with the exterior paintwork[if you double click the first one all will be revealed]  Easy enough to describe when giving out directions though! These are in Bishop's Castle.


Wednesday 6 July 2016


"What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?"
Jean-Jacques Rosseau

I am taking a small break from the blog for a few days. Screen free time and a few adventures will hopefully see me soon refreshed and back wittering.


Tuesday 5 July 2016

The Right To Vote

No nothing specifically topical about the events unfolding at the moment!

This is a handkerchief signed by the women from the Women's Social and Political Union after they had been arrested and sent to Holloway prison following the mass demonstrations in London in March 1912. This piece of important social history was rescued from a jumble sale in the 1960s. It saddened me that such a relatively low percentage of the young people [18-24] bothered to vote recently. Women fought hard to gain this right and we should be thankful that the efforts of those who have gone before us have given us democracy. Many parts of the world still don't share in this freedom. 


Sunday 3 July 2016

The Nuture of Nature.

"Don't hurry, Don't worry. You're only here for a short visit. So be sure to stop and smell the flowers."
Walter Hagen

....I followed this mantra today and soaked up the calmness I found on Levin Down in West Sussex. The beauty was simply overwhelming.

Chicory and Musk Thistle.

A Small Skipper and a Marbled White

My first ever sighting of a Yellowhammer. It was certainly giving it some welly singing its little heart out.

Felt privileged to have seen this little lot today. Few words needed from me to express it.


Shropshire Church Crawling Gems

Sifting through all the photos from my annual holiday church crawl, I've picked out these which I hope people find to be of interest. It...