La Primavera! The Power of Three.

Posted – Friday 17th March 2017.  To serve as an update on my sweet – and purely innocent – Belladonna Babe.

'Atropa Belladonna' and 'The Go-Between' by L P Hartley.

‘Atropa Belladonna’ brooch made by felt artist extraordinaire – Inna Danchenko from Ukraine.  Bespoke made item available from her Etsy shop – InnaFeltArt.

I’m feeling excited as we race forward to the Spring Equinox; with longer, warmer days ahead and the promise of late-night walks in the dimsy.  I’m sniffing wafts of warm, heady scented summer breezes and I’m feeling intoxicated already – for three reasons!

Beginning to grow - Spring 2016.

Beginning to grow – Spring 2016.

My Belladonna Babe has survived her Winter sleep and now she is pushing forth also – growing noticeably bigger everyday that passes. She is so beautiful and green – and lush – and will soon need replanting especially as she has sprouted two small ‘off-shoots’ – or sisters as I like to think of them.  Together they have just about outgrown the confines of their small clay pot.  Daily, I will them to grow more strong – more powerful.  “Grow, grow, grow…”  I whisper sweetly to them.

The tallest and strongest sister is growing well-away – but her diminutive siblings have catching up to do – and need their own independent space to thrive.  I feel now is the time to separate them and to further encourage them – I have given then individual names.

For inspiration – I turned to an ancestral photograph that hangs on my parlour wall. The canvas is positioned high up over some french-doors – and because this is a Victorian house with high ceilings – the three sisters benevolently smile down at me from their elevated position up in ‘the gods’ – where spiders weave their clinging webs about them.

The Three Graces - Jane, Mary and Margaret of Tavistock.

‘The Three Graces’ from left to right – Jane, Mary and Margaret.

The Sisters have such kind, familiar faces – I feel like I have known them all my life; this side and next – and back through the mysterious tunnel of time from whence I came. Collectively I call them ‘The Three Graces’ – individually they are from left to right – Jane, Mary and Margaret – and they were all born in the ancient stannary town of Tavistock in West Devon – on the edge of Dartmoor.

All born in the 1800’s – they are my ancestor’s through my late father’s side.

It was only on a recent trip to my birth-land – following my father’s death in January – that I rediscovered their beautiful faces. I can’t thank my inspiring cousin adequately enough in three ‘simple’ words for having shared them with me but here they are – “THANK YOU SHARON!”

For me – the three sisters represent my faith and belief in the unseen – therein connection with my deceased father and so on and so forth… 

I adore everything about the composition of the photograph – the angle of light – the dry-stone wall overgrown with ivy – and I especially admire their long, black garments.  Their embroidered waistcoats, pin-tucked blouses and their hair so elegantly pinned atop their smiling heads.  I feel like they have come home – or is that me!  It’s only a cheap, modern canvas picture but it works like a mirror.

You may well ask why I should wish to name three potentially lethal plants after three such benevolent beings?

The Power of Three. Atropa Belladonna x 3. Spring 2017.

‘The Power of Three’.  Atropa Belladonna x 3.  Spring 2017.

Well, It is my argument – for example – that a length of string or a knife have the potential to do harm also, but for most people they are simply useful tools that we handle throughout our daily lives.  

Even when choosing a nice new shiny car – people are drawn by the aesthetics and performance – yet they are buying something that has the capacity for destruction also.  No one bats an eyelid at the availability and procurement of these three things.  Although I concede – that Deadly Nightshade can’t be compared to mere objects because it is a living, breathing entity – its potential for use or misuse are no different.  From the time of the Romans – Belladonna was used to open eyes and enable clear vision.  Although it is rarely used for this purpose today – metaphorically it still dose the trick in my eyes!

Atropa belladonna is a magical, all-seeing plant; she is good at listening and keeping secrets too.

Nowadays – her medicine, Atropine – is good for an ailing heart – so what better endorsement can there ever be for it’s broader cultivation than that.  

Warning: Atropine - good medicine for an ailing heart - but not for garnishing a salad!

Warning: Atropine – good medicine for an ailing heart – but not for garnishing a salad!

For my purposes – its cultivation is purely for its inherent, natural beauty; it is as innocent and as beneficial – and as powerful as that!  Mary and Margaret are my chosen names for my tiny specimens – but the tallest and strongest – has to be Jane.  

P.S.  I have notified my grown-up sons that while their three infant sisters are residing in their small clay pot on my kitchen window sill still – it is not to be mistaken for Basil or the like…

Sweet BELLADONNA - NOT sweet Basil.

