Tuesday, 30 August 2011

More Shopping? Moor Ponies!

Only my wife could manage to arrange two hospital appointments, at two different hospitals on the same day. Both in Plymouth thankfully; at least I didn't end up racing over to Truro for one of them.  I know what you're going to say about two birds with one stone, I agree. But eight hours apart! That's just cruel.

Now Plymouth's not a bad city, as cities go. In fact it actually has quite a lot going for it, there is a lot of history and a walk on the Hoe is always pleasant, but there are limits. Especially for me.

Anyone who knows me well knows I hate shopping. Anyone who knows me even slightly knows I hate shopping. In fact people who don't know me but might have happened to pass the time of day at a bus stop know I hate shopping. Even someone who may have passed me one wet tuesday afternoon going in the opposite direction on an escalator will probably have a pretty good idea that I hate shopping. In case you're still a little unsure about just how stongly I really feel, let me give you an extra clue... If I were to win the lottery this weekend I wouldn't even drag myself down to the Aston Martin showroom. I'd pick up the phone and order a fleet of them, one for everyday of the week, but there is no way on this earth I would willingly go shop for one. Now that is a man who really hates shopping.

So you can imagine how I felt about the prospect of wandering around Plymouth window shopping. Shopping when I need something is bad enough; shopping to merely kill time? It'd kill me.

So what is  a mad Druid to do when his wife starts to linger just a little too long outside shops that sell pretty, sparkly things? There's only one thing he can do...RUN FOR THE HILLS.

Which, when one is in the vacinity of Plymouth, means Dartmoor. Knowing we had to drag ourselves away for a 6.30pm appointment at the Nuffield (who makes an appointment for 6.30, I mean really!) we didn't actually venture up on to the magnificent moors. That brooding, mysterious landscape grabs me by my dangly bits and won't let go. I love it. It calls to me. It whispers to my soul. I could wax lyrical for hours about the magic of the high moor but I'll spare you that for now. Today we contented ourselves with parking up on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park and making friends with some of the locals.

I thought at first this guy was after my pasty but it turned out he'd rather try to take chunks out of my steering wheel. I have quite a track record with Dartmoor Ponies and cars. We parked up in the early hours one night high up on the moor to gaze at the stars and await the dawn, only to be disturbed by an equine vandal, just as the sun gently nudged the horizen, who decided my car was breakfast. I had a hell of a job when the lease ran out expaining the damage to the dealer!


The car survived this time and I was honoured to spend an afternoon in the company of such beautiful, trusting creatures.

I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as we enjoyed taking them.

Hail Epona, Hail Rhiannon

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Are Druids 'Up Themselves'?

Due to my own stupidity I haven't been feeling too good of late. An old back problem has been playing up more than usual and I've barely been able to make it from the bed to my arm chair. As a result I've been on-line far more than normal. On a good day, I get up, check my emails etc (or very lazily get my wife to do that for me), then potter about in my workshop for the rest of the day. That is what I should have been doing today but a few days ago I spied a lovely big hazel bough, just laying there in the neglected wilderness beyond the gardens saying 'come get me, carve me, love me' and I couldn't resist. So off I went to do battle with the nettles and brambles, got stung and scratched and slipped on my arse down a slope much steeper than it looked. Then I lugged said branch back up the slope, over a fence, through the neighbours garden and our own, and then up a flight of stairs. The magnificent hazel branch now stands in the corner of my workroom. Which is more than I can do; I can't stand at all. I sort of hobble about, stooped and crooked issuing expletives and whimpering sounds in equal measure.

I'm being looked after by my capable wife, as usual. She helps without complaint; providing pain killers and potions, massage and a listening ear, cups of tea and nourishing meals. I'm getting the tea alright, I'm just not getting the sympathy! As she quite rightly points out (but please don't tell her I said that) this whole thing could have been avoided with one little word... Help. Or rather two, Help Please. I do have manners after all.

My wife has long insisted that Druids are 'up themselves'. That's OK. I allow her these little lapses. I know that in reality Druids are here with the sole purpose of keeping Witches in line. (*ducks here to avoid all the shoes, stones and heavy kitchen implements that are being thrown, or swung, in my direction by any witches reading this). Its our little joke. I have utmost respect for my wife and her craft. She is a witch through and through, its in her bones (both the ones in her body and the ones that litter the kitchen window ledge! What is it about witches that make them want to bring dead things home?) I am in awe sometimes, of her insight and her abilities. We tread different paths but those paths often run together, a sort of 'duel carriageway' of faith, if you like. We can poke fun at each other along the way because we do it with respect.

Only now I'm a little worried. Until now I've taken 'up themselves' to mean stuborn but lovable; eccentric but in a nice way; insular but indepedant and inovative; authoratative but understanding, confident but reassuring...you get the idea. But now I'm starting to wonder that when she says 'up themselves' she's politely saying 'Druids have their heads stuck so far up their own arses they could bite their own tonsils!'

So what has brought about this disturbing re-think? Well as I think I mentioned at the start of this post (before my mind started to wander all over the shop) I've spent far more time on-line over the last few days than is normal for me. This has been a good thing in some ways. I've caught up with old friends and answered emails that should have been dealt with weeks ago. Hell, I even wrote to my brother! But then I got bored and started reading blogs. Nothing wrong with that, there are some excellent blogs out there (just take a look at the list to the right to find some of the ones I enjoy; some beacuse they are thought-provoking, some beacause they are beautiful, some just because they are an honest window on someone's life) but I started to venture further afield. I followed links through to links through to links, winding my way through the blogosphere without the aid of a map and survival gear.

