Saturday, February 07, 2015


At dusk or thereabouts I closed the pop-hole of the hen-house-on-wheels. Inside the birds made their crooning, settling down sounds. Hen-talk for 'sleep well.'  All is still and silent and as it should be. Not a breathe; hushed perhaps by the dank mist which has hung over the Long Mountain today.

I stand on the field a while and contemplate the sky. It's pink - not just a slick of cerise on the western horizon but a pale wash in which colour hangs in heavy air, north, south, east and west. Such is the light there is no other colour in the world tonight.

Friday, February 06, 2015

To Ludlow

I'm guessing that the planets are optimally aligned - there's nothing in either diary, the weather is fair and crikey, we're both in need of time out. Amazingly a free day has presented itself. (You'd never guess that neither of us work for a living) I'm not sure how we ever found the time - it's so hard to find an hour or two to enjoy our surroundings. I have been out 6 evenings in the last seven and I wouldn't describe any of those 'outs' as anything more than dutiful. So time for r 'n' r. All aboard the skylark!

The Glam Ass is always up for a trip to Ludlow.  It is, as Pevsner remarked, ' of the best loved, best preserved and most aesthetically pleasing towns in Britain.' It's noted nationally for its foodie credentials, both as a place to eat and a place where good foods are available and appreciated.

It takes about 40 minutes for us to drive there and today I drive a little more cautiously than usual - the temperature is barely above freezing and there may be ice on the road. Not one of my favourite roads, it bends and twists - definitely not devised by a modern planner.  I wonder was it originally a winding trail made by beasts on the way to market, a route avoiding puddles, potholes and pitfalls which was only slightly improved with the coming of the turnpike.

We shop. Good cheeses, partridge, pastries - and fish from the most excellent fish van in the market. When one's marketing is limited to a very average high street the choice of fresh produce is tempting and thus we are succumb; partridge; cheeses rolled in ash and cheeses that, frankly, pong. That's you I'm looking at Stinking Bishop. We buy the biggest Cox in Ludlow (ooh missis!) and non edibles too; anemones of Tudor shades, velvet rich, with black button centres. (Come on, you're surely watching Wolf Hall?) Oh, and a jacket for me. Coral, short, pleated and Japanese. Basically because I'm worth it. And because I anticipate warmer days and maybe, as be agreed in the shop, co-ordinating items of navy, grey or black will be needed. We all should have a plan.

Anyway, tonight we have paella with our fishy haul from Ludlow, with a taste of cheese to follow:

And apropos of nothing a picture of one of Ludlow's gems, a carving from the medieval misericord in St Lawrence Church.

There are more like this. What gems. Come see.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Candlemas challenge.....

A short while ago MrsCarlieLee suggested that we revive Candlemas - 'each do whatever, and then post it in a blog.  'Whadayareckon?' I quickly reckoned 'yep' - the word leaping off my fingers before I could sit on my hands. 

So here I am, sitting at the keyboard, mouth open, staring out of the window wondering what the heck I can say that hasn't already been said. (I wrote about this time of year in 2010 and not much has changed since then.) The days lengthen. The birds sing loudly and more often. The dull green snouts of bulbs push through icy soil, and here and there amongst tangled leaf and twig in the hedge bottom are snowdrops of virginial white. Etc. Etc. And this is as it should be.

We wonder how much longer winter will last  - February 2nd is after all the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox - theoretically we're halfway there though experience teaches that it would unwise to cast 'clouts' or do anything with tender plants until May, the tree or the month, is out.

Up on the hill the remains of last week's snow lingers, thin white lines in the lee of hedges, stippled patches amongst rough grass. It's bitterly cold out, the sun has gone down leaving a clear sky and the nearly-full moon has a bright face. If the old rhyme is to believed we've a way to go yet:

If Candlemass day be dry and fair,
The half o' winter's to come and mair;
If Candlemass day be wet and foul,
The half o' winter's gave at Yule.'

Well today, Candlemas day, was fair and bright indeed - and weather lore would have it that there is more wintery weather to come. Would I rather that than mud and sludge? Probably.

We're looking forward to the coming of lighter days every bit as much as our ancestors did. For them this day was Imbolc, and a cornerstone of the Celtic calendar, celebrated with fire, a festival of light. 

Christianity reformed and renamed the festival and a tradition developed of blessing all the candles which would be needed for use in the church during the following year for Holy Communion. It also marks the Presentation of Christ in the Temple being 40 days after the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day....40 days being when according to Jewish law a woman was ritually purfied following the birth of a son.

The vicar, whom I quizzed,  hinted vaguely about a service in one of his churches but I'm not really a religious soul and while I quite like the idea of blessing candles and candlelit processions I prefer to keep my spiritual side to myself.

I lit a couple of candles though to mark the occasion and from up on the field could just spy them twinkling in the window. How warm it looks down there - and inviting. 

Scented too - the smell's divine.  The candle in the middle is a gift from our eldest son. I think of my boy, now a man,  as it burns. I have in my window light and now love. Blessings.