Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Wheel Turns Again

Today is Samhain, the beginning of the ancient Celtic New Year. Now we move into the slower, quieter days of winter, a time to look back and take stock of our lives and to sit dreaming in front of the fire. The busy days of summer and harvest are past and now we can take time to do crafts, read and connect with our families by telling the younger generation stories of our childhood and the memories passed on to us by older generations now no longer with us. There are many pleasures to be had during the dark days of winter and of course there is the great festival celebrated by most people in one way or another at or around Winter Solstice.

The colours of this time of the year are also quieter and gentler once the bright glory of the changing leaves is past. The soft greens and browns are soothing and right for this time of introspection. Nevertheless there are still rich colours to be had in the spectacular winter sunsets and the clear blue skies that follow a frosty night and the moon and stars seem brighter in the cold night skies.

The veil between the worlds is thin tonight and soon I shall be lighting candles to honour those of my family who have died and who I remember with love and gratitude.

Happy Samhain!

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Backward Glance in Black and White

A week or two ago my cousin Sheila and her husband came up from Norfolk to see us and brought along their wedding photographs which I had never seen. They left some for us to make copies of and this has resulted in my DH spending the last week scanning every photo he can find of both our families so that the family history entries on the computer have photos with them wherever possible. I don't think I've posted any old photos of myself before so I decided to indulge myself by putting up some that go from babyhood to my early 20s. In the one at the top I'm around 6 months old.

Aged 2 and having fun at the seaside.

With my mum aged 6

Looking rather coy and again aged 5 or 6. My mum made the dress I'm wearing, it was white with tiny pale green spots all over it and laced with pale green ribbon - it was always one of my favourites. My mum made me some lovely clothes when I was small, she could do smocking so I had several dresses with smocked bodices.

My school photo when I was 10 - looking rather serious about life here.

On a school exchange visit to France aged 14 - dancing the Twist with Arlette's mum and aunt in their kitchen and looking a whole lot more cheerful:)

A rather soulful looking 18 year old.......

....And the photo that started it all - bridesmaid to my cousin Sheila when I was 23.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Walk in the Peaks

Sunday was a perfect autumn day and I spent it walking in the Peak District. On my way over in glorious sunshine I rounded a bend and instead of seeing the whole of the Hope Valley stretched out in front of me I saw this mystical picture wih the tops of the hills rising through the white mist.

We started by tracing the route of a Roman road (completely invisible now ) over the fields towards the remains of the Roman fort of Navio at Brough. Just before arriving at the fort we walked by this peaceful scene.

Clicking on this will show you the information about the fort. It was built only 30 years after the Romans invaded Britain and it's generally thought that it was there to oversee the workings of the rich lead mines in the area.

Current members of the Cohors Primae Aquitanorum who are stationed at Navio Fort:)

The Praetor (commandant) guarding the entrance to the strong room in the Praetorium (headquarters building). This is the only part of the fort still visible above ground and below were found the steps leading down to the strong room. This is where the cash to pay the soldiers would be kept along with the insignia of the garrison.

Looking across the still hazy Hope Valley towards Win Hill which has rather a nice legend about how it and Lose Hill further along the valley, acquired their names. In 626 a battle was fought between King Edward of Northumbria whose troops were camped on one of the hills and King Cuicholm of Wessex who was camped on the other. Knowing that the Wessex army was much larger than his own, King Edward ordered his troops to build a stone wall around the summit of their hill. The battle began and both armies advanced but the superior numbers of Wessex soon drove Edward's army into retreat back up their hill. As the Wessex men charged after them they were crushed to death by the boulders of the wall being heaved down on them by Edward's men. Ever since Edward's hill has been called Win Hill and Cuicholm's has been Lose Hill. And come to think of it, perhaps 'nice' is not quite the word to describe the legend :)

It was still very hazy when I took this photo of Mam Tor also known as The Mother Mountain and The Shivering Mountain. I climbed this the previous week on a damp, foggy day so the wonderful views from the Iron Age hillfort at the top were hidden. Just as well since I forgot to put a memory card in my camera so got no photos at all of that outing! Clicking on this will give you a better idea of how it really looks.

