The Ephemeral and Ethereal Quality of Childhood

Rosie's 3rd Bithday

Rosie’s 3rd Bithday

This photo captures a fleeting moment so fulfils the brief for this week’s photo challenge.   The definition of the word ‘ephemeral’ is ‘fleeting, transient, short-lived’,  and for me that epitomises childhood.

This is a photo of my granddaughter at her third birthday party, which was 6 years ago.  The blurred quality expresses the fleeting nature of childhood I think; so brief it is to be treasured.

But it also brings to mind the word, ‘ethereal’, and captures what I think and feel about children in general, and my grandchildren in particular.   Children are such precious, fragile things; innocent, trusting and dependent.  They seem to belong to another, more heavenly world.

The light shining on Rosie gives the photo a deeply spiritual quality for me.  It reminds me of the beautiful poem, Desiderata written by Max Ehrmann 1927

She is just one tiny child, but ‘she is a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars’, and she has a right to be here.  Like every child she also has other rights:~ to love, shelter, health, education, equality, protection, and to be treated with humanity, respect and compassion.

I worked with children all my life but now that I am retired my time, energy and funds are limited.  However I have found one small, local charity with minimal administration costs that punches well above it’s weight in working with children who are less fortunate for one reason or another.  It is called Hands Around the World and I would urge you to click on the link, find out what they do, and see if there is anything you could do to support their work.  Or look them up on Facebook if you are a member.

 

Travel; Dymock Woods, Gloucestershire and the wild Daffodils

heavenhappens:

I finally managed to get to the ‘Golden Triangle’ I mentioned in a previous post to see the wild daffodils, also known as Lent Lilies. I got some lovely photos and had a wonderful time but because of heavy mud I couldn’t get deep into the woods and fields. However I can recommend Eddie Oliffe’s blog for his beautiful photos. My much less dramatic ones from the weekend are above!

Originally posted on Eddie Olliffe's Blogspot:

Dymock Woodsare made up of 17 separate woodlands on the UK’s Gloucestershire and Herefordshire county border, close to the Forest of Dean. Probably the best known of these woodlands is Shaw Common, registered also as a special ‘seed-stand’ (where acorns are collected in the autumn for use as seedlings) for the Sessile Oak, one of two species of oak tree native to Britain.

Around Eastertide each year, these woodlands are the scene of intense visitor activity as people come to view surely one of the most beautiful – and increasingly rare – sights in Britain; the diminutive and lovely wild daffodil. These were once relatively common in damp woodlands and undisturbed grassland. The countryside around Newent, Ledbury and Dymock constitutes such an area, known locally as the ‘Golden Triangle’ containing as it does large numbers of these exquisite little daffodils. Nowadays loss of habitat and cross…

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Glorious Gloucestershire

I have written about the Gloucestershire poet, FW Harvey before but today I was reminded of him strongly when I visited Hartpury, which is the village where he was born on 26th March 1888. Harvey was a contemporary of the great War Poets, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Ivor Gurney and Rupert Brooke; indeed he became a close friend of Ivor Gurney and his fellow composer Herbert Howells while he was at King’s School in Gloucester before the First World War.

As I have written in a previous post, Will Harvey fought in the trenches of Flanders in that horrific war and was a prisoner for some time.  As I wandered through the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin in Hartpury on this idyllic afternoon in beautiful Spring sunshine, I couldn’t help but think of him.  How dreadful it must have been for Will and all the other young men to leave their homes and be transported to a living hell in the trenches.  No wonder Will Harvey wrote so fondly of Gloucestershire and the beautiful English countryside, as in this moving poem.

After Long Wandering:
I will go back to Gloucestershire,
To the spot where I was born
To talk at eve with men and women
And song on the roads at morn.
And I’ll sing as I tramp by dusty hedges
Or drink my ale in the shade
How Gloucestershire is the finest home
That the Lord God ever made.

