Tuesday, 29 December 2009



This mornings' news of the execution of Akmal Shaikh by the Chinese Authorities was barbaric, unwarranted and a breach of human rights. It was an act of Murder as is the killing of any human being by another, whether that be via a judicial authority or an act of war or in whatever manner.

There is no excuse for Murder.

No country, no matter how small or large, poor or rich, can claim exoneration for Murder. There are no excuses regardless of reasons for the taking of life.

Thus it is that I offer my poor condolences to those families throughout the world who mourn the loss of their loved ones.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Hoorah - The Day of the Reborn Sun

Feathered friends

A variety of feathered visitors feed here every day throughout winter and early spring. It is also their social centre for some seemingly just come to chatter and never bother to feed. So the 25th D brought no exception and no difference to the small birds' routine unlike Big Bird and myself who were busily preparing oodles of vegetables within close proximity of the fireside. Dissimilar to previous years we had a new delight this day, heralding the success of the my attempt to make clotted cream, for a full 1/2lb sat in the bottom of the fridge, to be enjoyed later with a slice of rich fruit cake.

This was not my only culinary skill of the day, for a large nut roast had been prepared the previous night, to a recipe which I concocted when living a solitary life. In similar vein I was once noted for my exceptional soda bread gained by merely adjusting the recipe and adding a handful of sesame seeds.

Unfortunately due to our having given up wheat and having preference to oat, rye or rice cakes, visitors can no longer enjoy slices of my fresh bread.

The morning of the 25th was by anyone's standards a hardy one as the photos will show. I shivered further, when my eye fell on a tent pitched outside of a neighbours cabin, left there from the summer. 'Lord bless and save us' went through my mind as I hurried home for a glass of warming port.

Mrs Heron (aka BB above) made a wonderful lunch of roasted veg, we had parsnips, delicate slivers of carrot, whole segments of garlic, sprouts, spuds, two lots of stuffing, the nut roast and a red wine sauce all washed down with copious amounts of Chateauneuf de Pape . As you can imagine it was a several hours later before we tucked into our delicious dessert.

The night ended with a glass of Port, followed by another glass of Port and so we floated off to bed and into dreamland.


Nut Roast Loaf

500g Large onions

500g Unsalted peanuts

50g Unsalted cashew cuts (halved)

50g Crushed walnuts

2 Large eggs

5 Cloves of fresh garlic

1 Large can of organic baked beans

1 can of chopped tomato

1Teaspoon of ground Black Pepper

4 Tablespoonfuls of virgin olive oil

10g herbs de provence

1 Teaspoon of fenugreek seed

12 pitted black olives

Butter for greasing baking tin

20 cm diameter x 9 cm Baking Tin

Large iron frying pan.

Large mixing bowl .

Wooden spoon.


& Index finger for tasting the uncooked mix :)

Peel and slice the onions and place in frying pan, add about 4 tablespoons of olive oil - needs to be about 1 cm deep. Sauté the onions on a medium heat till nice and soft.

Whilst the onions are cooking grind the peanuts to a coarse grit, I use a coffee bean grinder,

a few whole ones won’t hurt either.

Tip the ground peanuts into mixing bowl along with a few cashew halves, stir around and mix in the chopped or sliced garlic, add fenugreek, black pepper and the herbs; then make a well in the middle and add the sautéed onions and any oil left in frying pan.

To the mix add a can of chopped tomatoes or baked beans, then add the olives and mix thoroughly. Finally stir in two beaten eggs.

What I do then is to taste the mix before cooking, if it’s okay on your palate, carry on with the process, if not then add additional spices or ingredients until you are satisfied with the flavor.

Grease the sides and bottom of the baking tin with plenty of butter and on the bottom of the tin place a good coverage of cashew nuts. The idea is that when baked and tipped upside down before serving, the nut roast loaf will look pleasing to the eye!

So having put the cashews on bottom of tin, now spoon in the mixture and level the top with either back of spoon or a spatula.

Place in a preheated oven at gas mark 5 for about 45 minute to 60 minutes.

As with a baking a fruit cake, you can test after 45 minutes by inserting the blade of a knife all the way to bottom of tin at the centre, if it comes out clean the baking is done, if not give a few more minutes and test again.

Once cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool.

Whilst cooling I run a sharp thin bladed knife around the tin to prevent sides from sticking.

When cool tip upside down on to a serving plate and enjoy!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Dark v Light

You are welcome !

