Saturday, August 29, 2015


The gardens in derelict state in 1990s

Helmsley Walled Garden History

It is hard to imagine the former state of the above garden, but it was this lady Alison Ticehurst who started the restoration we see today, turning a derelict market garden venture into a beautiful and productive garden from the 1990's.  There are many apple trees in the lower part of the garden, old Yorkshire names and old varieties jostle against each other, the apples are very prolific, no one has thinned them in the early part of summer, and they cluster like bunches of berries on the trees.
It seems a communal act of dedication to run the gardens, there is a small staff supplemented by volunteers.  The cafe has delicious looking cakes, we only sampled the scone and homemade jam, as did a few passing wasps, but insect life, especially bees are prolific in the garden.
Garden produce is sold, as are plants by the cafe, they go to an important part of the aims of the garden which is to use them for horticultural therapy of people dispossessed of life's bounty, in other words people who are miserable....

This is Alison Ticehurst garden's created by her mother. Alison died in 1999, five years after starting the project

After the gardens we went in search of Nunnington Hall, LS had followed a route (on Google) and swore we could get to it through the country lanes.  We did not. But arrived eventually, not going in, another day out, but it is very imposing, set by the river.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Just photos -Helmsley Walled Garden

Luscious flowers in the orchid house, no orchids though

coleus foliage plants

Flowerbeds and walls


Settling in. that is what we are doing.  The hens have settled beautifully, always wanting to come out of the run, not yet, they must wait for the garden to be fenced.  Three eggs are produced daily, so there are too many and I shall have to think about giving them away, egg boxes are ordered and I noticed an apple press for sale, but no apples!

Two rooms still in disarray, boxes to be unpacked; curtain hanging complete, pictures to go on walls and perhaps a couple of prints to buy.  The humdrum of one's life has settled in.  The endless noise of chatter on the radio, everyone seems to be navel gazing on these programmes.  We are skewered by our own thoughts, unable to get out of a continuous chain of thinking, mostly to do with the utilitarian act of living.

Seventy bodies have been found rotting in a lorry in Austria, how can that be?  There is an enormous immigration crisis slowly unfolding, and there are no answers, only the scum who would get rich on the back of anything, taking money from these poor people and then allowing them to die whether at sea or on land; hell is here and we have no answers.

Images of children playing at the dockside in Greece, the worried faces of the parents as they must haggle their way across Europe - and what happens in this country? Well a few more lords get elected, for goodness knows what, honour for 'doing' something for their country, £300 quid a day expenses, not bad if you can get it.  The House of Lords overfull; our political system is in a mess, we have daily dollops of the Labour Party's four individuals for leadership.  Many in the country back Jeremy Corbyn for his left thinking, but how can one man change a whole system of government I wonder.

Well we are going to Helmsley after coffee, there is nothing any of us can do but leave it in the hands of others, we  allow the dark walls to close in on us, the festering happening of worldly affairs.   History is being rewritten, a few wrong moves in the past has brought us to this part of time, the time we live in.  Lives are being tossed around, movement of people across countries, and all I note from the window in the evening is the great machines going to and fro with the harvest and now with the harrowing machines, manure to feed the fields for next year's crop, a cycle of the year, just as war is.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Eric Ravilious - The Cornfield 1918
Gone, gone again,
May, June, July,
And August gone,
Again gone by,

   Edward Thomas's poem, not quite true at the moment, August is still with us, the harvest
   still being collected, but the feeling that summer has passed, its useful productivity stored in barns and the ripening apples and blackberries are there for the picking and apple pies made for the table.  Ravilious's paintings depicts the old 'stooks', sheaves gathered together, today the great baling machines produce giant bales, and the fields stretch for miles, golden toned whether cut or uncut,  the soil waiting to be turned into brown furrows.
A strange summer, warm and beautiful days with just that hint of cold winds, rain that falls like 'cats and dogs', wonder where that expression came from, changeable weather and now even the Met office is being given the sack by the BBC.  Times are definitely changing.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sunday walks

Cawthorn Practice Camps taken from North York Moors; Landscape Heritage;

Our walk yesterday took us round the Roman Practice Camps, covered in heather and bilberry bushes.  Thick woods with a tangle of undergrowth surround these Roman camps, did some Roman architect in York pull out a drawing or two, and command his soldiers to go build and see what you come up with.  One of them is is the 'playing card' proper camp, this is 'D' as you can see from the above photo. Double banked, entrances aligned. another camp sits alongside trapezoidal shaped 'C';  'A' and 'B' much further away.  A mystery, even more so from the ground view.  There are words here on Pastscape of early excavations, but the puzzle is not really solved.  They stand on a scarp, overlooking the surrounding countryside, and the Brigantes tribe is the main Northern tribe that the Romans had to overcome, though overall the Brigantes were friendly towards the Romans.  One of the problems about the site is that there is little water, it has to be collected from below the ridge in a small beck.  There are tumuli in the woods, but heavy undergrowth would obliterate most signs of these barrows.  Cawthorn relationship as a defensive Roman barrier of forts that ran between Leas Rigg and Malton forts is probably the more rational explanation, its defenses would stem from the York main fort.
I tried the small black berries, not knowing what they were, but surmised (correctly) that they must be bilberries, later on we met met people armed with plastic boxes for collection of these tiny berries. 

heather and bilberries

The next photos are of a drive we went later on, through the village of Butterwick, though I would call it a hamlet, as there are only about 15 houses there. The river Rye runs through the village, a large river which joins up with our river Seven further on towards Malton.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Impatiens Glandilifera, or Himalayan Balsam or Policemen's helmet, it covers the river at the back for a mile, nothing else grows there apart from the giant gunnera, which can be just as thuggish.  Himalayan Balsam, is one of the three 'aliens' species not welcomed in this country, the other two are Japanese Knotweed and the Giant Hogweed. 