I’ll drink my perry and sing my song
Of home and home again,
Pierced with the old miraculous pleasure 
Keen as sharpest pain;
And if I rise to sing on the morrow
Or if I die in my bed,
‘Tis all the same: I’ll be home again,
And happy alive or dead.

I went to Hartpury to see the Bee Wall or shelter that was moved some years ago from Hartpury College to the graveyard at the village church.  It was in a dreadful state the last time I saw it, but now it has been beautifully restored to its original state.  It is a truly unique structure built by a bee-keeping stonemason named Paul Tuffley in the mid19th century, using  locally quarried Cotswold stone.  The bee shelter was meant to house wicker hives or skeps in which the bees would lay down their honey.  It is incredibly decorative with carvings on both sides.  7.3 metres long, 2.5 metres tall and 75centimetres deep, it has 28 sections or ‘boles’ for the hives or ‘skeps’ to go in.

Today there were just 2 skeps in the boles but there were plenty of bees buzzing around the beautiful churchyard.  According to the Domesday Book, Gloucester paid 12 sesters, or 24lbs, of honey every year to King Edward.  And in 1260 it is recorded that tenants from Hartpury Manor held land in return for payments in honey.  So bee-keeping has been a feature of Gloucestershire life for a very long time, and still is.

I hope you enjoy my photos of the Bee Shelter which I took today and find it as fascinating as I do.

Fresh Lead

As always I found this week’s photo challenge fascinating in where it leads me.  If you manage to read to the end I think you will be as amazed as I was!

The word ‘Fresh’ immediately led me to photographs I had taken of my adorable granddaughter picking fresh fruit and vegetable from my garden.  I love to do this in season and then cook with the children, soups, pies and crumbles.

But then yesterday was rather special in many ways, not least for a solar eclipse!

It was also officially the first day of Spring yesterday here in the UK; a fresh season with fresh delights.  This is when I switch from sauntering through the Gloucestershire countryside seeking out snowdrops, to heading for the Herefordshire borders hunting out wild daffodils.  The best place to see these beautiful fresh flowers is in what is known locally as the ‘Golden Triangle’, namely the villages of Dymock, Kempley and Oxenhall.

wild daffodils native to the golden triangle

I have mentioned before that snowdrops were picked commercially by the local women and children of Sherborne to be whisked off by train to London and sold for 6d a bunch in flower markets like Covent Garden.  Similarly, daffodils were picked commercially in the golden triangle.  You can read about the daffodils and see some beautiful photographs on the Glos Oracle website if you would like to know more.

And enjoy this poem by A. A. (Alan Alexander) Milne (1882-1956), famous for his stories about Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin, Tigger, Piglet and the rest, who wrote that, ‘winter is dead’ in his poem Daffodowndilly

Daffodils in my garden

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,

She wore her greenest gown;

She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.

She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
“Winter is dead.”

As is often the way on my days out I got totally sidetracked and ended up in a fascinating little place called Upleadon.  Named after the river Leadon, this is a small village with a fascinating history and some superb buildings.  But what struck me as I drove over the hill in glorious sunshine was what looked like snow covered fields in the distance.  As I got closer I realised it was actually a vast expanse of farmland covered in polytunnels.

Having explored, investigated then googled I discovered that Upleadon has been a fruit growing area for hundreds of years.

Cider orchards were cultivated next to many of the farmsteads including Middletown before 1700. In 1627 a garden was known as the cherry hay and in 1678 an arable close was called perry grove field.In 1739 it was reported that Thomas Hammond’s estate included several thousand fruit trees from which one tenant had made 100 hogshead of cider in a year and in the late 1770s it was said that the fruit from orchards in Upleadon made excellent cider. Among orchards planted in the corn fields by the early 19th century were several of squash pears and in leasing Lower House farm in 1817 the landowner James de Visme reserved pear but not apple windfalls. Both apple and pear trees were also cultivated at Middletown which was one of the farmsteads with its own cider mill.

