Suspended animation.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour. William Blake

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.   William Blake

I happened upon this exquisite Hawthorn leaf whilst roaming aimlessly through my favourite Dartmoor wood near Burrator – Sunday afternoon, 29th August 2016.  It was neither attached to a tree nor fallen to the ground – instead it was suspended mid-air spinning on an ‘invisible’ gossamer thread.

Hawthorn Leaf - Something about Dartmoor

Hawthorn Leaf - Something about Dartmoor (2)Hawthorn Leaf - Something about Dartmoor (3)

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Sunday – 25th. September 2016.

Infinity one inch squared.

Infinity one inch squared.   Pressed – then gold-leafed – then mounted on a tiny square of red velvet and enclosed behind glass for keeps.

Still, when I listen to this piece of hypnotic music by German folk band ‘Faun’ – I can see in my mind’s eye my golden leaf turning – forever suspended by a silken thread…

Lyrics from Golden Apples by Faun

“Wait, until you take a look inside yourself
Recognize, what is growing there
Oh seeker
A leaf in this garden
Means more than all leaves
You will find in paradise.”

suspended-animation-something-about-dartmoor

 

 

In ancient time.

And did those feet in ancient time, Walk upon Englands mountains green...

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green…

Friday – 12th. August 2016 – and a visit to Glastonbury – to stock-up on incense from ‘Star Child’'Star Child' incense - Glastonbury. Something about Dartmoorand walk up my favourite Somerset tor – Glastonbury Tor.

Glastonbury Tor. Something about DartmoorGlastonbury Tor. Saint Michael's Tower. Something about Dartmoor

Returning to the car after our pilgrimage to the top – we discovered an unintentional hitch-hiker had hopped into the back-seat. There clinging to the interior upholstery was a beautiful, translucent ‘uranium green’ Somerset Cricket! Glastonbury grasshopper. Something about Dartmoor

At first sighting – I thought it was a grasshopper mainly because of its vivid colour.  However, I have since learned that the main difference between grasshoppers and crickets isn’t colour – but the length of their antennae; Grasshoppers have short ones whereas Crickets have long ones.  ‘Mr. McFeely’ is definitely a Somerset Cricket!

Not wanting to displace ‘Mr. McFeely’ by taking him home to Devon I decided to round him up!  I expected him to be a lively catch but instead he had a typical laid-back Glastonbury vibe going on and proved easy to coax onto the back of my hand – and once there he was happy to stay for the ride back to freedom…

Glastonbury grasshopper. Something about Dartmoor (3)  wandering ticklishly up and down my arm!

Mr. McFeely - a Glastonbury cricket. Something about DartmoorGlastonbury grasshopper. Something about Dartmoor (2)

I returned him to the patchwork of green fields around the Tor and we went our separate ways…

On the scenic route home – whilst stopping to steal a sprig of moorland Heather – I enjoyed another chance encounter. Secluded within a grove of Hawthorn and Heather – was a threesome of mealy-muzzled Exmoor Ponies…

Exmoor ponies. Something about DartmoorThis prehistoric breed of equine are elusive and wilder than their Dartmoor counterpart – so a lucky sprig of Heather indeed!Exmoor Heather. Something about Dartmoor

Exmoor Pony. Something about Dartmoor

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Speaking of lucky flowers – and finds…

Whilst in Glastonbury – I purchased a garland of flowers; a string of psychedelic Morning Glories as I like to think of them.   I rarely buy anything other than incense on my innumerable visits – but this time the garland caught my eye as it dangled outside the doorway of one of the many quirky shops – ‘Enchanted Florals’.  Immediately I was reminded of the floral-painted house on the way up to the ‘Top’…Floral house - Glastonbury Tor. Something about Dartmoor

At last! I've found what I was looking for! 'The 'Holy Grail' of souvenirs of my innumerable visits

At last!  I’ve found what I’ve been looking for; the ‘Holy Grail’ of souvenirs from Glastonbury.  A colourful keepsake of this most colourful – and Holy of places – a symbolic garland of ever-lasting felted Morning Glory flowers.

