Monthly Archives: October 2012

Independence Day, Robert Burns, Iron Bru and A Scot as Long as I Breathe.

I confess that I have been watching with interest the manoeuvres for an independent Scottish Nation.

I am intrigued that it is being reported that it is the Scottish people who will be given the vote, that is to say that if you live in Scotland you can partake in the most important decision that has been placed before the Scottish Nation in 300 years.

As a Scot living and breathing English air, for more than 25 years I still feel as patriotic today as the day I left so there is one half of me that cannot understand why the vote is not open to all who were born in Scotland.

The other half knows It would throw up the dilemma which way would you vote in the circumstances, do you adopt a political approach, take a romantic stance or as a displaced enthusiast for Scott, Burns and Iron Bru with no current commitment to return to my place of birth perhaps would it not be a difficult to impossible discussion?

Perhaps it is a blessing that Dear Mr Salmond will not be seeking my opinion and I can take comfort no matter what the outcome that there will always be Scot’s Novels, Burns poems, haggis and single malt not to mention that they are building a factory to produce Iron Bru in this part of the British Isles that they call England.

But most importantly of all it will not change the reality that as long as I live and breathe, I will always be a Scot.

A Scots Emblem in a English Setting Mepal Cambridgeshire


 

Soutra Aisle

Soutra Aisle is situated halfway between Edinburgh and the Abbeys of the Scottish Borders, it is all that remains of a Hospital, Monastery and Church which was founded in 1164 and was run by Augustinian Monks.

The Hospital was known as the House of the Holy Trinity and is believed to have been the largest hospital in medieval Scotland. The founders intention was that it was a hospital for the poor as well as travellers and pilgrims visiting the shrines of The Scottish Borders.

The remote location reflects medieval society’s suspicion and fear of sickness, but its locality to one of the few major routes in southern Scotland at that time shows that it was an essential institution for the support of the sick.

Soutra Aisle - Scotland -1

The church was built at the top of a hill where there were often fierce winds and frequent cold spells.

The winds still below today but these are now harnessed by a 26 turbine wind farm on Dun Law.

Soutra Aisle - Scotland -2
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LAURENCE STERNE Coxwold North Yorkshire

LAURENCE STERNE was born on November the 24th 1713 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland and died in London on March the 18th 1768, he was 52.

Rev Laurence Sterne

He was the author of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman which is widely considered the first postmodernist novel, well ahead of its times and a true forerunner to his fellow countryman James Joyce. He also was the author of A Sentimental Journey.

St Michael's Church

He was Vicar of the North Yorkshire village of Coxwold for eight years were he was laid to rest in 1969 when his body was exhumed when his London resting place St George’s, Hanover Square was sold for redevelopment.

“I am persuaded that every time a man smiles – but much more so when he laughs – it adds something to this fragment of life.”
Rev. Laurence Sterne

“But this is neither here nor there why do I mention it? Ask my pen, it governs me, I govern not it.”
Rev. Laurence Sterne

Thirsk Bank


 

Edwin Muir. Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire.

Born in Orkney in 1887.

Socialist, Critic, Contributor to The New Age Magazine, Translator, one of Scotland’s best poets and perhaps a counter balance to Hugh MacDiarmid vision of Scotland and poetic language?

Laid to rest in Swaffham Prior churchyard Cambridgeshire along with his beloved wife Willa Anderson who was an author in her own right.

Swaffham Prior_Cambridgeshire-Edwin Muir Grave

In 1919 he married Willa Anderson and said not long after that “my marriage was the most fortunate event in my life”. They collaborated on English translations of such writers as Franz Kafka, Gerhart Hauptmann, Sholem Asch, Heinrich Mann, and Hermann Broch.

Swaffham Prior_Cambridgeshire-Edwin Muir Cottage

We were a tribe, a family, a people.

Wallace and Bruce guard now a painted field,

And all may read the folio of our fable,

Peruse the sword, the sceptre and the shield.

A simple sky roofed in that rustic day,

The busy corn-fields and the haunted holms,

The green road winding up the ferny brae.

