Of Goats & Smells & Alchemy…..‘Silver On The Tree’….‘Tombs of the Isles’ On Sanday….Nothing Against Pheasants – But…..

by Bernie Bell - 09:14 on 11 February 2023

Of Goats & Smells & Alchemy….

Friend Wendy told me she’s making cheese with the milk from her goats…” taking milk from my lovely goats and making alchemy with it.”

I answered….

“Exactly – and cooking  is a form of alchemy.  I wrote something along those lines in this piece…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/10/01/science/ 

Here’s the relevant bit…

‘Equally, whoever first thought of taking grain, grinding it up, adding water, baking it at just the right heat, to produce…bread – mainstay of the human diet.

I keep thinking of the thin line between science and alchemy.  To me, cookery is science, or alchemy.  You take a motley set of ingredients, put them together the right way, and you have lovely food, put them together the wrong way, and it’s yukky.  It’s all to do with chemical reactions, and temperature.    A cheese sauce, in particular.  That may all sound a bit strange, but I hope you see what I mean.”

And then she sent me one of her wonderful Wendy poems….


People say they smell 

my goats smell

of hair and hay

give nibbly kisses 

and love

to be scratched 

between their horns 


with unspoken longings 

and loving 

in their green brown




springing white 

and fresh as daisies 


and cheeses 


in my kitchen 

the alchemical force 

surprising me 

with its easy flow 

as I smile 

and smell 


Wendy Alford     2nd February 2023


‘Silver On The Tree’….

The last volume of ‘The Dark Is Rising’ – it’s Midsummer’s Eve - Will is reading ‘Gerard’s Herball’…. https://www.rct.uk/collection/1057467/the-herball-or-generall-historie-of-plantes and he reads aloud the entry for Woad.

A few years ago someone gave us a Woad plant.  Looking up how to care for it, was when I found that the name Glastonbury translates as  'place where the woad grows'


I love these connections – Glastonbury is also connected with Avalon, of Arthurian legends …….


And the Welsh Connection….


The weave ….continues.

I planted the Woad in a sheltered spot, and it grew and flowered.   I left it to go to seed, hopefully, but it was one of those plants that only lasted a year in our weather-and-sea-wind battered garden. Still - I like it that our garden, for a time, was a 'place where the woad grows'.

A recurring action through the series of volumes – someone un-sheaths a stem of grass and nibbles it.  I remember doing that as a child, to taste the sweetness.

Then, the mention of Scarlet Pimpernel and Sycamore flowers. I thought – focusing on plants - what will this lead to?

Back to ways of viewing Time …. http://www.spanglefish.com/berniesblog/blog.asp?blogid=16134

Will says to Merriman… 

For all time co-exists’, you said , ‘and the future can sometimes affect the past, even though the past is a road that leads to the future.”

I thought of friend Fred’s future poet….

Fred wrote to me….

“ If I were to give my honest impression of what happened (as opposed to a sensible psychological explanation), I would say that my epic poem Genesis was dictated to me by a poet in a future that will not now come about at all because I published the poem.”  http://frederickturnerpoet.com/?page_id=166

I replied….

“Indeed, or, it might come about after all.  That's the whole, "Do we mess with what we see as the 'future', or not?" thing.  This is probably teaching my Grandma to suck eggs, but I'll go ahead anyway.......when people 'see' a future, of course, it's only what might be.  It's not carved in stone, and it's foolish to think that it is.  Doing so, can cause a lot of problems.  If a person thinks that something in the future is set, bound to happen, and they therefore either try to change it, or accept it in a defeatist sort of way, it might actually make it happen, or not, but either thing, is not a good idea, as what has been 'seen', is only a possibility, possibly among many possibilities.  You'll know this.  And it's a recurring theme in the movies! 

When I was young, as in, very young, a very small child, I started to know about things which would happen.  I also dreamt things , which then happened.  This kind of thing, was among a number of things, which used to happen to me, and around me, and it freaked me out and frightened me.  So, for many years, I tried to block the whole thing, not always successfully, as these abilities, will out, one way or another.  But I didn't like it, and would have preferred that it didn't happen.  In recent years, due to a series of experiences, I have not only accepted all this, but am very happy with it, happy to 'walk in Spirit'.  The main thing about the whole time shift, time switch  kind of stuff, was, that I accepted that these things were either going to happen exactly as I'd seen or dreamt them, or maybe something very near, very similar, or not quite what I'd 'seen', in a nut shell, whatever was actually going to happen, would, so me fretting about it, or trying to do anything about it, was not only useless, but might be counter-productive.  This helped a lot.  It happens now, and I look at it, see what I make of it, and wait and see what will happen.  I seems to be the best policy. 

Enough of me.

If you're interested in this theme, you could read a book called 'The Strangers' by Matthew Manning.  This tells of how, when Matthew was growing up, he and his family lived in a house which would be said to be 'haunted'.  The man 'haunting' the house, Mr Robert Webb, didn't see it that way, as he saw it, what were all these 'strangers' doing in his house?  This is why Matthew called the book, 'The Strangers'.  It's a very interesting read.  Not so much about futures and present and them effecting each other, as what's happening when people 'see' people from other times. Mr Robert Webb, sees these people in his house, what do they think they're doing there?  the Manning family, saw Mr Robert Webb, and were effected by his presence in a number of ways.  Fortunately, Matthew is someone with the ability and awareness to deal with this in a kindly and careful way.  In fact, reading' The Strangers' helped me a lot to deal with this stuff.  I thought, "If Matthew can do that, I can do that".  Matthew now gives Healing, and is well known for this.  I’ve met him, twice, and he's a very good man, not someone to make things up.  Anyway, why make up stuff like that?  It doesn't make life easy, and he had a terrible time of it when he was young, trying to cope with all the things which happened around him.  I also was at University with someone who was at school with Matthew, and he told he about the stuff that used to happen, there.  I'm rambling a bit, again!  Anyway, an interesting read, an interesting man.  And the link, of course, is with the ideas about time, shifting, moving, being, not necessarily going from A to B to C etc.

