Hope is a thing with feathers – and a new chimney.

Seagulls on our Chimney - Something about DartmoorOur other chimney had leaned into the wind for too long.  If our builder hadn’t dismantled it brick-by-brick – I think a gale-force gust may have toppled it in one fell swoop. Luckily for us the old chimney leaned into the prevailing Westerly – and not a northerly or easterly direction.  There have been a few nights – when the wind has howled and whistled around the old stack and I have had a fancy that some other invisible force must have braced the chimney until our builder was ready to come; a good builder always has a waiting list! Old Chimney with scaffold (1)- Something about Dartmoor

Over the last couple of weeks – Glen has single-handedly resurrected our once banana-shaped chimney – into a stack that is strong and straight again – heavenward. Glen - Something about Dartmoor

Glen crowned his masterpiece on Monday – 18th September 2017 – by restoring the original Victorian pot to its rightful place atop thirty-two angled layers of new red bricks.  The scaffolder’s skill is worthy of great admiration too – its design and rigidity has enabled Glen to safely access the otherwise inaccessible chimney – I think it’s a remarkable structure – an art form in itself albeit a transient one.

At my behest – Glen’s last flourish – is an inscription in his otherwise super-smooth finish – in memory of Dad who lived here for forty-four years until he passed away on the 6th January 2017 – aged ninety-two.  

The cement cap will serve as a memorial seat – a perch between worlds – where the birds can rest a while before ascending – as smoke signals – carrying our thoughts and messages away to the next…Chimney (5) 18th September 2017Chimney (4) 18th September 2017

Thanks Dad X

Dad sitting by his fire. December 2009

Dad chillin’ by his fire – December 2009.

nnnn

A small light white curl of hope – found on an otherwise gloomy day – lying on the hall floor outside Dad’s old room. It was especially significant because I’d been at work and returned to an empty house that was otherwise undisturbed.  It’s probably a seagull’s feather but to me it’s about that mind’s eye moment of suspended disbelief that it was something other.  That’s why I’ve preserved it under a small glass dome.

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Hope is the thing with feathers – from the poem by Emily Dickinson.

 

“Top of the Morning!”

Colour of a new day - 13th August 2017. Something about DartmoorToday – Sunday 13th. August 2017 – started with an early morning rise.  Not out of my unslept-in-bed you understand – but to the top of Sharpitor (near Leather Tor) on Dartmoor – to see the Perseid Meteor Shower – followed by the biggest, most dazzling light show EVER – the dawn of a FRESH, new day.   With only my son’s mobile phone to hand – I wasn’t fast enough (or alert enough) to capture any falling stars on camera – or in my pocket – but I did manage to make a wish or two before their blazing tails fizzled out like spent fireworks. Aug 13 2017_1225

The grande finale was seeing Sunday rise – as a huge, orange Firebird in the East… 

Aug 13 2017_1255 Firebird.Another waking ‘dream’ – was hearing a hen laying an egg somewhere in the distance.  Her song rose with the morning mist from one of the ancient farmsteads dotted around.  A desire to eat a freshly laid, soft boiled egg – with hot, buttered toast for breakfast – will never be stronger than in that magical – golden moment on top of Sharpitor – or as impossible for that matter! 

These are some other images from this morning…
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Aug 13 2017_1306 Dartmoor pony foal with very unusual black markings. Something about Dartmoor

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“Top of the Morning to you Hawthorn!”   Cold, wet hands…

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and dew sodden boots.  Time for a short, late afternoon snoozles – before I venture out for an evening walk around the block to see the same Sun set in the West…hope my boots have dried out a bit!

Theme for today – another favourite by Amethystium… 

Muggle-Mump ‘goes’ to Burrow Mump!

Friday 4th August 2017 – saw a return to my favourite Somerset ‘Mump’ – Burrow Mump. The Mump rises like a mini Glastonbury Tor above the watery, green Levels.

Muggle Mump goes to Burrow Mump.

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After inching our way closer – the tower of Burrow Mump finally sprang into view above the trees.

Burrow Mump on Friday 4th August 2017 was virtually ‘NO GO’ unless on foot or a bicylce – and even then it would have been a squeeze! We literally inched our way there in every dimension – because all roads leading to the Mump were utterly gridlocked! We found the whole jam quite a giggle but for anyone with an appointment to keep – or an emergency to attend – it must have been a complete and utter nightmare…

We were stuck in this position for about an hour!

