Monday, May 25, 2015


I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly...

'There is no flower so immediately irresistible as the Auricula... for the perfection of the stage Auricula is that of most exquisite Meissen porcelain, or the most lovely silk stuffs of Isfahan...and yet it is a living and growing thing...'
The poet and art critic Sacheverell Sitwell, writing in 1939, was as impressed as I am with the beauty of the Auricula...


James Rebanks' family have lived and worked in and around the Lake District for generations; the life of a shepherd dominated and ordered by the seasons, year on year, same tasks, same time, same attention to detail and same amount of toil and effort. Writing of his grandfather, James Rebanks suggests his were the silent majority, the great forgotten...
'....people who lived, worked, loved and died without leaving much written trace that they were ever there....essentially nobodies as far as anyone else is concerned.'
But, as he proceeds to elaborate, it was through the efforts of 'nobodies' that the landscape was created and was survived through, and this a thought that stayed with me as I read on. I say it time and again often I wander around the farmland here and wonder about all those people who have gone before; walk up the green lane and see the wall on either side that someone must have built; see the hedges once laid (now massacred) and wonder at all the manpower and effort involved to keep it that way, the narrative rapidly disappearing. Books like The Shepherd's Life matter, they help that narrative to thrive. The Cumbrian landscape of Matterdale home to a web of relationships adhering to time honoured values, the  code of honour where a man's handshake is his bond and family and kinship is centred on the farmhouse.Shepherds LifeHaunting photos by autochrome pioneer mervyn ogorman 102 years old