(Victoria History of Gloucestershire XIII, draft text by John Juřica: © University of London 2011)

I was really struck by the juxtaposition of the ancient church of St Mary the Virgin which has a thousand years of history, and the really modern cultivation methods.  It appears that polytunnels have caused some controversy as they can be rather unsightly when they cover large areas of farmland.  However, as a consumer I have to say I am delighted that I can buy (or pick) fresh local strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, Victoria plums and blackcurrants from mid-June to August and different varieties of apples and pears from September to Christmas.  An added bonus is that growers use much less herbicides and insecticides on fruit grown in polytunnels as they are not as prone to rot or disease.

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Upleadon

Now here is the bit that just took my breath away literally and gave me a fresh lead in my family history search.

As I was searching online for the history of Upleadon I came across a fascinating document held by the Gloucestershire Archives.  It was the file of documents re: Thackwell Roche estate.  The former Roche estate at Aghada (in county Cork, Ireland) came into the possessionof the Thackwell family in the second half of the 19th century.  The Thackwells were related to the Roche family of Trabolgan.  Another document describes how the Thackwell Roche estate comprised Norman’s Land estate near Old Rock, Dymock, (here on the Gloucestershire/Herefordshire border in the Golden Triangle) as well as lands in Ireland.  Believe it or not my great grandfather William Roche was the son of James Roche and he comes from that very area.  I have searched for years for information on his family.  I know his mother died when he was young so his father remarried and took his new wife and the other children to America in the second half of the 19th century.  William, being 15 was old enough to join the Royal Navy as a boy sailor so he was left behind.  he joined a training ship, HMS Conwy in 1855 and spent the next few years rising through the ranks.  By 1861 he was sailing on the Victor Emmanuel, and thereafter he sailed the China seas on tea clippers as First Mate.  He never saw any of his family again and I have searched for clues as to their home and their destination.

Who would have thought that a trip to take photographs of daffodils in Gloucestershire would throw up a fresh lead for me to follow in the archives.  It is just amazing and I am thrilled.  You can see Normanstown just near Kempley on the map of the Poets’ Walks by clicking on this link Poets Paths

Wall ~ Weekly Photo Challenge

The cheek of this little Blue Tit!  I thought he was building a nest in my house wall but actually he was just helping himself to my cavity wall insulation to feather his nest in a nearby tree!

This week’s Photo Challenge is a great one for me living in the Cotswolds as one of the defining features of our area is the ancient dry stone walling that lines the sides of roads and divides fields.  In the 18th and 19th centuries there was a law passed called ‘The Enclosures Act’, which literally required areas of land to be separated or ‘enclosed’.  In the Cotswolds plentiful supplies of stone meant it was cheaper to enclose the Cotswold fields by walls than to plant hedgerows.  Although there have been stone walls here since Neolithic times most of the walls we see today are from the last 300 years.  But there are some magnificent buildings around which have stood for much longer, including churches, pubs and grand houses.

The ‘Oolitic’ limestone found in the Cotswolds is from the Jurassic period about 150 million years ago,  This was a time when dinosaurs roamed over the earth.   There have been periods when most of the Cotswolds was under water and some fascinating fossils have been found during quarrying for stone.  There is evidence that people have lived and worked in the Cotswolds since prehistoric times, with Iron Age Forts and Neolithic Barrows having been excavated by archeologists.

The Cotswolds is a huge area that stretches over the counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.  It is defined by gentle hills, rolling pastures where sheep graze, and deep wooded river valleys.  The stone is of different shades from warm gold to deep grey depending on where it is quarried.  It also has different qualities, the best being used to build some exquisite houses that will stand for hundreds of years.  I have often written about the beautiful unspoilt town of Painswick, which has some of the best preserved Cotswold stone buildings around.  Parts of the church date back to the 1300s and there are holes in one wall reputedly made by cannon balls fired during the English Civil War.

I could go on and on about the beauty and history of the Cotswolds but as this is a photo challenge, I will just add some photos!

Some very old Cotswold stone buildings

Next the beauty to be found in dry styone walls and beyond them.

The next two photos show the walls of the Tower of London during the recent installation called Blood Swept lands and Seas of Red. which I wrote a blog about previously.