It is perhaps the growing dark, the cold chilling gloom, the quickening fall of night and those pretty illuminations that sit in windows and on eaves, gable ends, the cold electric guttering lights of my unseen neighbours, that cause Mrs Heron to talk of sympathetic magic and of trying to bring the Sun back ?

Are they, the good Christians around us, aware of what their hidden Pagan soul has led them into ?

The Solstice Tree, the evergreen a display of continuing life is being decorated, as I write.

Mrs H is well able for that, her skilful hands and artistic bent do it well.

She has just asked me 'What do we have at the top?' 'A Frog !' I said, pausing then to say 'Well how about the Witch instead?' I am of course totally wrong. It is the returning reborn Sun

The Frog goes over the door attached to the Deer tine and The Witch is hidden in the tree somewhere and The Owl perches wherever he can find a prominent place, among the lights which have been neatly spun around.

Don't look too close though, for there is naughty gnome in a state of undress sitting beneath the tree.

Some echoes of Winter sit below


Winter’s sharp passion sings

Thro’ black brittle thorn limbs

Over old Áine’s fertile plains

Where summer ferns once grew

Lush: in valleys - hidden places

Deep where springs weep.

Eriu’s blood flows fresh, new

birthing stone frosted icicles

to glint in watery sunlight,

as a rapier

sword of


© MRL 26. 12. 2001


The Sparrow Hawk on patrol

soundless swift sweep of wing

Prey in sight divides light

To kill disappear beyond bright.

Creeps child of forest's edge

stop, listen, one white scream.

A rapid rapier's beak struck

twilight to red dark death.

A spiral hidden from sunlight

tunnels through black earth

Family cavern warm mourn

their summers first born.

©MRL NOV 2007

Spatial Battle

Unhindered swirling waves

born of an untamed power

rotated by Sun Moon energy

Whose long seas seek

scream a wild throaty roar

To smash the fortress cliffs

asunder; wet wearing winds

In unceasing hunger battle

Plunder an ancient guard

of old Devonian stone.

To reclaim space, land

on which to expand.

Pulverised rock - small sand

floods wide the old boundary

In pride of new sea-room !

© MRL NOV 2007

Friday, 11 December 2009


A winter wet field

The gift of a sunny winter's day gave me the opportunity of resuming my task of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so I went for a brisk 3 mile walk with camera in hand.

This all started in March when my BP was 190 over 120, with a cholesterol level of 7.5 and a weight of 15 st. - 9 lb (219 lb). I am not given to the taking of Pharmacy drugs, unless absolutely necessary, so I was given 3 months by the nurse to show an improvement in health by walking and losing weight.

Perseverance is the byword to success and I am now a healthy shadow of my former self ! My weight is now 12st. 8lb (176lb), my BP normal and cholesterol level under 5. The waist line is now 34 inches and I can walk up hillsides without needing to rest, my legs no longer ache. Sure even Mrs H has is pleased that my snoring has decreased in decibels to almost non existent ! She tells folk that she has a new husband!

So yesterday was a real gift. I hate walking in rain as my glasses don't have wipers (inventors please note !). Our normal walk is as far as the bridge over the River Barrow a distance of 1.1 miles, yesterday I went further to take photos of some sheep and of course they were gone.

Still, a few bullocks kindly stepped in line for me as soon as they saw the camera.

I do like the way in which the cattle that winter out in the fields have coats which take on extra hairiness and appear to the eye to be healthier than those who are penned up in sheds.

A field of reeds and rushes caught my eye and I wondered how many Brígíds'Crosses would they make, thousands if they all were pulled I imagine. By tradition the man of house pulls or cuts them in silence and hides them in a safe place to bring them indoors in late January for the women to make crosses.

Some there are who use green Willow instead and many different designs can be found, from the intricate to a the well known, four legged 'sun wheel' type.

In this house we prefer the more unusual three legged type, a design which seems to have come originally from Co. Donegal.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

I have been tagged

I have been tagged by a Lizzie of my generic medium to whom I am most grateful. Being tagged is a bit of fun and an award that has been doing the rounds since the year (?) Under the rules I could have ducked out and ignored it however, what fun would there have been in doing that I asked myself. Ha'h another confession I talk to myself - don't you ?