Sweet BELLADONNA – NOT Sweet Basil.

Bravo Sweet Belladonna! May you grow more lovely with each and every day that follows. Keep you posted . . .

Highways, High Days and Holidays: The Daymark – Kingswear.


Penn Inn Roundabout - South Devon Highway.

Last year – on Tom’s 16th birthday, I snapped this chance photo of a highways maintenance lorry as we circled the Penn Inn Roundabout ‘just for fun’ – in South Devon.  A gift in itself for highways fanatic Tom; he is undemanding and easy to please! Tom’s birthday always falls in half-term week so we mark his day with an outing of his choice – this year he chose South Devon again – and a cruise up and down his favourite stretch – The South Devon Link Road

He has gained considerable knowledge of Devon’s highways and byways from years of studying roadworks.org – and from his travels around the county.  I can’t remember a time when he hasn’t been interested in road construction and planning.  It’s been a lifelong interest and even though he’s seventeen now – he has always known where he is going!

On the 16th February 2017 – we sailed along the South Devon Link Road – to Kingswear – and across to Dartmouth by car ferry – aboard the appropriately named – ‘Tom Avis’…

Hands free driving. Big Brother at the wheel.

Hands free driving. Big Brother at the wheel.

Kingswear and Dartmouth. Something about DartmoorDartmouth Harbour. Something about Dartmoor

After a quiet afternoon mooch around Dartmouth’s individual shops and colourful houses – we drove back over the water again to Kingswear – for a sunset walk to the Daymark Tower.  It stands high above Dartmouth and Kingswear as a guide to mariners – because Dartmouth harbour is notoriously hard to find from the open sea.

Viewed from land the tower is equally outstanding. Viewed from within it is inspiring…  Inside the Daymark Tower. Something about DartmoorDaymark Tower archway. Something about DartmoorThe Daymark Tower Kingswear. Something about DartmoorCrop circles around The Daymark Tower. Something about DartmoorSun setting on Tom's day through the Daymark Tower. Something about Dartmoor

The Daymark Tower at Sunset. Something about Dartmoor

Tom enjoys watching this great video on YouTube about the construction of the South Devon Highway – and I have learned through him – to enjoy watching too.  I’m looking ahead to when Tom can realise his dream of joining these amazing earth-movers…

Tom at Seventeen standing inside The Daymark Tower.

Tom at seventeen standing tall inside The Daymark Tower that’s just 74 feet higher – at 80 feet!

The sky's the limit when you're inside the ultimate traffic cone!

The sky’s the limit when you’re standing inside the ultimate navigation cone.  Good Luck Son in all your aspirations and endeavours – the road is yours…

 

Transfiguration.

The saying “Where there’s muck there’s brass!”  is very true of our Recycling Centre in South Molton.  In fact a whole variety of scrap metals pass through our yard on their way to be recycled into ‘money’…   Rolls-Royce roof. Something about DartmoorThursday 9th February 2017 – was one of those golden days when I’d had the ‘foresight’ to grab my camera on the way out to work in my usual morning rush. Because mid-morning a very regal lady came into our recycling yard – her name was Elizabeth – a classic gleaming black Rolls-Royce. Reflection - Rolls-Royce. Something about DartmoorBirch Trees reflected in Rolls-Royce. Something about Dartmoor

Alas she hadn’t been brought in as a donation – or even brought anything in for recycling in her spacious boot…Where there's muck there's money! Something about DartmoorRather she was just out for a pre-lunch spin in the winter sunshine with her farmer owner – Reg.  Even though he’s been coming into our shop for years – it’s the first time he’d graced us with his regal Roller – Elizabeth. It’s what I love about working in a recycling shop – our patrons are as diverse as the range of cars that park-up in our yard. Their drivers and passengers come from all walks of life – and you could never pair them. If I hadn’t seen Reg at the wheel – I’d have presumed the farmer’s truck next door was probably his – if I hadn’t known already it belonged to a smartly dressed lady – another regular – who had just popped into buy a bed…  

They also say “Never judge a book by its cover.” In our shop where we get crate loads of ‘unwanted’ books too – I’ve learnt how true that is.  I love talking to our customers – and hearing nuggets from their daily lives – or what they plan to do with the secondhand – even third-hand or fourth-hand item they’ve just bought. There is a magic about working where I do – like the Phoenix bird the shop is named after.  I also have a very understanding manager – who allowed me to disappear up the back of the yard for five minutes or so – so that I could take photos of Elizabeth and learn about her.  Reg has owned her for twenty three years!

