eco enchatments banner



Illustration - 'Faery Music' Ida Rentoul Outhwaite


♫    Music to dream by ....   ♫

Who Knows Where the Time Goes
Kate Rusby

(minimize new window & listen while you browse)



     December 30th 2016
        .....  end of year celebrations with Hoodeners in East Kent's Thanet ........

St Nicholas at Wade Hoodeners, Hooden Horses Matilda and Dobbin smile for the camera©vcsinden2016
A rare sighting indeed - Matilda joins Dobbin for a romantic tale!
St. Nicholas at Wade Hoodeners

Deal Hoodeners, caroling shoppers in Deal High Street on Christmas Eve ©vcsinden2016
Christmas Eve and the Deal Hoodeners with 'Orse,
out in force to carol the shoppers and raise funds for Demelza Childrens' Hospices

  Deal Hoodeners,  ‘Orse’ meets the shoppers  Deal High Street on Christmas Eve ©vcsinden2016
The Deal Hoodeners 'Orse - wooing the last minute shoppers in Deal High Street on Christmas Eve

    St Nicholas at Wade Hoodeners, performing in the village hall on the Yuletide Solstice ©vcsinden2016

The St. Nicholas at Wade Hoodeners at the Village Hall Yuletide festivities



    November 28th 2016

       ......  Northern Romania -  (Part 3) ..... world treasures  .......

     Prislop Pass, Romania  - at the head ©vcsinden2016

    It had snowed overnight, and crossing back over the high pass on top of the Eastern Carpathians and into Bucovina we were quite beset by fog, but it made for ghostly images. Staying at a remote country guest house near Humor Monastery, we had three days to spend exploring the Painted Monasteries.

Painted Monasteries of Romania -  Moldovita  ©vcsinden2016
'Moldovita'  - 1532 - sheltered side

    The breathtaking paintings showing saints, history and old testament scenes are almost miraculously in tact after nearly five hundred years, but each monastery boasts a 'better side'.  The side away from direct sun and wind, sheltered by the great overhanging roof.

Painted Monasteries of Romania -  Moldovita  ©vcsinden2016

'Moldovita'  - much of the painting has faded or disappeared on this side

     Voronet Monastery displays some of the most famous external fresoes. At the rear of the church, luckily sheltered under a deep roof overhang, is the magnificent  'Last Judgement'. I loved the panel at the very top, (detail below) - showing angels rolling up all the signs of the Zodiac to put away, as time will no longer be marked.

Painted Monasteries of Romania - Voronet - last Judgement, detail  ©vcsinden2016

Above and below - 'Voronet' - west facade - 'The Last Judgement'

Painted Monasteries of Romania - Voronet - last Judgemennt  ©vcsinden2016

Painted Monasteries of Romania -  Voronet  ©vcsinden2016

'Voronet' - building started in 1487

Painted Monasteries of Romania - fresco at Humor ©vcsinden2016
Painted Monasteries of Romania - fresco at Humor ©vcsinden2016

Exterior frescoes at 'Humor Monastery'  - Left: saints wearing typical regional cloth, patterned in black and white.
Right: a devil drags a King off for punishment by his beard

Painted Monasteries of Romania - Humor ©vcsinden2016

'Humor' -  1530 - faded end

        Inside, the churches are overwhelming. Here are colours still as deep and rich as when brush touched wall all those centuries ago. In each church, every millimetre of every space, arch, dome, nook and cranny tells a richly jewelled story.

Painted Monasteries of Romania - Humor Interior ©vcsinden2016

'Humor' interior

     A feature common to many is a huge panel called 'The Votive Painting', This depicts the benefactor of the monastery (usually a regional King), giving his magnificent new building to the Christ figure. The 'Votive' below is at Humor.

Painted Monasteries of Romania - Humor - The Votive Painting ©vcsinden2016

Humor Monastery - The 'Votive' panel

Romania - sheep encounter ©vcsinden2016

Painted Monasteries of Romania - Arbore Church ©vcsinden2016

There are smaller 'Painted Churches' to explore too - this one is peaceful 'Arbore'

    The monasteries are still working religious places, for learning and contemplation. Built close to many, inside or part of the defensive walls, is the living accomodation for the Nuns.

Painted Monasteries of Romania - Sucevita ©vcsinden2016

'Sucevita Monastery'

Painted Monasteries of Romania - Sucevita - ladder of St. John ©vcsinden2016

Sucevita - rows of angels help new souls up to heaven on the 'Ladder of St. John',
while devils and demons grapple the unworthy off the ladder and down to the depths. A salutary lesson!

Painted Monasteries of Romania - Sucevita ©vcsinden2016

Sucevita Monastery - The Resurrection Church

Casa Bunicilor, Bucovina, Romania - cow ©vcsinden2016

A friend outside our window at the lovely, off the beaten track, guesthouse - 'Casa Bunicilor'
so very highly recommended





    November 19th 2016
       ......  Northern Romania -  (Part 2) ..... a little magic  .......

Faery Muddypond Green with something borrowed and friend.

