THE HILL WITH TWO STATIONS

(Above: In the foreground, the village of Sedgwick. In the distance, The Helm – a local peak with two stations!
photo taken in summer)

Our small village, Sedgwick, near Kendal, has a landscape shaped in the classic terminal topography of ancient glaciers. This area of gentle, rounded hills is typical of the final stages of the glacier’s course. The English Lake District, where we live, has them in abundance. ‘Basket of Eggs’ is another term you may remember from those geography text books at school. They are also known as ‘drumlins’.

(Above: Lake Windermere and the high glacial basin (corrie) from which it was formed in the background)

These small hills get bigger as you journey nearer to the centre of the region. The northern half of Lake Windermere was formed from a glacier whose origin was the mountain of Fairfield, a few miles north of Ambleside, at the head of the lake. See picture, above.

It’s the Friday before the third Sunday in the month. You’ll find me with a very happy Collie dog – Tess, walking from Sedgwick along the quietest country lanes and tracks towards the hill you can see in the distance in the opening photo – The Helm (also spelled Helme). It doesn’t look too far in that shot, but it’s a three mile walk, and takes about ninety minutes at a fast walking pace.

I love walking. You couldn’t live here and not do. But there’s a practical side to this monthly outing. I’m meeting up with Stuart France, my co-director of the Silent Eye… and we’re planning on having a couple of beers, whilst mapping out the next month of activities – including our new monthly Zoom chat – open to anyone interested.

That’s right – it’s a board meeting! But one held in a station… which may sound odd, but all will be revealed…

A year ago, Sue Vincent – as the third Director of the School, would have been part of the group meeting. This would have taken place in the distant hills of Derbyshire – the place where we’ve regularly held our Spring workshops.

Sadly, as many readers will know, Sue passed away last Spring, leaving the two of us to sail the Silent Eye ship. We are not alone, though, and have a great team of people to assist us – for everything from healing groups to highly-skilled administrative and document production assistance.

Technically, Stuart and I are ‘retired’…but you wouldn’t know it from our average working week of writing, teaching and lesson supervision.

Stuart used to live in Sheffield, which was an ideal base for our monthly meetings in the hills of Derbyshire. After Sue’s passing, Stuart decided to relocate back to his native Lancashire. This was to our mutual advantage because there is a fast rail connection between Preston and the place I’m headed – Oxenholme; the only mainline station in the UK located in a village. Quizzers take note. This might win you a prize!

(Above: the main West Coast line to Glasgow passes over this)

My journey takes me from our house near the centre of Sedgwick, along a steep country lane that runs beneath the West Coast Main Line. We’ll meet this vital link between London and Scotland, again, later. The bridge and line are only ten minutes from the house. If the wind is in the right direction, you can just about hear the trains at night as they thunder northwards to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh. There’s something magical about it…

The road crests a hill then descends to the village of Crosscrake, where we take a tiny lane up the first of several steep ‘drumlin’ hills. These are lined with dense hedges, most of which have just been trimmed. The resulting sharp relief is a pattern to be exploited by the photographer.

(Above: the bare, sharp hedges offer exciting texture to the Winter photograph)

Frustratingly, the lane then plunges down the hill to climb all the way up again – an unavoidable property of the egg ‘basket’ hills. This one is very steep. But, ten minutes later, and somewhat hotter, we’re at the top.

(Above: the tiny lanes are a pleasure to walk, with only occasional traffic)

Soon, we pass one of my favourite gardens, with its oak tree set just off the entrance drive. The photo was taken in October, and the autumn colours allowed me to indulge in a little fine-tuning.

(Above: The ‘oak tree’ garden)

The country lane marks the end of the ancient drumlin and leads to a minor junction of the celebrated A65 – the old trunk road that links Kendal to Skipton – and beyond to York and the East Coast.

There is always beauty to be found in the hedgerows, even on the busy A65. This image was taken here in October…

(Above: The A65; a fast road hostile to the walker – but those colours!)

Beyond the major road the way begins to climb up the initial slopes of The Helm, but the trees are so dense you can’t see the large hill looming above.

(Above: the dense woodland masks the beginning of The Helm)

We now have a choice… We can continue along the narrow lane and skirt the base of The Helm… or, with the Collie expressing a strong preference, we can set off on a rapid and lung-challenging ascent of the steepest face of the hill.

(Tess, the Collie, expressing a preference as to how we navigate The Helm. In the distance are the major hills of the central Lake District)

If we are feeling fit – and the Collie insists – we arrive, breathless at the summit of The Helm, fifteen minutes later. It’s a steep but rapid scramble to the ‘trig point’, but the views are worth it. Kendal is laid out below us like a street map, with the West Coast Main Line skirting the base of The Helm. The air is always pure… and often freezing!

