Wednesday 30 December 2015

Clockwork life … forwards or backwards … the New Year of 2016 …

We are in unprecedented times for a number of reasons … we think we are in global warming mode (human climate change), but perhaps it’s a precursor to the ice age …

The frozen River Thames in
England 1677  (Abraham Hondius)

… desperate peoples have to move, want to move anywhere to be safe, to find food and shelter … to have a future …

I have often commented … we must thank our forebears as we are so fortunate – we have shelter, food, fresh water and there is security in our lives …

Courtesy of the BBC

… centuries ago, or perhaps more recently, we all have migrants in our genealogies … remember others, now we are as safe as we can be in a developed country …

Let’s not complain … just ask will it help?  Don’t procrastinate … motivate yourself to move on … in doing so it is likely you will help others.

We are at the edge of a New Year … a year of possibilities and opportunities – let’s utilise this wonderful position we hold and embrace our fortune – in doing so reach out and help others …

… don’t judge or exclude, include and share ideas and friendships – in doing so reach out and help others … jump the barriers, work round the negativity …

The only way we will bring peace on earth is to set examples, to lead, not criticise, get on with things … and spread our love with generosity to others …

Here’s to 2016 – may you all have a lovely year ahead … let’s be positive to ourselves, which will feed on to others … and spread hope to all across the globe.

Our beautiful world ... 

Freedoms are such a human fundamental – as I started this post … think about the other side of the coin … people, are people, and are essentially kind and thoughtful – I would hate to be in so many people’s lives at the moment. 

My thoughts to one and all … let’s remain and support freedoms, not a closed society of any type, and in doing so we need to be open …

Malala Yousafzai

This is an interview I heard on our Channel 4 TV between the presenter Jon Snow and Malala (1 min 17 sec) - she cannot be anything but inspirational.

Please listen and read – gosh I’d love to have this outlook on life and Malala’s maturity of thought … fascinating … enjoy, inwardly digest, and let’s follow together …

The last two paragraphs are the important ones:  essential reading.

Happy New Year everyone 

              all the very best for 2016 …

Remember this:  Quoitidie Morior (1695)
on sundial  St Ive Church, Liskeard
"I die daily" so let's get on with helping
others and bringing peace to the world

Some of my ideas came from Seth Godin’s recent posts:

The Next - Dec 19th 

The Edges - Dec 20th 

on YouTube ...  (5 minutes)

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday 21 December 2015

Déjà vu Blogfest, Emily Hobhouse and her Open Christmas Letter …

A letter “To the Women of Germany and Austria” was a public message for peace signed by 101 British women suffragists at the end of 1914 as the first Christmas of World War 1 approached.

Emily Hobhouse authored the Open Christmas Letter and circulated it for signatures.  For now I leave you to read more at the Wikipedia page on the Letter … and I will draft my post about Emily next year.

The paragraph titled “Message” is worth reading …

Emily Hobhouse
(1860 - 1926)

One hundred and one years ago life was not much different ... wars were going on ... the genders were not treated equally ... food was scarce ... peoples from all over the world helped (and hindered) each other, ideas were sewn to improve the world ... and so it goes.

Déjà vu blogfest – I am afraid I failed … but I had a look at my posts – and you are all so generous in your support, and your thoughtful comments … that I felt you'd all come by  and read with elegant sufficiency! ... 

A hedgehog igloo

… except perhaps the Hedgehog and Harvest Mouse post earlier this month … with now the added question when cometh winter? … and how will flora and fauna adapt to these warm conditions …

… today is the shortest day of the year - tomorrow the light increases (yeah) in the northern hemisphere … becoming apparent in the middle of January.

Winter Cyclamen

So for now a very happy Christmas to one and all … and as Emily and her fellow suffragists from the UK, America, Germany, Austria, South Africa, India, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, France, and many more sympathisers wished … 

… “Is it not our mission to preserve life?”

… today with our knowledge broader, I would add … we need to cherish all life … from a humble bee, to an innocent insect, to  creeping, clambering plants, to the elephantidae …

… the only surviving family of the order Proboscidea … and back to the chongolo – the renowned African millipede …

And as a respected member of Hilary’s society – Hardwick sends his 'bestest' wishes to you all for a very Happy Christmas and hopes you will have lots of happiness at all times …

Remember others … smile lots … think of the planet as you go about your Christmassy days and each of the 365 to follow as 2016 approaches …

Happy Christmas and/or Happy Holidays ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday 17 December 2015

Agincourt 1415 – St Crispin’s Day 25th October … Crystal Sceptre and the Hedon Mace …

Back six hundred years now – to see some exquisite workmanship – Henry V’s beautiful Crystal Sceptre was given to the City of London as a ‘vote of thanks’ for providing the funds to fight the historic Battle of Agincourt … a major victory in the Hundred Years’ War.