      Whilst in many parts of  rural Romania paved roads are replacing the old dirt tracks, horses still retain their importance in farm and homestead labours. You won't go far without passing a wooden cart pulled by a horse or maybe two. Visit a country market and you'll meet them by the dozen.

Romania- horse darwn cart ©vcsinden2016

    Most of the horses proudly sport a large red tassel or two on their bridles. The tassels are carefully hand-made from scarlet wool and are worn in the centuries old belief that the horse and the journey will be protected from 'witchcraft' or 'the evil eye'. Worn also as a lucky charm - red being thought to be a bringer of good luck.

Red Tassels - protective charms -Romania ©vcsinden2016

Right:  Muddypond was lucky enough to be given a tassel charm.
Here it is adorning burnt oak framed 'Faery Crow' - painted for her by dear friend Joyce.

      It's interesting that the 'Red Thread' belief was, and is still, given credence in Britain, particulary Scotland. Red, the colour of life blood, notoriously disliked by harm-seeking witches.

    Cows' byres and horses' stables were protected by red wool, often wrapped around twig crosses from the mountain ash or rowan. In parts of Scotland, the first time a cow was sent out to spring pasture (frequently around Beltane - May Day) her tail would be tied with red thread (to stop her being milked by a passing witch).

" Rowan-tree and red threed
Put the witches to their speed,"

A well documented verse, here quoted from 'Rowan Tree and Red Thread' by Thomas Davidson. (Learn more about the magic of the Rowan, one of the Ogham Trees - here on my website.)

Red tassels - protective horse charms, Romania ©vcsinden2016

A pair of handsome and well protected fellows.




    November 12th 2016
       ......  Northern Romania - the enchanted land  .......

  Just recently spent some time in the North of Romania, a seven hour train journey from Bucharest to the counties of Maramures and Bucovina. Rural, traditional and only now putting out strong feelers into the 21st century.

Maramures, Romania ©vcsinden2016

Preparing for a long winter - log and hay stacks in the Maramures hills

     The first goal was to see the magical Wooden Churches of Maramures. Many of the area's villages still boast a medieval wooden church - often perched atop a hillside. Steep roofed to defeat winter snows with steeples piercing the leaden skies like needles. All handcrafted from the pines of the mountain forests, each scale-like shingle on the time-darkened roof a little masterpiece.     

Wooden Church at Bogdan Voda, Maramures, ©vcsinden2016Wooden Church at Ieud on the Hill, Maramures, ©vcsinden2016

    Wooden churches at Bogdan Voda and Ieud on the Hill

   The end of October is outside the 'visitor season' and sadly many of the churches were locked and entrance phone numbers unavailable. The unmistakable church exteriors and their dark pine-scented surroundings still made the visits more than worth while.

Wooden Church - medeival pine roof shingles, Maramures, ©vcsinden2016

Each scale-like shingle on the time-darkened roofs a little masterpiece.

Budesti Wooden Church wall mural, Maramures, ©vcsinden2016

Part of medeival mural inside St. Nicholas Church, Budesti - wonderful Sun and Moon

Wooden Church, Celestini, Maramures, ©vcsinden2016

High above the village, the atmospheric wooden church of Celestini

     Saintly lives and martyrdoms and the passage from Earth to Heaven or Hell are a common theme in the exquisite naive paintings which line the walls of the simple, dark interiors from ceiling to floor. Paintings applied to the wood over five hundred years ago using hand-ground natural pigments show muted, natural, perfect colours.

Wooden Church wall mural, Maramures, ©vcsinden2016
Wooden Church wall painting , The Weighing of Souls, Maramures, ©vcsinden2016

Click on right hand painting to enlarge centre panel - 'The Weighing of Souls'

Ox cart, Maramures, ©vcsinden2016

Ioan stopped to show us his long wooden trailer pulled by his pride and joy - a magnificent pair of oxen

Ladies returning from church in the rain Maramures, ©vcsinden2016

Ladies wlking through the rain, coming from a service for harvest time.
One broke a piece of her special loaf and gave it to me as a blessing.

Breb from the hillside, Maramures, Romania ©vcsinden2016

    A breathtaking view down the valley towards the remote village of Breb. Almost every village now has an imposing new church at its centre despite the continuance of the traditional wooden ones with their dark timber from the surrounding forests. Such contrasts.

     Touching the border with Ukraine in the North, is the little town of Sapanta. Here the church is being completely transformed - awe inspiringly tiled, guilded and traditionally painted so that it matches its famous surrounding burial ground - the 'Merry Cemetery'.

  The merry Cemetery, Sapanta, Maramures, ©vcsinden2016        Merry Cemetery, Maramures, ©vcsinden2016

    Since the early 1900s it's become a tradition for each memorial to be carved by one family - the founder was local carpenter Stan Ioan Pătras.  After his death in 1977 his family has continued the work.

     The grave markers are carved to depict the person in their favourite years and everyday lives, then carefully painted with a characteristic blue base ground. There are mothers with their families round the kitchen table, or a farmer with his oxen, a teacher with her pupils, a grandmother weaving at her loom. A few depict violent deaths. Each has a long inscription, often witty, carved to tell of their particularity.