(Above: the old ‘trig point’, now defunct with the advent of satellite navigation and mapping)
(Above: From the top of The Helm, the sweeping landscape takes the eye all the way down to Morecambe Bay in the distance)

Tess loves being here because it’s where we often come (by car) to ‘chuck the frisbee’. Today, however, her fun is curtailed by the sound of shotguns in the next valley. She scampers around, tail down and frightened. Collies are very sensitive creatures…

We’ve done all we can up here. The Collie’s walk will have to be sufficient. Now it’s time to descend to the edge of the village of Oxenholme, where Stuart will be arriving by train in the next 30 minutes.

The Helm is topped by a beautiful, long ridge. We can follow this all the way down to the road that leads into Oxenholme Station.

(Above: The ridge atop The Helm. Following this takes you to the road into Oxenholme, where one of the stations is to be found
(Above: photographed in the early hours of a day-trip to Glasgow, the station’s platform sign)
(Above: Oxenholme Station. Considering it’s just a village, it offers a glorious way to arrive in the Lake District)
(Above: Part of the puzzle revealed… There are two railway lines in Oxenholme. The first is the West Coast Main Line, the other links to the local shuttle service between Kendal and Windermere. The Helm is bottom left on the map. However, this is not the answer to our ‘two stations’ puzzle)

Stuart arrives on-time from Preston. We’re now going to leave one station to have our ‘board meeting’ in another – and its not the one in Kendal.

(Above: the luxury of intercity travel for a short journey)

Fifteen minutes later, two humans and a Collie are ready to have their meeting…

(Above: The other ‘Station’! And the best Guinness for miles around)

And that’s the end of the journey…. Except if we decide to walk home at the end of our chat. The alternative is to ring Bernie, who will gladly drive the fifteen minutes to collect me, while Stuart strolls down to the station to catch his train.

But the thought of walking home through that beautiful coming sunset and the photographs it might offer is calling… But we’ll not be going over The Helm!

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Edensor

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Where were we, before time and other concerns overtook me? I was sharing the weekend in the north… the one with all the heather in bloom. We had found a lost stone circle and failed to find our fairy woman and her ice-cream van… There was only one thing for it at this point… we needed a pub and a prison. We headed on down into the village and seated ourselves outside the Devonshire Arms which, to our delight, had suddenly begun to serve Guinness and decent cider again… There was a reason for our surprise, as the occurrence was rather wierdly mirroring our current topic of conversation… the plot of our next book.

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This fact had not escaped us as we sat beneath the parasol watching the drunken wasp, rescued from my cider, skeeter happily sideways across the table. A pot of homemade lemon and ginger marmalade was acquired from one of the cottages before we clambered back in the car … we needed a gaol in which to incarcerate a friend. Not what you might think, I hasten to add; we needed an image for the Black Shade … and we had seen just the spot out at Edensor.

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The village of Edensor lies on the road that runs through the grounds of Chatsworth and is built with a rustic elegance that sits harmoniously within the grounds of the great house begun by Bess of Hardwick in the 1560s. Our focus was a turreted building we had spied on the way through to the moor, but as there is also a church there, it would have seemed churlish to simply click and run, especially on such a beautiful day.

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The church sits high on a mound above the village. Neither are what you might call indigenous. The original village was right next to Chatsworth, but was moved out of sight of the house, over a hill in the mid 19thC by the Duke of Devonshire and the 12thC church that had once stood on the spot was replaced by a new one designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott… a name we have come to know well on our travels.

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The church seems typically Victorian from the outside. It is only as you approach the porch that things begin to get a bit more interesting. First there was the little plaque commemorating the planting of a yew tree by the Duke, to mark both his 80th birthday and the millennium fifteen years ago. The yews are such an important part of our folklore and our churchyards that it is good to see this sapling growing here.

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Then there was the sundial.. which, of course, isn’t a sundial at all, or rather, probably never was to begin with and the five foot tall column may be the shaft of a more ancient standing cross. Certainly, given the height of the ensemble atop its steps, there are few who could read the sundial with any ease…

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We wandered towards the porch through the churchyard where almost all the Dukes are buried in surprisingly simple graves. Buried here too is Sir Joseph Paxton, a gardener who oversaw the new village of Edensor, but who was best known for designing the Crystal Palace… a vast structure of glass and steel… for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Perhaps the most visited grave however must be that of Kathleen Kennedy, sister of U.S. President J.F. Kennedy. Kathleen, Marchioness of Hartington, had married the brother of the present Duke. She and her husband married in 1944. Five weeks later, William was posted to serve in Germany during WWII where he was killed by a sniper, just a month after Kathleen’s brother, Joe Jr was killed. Kathleen herself was killed in a plane crash in 1948, aged just 28. A plaque commemorates the visit of President Kennedy to his sister’s grave in 1963, shortly before his own death.

