The stuff of legend

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Today was a Bank Holiday in England and once the torrential rain stopped at lunchtime Sigoth and I ventured out into the spring sunshine, swathed against the elements and blinking in the light like newly hatched chicks. Of course, the obvious destination in these circumstances was some ruined buildings, so we headed for Kirkham Priory.

Scrambling about medieval piles of masonry is a bit of a treat for us. We like the peacefulness of the site, the texture of the stone, the play of shapes and light, the stories in the guide books, the humorous gargoyles and the fresh air. The average ancient monument has a tendency to be in rather decent countryside and the abbeys and priories of Yorkshire, of which there are many, are often in absolutely stunning locations.

Kirkham Priory is next to the railway line so I have a fondness for it based on the fact that whenever I see it on the train heading east I know I am nearly home. Between the railway and the masonry is the River Derwent, the famously perverse waterway that enjoys notoriety for its meandering path away from the sea; it rises in the North Yorkshire Moors, heads towards the coast then swerves away at the last moment before heading inland until it is seduced into the Ouse, swept to the Humber and finally meets its oceanic destiny near Hull. And serve it right too, the cheeky scamp.

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At Kirkham there is a pretty bridge and an old level crossing from the days when there was a station, pre-Beeching. Now it’s just an English Heritage ticket office and plenty of buoyant moss underfoot as you clamber up and down the site. The buildings are split level due to the slope of the ground, with the cloister starting at ground level at one end and finishing on the first floor at the other.

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The church is sadly diminished but once had a gorgeous Rose Window, which you have to try to imagine as you gaze at the stub of stone that remains.

Once we had finished wandering around we called back in at the ticket office which also operates a small shop, and bought a guide to Wharram Percy. This is a deserted medieval village not too far from Kirkham, and free to enter so long as you don’t mind squelching down a muddy slope about a quarter of a mile, with a number of kissing gates and a field of cows and calves to negotiate before you find yourself on a windy hillside looking at a roofless 18th century church, a mill pond and some lines in the ground representing medieval longhouses. I don’t mind at all, as you might guess.

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I know the site fairly well, but it’s always good to visit. Last time I went it was covered in snow; today there were new shoots on the hawthorn all the way down the path. I like a bit of hawthorn. In the pagan tree calendar the rune “Huath” represents May and the hawthorn, which in turn can be interpreted as the symbol of the triple goddess – maiden, mother and crone. At this time of year she gets her Maiden face on, with white blossom and green shoots. The path to the village runs between lines of hawthorn for most of its length, and in the sunshine you walk through a tunnel of green and white, surrounded by birdsong, sheltered from the wind and nurtured by romantic thoughts of Spring, the cycle of life and new beginnings, while wondering if this is what it felt like to return to the village along ancient trackways a thousand years ago. At least you do if you are EBL. You don’t worry about whether the path is the same in fact; it makes sense in a story about life in the Yorkshire Wolds throughout the millennia.

Increasingly fanciful, I wondered if we might appear as ghosts to the people of the past as we flitted between the rooms of their buildings, dressed strangely and clutching demonic devices. Were we the fairy folk of legends, or the devils that haunted good Christians in those days, just as some people claim to see ghosts of Roman soldiers wading along Hadrian’s Wall? Might the glimpses of people from the past in fact be the reflections of their glimpses of us, which they interpreted as things that go bump in the night? Are we in fact the stuff of legend?

I think the sunshine was making me giddy. I’m not used to it at this time of year and the winter has been so very dull.

I hope you are having sunshine and widly romantic daydreams, or at least a good ghost story.

Namaste.

 

 

 

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The end of days

Well, perhaps I overstate it when I say “end of days.” However, it is certainly the end of the financial year and our Highways Authority is spending up like tarmac was going out of fashion. The main trunk road to the coast is closed off and traffic being diverted via the road at the end of our village lane. This very same road, now carrying more traffic than anyone would have believed possible, is only semi-open because of roadworks which have closed off one carriageway, and using a traffic light system to control flow. I say “flow” but I mean “stagnant pauses of sufficient duration to calculate pi to a new digit.”

Naturally when Sigoth and I decided to go into town this morning to look for essential items – such as circular knitting needles and pastries and coffee – we went the back way, through some other villages to avoid the snafu that is the usual route. We had forgotten in our haste and cleverness that the road through the next village was also closed while work is being carried out there.

We took the scenic route. It was several miles out of the way, but it beat going back home and then queuing in traffic.

Tomorrow we are going to York for the Viking Festival to hear Beowulf and to enjoy traditional Scandinavian activities, such as shopping and drinking coffee. We will take the bus, and leave the stress of finding the way to someone else. We would have gone by train but there are no trains running this week. Being half term the railway line to the coast is shut down while they do some work on the bridge over the Ouse in York and thus amputate the East Coast from mainland England.

