The end of all our exploring
The day started auspiciously and unusually:
A chat at the bus stop with a direct descendant of Tom Paine:
‘My father maintained that we were related.
We did have first editions, in fact:
The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason’;
The 54A took us to Cirencester,
Where we congregated by the church,
Overhearing a conversation,
‘Hello. Pleased to meet you. I’m John the verger’;
Near where, in the aftermath of the Peasants’ Revolt,
‘Divers of the king’s lieges of Cirencester … assembled
And gone to the abbey … done unheard-of things
To the abbot and convent and threatened
to do all the damage they could’;
Fifteen years later they beheaded
The Earl of Salisbury and the Earl of Kent –
But we walked out through the Bathurst estate,
A colonial landscape for those with eyes,
To turn right by Alexander Pope’s seat,
Past vast polo grounds,
To reach a lambent pocket of arable land,
Hard by a bronze age tumulus,
Where ploughed field tesserae,
And nearby Ermine Way
Suggest a sumptuous Roman villa,
And where we processed along a gleaming pathway –
Like so many genius loci,
Hooded like cucullati against the rain,
Until a rainbow arch summoned Robin Treefellow
To declaim his hymn to Cuda,
Goddess of Cotswold fertility,
There by the fossil-full ploughed fields,
Where Penda of Mercia,
The last pagan king of England
Once held his crimson sword aloft in victory.
Spring waters trickled their music,
Rivulets reflected storm threat light
In the growing puddles of a rising water table,
While the ghosts of Welsh drovers silent stood,
In the elemental alchemy of autumn.
‘When vapours rolling down a valley
Made a lonely scene more lonesome’,
Wrote Wordsworth in The Prelude –
Well, we weren’t lonely, a group of ten
Walking through early morning mists and fog,
Discussing enclosure of Oakridge common land,
A death-threatening letter for the squire,
Demeaning shouts of ‘Who stole the donkey’s dinner?’
Loud following him on his daily rounds
Past Lilyhorn Farm and Bournes Green.
A watery sun shone vaporous
As we stopped at a spectral crossroads,
Cogitating upon the Roman villa,
Down in the nearby fields of Bakers Farm,
Then processing Neolithic track-ways,
Past a field of sheep and hidden long barrow,
The sun now silvering the streams that run
Down to the Frome and thence to the Severn.
Chip Shop Hop
A group of us gathered at the corner Bath Road and Frome Park Road, initially in search of the legendary Rodborough Chip Machine
We then flexibly followed the score from walkwalkwalk – thanks to Clare Qualmann, Gail Burton and Serena Korda – (see at the end), so as to be part of a worldwide chip shop exploration. Our chip shop heritage pilgrimage took us from Bath Road to Cainscross, to Cashes Green to the High Street, to Simpsons, to Nelson Street and so to sunset and bed.
We had a lovely time chatting with staff in all the shops and explained our quest, emphasizing that this was not, as Deb Roberts put it, anything to do with ‘Chip Advisor’. Robin Treefellow wrote a poem especially for the occasion, which he performed in two different locations, once outside a cloth mill and once, natch, outside a chip shop.
Chips are not from Hell
they come from Heaven Highest
chips are winged angels
flying with greasy wings
coated in sparkling salt
into our contentious world
where they relieve our tearful cries
for help is here
the chips, the excellent and goodly chips
we partake of their ambrosia
soaked in vinegar
stubbled in salt
hot and rewarding between the teeth
as we swallow
the chip carries us up to the golden light
in the knowledge our troubles have passed
O, heavenly chips!
Sanctus, Sanctus, Excelsus
We followed the old way out of Rodborough, taking Kingscourt Road to follow the 1300 Manor boundary. A route of old farmsteads, vanished feudal obligations and lost names.
De Rodboroughs and Gastrells, Achards and the Cynnes.
Red valerian and plump roses topped the summer limestone walls as we continued up The Street, through shady hanging beech woods and on to the site of the Horestone. Lost marker of the boundary of the manor of Minchinhampton.
Then a sharp climb, out of the shaded wood and up the dazzling limestone grassland slopes of the common. Such a richness of wild flowers. Their names as beautiful to the ear
Woodchester Great War Exhibition and Great War Walk
This is Barbara Warnes in the Stroud News in 2014: ‘At least 174 villagers were involved…in some capacity… The names of those who died are publicly and visibly recorded, but those who survived are harder to track down. As well as soldiers, sailors and airmen, these include munitions workers, Red Cross volunteers and men in the volunteer force.’
‘The exhibition is not just about a few people who achieved fame but about the many who followed orders and left little trace behind… For example, in this parish alone we have a headmaster who died at the Battle of the Somme after winning the Military Medal, unsung heroes who volunteered but were turned back, several monks from the Dominican Priory who went to the front as Chaplains, two soldiers awarded the Victoria Cross, and a Red Cross volunteer who was awarded a Silver War badge.’
It started with a glance out of the bus,
A blood red disc of a sandstorm sun,
It was ten past ten.
The light numinous rather than luminous,
As we opened the door to leave Bisley church,
Emigrant-ghosts waiting for the Bristol cart,
And a six week voyage to New South Wales.
It was twenty to eleven.
We walked through deep, shadowed holloways,
Walking the Bisley Path,
High above the valley marshlands,
Through woodland shrouded in the strange glow
Of another world’s grey-green light,
The harbinger of Hurricane Ophelia,
The wind now shrieking through the creaking trees,
Leaves falling like some autumn snowstorm.
I want to visit this spring in Painswick tomorrow. Have you ever been there? 10. St Tabitha’s Well (SO 867 097). ￼ Issues from the roadside halfway down Tibbywell Lane which leads to the mill in the valley bottom. A simple stone spout pours water into a small pool which then drains away under some stone slabs. The street name is an intriguing derivative of the well’s name! And here is a bit about st Tab. Also known as Dorcas!
Commemorated on October 25
St. Tabitha was a virtuous and kindly woman who belonged to the Christian community in Joppa. She was known for her good deeds and almsgiving. Having become grievously ill, she suddenly died. At that time, the Apostle Peter was preaching at Lydda, not far from Joppa. Messengers were sent to him with an urgent request for help. When the Apostle arrived at Joppa, Tabitha was already dead. On bended knee, St. Peter made a fervent prayer to the Lord. Then he went to the bed and called out, “Tabitha, get up!” She arose, completely healed (Acts 9:36). St. Tabitha is considered the patron saint of tailors and seamstresses, since she was known for sewing coats and other garments (Acts 9:39).