The Spirit of Ecstasy - Rolls-Royce - Something about Dartmoor

Elizabeth – like her namesake – was very at ease rubbing bumpers with the more common cars in the car park – and she even came over for a chat with the lowliest, scruffiest – dirtiest car in the car park – mine! Rolls-Royce next to my Skoda. Something about Dartmoor

Even the fridges dumped at the back of the yard have less rust – but like the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ on Reg’s Roller – my faithful blue Skoda can fly, especially with the wind behind her!  My old Dad always taught me – that it’s not what you drive but how you drive that makes the difference. As I’m usually running late in the morning – we overtake a bit – much newer cars that potentially possess a lot more thrust; ‘Bath Chairs’ as we call them!Spirit of Ecstasy and Silver Birch. Something about Dartmoor

Our brilliant metal man – Philip, was doing the scrap metal run in his faithful vintage tractor and had just loaded up his link box – when Elizabeth quietly glided by on her way-out of the yard. I love the juxtaposition of the diaphanous Rolls-Royce mascot against the sharp pile of old scrap.  where there's muck there's brass. Something about Dartmoorwhere there's muck there's brass - Something about Dartmoor

Who knows maybe in the next life – some will get smelted down and transfigured into something as beautiful and as iconic – even it.  I hope so…

The Spirit of Ecstasy - Rolls-Royce. Something about Dartmoor

Reg’s beautiful car is named in honour of our great Queen – Elizabeth II – but the ‘it’ figure on the front brought to my mind a person who was very much in the news that day – Tara Palmer Tomkinson.  I don’t really know much about her – but I remembered reading an article in my late father’s Daily Mail newspaper – towards the end of 2016.  I rather warmed to her after reading it – she clearly lived life at full throttle.

I don’t think there are many people that I could reasonably compare to the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ – but seeing it gleaming in the bright sunlight with arms held back as if about to leap forward into the unknown – I saw Tara. 

The Spirit of Ecstasy - Rolls-Royce. Something about Dartmoor

I love this full throttle piece by Amethystium – watch, listen – enjoy.

Poop Poop! No – it’s Toad in trouble again!

Whilst walking back through our village after a night ramble 3rd. February 2017 – I noticed something at the side of the wet road that didn’t look very nice. In the dim light – I thought it was dog’s mess; the right shade – the right shape and positioned at the side of the road at the foot of an unscaleable stone wall -the ‘right’ place so as not to step in it.  I don’t know why I stopped and decided to give the slimy, elongated deposit closer inspection – just instinct I guess!  Close up it still looked like something I didn’t want to pick up – so I decided to give the small slimy heap a gentle nudge with the end of my umbrella – yes it had rained again. The alien thing didn’t budge – even with gentle persuasion from my umbrella tip.  It was cold, swollen and lifeless – a not so beautiful Toad.  I think Toad was utterly spent from trying to scale the impossible wall – he’d given up. Exhausted Toad was between ‘a rock and a hard place’ – his only escape if he’d had the energy – was to dice with death and cross the road in the other direction.  Without my intervention he was going nowhere fast.  With no more ado – I picked up his flaccid body – and carried him home – hoping that he may warm up and revive en-route.  

Rescued Toad. Something about DartmoorWhen I got home – I kept hold of him for a while longer and watched life return to his body.  As he gained strength – I took a couple of pictures of him as he pushed against my gloved hand – asking for release from my lifesaving grip.  Rescued Toad. Something about DartmoorOne of his eyes was slightly cloudy – but I think it was just full of sleep – or slime – in fact he was very slimy and mucky all over. I expect he had not long emerged from hibernation.Health check! Rescued Toad in washing-up bowl. Something about Dartmoor

Finally, I put him on a plastic sheet to check him over in the light – and then I set him free in my next door neighbour’s garden – where there’s a pond and open fields close-by.  Under torch-light – I watched him crawl away into the night – under lots of dead leaves and moss – towards a new beginning that’s waiting around the corner; SPRING! Toad set free. Something about Dartmoor

While compiling this short post about Toad – I have listened too one of my favourite tracks ‘Bohemian Like You’ by the Dandy Warhols – it’s been playing on repeat at full volume! It’s not easy writing and singing at the same time.  I think I put it on today because one of the performers in the You Tube video reminds me of Toad in the nicest possible way; I love toads. See if you can guess which one?  Sing along too – “Whoa Ho Woo”! 

A Voyage of Discovery.

East of the Celtic Sea and West of the County of Devon – stands an imposing double-fronted house made from local Granite.  It’s home to a salty sea dog called Peter; Uncle Peter – my Father’s wonderful brother.