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We were not to get inside the church this time… a christening was about to take place and the guests were gathering. Opening the door for one old lady to enter gave me a glimpse of magnificent stained glass and possible reasons to come back; Scott incorporated many features from the original church into the new one, including the Norman carving and medieval grave-slab of the porch.

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All we could do was wander back to the car. The day was still beautiful… the heather in bloom and it was early afternoon… it wasn’t as if we would be stuck for places to go… we just needed a place that would have an ice-cream van and as luck would have it, we knew just where to go…

 

lancashire art deco

(Above: The Art Deco Midland Hotel, Morecambe)

It’s a building I’ve always loved – along with the period from which it came. It looks modern but it was opened in July 1933, at the height of the Art Deco movement in architecture and design. Morecambe, along with most of the classic ‘railway seaside resorts’ has had its fair share of economic challenges since, but the ‘mighty Midland’ remains classy, elegant and, above all, popular.

(Above: taken in the summer, this photo shows the full curved design of this 1930s masterpiece, a shape that allowed guests unrivalled views across Morecambe Bay)

The hotel was designed by Oliver Hill with interior decoration by Eric Gill. It lies across the main promenade from the station building of the old London, Midland and Scottish Railway, which, at its height, was one of the largest railway companies in Britain.

All the railways hotels owned by the group were named ‘Midland Hotel’. There were also close ties with the nearby ferry port of Heysham, from which ships travelled to Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

(Above: an arty shot taken through the ornamental grasses of Morecambe’s promenade)

The Midland has always been a favourite of celebrities. These have included Coco Chanel, Sir Lawrence Olivier and Noel Coward. The hotel was the centre of a swathe of Art Deco buildings that made 1930’s Morecambe world famous. Among these were the ‘Super Swimming Stadium’, one of the largest Lidos in the world, with a main dimension of over 400 ft. and the ability to accommodate 1200 bathers and a further 3000 spectators.

(Above: the Super Swimming Stadium, opened in 1933. Image Pinterest)

Sadly, the rising costs of running this old pool resulted in it being demolished in the 1970s, but there may be good news for the town and the region in the shape of the Eden Project North – a vast marine centre, reflecting the bio-diversity of Morecambe Bay. The plan (below) to build a four-dome marine centre on the site of the old Super Swimming Stadium is in its final planning stages.

(Above: the Eden Project North, to be built on the site of the old Super Swimming Stadium, is hopefully in the final stages of planning and funding)

The designer of the Art Deco Midland Oliver Hill was a visionary who believed that such buildings, backed by the ‘spirit of the new’ that so typified the 1930s. He realised that the new hotel would give him a chance to put into practice his vision and took personal control of its creation and construction.

Hill observed that “You have here a unique opportunity of building the first really modern hotel in the country.” Hill also took a keen interest in furniture, décor, upholstery and costumes and had gained a reputation for his extravagant interiors, using such materials as glass, chromium, vitrolite, marble and exotic woods.

Hill believed that the exterior design should be intimately linked to the interior decor, and followed the details right down to the colour of the hand towels and the shape of the door handles. He saw these as counterpoints to the austerity of (1930s) modern architecture, providing harmony and balance in an age that was considered quite shocking… and often ‘cold’.

(Above: “Old Triton’ one of the best of the Eric Gill murals – set at the top of the Deco spiral stairway)

The Midland Hotel is also famous for its sculptures and murals. Oliver Hill commissioned the renowned sculptor and engraver Eric Gill to carve two seahorses for the outside of the building. Inside the building he carved a circular medallion in the ceiling overlooking the staircase. It shows a sea god being attended by mermaids and is edged with the words “And hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn”. Gill also designed an incised relief map of the Lake District and the Lancashire coast for a wall of the South Room, which is today the Eric Gill Suite.

(Above: tea on the terrace, anyone?)

Sadly, the hotel fell into disrepair from the 1970s onwards, like much of the rest of the town. The Midland Hotel was forced to close its doors in 1998, and stood derelict and at the mercy of the sea for nearly ten years.

In 2006 the Manchester-based property developer, Urban Splash, finally began restoring and refurbishing the building. Without Urban Splash this beloved hotel would have been demolished.

