Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Family shame!

I have been doing a bit of genealogy lately and have traced my maternal grandmothers family back to 1640 so far. Alot of them were buried in Horsted Keynes Churchyard, seen above and the rest in St Denys Church at Rotherfield not far away. My Mother was born in the pretty Sussex village of Horsted Keynes on a farm. But now for the shame!!.....
This font is in Rotherfield Church and in the leaflet about the Church the following reads...
"The octagonal stone font is late Norman and was missing for a number of years until the Rector at the end of the 19th century found it lying in a field belonging to Horsegrove Farm being used as a cattle trough. Although slightly damaged, a small sum of money was exchanged and the font was returned to the Church.
How it came to be in the field is a mystery although it should be noted that Samuel Wickens was Churchwarden from 1814-1818 and he was the tenant of the farm in 1816!"
Samuel Wickens is my ancestor! It is a large font and would have taken several men to move it and get it onto a cart!
My family were farming in the same place for nearly 400 years (probably more) but I cannot get further back at the moment.

Monday, 20 July 2009

At last I've seen an Osprey in Dorset!

I have wanted to see an Osprey in Dorset for years (I did see a pair a few years ago in late summer on their way to Africa). Yesterday I saw one clearly and another kind birder let us look through his telescope for a better view. We waited an hour and half for it to move but it just sat in a dead tree, eventually hunger got the better of us ( but not the Osprey) and we went home, looked back at the tree as we walked back to the car....and it had gone!!!!!
Also saw a rural fox, it's very common to see them in town now but not in the country. Lots of deer, Redshank, Godwits, Canada Geese, Little Egrets, Shelduck, Oystercatchers, etc...

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Uncle Robert

My Great Uncle Robert died last night in his 95th year ( I thought he was 97 but stand corrected!) He had been on holiday with his son and daughter-in-law and had expressed a desire to go home early and on the way to see a cousin of his. This was done, he visited the cousin, was taken home sat down and died peacefully. What a great way to go, he said his goodbye's and went to be with the Lord he believed in and trusted from a young man.
I have such fond memories of him, a real countryman, he was a shepherd in his younger days and he would catch a lamb and give it to me to hold and cuddle when I was a child. I recall he took me to pick some bluebells and at other times Primroses on the farm and when I could pick as many as my child's arm could hold he would say "well that's not a very big bunch, you'd better go and get some more" I would stagger back with arm fulls of sweetly scented flowers and they would be plonked in huge jugs and we would take them home at the end of the day.
He was married but his wife had died many years ago leaving him and his son together until his son married and he had grandchildren. He had wonderfully bushy eyebrows and an interesting face, last year he had been to a garden party at Buckingham Palace. He would send me £5 every Christmas and birthday and a spidery-written letter that with his failing eyesight got more and more difficult to decipher but all the more precious because of the effort it had taken to write it.
I didn't see him much, the last time was at my parents Golden Wedding party which he made the long journey to come to with his family about 3 years ago. RIP Uncle Robert.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Graduation time

Yesterday we had the privilege of going to see my son Will, graduate as 'BEng hon' in Automotive Engineering. He got a 1st which made it even better.
The ceremony was very traditional with all the fancy academic dress and traditional words and speeches. The national anthem of Wales sung in Welsh and the British national anthem in English also sung. The old pipe organ playing and the surroundings of a very old and ornate hall.
Here they are after their group had gathered outside, Will is second from the left..the tallest one, and me his Mother only just scraping 5' 2"!

Here's the old tradition of throwing the mortar boards in the air!

If you like to listen to the Welsh language listen to this, part of one of the speeches. I love to hear it and for my husband it is very special as his Mother was a Welsh speaker from North Wales.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

A bit of Birding!

I know...you need good eyesight to work this one out but I don't have a fancy camera! Not sure if this was a Buzzard or a Golden Eagle, it was pretty big and up in the mountains on the west coast of Scotland.

This too takes a bit of seeing, if you look right in the middle on top of the stones you will see a Ringed Plover, it helps if you enlarge the picture by clicking on it! Well I gave up the nature photography then and stuck to binoculars instead! Here's the list of birds and creatures seen during my holiday in Scotland and the Islands.
Starlings (loads on the Hebrides)
Blackbird
Snipe
Wheatear
Cuckoo (heard it everywhere!)
Gannets
Puffin
Robin
Lapwings
Oyster Catchers
Skylark
Common Gulls
Wren
Raven
Greylag Geese
Rock Pipit
Fulmar
Shag
Cormorant
Meadow Pipit
Rock dove
Artic Tern
Artic Skua
Eider
Little Stint
Guillemot
Black Guillimot
Great Northern Diver
Common Sandpiper
Chaffinch
Hern
Greenfinch
Siskin
Dunnock
Hooded Crow
Pied Wagtail
Buzzard
Red Kite
Ringed Plover
Black Throated Diver
?Golden Eagle
Slavonian Grebe
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Sparrows
Common Seal
Grey Seal
Dolphin
Sheep!!!!!!

This little hand-made notice summed up the steepness of this hill and the seat is well placed! Worth it though because the view is amazing, over the Summer Isles.
One of the many lochs we sat by and idled time away, reading books that you never have time to do at home, drawing and painting or just cloud-watching.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

A remote holiday in the Outer Hebrides

If you are wondering where I have been over the past weeks, this is the answer...the Outer Hebrides...to those of you outside the UK they are a small chain of islands off the west coast of Scotland. We stayed on the Isle of Harris in this beautiful cottage in the first picture overlooking the loch. It was like stepping into another century, the people are charming and everyone waves as they pass you in their car or in their gardens and love to chat and pass the time of day with you. Sundays are still special and everyone goes to Church, there are no shops open, no Sunday papers (until Monday lunchtime!) no washing on lines and it is a real family day and a day of rest. It reminded me of when I was a child and I have decided I will keep to that in my own way now, I have slipped into the habit of popping to the shops anytime but it was so nice to have such a peaceful day.

This is an evening view over the loch from the cottage, we could see seals from here and plenty of birds too. We also saw dolphin.

One of the many lochs in North Harris, I think this was Loch Seaforth. As you can see we had amazing weather and sunsets that kept you outdoors every evening. Because the islands are so far north the sun does not set for long at this time of year and it never gets completely dark. In fact my husband found he could read a newspaper outdoors at 10 minutes past midnight, just about!This sunset was taken looking over the Sound of Taransay, which if you watched the BBC's Castaway a few years back is where the folk were 'castaway'. This was the first week of a wonderful holiday which I hope we will repeat one day.
I managed to get my bird count up to 97...so 3 more to go!