Windward Islands.

Uncle Peter listening for the sea inside a shell he picked-up off a beach on the Windward Islands during his naval years.  He gave it to me before I left – what a wonderful treasure to be given and to keep.   I shall listen often.

At my father’s funeral an impromptu plan was hatched between Peter’s daughter Sharon and I – for me to visit her father at home – because he was not well enough to attend the funeral in person.

Tuesday – 24th January 2017 – I journeyed back to the Celtic land of my birth – to Cornwall.  There was something very full circle about our trip; Pensilva near Bodmin Moor was where my Father helped bring me into the World.  

With Archie at the helm – and Tom as first mate – we set sail together on our voyage of discovery – via the rolling A30! 

Uncle Peter in the heart of his home - holding three of his brothers all sadly departed - Michael, Adrian and Robin.

Peter in the heart of his home – holding three of his brothers all sadly departed – Michael, Adrian and Robin.

Brothers Peter, Muchael, Adrian and Robin. Something about Dartmoor

Peter and I – share a special bond founded through our love of a Victorian painting called ‘The Light of the World’ by William Holman Hunt.

The fourth Light of the World - artist unknown.

A fourth version of ‘The Light of the World’ – artist unknown.  The tangle of weeds around the closed door show that it has not been opened – and there is no handle either on the outside because it can only be opened from within.  It symbolises the door of our lives.

Like the painting – Uncle Peter exudes light and love – he is both worldly and otherworldly in one.  He lives with his wonderful daughter Sharon, my cousin – and her family – and his adorable cuddly Pekingese – Sir Winston.  On the day of our visit – Peter’s three year old Great-Grandson was filling the house with his play and laughter; it’s open door to several generations.

Holding his beloved 'Sir Winston'.

Holding his beloved ‘Sir Winston’.

My sons stroking Sir Winston and being tickled pink in exchange – or licked!

Sir Winston is the living embodiment of James Herriot’s character ‘Tricki-Woo’ – he sits on a huge throne of cushions – and is hand fed the choicest nibbles of home-cooked meat; Sharon is a marvelous cook who caters for everyone’s needs.  On our arrival she served up a delicious piping hot plateful of homemade macaroni cheese – cor it hit the spot! 

Together – with Sharon’s sister Linda and her family – they all look after Doris – Peter’s wife.  She has suffered from Alzheimer’s for more than a decade.  Because of their strong family bond – Doris lives between their houses – and was at Peter’s and Sharon’s home on the day of our visit.  Unable to communicate or do anything for herself anymore – Doris was sat in her special chair facing the large window in Peter’s extraordinary room of imagination and colour.

The large window reflected in St. Michael's Mount - Marazion.

The large window reflected in St. Michael’s Mount – Marazion.

The house is full of art and creativity – on Sharon’s sitting room wall there are four intricate tapestries – that Doris had done before she was robbed of herself.

Entering Peter’s room was like seeing a reflection of my own parlour room – neither of us decorate our rooms in the traditional style – instead our rooms are covered in wall-to-wall art. Peter is a prolific artist – he paints from the heart.  He is also a terrific story teller – a writer.  One needs to pay multiple visits to Peter’s room in order to take it all in – it’s like sitting inside a kaleidoscope!  If one scans around too quickly one is apt to feel giddy!  His love of life and the sea – flows out of his hands onto canvas – and covers all four walls.

Flashes of vivid blue are everywhere around his magical room. 

A 'Lover's Eye'

They say a person’s eyes are a window to their soul. Uncle Peter’s eyes are as deep – and as blue as the ocean and as full – with love.

During our visit we were treated to a delicious homemade cream tea – followed by a catch-up with our Great Ancestors via the magic of Ancestry UK.  It was fascinating to learn that in 1875 a female relative of ours was born in the same Devon village that my youngest sister was born in some ninety-one years later. My sister was born in October 1966 – and our ancestor died in February 1966 the other side of the World – in Wellington New Zealand.  My father was born in West Norwood in Lambeth and spent his early life in Sussex. He was married there and his first three children are Sussex born – yet he always held a dream to move ‘back’ to the West Country.  I was born in Cornwall and my youngest sister was born in Devon – he realised his dream.  Who knows why any of us have a feel for a certain place – or time in History – perhaps genetic – or inherited memory guides us unwittingly towards our fate.  Connecting with my Great Ancestors made me feel better about Dad’s passing – it’s like everything isn’t by chance at all – we go on in some shape or form – or other. They gave me a strange feeling of confused elation – I didn’t know whether I was looking forward to the past or looking back to the future – it’s mind-blowing stuff!

