From a late 19th century natural history book for children

Page 112/3 By Sea-Shore, Wood and Moorland – by Edward Step, fourth edition

‘did you ever see a squirrel’s nest – ‘Squeggies’s jug’ it is called in parts of Surrey…..

 …it is not difficult to tame a squirrel and make a pet of him, but it is a needless cruelty to shut up in a small cage a creature that is in nature accustomed to scamper freely to the topmost boughs of the highest trees, and to take flying leaps from one tree to another. Men may sometimes be seen in the streets with a very docile squirrel sitting upon their hands and offering it for sale. Do not be tempted to purchase any of these, for what looks like tameness is in reality only a want of life and spirit. The poor creatures have been poisoned – not sufficiently to kill them at once, for that would not suit the dealer’s purpose. As a rule they die a few days after they have been purchased.

 I remember many years ago my brother purchased one of these very ‘tame’ squirrels, which seemed to be the perfection of docility. But a few days into natural health enabled it to overcome the effects of the poison, and at night it gnawed through the bars of its roomy hutch, and was loose about the house. I well remember catching it the next day – aye, and I did catch it! Though this happened five and twenty years ago, I still bear the mark upon my thumb where its front teeth met in my flesh. We caught it several times with difficulty, but it regularly made its escape at night. It seemed to be perfectly mad.

 This went on for more than a week, when one evening a strange cat got into the house. In the dead of the night the two creatures met and quarrelled. There was a terrible uproar up and down stairs, and much scattering of fur. In the morning we found both dead; and so ended my first and last experience of ‘tame’ squirrels.

what people really value

My latest little find was a small cut glass broach that was looking so pretty I couldn’t leave it in the thrift shop. When I got home I fastened it to my jacket, but not before giving it a good look over. I was startled to see that beige cotton had been strung around some of the strands. I wondered why – could it be broken? But it seems fine. At first I was disappointed – the piece may have been less than perfect. But I did not notice anything amiss.

little trinkets from thrift shops can bring so much joy
shiny blues and greens

When I reflected upon it I thought that the careful threading showed just how loved that broach must have been to someone. They had spent time preserving it – perhaps it had been a present or reminded them of a special day. When I thought about it like that, I didnt mind that the threads are there, almost invisible. They are a tiny reminder that the things that we value are not always worth much in money.

There is nothing better than hopping along for the ride when a friend offers to take you on a trip! We visited the beautiful South of England, journeying to the Isle of Purbeck in the county of Dorset. We were not disappointed and found much to amuse and educate.

The beach has cliffs behind it that sometimes collapse in wet weather
The scenery around the beach at Lyme Regis is superb

Lyme Regis is famous for its fossils, but many will tell you that although they spend hours on the beach there, they don’t find a thing. However, the beach experience and the busy street down through the town is certainly worth stopping for!

Beachcombing brought to light some small, smoothed pieces of glass, rounded by the pounding waves. I thought they may look good on a homemade ceiling hanging or light shade – or even perhaps a mobile that could be hung outdoors. They are certainly unique shapes, catching the light in different shades – I thought upcycling these bits would suit someone who loved arts and crafts.

Outside the museum, a copy of the rules for payment from 1489
This announcement is a very early piece of writing

Recent landslides had claimed lives in Dorset after a wet summer – and there has been some coastal errosion at Lyme Regis. The landslide which had fallen from the cliffs turned out to be an old rubbish dump – and it had spilled its contents over the rear of the beach. One old comber, unafraid or oblivious to the danger, was picking his way through the rubbish, although it seemed to us that the stuff couldnt be more than thiry years old. We didn’t think the beach looked too clean, but it was interesting and extremely scenic. Signs made the danger clear to the visitors and there was a museum.

On a hill overlooking the village of Corfe
This was probably the largest stone building in England

A further nosey mosey saw us calling into the small village of Corfe – with its iconic ruined castle on a hill above, and a visit to the coast at Worth and Langton Mantravers outside Swanage.

This is the land of quarries and there is a rich history concerning occupations regarding stone, closely tied in with the area.  Corfe was the place where the quarrymen updated their ‘Ancient Order of Purbeck Marblers and Stonecutters’ agreements (on Shrove Tuesday every year, before a game of football). We visited the Fox pub where the meetings had always taken place and saw a few artifacts in the tiny museum opposite, which used to be the village lock up!

From the museum at Corfe Castle
The history of Stone Quarrying goes back an awful long time

A walk around the coast near Worth took us to St Aldhelms Head – a scenic path looking out over cliff tops with the blue sea fading into the sky in the distance. The view was superb and the wild flowers were dazzling.

A short distance away was the village of Langton Mantravers with two pubs, a church and a lovely little museum. Barely changed from the seventeenth century it was a little gem, and valued its quarrying history. The museum showed a 20 minute film about the stone quarries of the area and how the stone was used. Apparently there are more farming exhibits for the museum but no place to show them – so sadly they are in storage. The charming museum building had been the vicars stables, behind the church, which itself had been very small at one time, but enlarged over the centuries. One church warden is commemorated even though he was a brandy smuggler who hid his booty in the church roof. When the weight of the brandy caused the roof and walls to collapse, his identity was discovered, because his son had written down all the activities in his diary! I believe this church warden was transported to Australia!

