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     Visit my 'Kentish Snowdrop Calendar 2013' here

♫    Music to dream by ....
on the album
'Blood Money'  2002  ♫

All the World is Green
Tom Waits

(minimize new window & listen while you browse)

image source: popmatters.com

 

   

    February 26th 2013     Like Moles? new on the 'Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green' blog ...

You might also like to browse
Find it on Muddypond's 'other' blog.
'Little Gentleman in Black Velvet- folklore of Mole...'

 

    February 19th 2013      Another of the spine-tingling Romney Marsh churches - Fairfield   .......
          (Making magic?  The  Ogham wood  is now  Ash - Nion,   February 18th - March 17th)

Fairfield Church in February, Romney Marsh, Kent ©vcsinden2013
The church of St. Thomas Becket at Fairfield, ice on the dyke in mid-February 2013

      Such a lonely place it seemed, and yet it is much loved. A perfect choice of setting for a recent adaptation of David Copperfield.  The breathtakingly beautiful little church of St. Thomas Becket has braved the tearing winds and sometime floods of the Romney Marsh for nine hundred years. So many centuries and still it has no road, simply a grassy path across the marshy fields with a rough wooden bridge over the dyke to welcome its visitors.

Pick up the ancient key, heavy iron and longer than my hand and take a deep breath as you push the oak door ajar ......
Fairfield Church in February, Romney Marsh, Kent ©vcsinden2013
Fairfield Church in February, Romney Marsh, Kent ©vcsinden2013

    The scent of ancient timbers greets you as you stand and gaze at living history. Although the structure of the building and the bell tower (three working bells) has been carefully restored, and the ancient wattle, daub and plaster walls replaced with brick, the original beams have been saved and the wonderful Georgian interior unchanged. There's a towering three-tier pulpit and high boxed family pews.

    Take time to explore and you might find a copy of a poem wiritten half a century ago now, giving us a glimpse of the church, its feelings and its surroundings. It is well worth reading.

Extract from 'Fairfield Church'
by Joan Warburg

My parish is the lonely marsh.
My service at the water’s edge:
Wailing of sea-birds,  sweet and harsh,
The susurration of the sedge.
Bleating of a hundred sheep
Where pilgrims and crusaders sleep.

Read the whole poem here in a new window.

Fairfield Church in February, Romney Marsh, Kent ©vcsinden2013

  At the back of the church is a very unusual plain stone font. Its bowl is cut from a single slab of stone and it is heptagonal. Now all you fine mortals will know that the regular seven sided circle will make a faery-star. Muddypond has drawn one for you over the font to show its form more clearly. Seeing it sent a shiver through my wings - perhaps it was meant for changelings! Well, you never know!

Fairfield Church in February, Romney Marsh, Kent ©vcsinden2013
A last look back - such an icy February chill in the air that I needed  my best winter cloak of shimmering blue for the visit.

     We spoke a little, nearly two years ago now, about the church of St. Clements outside Old Romney. You can find that if you scroll down to the entry for March 23rd 2011 here.

You might also like to browse
The faery art of Jack Frost
.
Find it on Muddypond's 'other' blog.
"Every breath that you breathe''

   

     February 1st     Today is Brigid's Day or you may call it Imbolc .... 

Aman Re Brigid
a vintage postcard    c1928

      Plan out your Snowdrop Days -
  Muddypond's Kentish Snowdrop Calendar for 2015  is now ready for consultation.

    Simple things to do for Bridgid's Day  The first celebration day of the year. This day is traditionally about purification so get out your faery broom and sweep away the winter's accumulated disarray!
Burn a little purification incense for the season - try combining pine with lemon or lemon balm for purity and with dried rowan berries (the Ogham wood which rules this day) and simply throw it in your clean hearth fire. Or you might grind those things with a little frankincense or copal resin to make a herbal incense for smouldering on a tiny charcoal block.

Hang your Brigid's Cross if you made one last night, or catch up today! Make some Star Lemon Biscuits (see recipe and more about Brigid's Day here in Muddypond's diaryblog), bring in some fresh twigs or snowdrops if you are not superstitious!

Burn a candle of white or sunshine yellow. Clean some more or use a summer smudge-stick to waft smoke into every corner - or both! Leave a little milk outside your front door tonight - if no Magics find it, a hedgehog could, and that's much more important at present.