After spending a golden afternoon together – it was time for the long drive home – back across the border into Devon.

Before leaving – Peter gave me a parting gift taken down from his bedroom wall that afternoon…

Minton tile.

An oak framed tile made by Minton Potteries hanging on Peter’s inner sanctum wall.  I just knew it was the kind of place to discover a sign from my spiritual bird – The Raven.

Peter and I – are soul-mates through and true – forever. X

peter

Peter’s and Sharon’s open door aglow in the darkness.

Rolling home in the darkness along the A30 – I remembered a song by Kate Rusby – called ‘Sweet Bride’.  The words to this song make me think of Peter and Doris – and the sounds of the Sea; I’m holding that shell to my ear again – enjoy and sing along.

A lady was walking on a midsummer’s day
The birds they were whistling so merrily and gay
When along came a white steed in the finest array
And it carried a young man these words he did say

Come live by the great moon
That rules the strong tide
Climb up on my horse love
And be my sweet bride

I bid you good morning, this young man did say
And where might you be going on such a nice day
I’m walking to view sir the bonny blue sea
For it’s all I have left now that means much to me

Chorus
If that’s all you love now, come riding with me
You’ll live in my castle deep under the sea
You’ll sleep in my gold bed, my fine silken sheets
And have gifts of great beauty from all that you meet

Chorus
She’s up in the saddle and away they did ride
The horse skipped and danced over waves on the tide
Now she’s only remembered by this story I tell
From an old man on horseback who once knew her well

Somewhere East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

I can see the sea – snapped through the car window.

Making sense of it.

Sunday 22nd January 2017 – was a-get-back to normality day. First on our agenda was Sainsbury’s in Barnstaple to get some pastry-free food. As wholesome as they were on the day – my boys had had their fill of microwaved sausage rolls, pasties and mini-quiches – left-over from Dad’s wake. Sainsbury’s on a Sunday afternoon was predictably busy – so much so – I suddenly thought of Dad – and envied him his peaceful position.  I usually venture out on late-night forages – to avoid the daytime throng.

Instead of going directly to the food aisles I strayed into the quieter home department – and immediately thoughts of Dad sprung to mind again – in the shape of two neat rows of faux Houseleeks – or Sempervivums.

Sempervivum literally means always – forever alive – however this was not the case with Dad’s clump.  All through my childhood and early adulthood – I remember a small outcrop of Houseleeks growing on our porch roof until our toilet’s overflow misbehaved once too often and completely undermined them. I don’t think Dad’s weekly application of grease to the antiquated ‘Armitage Shanks’ cistern helped either – his twenty-odd year cultivation of Houseleeks finally slipped off – never to be reinstated again!

Of course I had to buy a faux one in his honour.

Two neat rows of Sempervivium -

Then there were seven.

I think it will be impossible to not think of Dad too often -because I seem to see reminders of him around every corner – even on a supermarket shelf.Rolling wooden track to Crow Point. Something about Dartmoor

After shopping – we went to our favourite seaside escape – Crow Point near Braunton – on the North Devon coast.  Setting Sun from Crow Point Dunes. Something About DartmoorCrow Point Shack. Something about Dartmoor At sunset – the estuary beach was deserted. Just three of us – a thousand or more seabirds – and the remains of a campfire that still had a glimmer of life.  Campfire Crow Point Beach - Braunton. Something about DartmoorWith no more ado – my sons set about rekindling the fire while I decided to go in search of treasure…

Instead of walking on the smooth sand – I decided to walk on the difficult bit where all the debris gets washed-up at the stony edge beneath the dunes; here I found a rusty axe.  As I held it aloft – I wondered what it could tell – and hoped it was nothing too gruesome – especially as I was taking it home. Wow!Crow Point Rusty Axe. Something about DartmoorEar-shaped stone. Crow Point Beach. Something about DartmoorI also stumbled upon a stone in the shape of a perfect ear – and immediately started to muse about Dad again – and our severance from one another. It is ridiculous to ever imagine that he can see me and what I’m doing now; besides there are things I wouldn’t want him to see me doing!  We are lost from each other’s sight and that’s the way it is now.  As I turned the smooth stone over several times in my hand – I got to thinking that maybe the ear-shaped stone was a clue. I’m not able to see him – but it’s plausible that he can still hear me. Hearing is our first and last sense – perhaps it simply carries on. And though it’s a one-way arrangement – that’s alright because he’d have got to hear the curlews too.

Holding that thought – I threw the stone high up into the air and caught it – then carried on walking – to where the sea shimmered in hues of rosy-pink and mauve.

