Saturday, 28 May 2016

On hearing the first cuckoo

This morning I was awakened by the song [ is that the word?] of a cuckoo just outside my bedroom window. We used to hear them commonly in the surrounding woods but I did not hear one at all last year.

So I was delighted to hear his cry as he continued to fly around and I hope he finds a mate. As a child I chanted the rhyme

The cuckoo comes in April
And sings her song in May
In the middle of June
She changes her tune
And in July she flies away.

I suppose that then I did not know that it is the male who sings cuckoo while the female sings a bubbling song. But nevertheless we are in May, the sun was shining and the cuckoo was singing.

There are many songs and poems about cuckoos. Perhaps the oldest is the medieval "Summer is icumen in, Loudly sing cuckoo" while in 1912 Frederick Delius wrote On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, which is a tone poem based on  an old Norwegian folk song called ‘In Ola Valley’.

There are many traditions too about what to do when you hear your first cuckoo of the year. A friend told me today that  when you hear the first cuckoo you should turn any money in your pocket. This was new to me but on looking it up I found that he was right.

 In fact I read that it is very important that you have money in your pocket. On hearing the cuckoo you should then take the money, turn it over and spit on it and this ritual will bring you good fortune and riches in the forthcoming year. So now I know.

On the historical front I am working on a presentation entitled The Streets of Goole which I am giving to the Boothferry History group on June 13th. I am looking through my old pictures to find some of the less familiar streets and am aiming not to feature Aire Street, Boothferry Road and Pasture Road as I have so many pictures of these streets which I have shown previously.

A very early view of Boothferry Road, Goole

An early view of North St, Goole







Thursday, 26 May 2016

Richard Champney of Ellerker

At last it feels like summer and time for gardening and  barbecues.

Last week I went on an evening visit to Wressle Castle. And what a wonderful transformation. Instead of the head high Himalayen balsam and the dark interior of a previous visit we were greeted by new grass and a magnificent castle with sparkling stonework, information boards and a real feeling of how the castle must have looked in the time of the Percy family. I can thoroughly recommend a visit when the castle is open

Read more about it in this weekend's Yorkshire Post

http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/our-region/east-yorkshire/farmer-ensures-centuries-old-wressle-castle-is-restored-1-7922229

or in the June edition of the Howdenshire Living magazine. This also includes my latest profile piece on local villages. I have written about Asselby and have already submitted an article on Ellerker for next month.

During the research for the history of Ellerker I was fascinated to come across references to the journals of Richard Champney. He lived with his wife and ten children in Ellerker Hall from around 1820 until the 1850s. Richard was born in London but as a child went with his family to America where his surgeon father had inherited 42000 acres. Richard returned with his mother and went to school in England. He later joined the army and served as an officer in the Peninsular Wars. After leaving the army he settled in Ellerker where he compiled his diaries into journals. These are in the university of Delaware library and I have written to the library about the possibility of obtaining copies.

Also last week we had a visit from the North Duffield history society to our small museum. This went very well and we were particularly pleased that the fire we lit in the main fireplace did not smoke. It has undergone repairs since we last had a group round and they found it almost impossible to linger upstairs  where we have a small toy collection.

The garden is doing well and I have planted spinach and carrot seeds in the raised bed. The chickens too are thriving although have taken to wandering onto the road. Not a good idea.


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