It’s half term. It’s damp and grey. The families we saw in town were looking the worse for wear, seeking entertainment at reasonable price in a very small market town where the highlight of the town trail is a couple of small rooms forming a Victorian office allegedly responsible for inspiring Dickens to write about Scrooge. It’s not a barrel of laughs for most under-50s.

On the bright side, Vikings!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and that the weather, transport system and barbarian hordes in your vicinity are kind to you.

Namaste

WOTW: Baubosking

I was given a calendar of old forgotten words for Christmas, and this was the first one in it. It seemed oddly appropriate in the circumstances, as I shall explain momentarily.

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Baubosking is an old Yorkshire dialect term for wandering about instead of staying at home, as in

“Sho war er reeight baubosker.”

“Sho’s awlus bauboskin aboot.”

https://archive.org/stream/mymoorlandpatien00bishiala/mymoorlandpatien00bishiala_djvu.txt

The reason this has resonance for me at present is that since my mother died just before Christmas, I have felt a tremendous sense of release from worry. I even went into the travel agent the other day to pick up some brochures, because I feel sufficiently free to be able to think about jetting away somewhere foreign. There are so many options: the Taj Mahal; the Northern Lights; the Icelandic volcanoes; the Rockies; the Alhambra; Casablanca….

Then I saw the prices, my dears, and thought again!

So what to do with this lovely, evocative word?

Well, how about this? Some people may remember Rarasaur’s series of Prompts for the Promptless, where she provided an unusual word or phrase to use as a prompt to write a blog. I wondered if anyone out there fancied doing some more, based on some of the words I anticipate discovering as my calendar shrivels the year away?

Assume no constraints of time, money, family, friends or phobias! Are you a baubosker, or a homebody? If you could travel anywhere, where would it be? (I may take notes here.) If you prefer to stay at home, regale me with the joys of that decision. Would you choose the blazing crater of Eyjafjallajökull or the blazing logs of an open fire in the living room? Another country, continent or world? Time and space is yours. Police boxes are optional.

Take me somewhere thrilling, my dears. It is cold, grey, January here and I yearn for something bright and shining.

And wherever you travel or rest, may it be beautiful to you.

Namaste.

Mash up

Yesterday’s post was bleak, so today I thought I would share a local news story with you for fun.

The A64 is the main road from York to Scarborough, passing near Malton on its way. Yesterday a lorry shed a load of instant mash all over the carriageway and chaos ensued. For reasons I do not fully understand I find this very funny.

http://m.yorkpress.co.uk/news/11293176.UPDATED_9_35pm__Instant_mash_spill_blocks_A64_in_both_directions/

You can also get a blow by blow account via the North Yorkshire Police twitter feed (@NYorksPolice) including many potato related puns

Happy Sunday

Namaste

Pretty pretty flowery stuff

Well my dears, Spring has certainly sprung. It was positively balmy here is deepest Yorkshire today and so Sigoth and I ventured out in the afternoon to Castle Howard Arboretum. The Arboretum is linked to Kew and comprises 120 acres of tree-filled landscape including guest trees from around the world. We last visited in the autumn and I wrote about it at the time because the berries were in full, well, berriness, and I was slightly in love with them.

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Well, today was about sunshine and birdsong and bunnies and blossom. It was so warm we wandered the hillsides for over two hours without coats! Given that over the weekend we had the central heating on all day it was quite a shock to the system. Even the drive over was filled with sparkling light, fields of lambs, and views freckled with flowers and blue, misty hillsides punctuated by blazes of brilliant hawthorn hedges and golden oilseed rape searing the eyeballs as we bowled along the lanes.

Even though it’s school holidays at present the Arboretum was not over-run with people. We strolled in and started with a wander around the lake before heading up to the woods and sandy hillside where the rabbits live. We sat for a while soaking up the sun and listening to the birds before making our way back to the boggier, clay area. Somewhere in the midst of all this arboreal loveliness there is also a newly constructed cruck house.

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It’s a useful shelter if it is raining, with a wooden bench around the wall, carefully sculpted to caress the weary buttocks. The hollowed out depressions are generously proportioned for the more substantial posterior; at least I can only assume so because I had plenty of space and am hardly wispy. It wasn’t the place to linger today though, with free vitamin D being distributed outside. However the plaque giving further information was worth a quick scan, informing us that cruck houses came about in the medieval period because they rain out of large trees. In Shakespeare’s day it was a hanging offence to cut down the largest trees, which meant that poor people were stumped (geddit) for building materials until they swiftly realised they could use the trees by rivers, which tended to grow on an angle. They cut them down, split them in half along their length and had a pair of matched wooden frames. Because these were so valuable, people would dig them up and take them with them if they moved, and allegedly this is the source of the saying “to up sticks” meaning to move home.

After that, all the sun and plant life went to our heads and we were drunk on the gorgeousness of the universe and the moistness of the home-made fruit cake in the cafe. So we went to the plant centre and bought some aquilegia for the garden. Well, it would have been rude not to.

How are the seasons treating you these days?

Namaste