Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Bad Behaviour

There is a wide variety of situations around at work at the moment and also at works of loved ones. One thing all these situations seem to have in common is that someone is behaving badly.

I once, when I was very young, stole a half penny sweet from our local shop. I was well below the age of criminal responsibility so in the eyes of the law I couldn't be responsible for what I did. So why then did I feel such a gut wrenching guilt? I never told my Mum or Sister or Dad what I had done but the memory has stayed with me. I think I was less than 5 years old. I have never stolen anything outright since. I may have borrowed and I may have liberated excess but I always ask first.

I have no idea why I had such a strongly defined sense of right and wrong from such an early age. I have no idea why other children don't. I have no idea why children can grow into adults that don't. Why are people so different? Why did I learn this lesson?

Theft is a funny thing and in the work place, it is really, really hard to commit successful theft . Even if you are the boss, eventually it catches up with you. I heard a story about some nurses back in the 70s who liberated things from the hospital in which they worked. All sorts of things, linen, cutlery, crockery, toiletries... anything and everything. One day they threw a party and forgot about the source of much of what they had....

Many of the situations revolve around words and bad feeling. Isn't this somehow a sort of theft to? Theft of team spirit? Theft of the right to have a nice day at work?

Monday, 30 March 2009

Celebrating your Memories

Following a link from Collage Diva, I have decided to partake in Carla's personal history blog party, which you can read about here. It sounds like a lovely project and I shall enjoy writing about it this Friday.

100 Books

My Uncle posted this on facebook and I am rather fascinated by it. There are so many books on it I would like to read... 28 definates for me...

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here – I’m not sure how they came up with this strange list – does anyone know?

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen X
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien X
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte X
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling X
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee X
6 The Bible - I reckon we probably got through a very high percentage at school
7 Wuthering Heights
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell X
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman X (well two of the three anyway)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – we did a few at school Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer Nights Dream
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier X
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (why have I never read the Hobbit?)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger X
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (started it many moons ago but got bored)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams X
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame X
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis X
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis X
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini 15
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne X
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell X
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery X
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding X (oh how I hated this at school)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert X
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley X
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck X
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding X
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett X
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson (I am reading his one on Oz right now - care of a work mate and we were discussing the loan of this one only yesterday...)
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker X
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton X
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks -
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams X
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute X
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl X
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

23 books doesn't seem to bad until you consider that I have read the ones that appeal to me most already.... I have however bought Cloud Atlas and Atonement and they are waiting in my book reading wings....

I have just placed an amazon order for the lovely bones, the kite runner and the time traveller's wife. They had been grouped together to give lots of lovely discount and cost just over £4 each, including postage!

Some of the others I will look for secondhand as I am sure they are old enough to be about. I would like to read Alice through the looking glass, the Hobbit and Little Women. I already have a bible, a complete works of Shakespeare, a complete works of Jane Austen, the great gatsby and Oliver Twist so I think I have plenty to be getting on with...

Sunday, 29 March 2009

101 Things in 1001 Days

There is a challenge I have come across on Collage Diva and Megan Warren's sites. I have pondered on it a little and the idea has settled. I think it might be a good thing for me to have a go at. So I am going to have a go at writing a list. The idea originated on this site and there is a useful link to a site which can calculate when your 1001 days will end. I discovered that 1001 days from now takes you to very close to the end of 2011, in fact if I begin on the 4th April, my challenge will end on the 31st December 2011. This somehow feels quite symbolic. Some ideas for the list have already sprung into my mind with ease but 101 is a lot of things!

P.S. It is soooo hard thinking of 101 things! It took me hours and a lot of surfing the lists of others.

1. Get married (I have the man, I just have to get round to arranging it)
2. Read 100 new to me books
3. Buy and read the National Geographic each month
4. Send all cards and presents to my family on time!
5. Lose ten stone (ouch, that hurts saying that... *sigh*)
6. Get fit
7. Walk in at least three beautiful places each week with Little Dog
8. Complete 'A Witch Alone' by Marian Green at least once.
9. Visit at least ten holy wells in Cornwall including the two at Holywell Bay and Madron Well
10. Learn to sew
11. Learn to use my sewing machine
12. Take a Tai Chi class
13. Take a calligraphy class (so inspired by some of the calligraphy I have been seeing on blogs)
14. Create a piece of art for the large empty wall in my lounge
15. Make a papier mache dragon
16. Make Montol masks for F and I to wear at Montol (local winter solstice celebration)
17. Grow some food, somewhere, somehow!
18. Learn more about photography
19. Learn to draw spirals a la Aidan Meehan
20. Write an average of seven blog posts a week - long or short
21. Learn more about book binding
22. Climb Roche's Rock
23. Complete five 1000 piece jigsaws (I love jigsaws and have more than five but I struggle to make space for them...)
24. Design and make my own Christmas cards and send at least 50.
25. Complete a Deck of Me
26. Make F a successful Birthday cake
27. Put together an altar / shrine and ensure it follows the seasons and festivals.
28. Complete multi-media soul journal style pictures to celebrate each festival.
29. Read half the books on the list of 100 books sent me by my Uncle (will explain in a separate blog post)
30. Read the bible (in the view of reclaiming my Christian heritage and the pagan aspects contained within it, surely I should make a little effort? This book has caused a lot of fuss over the years...)
31. Have a henna tattoo
32. Have my hair braided
33. Visit Men an Tol
34. Go skinny dipping at night in the sea
35. Live in a house with an open fire (by either sorting out our chimney or moving)
36. Own and read all of Charles de Lint's books (as long as I can buy them for a reasonable price - some of his rarer books are veyr expensive I think!)
37. Make some beautiful jewellery from the vintage coral and pearl beads given me by my Grandmother
38. Learn to crochet
39. Make a multi-coloured crochet blanket
40. Take Little Dog to dog training classes
41. Drink a cup of herbal tea every day
42. Donate something to charity each month
43. Make a pretty soul journal for my niece
44. Eat in ten different expensive restaurants with F
45. Go to the theatre five times
46. Go to a Salsa evening with F
47. Use some of my button collection (some of which came from my Great-Grandma) to make something
48. Buy and use an oracle deck
49. Learn to identify 20 different types of tree
50. Go on a wildlife spotting boat trip
51. Visit ten different gardens in Cornwall
52. Visit ten ancient sites where people lived, such as hill forts, in Cornwall
53. Write a real letter to a friend each month
54. Learn more about mazes
55. Experiment with one new herb or spice in my cooking each month
56. Eat at least 7 pieces of a fruit a week
57. Send a card to Post Secret
58. Use some Islamic designs in my artwork
59. Visit and look round ten unfamiliar Cornish towns
60. Participate in at least one blog inspired art swap every six months
61. Start a blog award targeting those new to blogging or who have very few followers
62. Take part in Project Spectrum
63. Take part in Creative Every Day
64. Take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month)
65. Buy fish from a local fish market and cook it
66. Redecorate every room in my house
67. Take part in the Soul Journal yahoo group prompts
68. Learn 20 constellations
69. Learn to recognise 20 bird calls
70. Send a message in a bottle
71. Give blood
72. Go to the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle
73. Watch a performance at the Minack Theatre
74. Send one Postcross card a month
75. Have watched half of the films on this list of 250 greatest films
76. Pay off my overdraft
77. Make a mobile for my landing
78. Get hold of my family tree and turn it something meaningful to me
79. Visit five different Cornwall Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves
80. Visit the most northern, most southern, most western and most eastern points of mainland UK (excluding Ireland, unless something very interesting happens)
81. Photograph each of these points
82. Get rid of all the clothes I will never wear again, even if I could fit into them.
83. Repaint the old metal trunk I have
84. Go on a ghost tour
85. Have my picture drawn or painted
86. Grow seven herbs or spices for use in my kitchen
87. Buy and use a wormery
88. Make a rug out of the jeans and cords I should have gotten rid of.
89. Make a charm bag for me
90. Make a charm bag for two friends
91. Research an aspect of Cornish history
92. Write and post article on Cornish history on the internet
93. Take part in a photographic scavenger hunt
94. Decorate the stone in my kitchen
95. Make sugar skulls for Samhain
96. Make a cuddly toy
97. Have a go at encaustic art
98. Create a wish jar
99. Collect all the loose change from around the house and turn it into real money...
100. Give £10 to charity for every task unfinished
101. Write a new list with any uncompleted tasks at the top.

Honourable Relationships

My niece and nephew have been attending church and have decided they both want to be christened. I don't have a problem with that. They can believe what they want. What I do have a problem with is a little bit of emotional guilt about not going up at short notice. It's a long, long way, with arrangements for Little Dog and S to be made plus alterations to working times. It also seems that male friends to be my nephews Godfather are in short supply and he wanted F to be his.

