Sunday, 25 March 2012

Brampton Book Group - Sunday April 1st - 1st 11.30 - 12-30

Led by Kate Dyer Sunday April who will be discussing
Through England on a Side-Saddle - Celia Fiennes

"Celia Fiennes lived at roughly the same time as Daniel Defoe. She was born in 1662 at Newton Toney, Salisbury, the daughter of a colonel in Cromwell's army. She is remarkable for the journeys she made, and the account she wrote of them: she rode side-saddle through every county in England, accompanied only by two servants. Although she always lived in the south, in 1697 and 1698 she made two long journeys through northern England and Scotland. She travelled to improve her health, visiting many spa towns, but also for personal adventure. Her account of her travels seems to have been written after her travels had largely ended, in 1702. She described both the great houses she visited and the developing new industries. She died in 1741. The original text of Fiennes is not divided into chapters but we have tried to separate out her different 'journeys'." from A Vision of Britain Through Time

Country Churches - Simon Jenkins 

The chairman of the National Trust and well-loved writer, Simon Jenkins, chooses his favourite 100 English country churches. Generations of inhabitants have helped shape the English countryside - but it has profoundly shaped us too.It has provoked a huge variety of responses from artists, writers, musicians and people who live and work on the land - as well as those who are travelling through it.English Journeys celebrates this long tradition with a series of twenty books on all aspects of the countryside, from stargazey pie and country churches, to man's relationship with nature and songs celebrating the patterns of the countryside (as well as ghosts and love-struck soldiers).

If you'd like to join us but haven't read the books - don't worry - there will be copies to read after the event. Bring a flask and a picnic and join us in the seating area / car park at the Maidwell 

April Photography Walk

Explore Maidwell  with 
Andrew Rushton

Sunday 1st April 

1pm - 3pm

meeting point is

North of Lamport on the A508 at Maidwell turn off eastwards heading 
towards Draughton. Once through the village of Maidwell the road 
descends, after the right hand bend the road rises and you reach 

The walk will start at one O'clock and will head off northwards
up the Brampton Valley Way, at Green Lane Crossing we shall turn 
left and follow the Bridleway into Maidwell.

If you are joining us please add your name to the Doodle link 
below so we know how many will be taking part!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Steep and Wet - The Edward Thomas Birthday Walk 2012

Walkers gathering - photograph by Andrew Rushton

Each year, on the Sunday nearest to Edward Thomas's birthday (3rd March), the Edward Thomas Fellowship organises a walk in the countryside near his home at Steep, near Petersfield in Hampshire. This event is the main annual gathering for Fellowship members and other admirers of Edward Thomas. There were two walks this year, forming a figure-of-eight route around Steep. As Andrew and I had to get back to Northamptonshire we only took part in the first walk. We met in the car park at Bedales School Steep  at 10.00 and collected our walk sheets before setting off on the morning walk of about 4½ miles and which included a visit to the Memorial Stone.

Part of a very useful PDF detailing Literary Walks in Hampshire the link will take you to the complete PDF.

Destination...In the Mist - photograph by Andrew Rushton

I have seen posts and photographs of the walk from other years, when the sun was out, when flowers and greenery caressed walkers as they passed, but this year the rain began in the car park. First as a bit of a drizzle, culminating in damp, fat snow flakes spied through the window of the village hall where we had our lunch. 

The rain did not deter the walkers or the readers, the route was punctuated by poems written about Edward Thomas and his work. There were hills, it was cold, the views were obscured in places by mist and I was put to shame by the other, older, hardier walkers who made light of the rain and remained unconcerned by the treacherous, slippery chalk just beneath the surface mud. 

Uphill on the Road - photograph by Andrew Rushton
Like the Touch of Rain by Edward Thomas
Like the touch of rain she was
On a man's flesh and hair and eyes
When the joy of walking thus
Has taken him by surprise:

With the love of the storm he burns,
He sings, he laughs, well I know how,
But forgets when he returns
As I shall not forget her 'Go now'.

Those two words shut a door
Between me and the blessed rain
That was never shut before
And will not open again.

I am still being mocked for my fearful whining as I write this! Getting to the memorial stone was quite pleasant, trees offered some shelter, there were conversations with other walkers and the walk uphill seemed easier (less frightening for less than agile, physically timid me!) than the descent. I only really felt safe once I'd found a long stick which convinced me that I was less likely to lose my balance and slide to the bottom of the Shoulder of Mutton.

Round the bend - photograph by Andrew Rushton

A Literary Pilgrim in England

Through Wet Leaves and Mud - photograph by Andrew Rushton

Edward Thomas would have been horrified by my performance, at the Memorial Stone, we were told  how he would stride up the hill then gallop down with his laughing daughter on his back. How wonderful to be so at one with the body, the landscape and the elements.