It is a bit scary, a pretty 'triffid' plant introduced in 1835, now romps along our rivers with artful ease, it is destructive of local plants and as it dies down in winter can cause the banks of the river to slide into the water.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Horcum Hole
Coming back from Whitby today over the moors, and the vivid purple of the heather is at its best,  the underpinning of  the softer tones of fireweed flowers highlights it's colour. Cotton grass has gone over though I saw one pale patch, and the mists as we travelled down gave an ethereal feel to the 'canyon' that flows through the moor, with the dark line of the old railway track at its bottom.  Unfortunately I haven't taken my camera out these last few days, so no photos....

Yesterday, we went to Helmsley, a pretty, 'chocolate box' town reminding me of Lacock village.  It had the same honey-toned stone, lots of tea houses and tourist shops, we wandered around for half an hour, walked up to the castle, past a long fence of sweet peas of every colour.  This fronted a garden that grew vegetables and soft fruit in abundance.  We are going back soon, it is only 7 miles down the road, and 1 mile from Rievalaux  Abbey, so a day's outing probably.

It was a busy day yesterday, family called in to bring their sheets from the cottage, and then off we went to Kirkbymoorside, and then on to Helmsley.  Got back and the extra chicken run had arrived, so put it together and now the hens have extra space, though they would dearly love to be free ranging.  Three eggs arrive every day, so we are going to have a surplus soon, think I shall give them away..... 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tuesday - Raining

Red sky at night 'Shepherds delight', this is not true it is absolutely p****** down this morning, I have covered the run for the hens, and we should have an extension run for it coming later today.

Life is busy, curtains to hang this morning, baking for LS, who seems to be eternally hungry in the evening, must be the fresh air.  All the wheat/barley (can't tell the difference) must be in, for the aroma of muck spreading, though faint is on the air, and I saw a large truckload go through yesterday evening.  It always reminds me of the town of Gruyere in Switzerland, that faint whiff of the stable yard, a smell actually I love, cheese being a great favourite and especially a good fondue, with its mix of emmenthal and gruyere.

Music plays constantly on the radio, I cannot believe the nonsense that is coming out of it as far as the labour party is concerned, talk about cutting ones own throat, and so publicly that is what is most distasteful!  We need a damn good revolution to clear the air of centre politics......

Gruyere - photos
The family last year

About 40 years ago

Sunday, August 16, 2015


They have arrived! bought a local paper yesterday, brown POL hens £8, could not resist, so following instructions, up the hill, down the hill, straight bit of road, don't turn left to Wrelton, we arrive at a small sawmill, with grandpa sitting outside and the family in the open shed discussing wood, large sackfuls at a reasonable price for the log fire here as well.

I pick three out of a couple of dozen, asking if they have red mite, a bit of indignation there! Then I ask to hold one, quite heavy and that rather pretty brown and white mottling strikes me as attractive. We box them, and they are duly put in the hutch and run.  Already I see with these large hens they need more space, another run is already ordered, and we discuss fencing the area between the church wall and oil tank.

Dominance was already being displayed in the pen later on, she may go back!! (Think this one has been named by LS as Desdemona, the other two might be Hetty and Harriet if I go in for naming hens )But apparently 4 days on the 'naughty step' or being separately confined will probably do the trick and it is all a bit more stressful at the moment...

I had given up on bantams, though cousin Sue in Cornwall said she would find me some when they came down in September.  But today it is my family calling in on their way for another few days at the cottage.  The weather is going to be good this week I believe.  This started me worrying about getting in 'stores' for feeding people, for instance a 'roast', we rarely cook large pieces of meat. My family are like a pack of hungry mice devour all the packet of biscuits, and there is only a few shortbreads at the moment.  I had planned to bake a fruit cake this morning, eccles cakes yesterday but none of them will eat dried fruit in cakes, the 'likes' and 'dislikes' of a large family can be a nightmare when it comes to producing food.

Tom the eldest said at the age of three that he was allergic to cheese, and that was that, although his mum smuggled cheese into his food without any harmful affects.  Never touched it since, Ben is mostly vegetarian a bit like me, and as for the girls, it is a compromise......Well at least the hens are not fussy.

I was a child when first introduced to hens, holidays on farms, or to be more precise being sent away in the school holidays because there was no one to look after us led me into the fascinating world of livestock. In Wales, not far from where BoveyBelle lives, a real Welsh smallholding, I remember going out to a neighbouring farm for a hen to eat.  The men caught one, wrung its neck and then offered it to me to take back to the car, grinning away.  Well we should all know why they were grinning, a chicken has automatic motion still in its body after death, believe it can run round headless... this one flapped its wings as I carried it to the car so I dropped it in sheer fright...

Killing a chicken for the table, was commonplace in those 'olden days', and at the farm in Rugeley I would see a fowl killed and then help pluck it, a first time introduction to red mite. Roast chicken, bread sauce, onion sauce, roast potatoes and a helping of vegetables, delicious.