My nephew has an absent father who has always had a habit of ducking and diving in and out of his life. This has only got worse since he emigrated. It got even worse once his new lady had a child. The strongest male figure in his life is my father, his grandfather. He adores F, but then, everyone does really...

He has a lot of anger in him and can be a difficult boy at times. He has some learning difficulties and is unlikely to be academic or much of a book reader. He is however supremely practical and should find himself a happy place in life - if he can sort out his temper.

I know we should go, it is just such a large undertaking to consider at short notice. My Mum mentioned the christening to me earlier in the week, so I know my sister must have known for a little longer about my nephew wanting F.

It should all be simple but it so isn't..... for so many reasons..... many of which I wouldn't discuss here.... *sigh*

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Shine a Light

I started gathering candles earlier, in preparation. 21. Without even trying and only lighting nightlights that I had holders for. 21. Mostly covered in dust. Why are they so dusty? Why don't I use them? I like candlelight. The number of candles I have going, I could read by them pretty well to.

I turned off my electric fire, my lap top and the TV. F slunk off upstairs and played on his computer with the lights off. I read, all the time wishing I had already written this post so I could go to bed.

Tiredness has stalked me all day. I think it is the relief of having finally been able to stop that has done it. My head hurts and my bed calls me.... I need to go blow some candles out.

Tomorrow I shall hunt for Earth Hour things and see what I can find.

The Jigsaw in my Head (a work forever in progress)

I had a post in my head last night but the lure of the bath and a good book to finish before bed was just sooooo tempting, I couldn't resist.

The post is linked to the book anyhow. I tend to have two books on the go at a time: a bath book for when I spend time in the bathroom and a car book for reading at work during lunch. My just finished bath book was Forests of the Heart by Charles de Lint and my car book is Brida by Paulo Coelho.

Earlier this year, our wonderful British TV stations aired two series that I series linked and found very interesting: Christianity, A History and Around the World in 80 Faiths. Both of these series spent a little time in South America. I hadn't understood how christianity has been taken by other countries and merged with their older believes. I hadn't known that christianity is so much more vibrant in other countries. I had no idea.

I love the way these peoples are taking the best of both and combining it to suit themselves. I think we did this ourselves a long time ago, hence the enshrining of many of our folk religion dates in the Christian calendar. We did it when we created Celtic Christianity in the Dark Ages. Celtic Christianity was what grew from the Celts mystical roots when the Romans left and took their political Roman Catholic church with them. I believe it was a view of christianity that was far truer to Jesus's vision than the church Constantine created.

I think that the spirit of christianity that lives in South America is far closer to Celtic Christianity. There seems to be a much more mystical touch to both. The spirits of the spirit world can live far more easily alongside Celtic Christianity and the other newer, more vibrant forms of Christianity arising around the world.

In Forests of the Heart, one of the main characters is a Curandera from the Sonara Desert who also has a strong faith but manages to combine the both. I had never realised before that this combining is something common to where she came from, to varying degrees, not something unique to her character in her book.

It also helps me understand Paulo Coelho's background and writings better. I can understand now where his religious, spiritual, mystical stories draw on the growing and changing culture of his homeland. Although Brida is set in Ireland, the same energy of Paulo as a writer is there.

It also helps me fit in the writings of Carlos Castaneda which read some years ago. It is as if by understanding a bit more of what is going on down in South America, it has helped me link together several pieces of the jigsaw that is this world. I like it when things come together in my head and some understanding is reached. I find a great satisfaction in learning and an even greater one in understanding.

Thursday, 26 March 2009


Sometimes I feel like I tempt fate. Sometimes I feel like I make things bad. Me. Myself.

I was happy, truly happy and content. The day after I had to have my lovely Big Dog put down.

Ever since then my finances have been dire. I can not manage them for toffee. I spend. I am a ditz with a card. One little charge caused by a huge vets bill sets me over the edge and charge after charge follows. How much money has the bank swallowed for itself the last three weeks?

Truth is I have no idea, I keep such bad track of it. I think oh it will be OK now and get tempted by some new papers or paint or tools as I get my lunch. Doing this once a week is fine but if you start doing it every day. I have more craft supplies than I could use in a year while working full time.

Thing is, I only needed to spend one week being good and then it will be alright. Can I do this? No. Cos I don't keep track of things.

T o make things worse we still haven't brought a new fridge freezer so we have to shop every day for food. Lunch is a cheap meal if you buy bread and make fillings but without a fridge...

Thing is I am so cross and frustrated by myself. i know I ranted about not bringing out my shadow self and since then my shadow self has been running riot through my blog singing 'I shall have a voice! I shall! I shall! I shall!'

Ugh! What am I like? I need some discipline.... Quite a lot of it really....

Particularly as they are about to give me a contract at work and I shall go from weekly to monthly pay.......

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Word Wednesday: Fur

I have a habit of plucking a word out of thin air and then having no idea what to write about... I thought really hard last night after choosing fur about what I could write and this is what I came up with...

My Gran came from a different era, where if your husband could afford to buy you a fur coat, you were a lucky, lucky lady. She had two. They sat in her wardrobe like two large funeral shrouds. They were thick and heavy and shapeless in their old fashioned, long coated style. She loved them, although I have few memories of her ever wearing them.

Times changed and attitudes with them. To actively wear fur in this country now is asking for trouble! When she died, we didn't really know what to do with them. Neither I, nor my sister, wanted them. Truth be told I am not really sure what my parents did with them in the end, maybe they went to a charity shop, maybe they went in a bin, who knows.

Is all use of fur bad however? I am not a vegetarian, I love to eat meat. I don't have anything against leather, it is a useful end for a cow's skin and prevents waste. I have a problem with elephants being driven to the edge of extinction for ivory but not with sustainably farmed ivory from culled animals or already dead animals. (Anyone who thinks elephants shouldn't be culled would do well to look at the National Geographic from last summer which looked at issues. I am not sure what my opinion is or of my right to have one, where the future of elephants is safeguarded and the number of elephants in a park is causing damage to the environment in it's own right.)

I also admire the Native Americans amongst other groups for the way in which they developed their use of the animals they hunted so that hardly anything is wasted. They didn't over hunt and lived in a very sustainable way upon their land. So looking at pictures of lovely hand crafted fur clothing worn in places like Alaska doesn't offend me. There is a real and genuine need for the clothes that are made as they are better than the artificial offerings made of synthetic things. I find it hard to imagine the meat of these animals being wasted, at the very least they would feed it to their dogs, wouldn't they?

So why were these coats of my Gran's so very offensive? The animals were long dead, from a time when they may well have been cruelly farmed. Surely it would have been more respectful of the animals to carry on wearing to coats to show we valued their loss? We couldn't do it. It felt wrong.

When I die, I hope any part of my body that can be, is used to help some other person live. This includes my skin. I don't however wish to die in order for this to happen. I also see no need for a fur of a dead animal to be wasted as by wasting it, petrochemicals have to be used to produce artificial clothing. I think the problem is when the animals are killed sense-lessly and wastefully in a non-sustainable manner, JUST to make someone look pretty. Killing to eat or keep warm is something else or indeed to safeguard an environment etc. Wasting a parts of an animal because of our sensibilities is a crime, I think though. If we deem a death necessary, then we should benefit as much as possible from that death.

I could still never have worn those coats or ever consider buying or wearing a fur coat though...

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Fisherman's Cove

There is a stretch of cliffs known as the North Cliffs which stretch between Portreath and Godrevy. The cliffs are high and although there are a series of beautiful coves, reaching them is not for the faint hearted. Bassett Cove was the favourite bathing place of the Bassett family but how they reached it, i have no idea for any path has long gone. I think there is a path down to Greenbank Cove but I have never found it. But Fisherman's Cove is different, I have made it down many, many times.

I used to explore with Big Dog and one day we were walking on the North Cliffs. There are many little paths that lead to the cliff edge to a viewpoint. This particular day, many years ago, I took a little path that didn't end at the cliff edge. Instead it wound down the cliff face. The path is maintained by locals and they regularly cut new steps and ensure the ropes at difficult spots are maintained. It is a nerve wracking path.

At the bottom is a small sandy cove with beautiful blue waves crashing on the sand. There are a sprinkling of rocks down one side of the cove that nestle in the sand. There are small caves at the back of the cove, that nestle under the cliff. The rocks are contorted with many layers and some of these are of quartz. A rock sits out in the sea from the cove and a series of headlands can be seen stretching North to St Agnes, some way distant.