The success of what Urban Splash achieve was totemic for Morecambe; and galvanised the old town into seeing that things could change. The council began to redevelop the entire promenade – all three miles of it! Today, Morecambe is talked about as an example of a Victorian resort climbing out of the ashes of its past – whilst retained the best parts of its history.

The Midland re-opened its doors on the 1st June 2008, with beautifully restored existing features, such as the grand cantilevered staircase and a number of artworks by Eric Gill.

It’s easy and reasonably priced to dine at the Midland. The Rotunda bar admits dogs, and the Murder Mystery evenings are really well done, and lots of fun. We took our French relatives for one of these evenings three years ago. The murder theme was based on the TV series ‘Allo, allo.’ The leading actor was playing a Frenchman and came round to our table to introduce himself. I explained that we actually had two French people with us… he stared at me in horror before saying, “Zut, alors, what could possibly go wrong!)

I’ve written quite enough for one blog, but hope to do more on this subject in the future. Time to let the timeless and beautiful lights of the mighty Midland’s front doors say night night…

Goodnight…

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Photographs by the author unless otherwise stated.

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Where do they go to?…

rs-224

*

…And the Wood-Stone started to glow,

White it was…

*

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*

And I felt an impetus to take flight,

but only as far as the end of the passage…

*

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*

Which is just as well, otherwise,

I would have missed the golden glow

now emanating from the chamber…

*

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*

And all the ‘statuary firing up blue’,

as whatever it was lighting the chamber,

slowly made its way along the passage…

*

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*

Passed through me…

*

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*

Or around me…

*

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*

And then out…

*

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*

A short time later, still in the chamber,

we found ourselves asking the question to which that had been the answer.

And if you are curious to know, how golden was the chamber?

*

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*

It was Liquid-Sun.

 

***

 

*

Lands of Exile

But ‘n’ Ben ~ Beck ‘n’ Call  ~ Kith ‘n’ Kin

While Ben, fast becoming a folk hero, languishes in Bakewell Gaol, Don and Wen are on holiday… or ‘on the run’ if Bark Jaw-Dark and PC 963 Kraas, hot in pursuit, are to be believed.

From England to Scotland and Ireland, the officers of the Law follow the trail of the erratic couple.

But who is the shadowy figure, hovering beyond sight?

What is his interest in a small standing stone and just how many high-level strings can he pull…

and why?

***

Winged blade.
Everywhere. Nowhere.
Now here.

“Now slowly, gently, return to the Circle, carrying the vision of Light within. Return to your body… meld with it once more… Allow yourself to feel your chest, rising and falling as you breathe… your feet on the green earth.”
Warm, in Jaw-Dark’s hand, the crystal seed pulsed with life. “In the monstrous tyranny of process,” he said, “‘what is’ is next to ‘what was’, and ‘what is no longer’, while ‘what never was’ but ‘what could have been’ and, perhaps even, ‘what should have been’ is that much stronger…
“What seems complete,” said Kraas in the way of some sort of response, “may only be divisive, and ‘the half of it’ might in fact be whole.”
“Good,” said Weston. “Does anyone have anything else to add?”
“Ben’s out,” said Sams.
“Yes, I got that impression, too,” said Weston.
“I have one for Mark,” said Prufrock.
Jaw-Dark placed the crystal seed, still pulsing with life, flat to his heart centre.
“Long before the Pueblo Indians of Central Mexico learned to cultivate maize, they grew green kidney beans as a staple,” said Prufrock. ““Three beans magical,” said the witch doctor in the marketplace, circumspectly discarding those with a flawed casing. By sleight of hand he made many beans fall from those three.”
“It is going to rain heavily,” said Jaw-Dark, matter-of-factly.
“Looking at that black mass of cloud gathering over the horizon, I’d say you were right,” said Kraas.
“If it’s the storm from last night we wouldn’t want to be caught in an exposed location,” said Prufrock.
“There was a storm last night?” said Kraas.

“Not where we were,” said Prufrock…

***

***

Lands of Exile:

KITH ‘N’ KIN

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

The Beeley Stone, ‘liberated’ from the churchyard at Bakewell, stands proudly in the centre of its village green once more. While the locals enjoy the fruits of its restoration, Ben, who had led the daring raid against authority, still languishes in jail.

Don and Wen, arrested and released without explanation in Ireland, now plot an erratic course through the wild places of Wales, while Jaw-Dark and Kraas, seeking the legendary stone of Fergus Mac Roy, have been separated in the most uncanny of circumstances…

As the darkness closes around them, the Black Shade haunts the moors above Beeley and, in the shadowy rooms of the old tower, an ancient and even stranger story begins to unfold…

Available via Amazon UK, Amazon.com and worldwide.