Two little ponies (Shetlands?) standing guard over a stile that leads to the last of the flat parts of the walk. We stopped here to eat our lunch. I always think that sandwiches taste so much better in the open air:) A short rest then the climb up Back Tor comes next!

Using the excuse of taking some photos as a way of having a breather on the way up - the Hope Valley is below. This where the Kendal Mint Cake comes out, the extra boost of energy is a real lifesaver,

At the top of Back Tor thank goodness and looking down into the Edale Valley on the other side.

Another view down into Edale.

Looking along the ridge to Lose Hill which is where we are headed next. This is a very ancient trackway going back to prehistoric times and used as a drovers road until comparatively recent times.

On top of Losehill looking towards Winhill which is the tiny little peak in the distance - more clicking required here.

The trig point on Losehill just to prove I was really here:)

Walking back down into Hope via the old hollow lane called Jaggers Way, jagger was an old name for a pedlar or hawker. They would have used the old drovers roads to travel from one place to another. Hollow lanes are created partly by erosion and partly by the constant passage of people and animals over many centuries. Imagine the pack horse trains or the lonely peddlar trudging down this path and finally nearing a place to rest and spend a night after crossing the exposed ridge from Mam Tor in driving rain, or ice or snow.............

........and here it is at last, the warmth of a blazing fire, a glass of ale and a hot meal. Inns with the name of The Cheshire Cheese are always signs of an old drovers road as the drovers coming over from Cheshire often paid their way with one of the wonderful crumbly Cheshire cheeses that come from my home county. The Ring O'Bells is another inn sign denoting the route of a drover's way, the lead horse would wear bells on its harness to warn people of their approach. I had a little further to go before I could take off my pack and sit down but we had a wonderful day's walking in pretty much perfect conditions and I enjoyed it enormously - especially once I made it up to the top of Back Tor!.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Snapshots of New England Part 3

After we left Plimoth Plantation I asked if we could stop in Plymouth so that I could take photos of the replica of the Mayflower in Plymouth Harbour. I went on board last time we were here and can remember being stunned at how small this ship was. Frankly I wouldn't care to do a short trip across the English Channel on it much less cross the Atlantic!! The people who made these crossings were incredibly brave.

This is Plimoth Rock which marks the spot where the Pilgrims landed all those years ago. It is now protected by a rather splendid Greek Revival type structure and is also behind railings. I prefer it without all the modern trappings though.

For those who like a little added splendour here is the canopy that covers the Rock.

In order to take the photo of the canopy I climbed quite a long flight of steps and was rewarded when I got to the top by this wonderful statue of Massasoit the leader of the Wampanoag people.

This plaque commemorates him and reminds people of the great debt the Pilgrims owed to him and his people. Clicking on this image and the others will make it clearer.

From Plymouth we drove to Newport,Rhode Island to see a couple of the mansions. We stayed overnight in Newport and next morning bought tickets to see five of them. C said after the second one that she'd had enough. This was one of the two we visited and is called The Breakers - I really loved this house and could definitely imagine myself living in it. No interior photos were allowed so you will have to take my word that it was both stunning and comfortable inside. Both Mr and Mrs Vanderbilt's bedrooms had a chaise longue with a bookrest across it and I could imagine lazing there in the heat of a summer afternoon with a good book or some needlework.

This is the best I could do with this photo of the wonderful loggia( an outdoor room enclosed on three sides and open at the front) as it was cordoned off and I couldn't get a decent angle. The mosaic walls and ceiling were really beautiful and sitting out here on a steamer chair or in a big rattan plantation chair sipping a cocktail must have been a real pleasure........

.....especially with this view of the sea in front of you. Again not a very good photo but it gives you an idea.

This is Rosecliffe which is prettier outside than The Breakers but nothing like as nice inside. The reason I really wanted to see this place is because Cole Porter spent several summers here and wrote some of his famous songs during his stays. I love Cole Porter's music and it was fun to think that I was walking in rooms and gardens where he'd once walked.

This is a close-up of the fountain in the front garden of Rosecliffe.

These colourful rowing boats were in Rye harbour.

We spent a day at Deerfield Fair and among the craft exhibits was this great hooked rug.............