Beautiful, restorative Crow Point beach.Crow Point Beach near Braunton. Something about DartmoorRosy pink Sea at Crow Point. Something about DartmoorCrow Point - near Braunton North Devon. Something about DartmoorCampfire Crow Point Beach - Braunton. Something about Dartmoor

The Golden Hour.

Yew Tree.

A small golden window of light.  The Great Yew in the Churchyard winked at me.

When I was making arrangements for Dad’s funeral – I remember the Reverend telling me about  ‘The Golden Hour’. The first hour after a person dies – when their body remains soft and warm to the touch. It’s that magical hour when their spirit is close-by – before they leave the room…

My Father died in the morning and his body stayed at home until after nightfall when the undertaker came to collect him.  Two more Fridays have passed since then – and yesterday was the day he was laid to rest in our village churchyard.

In the morning – Friday 20th January 2017 – I was granted one more Golden Hour ‘alone’ with him inside the church – the peace inside was sublime.  

Order of the day; wall-to-wall sunshine for Dad's funeral.

Order of the day; wall-to-wall sunshine for Dad’s funeral.

Outside the weather too was God-given – not one cloud between Earth and Heaven; how Dad must of enjoyed his uninterrupted view of the day’s proceedings!

Blue sky all the way...

Blue sky all the way…

I’d gone to the church to light some special incense before the service – ‘Basilica’ from Prinknash Abbey in Gloucester.

As I watched the smoke curl in shafts of sunlight coming through the stained glass – I felt at one – like we were three again.

During the long night before the morning he died – I asked Dad who was in the room besides just us – because he kept looking over to the other-side of his room – like someone was standing – waiting there.  He couldn’t say – he could hardly speak; but I pressed him for an answer. I said names of family that had gone before but none met with a response – so I could only think perhaps it was The Good Shepherd himself come to collect him?  At my suggestion – Dad immediately opened his eyes wider and nodded his head firmly forward towards me – while his tight lips confirmed what I’d asked.  I’ll never forget his reaction – like he’d suddenly recognised – remembered the name of the ‘stranger’ in the room.  

The Good Shepherd shining whiter than white above Dad.

The altar window.  The Good Shepherd shining whiter than white above Dad’s coffin.

My Father stayed in the church overnight facing the altar and towering ‘Sanctuary Window’ up above.  Again – I love to imagine that moment when the rising Sun came flooding through the colours – and filtered its rays through the weft and calico lining of his Willow Coffin. I like that about a Willow Coffin – that they are both penetrable and es-capable; my Father’s earthly remains will soon return to nature – to the soil and the little creatures that he loved.

I finished the day in usual mode – with a night-walk with my two sons around the block – about three miles. It was really cold – and slippery underfoot in places – but totally invigorating; the clear moonless sky was peppered with light.  When we came back through the churchyard around midnight – we stopped by Dad’s plot.  All around a cacophony of noise suddenly broke the stillness; owls from every corner of the churchyard were serenading us – telling us Dad is alright.  Although he certainly wasn’t getting a quiet night-in with the racket that they were making!  It was the perfect end to a perfect day; Dad’s death – his funeral – has been a positive experience in so many respects – most of all because he is free – no longer confined to his room.

I hope that my entries over the last two weeks will continue to be a comfort to Dad’s wider family that regularly visit here – I hope it brings us all closer.  Thank you to everyone that came to Dad’s funeral from near and from far – and to those that were with us in spirit – especially Dear Uncle Peter – Dad’s Brother. Special thanks too – to Dad’s brave young band of bearers – who steadily carried him from the church and lowered him carefully into his final resting place under the expert supervision and guidance of wonderful Mr. Gist – well-done all!

Grandpa lives on.  Through Tom, Archie, Tobias, Jason and Araminta – his five only Grandchildren.

  Here are the pictures of ‘The Golden Hour’…

I love the rainbow colours of light on the left of this picture. That is the light streaming through the alter window.

I love the rainbow colours of light on the left of this picture; that is the light streaming through the altar window.  Of course I can only see it now because my camera has picked it up – in the moment though I could feel it only.

Dad's faithful old walking hat atop his coffin.

Dad’s faithful old walking hat atop his coffin.

His campaign medals.

An old soldier’s campaign medals gleaming in the light.

The Bible Lectern.

The Bible Lectern.

The aisle and arches of St. Edmund's. Something about Dartmoor

The aisle and arches of St. Edmund’s.  Willow Coffin made by Somerset Willow – England.

Saint Edmund's window...