   I think the memorial which surprised me the most  (below) was one which showed a pretty young girl with a dirndl skirt, headscarf and bunch of flowers in her arms. If you walk around to the back, you see a very different side to her character. I think she must have died young and much loved!

Merry Cemetery, Sapanta - cheery grave marker, Maramures, ©vcsinden2016

Move your mouse over the picture to see the back!The merry Cemetery, Sapanta, Maramures, ©vcsinden2016

The Merry Cemetery at Sapanta, on the border with Ukraine






     October 31st 2016
       ......  Pumpkins and bright faery funghi  - Samhain beauties  ...

Vintage postcard - artist unknown

Acres of pumpkins at Pumpkin Moon ©vcsinden2016

 Visited this serious pumpkin patch where pumpkins are picked up by the barrow load at the 'Pick your own Pumpkin' farm just outside Maidstone here in Kent. It's quite a bizarre landscape, a bit akin to a fantasy film!
The farm is called  'Pumpkin Moon'.

Autumn pumpkins at home ©vcsinden2016   Pumpkins, faery lanterns, bonfire leaves and a couple of yellow quinces make a fine arrangement while a trio of 'Turks' Heads' await collection.
Turks head pumpkins awaiting pick up ©vcsinden2016

Family pumpkin picking at Pumpkin Moon ©vcsinden2016

     Much deliberation as the barrows filled with special choices - from this family loving the unusual morning out!
(Photo used with kind permission)


Fly agaric in Kingswood ©vcsinden2016 Fly agaric in Kingswood ©vcsinden2016

   If you go down to the woods today ..... you MIGHT be lucky enough to find clumps of spectacular 'Faery Mushrooms' - these were tucked away off a windy path in Kingswood Forest. Look in the dappled shade under the young sweet chestnuts.

They are faery decorations - NEVER pick them - best not even touch them. The fae leave their adornments where they belong - outside where they grow.

Real name - Fly Agarics - and they are seriously POISONOUS !

Fly agaric in Kingswood ©vcsinden2016





     September 14th  2016
       ......  in Kent it's a hot, hot September and the hop harvest has begun   ....

Kentish hop bines in 2016 with insert of the gorgeous band of the Kettle Bridge Clogs ©vcsinden2016

Hop bines ready to harvest last Sunday, and the band of Kettle Bridge Clogs

Hop bines and grape vines side by side - modern Kent ©vcsinden2016

Modern Kent - the ancient hops for beer and new vines for Kentish wine grow side by side near Selling

'A sweet scent arose from the fat Kentish soil, and the fitful September breeze was heavy with the goodly perfume of the hops.'     W. Somerset Maugham  (ref: see below)

Faery Guardina Martin of checking the Hop bines near Selling ©vcsinden2016

Faery-guardian Martin inspects the hop bines for ripeness and sugar content

    Below, a vintage picture of  September in the Kent hopfields - when whole families from all over Kent and from London stripped the bines, staying in onsite huts for a few hard working, but apparently very happy weeks each year.

W. Somerset Maugham has dedicated a chapter or two to those hop picking days towards the end of his classic tale  "Of Human Bondage",  first published in 1915 ...

'The sojourn in the fields gave them new strength; it was like a magic ceremony by which they renewed their youth and the power of their limbs and the sweetness of the spirit.'

                 There are two marvellous Hop Celebrations in a Kentish September -

   First comes The Faversham Hop Festival. This involves all that you might expect from a modern 'traditional' festival - diverse live music and folk dancing around the lovely old town. Many hops and much local beer.
Hop bines for sale - Faversham, Kent ©vcsinden2016
Hop headresses - Faversham Hop Festival ©vcsinden2016
kentish Cob nuts for sale in Faversham ©vcsinden2016

  Selling hopbines for decoration and for making the popular hair wreaths (above left).

Left - a stall for Kentish cobnuts by the bagful, and, below, a small fan samples a pint of Faversham brewed Shepherd Neame.

Hop festival Shepherd neame fan in Faversham ©vcsinden2016

At the second event, Hops are blessed and prayers said
for the hop harvest and all its workers at the annual
Hop Hoodening Service which takes place in the cool nave of Canterbury Cathedral.
After the service, Morris dancing and supping of the local beers carries the tradition from Cathedral precints,
through the great entry gate and off into the streets of the city.

Hop Hoodening Service at Canterbury Cathedral - princesses guard the hop bower ©vcsinden2016

Two Hop Princesses look after the 'Hop Bower' while they wait for their big moment.Lord Mayor of Canterbury at the Hop Hoodening Service 2016 with Wantsum Morris ©vcsinden2016

  Cr. George Metcalfe, Lord Mayor of Canterbury, turns to take a picture of the entry procession in the precincts.