The cove is, not surprisingly, a favourite of fisherman. Apparently it is particularly good for mackerel. Other fishers dance in the waves and steal the fish from the fishermen's hooks. One day I had an encounter with one that had waddled out of the sea. I stood there and the seal and I looked at each other. Other times I just saw them dance in the waves.

Another time I discovered another use of the cove in another encounter. It seems it is also a favourite haunt of nudists. I encountered a couple who proceeded to have a nice freindly chat with me. It was however very evident that the man had been very happy at the beginning of the chat but was less so by the end...

I used to go there because Big Dog was untrustworthy off the lead. The hunting instinct of the greyhound was alive and well in him. If he saw something to chase, he would fixate on it, and be gone. Fisherman's Cove offered a safe place to let him run as I could see if anyone was coming down the path. When I would let him off he would do crazy figure of eights around me, revelling in the feel of the sand between his toes.

The need for Big Dog to run lessened as he got older until he would no longer do more than saunter around and slowly I stopped going there.

For some reason I decided to go there with F and Little Dog tonight. For some strange reason I decided that it was a good idea for a unfit and overweight me to go down that tortuous path where one false move would send you tumbling. Not only did I think I could get down but I thought I could get back up to.

It was of course glorious. There was a seal playing in the coves waters that kept watching us as we came down the path. Little Dog loved the feel of a sand and unsurpringly found a stick. Not being a full greyhound she understands sticks and doesn't have the full chasing instinct. Her tongue was covered in sand and when we climbed back up she cleaned it by licking wet grasses.

My legs were like jelly climbing back up and I shall surely hurt tomorrow. I have no idea what possessed me and I shall definitely suffer for it. It was worth it, I think, but I shan't be doing it again to soon...

Monday, 23 March 2009

No I in Team

Ugh! This weekend seems to have consisted of work and sleep.... My bosses insistence that our overtime focus on earliness rather than lateness has played havoc with my sleeping pattern. Even though we finished in the early afternoon both days, the early starts on these and the two previous days meant I sought my bed as soon as I got in for a catch up nap.

Today I didn't work early but i did work late and tomorrow there is likely to be the offer of more additional hours. This week is generally going to be miserable. Following stock take we only have so long before the end of the months's joyousness and everything has to be reconciled and done for then. I have to befully caught up on my job by sometime Friday.

But what then? Then I have a couple of blissful stress free days at work before it is back into playing catch up. I am going to take the Monday off and allow myself an extra day to breath over the weekend following all this extra work.

Without all this extra work, things have been stressful. My colleagues have been having different difficulties and events in their lives, at work and at home. We have also had to spend a lot of time together when we have been feeling tired. I know I am sick of the sight of some of my colleagues right now. I like them very much, but I would like to not see them for a couple of days!

I have missed out on things because of this extra work. There was a pagan get together for Ostara. There is a fantastic garden on an estate in Cornwall called Tregothnan which opened it's doors to the public for charity for two days this last weekend - the only days this year. And f course the Soul Journal Mandala ATC swap - ooh wait... i couldn't take the feeling that I was missing out, so I snuck in at the last minute to take part... *grin*

The extra money will be welcome but after the tax man has taken his chunk, it won't be as great as all that. So why do all these hours then? Because I am part of a team that has a job to do. We work together to get things done. Even so, I would take no job that demanded this much on more than the odd occasion here and there. I definately want to work to live, not live to work. That is of course, unless I find my true vocation.....

Anyway off to bed, might be another long day tomorrow, but I hope not...

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Lost Lands (Part Four - Why? or Ice, Ice Baby)

OK so enough myth, legend and history, it's time for some science...

So why were these lands inundated? What changed?

The sea did.

In times gone by, namely the ice ages, much of the water of the world was locked up in the ice sheets of the far North and South. Winds carried water vapour north where it fell as snow onto the glaciers. Over the years more and more fell and it eventually compacted into ice. This ice didn't melt, and if and when it did it wasn't enough to shrink the constantly replenished ice. Because ice is white it reflected light and heat back into space so it was very hard, once started, to stop the ice sheets growing and growing.

More and more of the world's water became locked in ice and the oceans shrank, land that is now far below sea level would have been above sea level during glacial periods. A lovely interactive map here, shows here the presence of ice across Britain and the changing sea line. 20 thousand years ago Britain was connected to Europe all along the South coast and up much of the East coast across to Scandinavia. In the west, Ireland was linked to Scotland, Wales and Cornwall. It wasn't until 9 to 10 thousand years ago that enough ice melted to raise sea level enough to make Britain an island.

The ice had another effect on Britain. Ice sheets are heavy and the weight of it pushed Scotland and the North down. Britain tipped like a set of scales and the far south of England was raised up. This took a long time to happen but raised beaches can be seen in many places around a Cornwall. They are odd rock shelves at the back of a beach and clearly show that once the sea was much higher with respect to the land.

Of course this ice is gone now and the scales are still adjusting. The South is sinking and the North is regaining it's previous heights. At the moment London is sinking by about 3 mm a year.

Evidence that Cornwall used to extend further out to sea is everywhere. If you know what to look for, it is painted on every map. Cornwall has some large tidal rivers, in particular the Fal, Fowey and Helford. The rivers that feed into the estuaries are tiny in comparison to the estuaries. The thing is these rivers are actually rias or flooded river valleys. As sea level rose it came up the valleys between the hills.

I love these stretches of river and I once took a kayaking course on the Fal. Exploring little inlets with heavily wooded shores was a joy. Many of Cornwall's most famous gardens lie on the shores of these rivers such as Trelissick, Tregothnan, Glendurgan and Trebah. They also featured in Daphne Du Maurier's novels in particular Frenchman's Creek.

So how far did the ice get? Well it covered the Welsh mountains and reached the coast of Cornwall and even reached the edge of the Scillies. Deposits of glacial head can be found in many places along the North coast such as at Godrevy. Glaciers are not clean pieces of ice, they pick up everything loose iin their path. They transport bits of rock and rubble over long distances and then when they melt and dump it. The head is rough bits of unsorted rock all jumbled together with silts, clays, gravels and anything else the glacier left behind.

The Irish sea Glacier would have sat on dry land and at this time the sea level would have been 130 metres lower than at the present time. Cornwall was mostly ice free however and would likely have been inhabited by some hardy Ice Age folk. Maybe they wondered about all the land lost under the ice. Maybe they had legends of cities the ice ate but didn't quite believe them.

As more ice melts in the Artic and Antartic the sea level will continue to rise and the coast line of Cornwall will to change. More land will be lost.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Lost Lands (Part Three - Lancarrow)

I have spoken of Perran Bay before a little here and I mentioned a lost city. This city was called Lancarrow or Langona and legends of it's past exist with little in terms of fact known.

Lancarrow was a great city and in it's time was the biggest in England. The inhabitants were wealthy and the city had seven churches known for their beauty. The inhabitants had been made wealthy by using the resurces around them, the sea, the mines and the tracts of woodland about. Criminals from across the country were bought here to work but were not allowed to live in the city.

Eventually the criminals persuaded their masters to let them move into the city and eventually they intermarried. Crime was thus brought to Lancarrow and it became a hedonistic place. In punishment God caused a huge storm that blew for three days and three nights and buried the city under sand.

Amongst the dunes of this bay quantities of human bones have apparently been found. The dunes however are holy and it is likely that they were home to the earliest church in mainland Britain after the Romans left. St Piran, the patron saint of Cornwall, travelled from Ireland on a millstone and landed in the bay and founded his church here. His earliest wattle and daub church was lost to the sand and replaced by a stone church which, although it has been excavated, is currently under the sand as well.

I find it intriguing that a city lost in vice was buried by sand and that the greastest saint of Cornwall landed here and built his church on top of the lost city but he to lost his church. Just as the land of Lyonesse was swallowed, so there was land that extended out from this bay bu this would have been lost at a much earlier time. The shallow nature of the bay which is full of sand and the direction of the prevailing winds mean that the land is fantastic for dune building processes to occur.

It is possible that the city is not under the dunes but out in the bay. Under the dunes there are rocky outcrops and a low cliff which can in some parts be seen from the beach and have been exensively mined. This is obviously a more ancient legend as no trace of this city was found by the Romans. It may seem unlikely that Cornwall was the centre of England at one point but Cornwall was home of metals highly prized by early civilizations and was visited by the Greeks and Phoenicians for trade. Cornwall was far more worldy than the rest of England at these times.

The dunes of Gwithian Bay are also said to hide a lost city and this bay would also have been above sea level in distant past times. One farmstead was nearly buried overnight and the inhabitants had to escape by a bedroom window. This house became uncovered for a while in the early 1800s.