 

Return to Crow Point.

Return to Crow Point – on the North Devon Coast near Braunton. An evening stroll along the deserted beach with my sons in search of treasure – 9th August 2016. A place so wild and beautiful – where even flotsum and jetsum somehow magically add to the experience. Unforgettable – timeless Crow Point. 

Crow's nest - Crow Point, North Devon coast.

The crow’s nest – Crow Point, North Devon coast.

Crow's nest detail.

Untidy detail.

Lifeboat out on maneuvers.

Lifeboat out on maneuvers.

Sentinels. Groyne at Crow Point.

Sentinels. Groyne at Crow Point.

Sea Holly and grasses blowing in the wind.

Sea Holly and grasses blowing in the wind.

Under a waxing Moon.

Under a waxing Moon.

Sea glass.

Sea glass.

A beautiful lace-like shell.

A beautiful lace-like shell.

Washed-up paint brush.

Washed-up paint brush…

The wider picture.

The wider picture.

Land ahoy!  Lundy Isle on the horizon…

Lundy on the horizon - bathed in golden light.

Jewel off the North Devon coast.

Dying of the light. A dead Gannet.

Dying of the light.  A headless Gannet.

North Devon Lifeboat betwixt and between.

North Devon Lifeboat betwixt and between dark and light.

Evening's swansong. Snapped through the car window on the toll road home.

Evening’s swansong.  Last picture of the day – snapped through the car window on the toll road home…then fish n chips at Graylings – Fremington.  Perfect.

Under a Devon Heaven.

Yesterday – Friday 22nd July 2016 – I enjoyed a family visit to the ‘War Horse Valley Country Farm Park’ near the West Devon village of Iddesleigh.  The farm park is set in idyllic countryside at the end of a typical Devon high-hedged lane that neighbours Michael Morpurgo’s own ‘Farm for City Children’ – Nethercott House.  Because there is a retirement home for old horses just down the road also – there are horses grazing the patchwork of rolling green fields as far as the eye can see; this corner of West Devon really is ‘Joey’ heaven.

Dartmoor in the distance from Henacroft Cross near Iddesleigh. Scenes from War Horse - the movie - were filmed at Dittswothy Warren on Dartmoor.

Dartmoor in the distance from Henacroft Cross near Iddesleigh. Scenes from War Horse – the movie – were filmed at Dittswothy Warren on Dartmoor.

‘Parsonage Farm’ itself – is first a working organic farm, with a large herd of dairy Friesian cows that get milked twice a day.  

Hand-Milking the old-fashioned (back-breaking) way! Part of the ‘All around the year’ display.

On the day of our visit – there were a group of calves housed in a big clean airy barn and we were able to go in and say ‘Hello’ and wander through their well-bedded stalls. Such inquisitive bright-eyed animals – if only all farms cared for their stock in such a  wholesome way.

Shiny bright-eyed calf at Parsonage Farm.

On our arrival – Farmer Ward was there to welcome us – his friendly way got our visit off to a perfect start.  Our time at the farm – about three hours plus, was just so relaxed – it is no wonder that the livestock there are so stress-free and vital.  

How we enjoyed our cream tea over-watched by a couple of animated pigs!  As well as the delicious homemade scones, jam and cream – we also enjoyed a bellyful of laughs watching the antics of these two beautiful Gloucester Old Spots.  (Not to mention the noises!)

‘Chelt and Ham’ the Parsonage pigs joining in the conversation…(“Trying to climb over the garden wall!” – lyrics from the Sow Song.)

All nicely served under a large, purple umbrella –

Shielded from the heat of the afternoon sun.

with wafts of Lavender from the well-tended garden.

Aromatic tea garden.

Aromatic tea garden.

Because of the Parsonage pigs we remembered a song from our youth.  My Dad used to amuse us as children with a song called the ‘The Sow Song’ – and he’d make all the funny noises. When we got home from the farm – I found this on ‘You Tube’ – just watch it and laugh!