We were stuck in this position – on this stretch – for a ‘good’ hour!

With just a ‘couple’ miles to go to the Mump – we were going nowhere fast. The whole ‘event’ just goes to show what happens once today’s traffic is diverted – and spills into smaller roads. Like the Levels in 2014 – the roads around the Mump were almost impassable only this time with vehicles rather than flood water.  I have to say – because time was our own – this modern day phenomenon was something to witness – even funny dare I say it – especially witnessing the antics of some of the other road users! Despite the frustrations – I have to say everyone caught up in it – seemed to keep their cool and for the most part were good-humoured; I think Burrow Mump’s vibes saved the day!  

Pilgrims footsteps to the top of Burrow Mump.

Pilgrim footsteps to the top of Burrow Mump.

Finally, we arrived on the Mump – phew! 

Lines of gridlocked cars as far as the eye can see. Views from the Mump...

Traffic jams as far as the eye can see…

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…and in all directions. Views from the Mump!

Burrow Mump was our island getaway from the Sea of Chaos. Once we reached the top of the hill – all was calm as if a million miles away…

Sanctuary from the modern world. View from the inner sanctum of restorative Burrow Mump.

Sanctuary from the modern world.  View from the inner sanctum of restorative ‘Burrow Mump’…

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Aah peace – perfect peace. Glastonbury Tor is in the distance.

I say ‘perfect peace’ – until my son Archie introduced me to the wonders of ‘Snapchat’!  He wanted me to do a little piece to camera about our experience of driving to the Mump!  What a giggle! I have come to the conclusion that I have the perfect face for distortion!  I did about three or four takes – and morphed into several ‘Muggle-Mump’ characters! Here they are intermingled with my own takes of magical Burrow Mump. I hope you enjoy them all! 

"The Swifts and Swallows are darting over Burrow Mump..."

“The Swifts and Swallows are darting over Burrow Mump…”

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Holy Holey! Detail on a gatepost to the ‘Mump’.

Burrow Mump from under the Willow...

Burrow Mump from under a Somerset Willow…

A fairy ring...

A fairy ring at the foot of the Mump…

Spider's web - doorway to a quieter world.

Spider’s web. Doorway to a quieter world beneath a magical Hawthorn…

Parallel Universe.  Just time and me standing still at Burrow Mump.

Parallel Universe.  Just Time and me standing still at Burrow Mump.

Slowly moving around the trees – around the Mump…

…back towards the car – and ‘home’.  Treasures gathered from around the Mump – including a funny old twisted lump of Ivy that I found lying in the wet grass…

Oh – and not forgetting my pilgrim’s staff which had to be left behind for reasons explained…

'Andersea Wheat'.  A sea of sparkling, waving wheat after the 'flood' - and rain - somewhere along the now empty road in the Somerset parish of Westonzoyland.   A perfect sounding place for a 'Muggle-Mump' to sign off until next time...

‘Andersea Wheat’.  A sea of sparkling, waving wheat after the ‘flood’ – and rain – somewhere along the now empty road in the Somerset parish of Westonzoyland.   A perfect sounding place for a ‘Muggle-Mump’ to zign off until next time…

A Muggle-Mump Mouse from Burrow Mump!

Souvenir of the day.  Not ‘just’ a funny old twisted lump of Ivy but a ‘Muggle-Mump Mouse’ from Burrow Mump!

Oxford Return.

Jul 20 2017_0909 Oxford OxThere is so much to see and do in Oxford that repeat visits are a must; funds allowing of course!  Although the Ashmolean itself is free admission. 

After patting the Great Ox on the nose – Tom and I set off for another ‘wander of wonders’ around the fabulous Ashmolean. I don’t think that an entire year would be long enough to take in all the wonders on display but here are just a few of the treasures that caught my eye this time round…Ashmolean

Elias Ashmole and Joth Tradescant Jnr - Ashmolean Oxford

Detail: The hands that helped create the World’s first public museum – ‘The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology’.

Together with the above handsome portraits of Elias Ashmole and John Tradescant Jnr – here’s my other favourite painting of the day…Jul 20 2017_1031

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Jul 20 2017_1047 Ashmolean Rooftop RestaurantAfter a mind-blowing couple of hours – we were ready to climb the impressive Portland Stone staircase all the way to the top – where we retired to the terrace for afternoon refreshments.  A pot of English Breakfast tea and a Coke – plus chips for two – followed by Eton Mess for afters…Jul 20 2017_1049

Other highlights of our day in Oxford included

A door-to door walk around the portals of The Old Schools Quadrangle of the Bodleian Library…

Let there be Light...The Old Schools Quadrangle of the Bodleian Library

Sir Isaac Newton once said “Let there be Light”…

…and there was!