Hop Hoodening Service at Canterbury Cathedral ©vcsinden2016

Greeting the Hop Queen and her Princesses at the West door of the Cathedral

Hops at the altar - Canterbury Cathedral ©vcsinden2016

Hop bines piled on the steps to decorate the foot of the great altar at the head of the nave.

Kettle Bridge Clogs dance at the Hop Hoodening, Canterbury Cathedral ©vcsinden2016

 After the service the exuberant ladies of Kettle Bridge Clogs from Maidstone dance on the cobbled precint.

Hop Hoodening at Canterbury Cathedral - Morris dancing in the precinct ©vcsinden2016

A member of the original organizers from East Kent Morris, dances with the current leaders Wantsum Morris

No Hop Fields left in Kent ?  - Don't you believe it!!




     September 5th 2016
       ......   oh my - whatever happened to August ?   ....

      Out of doors August,  harvest,  music and traditions on show in the streets.
English summer rain, English summer sun, English summer madness.
    Here's a small photo scrap book picked from Muddypond's August, no time for more .......

     First there was a red hot Broadstairs Folk Week .... Kentish seaside ...pistachio ice-creams and fish n'chips ...

Broadstairs - the sands © vcsinden 2016

   Broadstairs beach, looking away from Bleak House

Broadstairs - Folk festival - The Hooden Horse Herd entertain at the bandstand  © vcsinden 2016

Every day the legendary Broadstairs Herd of seven hooden horses entertains the children at the Band Stand

Lots of lovely long August evenings, watching the sun go down with Kentish ale and Morris dancing at country pubs ...

Weald of Kent Morris at Laddingford © vcsinden 2016

The fabulously eccentric Weald of Kent Morris at The Chequers Inn, Laddingford

Headcorn Morris at Chilham Square © vcsinden 2016

The olde world film-set village of Chilham hosts The Headcorn Morris

   Serendipity  - on the way home from Towersey festival, St.Tiggywinkles - the famous wild-life hospital and hedgehog sanctuary - was open to visitors!

St.Tiggywinkles in Buckinghamshire - board of current rescues © vcsinden 2016   

A lucky rescued hedgehog feels the warmth of August sun at St. Tiggywinkles - started in a Buckinghamshire shed in 1978 - and now the biggest wild-life hospital in Europe.

Hedgehog takes the sun, rescued by St.Tiggywinkles © vcsinden 2016


  At the very end of August came the delectable four day Towersey Festival,   held near Thame in Oxfordshire .......

Towersey Festival 2016- beth Packer of Ma polaine's Great Decline © vcsinden 2016
Towersey Festival 2016 - Kate Rusby© vcsinden 2016
Towersey Festival 2016 - Bob Fox - WarHorse Songman © vcsinden 2016
Unique - Beth Packer of
Ma Polaine's Great Decline
Bob Fox - building on his role as the
WarHorse 'Songman

Boggarts Breakfast at Towersey Festival 2016 © vcsinden 2016

From Sheffield   'Boggarts Breakfast'- dark gleam and wild glitter

Hooden Horse - Towersey Morris - Towersey Festival 2016 © vcsinden 2016
Towersey Morris - The Squire - Towersey Festival 2016 © vcsinden 2016

The Horse and The Squire - Towersey Morris celebrate their 50th anniversary this year




   July 20th 2016
       ......   exploring folklore near Ely - and all at folk festival time ....

Swaffam Prior, Cambridgeshire  - two churches share a graveyard ©vcsinden2016

    It's that time of year again - time for floating away into a dreamlike existence of music and colour - time for a festival. Muddypond's choice - the gentle, gracious and spacious folk festival at Ely in Cambridgeshire.

    Exploring history and traditions in various villages on the way - above - two churches share a churchyard at Swaffham Prior. At one time each had its own faithful congregation, now only the church on the right is used as a place of worship.

Ely Folk Festival Fiddlesticks Morris - clog dancers  ©vcsinden2016

  The ladies of Fiddlesticks Morris from Norwich give a precision clog dance display - loved their white bloomers!

     In case you haven't come across them, let me introduce Muddypond's two favourite bands from this year's festival, with the best sets from the whole line up - simply superb !

Below: "The Young Uns"  - just DON'T MISS them!Ely Folk Festival  'The Young Uns' ©vcsinden2016

Ely Folk Festival - Granny's Attic'  ©vcsinden2016

Above:  "Granny's Attic"   -   whoot!

   Exploring villages near Ely again, and discovering the unbelievable medieval wall plates intricately carved, high up at the base of the oak roof at St. Mary's Church, Burwell. They depict fanciful animals carved from ancient descriptions, animals that the workmen coud not possibly have seen - tigers, elephants, monkeys, horned hares and unicorns. There are many - and the many are high up - take a powerful torch!