Saint Edmund’s lancet window…

Exquisite detail at St. Edmund's feet.

Exquisite detail at St. Edmund’s feet.

“Rosemary for remembrance” – something that my Dad always used to say – he even named his youngest daughter after it.  Simple spray of Rosemary from sister Caitlin’s garden coupled with faux snowdrops because you can’t force Nature; Dad died too early in the New Year for real Snowdops.

Love liveth.  Simple Mulberry Cross made from Dad's tree that grows in the garden at home; the sapling was a gift from 'his' Sallie many years ago.

Love liveth.  Simple Mulberry Cross made from Dad’s tree that grows in the garden at home; the sapling was a gift from ‘his’ Sallie many years ago.

Frankincense and Gold. Dad died on the 6th January 2017. Feast of the Epiphany - Old Christmas Day.

Frankincense and Gold.  Dad died on the 6th January 2017. Feast of the Epiphany – Old Christmas Day.

Photographs of Dad on the sill of 'The Epiphany Window - The Adoration of the Magi'

Photographs of Dad on the sill of ‘The Epiphany Window – The Adoration of the Magi’

Incense burning on the sill of 'The Transfiguration Window' St. Edmund's

Incense burning on the sill of ‘The Transfiguration Window’ St. Edmund’s

With Helen and Lauren; we three handmaidens. Together we witnessed Dad take his last breath. In that moment – in my mind’s eye – I see them both with long archangel wings down to the floor – standing on either side at the head-end of Dad’s bed.  While I was stood at the foot…

Blackbird seen on the church wall – in ‘The Golden Hour’ 20th January 2017.   Dad is all-around – everywhere.

Well, two whole weeks and a day have passed since Dad passed away – and I have involved myself in most aspects of planning his funeral…

'Got the t-shirt' - and the hat! (Photo taken by my good friend Sallykins at the wake.)

‘Got the t-shirt’ – and the hat and the flag! (Photo taken by my good friend Sallykins at Dad’s wake.)

The one thing that I had absolutely nothing to do with was the eulogy – so before I draw a bold line under all of this – my final thank you goes to my wonderful mother – Sallie, for her ‘off the cuff’ eulogy to Dad. Mum – you were so composed – so brilliant – only you could have remembered so much and delivered it so eloquently. Why did I – we – ever doubt you.  Because you do digress from time to time!  

My Mum chose a beautiful parting song that was played at Dad’s funeral – it is called – ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ sung by Isla St Clair – never to be forgotten.  Regrettably not available to share here via YouTube – you’ll have to buy it!

Ae Fond Kiss, And Then We Sever.

Ae Fond Kiss, And Then We Sever.

 


 

Black and Pink.

Lloyds Bank Black Horse - Something about DartmoorTuesday 17th January 2017 – I went to Bideford – ‘The Little White Town’ – to officially close my Father’s ‘Black Horse’ bank account.

After that I enjoyed a quick look around a couple of charity shops – and then I went to the Burton Art Gallery – to see Madeline, Gabriel and the rest of the crew…ST833100 Bagpuss and co exhibition at the Burton Art Gallery Bideford. Something about DartmoorST833095 Clangers at Burton Art Gallery Bideford. Something about Dartmoor ST833097 Clangers - Burton Art Gallery. Something about DartmoorI can’t tell you how happy I felt to finally meet Bagpuss face to face – and gaze into his bright blue eyes and remember the magic of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. I only wish I could have picked up that saggy old cloth cat behind the glass – and given him a great big hug like Emily – the little girl who loved him.  Bagpuss didn’t look a day older!Bagpuss at the Burton Art Gallery Bideford. Something about Dartmoor

My Father was a bit like Bagpuss come the end – he slept a lot and was rather loose at the seams but we all loved him.

My Dad putting on one of my hats and making us all laugh.

Dad putting on one of my felt hats and making us all laugh.

He was a wizard at pulling silly faces!

He was a wizard at pulling silly faces!

As another kinda pussycat - 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'!

As another kinda pussycat – ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’!

 

A photo of a photocopy of a precious photo.

Today – Sunday 15th January 2017 would have been my Dad’s ninety-third birthday – he didn’t quite make it.  We had a little celebration get-together – and my sister gave me a copy of a long forgotten photograph – age probably early twenties.  Gosh Dad you were a looker!  

A photo of a photocopy of a photo.

A photo of a photocopy of a photo.

Play it again! Countless times I must have heard the roar of this engine accelerating away – out of your open bedroom door – down the stairs – and into my room!  Happy Birthday wherever you are – your favourite track ‘one’ more time! X

The lights were on GO. Friday 13th January 2017.