 

 

 

    January 29th 2013     Faery drops, hope of Spring   .......

Vintage snowdrop postcard from Germany
Early snowdrops at Challock Church, Kent ©vcsinden2013
January snowdrops last Sunday outside Challock Church.
Making ready to bloom in their thousands to welcome guests at the 'Snowdrop Teas'

 

 

   January 22nd 2013     Illustrator Margaret Tempest in Wintery mood    .......
          (Making magic?  The  Ogham wood  is now  Rowan - Luis,    January 21st - February 17th)

                                                                                                       

Illustration from 'Pinkie Mouse and Christmas Day' written & illustrated by Margaret Tempest. Pub:Colliuns 1946  

  

 

 

" It had been snowing for hours.

Hare stood in the garden of the little house at the end of the wood, watching the snowflakes which came softly tumbling down from the grey sky, dropping like white feathers. His paws were outstretched, his head uplifted, his mouth wide open. His fur was sprinkled with snow, so that he looked like a white Hare from the icy North. Every now and then he caught an extra large flake and ate it with relish.

"Whatever are you doing, Hare?" cried Squirrel, who sat close to the fire. "Come in! You'll catch cold."

"I am catching cold, and eating it too," replied Hare happily.'

Extract from Chapter 1 of 'Little Grey Rabbit's Christmas'
by Alison Uttley.    Ill: Margaret Tempest. First pub: 1940


                      

                                          

 

 

                                             

                                               

 

 

                                            

                                              Spindle berries in fresh snow ©vcsinden2013

 

             

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 
    ' It had been snowing for hours' here too. Faery guardian Dog-Martin put on his best fleecy jumper and took Muddypond out for a walk through the newly iced Hurst Wood to remind the birds that there are still berries to be found. Plenty of pretty red spindles for a start. As we crunched past the Forgotten Chapel, we met a fine snowman with his hair all in a shock!

Fuzzypeg from 'Little Grey Rabbit's Christmas' by Alison Uttley - illustrated by Margaret Tempest Vintage postcard 'Skaters' by Margaret Tempest
Fuzzypeg emerges still eating his bread and jam -
from 'Little Grey Rabbit's Christmas' ill Margaret Tempest
'Skaters' a Margaret Tempest vintage postcard by Medici

 



 

 

 

 

Photos taken on Sunday 20th January at Hurst Wood.

Another Margaret Tempest vintage postcard on the left - 'Explorers' published by Medici.

                  

 

       

     
    January
8th 2013     Twelfth Night - a celebration at Bankside, holly and low tide on the river ....

Twelfth Night - waiting on the embankment for the Green Man's boat ©vcsinden2013 Twelfth Night - the holly decked Green Man begins the festivities ©vcsinden2013
   The Green Man, in his winter foliage arrives at London's Bankside in Southwark as only a real Londoner can - rowed in a historic boat up the Thames, where he lands near the dank and slippery steps outside the Globe Theatre, to be greeted by an impish Beelzebub - alias The Lord of Misrule.

        Twelfth Night, January 6th, in all its varied manifestations is enjoying a gradual revival in many parts of England. For mortals that is. Although, should we get the chance, faere-folk WILL spy -  (anyway, we like the 'Lambs Wool' or hot spiced cider!)

Twleth Night - the holly decked Green Man leaves the 'Trinity Tide'  ©vcsinden2013
'Trinity Tide' the historic Thames Waterman Cutter arrives from its journey,
turning under the Millenium Bridge at Bankside.

A Very Potted History! 

   From before the middle ages. the date was auspicious in the winter calendar for most parts of Europe, marking both the end of Yuletide festivities and the eve of Plough Monday, when the rural commumities returned to the fields.

     Merrymaking in the cities included Twelfth Cake, dark with dried fruits and iced in white sugar.  The night featured dressing up for acting games like charades and the choosing of a King and Queen for the revels - by means of discovering the bean and pea in your slice of the cake, or drawing paper lots.

   There might be visiting mummers with their latest dramas. There was gift giving, since in the Christian calendar this night is associated with Epiphany, the arrival of the three kings.. Not to mention the Wassail Bowl, steaming and perfumed with nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon.