The shifting sands of both bays were eventually tamed by the introduction of Marram Grass (to repeat my previous post). Marram was introduced from the new world by Sir Walter Raleigh. Raligh was friends with the Cot family whose family home was endangered by the sands of Perran Bay. It is easy for us to forget how dangerous these sands were once and how mobile.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Lost Lands (Part Two - The Scillies and other rocks)

Today I want to carry on looking at the area between Lands End and the Scillies as well as the Scillies themselves but from a slightly more modern perspective.

It seems that the sea between the Scillies and Lands End only became navigable for large ships in Tudor times. Half way across the sea between Lands End and the Scillies are some rocks called Lethowsow or Seven Stones and they form a reef just below the surface. The area between these rocks is known as Tregva which means dwelling and is the mythical site of the City of Lions.

This reef was the one upon which the Torrey Canyon ran aground causing a huge pollution incident in Cornwall in 1967. The ship was carrying crude oil and attempts were made to stop the pollution with bombs and fires. An account can be read here. This wreck occurred on the 18th March and it feels slightly eerie to think that by accident I am posting about this huge event so close to it's anniversary. This wreck was the first large oil disaster at sea.

Some rumours suggest that the wreck was bombed by less practiced pilots as being a bank holiday (must have been an early Easter) the best were on holiday. Many of the bombs were released late and divers still find unexploded bombs around the wreck. The slick was set alight and napalmed. Apparently the smell in Penzance was awful.

The Torrey Canyon may be the most famous of the ships wrecked here but there have been an estimated 200 wrecks including the Rarau which went down in 1972, the Chiswick in 1891 and the Fantee in 1949. Hardwood from the Fantee was still coming ashore in 1992.

A lightship is anchored between the reef and the shipping channel to the North and at one time this was manned. The crew of the ship were often involved in rescues. In 1999 the ship broke free of it's moorings and began drifting towards Penzance before it was returned by the Mermaid.

The Scillies are a magnet for wrecks as well.

The disaster of Sir Cloudsley Shovel who lost 2000 men on the Scillies in 1703 was a catlyst. Sir Shovell was a naval hero of his time and had become Rear Admiral of the British fleet. They were returning from Toulon when Shoveel was warned by a crewman that they were off course. Legend has it this crewman was a native of the Scillies and recognised the smell of the burning kelp pits of his homeland and so was able to say where they were. Shovell had him hung from the yardarm for mutiny.

Legend also had it that Shovell was washed ashore alive although he didn't live long. Some versions say he was killed by other surviving sailors, some by locals and one by a local woman who wanted the ring from his finger. One version says thus lady bit his finger off to get his ring, while he was still alive. There is a memorial stone to him where his body was found but some time later his body was removed to Westminster.

The collection of islands and rocks are linked by channels with some islands connected by sand bars at very low spring tides. While others become joined at every low tide.

Six islands were inhabited but the tenants of Samson were evicted in the1800s. The islands were obviously the hill tops of a larger land and as such they are covered in the remains of times gone by. In neolithic times hilltops were valued for fotified dweelings and religuous purposes and the range and number of remains is staggering. When I visited some years ago a walk round St Mary's took us to barrows and a maze that I remember clearly.

When the tide is low archaeological remains are found below the normal water level. Nornour houses the remains of a farm but is too small now to be farmed. Ancient field walls are visible beneath the sea.

Four miles beyond the Scillies is Bishop's Rock which rises 45 metres from the seabed. This rock is the smallest island in the world to have a building on it. The first lighthouse built here was washed away by storms before it's light could even be lit. The current lighthouse was built in 1858 and takes up the entire island and marks the Eastern edge of the North Atlantic shipping route. It was a 35 metre tower built of dressed granite that gets hit by everything the sea can throw at it. One time the sea ripped the 550lb fog bell from the gallery at the top of the tower. In 1881 the tower was strengthened and a further 12 metres added.

This is the last land before America.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Lost Lands (Part One - Lyonesse)

My post on Stithians Reservoir made me think - Cornwall being a long, long pointy bit of land that sticks out into the sea has lots of more impressive lost lands than the little bit lost to a reservoir. Maybe this is why no one seems interested in the lost homes of Stithians? Why mourn a few houses when you have legendary cities and the lost land of Lyonesse?

At the far end of the land there is an area called Penwith and it's major town is Penzance. Penzance sits in a large bay called Mounts Bay and in the bay sits St Michael's Mount. This is a rocky island that can be reached across a causeway at low tide but at other times is reached by boat. There is a harbour and houses on the mount but at the top there is a grand castle. The old Cornish name for the Mount is Careg cowse in clowse which means the hoary rock in the woods. When large amounts of sand have been removed from the beaches by storms, the buried remains of trees have been found.

From Penwith the sea now stretches 26 miles from Land's End to a set of Islands known as the Scillies. Six of the 140 islands are inhabited. The Romans however referred to them as Scillonia insula in the singular. The Greeks and Phoenicians visited the Cassiterides or Tin Isles but there is no tin in the present day Scillies. Strabo, a Roman Geographer records there being ten islands in the Cassiterides. Solinus of the fourth century records there being a large island called Silura off the Cornish coast and it is likely that this island is now the Scillies.

It seems likely that off Penwith there was a single large island called Silura which in turn had several smaller islands off it's coast. Silura was apparently separated from the mainland by a strait with turbulent and dangerous waters. The Silures were known for their hard work and their piety.

It seems that at first the widening of these straits was gradual but the final inundation was dramatic and sudden and there was much lose of life as several large towns were destroyed with a sole survivor escaping on a white horse. Three families claim this ancestor was theirs. The first is Trevilians whose family crest commemorates his escape Another, the Lord of Goonhilly, came on shore at Sennen Cove and built the Chapel Idne there. A third was a member of the Vyvyan family.

Goonhilly is an area of land on the nearby Lizard peninsula but it seems the Lord of Goonhilly may have been the Lord of Goonbily. It means salt water downs and was a name applied to Ennor the area where the Eastern Isles remain. One of these isles is still called Ganilly and the old name for Sennen is Porth Goonhilly or Port for Ganbily and this was probably the main port of the area.

The land that was lost was said to be very fertile with several woods with several large towns. Records indicate that 140 parish churches were lost but some dispute this and have reduced the number to 40.

There is of course a great deal of dispute as to whether all this really did happen. Science admits that the Scilly Isles would have at one time been much, much larger but the lost land of Lyonesse? Science has trouble with that and some feel the histories recorded show the local memories retained from neolithic times when the innundations would have been more likely to have happened.

I think one reason that science struggles so much with Lyonesse is it's link to Arthurian legend. It seems Mordred chased the remainder of Arthur's men through Cornwall to Lyonesse following the battle of Camlann in which Arthur was killed. The ghost of Merlin travelled ahead of Mordred and when they reached the low valley in the middle of Lyonesse, Merlin turned into a cloud and caused a deluge. Mordred was lost along with his army but the pitiful remnant of Arthur's men were safe on the hill tops that beame the Scillies. They were so grateful for their deliverance that they founded a religuous site which eventually became the Abbey on Tresco.

You can read more here and here.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

An Evening Walk

The last four days have been beautiful with clear blue skies and a hike in the temperature. Today dawned foggy and the day remained hazy even after it became sunny and warm. The earth seems to have warmed enough to give up it's water and it shrouds the land gently. And it was even warmer, it was lovely.

I got out of work a little early after a hectic day and I had to go walk. I walked in the door, picked up a lead and walked out again with Little Dog in tow. I knew everyone would be going for a walk this evening and I didn't want to go somewhere where they would all be. I needed to go inland, where people tend to neglect, and I wanted to walk in the sun and open air, not somewhere shaded under the trees.

I decided to go to the Red River at Menaderva, just outside a small village called Kehelland. We didn't see a soul. We walked to the music of the river and were serenaded by birds with every step. The long path beside the river had the sun traveling along it's length and hordes of insects were living their short lives in the heat rising from the baked path. As we walked back along the path, the sun cast long shadows in the orange light. The air had that glorious warm, sweet, alive quality and it was so clear and fresh that I just wanted to take huge gulps. I could almost taste it.

The Red River drains from the heavy mining areas of Camborne and Redruth and was named the Red River as the mines which it drained caused it to be full of metals which would settle out and coat the river with iron. I could give you a science lesson on this and I probably will one day but i can't remember all the details and I don't have time to look them up right now and chemistry isn't what I want to talk about right now!

The metallic particles the river carried were worth a little effort to reclaim though and in it's lower reaches the river was used for tin streaming. The tin ores from further upstream had caused the river to make the riverbed of the lower reaches of the river an easy source of tin ore. The river was manipulated through different ponds and canals as the base of the valley was scoured for ore. The water was used to seperate the heavier metallic ore and other material.