But Knox and Melville clapped their preaching palms

And bundled all the harvesters away,

Hoodicrow Peden in the blighted corn

Hacked with his rusty beak the starving haulms.

Out of that desolation we were born.

Edwin Muir From Scotland 1941.

Village Sign - Swaffham Prior Cambridgeshire


 

Little Gidding Cambridgeshire

Little Gidding_Cambridgeshire-St Johns (1)

Little Gidding has history running through its environs, it sits nestled down sleepy lanes in Huntingdonshire were an effort has to be made to seek out its secrets.

In 1625 Nicolas Ferrars, his mother and family moved from London to Little Gidding to live a more simpler life setting up a community of religious observance. They set too and restored the manor house and chapel on the site.

Little Gidding_Cambridgeshire-St Johns (2)

Charles I visited Little Gidding a number of times the last was in 2nd May 1646 when he sought refuge from Cromwell’s men after the battle of Naseby.

The Ferrars family lived on at Little Gidding until the mid-eighteen century but the practice of the religious community ended with the death of John, Nicolas Ferrars brother and his wife in 1657.

Little Gidding_Cambridgeshire-St Johns (3)

William Hopkinson a Stamford Solicitor bought the property in 1848 becoming Lord of the manor, he built the house (Ferrars House) which stands today and restored the chapel after years of neglect.

There has been a few prominent poets associated with Little Gidding, George Herbert who was a close friend of Nicolas Ferrars, Richard Crashaw styled “the divine″, was part of the Seventeenth-century Metaphysical School of poets and visited Little Gidding often and one of the greatest twentieth century poets T. S. Eliot who visited on the 25th May 1936 inspiring the final poem in the Four Quartets, Little Gidding.

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

T S Eliot. Four Quartets

from Little Gidding.

Little Gidding_Cambridgeshire-Ferrars House (4)


 

Tickencote Rutland

Just off the busy Great North Road the turning into Tickencote can easily be missed but to say that it is well worth the effort of decreasing the speed and bearing left is under estimating the impression the church of St Peter’s makes on the edge of this little village on the edge of Rutland.

John Clare would walk from Great Castlerton along the river to Tickencore while working as a Lime Burner in the area, he believed he had written some of his best early poetry here and spent a few of his Sundays frequenting The Flower Pot Inn in the village.

Martha (Patty) Turner the future Mrs Clare was born on the 3rd March 1799 in Tickencote, he meet her while on his way to The Flower Pot Inn. The Flower Pot Inn today is a private house and the only evidence of it previous existence is the name on the fence of The Flower Pot Cottage.



 

An Irish Original, A Castaway, Dorothy L Sayers and An Unexplained Coincidence.

My reading list has always had an eclectic feel, is subjected to whims of fancy and unexplained meanderings. Some would says it is undisciplined and chaotic, lacking structure although in my defence I do have a comprehensive reading list.

I have been spending sometime in the company of Leopold Bloom of Dublin of late, I have to be  frank and say it is an experience not without its difficulties. Now I have read The Dubliners and was entertained and pleasantly surprised but Ulysses, to be honest I have closed the covers (Switched Off The Kindle) for present at the end of Part Two with the intention of reacquainting myself at a later date when I can collect my thoughts and courage and rejoin Bloom and Stephen in Episode sixteen.

To try to find an antidote to post modernism I though being shipwrecked on a desert Island would be a perfect solution and therefore decided Robinson Crusoe would be ideal.

Now you would think after spending time in the company of Daniel Defoe I would be ready to return to The Great Northern Railway Station, but I found that The Life of D L Sayers was a more attractive proposition, so wandering of into The Fens, Bluntisham, Oxford, Christchurch Cambridgeshire and the world of Lord Peter Wimsey developed an appetite for detective fiction, so was inspired to take up The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

St Adelwold and St Marys Church

I do not know if you believe it is fate, Devine providence or pure coincidence but it did come as a comfort that I was not the only lost soul like Gabriel Betterridge who had sought comfort and inspiration in the company of Robinson Crusoe.

Today we love what to-morrow we hate,
Today we seek what to-morrow we shun,
Today we desire what to-morrow we fear.

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe.