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      December 30th 2015   -   Letting the old year go - eccentrically ......


How totally Bizarre!   Oddball!    Most Curious!
"Slava's Snow Show" - white out in the Festival Hall, ending 2015 in a paper blizzard - and why not?



    December 29th 2015   -   Medeival Pilgrim takes shelter at the Chapel   ......

Pilgrim Steven Payne at Newland’s Chapel, Charing, Kent ©vcsinden2015

 "A modern day pilgrim arrived in Canterbury today after recreating a medieval walk to the city for the first time in 500 years.

Steven Payne, who wore period style clothing for his journey from Southampton,  slept in hedgerows, trees and even on a pub floor during the fortnight in which he crossed three counties."

  What that little quote from today's 'Kent Online' doesn't tell you is that upon St Stephen's Day, he took overnight shelter in our 12th century Chapel - the faery chapel just across the lane from the Hurst Wood., less than a hundred yards down the footpath from the Faery Circle.  You know it - Newlands Chapel - with its medieval catslide roof.

  He didn't arrive until just after dark - but here he is, safe inside the Chapel, receiving a gift of apples and oranges for tomorrow's journey. Below, he rests his very weary historically-shod feet, and shows his wonderful, heavy matted wool cloak to a young neighbour.


Pilgrim Steven Payne at Newland’s Chapel, Charing, Kent ©vcsinden2015 Pilgrim Steven Payne at Newland’s Chapel, Charing, Kent ©vcsinden2015

   Master Pilgrim arrived just after sunset, ate, wrapped himself in the cloak, slept amongst the hay and was gone again, trudging the lanes and back through Charing along the ancient Pilgrim's way towards Canterbury ....

"Former teacher Steven, 52, from Petersfield, was following in the footsteps of Carluccio de Carrera, an Italian teacher at the University of Florence who came to England in 1365 and walked from Southhampton to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket, also arriving on December 29."




The Pilgrim Steve, leaving by the main chapel door - and setting off once more - down our lane towards Charing. Good luck on the last part of your journey.
These last two lovely pictures were taken by Gail, who as hostess, rose early to bid her pilgrim farewell.

You can read the diary of Steven's journey, written and pictured as he went along here.





   December 20th 2015   -   Hoodeners over Yuletide  ......

Dobbin, the Hooden Horse – St.Nicholas at Wade perform at Herne Bay Seaside Museum, Kent ©vcsinden2015

 Hoodeners – St.Nicholas at Wade perform at Herne Bay Seaside Museum, Kent ©vcsinden2015

The Hoodeners from St.Nicholas at Wade were out and about over Yule, entertaining in their true Kentish style. Muddypond caught up with them at The Seaside Museum, Herne Bay.    (Picture below from Museum website).





Now, Hoodeners musn't be confused with Mummers, although there's no doubt that the roots are much the same.

   Mummers perform a definite play, with a familiar "In comes I, " style and traditional characters - the hero, the villain, the mollie, the doctor etc. - all recognisable types whether traditional or modernised.

    Hoodeners, on the other hoof, perform more of a topical ballad - easy to fit into a small space - and with traditional, but different, characters, based around stable life.    There'll be at least one Hooden  (St. Nicholas are proud to have three of the oldest in the country - Dobbin - used here, Satan and -      Also - The Waggoner, The Stable-lad, The Musician,  The Mollie and The Farm Labourer.

    This year, the men have to find a cheap way to fuel a huge renewable "wind turbine" - and a nervous Dobbin is fastened up to the machine so that his 'natural gasses' can be harnessed! And very noisy they were!!

Hoodeners – St.Nicholas at Wade perform at Herne Bay Seaside Museum, Kent ©vcsinden2015
Hoodeners – St.Nicholas at Wade perform at Herne Bay Seaside Museum, Kent ©vcsinden2015

   Seaside Museum, Herne Bay, Kent - the bouncing bomb - saved from the seabed.

   Above left :  Hooden Horse Dobbin has been to visit 'Dreamland' at nearby Margate as a Yuletide treat, and won't be parted from his candyfloss!

   Above right:   The characters lead old-time carols at the end of the ballad - in front of Herne Bay's Seaside Museum 'Bouncing Bomb'exhibition. One of the huge prototype bouncing bombs can be seen, conserved since its discovery on the seabed in 1997. They were tested here on the shore.

   Left:  The bouncing bomb. (Picture from Wikipedia commons)   This little museum, shop and gallery is well worth a visit. It's recently been saved from closure, restyled and run completely by volunteers.





   December 16th 2015   -   A tiny glimpse of Krakow legend ......

   Not so long back from Poland, and the city of Krakow - steeped in legend - just the way woodland faere-folk like a city to be if they are uprooted for a while. There are wonderful stories still told, century old festivals still held, magical places still visited and respected ...

Dragon water spout - Wawel Cathedral, Krakow ©vcsinden2015 Dragon water spout - Wawel Cathedral, Krakow ©vcsinden2015 Dragon water spout - Wawel Cathedral, Krakow ©vcsinden2015
Magnificent dragon water-spouts at Wawel Cathedral
Krakow Folklore Museum - root man ©vcsinden2015

 Dragons, dragons and more dragons - from genuine dragon bones to heroic tales of rescue, from dragon infested caverns to fire breathing statues - Krakow has them all ...

  Do you know of another city which still keeps a set of  DRAGON BONES, the very essence of pre-christian story and magic, hanging from the walls of its Cathedral?    How wonderful - there they are- still fastened by chains, still wondered at hundreds of years after their inception. No jealous and over-zealous gods here - simply a profound respect for the people's tales.

Krakow - beef stew in bread bowl ©vcsinden2015
Krakow treasures ......A root man at the outstanding Folklore Museum   ...   and a traditional beef stew in its bread bowl.

Dragon bones, Wawel Cathedral, Krakow ©vcsinden2015
The Dragon Bones, chained high on the soaring walls of the Cathedral


Dragon statue belching fire, Krakow ©vcsinden2015


  The Great Dragon of Wawel (the high hill on which are built both the castle and cathedral) made his appearance at the time of King Krak. As befits a city dragon, he was fed on maidens. After attempts on his life by knights and soldiers, the dragon turned his malicious eye to Krakow's only princess.

     A young cobbler named Dratewka , hearing of her plight, devised a cunning plan. He bought a sheepskin, stuffed it with black pitch, pepper and sulpherous brimstone.

    Next, he spirited the 'sheep' to the rocky lair under the castle hill. The ravenous dragon swallowed the offering and his insides began to burn. He waded into the river Vistula and drank it nearly dry - then swelled and burst.
  Despite the mess, the young couple lived happily ever after (as far as we know).


    This legend is still so venerated that below the castle by the river walk, a huge statue has been erected. He's very popular and children love to climb up the rocky plinth where he stands and pose bravely for a photograph. Every few minutes he belches gouts of flame into the sky.


  Other treasures .....

The traditional restaurants and cafes of  Krakow's Old Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz, were our sure-fire favourites. Many have Kletzmer musicians to entertain and educate the diners with their unmistakable, time-honoured style. The heart of the district is the square, oddly named Szeroka Street.

Kletzmer music group Nazzar performing in Krakow ©vcsinden2015

"Nazzar" entertain at one of the oldest restaurants in the Kazimierz district, the Klezmer House.,
where perfect roast goose was on the menu.


Krakow - favourite restaurant Once Upon a Time in Krakow ©vcsinden2015 Krakow - favourite restaurant Once Upon a Time in Krakow ©vcsinden2015
   For a less formal any-time-of-day Jewish eatery try the atmospheric "Once Upon a Time in Krakow" - formed from six tiny pre 1940's Jewish shops, the old sign boards and shop interiors kept almost intact, filled with objets d'art and remembrances from the shops themselves.

 Krakow, Kazimierz - the old Remuh cemetery ©vcsinden2015
The fascinating old Remuh cemetery, also found on  Szeroka street, was used from 1551 to 1800


Salt crystal chandelier drops at the Wieliczka Salt Mine, Krakow ©vcsinden2015 The Chapel at the Wieliczka Salt Mine, Krakow ©vcsinden2015

   Just a few miles from the city is the Unesco World Heritage site of the Kopalnia soli Wieliczka - the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Miles of tunnels carved deep underground from the grey salt as it was mined and transported. Its centrepiece The Chapel - a richly carved salt cathedral glistening under vast chandeliers formed entirely of salt crystals.

Once used by the miners, the Chapel is still very much a place of worship.

Irresistible city - Muddypond WILL return !





    November 30th 2015   -   The Hawkhurst Gang - horrid smugglers and exceptional bonfire blazers .....
The Ogham tree associated with this day is  Ruis - Elder   25th November to 22nd December. You should use Elder twigs (with tree's permission - they are tempermental), dried elder flowers or berriess for your faery magic, incense, meditation or this time of year..

Firework spectacular Hawkhurst Bonfire Society ©vcsinden2015

Hawkhurst Bonfire Society ©vcsinden2015

From "Smugglers' Britain - Guide Book - South East England"


'By the late 1840s, the Hawkhurst Gang had developed unprecedented power, and boasted that it could assemble 500 men in the space of a couple of hours.

In the absence of any effective policing, this disreputable group soon became a law unto themselves, taking without payment whatever they wished from the local farmers and merchants, and answering tolerance and patience with aggression and insult.'

Hawkhurst Bonfire Society ©vcsinden2015

Hawkhurst Bonfire Society ©vcsinden2015

    One of the very last of the extraordinary Sussex Bonfire Societies' special fire nights was held at the village of Hawkhurst this year. Hawkhurst is actually in Kent, but so close to the Sussex border that you could throw a sparkler over it - and edging the sinister Romney Marsh - notorious smuggling territory!

Hawkhurst Bonfire Society ©vcsinden2015
Hawkhurst Bonfire Society ©vcsinden2015

    These nights are simply spectacular - performed at a different village or town each Saturday night from September 4th until December 5th.

    Many of the forty societies band together to form long torchlit processions which snake up the village high streets, past local landmarks with an apparent abandonment of the 'elf n saftey' rules which would make you gasp! As will the explosions from the fire-barrels - and thrown bangers with pavement cracklers scaring the proverbial striped faery leggings off the prepared and unprepared alike.

Hawkhurst Bonfire Society ©vcsinden2015

Hawkhurst Bonfire Society ©vcsinden2015

    Although Muddypond is a faery Wood Guardian, she's happy to know that these bonfires are made from scrap originally taken from renewables.  Should our woods cease to be managed, there will be no woods, simply impenetrable forest - even our finest Ancient Woodlands need help!

    If you love traditional British celebrations, follow her advice - she's been trying to get you to go to one of these special Bonfire Society nights for a few years you know!! You might like these earlier Diaryblog pages ......

Ewhurst & Staplecross Society - click link and scroll to diary entry November 5th 2012
Robertsbridge Bonfire Society -click link and scroll to diary entry November 20th 2013
Rye Bonfire Society - click link and scroll to diary entry November 20th 2014





     November 6th 2015   -    A faery Autumn and the yellow hedgerow leaves ....


Yellow leaves in November - apploe ©vcsinden2015
Yellow leaves in November - bramble ©vcsinden2015
Yellow leaves in November - hawthorn ©vcsinden2015


Yellow Leaves, Yellow Leaves

"Yellow leaves, yellow leaves,
Wither do you blow?"
"To the gates of fairyland,
Dancing to and fro...
See we come to bring you
Stores of fairy gold, -
All the elfin treasure
That your hearts can hold.

Fairy gold, fairy gold,
In the sunset skies,
And upon the frilly wings
Of the butterflies;
So our gold we scatter
But the greater part
Is treasure for safe-keeping
In each loving heart.