The Crystal Sceptre and the Hedon Mace

I’m not sure we could make this today … two shafts of spiral fluted-and-gold-inlaid rock-crystal, with a jewel-and-pearl encrusted crown bearing Henry’s coat of arms on parchment.

The Rock Crystal shaft - bejewelled

The Crystal Sceptre is seen briefly but annually at the Silent Ceremony, when the out-going Lord Mayor passes his authority to the in-coming, at the Guildhall.

It is also carried by the Lord Mayor at coronations, so it last left the Guildhall for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.

The crowned top of the Sceptre - within the crown can be
seen the Royal Arms of England as adopted by Henry IV
in 1406, along with the Lilies of France.

I was going to be in London the day before the Lord Mayor’s Show … the exhibition would be open – so I thought!  They shut it three quarters of an hour before I arrived … I had been at the British Museum in the morning, with this as my last stop before I went off to see my godaughter and her parents north of London.

Part of the Lord Mayor's State Coach - through glass!

However I did see the Lord Mayor’s Coach through glass, but was returning south the next day (the day of the Lord Mayor's Show) – so I had to go up to London again – but it’s been worth it … as oddly enough the Devon silver used relates back to the West Country Tour I’m posting about – that part of the journey will appear next year.

The Hedon Mace (Hedon in South Yorkshire) was also on show – a weapon used at Agincourt, now encased in silver-gilt.
The top of Hedon Mace

Henry had gone on a pilgrimage in 1421 to holy sites associated with his three patron saints.  The iron mace, which Henry had had silver-gilded, is thought to have been an actual weapon used in the Battle of Agincourt and presented to the city as thanks for its support.

East Yorkshire, showing Hedon.
The municipality of Hull is shown in
grey to the west of Hedon

Hedon was an important port in the 12th and 13th centuries, before a deeper port in the Humber Estuary was required for the larger ships being built.

This isn’t the time for long posts but I wanted to post about these two incredible items, as well as some other treasures that were on show – in this very small exhibition.

The groats
Silver groats and half-groats were minted in 1415 to pay the soldiers for their service in France.  A groat was worth four pence.

The Crystal Sceptre was reunited with the Hedon Mace from Yorkshire for a short-time exhibition.

The crowned top of the Crystal Sceptre

It looked just so incredible and to have survived intact for so long is quite remarkable.  Recently these items have been researched and given some history … so deserving … and we learn more about the years of Henry V and his short reign.

Further information can be found here:

Crystal Sceptre of Henry V - Medieval Histories 

Hilary Melton-Butcher 
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday 14 December 2015

West Country Tour – Bodmin Moor … Part 9 …

We are now off to see the Hurled Stones “The Hurlers”, a Dolmen: “Trethevy Quoit”, some granite cheeses piled up as a “Cheesewring” all to be found on Bodmin Moor …

View from the pub

… a little fresh air was required (it’s about the coldest I’ve been this year) … still we had a wander amongst the Hurlers and viewed the Cheesewring from afar.  Lovely area though … we usually whizzed through on our way to Penzance or St Ives – where parent or family lived.

Jenny having a good inspection of Trethevy Quoit

First getting up close and personal with Trethevy Quoit was quite awe-inspiring … as I haven’t had that experience for decades, then it was with the Neolithic henges and megaliths of Penwith (west Cornwall), with my mother.

It is a portal tomb and now stands (rebuilt) atop the landscape in all its magnificence … it is known locally as “the giant’s house” – standing 9 feet (2.7m) high – that nickname makes perfect sense.

Pub Sign relating to the legend

The Hurlers – love the name of these henges (circles) – they derive from a legend, in which men were playing Cornish hurling, a Celtic game, on a Sunday … and were for punishment dramatically transformed into stones.

Showing some of the Standing Stones
in the Hurlers

Well it was a Sunday … would we survive?  Looks like we did … there’s a bit more of anexplanation in my “H” post in this year’s A-Z.

