Sunday 29 August 2021

the Throwleigh Green Man

That's the last of the twelve churches on the Archangel's Way; St Mary the Virgin, Throwleigh. This is one of the Dartmoor churches with three hares in, but I've already put the three hares of South Tawton into a picture, so this one has Throwleigh's green man instead, even if he does look a bit menacing. 

Then again, why should a green man be cute and cuddly? 

He's nestled among Jack by the Hedge (otherwise garlic mustard), and white bryony, which shares some of that human/vegetation thing with him. And the hawthorn in the background has may blossom on it.

It is a lovely spot. I first went there on a damp and misty day in early spring, and it was one of those moments that I inconveniently would rather keep to myself. So you'll just have to imagine it or go there yourself. Sorry!

Thursday 12 August 2021

glowworms everywhere

Since I moved up to Heron Tree on Tuesday everyone (well, several people) has (or have, as the case may be) been talking about glowworms, of which there is a plethora here, if plethora means quite a few. And I've not drawn a badger for a while, so there you go.

Before I moved onto the canal I had seen two glowworms in my life. One was in a hedge in Herefordshire, when we were walking back to our tents from the pub during a week spent strawberry picking after our O Levels. It was about the only time my red/green colour blindness manifested itself, as I thought it was a fag end and my friends said "But it's green!" 

And the other time it was on a lane in Devon. 

Since coming to the canal, I've seen 'em all over the place. The towpath resembles a flarepath with them sometimes, in fact, and you often have to jump out of the way as a Special Forces aircraft, on manoeuvres over Salisbury Plain, gets distracted and comes in to land and discharge commandos all over the place. Messy business, especially if they fall into the canal and have to be pulled out.

This little creature was walking along my arm as I sat outside chatting with my neighbour. Someone suggested it was a glowworm, but I really don't think it is*. It's quite similar to those ugly little ladybird larvae, though. Sorry, ladybirds, I'm no oil painting myself.

Canals are a valuable green corridor for wildlife. There has been criticism of the Canal and River Trust's mowing and hedge-cutting policy, the critics arguing that the CRT contractors cut swathes through rich habitats at entirely the wrong time, when a more sensitive and flexible approach would mean the plants could seed and the creatures mate undisturbed. They do seem to have taken this on board, and there are sections of the canal now flagged as glowworm habitats where mowing is limited or avoided.

*it has been identified as the larva of the common green lacewing, by a knowledgeable person in a Wiltshire wildlife group

Sunday 8 August 2021

chasing hares all over the place

It's been a while since I got any giclee prints done, but I've finally got round to it. These were printed by Niche Frames in Bristol, my fave fine art printers. There's a couple of older ones, but this first one is a new reproduction of a pencil drawing I did, of a roof boss in South Tawton church.

This one is the first three hares picture I did. Look closely and you can see Uffington, Glastonbury Tor and Capel y Ffin, too.
And then this springy one with primroses.

They're all over in my Etsy shop. indeed is my three hares map, which includes an apposite quote from a poem by Deborah Harvey, who introduced me to the whole hares and Dartmoor thing. And indeed, whose guerilla distribution of the previous version of this map led to the connection with the Archangel's Way folk in the churches down there.

Sunday 1 August 2021

on being a pilgrim

I went down to Belstone for the launch of the Archangel's Way. I arrived in time to see and hear the bellringers, who were spending the day ringing all the way along the Way, start up the peals in Belstone church, setting the little stone-coloured moths fluttering on the walls. Jim Causley sang a couple of special songs for the occasion and we all joined in with To Be A Pilgrim and Bread of Heaven. 

One of the church team recorded an interview with me and I said some blether or other that I felt daft about afterwards about pilgrimages. I do feel ambivalent about bandying the word around too freely. Like hygge and mindfulness. They should be just Things You Do without having to label them. And the adventures you have on the way make the arrival special and significant, like Cavafy's Ithaka

Jim Causley, and Paul Seaton-Burn Being a Pilgrim

My adventure started with fighting the inclination to bottle out of going at all. And then noticing that one of the car tyres was cracking because the rubber's perished, so I went on a side adventure to a tyre depot near Bruton, which was on a farm and had great piles of huge tractor tyres and, as it turned out, none that would fit Dilys. But seeing the piles of huge tyres like a rubber Stonehenge in the rain was memorable.

And then before I rejoined the A303 at Sparkford, home of the Haynes Manual, I stopped to refuel at a very busy petrol station, and I saw that the Macdonalds next to it was utterly rammed, a foretaste of what the road would be like all the way into Devon now. 

Passing Exeter, the voice of Satan, or, as I used to call it, the Sat Nav, helpfully whispered that it had found an alternative route that would save me 20 minutes. Fool that I was, I hearkened unto its words and went astray, up sunken lanes with no passing places in a convoy of other fools who'd listened to the same tempting advice.

We drove through picturesque villages where the natives scowled at us and I consoled myself with the thought that they were all retired civil servants from the Home Counties and serve 'em jolly well right. Which was probably entirely unjust. 

We drove past a couple of prangs. And a group of caravans that had given up the unequal struggle against this sudden jetstream of numpties and hauled up tight into a passing place, where they probably still are, brewing a consoling cup of tea and assuring each other that they mustn't grumble.

For the return journey, I used mindfulness and went across country to Crediton and Tiverton, and it was all very nice and hyggy. Except for Tiverton of course. So there. Who would true valour see, watch a good movie.

the morris team arriving

the sheep sang alto and very nice too

Sarah Cracknell and the Growing the Rural Church team