Into the Hill…

rs-208*

Further vindication of our unscheduled return

was granted upon re-entering the chamber.

The free standing stone and the facing stone,

which were separated by space and shadow,

were both now holding the light.

The light that some say would not have been original to the monument.

*

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*

From behind, the standing stone still looks like wood…

*

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*

…Dark Wood.

*

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*

Still a little perplexed by the experience the previous day at the ‘Chant-Eater’

we ran through the nine-fold chant and this time got some good effects.

The middle three seemed to resonate most favourably which,

being the heart triad, would make a lot of sense here.

After which we re-made our dedication…

*

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*

Our timing was beginning to appear propitious…

*

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*

But then we noticed that the ground was turning red…

 

***

 

*

Lands of Exile

But ‘n’ Ben ~ Beck ‘n’ Call  ~ Kith ‘n’ Kin

While Ben, fast becoming a folk hero, languishes in Bakewell Gaol, Don and Wen are on holiday… or ‘on the run’ if Bark Jaw-Dark and PC 963 Kraas, hot in pursuit, are to be believed.

From England to Scotland and Ireland, the officers of the Law follow the trail of the erratic couple.

But who is the shadowy figure, hovering beyond sight?

What is his interest in a small standing stone and just how many high-level strings can he pull…

and why?

***

Winged blade.
Everywhere. Nowhere.
Now here.

“Now slowly, gently, return to the Circle, carrying the vision of Light within. Return to your body… meld with it once more… Allow yourself to feel your chest, rising and falling as you breathe… your feet on the green earth.”
Warm, in Jaw-Dark’s hand, the crystal seed pulsed with life. “In the monstrous tyranny of process,” he said, “‘what is’ is next to ‘what was’, and ‘what is no longer’, while ‘what never was’ but ‘what could have been’ and, perhaps even, ‘what should have been’ is that much stronger…
“What seems complete,” said Kraas in the way of some sort of response, “may only be divisive, and ‘the half of it’ might in fact be whole.”
“Good,” said Weston. “Does anyone have anything else to add?”
“Ben’s out,” said Sams.
“Yes, I got that impression, too,” said Weston.
“I have one for Mark,” said Prufrock.
Jaw-Dark placed the crystal seed, still pulsing with life, flat to his heart centre.
“Long before the Pueblo Indians of Central Mexico learned to cultivate maize, they grew green kidney beans as a staple,” said Prufrock. ““Three beans magical,” said the witch doctor in the marketplace, circumspectly discarding those with a flawed casing. By sleight of hand he made many beans fall from those three.”
“It is going to rain heavily,” said Jaw-Dark, matter-of-factly.
“Looking at that black mass of cloud gathering over the horizon, I’d say you were right,” said Kraas.
“If it’s the storm from last night we wouldn’t want to be caught in an exposed location,” said Prufrock.
“There was a storm last night?” said Kraas.

“Not where we were,” said Prufrock…

***

***

Lands of Exile:

KITH ‘N’ KIN

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

The Beeley Stone, ‘liberated’ from the churchyard at Bakewell, stands proudly in the centre of its village green once more. While the locals enjoy the fruits of its restoration, Ben, who had led the daring raid against authority, still languishes in jail.

Don and Wen, arrested and released without explanation in Ireland, now plot an erratic course through the wild places of Wales, while Jaw-Dark and Kraas, seeking the legendary stone of Fergus Mac Roy, have been separated in the most uncanny of circumstances…

As the darkness closes around them, the Black Shade haunts the moors above Beeley and, in the shadowy rooms of the old tower, an ancient and even stranger story begins to unfold…

Available via Amazon UK, Amazon.com and worldwide.

Inner Sanctum…

 

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*

The thing is…

It is impossible to ‘do’ such sites in one visit.

In fact, it is not possible to ‘do’ such sites at all.

If anything, they ‘do’ you, if you allow them.

As we were about to learn…

*The stone I was interested to get a closer look at is a,

one would hope,  carefully positioned, replica.

The original, carved stone, is now in a local museum for safe-keeping.

The orientation of the ‘tomb’ is, according to the authorities,

towards the midsummer sunrise, so time-wise, at least, we were half a year away.

But I think it is clear that something is going on here with sun and stone,

especially as it becomes obvious that a second outlier

in an adjacent field also lines up with the stone and ‘passage-way’.

