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.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Luttrell Psalter

I had some ironing to do this afternoon and I decided to watch a DVD that I bought a couple of years ago - just a short film based on the Luttrell Psalter. It shows scenes of everyday medieval village life through the four seasons of the year based on the beautiful illuminated illustrations from this wonderful medieval manuscript.

A Psalter is a book of the 150 Psalms from the Bible preceded by a calendar of the church's feast days and followed by various types of prayers.The Luttrell Psalter was commissioned by Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, lord of the manor of Irnham in Lincolnshire, sometime between 1320 and 1340. The original is now in the British Library.

Here we have men ploughing with a team of oxen which were much more commonly used than horses in medieval times

This shows a man harrowing the field after the seeds have been sown and he's followed by a chap with a sling that he's using to stone the crows who have their eye on a nice tasty meal!

Here we have two women hard at work one spinning using what looks to me like a walking wheel and the other carding the fleeces ready for spinning.

Not all the illustrations are serious - these two chaps are having a bit of a set to after a spot of heavy drinking I suspect!

This is a trailer for the film which was made by a community group called WAG Screen who specialize in making films about Lincolnshire heritage and history. This clip is short but you can watch the whole thing on Youtube if you click here It's well worth it if you have 20 minutes to spare as it's visually very beautiful - it isn't a documentary, it simply brings scenes to life and you will recognize all the illustrations I've posted. I think I shall make a cup of coffee and go and watch it again:)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Suffolk Lane

As I mentioned in my last post Neil and Francesca's home is surrounded by farmland, this is Surprise who lives on the farm next door.

Here is the lane they live on, their house is up the lane beyond the trees.

The field in the previous photo is growing wheat but barley is also grown along with maize,rapeseed and sugar beet. I think it's possible that the barley goes to Adnams the local brewery as it's in Southwold which is only about 40 minutes drive from Neil's house.

There were  lots of wildflowers along the lane and the many public footpaths that lead off it including the beautiful wild blue scabious.

One of my favourites is the beautiful pink convolvulus arvensis which grows everywhere. As it's common name is field bindweed I suspect that it isn't as popular with the local farmers as it is with me:)

I think that this is the prickly sow thistle - whatever it is it's very popular with the local insects, hoverflies, wasps etc The large hoverfly at the top is Heliphilus affinis and I think it's rather beautiful. The smaller one is I think Episyrphus balteatus or the marmalade hoverfly. If you click on the photo you'll be able to see the markings on both of them more clearly.

Equally popular was a stand of purple (spear?)thistles which was absolutely alive with bees, hoverflies and butterflies. The photo shows (yet another of my 'I thinks!) two white tailed bees and a small white butterfly on a single flower. I am as always open to correction on any of my attempts at identification :)
Edited to add that this is actually a female Large White butterfly - thanks Roy:)

All the hedgerows were thick with berries and fruits of all kinds - elder, blackberries,sloes and these which look to me like the fruit of the bird cherry in various stages of ripeness.

The highlight of my early morning walks though was seeing the hares, something which has always eluded me on previous visits in spite of Cesca saying that they're everywhere. Now I know which field track to find them on!

This particular morning provided me with a very special experience but this is the last photo I took as from this point on I was standing absolutely stock still. The hare looked as though he was going to cross the track and disappear into the maize but as I stood there he turned, looked  at me and then came lolloping straight towards me stopping a couple of times to gaze at me and eventually going slowly past about four feet to my right. I felt very privileged to be trusted that much by a wild creature.

The following day there were two of them and I saw them several times after that but never as close as the first time. There are lots of muntjac deer around too, mostly when I saw them I was driving and they crossed the lane in front of me - happily always at a good enough distance for me to slow down and stop. The lanes are narrow and twisty, only wide enough for one car in many places so driving at any speed isn't a wise option. The only one I saw when walking came out of the wood,  crossed the track and had disappeared into the maize before I had chance to take a photo so I've borrowed the image below from the internet.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A New Twig on the Tree

It's been a long time since I last posted but I'm back again now. A lot of this summer has been spent in Suffolk helping my lovely daughter-in-law Francesca before and after the birth of her third baby - and here he is:) Jude Samuel was born on July 30th and weighed in at 6lb 9oz.

Here he is with big brother Gabriel and Granny. George was too busy with his drawing to join us:)

He's on this one though playing with Daddy and Gabriel in a nearby field. The lane they live on is surrounded by farmland.

A couple of days before Jude was born we spent the afternoon at Bressingham Steam Museum which we all enjoyed.

There was an interesting little museum as well as the train rides, this is one of the network of travelling mail coaches which collected mail,sorted it as the train travelled and delivered it to local stations along the line for the postman to deliver the next morning - I really love this piece of nostalgia. The Travelling Post Offices ceased in 2004.

This commemorative print was given to all TPO staff when the service ceased and shows them at work as the train speeds through the night. There is a wonderful poem by W H Auden called Night Mail and of course it's referring to the days of the wonderful old steam trains of my childhood. These are the first few lines:

This is the Night Mail crossing the border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner and the girl next door.

Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient's against her, but she's on time.
Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,
Snorting noisily as she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.
 Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
Stare from the bushes at her blank-faced coaches.
Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course;
They slumber on with paws across.
 In the farm she passes no one wakes,
But a jug in the bedroom gently shakes.

 There is also a great film called 'Night Mail' produced in 1936 by the GPO film unit which includes the whole of  poem. Needless to say I have  it on DVD:)  It's also available on Youtube and shows exactly how the TPOs worked. The little portion showing men working on the line shows the job my dad did, he was a platelayer on the railways for most of his working life. Do watch it - it's a fascinating glimpse of a world now long gone.

This shows the interior of the mail coach.

Another part of the museum also holds an exhibit full of nostalgia for all devotees of Dad's Army. Here is Frazer's Funeral Parlour....

........and Corporal Jones' butcher's shop.

Jonesy's iconic blue delivery van is there too.

Last but not least Swallow Bank where Captain Mainwaring was manager and Sergeant Wilson and Pte Pike also worked. I'm afraid all the museum photos are poor because of all the artificial lighting. We really enjoyed our outing and would have gone in the museum sooner if we'd realised how interesting it was, we had to rush round a bit as it was near to closing time when we went in. I plan another Suffolk post later this week and shall also be catching up on reading and commenting on other blogs - something I haven't had time to do over the last couple of months.