The river itself currently runs between two walls along this stretch and has a steady flow. A path was built along one of the riverbanks and this is high enough to remain dry. Both banks of the river have been left to nature and only for a little way is there fields adjoining the river. Woods and heath and willow carr sit on both sides. The old ponds and canals have been reclaimed and willows grow in and around them, draped in lichens and moss and reminiscent of some primeval swamp. The higher land is wooded or where the soil is poor, as a result of high metal content probably, gorse and heather has taken over.

The path itself is wide and bright and you could drive a land rover down it. To either side there is no sign of humans really doing anything very much at all any more. The gorse was covered in yellow flowers and yellow daffs and primroses were all over the place. Yellow celandines sat in some hedges. Everywhere was yellow and green and brown with the sun casting and orange glow. Just before I got back to the car I spotted some violets.

I couldn't see what most birds were as the sun was low in the sky so that birds flying were a whirr of feathers and light. Stationary birds glowed orange. Two Canadian Geese flew overhead telling me their names, with their loud honks. I think i saw some wood doves to and maybe a robin but it was hard to tell. The bird song rivalled the dawn chorus of many places and I wish I could identify birds from the songs.

It was a beautiful magical walk that left me happy, with a deep sense of contentment. I came home and bathed in lavender, chamomile and hops with a cup of tea and some chocolate... Bliss...

South (Word Wednesday)

South is a word rich in associated meanings and various roots exist for this word.

South can be translated as meaning sun ward and this seems very appropriate really. During the day time, South is the easiest direction to find. Countries have areas they tend to refer to as the South and there is also an attitude that goes with Southerness somehow. A laidback holiday sort of an attitude....

In the UK there is a North South divide with the North being previously poorer and culturally lacking. Of course this was just snobbishness by the Southerners! The South is where the money and power of London sit, home of government, royalty and empire. Thing is most Northerners are more than happy to keep the North to themselves... With the South comes the Rat Race.

In the UK there is another region of southness beyond London and 'The South'. Cornwall, where I live, is further South by quite a long way and is the furthest South of all of the UK. It is generally termed as being part of the South West and to get here you have to go through the West Country which is part of 'The South'.

In Cornwall we are warmer than anywhere else in the UK even though we are also very wet because we stick out into the sea. Spring comes here first and winter doesn't ever really live here, it merely fights the odd battle for the occasional week or two. You can grow vines and tropical plants. The gardens of Cornwall are some of the most unusual in the country because here we can grow tropical plants that will grow nowhere else. We have seaside towns with palm trees.

This is the true South of the UK but not of England. Cornwall is one of the celtic nations of which there are six - Scotland, Wales, Ireland, The Isle of Mann, Brittany and Cornwall. As the Celts were pushed to the far corners of Europe during the Dark Ages, these are where Celtic blood remains strongest, although there are no 'pure' bloodlines in the UK. I myself and English but have Welsh and Scottish blood. F is Cornish but his surname is Pascoe (a very, very common one in Cornwall, a bit like Jones in Wales) and it is believed that this name started when a Spanish man from the Pasc ended up settling in Hayle many generations ago. Indeed many Cornish have a different look to those of many English people. Red hair is more common but many people have very dark complexions to.

Back to the sun ward attitude... There is always an attitude of Southerners being a bit soft, spoilt in the sun and easy growing conditions. I think some of this attitude is a hangover from colonial days when South meant the third world and a whole other hemisphere... In Cornish there is word Dreckly, which fools many an incomer, it doesn't mean directly it means whenever you get to it. If I say I shall do something dreckly, I may never actually get around to doing it...

Cornwall is laid back in a curious way and because so many come here on holiday and fall in love with it's beauty, many incomers move here, often for the wrong reasons. They want to live in this place, not in this community. Indeed, many find the community impossible to adjust to. Things get done via people you know and friends of friends and if you pluck a builder out of a phonebook and are in any way snotty to them, you won't get a good job done.

As someone from up country myself, I seem to have adjusted well enough to slide under the radar. Once I get around to organising my wedding and have the name Pascoe myself my Cornishness will never really come up but I shall never ever be Cornish. Just like those living in Britain but not of English descent are always British and not English. Other people never seem to settle and I can feel this attitude which would keep them apart bristling on them like a cloak, even though they are perfectly nice folk.

Is it the same in the Amercias? Is the Deep South as much an attitude as a place? I suspect it might be...

The south is often referred to as down and the north as up. There is a of course another 'down' where it is a wee bit hotter, Hell. Is there any connection? Some countries have connotations to south which mean paradise because the words for their heaven and South are similar. Indeed there is something to the Summerlands that implies South to. Could it be that South was the pagan direction of Summer and the Summerlands and that Christianity took this and twisted it as well?

Finally another root of the word South comes from Norse mythology where four dwarves stand on the cardinal directions and hold up the heavens. The dwarf who stands in the South is called Sudri.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Stigma of the Grump

Tonight I am grumpy. I am tired and in the midst of my moontime and I am sat in a lone with no chocolate and I am hungry. F cooked a lovely meal but forgot to cook any rice or other carbs to go with it. He had some crackers but gave himself most of them (he would dispute this). He then went out to play footie and afterwards he is off to the pub cos it is their last night of playing (nothing to do with St Paddy's Day, honest).

Of course, rationally I know that I have no real reason to be grumpy with F, but I am. I bought him a bar of chocolate this morning before work and bought it back to the house for him (OK so I also knew I had to come back and pick up my swipe card, but hey). Why do men have to be so good at accepting these little gestures but so bad at making them? If I want something, I tell him and generally I get it, problem is I want a little romantic gesture that I don't have to tell him to make.

But then again this is just me grumping, again, still.

I guess the real reason I am grumpy is because I don't want to be tired. I am fed up of being tired. I seem to have been tired forever. For half my life. I don't know how to stop being tired, at least not altogether. I know I have made progress but on a night like tonight when I am facing a real busy few days and I won't get to do anything I want for ages, I don't want to be tired and not get to do anything fun.

I had glandular fever (mono?) when I was fourteen and took a couple of years to recover. Then I got it again at 19. I tried to keep going this time and failed and all I did was make myself worse. It took me 4 years to get back to studying but I did. I used to go to college and come home and have a nap. I used to nap at the weekend. Slowly, over time the naps have become less and less. But I still sleep a lot.

My body seems to be telling me it needs a little less right now as I keep waking an hour earlier than I needed. Somehow my head isn't keeping up.

I feel as if I have slept half my life away and to be fair, I pretty much have.

Is it wrong to sometimes feel a little grumpy about such things? Is it wrong to get grumpy when my body starts to flake out at the end of the day? Luckily I have a man who understands it isn't personal. Of course, he had to learn the hard way that when I say I want to go to bed, I mean I have to go to bed right now this second and any minute you mess about and delay my sleeping is going to increase my grump factor exponentially. There is a simple solution to this, don't delay my going to bed and creep in a little later when I am out for the count.

I want to go to my craft things and make something but I have a headache and they are all upstairs. Maybe I will, maybe I will go the other way at the top of the stairs and head to bed instead.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Kit Cat

I read this fantastic post yesterday and it got me thinking. I love the way sometimes if you have some aspect of yourself you are struggling to understand or some concept that isn't fitting, so often someone will come along and add a piece of the puzzle on their blog.

Synchronicity is so alive and well here.

That is not to say synchronicity is always entirely positive. Death seems to have stalked the beloved animal friends of several blog writers recently. I hope it has finished for now.

Anyway back to Quaker Pagan Reflections.... Cat was writing yesterday about the need for fallow time. She was saying that if she has been having a very spiritual time or going through an intense period of development she starts to crave downtime. Another walk in nature will over-charge and sometimes she has to step away and eat junk food and play computer games. She puts it far better than I could...

Basically, sometimes I worry when I feel that my development is slowing, when I am striving to learn and grow, the lulls make me fret. I have been fretting a little about how I sometimes feel it has all slowed up. When I started the blog and started reading and learning and moving it was so great and I had such a buzz. That sudden spiritual spurt couldn't last but I gave myself a hard time as it slowed.

So what am I doing now? Waiting for the next learning spike? Waiting to feel my connection with all that is reaffirmed again? No, maybe I should. Maybe I should listen to my guilt and carry on striving. Maybe I should just except that now isn't a time when I feel as connected as I have, that work and everything else has stepped in a little.

Of course if I spent a little less time chasing creativity, I might have more time to be spiritual. How do I go about being more spiritual? The creativity feels right for now as does learning more of the stories of the land around me.