With another chance to stand in the warm glow of ‘The Light of The World’ inside the cool of Keble College Chapel…

Jul 20 2017_1060 Light of the World - William Holman Hunt - Keble College Oxford

Passing under the sign of the white hart.  Crest of Hertford College upon the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ over New College Lane.

…and more light on our way to the whispering Cloister’s of New College…

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“A leaf in this garden means more than all leaves you will find in paradise!” Lyrics from Golden Apples by Faun.

It was here – I picked up the ‘treasure of the day’ for keeps. ‘Just’ one golden leaf from the carpet of thousands that lay inches deep around the expansive bole of an evergreen Holm Oak – that nowadays is widely recognised as ‘The Harry Potter Tree’…Jul 20 2017_0965The fantastical hogwash of Hogwarts – wasn’t the reason I picked up the leaf though – rather it was because I picked up vibrations of another young man’s footsteps – who once trod this time-worn floor to the Cloisters and to the great tree itself… Jul 20 2017_0946Jul 20 2017_0949…on my return from Oxford – I emailed Yaffle and told him all about our visit to his old college grounds – and I was thrilled to receive his reply – “Much enjoyed your tour of Ox, and yes, the Cloisters and its majestic evergreen are my centre of gravity in that architectural masterpiece.”   Ah, now that’s real Magic!

Motto on the wrought-iron garden gate of New College Oxford. How true.

In the afternoon sunlight – I couldn’t fail to notice the gilded motto on the ornate garden gate of New College Oxford.  ‘Manners Makyth Man’  – how true dear Yaffle x

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Another enduring image of Oxford…

Homeless in Oxford

A homeless man and woman – lying like two spoons with their backs turned to the passing ‘World’ that’s mirrored in the glass of the modern building that sheltered them from the glare of another day.  Despite the droves of more well-heeled passers-by that thronged this main Oxford thoroughfare – their small pile of coppers remained just that.  I have to say I felt somewhat intrusive stopping – but in stopping – I added to their small pile of coppers with something brighter and a little heavier…the couple remained oblivious and undisturbed.  

Walking away – I wondered whether in their waking hours – they ever look up at the dreaming spires of Oxford and dare to dream of a life when they won’t have to sleep rough?  To my way of thinking – Oxford must be a particularly jarring environment if you find yourself ‘down on your uppers’ like this less-fortunate pair of Oxonians who were down to their last pennies as well as their last socks.

(Idiom: down on (one’s) uppers) Having no money; broke. The phrase was originally used to describe people who were so poor that they had worn their shoes down to the uppers (the part of the shoe above the sole). http://www.thefreedictionary.com/

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Back to where I started with a goodbye pat on the Ox's rump! Oxford - I shall return...

Back to where I (We) started.  An affectionate goodbye pat on the Ox’s rump! Oxford – Ashmolean – I shall return…

My Golden Leaf.

My golden leaf – like the colour of Oxford itself.

Theme for the day – Thursday 20th. July 2017 – ‘Golden Apples’ by Faun.

‘Origen’s Theory of The Universe’ over Blueberries and Breakfast!

Blueberries for breakfast and white roses from Dolton - Christopher's table‘One’ of my most treasured memories from my stay up North – was breakfast time with the Professor. I’d come down to a beautifully laid table – with hot toast in a rack, proper butter in a dish and homemade Marmalade – made by Yaffle himself – plus there was always a bowl of fresh blueberries to dip into over tea ‘n’ toast and conversation…Morning ritual - Yaffle and marmalade on toast

I wish I’d taken a few more videos of the Professor at the breakfast table but alas I didn’t have a phone in hand – in fact I don’t own a mobile phone so I had to rely on Tom’s device – and he wasn’t always up in time for the Breakfast-time Lechur!  And besides the toast would have gone stone cold!

