Church of St Mary the Virgin, Adderbury

Church of St Mary the Virgin, East Adderbury.
Church Going
by Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

Once I am sure there’s nothing going on 
I step inside, letting the door thud shut. 
Another church: matting, seats, and stone, 
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut 
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff 
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ; 
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence, 
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence, 

Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new-
Cleaned or restored? Someone would know: I don’t. 
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few 
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
“Here endeth” much more loudly than I’d meant. 
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door 
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence, 
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for. 

Yet stop I did: in fact I often do, 
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for; wondering, too, 
When churches fall completely out of use 
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show, 
Their parchment, plate, and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep. 
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places? 

Or, after dark, will dubious women come 
To make their children touch a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some 
Advised night see walking a dead one? 
Power of some sort or other will go on 
In games, in riddles, seemingly at random; 
But superstition, like belief, must die, 
And what remains when disbelief has gone? 
Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky,

A shape less recognizable each week, 
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who 
Will be the last, the very last, to seek 
This place for what it was; one of the crew 
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were? 
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique, 
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff 
Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh? 
Or will he be my representative, 

Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground 
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt 
So long and equably what since is found 
Only in separation – marriage, and birth, 
And death, and thoughts of these – for whom was built
This special shell? For, though I’ve no idea 
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth, 
It pleases me to stand in silence here; 

A serious house on serious earth it is, 
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies. 
And that much never can be obsolete, 
Since someone will forever be surprising 
A hunger in himself to be more serious, 
And gravitating with it to this ground, 
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.

Ride a cock horse

to Banbury Cross.

Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;

Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.

The origins of this rhyme are uncertain.

Banbury used to have several crosses: the High Cross, the Bread Cross and the White Cross until they offended puritan sensibilities and were destroyed around 1600.

The present cross dates from 1859 to commemorate the wedding of Victoria, the Princess Royal , to Frederick of Prussia whose coat of arms were blocked out during World War 1.

So removing and defacing statues by those gifted with moral certainty is nothing new.

In memory of Peter Firmin. 11 December 1928 – 1 July 2018

The Soup Dragon and the Clangers


Basil Brush

Madeleine the rag doll, Gabriel the Toad

Professor Yaffle

The Iron Chicken

Dai Station, Idris the Dragon, Jones the Steam

Noggin the Nog, Thor Nogson, Olaf the Lofty, Graculus, Nogbad the Bad

Pippin, Tog, Mr & Mrs Pogle


“Peter Firmin did more to influence British children in the late 20th century than anyone else.”

Christmas Landscape by Laurie Lee

Tonight the wind gnaws
With teeth of glass,
The jackdaw shivers
In caged branches of iron,
The stars have talons.

There is hunger in the mouth
Of vole and badger,
Silver agonies of breath
In the nostril of the fox,
Ice on the rabbit’s paw.

Tonight has no moon,
No food for the pilgrim;
The fruit tree is bare,
The rose bush a thorn
And the ground is bitter with stones.

But the mole sleeps, and the hedgehog
Lies curled in a womb of leaves,
The bean and the wheat-seed
Hug their germs in the earth
And the stream moves under the ice.

Tonight there is no moon,
But a new star opens
Like a silver trumpet over the dead.
Tonight in a nest of ruins
The blessed babe is laid.
And the fir tree warms to a bloom of candles,
And the child lights his lantern,
Stares at his tinselled toy;
And our hearts and hearths
Smoulder with live ashes.

In the blood of our grief
The cold earth is suckled,
In our agony the womb
Convulses its seed;
In the first cry of anguish
The child’s first breath is born.

To Autumn

Ode to Autumn

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells”

John Keats

Chipping Norton Invitation Aunt Sally League

Aunt Sally is a traditional Cotswolds/Oxfordshire summer game, still played in many pubs in the area.

The dolly (a 10cm high ball or skittle) is placed on a metal spike normally around 3 foot tall. Players (typically two teams of 6) take it in turns to throw 6 sticks at the dolly. The aim is to knock the dolly off the spike, without hitting the spike.

It is a fun way to spend a lunchtime or an evening outside at a pub, as you discover just how hard it is! Well worth trying if you’re in a pub with a court.

