Monday, October 31, 2011

Preparing for Our Travels

This week has consisted of mainly getting ready to leave the house and come to the states. It’s always a struggle to go away. Buster and Elfie know what’s happening and they follow us from room to room looking worried.

But - even if it’s hard to leave, it’s exciting to think about everything we’ll be doing once we get there! (or “here”, depending on where you are and where we are,when you read this). 

FaerieCon should be SO much fun. Please come and say hello if you see us there. Don’t be shy! I’ve stopped having anxiety dreams and am looking forward to the meditations, the demonstration and the presentations! Maybe it’s because I’ve packed everything up already and I know it all fits in my suitcase. 

We took Elfie on his last treat walk on the moor today, so I’m afraid you get another photo of a stone hut circle. It’s again, a new one we hadn’t seen before, but yes, it does look just like a hut circle. . Sometimes I wonder if they were all very individual to look at when they were first built and in use, or if they were a bit like a modern housing development where everything looks alike. We’ll never know, but I like to speculate on how people thousands of years would have turned their dwelling place into something unique to themselves -if indeed they did. 

I decided to make a Fizgig for Kira since she might be lonely. I’ve never made one before and to be honest, I had a harder time getting a ball of fur to look right than anything else I’ve done. Apologies to the original Fizgig - I think I’ve made a distant cousin. But perhaps Kira will like him anyway. Elfie liked him a bit too much and I had to rescue him after I took this photo. 

I’ll try to keep up with this while we’re away. We’re doing SO much while we’re in the States this time. I’ll let you know where we are as we go through the month. 

And just for you animal worriers - we have wonderful people house sitting for us so Buster and Elfie won’t be lonely and neither will any of the faeries that live in the house. I just had a thought - I wonder if outdoor faeries come in the house when the weather gets cold, like spiders do? Do the regular house faeries mind? So many questions -so few answers. 

Happy Halloween, Samhain, Day Of The Dead, all souls, all saints and anything else you are celebrating this week!

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Promise I'll sculpt something in mashed potatoes or cheese

I’ve been lying awake at night trying to remember everything I need to do before we leave for the States early next week. It’s sort of a nightmare waking or asleep and every time I think I’ve finally remembered everything and written it all down, something else pops into my head which sets off a whole new chain of things to remember! I woke this morning from a dream about FaerieCon in which I had forgotten to pack anything I needed for any of the things I’m going to be doing. It didn’t matter because I’d missed the workshops anyway! I haven’t had stress dreams like this in ages. If this is prophetic and I really DO forget everything, I promise I’ll sculpt something in mashed potatoes or cheese. (hmmmm-could be good!). 

We drove down to Cornwall this past weekend. Bodmin Moor is very different from Dartmoor where we are. It’s (to me anyway) a much bleaker place but perhaps that’s because the wind was fierce and freezing. Actually, it can be very beautiful. There are some amazing prehistoric sites and evidence of tin mining everywhere. And ponies. There are always ponies. 

Here is the ancient tree for this week. It’s in the gardens at Dartington Hall in South Devon and as far as we know, it’s one of the oldest yew trees in England. It is over 1500 years old -perhaps closer to 2000 years old. Standing under this tree is an experience that is almost impossible to put into words. It is SO very alive and watchful and absolutely “present” -if that makes sense. We were there this morning, standing under it, thinking about how many mornings this tree has seen. Staggering, when you think about it. 

I was looking through some of Brian’s old sketchbooks and found two pages I’d never seen before. I wanted to share them because they’re charming and say a lot about how mischievous Toby was when he was two or three. Not that I’d forgotten, but it was fun to be reminded in sketch form! 

And finally, a photo of Kira in our garden. It’s interesting to see her in scale with trees. She likes green! 

That’s it. I’m going to go back to worrying about what to pack and what not to forget. That should keep me busy for the rest of the week! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Out on the Moor

Well, this week galloped by  -literally. I was working in my studio yesterday when I heard a strange crunching noise. I couldn’t place it right away. I could tell that it was something coming up our gravel drive, but it didn’t sound like a car and it didn’t sound like people walking either. I looked out of my window just in time to see a heard of wild ponies, about ten of them, walking up the drive and into the garden. They’re quite light footed. It wasn’t a plodding sound like you would expect  -more of a little tiptoe dancing sort of sound.
I shouted to Brian and we both ran out, arms spread wide, to try and chase them out the gate and back on to the lane. Luckily, we were in time to round them up before they had a chance to spread out and cause havoc. When we first moved to our house, many years ago, I loved it when the ponies came in, but now, having seen what they can do, the charm has worn thin. The first time they came in, they ate all of the newly planted roses and left hoof prints and pony droppings all over the garden. They always look so very guilty, as if they know exactly what they’ve done wrong, when we chase them away. I wish I’d had time to photograph them, but it was far more important to get them out!

Here’s a fine picture of Buster looking noble next to the stone lion creature. He knows he’s handsome!

We’ve been out on the moor again in the good weather. We came across this signpost. You’ll just have to imagine what goes on, on a “permissive” bridleway!

