Monthly Archives: April 2014

Water Music

It’s said that our ancestors lived in caves, indeed Bridgnorth in Shropshire still has a few cave houses that my father could remember people living in. Is there some primal urge to retreat into the shelter of Mother Earth’s womb? My family have enjoyed visiting caves from Tenby to Tuscany, and finding bats and spiders and graffiti inside them, not to mention a viper at the mouth of the Italian one – which was once a shepherd’s shelter.

This April we were in the Lake District when we came across Rydal Caves on Loughrigg Fell. The first time we passed was soon after heavy rainfall that had swollen the river, covering over the stepping stones. In the cave stepping stones were still usable and drew us in to hear the music created by the drops of water seeping down through layers of rock to the ceiling before falling into the shallow lake that covers the floor. The splashes echoed around the cavern which had the acoustic of a cathedral. By no means silent, but beautiful and peaceful.


And despite days of dry weather there was music the second time we passed that way, music we could hear even before we saw the cave.

Now there are two organised threats to the tranquillity of Britain’s wild places –first the military, who had already overflown us that day with Hercules, Chinook and a Hawk jet trainer – and second, our old friends the geography field trip, frisbying their quadrats from Lulworth to Loughrigg. They it was that we met at the cave, singing their hearts out, a song without words, filling the chamber with the joy of being alive in the springtime and pouring out across the fell to enchant walkers like us, if not the disgruntled teacher who scowling said, ‘I must apologise!’

Not at all! If anyone recorded that moment, I hope you post it on the school’s website for all to share! It was far more inspiring than the over-amplified loop of Pachelbel’s Canon we once cringed to in a show cave that shall remain nameless.



More Firsts: Little Things

More Firsts: Little Things

Not yet have we heard the first cuckoo of Spring, but even so: the first local strawberries, tastier than Spanish imports; the first rose of summer, sprung in time to welcome St George, though neither white nor red factions would have worn the yellow Mermaid in their lapels, no doubt deeming it more patriotic to boast imports from Ecuador in their tribal colour; the first clamouring baby blackbirds and magpies in different neighbours’ gardens – though not in ours which is still a building site; cow parsley everywhere, even on the altar at church; the first cut of what grass remains in the Turnstone garden; so it is time to say, with the Welsh poet,

Good morning Life

And all things glad and beautiful. W.H.Davies.

Davies gives us a reminder that St David on his deathbed urged the people of Wales to be faithful to the little things; WHD is by no means the only Welsh poet to live up to this command. Dylan celebrated small town life Under Milk Wood.

One little thing leapt out at me the other morning: I walked round the corner to find that the back garden wall is a mass of purple wall-toadflax. A few years ago we were at St David’s Cathedral, where the boundary wall carries a thriving colony of a white variety of this beautiful little thing. I hope no zealous tidier-up of unconsidered trifles ever weeds them all away. The Turnstone toadflax can rest easy. Even if Mrs Turnstone does turn her hand to repointing our wall, there will always be a crack for a seed to take root and start the colony again.Image

The Year is Turning!

The Year is Turning!

A week of firsts: the first forage: wild garlic; the first preserve: wild garlic pesto with Ashmore cheese; the first harvest from the greenhouse: a dozen rocket leaves; the first local asparagus from the Goods Shed with the first sungold tomatoes!

We live in hope!