The game of Aunt Sally goes back at least as far as the 17th Century. It may have been introduced by Royalist soldiers during the English Civil War when Charles set up court in Oxford.

beer and skittles
Modern rules of play

Two teams of eight players throw six sticks each per leg. The game is played over three legs. The largest number of dolls scored per team wins each leg. If there is a tie in the decisive leg, each team can throw three sticks and then one until there is a decisive result. In the league system, however these days legs can be tied, with two points being awarded for a leg win and one for a draw. If a player fails to score in a leg, it is called a blob with the ultimate embarrassment of a three blob game often being published in the local newspapers sports section. It is a custom that the winner of the fourth (beer) leg is bought a drink of their choice by a member of the opposing team.

A Shropshire Lad

Alfred Edward Housman, A Shropshire Lad. 1887

“To skies that knit their heartstrings right,
To fields that bred them brave,
The saviours come not home to-night:
Themselves they could not save.

It dawns in Asia, tombstones show
And Shropshire names are read;
And the Nile spills his overflow
Beside the Severn’s dead.

We pledge in peace by farm and town
The Queen they served in war,
And fire the beacons up and down
The land they perished for.

“God save the Queen” we living sing,
From height to height ’tis heard;
And with the rest your voices ring,
Lads of the Fifty-third.

Oh, God will save her, fear you not:
Be you the men you’ve been,
Get you the sons your fathers got,
And God will save the Queen.”

The World of Stanley Unwin

“Hi ho
and a jolly welcode
to all you surfwide’n interwebber lopers.
Here beholdy manifold things
Stanley Unwinmost
– all deep joy
and thorkus
for great laugh’n tittery.

O yes.”

Stanley Unwin.
The man who inspired John Prescott to be the great orator that he is today.

In this clip we hear New Labour’s Devolution plans explained:

Reasons to set your location to: Royston Vasey

Sorry, Stumbleupon no longer exists – it was a great online community  similar to (but before) Tumblr until the people who ran it broke it. 

SU Population = 5

Calling all stumblers:

Move to Royston Vasey, you know it makes sense.

Imagine if you move to Royston Vasey you will:

1) Be able to tell foreigners that they won’t have heard of where you live ‘unless you are local’
2) Politely decline to post your location on people’s guest maps , because ‘Where I live isn’t listed.’
3) NOT appear on google earth and therefore be safe from spy satellites,
4) Never leave,
5) Go swimming in our incredibly shallow gene pool.
6) er…
7)…that’s it

The Glorious Twelfth (of August) Site no longer active so this Wikipedia page is a good alternative:

Lagopus lagopus, the Red Grouse

From the page:
“The Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus) is a medium-sized game bird found only in the British Isles, being a subspecies of the Willow Grouse of Europe, Asia and North America.

It breeds on the heather moors of northern Britain and its numbers are carefully maintained, despite the annual slaughter, by managed breeding and the controlled burning of the heather to provide the variety of stages of growth in the heather which suits the birds best – young shoots for food, mature growth for shelter, and clearings for the chicks and young birds to sun themselves in.

The grouse are allowed to breed unmolested and the season’s chicks will be fully mature by the beginning of August, when the close season comes to an end on the 12th of the month.”

The occasional curry could prevent Alzheimers | Mail Online

From the page: “Curry could help improve mental agility and stave off Alzheimer’s disease, it has been claimed.

Scientists found those who ate the dish as little as once every six months did better in tests than those who had it never or rarely.”

Put the toilet roll in the fridge, I’m off for a curry…

I am a Fox I am a Wild Fox…

[site no longer exists so  here’s a link to it on]

From the page:

“But see the next picture:
It was taken a long, long time ago,
using a special Fox Camera with a
ginger-beer bottle for a lens.
It’s not a great picture,
but at least you can see
The Jub Jub Bird.

See how big it is!

Not all foxes have cameras.
That’s why most foxes can draw well.

Be good to foxes and foxes will be good to you.
Don’t be afraid of the Jub Jub Bird,
and there will be nothing at all to fear.

I am a fox.

I have a life, like you have a life.
You think I am beautiful,
but do you know how beautiful I think you are?

Jub Jub Birds know a lot of things
which they tell to all Foxes.
They say that when you see yourself
in everything you see,
and everything you see in you,
then you will be happy
and being happy, you will be a bit like
a Fox. ”

This site is a bit ‘twee’ but enjoyable nonetheless, especially as I’ve seen a lot of a vixen and her cub in my garden recently.