Wednesday, 24 September 2008

'A Book in a Box' and Menabilly


I've been beavering away, preparing for a new workshop that I'm going to start teaching soon. The idea is to make a concertina style book, from fabric and a special box in which to keep it.


I thought I'd show you a few of the sample pages I've made, all inspired by my 'church crawling' around here and in Wales.

I've got loads more to do yet and little time to do it, same old story!


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Here are a few more pictures from Cornwall. I should have said in my last post, that if you aren't familiar with the story of Tristam and Iseult (and lets face it why would you be?) you can get the basics here.
Above is the 'Croix Rouge' at Tregaminion. I had to climb through the undergrowth to get this picture,but I'm glad I did.

It has such a presence. Quite creepy really.

This stone, which used to stand near King Mark's summer palace at nearby Castle Dor, is where Tristan left his messages.



Now for rather a quick change of subject. Not far away from Tregaminion, just a stones throw, is Menabilly, Daphne du Maurier's home
I love her books,I read most of them here, in Cornwall on various holidays through the years. So now, if I should read a passage, I'm instantly transported back to that time and place. . . .


It's not possible to see Menabilly, no public right of way. Here's a postcard I found. Daphne used her home as the inspiration for Manderley in Rebecca.

If you follow the lane on a while you come to the pretty little beach at Polridmouth. . . .




where Rebecca met her end.
While we were there I made a complete idiot of myself by falling flat on my back on some rocks. .

I was lucky I didn't do anything too serious to myself and all because I could see some great driftwood, just out of reach.

Here I am, upright and all in one piece!

That's it really, I'll finish with this picture of the memorial to the fallen of the second world war from Polruan, Bodinnick and Fowey.
For no particular reason other than I love it!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Tristan and Iseult

A very early morning walk to see the sun rise . . .lovely September days in Cornwall.


We stayed at Bodinnick, across the river from Fowey and the picture above shows what we found just a little walk down the lane. That bench is the perfect spot, to sit with a bottle of wine and watch the sun set. . . .
This part of Cornwall is very unspoilt, undulating hills, secret valleys and wooded creeks. The countryside is full of mystery and legends.

I wanted to find the places mentioned in one of the greatest love stories,the legend of Tristan and Iseult, who lived in the days of King Arthur.

I did a little research and armed with a map and a packed lunch, we set off, on foot, every day, in a different direction to discover for ourselves these wonderful places.


Below are some Celtic cross memorials at St. Winnow's church.




Some beautiful old glass in one of the windows.


Just downstream from St. Winnows there was once an island in the river, where Tristan fought and defeated the evil Morholt.

Later in the story we return to this spot. On the riverbank, opposite the church of St. Winnow,there was an ancient crossing place, where Tristan made his escape in a small boat to begin his years of exile in France.

As we left the churchyard and climbed the hill we found a little summer cafe, where the farmers' wife sold tea and cakes, that she made herself. So we sat a while and chatted to a lovely young couple, who carried their baby in a sling. They all had Wellington boots, rosy- red cheeks and laughing eyes. Lucky baby!

After eating a piece of the chocolate cake ( It would have been rude not to)), we turned for the long walk home.

It's getting late , so, more tomorrow. . .

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Jeeves and the Pictish stones

I promised some time ago that I would tell you about the pictish deer (he's in a previous post), so here we are. . .


May I introduce Wendy ( I have several friends called Wendy, so it gets a bit confusing) and her wonderful dog Jeeves who is a Gordon Setter. They are pictured here, talking to Mike outside Sorbie Castle, Wendy's ancestral home.

Last summer we went to Garlieston , which is in Dumfries and Galloway, a delightful part of Scotland. One morning we were walking along the seashore and we met Wendy and Jeeves. Actually the dogs met first, you know what it's like, lots of racing around and sniffing. We got talking while we waited for the dogs to return.

What a fascinating conversation it was! Among the many things I learned was that Wendy's family had lived in this area and worked the land for many, many generations.

We talked about all manner of things and asked about the possibility that we might find some rock carvings in the area. To my delight Wendy told how she had discovered various carvings on her land, some pictish, some very much older. We agreed to meet the next day so that we could go on a 'tour' of the carvings.

Our old dog, Theo, couldn't manage the long walk, so I went to meet Wendy on my own. We walked for miles, stopping here and there to look at a view or for Wendy to introduce me to a cow or six (she knew all their names.)

As we walked, climbing walls and slipping down banks, I learnt that this lady truly knew and loved her land. I felt honoured to be given this wonderful opportunity to spend time with her.

She showed me where the Corncrakes nest; she named the fields and pastures as we went through them and she told me how, one day,as she was feeding the cattle, one of them slipped on the wet turf. Wendy noticed that the turf was torn back and there were strange markings on the bedrock, beneath.


This is Wendy's photo of the markings, chalk added to make the lines clear. A pictish deer. I can't begin to describe how I felt.

