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Artists above - 1st page - Mary Brooks,        Rollover page -   Helen MusselwhiteFelix Mas

 

  "When I awoke the following morning, it was April.
As delicately rendered as a passage from Truman Capote, fleeting, fragile, beautiful.
April, made famous by T.S.Eliot and Count Basie."

Haruki Murakami 'Dance, Dance, Dance'

 

 

 

June 26th 2015 ...    At Summer Solstice Muddypond was ........
(The Ogham tree associated with this day is Duir - Oak    10th June to 7th July.  Use wood, flowers, bark, leaves and acorns for your magic, incense and meditation.)

The Ring of Brodgar at mignight on Summer Solstice  ©vcsinden2015

  Last year's Summer Solstice night was spent at Stone Henge. Too many people, but the stones were as serene and majestic as ever, and the dawn sunrise was amazing.  The Ring of Brodgar at mignight on Summer Solstice  ©vcsinden2015

 

    This year, at the other end of the country - Scotland's Orkney Islands - and the Ring of Brodgar.  A vast, windswept circle of neolithic stones on a narrow bridge of land, with water to either side. The light lingers all night through at Litha - but this night was cold, with dark clouds and a loud,blustery wind.

   At first sight the Ring seems unimposing, but make your way up its low hill to walk amongst the stones, see its proper residence and setting, and you will feel its power and spellbinding presence.

    No-one to be seen when Muddypond played her drum, gathered a little soil for a blessing and gazed in awe at the solemn uprights where energy pounds upwards from dark earth, through stone to sky.

   Many Orkney pictures to show you later on - meanwhile, just the midnight stones in a Solstice thanksgiving to be remembered.

  

 

 

 

June 7th 2015 ...    A little 'Englishness' ........
(The Ogham tree associated with this day is Huath - Hawthorn - 13th May to 9th June.  Use wood, flowers, thorns or berries for your magic, incense and meditation.)

    It may well be essential for the free-thinking 21st century faery to travel, but when it comes down to it, there's no place like your own woods, hills and streams - when we wander the home-paths we wonder why we ever leave.   
 
Faery-Guardian Martin smiles amongst the bluebells ©vcsinden2015

Faery-Guardian Martin loves his flowers. Here he smiles amongst the bluebells in our 'Triangle Wood'.

      Recently I've been reading about the strange life of the wife of  19th century American historian Henry Adams. Her name was Clover. Whilst reading 'Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life' by Natalie Dykstra, I was struck by a short passage describing a visit to England. It seemed exceedingly apt ... I love it .....

, " .... this English world is a huge stage-play got up only to amuse Americans. It is obviously unreal, eccentric, and taken out of novels.”

     Here then, for the American friends who sometimes contact Muddypond via her Drax Machine about English ways - a little Englishness!  Pictures from short forays into Kent and neighbouring Sussex and away from her woods during the last three weeks.

The Yeoman's House, Bignor, Sussex ©vcsinden2015

'The Yeoman's House', in the lanes near Bignor, Sussex, dates from 1420
Below Right:  Local flint and oak beamed overhang on upper storey

Bug hotel - Bignor Church, Sussex ©vcsinden2015
The Yeoman's House, Bignor, Sussex ©vcsinden2015
Bug Hotel, close-up - Bignor Church, Sussex ©vcsinden2015

Eco-habitat at its best in 'The Bug Hotel' - Bignor church yard, Sussex

Brightling, Sussex - Mad Jack Fuller's pyramid tomb ©vcsinden2015

This is the tomb of 'Mad Jack Fuller'.    The twenty-five foot pyramid was erected a good twenty years before the death of its prospective occupant. There are several more of his follies in the area around the church in the pretty hillside village of Brightling in Sussex.

    During renovations in 1982 (the tomb is now a 'Listed Building') the Brightling legend which told that Jack Fuller Esq. was entombed in his pyramid seated at a wine laden table, fully dressed in frock-coat and top hat was found to be simply a tall tale.

     Oh what a shame!! What a wonderful picture that painted !

Cow Parsely meadow by Boughton Aluph Church, Kent ©vcsinden2015

The cow-parsely meadow next to Boughton Aluph Church, Kent.
The old English name for this flower of late May is Queen Anne's Lace. 
Below: Faery-Guardian Martin smiles amongst the flowers!
Faery-Guardian Martin smiles amongst the cow-parsely ©vcsinden2015

You will find some faery-art and folklore about 'Queen Anne's Lace'
here on the blog 'Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green'

Part of a row of thatched cottages in the picture-perfect village of Amersham, Sussex. Wonderful tea rooms too!

