Saturday, 31 January 2009

Malvern, Monks and Maids.

If I've been a bit quiet 'blog wise' for a while, it's because chaos has once again overtaken my home.
It's been full of men, making a lot of mess, yet I am so grateful to the plumber, electrician, carpenter and plasterer, who have, bless their hearts, transformed my bathroom !

It's just so lovely to move out of the dark ages into the modern world of plumbing etc. All my 'facilities' are new and in full working order. Bliss!
( Recent and prospective visitors are giving audible sighs of relief!)

So, Saturday morning comes and the new bathroom needs some decorating. Well, there's not really room for two people painting in there so, I escaped over to Malvern to visit my Mum.
I took Mum for a drive around the Malvern Hills and we called at the 'Kettle Sings' Cafe for a cup of coffee, a tea-cake and a generous helping of Soul Food, the views are magical.
I did feel slightly guilty at the thought of Mike slaving away with a paint brush, but I didn't let it spoil the moment. . . .

Mum looking out over the Herefordshire woods and hills of her miss- spent youth (so she tells me).

The Malvern Hills

Just up the hill from the cafe we found these 'Fair Maids of February'. That's the old name for these welcome little beauties, Snowdrops.

We didn't linger long in the cold ,easterly wind!
On the way back we took a detour, to Little Malvern Priory.
Such a pretty spot, the old church, all that remains of the 12th. century monastery, clings to the side of the Malvern Hills.

The plain below, as far as the river Severn, was once a wild and remote hunting reserve. Can you imagine how it would have looked when the monastery was founded?
Folklore tells us of two monks, Jocelin and Edred, who journeyed from Worcester in 1127 to found the Priory for the Benedictines.
William Langland (1330 - 1386), the first poet to write in English, was a pupil here.
I love his 'Vision of Piers Plowman'
It begins so gently, 'In a somer sesun, whon softe was the sonne . . .'
Now , where was I? . . .
Inside the church it was so cold, damp rising up and coming down, I think it needs lots of tlc., as do many of these wonderful old buildings.

Two little piggies with their snouts in the trough. They've been snuffling away here for many centuries and the wood is worn from thousands of hands leaning on them.

A locally made, 14th century tile.

I couldn't resist this beauty. All alone in a field, just below the Priory.

After a while, guilt got the better of me and I took Mum home, intending to head back to Evesham and help Mike with the painting. . . but only just off the main road is the lovely village of Birlingham, so another small detour.

The churchyard changes it's carpet with the seasons.

At the moment it's a 'Snowdrop carpet'. Soon to be followed by the Crocus carpet, Primrose, Daffodil etc. etc.

Inside the church there were ladies , all muffled up against the cold, serving welcome cups of tea to visitors.

Perfect. Tea and Snowdrops, now I really must get back to help Mike. . .


The lovely Karrita over on My Mothers Garden has kindly included me in her series of interviews with Artist /Gardeners. Even though I'm sure I'm there under, horticulturaly challenged , false pretences, I am deeply honoured to be included!

Please do visit her, she has a beautiful blog and much to delight the eyes of anyone who loves a garden.

Thank you Karrita.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Telling Stories to the Trees

This wonderful print arrived in the post today. I absolutely love it!
It's called 'Telling Stories to the Trees'.

It came from Rima who is currently living the most marvelous adventure. Please pop along to The Hermitage and see for yourself the wonders that this very talented lady has to offer, you'll also get a peep into her journey with her partner Tui. Have fun.

Bless you Rima, I enjoy every minute I spend at The Hermitage and I shall put my print in a frame and place it above my computer so that I can see it while I work, to remind me of the magic. . .

Next, as it has been so beautifully cold here, I thought The Fairy Queen might need a new winter cloak. . .

Fashioned with silk fibres, finest owl feathers and a little . . . , well, that would be telling.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Yew trees

I had some very interesting comments on my last post which prompted me to search out these pictures that I took about ten years ago.

When I was a little girl I used to love listening to the stories my father told us, mainly about his childhood in the countryside around Ross on Wye in Herefordshire.
One such story was about a huge old Yew tree, so big that you could seat 10 people inside it.

I remember visiting the tree , which stands next to the church at Much Marcle (Herefordshire) I can even remember sitting inside the hollow trunk, I think I was about 3 or 4 years old.

