Sunday 29 April 2012

A watery post :)

Thankyou for all your positive comments on my last post about homeschooling. I have moments where I feel like I am floundering, but mainly I feel really good about it. I am constantly aware that we are in a very privileged position, with the school letting us work like this. Last week, Steve had a day off work, and he and the Wolf -Boy made a fabulous animation!

Aside from that we have had nothing but torrential rain for the last fortnight. No sign of drought here. The reservoirs are full to overflowing, and the roads have become raging torrents of water. My poor ponies are bedraggled and miserable, and STILL needing to be fed hay, despite it being almost May. 
Just before the weather deteriorated, my sister and I went off to Cornwall for a day. We wanted to visit a couple of holy wells and sacred sites near Boscastle. The first Holy Well, outside the church of St Piran, was a sadly neglected place. However, the tiny church, little more than a barn, was a treasure.

We then walked on down the valley to St Nectan's Kieve. I'm at a loss to know what to say about this place. It felt like a truly powerful place, and a very beautiful and peaceful place too, but also entirely alien to me. It is obviously a place of great spiritual importance for many people, judging by the clutter of offerings and gaudy trinkets covering every step of the path down, and most of the rockfaces surrounding the pool. The power of the water thundering through the keyhole is almost overwhelming, but for me, I just felt like an outsider. Almost homesick - I wanted to be beside my own beloved streams and rocks,  not these unfamiliar ones. Weird huh!?

Further down the valley towards the sea, are some remarkable labyrinth carvings on a stone cliff face. There is some confusion aver the origin of these. Bronze age carvings or 100 year old copies? I'm inclined to favour the theory that they are of a later date. Up the road, there is a Roman pillar, with a carved inscription, but the inscription is so worn, that it is almost impossible to read. If these labyrinth carvings are older, given that the automatic response is to trace the labyrinth with your fingers, surely they would be worn into obscurity from 4000 years of rubbing? 
However, 4000 years or 100 years old, they are beautiful pieces of work, hidden behind the ruins of a little mill and workers houses. Again, these are obviously a place of pilgrimage, and the tiny ruined houses are a fascinating view into the past. Sadly, the mill itself had a very unpleasant feel to it, and neither of us wanted to step over the threshold.

I can feel some labyrinth drawings brewing, but first I was inspired to do a quick sketch from Boscastle.
This is the entrance to Boscastle Harbour. Boscastle is probably best known for the catastrophic floods in 2004.  Restored after the damage, it is a place of magic, with a tidal harbour and a powerful sense of wild beauty. The twin headlands made me think of a dragon and a wolf, guarding the boats in the harbour.
 And finally, I have two lovely treasures to send you in search of this week! The first is a singer (the talented daughter of good friends of ours). Do check her out - we think she is going to be The Next Big Thing!

And the second is a delightfully rural blog which a friend of mine has just begun. She is an artist, and mother, and pony owner, and a keen observer of nature. Her blog is a lovely, lighthearted look at our tiny corner of Dartmoor.
Em's blog : Dartmoor Ramblings


Kath said...

lovely to read your post and hear about what you saw in Cornwall. I love labyrinths too, we have one in the grounds of St Johns church here in Glastonbury. You have to contemplate your question as you walk into the centre and the answer will come into your mind as you travel out again.
Love you painting of Boscastle!

Bovey Belle said...

What a fascinating post. I've just been reading up about St Nectan's Kieve. I see he has connections with Hartland too, but I know him from his Pictish connections, and the battle of Nechtansmere may also be associated with him as a place-name? The horses on the Pictish symbol stones were my dissertation topic, so I can bore for England on them!!!

I feel that the labyrinth drawings are probably quite late too, for the same reasons.

I am with you on picking up on unpleasant atmospheres in places - had one at Tredegar House last Friday in fact . . .

Valerianna said...

We could use some of your rain! In a drought here, though we had a bit of relief, still not enough for the long haul.

Those watery places are beautiful, as are the labyrinths. I agree, they would probably be more worn if older. Also, strange to have two like that I think? But, nice anyway.

The music is great!! I'm sure we'll be hearing about her... heading over to check out your friend's blog.
Hope you dry out a bit and we get some rain - praying for a bit of balance!

Raggle Taggle Gypsy Girl said...

Love the images and the beautiful scenery......The carvings are beautiful however old they may be......Blessings to you all.....

Freyalyn said...

I know exactly what you mean about the feel of a place being wrong, no matter how lovely it looks. You're a creature of your own place. Great photos though, and I love the dragon and wolf guardians.

I've been camping in Wales this weekend - at one point our (tall) tent blew flat enough to cover my face! But it didn't let the water in...

Rima Staines said...

I LOVE Jude's animation!!! :) xx

Clare Wassermann said...

aaahh I was at Boscastle last year. Your painting is outstanding - lovely lovely metaphoric viewing xx

Danielle Barlow said...

Kath - My first memory of a labyrinth was on a primary school french trip.I think it must have been in Chartres Cathedral, though I don't remember much else, just walking a labyrinth on a stone floor, bathed in the light from beautiful stained glass windows.
BB - thats really interesting! I'm unfamiliar with pictich symbol stones, so I'm off to look them up. Or maybe you can pop in for a cup of tea next time you are on Dartmoor, and tell me about them :)

Valeriana - we have had a welcome day of dry weather. I even got some washing dry on the line. How sad to be pleased about such a small thing :)

Gypsy girl - Thankyou :)

Freyalyn - Camping?!! That was very brave of you in this weather!

Rima- he has been watching lots for inspiration, including yours. He likes the fish girl, but finds the hands in the forest rather disturbing! xx

Clare - Thankyou :) Having seen your textile birds I am feeling myself pulled towards sewing again...

Dartford Warbler said...

My NF ponies are also still needing hay to see them through these rainy days and nights. At least the trees and the plants are having a much needed soaking.

An interesting visit to the Boscastle area. When we were down there a few years ago we found St Juliot`s and Beeny Cliff, where Thomas Hardy met Emma. A wonderful place to walk.

Heidi said...

Haha! Love that animation! Oh that pesky snail and his shenanigans! You could do a whole story animation of the life of that snail!

Beautiful watercolour of the guardians of the harbour. I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees creatures in rocks and hills.

And I think that with the carvings, I guess it doesn't matter if the carving is old or newish..the powerful energy of the symbol is still the same through time...if you get me...

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

Such a fascinating post, I especially loved your drawing of Boscastle Harbour with the Wolf and Dragon.

You are definitely sensitive to the atmosphere/history of old places. I know what you mean about a place not feeling right. I often have unpleasant reactions to old places that harbor a lot of history.

Send us your rain, I fear we are in for a long hot summer and drought.

Velma Bolyard said...

oh lovely, and i so know what you mean about the feeling of a place

Velma Bolyard said...

and kudos to the animator! bravo!


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