Burwell Church, Cambridgeshire – medieval wall plate – oak carving ©vcsinden2016
Wondrous elephants flank a knight's castle
Burwell Church, Cambridgeshire – medieval wall plate – oak carving ©vcsinden2016
Horned bulls frame a green man
Burwell Church, Cambridgeshire – medieval wall plate – oak carving ©vcsinden2016
A pair of maned lions guard their King
Burwell Church, Cambridgeshire – medieval wall plate – oak carving ©vcsinden2016
Deer kneel with a songbird bearing fruit


     Back at the festival,  the Hobby Horse from Hertfordshire's "Young Miscellany" arrives from dancing with his team by the Cathedral, while Colchester clog dancers "Annie's Fantasies " bring colour and energy to the outdoor dance platform.

Ely Folk Festival - Young Miscellany's Hobby Horse  ©vcsinden2016
Ely Folk Festival - Annie's Fantasies ©vcsinden2016

   Ely Folk Festival -Poachers Morris ©vcsinden2016

Definitely time for a breather - from Lincoln  "Poacher's Morris" - as is the modern woodwose below.

   Lastly, also to be found at St. Mary's Church in Burwell are a pair of "woodwose" - wild and hairy men, usually depicted with a wooden club. These two are watching over the grounds from perches on the porch exterior - the one on the left as you look up at them is the weathered original, the other a 20th century replacement.
    I have seen another woodwose recently (see entry about Woolpit below), and have learned that these ancient wildens must not be confused with Christian stone carvings of a worse for wear John the Baptist, carrying his staff out of the wilderness. They can look much the same!

Burwell Church, Cambridgeshire – ancient woodwose statue ©vcsinden2016 Ely Folk Festival -a modern day woodwose from Poachers Morris ©vcsinden2016 Burwell Church, Cambridgeshire – modern replacement woodwose statue ©vcsinden2016
The two woodwose of Burwell, and a modern day counterpart ! I wonder if woodwose ever danced?

"Sumwhyle wyth wormez he werrez, and with wolues als,
Sumwhyle wyth wodwos, þat woned in þe knarrez, ...... "

Sometimes with dragons he was, and with wolves also,
Sometimes with woodwose, wondering in twisted rocks, .......

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight  c1390



   June 27th 2016
       ......   wanted to see .... in London ......

       Have you seen this statue?  Well Muddypond hadn't until now - isn't it fantastical? What a delight .....

Dunamis – elephant statue – London ©vcsinden2016
Dunamis – elephant statue – London ©vcsinden2016

   Yes - it IS an elephant - so tall he is not easy to picture!  The sculpture was installed at the end of 2013, but Muddypond first spotted it from the top of London Bus 82 near Hyde Park, Park Lane. He is balancing by the tip of his trunk in the upturned palm of a circus strong man.  He is 30 feet tall - and sooo magnificent! Simply HAD to ride back, get out and try to take photos.

      The name of the sculpture is Dunamis, Greek for "miraculous power" and it is by Bushra Fakhoury. She says that her work represents "pushing boundaries to make the impossible possible." It certainly achieves that - it is miraculous - and oh so very quirky!! 

  The Hardy Tree - a Victorian installation !

The Hardy Tree at St Pancras old Church, London ©vcsinden2016

      Take London Bus 46 to St Pancras Old Church, surrounded by a peaceful garden. In the garden is this extraordinary 'art-work'. It is known as The Hardy Tree, since Thomas Hardy - yes, the author Thomas Hardy - was given the unenviable job of deciding what to do with hundreds of gravestones when the graveyard of the historic church was cleared around 1865.

     He planted an ash tree (see the magical properties of the Ash on my Ogham page here), and circled it with a carefully graded pattern of memorial stones. They are now an integral part of the tree as it has grown. You cannot go too close, but can look through the iron gates or over the hedge which keeps Hardy's atmospheric work safe.

The Hardy Tree at St Pancras old Church, London ©vcsinden2016 Song thrush near The Hardy Tree at St Pancras old Church, London ©vcsinden2016

Above: The song-thrush who serenaded me

Below: Information near the tree - click to enlarge.

The Hardy Tree at St Pancras old Church, London ©vcsinden2016

   Refreshments anyone? London's most inventive coffeee stop! Magical - good coffee too! 
Hampstead High Street - London Bus 46

Hampstead High Street, coffee stop in a telephon box with faery Muddypond Green ©vcsinden2016




    May 29th 2016Woolpit, Suffolk – village sign ©vcsinden2016
       ......   Incorporating Faery-Guardian Martin's column on a
tain aspect of Woolpit - Suffolk .....

 An English "Must Visit" ....

  "Who knows where the time goes" indeed!  Muddypond was travelling recently with the wonderful Faery-Guardian Martin and he was much struck by the barksome 15th century pew-end carvings in Woolpit Church. Before he tells you about them in his own words, a far too brief word from me about the village.......

   The village sign (right) tells so much. First that the name; Woolpit is said to come from a ditch or pit nearby which was thought to be a wolf pit. Perhaps, but the place certainly has a faery-tale quality about it with its ancient legend of the Green Children, its exquisitely fabulous church and its oh-so-pretty village centre.


Woolpit, Suffolk – St Marys Church - angel hammerbeam roof ©vcsinden2016
Woolpit, Suffolk – St Marys Church - flint patterned walls ©vcsinden2016

   The church of St. Mary has a breathtaking hammerbeam roof. Its vast oaken beams span the knave, each support decorated with three layers of winged angles.