There is plenty to see at the farm – including a display of lovely old hand-tools and vintage farm machinery.  Inside a long, converted byre – there is a ‘farming calendar’ showcasing each month of the year and the farming methods used a century ago – some of which are still practiced.

Life on the farm – through a year – and back down a century.

I especially loved looking through misshapen holes in weathered barn doors – Hole in a barn door at War Horse Valley Farm Park.Entrance to War Horse Museum.

and running my hand gently over warm cob walls –Cob wall - War Horse Valley Country Farm Park

and details like this rusty old horse shoe in a byre window – perhaps one of Joey’s?Horse shoe in byre window at War Horse Valley Farm Park

The farm’s Great War museum is inside a huge lofty barn and all the while we were engrossed looking at the large display of exhibits – chattering swallows were flying high above our heads – through the oak rafters.  War Horse Valley Country Farm Park

There is a real warmth about the whole place – the buildings, the animals and from the owners themselves. 

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Without the impracticality of sinking knee-deep in hellish mud – there is an area on the farm where you can enter a credible trench – complete with sound-effect explosions.  In the heat of the afternoon, the air inside felt stale and dark – and claustrophobic. With each intermittent blast – it was just palpable to envisage the menace of what it must have been like to be cooped-up inside a World War I trench with little hope of seeing daylight – or home ever again.Trench at War Horse Valley Farm ParkTrench at War Horse Valley Country Farm ParkBack outside – how different things would have been one hundred years ago for the two youngest members of our group – both sixteen year old boys on the threshold of life.  One Devon born and bred and the other – half Viennese and a fluent German speaker. Tom and Tobias on the swing seat at War Horse Valley Country Farm Park IddesleighAs they sat side by side on the swing seat after eating their cream tea – two cousins laughing and looking out over rolling green fields and hopefully to a bright future – I thought may they never know the true horror of war other than what they learn from history – and through the power of inspired story telling.

If you’ve read the book, seen the movie – and the stage play – you haven’t truly completed the War Horse experience until you have spent a blissful Summer’s afternoon at ‘Parsonage Farm’ Iddesleigh – and enjoyed the best homemade cream tea EVER – under a Devon Heaven.

Mistier and mistier… Joey peacefully grazing in a ‘faraway’ field – whilst swallows dart overhead…

Buzzards circle over a copse

and a pair of circling Buzzards plaintively mew across ‘War Horse Valley’.

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I finished my visit gathering a handful of white feathers from around the farm pond. 

100 years ago – white feathers were given to shame men who didn’t fight for King and Country; a white feather symbolised cowardice.  Another aspect of the hostility of war.

 

Mary’s Trail.

What's in a name?

What’s in a name?

In Sheepstor Churchyard, Dartmoor – there is a particular cut headstone that draws me.  Every now and then – when I’m in the area (which is often) I like to pay my respects to ‘Mary Light’.  I don’t know who she was – but her name speaketh to me.  It is such an ethereal name that reaches out through centuries that have passed since her interment in 1766. Hither and thither – I followed Mary’s trail on Sunday afternoon – 17th July 2016.  

So what’s in a name?  To me, an ethereal afternoon spent – following a meandering trail not found in any walker’s guidebook; Mary leadeth and I simply followeth. 

Hawthorn grove - Ravens' Haven - Dartmoor. Something about DartmoorPath of light - Something about DartmoorMary's Hand. Something about DartmoorSomething about Dartmoor. Mary Light.

Tawny Owl Feather in Ravens' Haven Dartmoor - Something about DartmoorGathered feathers. Something about DartmoorSomething about DartmoorHawthorn berries - Something about DartmoorHistorical Brookes plot - Sheepstor. Something about DartmoorSpider web detail. Something about DartmoorSheepstor Grave. Something about DatmoorMary Light - Something about DartmoorMary's hand. Something about Dartmoor.

 

A bird in the bush!

Squab in the 'Alberic Barbier'.

‘Squab’ – fledged Wood Pigeon chick sheltering in the ‘Alberic Barbier’ rose bush.