Below is my photo, (taken after Wendy had pulled back the turf ) you can see the two round holes. When we'd finished the turf was carefully replaced to protect the carving.

We then set off in another direction, to a rocky outcrop in a nearby field. Wendy's son had been sitting on the outcrop, shooting crows, when he noticed something on the rock.
This is what he saw,... a pony! It's about 6 inches wide and the people who came from Edinburgh university said that it was made about 1000 years B.C.
To sit in that place and imagine someone carving that dear little pony, 2000 years ago, was an experience that I will always treasure.



That's about it for now. Mike and I are going to Cornwall for a week. I'm going to investigate the Tristram and Isolde legend , in and around the lovely church of St. Sampson in Golant, near Fowey. See you soon.x
















Tuesday, 2 September 2008

More pictures from Ludlow




I admit, I do struggle with the technology. I thought I'd put these pictures in with yesterdays post.
I did. I'm sure of it. Where did they go?
Well, I tried again and here they are but I'll do this quickly, in case they disappear again!
I haven't moved them, so they should all be 'clickable'. Don't understand how this works at all.

The top picture was taken in a particularly dark part of the forest. I loved the contrast with the colourful leaves.

Next, the wheat field taken on the way up to the forest. You can just see the combine harvester, left in the field when they stopped working at 10.30 the previous evening.

Then, over the top of the hill looking down into the lovely Mary Knoll valley.

The last picture shows the church at Hope Bagot. What a wonderful name! Imagine being able to say ' Oh yes, I live in Hope Bagot'. what fun.

The little church is very plain, with roses growing by the porch and a lovely Norman arch inside. The churchyard really did have the Magic, an enormous ancient Yew Tree (reckoned to be about 1500 - 2000 years old) which has been a sacred site since long before the church was built and lower down, underneath the roots, a Holy well. Not a sound to be heard except the tumbling water and Rowan hunting in the grass, well nothings perfect!

I'm sorry that this is so disjointed, I hope it makes sense.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Walks around Ludlow.

We had a super few days in Shropshire, this place has definitely got the Magic.

We stayed in our caravan, in an old orchard overlooking Ludlow.The sun shone (well some of the time) and we had starry nights and misty mornings.

At the top of the orchard is a green lane which leads one way into the town and the other way up, into the forest.

Would you like to stroll into town with me? It's not far and De Greys cake shop is beckoning.

Through the first field and then over the stile, downhill all the way.
Rowan thinks she's clever, running on ahead and playing hide and seek.





Ludlow is an old town, built around its' castle and well loved for it's black and white buildings. Here are just a few.


We need to take a slight detour down this street, to the cake shop. I was going to post a picture of Mike staring in the window, trying to choose which one to have, but he walked away. So here's the shop anyway!
Sorry, can't eat the cakes yet, we're going into the church first.
The medieval church is huge and in the choir are some 15th. century miserichords. I chose these two to show you, one because it's is a bit like a dragon, I think it's called a Wyvern and the other because I love mermaids.




The poet A.E. Housman (1839 - 1936) loved Ludlow and his ashes are buried here.
" Oh, come you home on Sunday
When Ludlow's streets are still
And Ludlow's bells are calling
To farm and lane and mill.
Or come you home on Monday
When Ludlow market hums
And Ludlow chimes are playing
'The Conquering Hero Comes'.
(From A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman)
During my visit, there was an international choir practicing for a concert that evening, ooh, the magical singing. It was so beautiful, it made me shiver.
After all that 'Soul Food', we'll head down to the river Teme, sit on the bench and eat our cakes.



You can see the castle through the trees. This is where Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon lived as newly weds. Sadly, just a few months later Prince Arthur was dead of a fever and his brother succeeded to the throne and became king Henry the eighth.

It's very peaceful here but I suppose we better move, uphill all the way I'm afraid. Back at the caravan there's some wine in the fridge and some steak for the barbecue.

We'll sit outside and watch the lights come on in the town below. Tired? I am.




Next day, Rowan got us up early for her morning walk, I'm sure she knew it would be special.It
was a really misty, autumn morning.

The mist lifted as we walked up into the forest and Rowan went for a swim in this sunlit pond.
There were lovely peeps around every corner.

Before long, the sky clouded over and it was time to get home . Then suddenly, this happened!

A lovely walk and it's still only 8.30, time for breakfast! Bacon sandwiches I think.

We got home on Sunday afternoon , just time to unpack and get sorted for Monday.

Today I went to Marlborough in Wiltshire, to give a talk for the Embroiderers Guild.
They meet in a pretty village, just beyond Marlborough and what a lovely group of people they are. I really enjoyed my afternoon.
Tomorrow, I'm going to see an exhibition at Compton Verney, it's called 'The Fabric of Myth'. There are some well known people exhibiting their work, I've been so looking forward to this!
I'll let you know how I get on.