I started by saying, "Indeed" but that your publishing the poem, didn't necessarily stop the poet in the future from doing so.  Maybe he/she produces other poems, which are published, or not, and maybe the one which you published, not being part of the opus, doesn't matter.  Maybe 'your' version, gets lost, disappears in the years in between, and the 'future' poet gets to publish it anyway, as their own.  All those 'maybe's', we just can't know.  Why would he/she dictate it to you, if that meant losing it for him/her self?  I don't know, I'm just playing with thoughts, here.  Anyway, it was dictated to you, therefore meant to be made public now, so there must be a reason for that, even if it means that it doesn't 'happen' in the future.  All you can do, is what you do.  What other people do, is what they do, which includes dictating the poem, to you. That's another bee I have in my bonnet - whatever happens, is what's meant to happen, otherwise, something else would have happened.  That's logic.  Plain logic.  Even if it's something pretty dreadful, it's exactly what is meant to happen, at the time, or .......something else......would have happened!  My Mum used to say "There must be a reason for raindrops to fall, and there must be a reason , for falling in love."  I think it's from a song, but it's a very good thought.  I was very lucky in my parents, who were from a long line of cranks and nutters, so they didn't take me to a psychiatrist, they saw that I was, mostly, a happy, sociable child, and let me get on with it.  They did try to get rid of the spirit presences in the house where we lived, which isn't always a good idea, but it didn't work anyway.  They were Catholics, so they had an exorcism, not a good thing.  If we meet a troubled person, we don't whack them across the face, and tell them to clear off, which is what an exorcism does, so why do it to people who don't happen to be in a body?  Rambling, again

Keep on, keeping on, and, in case you do so, don't worry about pre-empting your future poet person, I'd say it's all working out, and has worked out, how it's meant to.  Whatever that may be!

If we were all v.v. careful about how we might change things, we'd have to shut ourselves in a cupboard, for life, but then, that would change something.  Do you like 'It's a Wonderful Life' with Jimmy Stewart?  One of my favourite films.

Stay out there


Another piece about the convolutions of Time by Fred…. http://frederickturnerpoet.com/?page_id=101


‘Tombs of the Isles’ On Sanday….

Kelp pits….Pre-historic settlement…Art & Archaeology….



‘Raised eyebrows’ at the Ness last year….  http://www.spanglefish.com/berniesblog/blog.asp?blogid=15841


Nothing Against Pheasants – But…..


I received the following email from ‘Wild Justice’…. https://wildjustice.org.uk/

“Good morning! Yesterday we sent a list of 16 questions to Natural England about their role in protecting sites of conservation importance from the harmful impacts of releases of non-native gamebirds, Pheasants in this case. You may remember that back in October 2020, Wild Justice secured a legal victory when Defra promised to introduce regulations on the scale and nature of gamebird releases near sites of high conservation importance - click here.

That action by Wild Justice secured changes to the regulations about how many gamebirds can be released in or near sites of conservation importance and the actions that landowners must take when releasing non-native species such as Pheasants and Red-legged Partridges. Let's be clear, these were the biggest changes in regulation of gamebird releases ever seen in the UK.

However, we believe that the regulations are a good start but are very weak. They are obviously much better than nothing but they are a start not an end point. And the rules and regulations are only ever effective if they are enforced by regulators.

The questions we sent to Natural England yesterday relate to a pretty wood on the edge of Dartmoor, called Dendles Wood. This wood is part of the much larger Dartmoor Special Area of Conservation, it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and part of the wood is owned by Natural England and is a National Nature Reserve. So, Natural England should know all about it as a landowner and a regulator.  We say that, but curiously the Natural England website says that the four land parcels that make up the SSSI were last assessed by Natural England over a decade ago. Can that be right? That's one of the questions we have asked.

Why are we asking about Dendles Wood?  Our attention was brought to it by a recent, high-profile, legal case where a local land owner, Alexander Darwall, won a court case where he sought to limit wild camping on his land - click here.  Mr Darwall's Blachford Estate owns parts of Dendles Wood and there is a Pheasant release pen very close to the wood. 

People visiting the area say that there are lots and lots of Pheasants on the adjacent moorland and in the wood itself. Given the conservation importance of the wood for rare invertebrates, mosses and lichens we want to know what Natural England is doing to ensure that the conservation value of this designated site is protected.

You can read more about Dendles Wood and read the letter sent to Natural England yesterday, with its 16 questions, on our blog - click here.  We'll let you know what they say.

If you like what we do and would like to make a general donation which will be used across our range of work, then please consider donating through PayPal, bank transfer or a cheque in the post - see details here.

That's it for now. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn't do any of this without you.    

Thank you,

 Wild Justice (Directors: Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay).”


Here’s one I made earlier…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/02/27/do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep-do-emoji-people-emote/


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