 This picture is of a small stone circle that is actually a ceremonial circle (as far as we 21st century people know) and not a hut circle where people lived. The stones are low and unimposing but it’s a strange place with strange energy. We always approach it with caution because people still use it for various purposes. This looks like – well, I’m not sure really (but nothing bad as far as I can tell). Interesting pattern though. The stone trough in the middle is a focal point for much of what ever goes on. I expect who ever put the coins there won’t mind a photo taken of them since they’re right out in the open. Hope it’s prosperity!

We have been meaning to visit Okehampton Castle for ages  - since spring actually. Unfortunately, it closes at the end of September and we’ll have to wait until spring again. This was taken from the road just by the gate. It’s an interesting, very early Norman castle and it’s said to be haunted by Lady Howard who rides out in a coach with a headless coachman. Now that would be worth seeing. Or maybe NOT!  Just a bit of ghoulish information for you all this week. I know it’s early for Halloween but why wait.

"My ladye hath a sable coach,
And horses two and four;
My ladye hath a black blood-hound
That runneth on before.
My ladye's coach hath nodding plumes,
The driver hath no head;
My ladye is an ashen white,
As one that long is dead.

"Now pray step in," my ladye saith,
"Now pray step in and ride."
I thank thee, I had rather walk
Than gather by thy side.
The wheels go round without a sound
Or tramp or turn of wheels;
As cloud at night, in pale moonlight,
Along the carriage steals.

I'd rather walk a hundred miles
And run by night and day
Than have the carriage halt for me
And hear the ladye say:
"Now pray step in, and make no din,
Step in with me and ride;
There's room I trow, by me for you,
And all the world beside.""

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dartmoor Archaeology

OK - here’s your bit of Dartmoor archaeology for the week.  I know, I know, these hut circles all sort of look alike in photos -but they really don’t at all.  Each one is SO individual; the rocks chosen with such care and attention to shape and size. Walking among the remains of dwellings that are at least two to three thousand years old is a moving experience.   It always gives me a sense of peace and hope; for if these circles have lasted that long, and weathered the storms both natural and man made that have swept this country for all that time, then maybe they’ll last a little bit longer.   Long enough for my descendants to come and marvel at them as well.  The pictures here are of hut circles in Fernworthy Reservoir that are usually below the water.  They only are visible when the reservoir is low, as it is at the moment.  My romantic soul loves the fact that they are hidden for so much of the time and then all of a sudden they just appear on the shoreline.  There is another group of hut circles higher up the hillside that also come and go with the changing seasons. In the early spring, when Brian and I went walking there, the circles were absolutely bare and exposed, with only short grass around them.  Now, at the beginning of autumn, they are completely hidden; covered in tall grass and bracken.  If we hadn’t seen them early in the year, we would never have known that they were there at all.  It just makes me wonder how many things there are; right under our noses that we just don’t see? 

The single standing stones are also aspects of the landscape that seem to come and go, sometimes exposed and sometimes hidden in the yearly growth of bracken, brambles and grasses.  The stone on the hillside is one that we see most of the time -it’s very exposed; but the one amongst the trees is a new discovery – for us anyway -I’m sure lots of people have always known about it.  But that’s the fun of personal discovery - it doesn’t matter how many others have found something before you -it’s always amazing to discover something new for yourself. 

On the way home, I saw what looks like a bit of prehistoric something -but really, it’s probably the last remnants of a medieval barn.  Looking at the opening -gateway, doorway, what ever it is - makes me wonder what would happen if I stepped through.  Of course you can see right through it, but -what if it’s really a doorway to another world?  I may have to go back and find out. 

We rearranged the furniture in the upstairs hallway, which meant moving all of the dolls and models to a new home.  This is where they ended up for the moment.  It’s a troll, role call.  Most of these figures were photographed for the book. 

I have the feeling I’m forgetting something important I wanted to tell you -hmmmm. Well - it can’t be helped. I was sidetracked by the standing stones and whatever it was will just have to wait until next time.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Clear Skies & Desk

We’ve had a glorious week of sun and warmth! It’s been better than the whole summer. And the best part of it was that we really didn’t have that much work on so we were able to get out and enjoy it a bit. 

I went out looking for “Amanita Muscaria” ( I think that’s how it’s spelled) mushrooms to photograph for you but they don’t seem to be around yet. They are the archetypal fairy toadstool - red capped with white spots. Usually we have loads of the down by the river, but apparently not yet this year. And no - we DON”T eat, smoke, ingest them in any way! We deal with faeries but we’re not crazy (well, we might be).

I took photos of these mushrooms that I liked the look of and thought were toadstools, but found out later were actually really good to eat. I’m not confident enough to pick mushrooms to eat. 

Here’s Brian and Elfie out enjoying the sunshine, sitting on trees that form an old field border. They form into such wonderful shapes after so many years of hedging.

We’re coming to FaerieCon! You probably know that already. We really didn’t think we’d be able to attend this year, but it’s all working out really well. We’ll have lots of new things to share with everyone, about what we’ve been doing and will be doing in the coming year. The line up of artists and writers this year is wonderful. We’re looking forward to sharing panels and exchanging news ( and drinks in the bar after!) with everyone.  

Nothing from my desk or worktable this week. It’s cleared and waiting for a new project. I’m going to have a little break now.