Thursday, 16 July 2009

Rain stopped play

It has chucked it down nearly all day. I am bored so I thought I would do an extra blog post to make up for the lack of them in recent weeks (and in fear of losing broadband with such persistent rain).

Here are a couple of little pieces from my No. 1 Desert Island book Kilvert's Diary (though I would tough it out and demand the complete diaries of, including the ones his widow burned because they mentioned other women he had fallen in love with.) Here is as near as I can get to this date in his entries for 1871:

Tuesday 18th July: "I went to Wern Vawr. The sun burnt fiercely as I climbed the hills but a little breeze crept about the hill tops. Some barbarian - a dissenter no doubt - probably a Baptist, has cut down the beautiful silver birches on the little Mountain near Cefn y Fedwas."

I can sympathise. It has happened here in recent years. On the way to Ferryside, a hundred years almost exactly after Kilvert was writing, when I was holidaying with a penpal there, a chapel was pointed out to me, with a small enclosed burial ground beside it. Apparently this little plot once had beautiful trees surrounding it, but they were cut down under direction of the Elders as they made it look 'too pretty'. A bit like our local chapel which had half an acre of Aquilegias growing amongst the gravestones. Until last year that is, when they came in with a strimmer . . .

Saturday 22nd July 1871:

"Mrs Nott told me that Louie of the Cloggau was staying in Presteign with her aunt Miss Sylvester, the woman frog. This extraordinary being is partly a woman and partly a frog. Her head and face, her eyes and mouth are those of a frog, and she has a frog's legs and feet. She cannot walk but she hops. She wears very long dresses to cover and conceal her feet which are shod with something like a cow's hoof. She never goes out except to the Primitive Methodist Chapel. Mrs Nott said she had seen this person's frog feet and had seen her in Presteign hopping to and from the Chapel exactly like frog. She had never seen her hands. She is a very good person. The story about this unfortunate being is as follows. Shortly before she was born a woman came begging to her mother's door with two or three little children. Her mother was angry and ordered the woman away. 'Get away with your young frogs', she said. And the child she was expecting was born partly in the form of a frog, as a punishment and a curse upon her."

It just shows that even amongst educated people like Kilvert, they were very naive in their beliefs. Perhaps she had deformed or webbed feet, and that people resembling frogs do exist I can testify, as there used to be a man I knew in the West Country who looked remarkably like one.

OK, I'm well ahead of myself with this Autumnal post, but he wrote so beautifully I wuld like to share it:

Friday 13 October:

"After school about 12.20 I started to walk over the hills. The fern cutters were hard at work on the Vicar's Hill mowing the fern with a sharp ripping sound. The mountain and the great valley were blue with mist and the sun shone brilliantly upon the hill and the golden fern. I had put a flask of ginger wine in my pocket and a sandwich of bread and bacon which I ate by the Milw Bridge at the meeting of the three parishes and wished I had another for I was as hungry as a hunter.

Up the long Green Lane the heather bloom was long over and the heather was dark, speckled with the little round white bells. I looked for Abiasula along the green ride narrowing between the fern and heather, and looked for her again at the Fforest, but the great dark heather slopes were lonely, nothing was moving ,the cottage was silent and deerted, the dark beautiful face, the wild black hair and beautiful wild eyes of the mountain child were nowhere to be seen.

Round the great dark heather-clothed shoulder of the mountain swept the green ride descending steeply to the Fually frm and fold and the valley opened still more wide and fair. The beautiful Glasnant came leaping and rushing down its lovely dingle, a flood of molten silver and crystal fringed by groups of silver birches and alders, and here and there a solitary tree rising from the bright green sward along the banks of the brook and drooping over the stream which seemed to come out of a fairy land of blue valley depths and distances and tufted woods of green and gold and crimson and russet brown.

At last I found my way up a rich green orchard and through a gate into the fold sheltered by some noble sycamores. The farm house, long, low and yellow-washed, looked towards the N.E. The house is said to be the oldest inhabited building in these parts. It stands high above the Arrow on its green mount, embosomed and almost hidden by its sycamores and other trees. In a dark secluded recess of the wood near the river bank an ice-cold never-failing spring boils up out of the rock. Mrs Jones said it makes her arms ache to the shoulder to put her hand into the water from this spring in the hottest day of summer. In the hot summer days Louie and the other girls take the butter down the steep bank, across the Arrow and make up the butter in the wood by the icy spring. Then they bring the butter up and it remains as if it had been iced."


Morning's Minion said...

The man had a way with words, even he embraced some odd ideas at times. Such strange things have been done in the name of religion---and how odd not to want flowers growing in a grave yard--would people rather bring in those awful plastic bouquets?

Kim said...

I've met a few froggy looking people in my time too!

I love the picture of Tam, she's sooo pretty and so very like you. Well done to her for getting such a great grade :)

That little steam engine is adorable, and Andrew so wants a Massey Ferguson!

It's great to catch up on your blog and long may you be connected :)

Kim x

ps, your comment about Merlin was funny. I hadn't realised his 'state' in that picture. I thought I'd found at least one that wasn't so, umm, prominent!