We could see the “Cheesewring” in the distance from the Hurlers … named after a press-like device that was once used to make cheese.  The granite slabs are 32 feet high (nearly 10 metres).

Wilkie Collins described the Cheesewring in 1861 in his book “Rambles Beyond the Railways”:
The Cheesewring with a person
to give the perspective

‘If a man dreams of a great pile of stones in a nightmare, he would dream of such a pile as the Cheesewring.  All the heaviest and largest of the seven thick slabs are at the top; all the lightest and smallest at the bottom.'

Bodmin Moor pony

… then what does fresh air give you … a grumbling tummy for some lunch … so off we went – I can’t remember the name of the pub – but they had timber ‘cottages’ in the small spinney in the grounds – with a viewing platform out over Bodmin Moor.

My roast pork - with the ubiquitous Yorkshire pudding ...
gravy was on its way, as too apple sauce

They specialised in a real Sunday roast … with all the trimmings, which we followed with a traditional type dessert … I had crumble … Jenny had her meringue, ice-cream, Cornish cream and toffee sauce …

Roast Beef ... more gravy was following!

… we went very sadly on our way – I definitely was in the mood for a Sunday afternoon on the sofa … in a heap, letting my lunch enjoy itself … and I hadn’t had a glass of wine, or a cider … sad really!

Apple and Blackberry Crumble with
Cornish Cream

… but our next Emily spot was calling and now the clocks had gone back … it would be dark by 5.00 pm or so … more West Country tour posts to follow in the New Year ... 

One very happy Jenny!

Have a happy last few days build up to Christmas and on towards the New Year ... all the best ... I have a few more non West Country tour posts ...

I have one final Emily post before Christmas ... which warrants some reading and thinking about - but as it is appropriate for this time of year ... I will post now - and then it's available for reading, when anyone feels like it.

Our time with Sally and her husband was one of the highlights of our tour ... as here meeting new friends, then later on near-relatives I had never met ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday 11 December 2015

West Country Tour – Layby Stopover 3 … two films to see …

I saw these recently … and as Christmas is coming with the winter season, when we might watch films in the evening, I was really impressed with them – and thought some of you might be too.

They are documentary features … both works offer portraits of their subjects, but there is a marked difference between them.  I trust our Society’s Chairman's selection … and I was totally won over.

That’s because the film about Diana Vreeland fascinates by showing a truly unique individual:

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel – 85 minutes

This film I was mesmerised by … there’s so many unique aspects to it … the way they’ve made it … Diana Vreeland has some incredible one liners … I honestly wanted to see it again immediately!

Two Vreeland covers for Harpers

I thought of you all in our blogosphere ... and just am certain you could all find something creative from the film … it was staggering.

It’s not about fashion … it’s story telling … Vreeland did her own thing and was her own person … within her own sphere she had the taste and the sensibility of somebody who deserves to be thought of as an artist - as our Chairman said, although he saw the film all of three years ago – it has stayed with him – then he brought it to us in the Society.

Just like me … I won’t forget this film … so if you feel inclined: hire it, or buy it – do see it … it’s great fun … wonderful repartee – loved it!!

Poster for the film
Ballet Boys gives us another look at life from the three boys growing up in the world of ballet – and supporting each other … again we see passion, friendships, ambition and identity … creativity to glean here too.

A Geopolitical Map of Norway -
showing counties/states
It is succinct in length, being 75 minutes long, but giving us an insight – an interesting portrayal – of the rigours of training for ballet with the strain that it imposes on bodies requiring detailed physical examinations of those wanting to participate.

There’s the mental aspects too – their determination to do their best – yet the Norwegian documentary emerges as universal in its relevance … to us as bloggers/ authors/ artists too.

Kenneth Elvebakk’s may not have planned to direct the film showing us the actual growth of the characters and how they adapt over that twelve years … but the film wonderfully shows this aspect - how the boys grow, develop, learn, keep motivated and take their opportunities.
Vreeland spent time with
Diaghilev - due to Russian
family connections

I do hope some of you will check these out – the Vreeland one I’m hoping will turn up in my stocking – or equivalent … might need to wait til the day, rather than a night-time chimney drop!  My early letter has reached Santa and been acknowledged!!


Diana Vreeland -The Eye has to Travel 

New York Times "Mapping a Path to Vreelandia" - September 2012 .. tells you more ... 