All things which would have been missed

had we not returned when we did,

but the best was yet to come…

*

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We had known for some time, courtesy of Rupert Soskin,

that the resident stone of the inner chamber at Bryn Celli Ddu

is part of a petrified tree trunk.

*

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And once we had our eye in it became apparent

that other ‘chunks’ of petrified wood

had been used in the construction of this ‘chambered tomb’.

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*

At least two, and almost certainly more, of the ‘entrance’

or indeed ‘exit’ stones and the lintel of the passage itself

readily conformed to the strange specification.

*

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*

For us, this was very exciting, for while we may have been able

to extrapolate a workable symbolism behind the use of such material

for the stone of the inner chamber,

this symbolism was, perhaps, not so readily applicable

to the surrounds of the passage-way…

*

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*

And was also, possibly,

an indication of a more utilitarian function

for these stones.

*

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*

The mind

began

to boggle…

***

 

*

Lands of Exile

But ‘n’ Ben ~ Beck ‘n’ Call  ~ Kith ‘n’ Kin

While Ben, fast becoming a folk hero, languishes in Bakewell Gaol, Don and Wen are on holiday… or ‘on the run’ if Bark Jaw-Dark and PC 963 Kraas, hot in pursuit, are to be believed.

From England to Scotland and Ireland, the officers of the Law follow the trail of the erratic couple.

But who is the shadowy figure, hovering beyond sight?

What is his interest in a small standing stone and just how many high-level strings can he pull…

and why?

***

Winged blade.
Everywhere. Nowhere.
Now here.

“Now slowly, gently, return to the Circle, carrying the vision of Light within. Return to your body… meld with it once more… Allow yourself to feel your chest, rising and falling as you breathe… your feet on the green earth.”
Warm, in Jaw-Dark’s hand, the crystal seed pulsed with life. “In the monstrous tyranny of process,” he said, “‘what is’ is next to ‘what was’, and ‘what is no longer’, while ‘what never was’ but ‘what could have been’ and, perhaps even, ‘what should have been’ is that much stronger…
“What seems complete,” said Kraas in the way of some sort of response, “may only be divisive, and ‘the half of it’ might in fact be whole.”
“Good,” said Weston. “Does anyone have anything else to add?”
“Ben’s out,” said Sams.
“Yes, I got that impression, too,” said Weston.
“I have one for Mark,” said Prufrock.
Jaw-Dark placed the crystal seed, still pulsing with life, flat to his heart centre.
“Long before the Pueblo Indians of Central Mexico learned to cultivate maize, they grew green kidney beans as a staple,” said Prufrock. ““Three beans magical,” said the witch doctor in the marketplace, circumspectly discarding those with a flawed casing. By sleight of hand he made many beans fall from those three.”
“It is going to rain heavily,” said Jaw-Dark, matter-of-factly.
“Looking at that black mass of cloud gathering over the horizon, I’d say you were right,” said Kraas.
“If it’s the storm from last night we wouldn’t want to be caught in an exposed location,” said Prufrock.
“There was a storm last night?” said Kraas.

“Not where we were,” said Prufrock…

***

***

Lands of Exile:

KITH ‘N’ KIN

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

The Beeley Stone, ‘liberated’ from the churchyard at Bakewell, stands proudly in the centre of its village green once more. While the locals enjoy the fruits of its restoration, Ben, who had led the daring raid against authority, still languishes in jail.

Don and Wen, arrested and released without explanation in Ireland, now plot an erratic course through the wild places of Wales, while Jaw-Dark and Kraas, seeking the legendary stone of Fergus Mac Roy, have been separated in the most uncanny of circumstances…

As the darkness closes around them, the Black Shade haunts the moors above Beeley and, in the shadowy rooms of the old tower, an ancient and even stranger story begins to unfold…

Available via Amazon UK, Amazon.com and worldwide.

The road home…

rs-182*

Wen and I are back on the road which leads past Bryn Celli Ddu…

We had to double-back to the hotel

because someone called down ‘Cloud City’ before we left.

“Don’t you mean, someone forget their wash-bag?”

“Anyway, it was good to finally get to the Hill in a Dark Grove.”

“Pretty literal with their names aren’t they?”

“There is one thing that puzzles me, though…”

“…There were no trees.”

“Nor is a mound a hill, exactly.”

And I didn’t get any shots of the stone at the back of the mound.”

“We’ll miss the museum completely if we go back.”

“We won’t be long and we’ll still make it to Beaumaris in time.”

*

rs-187

*

The first thing to remark, apart from the increased Avian Activity Quotient…

Was, the difference an hour makes.

Was it simply the movement of the sun?

