Friday, 29 April 2016


   After looking round the atmospheric church at Kilpeck I happened to glance over the fence of a nearby field and there was this sleeping calf. The mother was standing some distance away and did not look particularly maternal. I found myself feeling glad a farmer would come to check all was well and trusting a human sense of duty over natural bovine instinct. 

Thursday, 28 April 2016

A bus on a bridge

   Since I started my new blog about travelling around Monmouthshire on buses, I have taken hundreds of photos of castles, sheep, churches, daffodils and more sheep! Yet, for some reason, I find the photos of buses passing over bridges the most evocative. Where are they going? Who is on them? Off they drive to some romantic destination and, amazingly, I can go there tomorrow.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Kilpeck Church

As I have explained I am a great fan of bus travel and am blogging about it elsewhere. Yet out in remote Herefordshire, beyond the reach of bus routes, is a special little church at Kilpeck.

 The carvings round the door are original and there is some discussion about their meaning. They might represent Adam and Eve but could be one serpent eating another in the triumph of Good over Evil. If you look carefully you can see the tail of one snake in the mouth of another. The whole site, including the interior of the Church, is full of atmosphere and it is well worth a detour.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Spring colours

What I find marvellous about this time of year is the day when, suddenly, yellow flowers give way to other colours. Daffodils yield to magnolia. Fabulous.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Which pronoun?

When I started my new blog: "On the buses - in Monmouthshire" I became instantly aware of the difficulty of choosing a pronoun. Other bloggers who perform amazing feats of endurance and initiative such as crawling round Wales on hands and knees use "I" as they are rightly proud of their epic achievements. Yet I am encouraging bus use, sight-seeing, short or medium walks and CAKE at the end. The French are so lucky to have "on", an all-purpose, gender-free pronoun, increasingly used instead of "nous".  I do not wish to sound bossy by telling "you" what do do but "one" is too starchy and I have to use something. I think I will say "you" when I urge you to exert yourself and "I" when I sit down for tea and gateaux.
A fascinating footnote to this is that "your" can mean something close to "our" particularly if pronounced "yer". When Hamlet says to Horatio: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,/Than are dreamt of in your philosophy," he is not accusing his friend of a limited imagination but means that anyone's philosophy may not include ghosts. This is the same extension of meaning as the gravedigger's: "your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead body." It is not truly possessive here and could be omitted in both instances.

Monday, 4 April 2016

The Archers

I am an addict, timing my evening meal to listen and reliving it all in the Omnibus on Sunday morning. Like everyone else I have followed the Helen and Rob storyline with mounting interest and unease whilst being aware of the help it is giving to women who are abused psychologically and physically as well as victims of the new law of coercive control. The acting by both is first class and the scripting mostly excellent partly because the theme has been thoroughly researched. It was an error to introduce Ursula and the element of Gothic horror that came with her but the rest has been chillingly realistic, accurate and painful, particularly when Henry has been involved. The violent scene on April 3rd was gripping. I have asked two questions on Twitter: are Kirsty and Jess the only characters in this plot who are not totally self-centred? - and a wider one which lifts the programme into a different genre. Is it true to say that The Archers previously dealt with right and wrong but that it has now encompassed good and evil? Whoever stole that money from the church did wrong but Rob is truly evil.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Encountered in the wilds

Although I am a great advocate of public transport as you can see from one of my other blogs, I admit there are some things you can't do on a bus. Recently my daughter and her partner came to stay and he expertly drove on a precipitous back route from Hay-on-Wye to visit Llanthony Abbey. By the side of this one-track road we saw five of these Highland Cattle peacefully gazing and grazing. This one is in full winter glory but will shed hair naturally for the summer. Despite the ferocious-looking horns, they seemed friendly, though no-one was allowed out of the car to find out and she/he was photographed through the open window: I love the way the knees are neatly tucked under.
Photo courtesy of Martin Mulligan-McArthur