Of course very little of either of those or anything else will be happening this week. There will be no weekend off for me this week but 4 days of 6.00 starts, three of which will grow into 12 hour days. I am someone who needs a lot of sleep - a hold over from my days of Glandular Fever and Chronic Fatigue. This means by the time I get home, shower and eat, there won't be much time left, for anything really....

So why am I doing this? Because I am part of a team and my team needs to get this done. There is of course a little money involved as well....

I doubt I will feel like blogging so yesterday I sat down and researched four posts that will appear without me even having to log on.... Maybe this is my blogging lull?

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Black Rant

There seems to be a real interest at the moment in the blog community about respecting our shadow selves. I know this is all about owning all our feelings, including the negative ones and loving ourselves, even when we feel bad. i don't have a problem with others sharing their shadows but I don't want to bring mine out here, at least, not to often.

I have found it too easy in the past too live a little too immersed in my shadow side. I get wrapped up in myself, then I get more agoraphobic and depressed. I think too much, I play things over in my head. The more I think, the lower my self-worth sinks. This all feeds together in a big swirly circle. What did life really hold except more of the same? What was there to be sooo enthusiastic about?

Many years ago I had a bad and destructive relationship. I was very naive and being the analytical sort I was, what happened ripped apart my view of the world. In order to rebuild myself I had to spend a lot of time thinking and analysing. I had to trawl my past and my childhood. I had to pick it all apart in order to rebuild a better world view from scratch.

I put myself back together. I learnt I had a problem saying no. I learnt I had been repressing my anger for years because I felt it was a negative thing. Picking became a habit. It can only take things so far.

Sometime you have to let go of the bad things. Living in the past is unhealthy, as is living in the future. The only place contentment lies is in the present moment. Contentment contains all emotions but it is the harmony of them all working together that brings balance. I don't want a shadow self, I want to be me. I want to be whole and full. I grump when I get tired, not my shadow self. I am dreadful with money, me, not some other aspect of me. My guilt over being bad with money is also mine as are my fear of being thin and having to deal with the attentions of strangers even if it means I am fat and unhealthy. I know all these things but knowing lost it's power to help me because knowing only takes you so far, doing has to take you the rest of the way.

I don't get too personal on my blog because I don't want to be identifiable, I don't want my blog to become attached to my public life as this would change what I said. I don't want to talk about certain situations in my life on here because I see little point, I have reached acceptance of these situations and bringing them out would infringe on others right to privacy. But the biggest reason I don't air all these issues is that writing this blog is about me learning to live in harmony and not with the shadow whispering in my head. It is about me developing a life and learning how to live. It is about re-learning to be creative and getting out and about more. It is about connecting with others.

That is not to say I never air some less positive emotions on here, or at least they could be negative if viewed differently. Grief for instance. I have no problem with grieving but I wanted my expression of grief to be balanced and I hope the soul journal page I did reflected this balance I aim for. I cried and cried until there were no tears left and my eyes hurt. My frustration with neanderthal could have been less positive if it wasn't accepted and it could have cropped out in all sorts of unpleasant ways.

I am not saying I am perfect but for me, I have walked too long in my shadow and my blog has helped bring me into the light. This is my truth.

Saturday, 14 March 2009


Today we went for a walk at Stithians Reservoir. We had thought to go for a walk with S and Little Dog but S was pretty ill. After we dropped him back we went for a walk and it was pretty late in the day.

Stithians Reservoir is blocked by a dam 41.5 metres high and 244 metres long. It holds back 5205 million litres of water spread over 270 acres (1.1 square km). The dam was built in 1964 in a small steep sided valley nestled in the granite hills near Redruth and Camborne. The village of Four Lanes is nearby and on rainfall maps it has a little circle round it that shows it really does rain far, far more there than it does a mile down the hill.

Cornwall is a pretty wet place and these hills get far more than their fair share of rain and most of the rain that falls on the hills in this area and then ends up in the Lake. The dam blocked the course of the River Kennal which might look small and insignificant but it' small size is no indication of it's power. The water flows fast and during it's short course it powered flour mills, a foundry, a paper mill and several gunpowder mills at the height of water powered industry. Over it's five and a half mile course it powered 39 water wheels and it is unlikely any other river powered as many of such a short distance.

Water from the dam is regulated now and South West Water has to ensure that a minimum flow of 0.0316 cubic metres per second. In times of drought this flow has sometimes been halved with government agreement. So what happens to the rest of the water that would have flown along the river? The people of much of West Cornwall drink it.

Apart from that the lake is a home for water sports, fishers and bird watchers. It is supposed to be the windiest lake in England so it is perfect for sailing and windsurfing. The fishing is mostly trout I think. The birds are varied and it is supposed to be the best inland spot in Cornwall for birdwatchers.

It seems to me that people so often focus on the sea in Cornwall that so often the lovelyinland places are forgotten. We saw only four cars in the car park tonight even though it was a beautiful evening. Finding information on the reservoir on the internet has proven very difficult. I am sure that there has to be something about the land it drowned. I believe there is a village under there and that sometimes you can see buildings...

Friday, 13 March 2009

Notorious D.O.G.

So I said I would give it a week and a week it has been. I am in a very different place to the one I was in this time last week. So much has happened, not all to me, but most of it bad. I think having believes about death that include things going on in another form and not ending or going to some nasty little hell really helps...

For me, settling and getting enough sleep has been the hardest thing. I have been sleeping lightly this week. Part of this has been me listening out for signs of Little Dog being unsettled. Of course my letting her up on the bed int he night has only encouraged her to be up and about at night!

I had one day off work to catch up on sleep and because all the stress had settled in my stomach. Work.... *sigh* One persons relationship took a tumultous turn and they broke up briefly. Another person found out that his partner of many, many years was leaving them without giving any answers as to their plans, or why, or what would be happening to their near teenager.

This all made my sorrow seem insignificant in the big scheme of things. My relationship with Big Dog was good and honest and I did all I could. I have no regrets. I loved him with all my heart and he knew it. I do not have the power to take away cancer. My grief was a good clean, honest thing.

Of course there is someone I haven't talked about... Little Dog. Little Dog has suddenly altered from a tiny terror to being very cute and lovely and well-behaved. I am sure part of this is grief and as the week has progresses she has begun to bark at passersby a little and is more enthusiastic again. I do wonder if part of her behaviour was Big Dog's bad example.

Earlier today F was out with her when a lady spoke to him who he had never seen before. And what she said was, I wondered why we weren't barked at this morning, it's because she is out here instead. F has renamed Little Dog...

Now Big Dog and all his fear and aggression to strange dogs are gone, we are going to see if we can get her socialised properly. She has a tendency to be very excitable and dominant with other dogs. We have looked at a few greyhounds online and will get a new laid back male friend for her in a few weeks time. My Dad will keep an eye out for one who might be suitable for her...

My parents sent a beautiful card to me, with a lovely picture which is simply called sympathy card and can be bought here from Greyhound Rescue West of England.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Life Through a Lens

I had promised myself that I wouldn't talk about the changes in my life until I could give them some perspective and I set myself a date for a week and that takes me to tomorrow. I have lots I want to say and show and share. But what shall I talk of tonight? I have managed to find other things all week but tonight...

One thing that has been on my mind recently is the old Smirnoff adverts from my teenage years. I have been trying to find them online with very little luck although i found the TV ad. There was a whole series of still pictures to but i can't find them. The premise of the campaign was that if you looked through a bottle os Smirnoff vodka, you would see the world rather differently. Wasps becoming helicopters was one I particularly remember but there were so many and they were very, very cool.

I love the idea of magic glasses or some other way of seeing the magic in the world or of just seeing it differently. They crop up all over the place from the old story of using smeared juice of four leaf clovers on the eyes to see faerie to the holed stone of the more recent Spiderwick Chronicles. I guess they appealed to me because I would have loved some way to see the fantastic, some way to see magic.

Problem is that the fantastic and the magical become the common place and the ordinary as soon as everyone can see them all of the time and they become the accepted. Maybe in some other reality all they have are wild helicopter gun ships and they would love an ordinary wasp or two. Maybe in some other reality they would love to have crocodiles instead of magical dragons. Maybe magical and fantastic is just about perspective.

Children seem to see the world with such innocence and joy, the magical and fantastic are with them all the time. I think as we take the world for granted we lose the ability to see them. In many of the Smirnoff ads the viewpoint changes as the camera moves so that by moving so the bottle is between you and the object, you can then see it different. Maybe we can shift our perspective in the same way so we can see the fantastic.

Actively manipulating magic is a different thing entirely of course. Science evolves and it is entirely possible that science and magic may become linked in my view. Everything is made of energy. When you look at things in such detail that you can see the energy of solid matter, magnified many, many times, the very act of observing changes its. Maybe magic is all about using your mind to become such a focused observer that you can alter things on a fundamental level. If you don't believe me look up Quantum Physics and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and I wish you the best of luck!

