Sunday, 28 June 2009

Well dressed

Off on a wander, I found a marquee where people were preparing for a well-dressing. Before I knew it, I was pressing dried camomile and parsley into a foam base! It's painstaking work. The woman doing the parsley was going quietly mad - I had the impression that anyone mentioning parsley sauce in the future, will be instantly punched ;-)

The picture represents the Goyt valley with its reservoir and the celebration is in praise of water. It's all made of seeds, petals, flowers, stones, wood, leaves and it was like making miniature pictures in the garden when you're a child (only this was serious stuff ! ;-)
There's an interesting gender divide whereby the women make the picture, the men carry it out and assemble it. Bits drop off and the women blame the men. It's a tradition!
Anyway, I went along again today for the little ceremony where school children sang beautifully, the local band played and the vicar tried to lay church claim to this pagan custom.
I thought the final result looked great. I've been invited to help make it next year. That must mean I'm local now!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Statues & shrines

I set out to find the church whose spire I could see, poking out above trees. The sun had hardly gotten a look-in all day and it started raining just as I arrived but the church seemed like an exotic transplant from a warmer place. I suppose it's because I remember the Catholic churches and roadside shrines where I used to live in south west France.

It was the statue that started the memories coming. On this white figure, the only colour is some red paint to show blood at the nail wounds in hands and feet. I remember watching a very old lady in France, carefully refreshing the red paint done in exactly the same way. What struck me was that she was standing on some steps held in place by one man and the pot of paint was held by another. They could easily have done the job but I had the impression that this was her role and that she had done it for many years.
It made me think of the small elite group among Aboriginal people who maintain and refresh the rock paintings.

Then I came across this sort-of cave shrine which was pretty surreal, as it was made of concrete, built up over a breeze-block shed! It looked a bit strange in the Peak district but must be a comfort to the visiting Fathers who come regularly from abroad to stay in the new annex they've recently built. Apparently they come over to go walking in the hills around here.
I know this because I got chatting to a volunteer who was levelling out an area to accommodate cremation plaques. He was a very cheerful soul who said with great enthusiasm "We're hoping to squeeze 70 in here!"

Monday, 8 June 2009

Settling in

I'm getting to know the place now; where to find good bread, local veg, vegan goodies, etc.
In answer to David's question, I've registered with a GP and joined the library like anyone else would, though I gave my parent's home as a permanent address and they wrote 'narrowboat Blackbird, the Marina' on my file. I guess they wanted something more concrete than 'The Towpath'! The thing is though, no-one at the nearby marina has a clue who I am but it's consoling to know that in the event of my having an incurable disease or, more usefully, an overdue library book, the marina will be the first to know ;-)

Discovering the gorgeous footpaths around here is on-going fun, especially when you aren't sure where you'll end up. My dog loves leaping along the paths and rivers and there's also a nature reserve right alongside the towpath where I'm moored up. It's a bit tempting to spend all day outside, wandering in fields instead of doing purposeful things, which I must.
I've also met a few local boaters who are moored about 1/2 mile away and been along for a few drinks with them. Nothing nicer than sitting out by boats, chatting, playing with dogs. So far, I still have no neighbours along my stretch, just a couple of unoccupied boats.
oh yes - of vital importance! I've found three lime trees in the area, all about to burst out in blossom. I was worried I'd missed the short flowering time. It's my favourite tea.