View From the Memorial Stone -photograph by Andrew Rushton

Follow the link to the poem

Kathy Page at the Memorial Stone

Follow the link to an interesting essay

Whispering in the Dark: the Poetry of Edward Thomas by James Priory

I haven't been so wet for a long time, but in spite of that it was a wonderful walk, I didn't fall over, I had packed dry clothes, I had experienced the day in the company of dear friends and I hope we'll come back and take the walk again in finer weather!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Notes on the Herb Lads Love

Notes on the Herb Lads Love aka Southernwood - Artemisia abrotanum - Old Man, Boy's Love, Oldman Wormwood, Lover's Plant, Appleringie, Garderobe, Our Lord's Wood, Maid's Ruin, Garden Sagebrush, European Sage, Lad's Love, Southern Wormwood, Sitherwood and Lemon Plant

A hardy perennial herb shrub with feathery grey-green leaves. Very aromatic leaves and ideal for a scented garden.  The leaves are used traditionally as a moth and insect repellent (and they are very effective), and in Pot Pourri where it is often combined with Lavender.Likes a light soil in full sun. Ideal for tubs and containers. It grows to 3-4ft tall and the woody stems are best cut well back in the autumn to prevent it getting straggley and getting to look untidy. Many an old cottage has this herb growing, and it's scent is reminiscent of 'Granny' to lots of people. The name 'Lad's Love' comes from its reputation of promoting beard growth! 

n : aromatic herb of temperate Eurasia and North Africa having a bitter taste used in making the liqueur absinthe.

Brampton Book Group De-camps to Adlestrop

It has been hard to get the mobile book group on the move so we decided to accompany Kathy Page on her research trip to Adlestrop and Steep, following the words and walks of poet Edward Thomas. We read some of the poems and part of All Roads Lead to France and I did some late night Googling to find out more about the man and his work.

"He was a muse to other poets, an important part of the emerging modern movement and a pioneering ecological poet, so why is Edward Thomas still so undervalued," asked Edna Longley in the Guardian on Saturday 28 June 2008.

I found Team Edward Thomas on the dovegreyreader scribbles blog and really enjoyed their adventures in reading. There was also an excellent video of Edward Thomas's biographer Matthew Hollis giving the Guardian's Sarah Crown a tour of landmarks of Steep, Hampshire, where the first world war poet lived and worked.

"Edward Thomas never left the train that stopped briefly at a Cotswold station, Adlestrop, just before World War I, but what he saw resulted in one of the best known and loved English poems, "Adlestrop". Generations of literary pilgrims have visited the village which inspired the poem, while many of today's writers have composed their own tributes to the poet and the place where, after the closure of the station, the nameboard was lovingly retained. This anthology explores Adlestrop's literary, topographical and railway associations. Anne Harvey investigates the origins of the poem: did the train really stop 'unwontedly'; was it an express; and, was Thomas travelling alone. His fascination with the railways began in boyhood and is seen in two of his little-known short stories, "A Third-Class Carriage" and "Death by Misadventure". The book also examines the connection with Jane Austen, who visited her Leigh relatives at Adlestrop Park and Rectory, and there are poems from Peter Porter, Alan Brownjohn, P.J. Kavanagh, Dannie Abse and Brian Patten. A wide selection of illustrations includes facsimiles of Edward Thomas' original manuscript and notebook entries, photographs and fine wood engravings by well-known artists. " 


The weather was beautiful and the Cotswold countryside rolled seductively round us.


We were looking for traces of the station – from the car park by the community centre we could see a mural depicting the train.

The Station sign now resides in a bus shelter with  a copy of the poem on the bench. We set off in the wrong direction but met the right person, about to sit in his doorway, taking in the fine weather, he had been in the book Adlestrop Revisited (remembered)

We guessed he might be an Edward Thomas fan as his house name, Lob's House, was named after a an E.T poem. He had Lads Love / Old Man growing by the the door in his garden.

Whilst doing my research I found that Fleur Adcock had been concerned with similar themes of memory and loss when writing a poem about her mother. You can read Fleur Adcocks poem Mirarmar and the Edward Thomas poem, Old Man by following this link.

Across the field
Main road

No station, just tracks

Longing to see the line from inside a train

Looking for clues, the way now barred 
by a graveyard for old buses

Tantalising glimpses – could that be what we were looking for?

Parts of a station platform?

Railway ironwork fence?

Walking back along the Macmillan Way

Pause in the graveyard

A Doom – Remember to Die.

Curious instruction - a Momento Mori?


 of Jubilees past.

Our way was punctuated 

by handsome ginger cats

In the Post Office we discover nothing at all is left of the station, there are old photos, now reprinted on greetings cards. We could see but not quite recognise where the Station had been. Here is a link to how the Station would have looked. 

We had lunch at The Fox at Oddington and read E.T poems from Kathy's iPad, then Andrew began another long drive, heading for Hampshire. The journey was filled with thoughts, separate and shared, of people and places both existing and departed.

I was remembering another mad journey with Andrew when he drove from Cornwall via Stonehenge to Jane Austen's House Museum and then home, in a day. He is full of thoughts of his youth in the RAF, feeling emotional about his boys, the Downs and the his time as an air frame fitter, working on Chinooks.

When we finally got to Jane Austen's house it was just closing, we dashed round the gardens and the out buildings. I fell in love with the Painted Lady Runner Beans growing in the garden and have been growing them in my own ever since. All the tea shops in all the land were, by that time, closed.

At the end of this day's journey we found warm welcome and a lovely place to place to stay. Later that evening we shared a meal in another pub with Edward Thomas Fellowship,  some who had been attending the Birthday Walks for over 20 years. It was interesting to hear how long people had been attending, why they were there, what the poetry brought to their lives. At the same time we were keeping an eye on the weather, knowing our luck was unlikely to hold. Rain was headed our way and the birthday walk was likely to be a wet one!