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

The Great Mystery: Dreaming…

*

The mystery conspires with the

animal world whose souls so resemble

the purity and innocence of a human child.

*

It recognises the miracle of life

in both seed and egg

and the wonder of a harvest which

springs from an ear of corn.

*

This solitary communion with the unseen

can be rendered, a mysterious feeling,

and it has been called, ‘the dreaming’,

although it may be better understood as divine consciousness.

– Ohiyesa

*

The Great Mystery: Crowds

*

The mystery needs no

shrines or temples

save those that nature provides.

*

It may be met in the shadowy

heights and aisles of a primeval forest,

on the sunlit expanse of virgin prairie,

the dizzy spires and pinnacles of naked rock,

and beyond, in the speckled vault of the star-lit sky.

*

All who live a lot out of doors

know the magnetic force

that accumulates in solitude

swiftly flees when confronted

by the faceless vagaries of a crowd.

– Ohiyesa

*

On ducks and weather…

Bakewell Imbolc 001 (14)

There is a saying here in England, ‘nice weather for ducks’. It is generally used only when it rains, of course. We have it wrong. Summer is nice weather for ducks… they certainly have the best of it, being able to plonk themselves in a nice, cool river and let the water carry away the heat.

We don’t do weather well in England. Which is odd, because, on the whole and barring the disastrous and tragic exceptions of major weather events, we live in a very moderate climate. In winter the country can grind to halt with a few inches of snow. We complain when it rains, then preen ourselves on the beauty of our green and pleasant land… and grumble about hosepipe bans when it doesn’t rain.

north meeting 046

And then there is summer, brief though it may be. Midsummer saw temperatures here lower than the midwinter temperatures in parts of Australia. With some justification, therefore, we complain about still wearing woollies and turning the heating back on. Then we have the ludicrous situation of leaving for work wearing a jumper in the freezing dawn, only to have the sun come out and cook the country. It was borne home on Wednesday when the temperatures soared. Half the population shed clothing and bared tender flesh to the sun, many, with such unaccustomed exposure, rapidly turning a nice shade of scarlet. Others headed for the shade, closed the curtains and like vampires or trolls, fearing the kiss of the sun.

Bakewell Imbolc 001 (18)
I am of the latter bunch… and, let me make this clear once and for all, I am the only person allowed draw comparisons between my person and that of a troll… Others may do so… at least one probably will… but they do so at their peril…

I could, of course, simply complain about the humidity of summer heat in this country. That is a common favourite. I might mention the fact that fair skin burns… except mine doesn’t as a rule. I could fall back on the consequences of the exploding coffee pot, or the misbehaving extremities… which all give me a perfect excuse for staying out of the sun…

P1110684
But the truth is, I don’t like it. Not when it gets that hot. I feel as if I’m frying. Melting. And, enrobed in a certain percentage of fat, I find it extremely unfair that in this heat… I don’t.
Put me high on a northern hilltop, however, and I am perfectly happy, no matter what the weather. The exhilaration of a thunderstorm or a windy day, hail, sun, rain or snow… Which is just as well, as that is where I am going for the weekend, and all of those have been forecast apart from the snow. So whatever the weather decides to throw at the hills, I’m guessing the ducks won’t mind. And besides… we have a book to publish 🙂