I fondly remember breakfast on the day of my departure…I was treated to a ‘lecture’ with actions and voices – all about Napoleon Bonaparte over tea ‘n’ toast – and blueberries. By this time my cold had developed into full blown flu – and I can remember sitting at the Professor’s table – thinking I really should be capturing this but I just felt too ill – complete with raging temperature – and a five hour journey via rail ahead back to Devon; God my head hurt more at the very thought!  I shall ask Yaffle to retell ‘Napoleon’s Tale’ when next we meet – so that Tom can catch it on camera…  

If I was Director-General at the BBC – I’d give Yaffle his own series – perhaps called the ‘Breakfast Table Lectures’ – or ‘Lechurs’ as Yaffle deliberately misspells! I think my Aunt Sonia summed it up this morning when she emailed me and said “Thank you so much for the tale of such an endearing little mouse, so very sweet and told by The Professor in his mellifluous voice it comes alive again.  Mind you I think he could recite the alphabet and make it sound interesting! Such an erudite man – not stuffy at all and all the more engaging because of it.”  

Here is another treasured video of Professor Yaffle – this time it is “Origen’s Theory of the Universe’… 

PS I’d never heard of Origen let alone his theory before Saturday 20th. May 2017…

Thinking out cloud.

I love that subtle change in the air that denotes the year has turned before June is even out – and because it’s a whiff that can’t be bottled – I took a few photographs to try to capture Autumn’s essence as it pervaded my evening walk – and thoughts – before the rain came in – on Sunday 25th June 2017.Sunday 25th June 2017 - evening walk - weathervaneSunday 25th June 2017 - evening walk - weathervane (2)Sunday 25th June 2017 - evening walk - clouds (1)

Sunday 25th June 2017 - evening walk - clouds (2)Sunday 25th June 2017 - evening walk - clouds (5)Sunday 25th June 2017 - evening walk - hedge

The clouds in motion got me thinking of this old favourite by George Michael. 

Oxford Dreaming…

Oxford's Gleaming Bicycles - 20th June 2017

Shafts of light on one of Oxford’s many bike parks.

A visit to The Ashmolean – the oldest university museum in the World, then to Keble College, to the Chapel –

Keble College Chapel - 20th June 2017

I love the way a passing cloud has cleverly disguised the projecting arm of the huge crane behind the Chapel.

– to stand before my favourite painting in the whole wide World – ‘The Light of the World’ by William Holman Hunt.

The Light of the World - Keble College Oxford. Tuesday 20th June 2017 (1)

The original version painted in 1853.

Version on my wall.

‘My’ version.  An old print of the original on my wall at home.

I was joined on the day, by old Oxonian – Professor Christopher Heywood – and my two lovely sons – Archie and Tom – or ‘The Oxford Party’ as the Professor referred to us collectively.

First portal on our agenda was The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology.    

The entrance door to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. My first dreaming portal...

The grand entrance at going home time – Tuesday 20th. June 2017 – the penultimate day before Summer Solstice.  Gosh what a scorcher of a day!  A day when my ‘expectations’ topped even Oxford’s dreaming spires – and the Mercury!  If I didn’t have this record – I’d think I’d dreamt the whole lot up!

A soaring column at the entrance to the Ashmolean.

A soaring column at the main entrance to the Ashmolean…

Blue sky over The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology 20th. June 2017

Yaffle and passing 'thought' cloud - probably Spinoza again...

Yaffle – and a passing ‘thought’ cloud – probably Spinoza again…

Together we enjoyed a long lunch in the rooftop restaurant before splitting into twos.  While the ‘boys’ went for a recce around Oxford’s shops – I accompanied Yaffle to his research meeting ‘behind closed doors’ with one of the Ashmolean’s conservators – Mr. Jevon Thistlewood – such a wonderful, evocative name – so Ashmolean!

WOW! It was such an unexpected gift – a privilege – to have gone beyond the ‘no access’ doorway.  Almost immediately – I was gobsmacked – (to use one of Yaffle’s Yorkshire expressions) because there resting on a laboratory bench I saw something undreamt;  a magical pair of ancient antlers from ‘The Ark’ of the Tradescants. 

The Tradescant Antlers in Jevon's conservation room - 20-06-2017 (4)I was riveted by them – by their form, their age and by the synchronicity of the situation; them ‘left out’ as I walked in!   I was even given permission to photograph them – ‘only’ the antlers mind – strictly not the laboratory interior. Whilst keeping my distance – I zoomed in to capture the remarkable label on the skullcap…The Tradescant Antlers in Jevon's conservation room - 20-06-2017 (2)The Tradescant Antlers in Jevon's conservation room - 20-06-2017 (3)

My collection of Red Deer Antlers

With thoughts of my other magic finds at home…

“Ashmole’s Antlers” (as Yaffle refers to them) lifted me ever higher – I was on cloud nine for the rest of day – and that was before seeing ‘The Light of the World’!