The Norwegian Film Institute - Ballet Boys: excellent synopsis here

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday 9 December 2015

West Country Tour – St Ive Church – get us to the Church on time … Part 8 …

Jenny had fixed to meet the artist and her husband, and some people from the village of St Ive (pronounced ‘St Eve’ – possibly of Welsh or Persian origin; and not the picturesque harbour of St Ives). 
First Rectory and the Church

Sally, who lives locally – obviously found Emily and the local connections via the Museum, the Church and asking around … a great inquisitor … and became interested in Emily Hobhouse’s story.

Gravestones for Emily's parents

Emily was born in the village in 1860 where her father was Rector for 50 years (1844-1895) … she was only able to leave the village once her father had died – he was an autocratic Victorian father.

Stained Glass window in the Church

Sally, who lives life to the full with her husband, is a great artist (though see the collage) – more next year … and having got hooked on Emily – traced Jenny to Vancouver Island … and that was that – we were invited to stay the night: the internet is a great thing.

The restored Organ Pipes

Sally had fixed to meet with a couple at the Church, one of whom had lived in the village all his life … and knew people who had known Emily Hobhouse and those connections.

Jenny was thrilled to be able to meet these parishioners, hear their stories, see all the papers they and the village had relative to Emily and/or her parents.

The nave looking west; the barrel
(wagon) roof
We had tea and scones … but Jenny was absorbed with Dennis and Doreen, and Sally – while they nattered about all things Emily.  It was lovely to see – books and papers all over the place …

Sally’s husband and I looked around the Church – wandering back to the group to ask pertinent questions … and finding out a bit about the history.

The manor of Trebeigh, St Ive was listed in the Domesday Book and has a history of the chequered sort, as well as the peaceful type …

An Armorial Hatchment - that has been slightly
touched up ... I've forgotten further details and thought I'd
be able to find it on the net - to no avail!

King Stephen in 1150 gave the manor to the Knights Templar where they settled, offering refuge and refreshment to pilgrims on their way to St Michael’s Mount in Penzance Bay, which was the point of departure to the Holy Land.

Henry VIII confiscated (1538-1541) the Templar lands – ultimately Elizabeth I abolished the Order of the Estate.  Trebeigh Manor changed hands … but there were stories and traditions about the field below the Church.

A view from the Churchyard across to
 the high point ofCaradon Hill
There might be secret tunnels linking Trebeigh to the Church … and locally Trebeth, as Trebeigh is known, means ‘farm with a grave’ in Cornish – thus giving credence that the field is an old burial ground.

The history is here … Dennis confirmed that the house next to the Church was the original Rectory, and that Emily’s father had lived there before he married.

Where Emily lived - the new Rectory

On his marriage to a daughter of a fairly well-connected and wealthy family … a new Rectory was built across the road.  Which was where Emily was born and where she and her sister, Maud, lived in their early years.

The blue plaque on the Rectory -
an historical marker

The Rectory had passed into private hands, was looking distinctly derelict … and was up for sale – but needed a huge amount of work done on it.

I’m certain the meeting for Jenny was of huge significance and interest … and she would have learnt and taken things in about the Hobhouses that she hadn’t found out when she looked through Emily’s papers – the papers she had inherited from Emily’s nephew, Oliver, her father.

The small permanent notice about Emily - the
bronze statue is locked up.

But what fun to meet up with two delightful couples who could share Emily with Jenny … they were all so enthusiastic – it was wonderful to see …

The church bronze of
Emily - sorry about the
fire-hydrant and
safety messages!
We bade our farewells to the St Ive parishioners, while Sally, her husband, Jenny and I ‘retired’ to their farm house for more discussion, more pouring over documents, papers, books etc … with Sally disappearing off to find more information … and bringing out some of her art work.

The kitchen table stretched out with Emily clutter … more tea was poured out … the nattering began – interspersed occasionally by the cook – Sally’s husband or me with some salient thought …

… Coq-au-vin aromas filled the kitchen space … but we were content … the Aga was put to use … Ralphie, the dog, happily settled at our feet … contentedness abounded.

One of Sally's drawings, some books and a definitive issue South African
Stamp commemorating Emily's death fifty years before.

St Ive sundial (1695)
with the inscription
"Quotidie Morior"
(I die daily)
Wine o'clock came about ...

Friends arrived, dinner was served, our brains too were replete … a good night was said – and we awoke to our next escapade … hurling some stones, building cheeses and doing some archaeological viewing … 

... after another layby stopover for two films!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories