Saturday, March 28, 2009

Returning to Babworth

After a quick visit to the town of Retford earlier this month we stopped to look at a church we had last visited, quite a few years ago now. I saw the sign to the church on the main road just outside the town and as soon as we drove into the car park I remembered it. Last time we had visited it was late September, slightly chilly with autumnal leaves blowing around. This time it was warmer and we were surrounded by daffodils.

The church of All Saints, Babworth is on the Mayflower Trail. It was here during the late 16th century and the first years of the 17th century that Richard Clyfton, the parson at the church, became sympathetic to the Separatist Movement - people who had separated or moved away from the established church because they wished for a simpler way of worship than that which was offered by the established church; they also belived in the freedom of worship and in religious tolerance. In 1605 Clyfton was deprived of his living for being "a nonconformist and nonsubscriber."

This was probably because he rejected things like wearing a cap and surplice, making the sign of a cross and bowing when the name of Jesus was spoken during services. He was offered a home by William Brewster who lived a few miles further north at Scrooby Manor House, where separatist meetings were also held. Richard Clyfton then became pastor of the Scrooby congregation.

The path behind the church is called the Pilgrim Way because it leads almost directly to Scrooby and it is thought that William Brewster, William Bradford and other sympathisers would have walked this way to hear Clyfton preach.

With a bit of searching I managed to find the photographs we took at the time of our first visit about eighteen years ago. Here are my friends Jenny and Susanna outside Babworth Church when we set out to follow the 'Mayflower Trail'.

Jenny was at that time curator of Gainsborough Old Hall, which had connections with the separatist movement because the then owner William Hickman was a sympathiser and allowed religious meetings to be held at the hall with the preacher John Smyth. She had also written a small booklet about that connection called 'Gainsborough Old Hall and the Mayflower Pilgrim Story'. Susanna was the curator of the museum where I worked in South Lincolnshire and her interest was the fact that a number of years before she had worked at the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts.

On that day we also visited St Wilfred's church at Scrooby:-

and St Helena's Church at Austerfield where William Bradford, who eventually became governor of the Plymouth Colony, was born. He was also a follower of Richard Clyfton's teachings.

We went right to the coast near Grimsby to a place called Killingholme from where in 1608 the Pilgrims set sail to Amsterdam in Holland to escape religious persecution. This was their second attempt to flee their country, the first in 1607 having been thwarted at Boston in Lincolnshire where some of the leaders, including Clyfton, Robinson and Brewster were held prisoner for a while, in cells that can still be seen in the Guildhall Museum. The Scrooby Group of 1608 was again led by John Robinson from Sturton-le-Steeple and in their party was also William Brewster, William Bradford and Richard Clyfton. Some members of this group moved on from Amsterdam to Leiden but Richard Clyfton stayed in Amsterdam where he died in 1616. Four years later in 1620 members of the Scrooby group came back to Plymouth in the UK from where they sailed to the east coast of north America on board the Mayflower.

I remember also going to an historical re-enactment at Gainsborough Old Hall which was set in these turbulent times, here are some photos taken then, inside the hall. I apologise for the poor quality of the photos but you can get an idea of what it was like from them. It was fascinating just stopping and listening to the conversations as the re-enactors kept in character all the time no matter what was happening around them. Quite a skill.

They are dated July 1991 so I expect that is the year we followed the Mayflower Trail.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm 6.49a.m.

I borrowed this quiz from The Duchess - I hope she doesn't mind. I know I'm very much a morning person so I wasn't surprised by the result.

You're 6:49 a.m.

You're the time of day right around sunrise, when the sky is still a pale bluish gray. The streets are empty, and the grass and leaves are a little bit sparkly with dew. You are the sound of a few chirpy birds outside the window. You are quiet, peaceful, and contemplative. If you move slowly, it's not because you're lazy, it's because you know there's no reason to rush. You move like a relaxed cat, pausing for deep stretches that make your muscles feel alive. You are long sips of tea or coffee (out of a mug that's held with both hands) that slowly warm your insides just as the sun is brightening the sky.

Here is a Link to the quiz - so, what time of day are you?

I love to be up and about early; I enjoy the quiet of early mornings when I seem to have the world to myself. I love the feeling of the promise of the day to come, the worries of the previous day forgotten in the fresh, newness of the morning. If I'm going out I like to start out early and get to wherever it is I'm going before it starts to get busy, crowded and uncomfortable. My worst time of day is that stretch between four and six in the evening; I feel tired and listless by this time and anxieties start to creep in to my mind. Someone once told me, or perhaps I read it somewhere, that you tend to feel like this around the time of day you were born - I was born at four o'clock in the afternoon - so this holds true for me. I wonder? Do you have a time of day you love and one you don't?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

In the Garden

There are definite signs of spring in the garden now. Over the last couple of days I've managed to get some of the grass cut. The mower came out for the first time this year and the front, top and bottom side lawns were cut.

I avoided cutting the grass towards the shed, round the raised beds and near the pond so I wouldn't disturb the frogs. The entire pond is heaving with them at them moment. When you walk up to it the surface quakes and moves as frogs scatter to avoid detection.

Something has been pulling the frog spawn out of the pond. Our next door neighbours have seen a young badger in their garden. Could this be the culprit?

The rhubarb is growing taller and is nearly ready for picking. It will soon be time for the first rhubarb crumble of the year.

Also growing happily in their pots are the lupins, placed there last year to try and keep the slugs and snails from destroying them before they had a chance to flower.

On Thursday it was so warm I spent most of the day outside in the garden tidying up. Magpies are nesting high up in a tree just over the hedge and I saw a bumble bee and a butterfly - the first this year.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Up and Down Winnats Pass

We set out along the pavemented walk towards the entrance to Winnats Pass. The day was warm and clear; it was early so there weren't too many people around but we knew that it would get much busier, it is after all, one of Derbyshire's 'honeypots'.

As we passed the entrance to Speedwell Cavern the car park opposite was beginning to fill as families arrived to take one of the boats through the cavern. I remember a school trip here - too many years ago now to mention - part of a geography lesson, I think.

We carried on walking, by the footpath leading to Treak Cliff Cavern and into the pass. There is a road through it now as the old road towards Mam Tor was closed, due to a land slide, in 1974.

The atmosphere changed as soon as we entered; it seemed darker and cooler with the wind gusting towards us trying to push us back but we persevered.

The crows were 'cawing' to each other as they swooped and dived high up above our heads, the hardy hillside sheep bleating occasionally as they chewed at the sparse grass, sometimes standing almost vertically on the hillside and way up above a buzzard thermalling high in the sky. I have to confess that I didn't realise I had managed to catch the buzzard on the photo until I saw it later.

About halfway along the Pass we turned to take in the view behind us. How much further to go?

At the top now! So this is where the sheep gather! Behind us is Mam Tor, also known as the 'shivering mountain'. There were lots of walkers and climbers up there already. Little dots to the naked eye.

After taking in the views whilst having a rest and consuming our coffee and flapjacks it was time to return the way we had come. So much easier to walk now with the wind behind us and downhill all the way.

The craggy limestone rocks above are full of little cave like mine entrances and mining addits. The rocks are still rich with the famous Blue John and fossils like trilobites and brachiopods.

We stopped off at the Speedwell Cavern and went into the little shop to look at the Blue John and the fossils and found also a 'cabinet of curios' from a bygone age when the mines were still worked. The side-saddle in the middle case is said to have belonged to the ill-fated Clara who had run away to be married with her suitor Allan. The couple are said to have stopped at the village of Castleton for refreshment and directions to the 'runnaway church' at Peak Forest where they could be married without parental consent. They were attacked, robbed and murdered on their way through Winnats Pass - here is a link to the full, and very sad story.

Then it was time to head back towards Castleton where Peveril Castle nestles on the hill up above the pretty village.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

How do you Like Yours?

This post takes its inspiration from a comment made by Jeanette on my piece on World Book Day about me, an English Woman, drinking tea from a mug. I do have a favourite mug and I have to have my first drink of the day from it. I love to sit in bed. first thing in the morning sipping my tea and gradually waking up, with the cat curled beside me - usually with her paws over her eyes - in her determined oh, no, don't wake me up yet pose.

We do have cups but as I'm the only tea drinker in the house and Paul prefers mugs to cups they tend to only come out of the cupboard if we have company. We have pretty cups from Spode:-

Cups from the 50s, 70s and 80s:-

Cute cat mugs from Emma Bridgewater:-

Mugs with all sorts of designs like vintage, retro and modern.

But I do love my favourite mug.

I love its colour, its shape, its texture and the feel of it . I can hold it in both hands and contemplate the start of the day, think through what I have to do, mull over problems, it offers me both comfort and security. How weird is that? Does anyone else have a favourite mug that they always reach for from the cupboard before any other?

Now coffee is another matter. I love coffee at 11a.m. and have a ritual which involves warming the cafetiere, adding the coffee, stirring the requisite number of times with a long spoon and then leaving it to stand for the right amount of time before finally lowering the plunger and pouring the coffee into a mug to drink and I never, ever use my favourite tea mug for coffee.

Edit - I've just noticed that I've been blogging for four years. My first post was on 14th March 2005. That calls for a cup of coffee to celebrate I think!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Along the Monsal Trail

Yesterday was bright and sunny as we headed out across the green, patchwork hills under huge bright skies via Ipstones and Longnor towards Miller's Dale. Within an hour we were parking at the car park near the old station and ready to start the walk.

We followed the track, which is the old railway line, for about half an hour before we turned off towards Litton Mill.

We could see the old mill, millworkers cottages and other associated buildings in the valley by the River Wye, as we descended via the twisty path to the bridge which crossed into the village.

The Mill itself has now been converted into appartments, some of them for holiday lets, but you can still get the feeling, if you mentally add in the noise and dusty air, of how it would have looked when it was working. Litton Mill was a cotton mill founded in 1782 by the rather notorious Needham family. There are many tales of long working hours and poor working conditions, especially in the bad days of child labour, at this mill which somewhat discolours your appreciation of the place. How different a world we live in today, I thought, as we were passed by a father and two young girls all dressed up for walking the hills and chattering away to each other. The poor children who came from the east end of London to work in the mill did not have that luxury. Here is a link to the story of one of these children.

We then followed our footsteps back to the trail to continue until we reached the closed tunnel entrance. From the trackways across the hill above the tunnel was a great view of the whole mill complex, including the engine house, where it nestles, so innocent now, in the valley.

We turned back towards Millers Dale and took the footpath down into the village. It was lunchhtime so we stopped at The Anglers Rest for a cheese and salad roll and cup of coffee. It is a lovely, cosy pub and the staff were very helpful and friendly.

After lunch we again traced our footsteps back up to the trail and this time walked back towards the car park, passing the old station and continuing on, past the lime kilns towards the other closed tunnel. Then we went down the steep steps near the viaduct towards the river. There was a group of adventurous young folks abseiling down from the top of the viaduct.

The River which is home to both dippers and water voles was running very rapidly as it made its way through the valley.

We followed the path by the river until it brought us to steps near the main road which led up to the wooded area where paths led us back onto the trail and thence back to the car park. We had bought a parking ticket for four hours and got back about 10 minutes before it was due to run out, so you can imagine how long this walk took including our half hour break at the Anglers Rest. As we entered the car park we felt the first spots of rain, how lucky we were to have had good weather for our walk.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Reading Matter(s)

Today is World Book Day here in the UK. I can't imagine a world without books or indeed, my life without a book or two on my bedside table or on the coffee table just waiting to be read. If I love a book I can read it very quickly not wanting it to end but equally desperate to know the conclusion. Other books I can meander through, leave whilst I read another, and come back to, days later and carry on reading again. I like to read for an hour in the afternoon if I can, when the day's chores are done with time before I have to start to prepare an evening meal. I curl up in a comfy chair or stretch out on the bed, usually with a mug of tea and a cat on my lap and just enjoy the luxury of reading. I count myself very lucky to be able to do this. So what am I reading at the moment? Well, two books on the same subject and, as you know from previous posts, one of my literary heroes - William Shakespeare.

The first book, which I've nearly finished reading is by Bill Bryson. I've wanted to read 'Shakespeare' for some time and I haven't been disappointed. You don't get the 'laugh out loud' moments you get with some of Bill Bryson's books, but his gentle, witty and humerous way of writing and his easy way of explaining the historical background makes the book very readable and the sights, smells and language of Elizabethan and Jacobean England are almost within your grasp. The other book The Lodger by Charles Nicholl is waiting to be read. Based on research done by American academics Charles and Hulda Wallace, who in 1909, in the Public Records Office in London, came across a series of twenty six documents which made up a litigation roll from the Court of Requests detailing what is known as the Belott-Mountjoy dispute. These relate to a case from 1612 between Huguenot wigmaker Christopher Mountjoy and his son-in-law Stephen Belott. So where does Shakespeare come into this I hear you ask? Well, he was asked to give a statement, which he signed on 11th May 1612, because he had been a lodger in the house of Christopher Mountjoy in Cripplegate, London in 1604, the year the dispute first started. This house stood on the corner of Monkwell Street and Silver Street. Hence the full title of the book 'The Lodger, Shakespeare on Silver Street.'

I will finish reading 'Shakespeare' in the next couple of days but I'm going to sneak in one of John Harvey's 'Resnick' books before I walk down Silver Street.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

White Rabbits

Did you remember to say white rabbits first thing this morning? Where I grew up in North East Derbyshire we used to say white rabbits on the 1st of March each year, you had to say it before you said anything else and if you could do that it was supposed to bring good luck. Paul, who hails from Nottinghamshire says 'rabbits, rabbits, rabbits'. Does anyone else have any memories of this? Or of any other 1st March traditions?

After a busy day yesterday, shopping in the City Centre, visiting the Museum and then a walk around Trentham Lake in the afternoon, today was a pottering around at home day.

I managed to get quite a bit of tidying up started in the much neglected garden. As I cleared away the dead leaves and plant stems I could see all the new growth coming through, the frogs were active in the pond, the birds were singing their hearts out up in the trees and for a short while, the sun felt warm on my back as I clipped and swept. Meanwhile Paul was busy in the greenhouse with seeds and compost and later with giving the car a much needed wash.

It really did feel like Spring was finally on its way.
I was tempted to cut the grass especially where we have taken the 'For Sale' sign down from the front lawn where the grass had grown around the bottom of the post but I decided it would be better to wait another couple of weeks just in case we have more bad weather. In the end I completely filled the garden wheelie bin and there is still a way to go with the 'spring cleaning'.