I never forgot this story and as my fascination with trees grew, it was there, at the back of my mind. . .
The picture below shows my lovely mum and dear friend, Kitty, sitting inside the Yew. Ten people would be a little squashed but . . maybe?

It's difficult to date Yew trees accurately because of the way that they grow. All ancient yews are hollow , so ring dating is impossible.
They grow very slowly, the old tree at Totteridge, in Hertfordshire has a girth of 26 feet, the same as when it was measured in 1677.

With Mum standing next to the Much Marcle Yew, it's easy to see that it is huge, about 30 feet in girth, its' amazing canopy of branches, supported on a framework of iron.
The experts say that this wonder is between 2,500 and 3,000 years old!
Can you imagine that?
It was here all those centuries, a sacred tree , going back through time, before even the Celts.
If you ever visit this part of the world, this place is a 'must see'. The air positively tingles with atmosphere and it is possible to become quite lost in time.

There is much to see inside the church as well, not least the vision of loveliness pictured below.

May I introduce a lady from the 14th. century, believed to be Blanche Grandison. . .

In his book, the Kings England, Arthur Mee says of her, '. .a charming Lady, to whom we lose our heart. She lies in the chancel on a tomb rich as a throne. Her veil falls lightly on her pillow and the skirt of her tight- sleeved robe hangs in long, soft folds over the edge of the tomb . .'

Her nose and the little long - eared dog who hides in the folds of her skirt are a little damaged but I still think she is an excellent candidate for the 'Sleeping Beauty' award.

I've strayed off subject again. I wanted to tell you about another ancient Yew. This time, in Scotland, right in the centre, at Fortingall.

We are talking seriously huge and even more seriously old here. What is left of the tree is a sort of ring of trunk, still vibrant with growth, regenerating itself through the centuries. When it was measured in the 1700s its girth was 52 feet and it's age estimated recently as between 5500 and 7,000 years old.

That makes this truly remarkable tree one of the oldest living things on our planet (along with the Bristlecone Pines of California).

Mike and I made a pilgrimage here a few years ago and I can say honestly that even in the rain it is special. Nearby stand the church, Roman remains, Neolithic stones, all newcomers compared to this tree. Here's a quote from J. Edward Milner's 'The Tree Book'.

"I find Yew weird trees to say the least; whereas an Oak could be called Lord of the trees, provider at the heart of our cycle, the green man, nest and home, the Yew would seem to be God above trees, dark and aloof, 'other' to us, not of our cycle, or rather transcending it, the graveyard Yew. . . distilling the negative poisons of the soil and thrusting them outwards positively above ground. . . It is an ever present watcher, I think of the ancient Yew at Fortingall, there when the Megaliths were planted, the later Roman forts, the much later church, and it knowing all the time, being aware of something we can only feel. . ."

More magic i think . . .

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Magical days.

I often feel that time behaves rather strangely in the days between Christmas and New Year.

It's almost surreal, the wheel of the year has turned but we need a few, special, magical days to adjust and move on.
I love these days.
We have had some lovely, cold and sunny days; days to escape into the woods and walk off the chocolate and the Christmas pud. . . .
I met some wonderful trees in the parkland at Hanbury Hall and the nearby Doderhill nature reserve.

This Yew stands very proudly in the pasture woodland of the reserve, definitely got the magic. . . it was warm to my touch. . .

The cupola on the roof of Hanbury Hall.

Very vocal ducks on the woodland pond.

On New Years' day , Incey Wincey had been busy as well as Mr. Frost.
I am so pleased . . that I saw this before my face hit it.

The fields where I walk Rowan were transformed. The very familiar pond, fields and trees looked and felt strange and enchanted.
We slipped and stumbled all over the place. . . what fun!
Magic everywhere.

I think I need to get some Welly warmers for my poor frozen feet. By the time we got home my feet were sooooooo cold. I could also do with finishing the pair of socks I started knitting last year. . .
Apart from walking and eating and sleeping, I've been making a strange, three legged rabbit for Phoebe (If only I could discipline myself to read the instructions first. . .)and some decorations for next Christmas .Well, I didn't have time before, so my plan is to get ahead of the game. . . . don't worry , it won't last.
This weekend, to my joy, we had the company of some very dear friends.
For them and my family , for all the opportunities that pass this way, for all the friends I've made through my blog, I am so grateful and I would like to wish you all ,many blessings as the new year begins.

Good night!