M left an article out for me called 'Spring Plants For Early Pollinators' last week. I made a list and have been steadily ticking things off it: Pulmonaris, Galanthus, Anemone blanda, Prunus incisa (my treat to myself and the garden today), Snakeshead fritillaries, Muscari and Crocuses. I've been planting up a Spring Bed beside the hedge where the rats were living. Now it is a sea of green leaves and the first splashes of colour are starting. It is going to look beautiful.
And prove to be timely, as the honey bees were out in force on the Daphne yesterday...
|Crocuses in the new bed|
It was sheep-checking day yesterday, so M and I took the dogs out first thing to check the girls. The landscape looked stunning in the early morning light and there was a sharp frost across the down....
|Old Green Lane|
We did some tree ids while we were there, based on buds and bark. This is easier than it sounds once you've got the hang of it. I double-checked them when we got home (This is a great site for tree information and IDs) and was pleased to see I'd got them right. So there is hope! I'm starting to build up a database of these pictures for my own future reference.
|Small-leaved lime buds|
|Sycamore bark. Sycamore is not a native tree. It was introduced from Europe, grows quickly and has such a dense leaf-fall in autumn that it can be hard for things to grow beneath it.|
|Sycamore seed left on the tree from last autumn|
M's parents came round for supper last night and his ma told a funny story about a village lady who is in her book group. This lady (a stout Yorkshire woman) told Is that she has decided she would read Fifty Shades of Grey 'to see what all the fuss is about'.
'Well,' (she said to Is) 'I was very surprised, because it was all about men doing things to each other. It wasn't at all what I'd expected.'
It turned out that instead of googling fifty shades of grey, she'd typed in fifty shades of gay....
Sunday's regulation walk with grumpy teens took place this morning in Salisbury. We had a nice walk round the cathedral while L did his usual trick of disappearing off into a book shop and managed to inveigle me into buying him a book. He'd almost finished it by the time we got home. His library borrowing card says he's read 195 books in the last 18 months, and that doesn't include books from school or all the ones I've bought him. His vocab is excellent as a result, which goes some way to making up for his handwriting, which resembles nothing so much as a drunk spider who's knocked over an ink pot, walked through it and wobbled across the page hiccuping every now and then.
Salisbury Cathedral was started in 1220 and has the largest spire in the United Kingdom. It also houses the Magna Carter, which we couldn't see today because it was closed, but we will go back. It is a beautiful church set in a wonderful Close stuffed full of ancient architectural gems and is well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in the vicinity.
Salisbury town started life as Old Sarum, a Neolithic settlement north of the current city. The Romans used the fort and in 552 Saxons and Celts fought a battle there. The Celts lost. By the early 1000s a settlement had grown up on the site of the old fort, although nearby Wilton was the more important of the two, being Capital of Wessex and the site in 871 of an important battle between Alfred The Great and the Vikings, which he lost and which left him in retreat for several years (ushering in the period made famous by the burning of the cakes while he was in the marshes story).
Old Sarum town had a mint and a market and in 1069 William the Conq built a wooden castle to oversee the settlement. In 1075 a Bishop moved his seat there, and in 1217 the seat was moved to a site on Salisbury Plain. This became the Salisbury of today. The town was created on a specific plan, a grid pattern, and plots of land were leased for the building of houses. by 1219 it had a market and an annual fair and in 1227 Salisbury was given its Charter.
In 1244 a stone bridge was built across the river Avon which increased traffic flow to Salisbury and as it grew, so Wilton wilted. The main industry was wool, a huge trade in Medieval England with the potential to make lots of money; this is reflected in the grand houses you can see all around the town. By the 15th Century Salisbury was one of the largest towns in England with an estimated population of 8000.
There is a nice cafe just outside the Cathedral Close walls called Boston Tea which has oak beams and squashy sofas if you fancy a cuppa afterwards. If you fancy one of the houses that line the close, there is one on the market at the moment: a pretty cream-fronted house to the tune of a cool 1.85 million...
|Three Graceful Ladies|
|I loved this ancient door handle|
|Mompesson House in the Cathedral Close. 18th Century National Trust property.|
|Ancient narrow gateway out of the Cathedral Close and into Salisbury town|
|Taken from inside the Cloisters|
|Also taken from inside the Cloisters|
|Houses lining the Close|
|External Stonework on the front aspect of the Cathedral|
|Detail of statuary over the main door|
There were numerous memorial inscriptions on the walls inside the Cloisters. This one caught my eye. Arthur Corfe Angel was an Officer on board the London, a British steam ship heading for Melbourne that sank in a storm. There is a very touching record of what happened. He lost his life during 'one of the most fatal gales on record' when only 19 out of the 263 souls on board were saved. Arthur is described as 'a true-hearted and dauntless sailor who counted duty more precious than life. He remained at his post to the last and was seen by the survivors, with his hand still upon the engine of which he was in charge, calmly awaiting death when the waters closed over the ship.'
This information is on a tablet in Exeter Cathedral where his father was organist. Below is the inscription in Salisbury Cathedral...
We wandered back through Salisbury and stopped off for a hot chocolate before making our way home...
When we got home, this was waiting for us in the breakfast room where the dogs have their baskets.
Say no more.....
No prizes for guessing who was responsible.
Luckily, the roses were on their way out and I suppose it was indirectly my fault for leaving the vase on the floor at puppy-nose height instead of taking them outside. M said it reminded him of that scene in American Beauty where all the rose petals are spread out across the bed....
And finally, here are the results of last night's Moth Box Outing....
He's a March moth (impeccable timing, heh?) and I know he's a 'he' because Mrs March moths are apterous (that is to say they have no wings). He was Rather Handsome I thought, and slightly golden shimmery in the morning light. He was the only one I found and even he was on the gate so the box itself was empty. Still, he brings my 2014 count to 5 new species, which is a Good Start.
I'll leave you with an inscription in the Cloisters at Salisbury Cathedral that I thought was a good Motto for the Week Ahead, and a nice meditation for the healing circle which starts tomorrow night at 7.30. Feel free to join in if you would like to.
I don't do meditation in the sit down, clear your head, focus your thoughts organised kind-of way (I did try it but I got bored and I would much rather go out for a walk to clear my head to be honest). But I do find it helpful to set aside half an hour/ an hour once a week to let the dust settle, think things through and send good wishes for health and happiness to friends and family. You can call this prayer, meditation, positive thinking, what you will, but I reckon it makes a difference.
I watched a fascinating prog on prayer and distance healing years ago. It was a university study, and the results were interesting- the group who had people praying for them and didn't know it improved more than the test group who had no one praying for them (at least not as part of the study). My sis and I used to harness that kind of positive thought when we were competing on our ponies across country when we were kids. We'd do a Pairs class where I would ride in front and she'd follow (being my little sis). Every time we came to a fence we'd bellow together at the top of our lungs 'PMA!!!!!!' which stood for Positive Mental Attitude.
Lord knows what the jump judges made of us, because as soon as the dear little ponies hooves had all touched down safely on the other side of the jump we'd roar with laughter and tear off to the next fence. It was great fun.
Anyway, if you want to share that half hour tomorrow I will be sitting down at 7.30pm to think good thoughts and send some prayers the way of friends and family, as well as to those of you who have asked for help with specific things. In the mean time, here's that inscription....
Wishing you all a pleasant evening and a good week ahead.