Firstly, here are the rules:

1. Copy and paste the pretty picture which you see above onto your own blog. [TICK]

2. Thank the person who gave you the award and post a link to their blog. [TICK]

3. Write 7 things about yourself we do not know. [See below]

4. Choose 7 other bloggers to award. [Again, see below but do not feel obliged bloggers!]

5. Link to those 7 other bloggers. [Will do]

6. Notify your 7 bloggers. [again, will do]

Ready steady here we go.

Seven things about me which blog readers don't know (gulp)

1. I spent my formative years happily in Devon and Somerset and apart from the coastal places, my favourite areas were Exmoor and Dartmoor, which drew me deeply into their wild combes and allowed me to listen to the wee folk who inhabited the banks of moorland rivers.

2. My first paid employment was at the age of 6 months old as a photographers' model. Is it then any wonder that my early retirement started when I was at 48?

3. Assisting in the design of Concorde paid my mortgage for five years. I also worked in a Nuclear Power Station for 3 months and vowed never to return! My most satisfying jobs were :-

i, The design and conversion of a standard double decker bus into a Playbus for disabled children owned by the Children's World Charity run by the late Arabella Churchill.

ii, An in-between job of working as a Stone Mason's Labourer for Richard (Dick) Dunn of Frome in Somerset, who believed in doing everything the hard traditional way. With him I learned much about stone and lots about myself.

4. I have conducted three funerals and several handfastings.

5. Neither myself nor my Father, my paternal Grandfather nor paternal Great Grandfather ever fought for their country or served in the armed forces.

6. Am the 15th cousin removed of the writer Wm. M. Thackery

7. The sea has played are large part in my life, I have nearly drowned 3 times, the first at the age of three near Milford Haven, the memory of which stays with me; as do the third at the age of 16 in the upper reaches of the River Teign. My first official paid employment : I completed 5 yrs. apprenticeship as a Ship's Draughtsman in a shipyard at Teignmouth, Devon & stayed on 1 year before seeking pastures new, of which over 15 years were connected to the sea.

7a, I am twice married and my wife Mrs Heron is a well known artist and illustrator.

7b, I take numerical liberties.

The next part of the tag after posting the picture, listing seven things, thanking the person who tagged you and putting a link to them, is to nominate seven other bloggers, notify them and put links to them in the post. I shall do this because I like doing it but I know it may not appeal to the people I have chosen. That's okay, to not do it I mean. It's a pleasant thing to do occasionally though as a way of introducing other bloggers and what they're at.

Lady North of Here Be Dreams we have a long connection and I enjoy her humour, ideas and sensitivity.

Hen at Heart and Soil because of her ethos and connectivity to nature plus her crafts of basketry, music and song.

Wildernesschic of The Path To A New Me tucked away in Wales. To change ones self is

never easy and to be encouraged is often half the battle.

Julia from East of the sun West of the moon I like her art and Cornwall with its pagan heart holds such wonderful memories for me.

Eddie at Clouds and Silvery Linings is another mischievous master (a friend of grumpy old ken) I cannot possibly leave him out.

Aíne at Whispers from The sperrins 'Aine MacAodha' an Irish poet of distinction.

Samantha A day in the life of Sam I Am A sailor in the USN with grit & sensitivity.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Sensing clouds !

I am late in updating this blog due to prevailing conditions and unrelenting precipitation.

With weather such as we have been receiving of late, torrents of rainy nights and days interlaced with frost. The sensation of having cold feet seems to be the norm it reaches beyond the cold toes and into the mind, as a sense of glumness, although fortunate and dry in our ancient hilltop home, for the extreme wetness soaks through the gravelled earth, to drain into our local river.

Still a large glass of Port at night somewhat alleviates the gloom, warming the cockles of the heart and bringing to mind memories of past summers.

The photo above, is of one of those summers where a good friend of ours cleverly stuck out her paw and seemingly sensed the clouds. Well actually she was sensing the earth energy on a mound to be truthful however it does make a novel photo.

My Summer

I like to see Rabbits

in the field scampering

And going about their habits.

I like to see the Barn Owl

swooping through the air

A low, slow cream soul.

I like to see the cricket

being played on the green

All in white and all alike.

I like to see the swifts winging

on summer days at dusk

And hear Blackbirds singing

I like to see the mists

rise up from the rheen

To gently surround the trees

I like to see a sunset flood

blue heavens tinted pink

Atop a hill and silhouette a wood.

I like to sit and dream

on dark winter nights

of summers gone

and of those yet to come.

ML 1984