Faery-Guardian Martin smiles amongst the buttercups  ©vcsinden2015

And lastly -  Faery-Guardian Martin smiles amongst the buttercups, in a meadow just down the road from here!

 

 

 

 

     May 11th 2015 ...       Some days around Delft ...

 Kinderdijk, Netherlands ©vcsinden2015

  Bulb fields near Lisse, Netherlands ©vcsinden2015   

        Exploring again!  Channel hopping to the Netherlands and south to Delft - looking for the traditional and picturesque and finding it everywhere! Along the sleepy canals, past churches and cafe's of the old town, through squares, gazing at cheese shops and galleries of blue and white tiles, accompanied by the unforgettable carillon of 48 bells from the Nieuwe Kerk.

Delft, Netherlands - in the old town ©vcsinden2015

Delft, Netherlands - old town house ©vcsinden2015
Delft, Netherlands - old clogs ©vcsinden2015
Dutch cheeses with 3 year old Brockelaer Delft, Netherlands - old town house ©vcsinden2015

    

     A Scrapbook from a day at Keukenhof.

     A short ride from Delft by train and bus, are the fabled Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse. The showplace of the Dutch bulb growers is only open for eight weeks of the year.  For the remaining months, hunreds of gardeners re-design and replant the seventy-million bulbs in layers of perfection.

Keukenhof Gardens, view with windmill  ©vcsinden2015

Keukenhof Gardens, pale spring bulb flowers ©vcsinden2015
Keukenhof Gardens, muscari latifoliun ©vcsinden2015
Keukenhof Gardens, slamon daffodil close up ©vcsinden2015
Keukenhof Gardens, hyacinths and spring bulbs  ©vcsinden2015
Keukenhof Gardens, spring bulbs in the pink  ©vcsinden2015
Keukenhof Gardens, parrot tulip ©vcsinden2015

     Close to eighty awe-inspiring acres of Spring flowers, with cool woodland walks, lake and canals, centred by pavillions of floral displays to rival Chelsea! It's a place to spend all day wandering the paths taking in the onslaught of colour and scent. To rest tired feet you can make a short trip on a 'Whisper' barge along canals bordering the gardens to see Lisse's bulb fields.

Keukenhof Gardens, water and woods ©vcsinden2015Keukenhof Gardens, tulip display ©vcsinden2015

   

      An iconic landscape - the Nineteen Windmills of Kinderdijk    Ducklings at Kinderdijk, Netherlands ©vcsinden2015


Take a bus from Delft to see the countryside
and spend a day walking (or cycling of course being in the Netherlands) and boating amongst the extraordinary windmills of Kinderdijk. They were built in 1740 to drain the surrounding polder keeping lowland flooding at bay.

   Most of the mills are now beautifully preserved homes and their function has been taken over by a pumping station, but a couple are working. These are open to climb and view and they tell the story of the families who lived there centuries ago.


Kinderdijk, Netherlands ©vcsinden2015

Kinderdijk, Netherlands ©vcsinden2015

Kinderdijk, Netherlands from the canal barge trip ©vcsinden2015

 

     Delft, where artist Vermeer lived and worked, is only a short tram-ride from The Hague, and in the Hague, right beside the busy market square is the magnificent Mauritshuis, once a wonderful mansion, now one of the Netherland's best loved art galleries. Open til late on a Thursday evening, and without its daytime crowds, it was a perfect time to make a pilgrimage to see two of my best-beloved paintings.

Mauritshuis in the Hague with 'Girl with the Pearl Earring' and 'The Goldfinch'  ©vcsinden2015

     Unashamedly I admit that these are fairly recent loves, and I owe gratitude to the film and book which made me want to search them out. I had to spend time face to face with Vermeer's "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" and "The Goldfinch".by little known artist Carel Fabritius around which was based the brilliant book of the same name by Donna Tartt.


     Lastly - to Voorhout, a small town on the route of the 2015 Keukenhof Flower Parade.

Keukenhof  Flower Parade at Voorhout - local band ©vcsinden2015

    Keukenhof  Flower Parade at Voorhout- childrens' parade ©vcsinden2015It takes all day for the vast annual Flower Parade to travel from the coast at Noordwijk and ride through the different cities of Voorhout, Sassenheim, Lisse, Hillegom, Bennebroek and Heemstede, arriving in the early evening in the city of Haarlem.

  Each town has its local competitions, bands and traditions and hundreds of towns-folk and associations get involved. The local parade heads the enormous floral floats before these travel on to the next town on route.