Snowy Dartmoor - January Friday 13th 2017. Something about Dartmoor

Left for Okehampton. Dartmoor covered in a blanket of snow – Friday 13th. January 2017 – registration day.

I woke up to BBC Breakfast News – and reports of inclement weather conditions up and down the country except in the South West.  I was so relieved when I drew back the curtains; the forecast was clear and the roads to Okehampton from my direction were ice and snow free – although Dartmoor itself was white.  

Okehampton Town Hall on the corner of the four-way cross.

Okehampton Town Hall on the corner of the four-way cross yesterday.

I had an important appointment to keep – to register my Father’s death at the Town Hall which is situated on the main crossroads in the heart of the town – and to collect the ‘green paper’ for the undertaker – which without – no funeral could take place Friday week. My sister Rosie and her family in Vienna have already booked and paid their fare – it was a very important appointment to keep. Even the weather was on Go.

I knocked once and waited. A very nice man opened the door and went through the registration with me - all very easy.

I knocked once and waited. A very nice man opened the door and went through the registration process with me – all very easy and pleasant.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

The glass roof of Okehampton Arcade yesterday.

The glass roof of Okehampton Arcade yesterday.

Okehampton was Dad’s favourite town in the west-country – where he’d done his weekly shop for years – followed by a gentle amble around beautiful Simmons Park beside the East Okement river. After registering his death – I walked up the Arcade to the park to do a morning lap in his memory. Over many years we must have lapped Simmons Park a thousand or more times together – and then with my boys – when they were younger.  Okehampton was wide awake – people were all about the business of the day – the World doesn’t stop. 

The day had an energy of its own – everything flowed – apart from my camera! I take it everywhere – even with me on this official day.

These are the photos. Each one hurriedly snapped because my camera kept frustratingly turning itself off; I’d neglected to charge it the night before!  I offer no scientific explanation as to why I was suddenly able to turn it back on again – and then again – and squeeze just one more shot before the viewfinder turned black and the alarm went beep beep beep again – using up its last vestige of energy. I’d walk on a bit more and then I’d see another ‘memory’ I wanted to keep – so I pushed my luck again…

Another unanswered question - why is there a number 13 above the lantern? It's always been there but on this occasion it seemed especially significant.  I think I probably think to much!!!

Another question – why is there a number 13 above the lantern? Today it seemed especially significant although it’s probably been there for years and I’ve just never noticed it.

My faithful old camera did ‘flatline’ eventually.   Here though – are the precious photos from Dad’s official day – the energy came from somewhere… 

The way in...

The way in…

By the ponds - and the fountains - and the wooden park house...

By ponds – and fountains – and the wooden park house with a red roof…

Over the East Okement - to stand on 'our' bridge...

Over the East Okement – to stand on ‘our’ bridge…

Something about Dartmoor - East Okement RiverST833039

Another promise of Spring. Bulbs pushing through the earth…

Concentric circles - Time.

Concentric circles – time.

Winter Crab Apples. I picked up a fallen one from the grass - deepest t red and muddy - and put it in my pocket.

Winter Crab Apples. I picked up a fallen one from the grass – deepest red and muddy.  I put it in my pocket for ‘keeps’ – although it too will decay eventually – everything does.

One for sorrow. Not really - Dad knew he was dying - wanted to die - he couldn't go on anymore.

One for sorrow; not truly.  Dad knew he was dying – he asked to die near the end – he had endured enough – and I knew he could’t go on anymore – not even for all his family.  It was time.

The way in and the way out...

The way in and the way out…

Back through the arcade - to the shops...

Back through the arcade – to the shops…

My favourite shop in Okehampton. I 'bought' three items. A mysterious canvas painting of a cave opening - and a copper bangle with a Maltese Cross on it and a wooden, hand carved Holy cross. These two items the ladies gave me with the picture.

My favourite shop in all Okehampton. I ‘bought’ three items. A mysterious canvas painting of a cave opening – a copper bangle with a Maltese Cross on it and a wooden, hand carved Holy cross. These smaller items – the ladies kindly gave me with the picture.  I love this place!

The White Hart Hotel on the other corner of the crossroads.

Finally back to where I started – at the four-way cross.  The White Hart Hotel.

Cave painting. I know why I was drawn to it even though it looks dark. To me

Cave painting.  I know why I was drawn to it even-though it looks dark in there.  To me – its Birth and Death – and the eternal mystery of both.  I’m not sure where I’ll hang it just now!

THE GATE OF THE YEAR by Minnie Louise Haskins

God Knows

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.