Hilda W Smith 1904

Yellow leaves in November - hazel ©vcsinden2015
Yellow leaves in November ©vcsinden2015
Yellow leaves in November -cornus, wild in the woods  ©vcsinden2015
Yellow leaves in November - wild cherry ©vcsinden2015
Yellow leaves in November - oak - duir ©vcsinden2015

Leaves in my hedgerows, on the quarry path in Hurst Wood, and the orchard, first week of November

Faery-Guardian Martin on autumn patrol ©vcsinden2015

Faery Guardian Martin, who apparently believes in camouflage ..... !!

Faery-Guardian Martin - donning his camouflage ©vcsinden2015




  November 1st 2015   -  Socks,  All Hallows' Eve,  or the feeling after the night before .....




  WHOOT  for the SOCKS !!  
(A new infatuation to rival that of the Hooden Horse !)

  Faere Folk enjoy a wee bit of entertainment - especially on and around their special solstice eves.
Thus it was that, come the 30th of October, Muddypond flitted for the umteenth time to the Canterbury Festival.

    There in the 'Speigeltent' she found the 'Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets'.    She laughed - oh how she laughed - and vowed she must share a snippet of this exhilarating experience with you. Only a snippet mind - for you HAVE TO go and see these scintillating socks for yourself !

Then came Samhain.

Pumpkin faces ready for lighting - to keep mischievous spirits from harrassing the visiting ancestral souls

The Hanged Man
and The Warning !  

The 'Smarden Bell' just up the lanes from my wood
takes real ale and the night of
All Hallows
very seriously indeed!



    Below is Muddypond's magnificent midnight pumpkin,
keeping the witching hour safe for the waiting spirits of All Souls' Day.

His innards made a fine late supper - homemade granary bread and pumpkin soup with stilton.





     October 15th 2015         After the Autumn Equinox  ......
(The Ogham tree associated with this day is  Gort - Ivy   30th September to 27th October. You should use Ivy flowers, leaves or woods for your faery magic, incense and this time)  

This little gallery is a bit behindhand I know - but - ah well ..........

Oooooh looook!!!   Hoodens !!!!!    Yeay!!!Hooden Horses head the ceremony at Woodchurch Morris Men Autumn Equinox  ©vcsinden2015
Let the proceedings begin! .........

The Autumn season begins for us faere-folk, not with the first leaf-fall but with the Autumn Equinox.
And with the equinox, not so far from my woods, comes the Woodchurch Morris Men celebrations.
Woodchurch is a historic and characterful village in the Weald of Kent,
boasting two side-by-side, real-ale pubs who love to welcome festivals!Woodchurch Morris Men Autumn Equinox  ©vcsinden2015Wolf's head & Vixen at Woodchurch Morris Men Autumn Equinox  ©vcsinden2015
Wolf's Head & Vixen musicians from Rochester follow Woodchurch Morris as the parade moves through the park

Gunther at Woodchurch Morris Men Autumn Equinox  ©vcsinden2015 Old palace Clog ladies at Woodchurch Morris Men Autumn Equinox  ©vcsinden2015

Gunther and the Oboe joined the party -
high stepping solo folk dancing from Germany

Ladies from Old Palace Clog, Croydon, enjoy the Autumn sunshine.


Mad Jack's Morris - Lintel -at  Woodchurch Morris Men Autumn Equinox  ©vcsinden2015
Woodchurch Morris Men Autumn Equinox - the new Hooden Horse ©vcsinden2015

Experienced Hooden Horse 'Lintel' from Mad Jack's Morris, Hastings.
His head was made from the lintel of a 17th century doorway!

  New Colt on the Block - Woody the Woodchurch Morris horse - replacement for their old, old fellow, sadly spirited away from his Kentish home to Belgium.

Hussar for the Hoodens!!!!Woodchurch Morris Men Autumn Equinox  ©vcsinden2015