   Its walls are meticulously patterned in flint. Its 14th century porch exterior awash with what we could only describe as "Green Lions". It even has its own stone Woodwose.

Woolpit, Suffolk – St Marys Church - green lion 1 ©vcsinden2016
Woolpit, Suffolk – St Marys Church - woodwose  ©vcsinden2016
Woolpit, Suffolk – St Marys Church - green lion 2 ©vcsinden2016


        FG Martin's Jottings

    My turn at last is it ? - no comment.  Faery-Guardian Martin here. She's letting me bark on here for the first time ever (verbose creature that she is) - not before time is what I toot. It's not as if I can't make my own toothsome choices. My handsome picture can be found for your edification at centre below.

Woolpit, Suffolk –pew end carving 15th century oak ©vcsinden2016 Woolpit, Suffolk –pew end carving 15th century oak ©vcsinden2016 Woolpit, Suffolk –pew end carving 15th century oak ©vcsinden2016

Now you understand that as a Faery-Guardian, I'm pretty old - although - huff - in me prime of course.
Have to be around a long time you see, as Magics like Ms Muddypond can go on for centuries

Woolpit, Suffolk –pew end carving 15th century oak ©vcsinden2016

Faery Guardian Martin ©vcsinden2016

Woolpit, Suffolk –pew end carving 15th century oak ©vcsinden2016

      These oaken curs tho - mongrels the lot of 'em by the looks, but none the worse for that -
must be older even than her! They date from the late 1400s and still sit proud.
The one that looks as if he has wings is actually holding a goose in his mouth - another holds a hare (hope Ms Faery doesn't notice that one!)

Woolpit, Suffolk –pew end carving 15th century oak ©vcsinden2016 Woolpit, Suffolk –pew end carving 15th century oak ©vcsinden2016 Woolpit, Suffolk –pew end carving 15th century oak ©vcsinden2016

 Two have fine collars with chains to control them. I don't need that of course. Well not often.
They sit at the end of the unspoiled pews and have a shiny patina made by thousands of hand strokes.





     May 3rd 2016
       ......   for May Day - the "Summerpole"  celebration at Guildford .....

       The week of the 1st of May, The Greening, Beltane, First of the Summer - call it as you will - is with us again. Ceremonies, dawn risings, maypoles, dancing and Jack-in-the-Greens abound all around Britain in their various guises.

   2016 is the 40th anniversary of the wholehearted first of Summer day revels - 'The Guildford Summerpole' - and it was time for a visit. Wood Guardian fae Muddypond wanted most especially to meet "The Bush" - Guildford's answer to a full-fledged Jack-in-the-Green.

Guildford Summerpole 2016 - ©vcsinden

  All smiles!  A meeting of two glorious "Hoodens" - on the left is N'Dobbin who likes to keep the hosts Pilgrim Morris Men company. The masked one is The Beast often known to dance with Yateley Morris

     "The Bush" is unique in my experience - deliberately kept plain and rather small - but what he lacks in stature and decoration he more than makes up for in unbridled energy and impudence.  Bounding around town with processions and dancers he goes about his 'greening' duties by shouting "BUSH!!" into as many ears as he can find and generally making a confounded nuisance of himself.

Guildford Summerpole The Bush 2016 - ©vcsinden
Guildford Summerpole 2016- ©vcsinden
'The Bush' and the 'Summerpole' on the Castle Green

  It was a glorious day - lots of Mayshine and a few showers blessed the Greening. Cake (delicious!) was offered and shared by all, each morsel a lucky charm. From High Street to Castle, from Town Bridge to Castle Green The Bush led us on - joyously.

Many, many thanks for a lovely day.
Muddypond hopes you enjoy the short video and music. 




   April 26th 2016

       ......   Wood anenomes - the light of wild April .....

Wood Anemone ©vcsinden2016

 "Called also Wind-flower, because they say the flowers never open but when the wind bloweth.
Pliny is my author ; if it be not so, blame him."

                                                                                                                       Nicholas Culpeper 1653   

Wood Anemones ©vcsinden2016
Wood Anenome Fairy from the Dumpy Books

 Illustration above from "The Flower Book" 1901 - from the Dumpy series - artist Nellie Benson

Wood anenome fairy - Signe Aspelin

Wood Anemone

The wood anemone through dead oak leaves
And in the thickest woods now blooms anew,
And where the green briar and the bramble weaves
Thick clumps o'green, anemones thicker grew,
And weeping flowers in thousands pearled in dew
People the woods and brakes, hid hollows there,
White, yellow and purple-hued the wide wood through.

What pretty drooping weeping flowers they are:
The clipt-frilled leaves, the slender stalk they bear
On which the drooping flower hangs weeping dew,
How beautiful through April time and May
The woods look, filled with wild anemone;
And every little spinney now looks gay
With flowers mid brushwood and the huge oak tree.