..........and this one that was so intricate and seems to have won not only a richly deserved blue riband but also another award - best in category maybe?

One of the attractions at Deerfield was the high wire act called the Wallendas - I took this photo but didn't watch much as I really dislike watching high wire acts in case they fall. The Wallendas work without a safety net and have had one or two fatal accidents in the past.

I thought these vegetable animals were fun:)

One of my favoirite stores is LL Bean and here I am standing beside the famous boot outside the flagship store in Freeport, Maine.

A comment on the last post by Alchemillamolly asked me where I would go in New England if it was my first visit - the answer without any doubt is Maine, in particular Down East Maine and Acadia National Park. I love the coastline of this state, it is spectacularly beautiful.

Both the above photos were taken in the evening near York, Maine.

Nubble Lighthouse which stands on an island about 200 yards off Cape Neddick Point near York.

Almost dark and time to end my selection of snapshots of New England.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Snapshots of New England Part 2

Well, this is not quite 'tomorrow' but I'm afraid that life got rather hectic so this is the first chance I've had to do Part 2. The photo above is of Sagamore Creek at the mouth of the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth. A lot of the local places have names taken from the language of the original local Native American tribes and I really like these names even though some are difficult to pronounce - it took me several visits to finally be able to say Piscataqua properly:) I gather that the word 'sagamore' referred to the chief of the area and Piscataqua is from the Abenaki language and means roughly 'where the river divides into 2 or 3 branches and one must decide which one to follow'. This is when you are travelling inland from the coast. The Piscataqua is an impressive river, the third fastest flowing river in the world and full of treacherous currents that can catch even experienced sailors unaware.

This little building on a wooden jetty on Sagamore Creek is decorated with the tails of marlin - it's an original idea!

Yours truly at the entrance to Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts.

I'm really more interested in the lives and culture of the Wampanoag people than the settlers to be honest but the photographs I took were mostly rather poor, partly because the sun was very bright and in the wrong direction and partly because I couldn't get a good view because of all the people. As a result there are far fewer to show you than I would have liked. Above is a Wampanoag house which is called a wetuash - it is a framework of wood covered with birch bark and cattail reed mats.

I didn't get chance to ask what this was but it seemed to be an outdoor living area, there was a fire at one side and the women were cooking and doing various crafts and household tasks. There was a party of high school students on the site and this bascially meant that nobody else got much of a look in either here or on the English Village site.

This is a mishoon(dugout canoe)which is made by burning and scraping an oak, pine or chestnut log. This must have been hard work especially on an oak log which is extremely hard and doesn't burn easily.

A small Wampanoag boy - I love this photo:)

Two of the women with a baby, she was the same age as Kaitlyn and gave me a lovely big smile when I spoke to her. The two photographs with children in are deliberately not showing their faces in spite of the fact that both were delightful.

The fort, built in 1622, which stands at the top of the English Village. This isn't the original of course, Plimoth Plantation is a replica and the original village stood where the modern town of Plymouth now is.

The view from the upper storey of the fort looking down over the village to the sea.

The upper floor of the fort showing the cannon that would be used in case of attack.

The lower part of the fort also doubled as the church!!

One of the window shutters in the fort - the play of light and shadow appealed to me on this photo.

A bread oven at the back of one of the houses.

The interior of one of the houses which were not as sparsely furnished as you might expect. Many of the better off colonists had furniture shipped out from England.

Some of the colonists busy constructing a new building.

I love these pewter dishes and the colours of the earthenware. I have quite a few pieces of replica pottery myself, some bought here in England and some brought back from Plimoth.

Two of the colonists - they make an attractive couple don't they?

Another interior with a lovely baby's high chair and also showing how carpets were used to cover tables rather than floors in the 17th century.

More lovely pottery and wooden plates etc - to me there's something very satisfying about these handmade items. They are simple and practical but still beautiful.

Presumably he's popped in to see whether dinner is ready yet:)

A lovely horn lantern - I can't imagine that it gave a very good light really but it looks nice.

A wood fired kiln............

......and clicking on this photo will tell you more about it than I can.

If you've soldiered on to this point then congratulations! That's enough culture for one day though so more in Part 3 which will be the final push for the finishing line:)