The progress of the day…

Or had the site responded to our earlier visit?

Given our theories on the sensitivity of these sites…

It could well be either, or both.

One thing was certain.

We were seeing more.

And were about to see a lot more…

 

***

 

*

Lands of Exile

But ‘n’ Ben ~ Beck ‘n’ Call  ~ Kith ‘n’ Kin

While Ben, fast becoming a folk hero, languishes in Bakewell Gaol, Don and Wen are on holiday… or ‘on the run’ if Bark Jaw-Dark and PC 963 Kraas, hot in pursuit, are to be believed.

From England to Scotland and Ireland, the officers of the Law follow the trail of the erratic couple.

But who is the shadowy figure, hovering beyond sight?

What is his interest in a small standing stone and just how many high-level strings can he pull…

and why?

***

Winged blade.
Everywhere. Nowhere.
Now here.

“Now slowly, gently, return to the Circle, carrying the vision of Light within. Return to your body… meld with it once more… Allow yourself to feel your chest, rising and falling as you breathe… your feet on the green earth.”
Warm, in Jaw-Dark’s hand, the crystal seed pulsed with life. “In the monstrous tyranny of process,” he said, “‘what is’ is next to ‘what was’, and ‘what is no longer’, while ‘what never was’ but ‘what could have been’ and, perhaps even, ‘what should have been’ is that much stronger…
“What seems complete,” said Kraas in the way of some sort of response, “may only be divisive, and ‘the half of it’ might in fact be whole.”
“Good,” said Weston. “Does anyone have anything else to add?”
“Ben’s out,” said Sams.
“Yes, I got that impression, too,” said Weston.
“I have one for Mark,” said Prufrock.
Jaw-Dark placed the crystal seed, still pulsing with life, flat to his heart centre.
“Long before the Pueblo Indians of Central Mexico learned to cultivate maize, they grew green kidney beans as a staple,” said Prufrock. ““Three beans magical,” said the witch doctor in the marketplace, circumspectly discarding those with a flawed casing. By sleight of hand he made many beans fall from those three.”
“It is going to rain heavily,” said Jaw-Dark, matter-of-factly.
“Looking at that black mass of cloud gathering over the horizon, I’d say you were right,” said Kraas.
“If it’s the storm from last night we wouldn’t want to be caught in an exposed location,” said Prufrock.
“There was a storm last night?” said Kraas.

“Not where we were,” said Prufrock…

***

***

Lands of Exile:

KITH ‘N’ KIN

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

The Beeley Stone, ‘liberated’ from the churchyard at Bakewell, stands proudly in the centre of its village green once more. While the locals enjoy the fruits of its restoration, Ben, who had led the daring raid against authority, still languishes in jail.

Don and Wen, arrested and released without explanation in Ireland, now plot an erratic course through the wild places of Wales, while Jaw-Dark and Kraas, seeking the legendary stone of Fergus Mac Roy, have been separated in the most uncanny of circumstances…

As the darkness closes around them, the Black Shade haunts the moors above Beeley and, in the shadowy rooms of the old tower, an ancient and even stranger story begins to unfold…

Available via Amazon UK, Amazon.com and worldwide.

Autumn and Arnside pastels

(Above: Arnside at low tide)

At first glance, it has something of the ziggurat about it. In reality it’s the final bit of Arnside’s Victorian pier, taken from a short distance back in order to include the famous viaduct – nearly 1600 ft – that links Arnside with Grange-over-Sands.

Arnside has the kind of beaches that you’d rather photograph than paddle on. The sands around here share Morecambe Bay’s treacherous reputation. The danger comes from two directions: the estuary is the outflow of the rivers Kent and Bela. The Kent being so powerful that it has carved deep gorges in the limestone rock in its approach to the sea – this over rather a long time, admittedly…

The other is the strength of the incoming tide, which crosses Morecambe Bay with a speed faster than a galloping horse.

Frequent trains cross the Arnside viaduct, linking it to Manchester and Barrow in Furness.

I love it, as you can probably tell. The whole landscape of estuary, cascading village, station and viaduct reminds me of an boy’s ideal model train set! Not that I’ve had one of those for a very long time…

It’s also a great source of good photographs – in particular sunsets, of which I must have hundreds in my iCloud online storage. Today, while taking the collie for her morning walk, the pastel colours of the October sky reflecting in the calm waters of low tide were the epitome of autumnal stillness.

(Above: a very calm Arnside)

Not that it’s always quiet… During daylight hours, the peace of Arnside village is disturbed by a series of very loud klaxon noises. These mark the turning of the tide – fed by the powerful currents in nearby Morecambe Bay.