John Clare (1793-1864)

Easter card illustrator - Swedish artist Signe Aspelin c.1910

Wood Anemone ©vcsinden2016

Loved by the Faere-folk, ruled by Mars, opens in the sunshine of an April day.

Wood anenome fairy - Margaret Tarrant
Wood Anenome Fairy - Ida Bohatta

Left :  Wood Anenome Fairy - Margaret Tarrant c.1930

Right:  The Wood Anenome - Ida Bohatta-Morpurgo c.1950

Muddypond Green's fairy guardian Martin amongst the Wood Anemones ©vcsinden2016

Faery Guardian Martin enjoying the carpets of wind flowers in the local woods on Sunday..
Well, you KNOW how he loves flowers!




     April 8th 2016
       ......   a very Kentish spring garden .....

     This week the sun has been shining, warm amongst the showers; some of the early trees are beginning to break bud and banks are pastel with primroses. It's definitely spring ...... and what better way to celebrate than to visit a garden which is new to me. Set off along the coast of Kent, past Dover's white cliffs and Deal's seaside pier and you will come to the ancient town of Sandwich.

     In Sandwich, close by the river, you will find a house named 'The Salutation' surrounded by old city walls and 'Secret Gardens' formal and not so formal.

Early Spring at The Salutation, or Secret Garden, Sandwich, Kent, ©vcsinden2016

     Well now, wasn't Muddypond going to tell us about travels in Cambodia? you ask. You're right, she was, but then the spring weather came, the cherry trees blossomed and, as always, she was lost!

April primroses at The Salutation, or Secret Garden, Sandwich, Kent, ©vcsinden2016

     Wild primroses, I can smell them from here! The scent reminds me of when I was merely a faery-sprig and we planted them in little baskets made from green willow twigs.

Early Spring at The Salutation, or Secret Garden, Sandwich, Kent, ©vcsinden2016
Anenome Blanda or Winter Windflower in April ©vcsinden2016
The meadow, awash with blue and white Anenome Blanda or 'Winter Windflower' with primroses.

Early Spring at The Salutation, or Secret Garden, Sandwich, Kent, ©vcsinden2016

Fritillaria at The Salutation, or Secret Garden, Sandwich, Kent, ©vcsinden2016
Hellebore at The Salutation, or Secret Garden, Sandwich, Kent, ©vcsinden2016

Early Spring at The Salutation, or Secret Garden, Sandwich, Kent, ©vcsinden2016

Cherry blossom at The Salutation, or Secret Garden, Sandwich, Kent, ©vcsinden2016



       March 28th 2016
       ......   travels in Cambodia ....... and many apologies for tech. problems

Youngsters paddle through their floating village at Tonle Sap on a Cambodian morning

    Muddypond has been away exploring and learning again (as per several of the Stella Fae Examination Levels). Faeries who live in bramble and primrose enclosed circles under spreading English oaks and dark pines are required to learn about the world at large in order to appreciate what they have!

    Anyway - this one has been away quite a while discovering many parts of Cambodia. Then, on return, she encountered all sorts of dreaded technical problems with her computing machine and Eco Enchantments in particular. Well, Wood Guardian fae are not of necessity good with such machines, thus it has taken far longer than she would have liked!

   Here we are back again - you should even be able to contact me again (should you wish!).

Much news of Cambodian wonders very soon.



January 26th 2016
       ......   In search of murrrmurrrations on the Somerset levels ....... 

Starling murmuration, Ham Wall reserve, Somerset Levels ©vcsinden2016

    RSPB reserve 'Ham Wall' and adjoining it, 'Shapwick Heath' managed and owned by Natural England is where I spent a wonderful day recently.  Literally millions of starlings have made the reedbeds their winter roosts for several years now - and their atmospheric, aerial displays have become a popular spectacle.

   Bird watching over the reed beds was the planned agenda, learning about the area with wildlife photographer Iain Green - ending, hopefully, with something I've wanted to witness for a long, long time - a big murmuration of starlings.

Glastonbury Tor guards the Ham Wall reserve, Somerset Levels ©vcsinden2016

  The reserve in its setting - morning mist reveals its guardian, Glastonbury Tor.
An alert great white egret moves a foot and listens.

Marsh harrier at Ham Wall reserve, Somerset Levels ©vcsinden2016
  A marsh harrier starts a riot as he bombards a peaceful meeting of ducks over a marsh lake.

Starling murmuration on Somerset levels ©vcsinden2016

          Roll your mouse over the pictures   -   As the light begins to fade - here they come - the stars of the show


    The sight was amazing enough for a faery wood guardian - but it was the sound that I will never forget. A roll like thunder and a crack as hundreds of thousands of wings change direction simultaneously. Countless voices chatter in the rapturous dance before swooping, plummeting down, turning the reeds completly black as they roost, each touching another for warmth.

Starling murmuration on Somerset levels ©vcsinden2016


A wood guardian's verdict    -  elemental and astonishing experience - unforgettable!

Starling murmuration at sunset on Somerset levels ©vcsinden2016



    January 22nd 2016
       ...    Benevolent words from a faery friend on the other side of the world ...  