For me there is so much that is fantastic in the natural world, but then I live somewhere so beautiful it would be hard not to see the beauty. I have a book on Cornwall published in 1923 as a tour guide for the well healed. The attitudes to many things are very, very different!

"inland, the scenery, dear as it may be to those who have known it from childhood, is apt to affect the unfamiliar eye as dreary in its monotonous expanse of rough brown moors, swelling up into low ridges, scarred by mines and topped by smokeless engine-shafts to take the place of trees."

I think time is a magic lens as well...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Stand and Deliver (Word Wednesday: North)

The word North conjures many images in my mind. It is the direction that cold weather comes from. The United Kingdom is stretched from North to South alongside Europe. For me, in Cornwall, traveling anywhere generally means traveling North. This is my rational explanantion for why the word North immediately conjured up two other words to sit with it, Great and Road.

The story of this road which stretches from London to Edinburgh linking two of the countries of the Kingdom began a long, long time ago. With the Romans.

The Romans liked roads. They had to have them in order to link their grand empire and allow the swift movement of goods and legions. They were the arteries of the empire. The Romans are famed for building straight roads, they didn't go round, they took the straightest route.

One of these roads is know known as Ermine Street or the Old North Road. In 1012 it was called Earninga Straete but it's original Roman name has been lost. The Earningas were a tribe which inhabited the area the road passed through. It began at London and proceeded to Lincoln before ending at York.

From York Dere Street stretches north named for the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Deira. It passed through Hadrian's Wall which was built across the width of northern England to keep the Pictish tribes of Scotland. Later on it was called Via Regia or the Royal Way and was used by Scottish pilgrims visiting the ecclesiastical sitesof the border lands between Scotland and England.

After the Romans left their roads remained, stone set in the ground and it is not surprising that the later inhabitants would use them. To be fair it was the ancestors of these people that would have provided much of the labour. Traveling north by the easiest route would have brought people to this road. All those feet would have kept it clear of trees and plants and ensured it's survival.

Towns grew up along the road. Some started as Roman settlements or fortifications while others started after the Romans had long gone. Many villages grew because of the road as they looked after the travellers and it is ironic that these settlements that grew on this road eventually caused it to change it's way. The great A1 road follows much of the route of these two great Roman roads but where the Roman roads went through the towns the A1 has had to bend itself round the towns. In many places the A1 has been upgraded to a motorway with six lanes of traffic. What would the Romans make of it?

I can not talk about this road without talking about the most famous person to make their living from it. For two centuries the the road was used as a stage coach route from 1650s to 1850s. Coaching Inns were successful in the towns along the way and the public stage coaches took paying customers and goods. They changed horses at the coaching Inns and made scheduled stops. As well as these rich Lordly folk used the route in their private coaches. All fantastic prey for highwaymen.

Dick Turpin was the most famous of these and his cultural image has become confused with his partner in crime, the Gentleman Highwayman. Dick was a failed Butcher turned cattle rustler who fell in with the notorious Gregory Gang of ~20 based in Epping Forest. They specialised in robbing isolated dwellings but were eventually tracked down and several gang members were hanged. Turpin escaped through a window.

Dick turned to robbing travellers on the highway and before long was working by himself. One day Turpin attempted to rob a man only to discover it was the Gentleman Highwaymen himself who was equally famous at the time and they became partners. Turpin eventually became a murderer and he also stole the grand horse known as Black Bess.

The horse was Turpin's downfall as it was used to trace Turpin and when surrounded Turpin accidentally shot his accomplice and believing him dead he fled on his horse. The Gentleman Highwayman was not dead, yet, and as he lay dying he told of their hiding places. Turpin returned to his hideout and quickly realised he had to flee. So began his legendary ride from London to York, 200 miles in 15 hours (not very likely) and so reached York before news of his deeds.

Turpin took the name John Palmer and turned to horse breeding but didn't have a clue and turned to rustling again. He was sent to jail as a debtor and from there sent a letter to relatives in Essex. Unfortunately they refused to pay the postage and the letter fell into the hands of the postmaster who had been Turpin's childhood teacher. He recognised the writing and turned Turpin in. Ironically Turpin was hung by a reformed member of the Gregory Gang who had been offered life as a hangman in exchange for a pardon.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Walking on History

One thing I have come to realise by writing this blog is that I find History fascinating. On the whole, not the history I was taught in school though. this with the exception of that taught by one teacher, Mrs C.

Mrs C could have had a career as an actress. She spent hours talking to us and telling us what it was like. She had a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust come visit us and tell us her story. She used to act the parts in her stories and told us of fascinating books we might like. Hers were the stories of people, individuals and what they did and why and what happened to them.

During this period of study with her, I visited Germany and Austria with my family. This served to compound her teachings in my head. We visited the Eagle's Nest, Hitler's luxury pad on top of an Alpine mountain. More disturbingly, we visited Dachau one of the camps. Outside the gates, birds sang happily but inside the silence was heavy and unbroken and it felt as if no joyous living thing could bare to be there.

I loved Munich, and would love to revisit this vibrant town one day. Many of the fooderies there feature long tables with benches and it was while eating at one of these that I met an old man. He had only a few words of English and I, only a few of German but we talked. We talked of war and sorrow. He had flown as part of the Luftwaffe, the German airforce, and he talked of his sorrow at being part of the force that bombed my country. And he cried.

Mrs C taught me that history is truly about people. I am not interested in grand Politicians and Royalty in the same way, except where their lives intersect with those of the more common people. They have an equal place in my interest with those they ruled over.

Of course it is not just the people that fascinate me, but how they and their history has shaped the world around me. Britain is an ancient piece of land and the wight of many years of habitation lay upon it, all around, everywhere I look. Even places where they are not obvious. On top of this hill, those rocks were placed on top of each other and formed the base of a wall of an ancient hut. That ridge on that cliff was made by people, most has fallen into the sea now but was it a field wall or was there a mine there and here ran their spoil heaps? Everywhere I go the land is layered in history, beneath my feet and it is full of stories.

This journal was started in order to help me explore my spirituality and it has but I almost regret the name I chose now. I feel that there is so much here that people would not expect. My spirituality is but one side of me and my interests. I have realised I am not a Wiccan but a witch but then I have realised that it is nature that truly draws me and being a witch is a tiny part of my connection to all that is.

These days the stories of people are more accessible than ever in some ways. After I am long gone, somewhere ther is likely to be an electronic record of my life. Maybe just cold hard facts, maybe there will be some emotional meat on those bones. I can only guess how people in times gone by felt, most are nameless and forgotten but still I walk on their history.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Treasures in My Cupboards (Part 2)

So to many this might seem a treasure trove and indeed these craft resources are but as I cleared them away and reorganised them I found a box hidden behind. It was covered in dust and had not been moved r opened for a long, long time.

My Great-grandfather, my Grandfather and my Dad were all printers. My Dad was the last in this line and when he retired all the tools of his life went with him. This box represented the small portion of these I had kept, my mementoes from my families livelihood of generations.

First I came across an envelope. It was full of cards that my Dad had printed. This prompted me to look up Andrew online and I came across his fascinating obituary. I remember him clearly and his paintings. Looking at them now I realise they are from a different era. The London he painted has changed and moved on. You can see one of his pictures here but his work, sadly, seems to be largely forgotten as it is the only one I could find online. He was a lovely man whose personality shows through clearly. Looking at his pictures took me back in time...

Then underneath I came across other things my Dad used. My Dad was an old-fashioned printer. No computers or high-tech. His machines had whirring arms and little suction cups along them to pick up paper. The machines had a rhythm that made you want to dance. Something like this. He set type by hand. I could have taken type away by the ton, different fonts, different sizes - it was all there.

Of course I didn't. I had no idea it would later be of interest to me. I took some large wooden blocks of letters and punctuation marks, a small set of metal type in one font, some blocks of varying sorts and some decorative elements.

The blocks were pieces commissioned for regular use or were pictorial. Companies would have a block made of their logo for instance and it would stay with the printer for use whenever they had something printed. I have some company logos, crests, pictures, that sort of thing.

The decorative elements are things like border pieces. I have a lovely wooden case with little blocks you can use to build up borders. I also discovered a small bag with decorative type, most smaller than a cm squared. These will be used for adding printed elements to my art and will remind me of where I come from every time I use them.

I also have heavy metal frames type was set in and all sorts of spacers and things with which the type was set within the frame. Some of the pieces could be expanded to hold the type in place.

Of course looking at this wonderful treasure trove, I wish I had kept more. How much should we ever hold on though? If I had more would I appreciate it as much? I kept a representative sample....