Cicero statue - Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology

“Everything is alive; everything is interconnected.” Cicero.

After exiting the excitement and magic of the conservation lab – Yaffle and I made our way downstairs to the foyer area of the Museum.  Here in the cool gallery – in the presence of Cicero – I left Yaffle to his own devices.  To his Apple Mac – and his Spinoza article in progress…
Back view - Yaffle in the Ashmolean 20th June 2017 (2)Yaffle (5) - Ashmolean Tuesday 20th June 2017Yaffle - Professor Christopher Heywood (1) - Ashmolean Tuesday 20th June 2017

Horse Chestnut - Lamb and Flag Passage (2) - Oxford 20th June 2017

Horse Chestnut - Lamb and Flag passage - OxfordI met up with my sons – and together we set-off for the Chapel. On the way – we enjoyed the dappled light of a huge Horse Chestnut situated in the ‘Lamb and Flag Passage’ – before continuing our purposeful march to Liddon Quad where the Chapel is. We passed under numerous gargoyles and lanterns too…Keble gargoylesLanterns - Keble College - Oxford

Glimpse of Keble College Chapel - 20th June 2017 (window detail)The Chapel is a place that everyone should discover for themselves – there are no words – no photos that can convey the visual impact of opening the mighty oak door and stepping inside the hallowed space of the main chapel.  On a blisteringly hot day outside – the quietness, the coolness – and contrasting darkness inside were thirst quenching to my every sense.

Finally – in the sanctuary side-chapel – I stood before ‘The Light of the World’.  Not intensified by internal and external light sources – the area of the painting that emanated the greatest luminosity appeared to me to be Christ’s chest.   Allegory aside – ‘The Light of the World’ is a clever painting because it works – it glows from within.  I’m so pleased that I had an opportunity to witness this manifestation for real. The Light of the World - Keble College Oxford - Tuesday 20th June 2017 (3)

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Elias Ashmole - Ashmolean Museum souvenir postcard and fridge magnet

Elias.

The last six words of this post go to the Tradescants (Elder and Younger) and to Elias Ashmole himself.  I wish to acknowledge them in my own small way here – as an appreciation for their collecting mania – and therein – their vision that is the Ashmolean today; it is a treasure trove beyond compare. 

I want to go back to the Ashmolean again and again and again – a day just isn’t enough.  If I lived closer – I’d be through that grand portal every single day – except for Mondays (unless it’s a bank holiday)! 

Thank you Thank you Thank you.

Ashmolean welcome sign

Sheep’s Tor Light Walk.

Elephant Hawk Moth -17th June 2017

(‘Elsa’ – from previous post – ‘Flashes of Schiaparelli Pink.’)

Rather like ‘Elsa’ is to light – I’m drawn every year to an area of Dartmoor where I know I’ll see Lampyris noctiluca – or Glow-worms. Yesterday – 17th June 2017 Saturday into Sunday – I was lucky enough to witness this magical phenomenon once again. Tom - Sheepstor 17th June 2017Following an after-dark picnic with my son on top of Sheepstor – we followed a trail of bioluminescence – back to our car that was parked near the reservoir.  On the way up – we had passed a soft toy sitting at the gateway to the Tor; on the way back he was unsurprisingly still alone in the darkness…White Rabbit at Sheepstor gate 17th June 2017Lost - White Rabbit - Sheepstor 17th June 2017 The White Rabbit got me thinking that on such a balmy night – I quite envied his position – to be lost on Dartmoor.Night Sky (1) - Sheepstor - 17th June 2017Night Sky (3) - Sheepstor - 17th June 2017Here are some lights that guided us ‘home’ in the small hours…
Glowworm (5) - Sheepstor 17th June 2017Glowworm (2) - Sheepstor 17th June 2017Glowworm (4) - Sheepstor 17th June 2017Glowworm (3) - Sheepstor 17th June 2017

For me – ‘Enchantment’ by Amethystium – always conjours up thoughts of elemental Sheepstor – although I spell it ‘Sheep’s Tor’…Sheep (1) - Sheepstor 17th June 2017

In my ears, my eyes – my head – I’m that lone sheep…