Celtic knot, granite with lichen!
A magic place, soon after dawn (which isn’t very early) on the Fowey estuary in January. Lapwings cluster on the sandbanks and the eerie calls of the curlew heralds the progress of the seasons.
Snow drops are under the bare oak in St Winnow’s churchyard, primroses blooming and campion in the hedgerow under the golden gorse. All in the cool moist air that reminds us of our amazing good fortune as family and friends in Australia (who used to tease us about our rain) suffer unimaginable heat and anxiety. They are living with the threat of loosing everything they hold dear in a biblical inferno.
I wish I could send them all a little while in the cool of St Winnow’s churchyard.
At home I spend many a happy hour musing on possible sites to land a helicopter –specifically an air ambulance — basically there is nowhere within two miles that is flat or not festooned with power lines or patrolled by ferocious cattle. The only flat place on the farm is where Alan has built an enormous bonfire which was too dangerous to light all summer and is now too wet!
Anyway, as everyone knows, no one ever gets around to being sure that they are ill enough to call an ambulance in the morning. We have our lunch at 3pm and it’s dark by 4 — the Welsh Air Ambulance doesn’t fly after dark which is as well with all the mountains and the above hazards.
We’ve been in Lostwithiel in Cornwall — on the Fowey River. There was a colossal roar the other day — so tantalizingly loud that Pedro and I had to go and investigate!
50 yards from the house we found the source of the row — a Cornwall Air Ambulance –come to pick someone up from the adjacent medical centre.
Here they are being loaded:
See –it’s already dusk, but note how wonderfully flat it is.
Then it started to roar again and the rotor blades which were drooping started to rotate faster and faster and got flatter and flatter and louder and louder until one thought it couldn’t try any harder — but it did and, as Pedro sank to the ground and covered his ears, it lifted lightly up and turned to face us.
It flew directly at us (must have seen the camera) then rose up in an aerial pirouette —
— and set off towards Plymouth. Good Luck!
When you meet someone for the first time, it seems to me, that you can nearly always find something that you have in common — places you have lived, people you have known, views, tastes, maybe you have the same sense of humour — we humans like to do this, to forge bonds with new people.
I have just met Madrun and she is a remarkable woman. She’s been dead 1500 years.
Whatever you call her, Madrun or Materiana, this woman must have learned a thing or two from the turbulent power struggles that raged around her in her early life. She was born a princess, eldest daughter of Gwerthefyr Fendigaid (Vortimer the Blessed), the 5th century warrior king of Gwent who opposed the Saxon invaders from Germany who were allied with his father. He temporarily overthrew his father and took power but eventually is said to have been poisoned by his Saxon stepmother (that’s a recurrent theme!) On his father’s death, his daughter, Madrun, succeeded from her grandfather and rulled with her husband Ynyr (descended from Roman emperor Magnus Maximus). (Thankyou, David Nash Ford for this information from Early British Kingdoms)
The details of her life are obscure but we know she was Christian and that, like many of her contemporaries she travelled to Ynes Enlli (Bardsey Island — at the tip of the Llyn peninsula in North Wales) as a pilgrim.
On the way she and her servant Annun stayed a night at Trawsfynydd. I have visited this area — infact I blogged about the visit and the spooky nature of the place.(Off the Straight and Narrow)
Madrun found it spooky too. She and Annun both dreamed a dream of founding a nunnery there, which they did –the church there still bears Madrun’s name.
Yesterday we were at Tintagel, Cornwall, in a magnificent gale, shouting greetings to fellow walkers with excited wind-tousled dogs. We watched the huge swell and the breakers hitting the offshore islands and sending spray 60 feet into the air.
As we drove away we caught sight of a small church on the cliff and we were drawn to look. Here it is — St Materiana’s (that’s the same Madrun — she ended her days in Cornwall)
Relatively modern –rebuilt in 12th century! But there’s been a church here since the 6th century — I bet you Madrun’s buried here — look at the view.
Someone is keeping an eye on it anyway!
I’ve done a lot of pointing in my time — that’s the hacking out of old mortar from ancient masonry and replacing it with fresh, new, lime mortar. I like doing it — it’s very relaxing and, if you are not alone, you can chat in a particularly unguarded way, with your mind half on the methodical job in hand.
But look at this chap!
Not so relaxed!
You can’t see his little pick in the photo but I could hear it. And he didn’t stop there, above the 700 year old octagonal lantern of the parish church of St Bartholomew, in Lostwithiel, Cornwall.
I don’t know how he got his rope to the top of the tower but here he is higher:
hacking at the mortar of the church, the body of which was built in the heyday of the town in the twelfth century when it was one of the most important ports in Britain — before the river silted up with the waste from streaming tin on the hills which, ironically, was the source of the town’s wealth.
It is no longer the capital of Cornwall — but a very picturesque and quiet village in which to enjoy a cream tea and watch the twenty-first century go by.