Yesterday -15th July 2016 – there was quite a commotion going on outside my french door – in the area of my roofless bird table; two well-fed Wood Pigeons were at it again!  When I say ‘at it’ – I’m not sure whether they were mating or fighting – or both – whatever they were up to though – they are certainly powerful, muscular birds; no gentle doves!  While feathers flew – the smaller birds that regularly visit and ‘clean up’ made the most of the opportunity to have the table to themselves – the wood pigeons are definitely at the top of the pecking order when it comes to who feeds first, for starters, they’re bigger and fill the space just with their physical presence.

Wood Pigeon filling my roofless bird table - time and the elements - and a 'Squirrel' are responsible for its state of dilapidation.

Wood Pigeon filling my roofless bird table.  Time and the elements – and a flying ‘Squirrel’ are responsible for the state of dilapidation.

They are impressive birds especially when they are puffing their chests and strutting their stuff along the top of the fence. The colour of their plumage is just so lovely – mushroom-grey, dusky-pink with a flash of white here and there – and when the light plays on them – they boast a beautiful shimmer of green and mauve iridescence around their necks.  Indeed, their overall colourway coupled with their impressive size and posturing – remind me of the muted tones of a period drawing-room – I really do think they are much too beautiful to render into pie!

Hello handsome!

‘ello me ansome!

Imagine my absolute joy yesterday evening – when I spied the upshot of a previous ‘altercation’ roosting in the thorny ‘Alberic Barbier’ rose bush that rambles the length of the iron railings at the front of our house.  There safely perched behind a screen of competing Convolvulus was a beautiful but gawky Wood Pigeon Squab.

A Squab in the bush!

A Squab in the bush!

As safe as houses in the Alberic Barbier.

As safe as houses inside the protective Alberic Barbier.

Today – Saturday 16th July 2016 – I’m pleased to report that ‘Squab’ has found his wings – and this morning was seen cleverly sitting high-up in the world, in the branches of Mother Elder – in the corner of the garden.  Just behind ‘Squab’ – Mum or Dad was close at wing!Wood Pidgeon Squab in Mother Elder - Something about Dartmoor

Mother Elder's protection.

Our garden’s boundary – protective spiked railings and Mother Elder.

This afternoon – they have moved around the garden – one of the parent birds is perched in Dad’s Mulberry tree while ‘little’ Squab is sitting in the ‘Alberic Barbier’ close-by – planted by my Mum many years ago. The Mulberry and the Rose were planted in the garden when I was not much more than a squab myself – they are long-established over several decades.   Wood Pigeon and Squab in the Mulberry bush - Something about Dartmoor

How wonderful that the trees and shrubs that my parents laid down – are today a refuge to another family.  Long may generations – whether human or feathered – enjoy the auspices of all our garden – long-after the roofless bird table and I are gone to dust.

Love birds on gravestone. Something about Dartmoor

Rare lovey-dovey moment. Wood Pidgeons atop a headstone in our village churchyard – a slightly out of focus shot but I didn’t want to disturb their courtship.

 

A daily slice of life.

Today – Sunday 10th July 2016 – my bright-eyed friend came-a-visiting…Squirrel - Something about Dartmoor‘Squirrel’ runs along the top of my neighbour’s fence to my garden to feed at my bird-table.  He is very partial to a slice of Hovis ‘Seed Sensations’ wholemeal loaf – so I buy a loaf daily to keep up with demand and it isn’t the cheapest on offer!ST839799Many birds come too – and this seeded, wholemeal loaf is definitely all their favourite – and mine too.  When I just want a quick snack – I eat a slice or two just as it comes out the bag – no butter or spread required – just simple, sustaining bread. 

Squirrel has come for some while now and is relatively at ease in my presence.  Although remaining naturally watchful – I’m able to stand at my open door and speak to Squirrel – and click away with my camera without him running away back down the fence top – away beyond my neighbour’s garden to open countryside – and possible dangers.  

Watching him feed – I can’t bear to think of the fiendish traps and devices invented to kill squirrels – and I pray that he’ll keep safe until his next feed.