Last week I received a lovely Drax message from Jules - here's what she wrote:

   " I have just discovered your magical pages and am simply besotted with all I have just seen!  Huge thanks to you and warm smiles from Jules in Nth Queensland, Australia where the tropical fae contentedly reside in my own lush and wonderfully fragrant garden. "

   Well, how intrigued I was by the thought of those tropical fae - such lucky little fellas to live in Jules's wonderfully fragrant garden!

  Later on, we talked of her collection of old childhood books by favourite illustrators - and she mentioned Peg Maltby, who gives us such detailed antipodean faery pictures  - do look them up - you'll love them.
The little picture above, of the faery amongst mimosa (or 'wattle') is from my 'Peg's Fairy Book' which was first published in 1944.

     One of my all time favourites is also Australian - Ida Rentoul Outhwaite. Here is 'Fairy Bridget and the Kookaburra' from 'Little Fairy Sister' first published 1923




    January 18th 2016
        ......   A thoroughly Kentish 'Apple Yowling' at the Gate Inn, Marshside.....

     First of all - in came they!! -   from just up the road they came - The Boyden Gate Mummers - to perform the traditional New Year Mummers Play - for 2016  'St.George' out in the January chill of the pub garden they have for many a long year....  

Bowden gate Mummers at the Wassail – apple yowling – The Gate Inn, Marshside, Kent  ©vcsinden2016

Check list :  Was there

A dastardly Saracen Knight?
A Brave St. George?  
A Doctor?   
A Mottley Fool?    

A sweet Maid Marion?
A Father Christmas ?   

A Fearsome Dragon?   of course there was!

All present and correct then.

      Next, the soldiers of the 3rd East Kent Buffs
- a fine re-enactment group,  call any stragglers from their Shepherd Neame Ale and cosy pub benches to witness the 'Apple Yowling' - the wassailing of the apple tree which will bring a fine crop in 2016 and luck to all who take a sip from the hot cider in the communal Wassail Bowl.

Wassail – apple yowling – The Gate Inn, Marshside, Kent - 3rd East Kent Buffs shoot in the air around the apple tree -3rd East Kent buffs prepare for the fray  ©vcsinden2016
Wassail – 3rd East Kent Buffs check their weapons for the apple yowling – The Gate Inn, Marshside, Kent - 3rd East Kent Buffs shoot in the air around the apple tree  ©vcsinden2016

Re-enactment group 3rd East Kent Buffs prepare hair and guns for their all-important annual task
of firing at the apple tree to keep any bad spirits at bay.

The Wassail reading - Rowena offers bowl to Vortigern – apple yowling – The Gate Inn, Marshside, Kent - 3rd East Kent Buffs shoot in the air around the apple tree  ©vcsinden2016

     Under the apple tree the Wassailers tell the story
of 'The First Wassail' which they are sure was there in Thanet - they may be right - who knows.

    Legend tells that it was Princess Rowena, beautiful daughter of Hengist and niece of Horsa, who fluttered her eyelashes at King Vortigern and offered him the hot wassail bowl saying "Waes hael" to which he answered 'Drinc Hael' as he took a sip.

    He offered Hengist the Isle of Thanet (once separated from the mainland of Kent by the Wantsum Channel) for Rowena's hand. So it is told!

Right:  Rowena offers her Wassail Bowl to King Vortigern



      After the Apple Blessing, the East Kent Buffs line up and in a very disciplined way FIRE into the air around the tree, pots are banged, rattles rattles and those malicious spirits flee the tree surrounds and do not return for a whole year.

Wassail – apple yowling – The Gate Inn, Marshside, Kent - 3rd East Kent Buffs shoot in the air around the apple tree  ©vcsinden2016

Wassail – apple yowling – The Gate Inn, Marshside, Kent - 3rd East Kent Buffs shoot in the air around the apple tree  ©vcsinden2016

"So stand fast root and bear well top,
God send us a yowling crop,
Every twig, apples big, every bough, apples enow."

The Wassail Singers – apple yowling – The Gate Inn, Marshside, Kent ©vcsinden2016

Wassail – apple yowling – The Gate Inn, Marshside, Kent ©vcsinden2016



The wassailers sing their own yowling song,
written by Gail Duff, which tells about their magnificent wassail bowl


"Our bowl it is made from the apple tree wood,
And boiund with silver to make it good,
It's filled with cider spiced and hot,
The best that we have got."




Wassail – apple yowling – The Gate Inn, Marshside, Kent ©vcsinden2016





          11th January 2016
                          .......   yesterday, a deep void was riven in the world of faery .........


David Bowie – Wembley Arena November 2003 ©vcsinden2003
David Bowie – Wembley Arena November 2003 ©vcsinden2003
The last time I saw the Starman  - my pictures taken at Wembley Arena on November 25th 2003 - so long ago .....

Diola lle, Edan vanima 'en Giliath, ten' lle lindale ar ten' i' rinanim.

  David Bowie  Jan 8th 1947 -   Jan 10th 2016