It all begins with the children and their magnificent decorated bikes, tractors and carts

 

Keukenhof  Flower Parade at Voorhout ©vcsinden2015

Keukenhof  Flower Parade at Voorhout - first prize ©vcsinden2015 Keukenhof  Flower Parade at Voorhout - first prize ©vcsinden2015

     The vast majority of  blooms in the bulb fields that you pass in the growing areas are not destined to be cut flowers, but for sales of the bulbs themselves. To produce fine bulbs, the flower heads have to be removed. What better way to use the heads than to have a fantastic flower parade raising thousands for charity?

    Keukenhof  Flower Parade at Voorhout - museum float ©vcsinden2015

 

 

 

     May 1st 2015 ...  The Dawn Rising - with Jack-in-the-Green at Whitstable ........

Jack-in-the-Green, May 1st  2015 at Whitstable with Dead Horse Morris ©vcsinden2015

    The Dawn Rising - the most important event for the first day of May.  At 05.10 the sky paints a dazzling picture through the early gloom. The sea gently sucks and pushes pebbles as the tide pulls out. The dancers of  Dead Horse Morris  are ready, the band prepared and Jack himself waits, foliage tinged from the pink glow of the hidden sun on the sea.

Jack-in-the-Green, May 1st  2015 at Whitstable with Dead Horse Morris ©vcsinden2015

     The music pipes up and the gulls are watchful. Sticks clash and the dance begins ...  and there it is - 05.29 precisely- and here comes the Sun !

Jack-in-the-Green, May 1st  2015 at Whitstable with Dead Horse Morris ©vcsinden2015

Jack-in-the-Green, May 1st  2015 at Whitstable with Dead Horse Morris ©vcsinden2015


♫      Hal-an-tow, jolly rumbelow
We were up long before the day-o
To welcome in the summertime
To welcome in the May-o
For summer is coming in
And winter's gone away
-o   ♫ 

Jack-in-the-Green, May 1st  2015 at Whitstable with Dead Horse Morris ©vcsinden2015
Jack-in-the-Green, May 1st  2015 at Whitstable with Dead Horse Morris ©vcsinden2015

So very lucky - the most beautiful Beltane sunrise that Muddypond has seen for many a long year - and I was there, with Jack-in-the-Green, with the Morris Dancers and with the timeless sea.

Jack-in-the-Green, May 1st  2015 at Whitstable with Dead Horse Morris ©vcsinden2015

  For the sky above us,
The mountains, forests and seas before us,
For the earth beneath our feet,
For the spirit within
We give thanks.


 

 

    April 17th 2015  ...  Talking to a coot near me ........

Coots in April ©vcsinden2015

       Ah-ho Dame Coot, so those babies are YOURS - I should have guessed since they've all inherited your striking white beak tip! How charmimg they are, how ridiculously charmed - and what a riot of deepest brown fluff and rainbow bright head feathers. I hope the reeds are thick enough to hide your family from harmful eyes - and Dame Coot - take care with those huge lily-pad-wading feet won't you? Welcome to our planet little fuzzfballs.

Coot chick showing his full colours in April Coots in April ©vcsinden2015

Baby coots in April ©vcsinden2015

 

 

 

    April 6th 2015  ...  Ducks are a-dabbling - and a-dashing, and a-causing a-commotion!  ....     

                                                                                       

                                                     

                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                          

 

       Not so very far from Muddypond's wood lies the pretty Kentish village of Smarden.  Its primary school, ancient church, Kentish hall houses, weatherboarded pubs and its fair share of oast houses and trees in early blossom made it an idyllic backdrop to the annual Spring Duck Race!

Smarden, Kent ©vcsinden2015

    Flowing under the little 'Town Bridge' is the River Beult, and it's there, in a flurry of sleek yellow, blue and orange imaginary feathers, that hundreds of small ducks are released to bob their merry way down stream and raise much needed funds for local sports facilities.

Smarden, Kent, Duck Race 2015 ©vcsinden2015

    Above:  a look at Smarden for you - so very Kentish as she is - and my own handsome champion 'Superduck' Number 43 himself!  In the swim for a while, sculling his hardest and with a fixed smile on his face he finished a respectable kind-of 189th or something like that. For a small orange fellow like this it's the trying that counts - and the funds that he raised. He vows to be at peak fitness this time next year.  Well done Number 43!

Smarden, Kent, Duck Race 2015 - the Start ©vcsinden2015

                                 

 

                                        

Smarden, Kent, Duck Race 2015 ©vcsinden2015
'Won't you join us?'    &     We have our Winners!'
Smarden, Kent, Duck Race winners 2015  ©vcsinden2015

Smarden, Kent, Duck Race picking up the stragglers 2015 ©vcsinden2015

A helping oar for the stragglers -
and it's count up all the money we ducks raised, and back into training for next year!