And lastly some pictures of walls which appeal to me.  You can read captions by hovering over the photo or read about the wall painting on the ivy covered church here

Punchy Pops of Orange ~ Weekly Photo Challenge

Oh my goodness this Weekly Photo Challenge was fun but it was really hard not to overload the gallery.  I have countless photos of Autumn trees, Icons and Flowers which would have fit the theme, but I was a bit ruthless and just picked a random selection.  I hope you like them.  I do know that the amber ship is an atrocious photo as it was taken through a shop window but I did so crave that ship that it had to be included!

Reward ~ Weekly Photo Challenge

I enjoyed this Weekly Photo Challenge!

Fry's Five Boys

Fry’s Five Boys

I was what was known as a sickly child in the 1940s and 50s.  It turned out that I had Rheumatic Fever which left me with a variety of problems and no appetite (how times have changed!).  Because of this I was often unwell and my mum would get me Lucozade and a bar of Fry’s Five Boys Chocolate with Five Centres.  I guess it could be called a reward because 60 years later I remember every sensory detail!

Five Centres was produced from 1934 to 1992.  It was similar to today’s Fry’s Chocolate Cream in that it had a dark chocolate coating, with fondant inside.  But instead of peppermint cream there were five different flavoured fondant centres. In the early days they were strawberry, orange, raspberry, lemon and pineapple, all of which I loved.  In later years coffee, lime, and blackcurrant replaced strawberry, lemon and pineapple but I don’t remember ever having those.

The wrapper was deep blue and it had what looked like 5 boys’ photos on it.  But really they were just one boy in a sailor suit who was photographed with five different facial expressions.  The photo was taken in 1885 and the boy was called Lindsey Poulton.  He was, appropriately, 5 years old.  His father and grandfather took the photos and Fry’s chocolate company in Bristol paid them the considerable sum of £200 for exclusive use of the set.  The photos appeared in adverts and in shop windows for years.  As my grandfather had a little general store in Newcastle on Tyne in the 1950s the enamelled metal sign on the outside wall was very familiar to me.

I’m very grateful to pocketbookuk for explaining the facial expressions and I would urge you to take a look at their fascinating blog.

The five faces of Fry’s Five Boys chocolate on an enamelled metal sign. Desperation – no chocolate, Pacification – the promise of chocolate, Expectation – the prospect of chocolate, Acclamation – happiness at receiving chocolate, and Realization – eating the chocolate, and discovering that it is a Fry’s milk chocolate bar!

 

I can’t really leave out a couple of photos of my grandson and his rewards.  He is such an active lad, 11 now and always busy so he is used to getting rewards for his labours.  He is a boy scout and his uniform is covered in the badges he has earned.  He also plays football for his school team and a local team.  He sometimes plays in goal and is often man of the match, receiving cups and plaques as his reward.

Being a nature lover I have to include a few photos of rewards in the natural world.  Firstly there is Jock, the silver backed gorilla who lives in a family of 6 at Bristol Zoo and is a very popular animal.  He is so magnificent and such a good role model for his youngsters that he deserves lots of fruit as his reward.

The robin created a grand residence in a large plant tub in my garden.  He and his made laid one egg then disappeared.  I was really worried that they had abandoned their nest with this egg in it.  But weeks later they returned and more eggs appeared.  Apparently this is quite normal and the first egg hatched out with the others which surprised me.  I was so pleased to see the robins back that I overcame my squeamishness and rewarded them with a daily quota of live mealworms.

The beautiful carp was the first fish I ever caught ~ reward for my hours of patient fishing

Lastly the basket of apples were a reward for finding a beautiful open orchard in a church yard.  No-one seemed to be collecting these gorgeous fruits so i helped myself to as many as I could carry after checking with the vicar!

I have to say one of my favourite rewards after a day out is a whippy ice cream.  I share this passion with my husband and grandchildren!

Reward for walking all day in the heat at Bristol Zoo

Reward for walking all day in the heat at Bristol Zoo