     Rural Twelfth Night hoped to secure blessings for next years harvests, particulary the apple trees. Again this involved the Wassail drink, some being poured onto the roots of the orchard trees while saucepans clattered and squibs banged as a warning to any malevolent forces lurking nearby.  

Twelfth Night or King or Queen

      Now, now the mirth comes
With the cake full of plums,
Where bean's the king of the sport here;
Beside we must know,
The pea also
Must revel, as queen, in the court here.

      Begin then to choose,
This night as ye use,
Who shall for the present delight here,
Be a king by the lot,
And who shall not
Be Twelfth-day queen for the night here

Twelfth Night - Beelzebub waits for the Green Man's boat on the steps of the Thames ©vcsinden2013
theLionsPart - Twelfth Night - Beelzebub meets the Green Man from the Thames Cutter  ©vcsinden2013

  Which known, let us make
Joy-sops with the cake;
And let not a man then be seen here,
Who unurg'd will not drink
To the base from the brink
A health to the king and the queen here.

      Next crown the bowl full
With gentle lamb's wool:
Add sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
With store of ale too;
And thus ye must do
To make the wassail a swinger.


Give then to the king
And queen wassailing:
And though with ale ye be whet here,
Yet part ye from hence,
As free from offence
As when ye innocent met here.

Robert Herrick
from 'Hesperides' 1648

Twelfth Night, Southwark, London - the White Bear parades ©vcsinden2013

Pictures: ©vcs2013
Beelzebub waits on the steps by the Globe Theatre
Leading the Green Man across the Thames 'beach'
The White Bear of London, making music in the procession.

   Now here Muddypond spied King Bean and Queen Pea, picked out by their slices of cake and newly crowned - himself carrying a globe artichoke (a reference to the place I suppose - very droll!) as the Orb, and herself with a leek for her Sceptre!  Sometimes a whole clove hidden amongst the currants means that a Knave is needed too.
This ceremony has many characters, with a place of honour for The Mayor of Southwark, Councillor Althea Smith.Twelfth Night - The Mayor of Southwark with King Bean, the Winter Green Man and Queen Pea ©vcsinden2013

    Since the 19th century, Twelfth Night sprees in Britain have, like faeries, become unfashionable - the Twelfth Cake morphing into a Christmas cake, and the dressing up moved to celebrate New Year's Eve. Luckily country apple-orchard wassailing has never left us. Good on yer Southwark and your organisers and actors 'the Lions part'. Long may you reign!

Twelfth Night - The george Inn, Southwark, London ©vcsinden2013
Festivities end in the courtyard of London's oldest surviving galleried Inn - The George
with mulled ale, goodies to buy and a spot of Molly Dancing.

 

New:  You might also like to read about Swedish illustrator
Harald Wiberg and his 'Tomten' art.
Find it on Muddypond's 'other' blog.  Meeting the Tomten.


 

 

   January 4th 2013     Here's to the future! .....  Aa’ vanlle nu I’ giliath           
   (Making magic in 2013?  The  Ogham wood  is now Birch - Beith ,  December 24th -  January 20th)

Wild ponies on the common at Hothfield, Kent on New Year's Day ©vcsinden2013

     Walking on the common, quite late on New Year's Day I had a word with a few of the wild ponies making their way towards the stream. Just as mortals (so we're told) dream of being magical, so too do the animals. They tell stories of mythical horses from far mountains performing feats of bewildering enchantment for their knights, princesses and seers. Tales of courage, tales of pale ponies with silvery manes plaited with crystals. Tales of gentle unicorns.

The Art of
John Bauer

  Like Swedish artist and illustrator John Bauer, who died all too young in 1918, they dream of the fairy horse. Regal, proud, immortal. As wild ponies, happy in all weathers, they still imagine flying through the moonlight or carrying a princess under the stars.

   Better known perhaps for his illustrations of Trolls, John Bauer's work has enchanted and inspired generations. Rackham, Tengren and Froud all acknowledge their debt - and the faery-world never tires of looking at his creations.
   The John Bauer Museum, Jönköping, Sweden, re-opens in the Spring of 2013 after extensive renovations. One of Muddypond's goals for the new year will be to visit.

Happy New Year little ponies on the common - thank you for the thoughts - and by the way - you look quite magical to me!

Hothfield Common - wild ponies graze in the sunlight on New Year's Day ©vcsinden2013