At very high tides, the klaxon signals not only the incoming water, but also the estuary’s own ‘bore’ – a single wave that travels inland, often for miles. It’s not as dramatic as that of the river Severn, but is a fascinating sight, and people travel to Arnside specially to see it.

(Above: The way to fine coffee…)

There is a safe place for the collie to chase her ball; it’s near the entrance to the village and forms a kind of wild park on the foreshore. When she’s exhausted with that, we walk though the town and along the shore path to a newly-opened tiny cafe set back into the rock, by a steep path that takes you into the posh residential part of the village. It’s run by two young women who do their own baking. It offers some of the best coffee for miles around… and they sell home-made Cornish pasties… I admit it’s not your usual breakfast…but it’s astonishing how hungry you can get when you smell the baking… They do admit that is part of the ‘marketing’.

The cafe is take-away only. It’s too small to do much else. Clutching what we have come to call our ‘Arnside brekkie’, we walk a little way down the estuary to a favourite block of limestone which boasts an accidental cup-holder, and I spread out my walker’s padded mat to sit on it. I’ve photographed the moment for our delectation…

(Above: that Cornish Pasty moment…)

And then it’s back to the village with a wistful glance at a rapidly filling estuary. The drive home can wait a few more minutes while I finish the last of that coffee, and reminisce about the pasty…

(Above: the final few minutes of calm before the tide begins its race)

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Nice weather for ducks

Hellebore

It has been raining yet again. So much for getting anything done outside today. Walking the dog will be enough. The camera is getting used to it by now. Though not designed as waterproof, it has been out in all weathers, tucked under coats and shawls. It is seldom that I move without it. A road trip, where I know that all I will get to do is drive, still sees it tucked up on the back seat of the car, looking at me as hopefully as Ani when it is time for her walk. You just never know what you will find, or where you may be able to pull over.

magpie strutting

One recent, rainy day saw me drenched and with squelching feet, wandering around a west London park. My son was there on business, and I was there on taxi duty. While he was dealing with the sharp end, I wandered off for a while and was glad I did, in spite of the fact that the little lace slippers were rather less than appropriate. That too, seems to be something of a feature.

mallard

“Nice weather… for ducks!” grunted an elderly gentleman sheltering under a big old tree. The ducks may well have been appreciative. Other birds were less so, though the rain did not appear to have dampened the amorous ardour of at least one determined suitor. It is, after all, spring, and, in spite of the drenching they were getting, or perhaps because of it, the trees and flowers were making the most of the season.

pigeons

I think it is the contrast between freshly washed petals and rain-darkened bark and earth that does it. While sunshine shows the playful gaiety of spring, rain seems to highlight the details on every leaf and petal, throwing textures into relief and marking a sharp contrast in the colours. The sparkling drops add an extra dimension that links earth and sky in a very intimate manner.

blossom

Thinking about it, I realised that our instinct is still to think of the sky as being ‘up’… like the blue strip a child paints across the top of a picture. Yet the sky and the earth embrace, their meeting as close as it can be as every contour of the earth and sea, every grain of sand, every leaf and blade is touched by the sky, without any possible separation. As are we.

wet thrush

Yet we imagine a separateness; simply accepting that the sky is above us. The poets tell us so with their starry heavens… yet those heavens are here on earth too, all around us. How could I have missed that, all these years? What logic knows lacks a soul until understanding illuminates it. We are not children of earth, but creatures of earth and sky.

flowers bike 032

I remembered my younger son, drinking the water dripping from a rock face half way up Ben Nevis one day. He had asked where the water came from, so high up… “So, I am drinking clouds, then?” he had said. The child’s logic too was poetry to me and I realised that by extension of the same thought, I was myself poised between heaven and earth, breathing in the sky. I wondered about that; an analogy could be made there… how many other things do we live and breathe and know without Knowing?

magpie

Thinking about that as the rain fell changed the feeling of the day from simply soggy to glorious. The all-pervading damp was no longer a chill imposition but the kiss of the sky upon my brow. The little plumes of steam that rose from both me and the sheltering creatures more than just a drying out… it was a reaching up, an answering embrace, like a child stretching their arms to a father.

water bird with big feet

A little clumsily, still learning to find our feet in the world, unsure of quite who or what we are, we walk through life in unconscious wonder. We may focus our gaze upon the earth and its rewards, or we may look up to a distant sky and reach for diamond stars. Yet perhaps we do not need to strive so hard to reach the apparently unattainable; perhaps the beauty we seek was right here with us all along.

magnolia