Squirrel - Something about Dartmoor

‘Home from home.’   Long may my bright-eyed friend find safe passage along the fence top to his favourite eating spot above our pine tree – 10th July 2016.

As long as I’m here living in this house – I shall welcome my bright-eyed friend and share my bread.  

As a slice of finest Hovis for ‘Squirrel’ – these daily interludes with wildlife are part of my fulfillment; neither I nor ‘Squirrel’ have gone hungry this day.

As mad as a box of frogs!

Is that a frog your holding - or are you just pleased to see me?!!!

Is that a frog you’re holding – or are you just pleased to see me?!!!

‘As mad as a box of frogs’ is an expression that I have heard on several occasions (can’t think why!) but I have never actually seen such a boxful until today – 6th July 2016.  Working in a recycling centre we get brought in just about anything and everything although not usually livestock but today a regular customer brought in a box of frogs for us to see. He had rescued them from out the way of a strimmer and was in the act of re-homing them to his pond.  They were quite the liveliest frogs that I have seen – he couldn’t even lift the lid without them jumping out.  He carefully lifted one out so that we could take a closer look – an ideal opportunity for a photo session! Apart from them being the liveliest frogs ever they were remarkable because of their colour and markings; they were ruby and gold and absolutely gorgeous. 

Ruby and gold coloured frog.

A ruby and gold Devon frog.

 

Wild things.

Just some of the wonderful wild things I’ve been lucky enough to see on my walks since the start of July and we’re only three days in!  A delicate ‘Light Emerald’ with a tattered wing –Light Emerald - Something about Dartmoorand a ‘Peppered Moth’ – Peppered Moth - Something about Dartmoorboth in Ravens’ Haven, Dartmoor. 

A pair of Red Deer grazing near home – Red Deer - Something about DartmoorFrom a distance – one of the pair looked to be sporting a killer pair of new antlers – I believe it is known as a Pricket – a male deer in its second year before its antlers branch.  The rutting season will soon be here – how fast this year has flown – it only seems like yesterday since I found my sheds.  Something about Dartmoor - Red Deer PricketIn ‘Shedland’ I found another impressive ‘Stinkhorn’ – slightly greener around the gills and noticeably more whiffy than my first! Stinkhorn - Something about Dartmoor

And a female Roe Deer –Female Roe Deer - Something about DartmoorPerhaps her fawn was hiding in the long grass because she didn’t move from this spot even though she was aware of my presence – I think she was standing watch over a brown speckled cushion of loveliness!  I let them be and moved on. 

Best find of all though – a Dartmoor Raven’s primary wing feather measuring 38cms long.  I have a collection of seven already but this one supersedes all the others by about 2cms.   Wow! A record breaker! 

Raven's feather - Someting about Dartmoor

Making a stink about something!

A post featuring a fascinating fungi – Phallus impudicus or Common Stinkhorn. Stinkhorn -Phallus impudicus - Something about DartmoorDespite being reputedly common – I have never had the pleasure of coming across one before – I think I would have remembered such an eye-catching specimen!  I found this one growing all on its own in ‘Shedland’ – and despite its diminutive size – its luminosity and erectness stood out in the greenness.Stinkhorn - Phallus impudicus - Something about DartmoorAlthough Phallus impudicus is supposed to stink of putrefying flesh – this one was thankfully impotent – so no need for a tissue. Stinkhorn - Something about DartmoorIt had been raining earlier – and the whole wood smelled like only an English woodland can after rain – how I wish I could bottle that smell.  

My only other encounter that evening was with another brown speckled cushion of loveliness – not a fawn but a gorgeous toad.Toad - Something about DartmoorToad Something abut Dartmoor

A couple of days later – I revisited the Stinkhorn to see if its cap had turned green, slimy and smelly – only to find it lying flaccid on the woodland floor.   A large black slug had gorged upon its shaft and was in the act of departing from the scene – oh dear poor Stinkhorn! Stinkhorn Something about Dartmoor