And I kept coming back to one thing. There are very few Druid blogs that I actually enjoyed reading.  Its all so serious! And by that, I don't just mean serious, I mean pompous and arrogant; complicated for complicated's sake. A serious subject should be treated with respect, obviously, but there is great merit in humour; in admitting one's failings (yes, even Druids cock things up sometimes); and just enjoying life for no other reason than to enjoy life.

I'm not a great Druid. I'd be the first to admit that, at times, I'm a very bad Druid. But I was taught by a great Druid. I was taught by a man of honour and integrity, of deep faith, of humility. I was taught by a man with great humour. A lot of that humour was directed at me (although I was frequently too dense to realise that until I was half way home!) but it always made me chuckle, and then it made me think; and then I thought you clever old goat! And then I'd chuckle some more. I learnt so much through humour from that man. His untimely death left holes in my education that I can't ever hope to adequately fill.

I'm not saying all Druids should be comedians, far from it. But some nights I sit and watch my wife as she reads through new posts on the witchy blogs she follows. Sometimes they make her thoughtful, sometimes irate, but there is always at least one that makes her laugh. Out loud, a proper laugh. And that is good.

It is with great sadness that I find myself wondering if Druidry has lost something somewhere? Has Druidry become so caught up with presenting an image of  being learned that its forgotten how to laugh at itself? Has it become so bogged down with complexities that it has lost its sense of wonder? Have we lost sight of the beauty of living by druidic priciples? Have we become so enamoured by what Druids were we've forgotten what we are? 

In short, are Druids really up themselves?

Monday, 15 August 2011

Dust and Dreams

Yesterday I made the big mistake of starting to clean and organise my work room. Nothing wrong with that you might think, and indeed it desperately needed to be done, but I kicked up a dust cloud of monumental proportions. That wasn't cleaning, it was a natural disaster!

Once upon a time my workroom was the spare bedroom. It isn't very large, although it is bigger than the tiny utility room I used to use, but when all is said and done it is still only a single bedroom, and rooms that size tend to look cluttered no matter what they're used for. Add chisels and planes, saws and stains, and sandpaper by the ton and very soon there is barely room to turn around...and that's without the wood. I knew it would be a big job to get it all back into some kind of order, I just didn't appreciate how big.

There is always going to be a degree of mess when you work with wood. Stripping off bark, and sanding are not by their nature tidy jobs. The bark isn't really much of a problem. That can simply be bagged up and taken out to the compost heap after my wife has picked out all the 'pretty, curly bits'. (I'm not sure what she's doing with them. I'm kind of scared to ask.) Its the aftermath of the sanding that is the nightmare. The dust gets everywhere, every tiny nook and cranny. Now, I'm basically a clean and tidy person. I tidy up my work bench and sweep the floor everyday (honest!), but I have to confess I'm a bit lax when it comes to cleaning up that dreaded dust. The only part of my work room that gets a regular dusting is my altar. The rest, well, that builds up bit by bit until I'm forced to tackle it. Which brings me back to yesterday.

The fact that my wife wouldn't venture past the door should have given me an inkling into how bad it was; a slender arm would pass in cups of tea from a safe distance before she retreated to hide her new hoover before I got any ideas. But you know what its like when you're busy and in the middle of it all, you're always the last one to see. Last night I had to use my inhaler for the first time in years and I'm seriously suffering today. I got up the worst of it with the old, dying hoover; the one I inflicted mortal wounds on the last time I used it (to vacuum up after I'd sanded down the walls when we were decorating) so now it tends to blow out almost as much as it sucks up. When what's left of the dust cloud has finally settled, I'll have another go. Glutton for punishment, that's me.

Oh how I dream of a proper workshop; one with plenty of space to work and stack materials. There would be a big, solid work bench running down the centre and racks for my tools around the walls. I'd have room to work outside when the weather was fine and a big roaring fire to keep me warm when it wasn't. There would be no neighbours so I could make as much noise as I liked and work all night if I wanted to. It would, of course, be in a wood and close to the sea for forays into the wild for deadfall and driftwood. It would have electricity and be free to rent and cups of tea and sandwiches would magically appear whenever I wanted them. Oh and every idea I had there would work first time and elves would come in at night to clean up.

If anyone knows of such a place contact me @in-your-dreams-you-mad-druid-now-stop-fantasising-and-get-back-to-work-that-room-won't-clean-itself!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Tintagel and Willow Moon

Hi folks, just a quick update. You will now find some of my wands, staffs and athames on sale at Willow Moon in Tintagel. Its a lovely shop with a great atmosphere so if you're anywhere near Tintagel pop in and have a look. www.willowmoontintagel.com

I love Tintagel, we've spent many happy days there. When we were first thinking of relocating to Cornwall it was one of the first places we visited, and always headed for there first on our many house hunting trips. There really is something magical about the place, I've never quite pinned it down but there is a peace there, just something in the air that soothes me. A wander round the shops, a pint in one of the many pubs, a pasty to eat on the little beach by Merlin's Cave...it all makes for a great day out.

 Pasty nicking seagull
Sunset over the cliffs

Merlin's Cave

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Support for London

I love London. It's in my heart. It's in my soul. I no longer live there but some of the best times of my life have been spent there. The first time my wife and I visited London together she laughed at me for getting off the train at St Pancras and kissing the platform! Now I think she'd do the same. I have lived in London on and off for most of my life. I can only be away for so long before it calls to me again. To see it brought down this way by ignorant, unthinking, mindless mobs is soul destroying.

But London will recover as it always does. The spirit of the city and the people will win out. Just like it did after the blitz. Just like it did after 7/7. The people of London are strong and they will only take so much before they fight back. They will fight back with quiet dignity; they will fight back by cleaning up and rebuilding; they will fight back by simply carrying on. London and Londoners have a history of surviving.

My heart and my thoughts go out to the people of London.