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Treasures in My Cupboards (Part 1)

Today I decided to sort out my craft materials and the area I use. Accumulating papers and paints had altered the balance of my stacking draw units. Some draws overflowed and others were not well used. Stuff was overflowing off my table. I needed some room!

I guess it might seem odd that I have so much craft material. I mean I am after all a science geek only recently come to their creativity who works in a warehouse. Have I bought all this since starting soul journaling a few weeks back? Or did I already have it all there, sitting, waiting the day it might be used...

I have decided to share a painful piece of my recent past.

A while back, i decided to train as a Primary school Teacher. I desperately wanted to show little children all the fun and wonderful things in the world. I wanted to make them love learning. I wanted them to see the fun in science, the wonder in the world, the elegance of math.

I knew it would be a hard course and I was prepared. I worked and I worked and I worked. but I didn't make it. It wasn't my work, it was my personality. I loved the kids and they loved me. I had great ideas and sometimes I could teach them well. The problem was I am too laid back to stay on top of classroom discipline. I am not charismatic enough to lead a class of children. I can manage well enough but leading is another thing entirely and I just don't have it.

This didn't become clear until relatively near the end. It just wasn't going to happen. To do it, I would have to completely alter who i was and I couldn't do that, I mostly like who I am.

We had college classes on each subject area. This included art where we drew objects with oil pastels, experimented with pencil lines and made papier mache masks. In design and technology we looked at mechanisms in paper such as hinges, sliders and levers as well as textiles. In english we used animation to tell stories and looked at childrens books and poetry.

Trainee teachers can use the resources of the schools they are in for their lessons but in practice they end up buying a lot of things themselves in most schools. Or at least I did. By the end of the year I had bought (invested) in quite a lot of stuff. Things I thought I would make use of in my professional career.

I guess the course opened something in me. I understand children much, much better and would love to be a Mother. It also bought me back to subjects I left behind long ago such as Art and English. It also left me with all sorts of things I wouldn't have normally bought... sequins and fluffy balls, films and glitter, pipe cleaners and scoobies, chalks and pens, acrylics and brushes... I could go on.... It's amazing how much you can pick up cheaply when you have a bursary and are looking in the right places....

Saturday, 7 March 2009

A New Day

Last night I slept heavily until i heard Little Dog wandering around. I felt sorry for her and let her come up on the bed and there she stayed for the rest of the night. She has been terribly quiet today. Her favourite pastime is normally barking at any dogs passing the house. We took her for a walk earlier and her enjoyment was evident. Maybe we never noticed how quiet she really is because Big Dog was so loud.

Big Dog had a personality that filled the house. He had different noises for everything! You always knew how he felt and what he wanted. I wanted to share a little more of him with you as I am so thankful for the time I had him.


Greyhounds often seem to have delicate digestive systems and the ability to pass the most noxious wind. Big Dog was no different. One memorable evening we had friends over and cooked a big gammon joint. One of our friends fed Big Dog some fatty bits. It became very apparent very quickly that he couldn't cope with them. The smell was truly awful and nobody stayed for very long once it started.

Even though he was on occasion a little whiffy, nobody else was allowed to be. If I dared to consider passing wind, he would get up off wherever he was lazing at the time and move away with a disgusted look on his face. On one memorable occasion he passed one so bad that he looked disgusted at himself and moved.


Big Dog was very vocal with his greetings and everyone near our tends to know when we have pulled up. He would lead a canine chorus of howls and whines and barks at the top of his voice. Little Dog learnt well from him and joined in with her sopran howls and yips.


When I first got him i warned my lodgers that he would probably nab any food left out so they should put everything away. One time my lodger left a pound of butter out and he ate it, foil wrapper and all. Her response was 'but I didn't think he would eat that!'. Oh how little she knows of hounds....


In his younger days he used to have the odd funny five minutes and race around like a mad loony thing. One time he was doing this when all of a sudden he started howling as if he was dying. My lodgers sat there in horror with no idea what to do. I told them not to worry and started to massage his leg and he quickly stopped and acted as if nothing had happened... Many of the greyhounds I have known have been prone to cramp *grin*


Big Dog had a habit for a while of stealing my shoes and taking them off to a bed somewhere. It got so he was trying to take my shoes off my feet as I walked through the door. This all came to an end the day he came up behind me as I was taking off my boots... Every so often I would shoes had migrated inexplicably though...


My Mum commented earlier that when I told them I was taking a dog home and they met Big Dog for the first time, that she had thought I was completely barmy! She thought that this terrified, mangy looking dog would be very hard to rehabilitate and probably not worth the effort. She then said of all the dogs we had ever had he was up there with Amber who was the best greyhound of all time.... My folks has four rescue greyhounds at a time, there have been a few over the years, particularly if you have in short stay foster dogs...


My Dad reminesced about the first time I left him with them when I had to go away on work before I met F. Big Dog was so upset he glued himself to my Dad. At night he was inconsolable and my Mum found herself being kicked out of her bedroom so my dog wouldn't have to sleep alone.

Big Dog used to share my bed before I met F. Once F came a long he happily moved onto a dog bed on the floor. However, if F vacated the bed, even for a second, Big Dog would be there. I normally go to bed before F as I seem to need much more sleep. Big Dog would be there with me.


Big Dog was a grinning dog. For the uninitiated there are some dogs who are able to grin and it is quite common amongst greyounds. Big Dog grinned a lot. He grinned in greeting. He grinned in thanks when you gave him food. He grinned if you twitched your fingers at him.

He also nuzzled and snorted and hid his head playfully under his paws. If you weren't paying him enough attention he had learnt that a swift flick of the head under an elbow soon sorted that out. Unfortunately he never learnt not to do this when the hand attached to the elbow held a cup of tea.


Although Big Dog was terrified of people when I got him, he was never, ever scared of children. He loved children and his patience was incredible. He would let children do whatever to him. S loved him from the start and has known him for half his life. Tomorrow we have to tell S. S has been saying recently that when he is older he is going to have a greyhound and a dalmatian.

My niece and nephew loved him to and loved to make him grin.


This is not to say he didn't have a bad side. He was awful with other dogs, except greyhounds. He would act like he wanted to kill them and there I would be trying gamely to drag him away. My worst nightmare, when out with him, was owners who let their dogs off but couldn't control them. I could control my dog and move him away and I used to muzzle him but there is nothing so annoying as having people let their dogs follow you when you are trying to beat a hasty strategical retreat. One day he got me bitten, not badly but I did lose my faith in others control over their dogs.

One day we were on the beach when a very expensive looking dog with huge amounts of frizzy white hair came to investigate. Big Dog did his normal thing and the other dogs owner was some way away and his dog was ignoring him. When the white dog was finally removed I noticed that Big Dog had a long strand of beautiful white fur dangling from his teeth...

I suspect his early life involved dog fights. He certainly had enough scars and broken bones for it. He was probably only two by the time he was rescued. I was quite young when i got him and I used to feel very self-conscious walking this dog that had so obviously been abused in the not so distant past. Nobody ever assumed I treated him badly.


He would have defended me against anything, right from the beginning. I used to sleep in a downstairs room and one night he woke me growling. I had only had him a couple of months, so I had no idea how unusual this was. The growl was low and menacing and meant trouble. I called his name but I could see from his silhouetted head that his head did not move at all from gazing at the window.

This contined for what seemed like some time. Every so often there would be another growl. Eventually i heard feet running from my window and jumping into a car which screeched off.

My house is a typical old Cornish terrace house which has a front door that opens onto the street. He has never ever done this since, despite drunks arguing outside our house and people sitting on our window ledges. I have no doubt that someone meant my house harm that night and he was determined to defend me. I wouldn't have argued with that growl. I have never heard that growl again.


One night a friend of mine and I were walking home. Where we parted ways there was a seat and we would often sit there gossiping for a while. One night we were sat there when a man went past. He kept looking back at us and he turned down the road my friend had to use to go home. Suddenly the night felt dark, unfriendly and very, very dangerous.

We walked to my house and collected wonder dog himself to escort her home. We walked home happily and as I walked back alone, Big Dog had fun stalking cats out on the tiles. When I returned I discovered someone had ripped the wing mirror off my car. I hadn't been gone long.


These are things I will remember. I am grateful that he did not suffer long and had no slow lingering illness but a swift sudden one that probably effected him very little till that last day. I looked up the odds for his type of cancer and I am utterly convinced that to have done anything different would have been cruel, particularly given the size and placement of it.

I have been wracking my brains to see if there were any signs at all that we might have picked up. Even in hindsight I can find nothing.

We will find a new companion for Little Dog, but not quite yet.