This sculpture was in the graveyard at St Georges Church, Langton Mantravers, Dorset
The village of Langton Mantravers housed the quarry workers who toiled in the quarries along the cliffs nearby

We ended our nosey mosey at the remains of the coastal quarry at Langton Mantravers. Called Dancing Ledge I think this quarry got its name because of the scrambling and balancing needed to get across and down to the edge of the sea. It really is like dancing when you have to look so closely at where you are putting your feet!

Dancing Ledge is tricky to climb down to - but well worth the effort
The authorities have blasted out a pool in the stone to make it safe to swim

The sun shone on the glittering waves and baked the quarry stone. Some rugged types jumped into a hole which had been blasted by dynamite to allow people to swim without chancing the dangerous tides. Dorset – what a place!

Two Times A Ghost – The Battle of Olney Bridge

Oh the English Summer – what a joy to burble about on a Sunday dreaming of the England of yester-year…oh how my mind is haunted…..

To explain – I was going for a walk to Emberton because it was a nice day and I had spent too long slaving over a hot computer (so hot it got stuck). This was the first visit for me and the last outing for my baseball boots which had, like all my other cheap footwear, given up the ghost. But not before I met some ghosts of my own.

The way to the country park (read campsite) was over a bridge. On the bridge I paused because I saw a plaque, and the plaque said that on the bridge back in 1643 The Battle of Olney Bridge took place. This had my blood racing, for I realized that at this place I was in the land of my ancestors.

To explain, from being a Family Tree enthusiast I knew that at least one or two of my family were involved in the English Civil War. Unfortunately though, the more I learn about it, the more questions are thrown up because during a Civil War records are not kept properly, if at all.

The connections hinge on one Sir Samuel Luke who was the head honcho at the Newport Pagnell barracks. He was a staunch parliamentarian and Puritan – to the point that some wit wrote a satirical poem about him in a rather unflattering way. (‘Hudibras’ published after the restoration of the monarchy in 1663, by Samuel Butler, was basically a mock heroic poem criticising the Puritans, later the style was called ‘Burlesques’. He actually worked as a secretary for Sir Samuel Luke – its as if he was stalking him for a literary attack in his own home!)

Sir Samuel Luke was also the squire at the Manor of Haynes, the residence of my folks in the early 1600s. Being a smallish place the gentry would have known and employed the village people. By 1643 the Luke family had been in Haynes for two generations and my family would also have been there for two generations. Or would they?

The investigation began when I got home – the family tree at that time has some unknowns which had not been untangled, and I tried yet again to make sense of the information!

Richard (1)of Shillington, Born 1586, married a lass (Marie) in 1612 and went to live in Haynes :

It is possible that Richard (1) was the father of Matthias (1), born in B1628 Haynes (Son of Richard) but this sits badly with the surviving records of the siblings of Matthius(1). The clues to geneology are all in the names:

Richard 1)’s oldest child was Alice born 1614, named after Marie’s mother. The next child was named Thomas, possibly after Richard1s brother. Then a birth in 1619, with no name, then in 1622 Joan – the name of Richard (1)’s grandmother. A child that died as a baby was named John, probably because he was not expected to survive.Then in 1624 the initial A only – no parents named, may have been another Alice, and then at last the child with his fathers name, in 1627 a Richard. The youngest child may have been Matthius born 1628.

But the records are a jumble – nearby places show evidence of an extended family with other Richards having kids – and there are two more births recorded in Haynes having Richard as a father – which would make Richard (1) 47 when his last child was born. Not likely, but not impossible.

What is pretty certain is that Richard (1) would have been 42 when Matthias (1) was born. And this raises the question as to whether there was an unrecorded birth of a Richard (2) around the time that Richard (1) and Marie were married in 1612, their first child. This makes sense name-wise as Richard (2) would have been the eldest son with his fathers name.

The theory failed a little when I considered that if Richard (2) was born in 1612 he would only be 16 when his son Matthius (1) was born in 1628 – a young age and not following the pattern of eldest son named after the father.

But then I had to consider that a year before, the records show a Richard born in 1627, son of Richard and I wondered if this could be Richard (2)’s son, thus suggesting that Richard (2) DID exist, but was born BEFORE Richard and Marie were married in 1612 – say perhaps in 1610 (his father, Richard (1) would have been 24 years old). And Richard (2) would have been 17 when his eldest son Richard was born in 1627, brother of my ancestor Matthius (1) born 1628.

This date fits with the other dates and perhaps Richard (2) was born in another place and had his mothers surname before changing it to his fathers after they were married which is why he was not discovered in the records. Great detective work, I thought I could live with this theory!

Information from  the Parish Records of Bedfordshire
The records were not kept properly during the Civil War

But it didnt stop there of course! Confidently I decided to tackle the information I had about Matthius 1 (born 1628 in Haynes)

The records at Haynes show Matthius (1) had children, but do not mention his marriage or his wife.Again there was no eldest son named after his father Matthius. Things were looking messy again.

What I can say is that Matthius (1) was fifteen at the time of the Battle of Olney Bridge – and I am pretty sure that he was there (and obviously survived). His father may have been there – whether it was Richard (2) who would have been about 33 years old, or Richard (1) who would have been 57 had he still been alive. So there may have been one generation of my family there, or there could have been two, or three. What fascinates me is that Richard (2) is a ghost on my family tree and also a ghost of Olney Bridge. Maybe one day I will come across a record somewhere that will allow me to really see him….

Portrait by Gerard Soest, now at the Moot Hall Museum, Elstow, Bedford
Sir Samuel Luke Lived in Haynes and Cople in Bedfordshire during and after the English Civil War.

Ice Cream and Iron Age Huts

The hot summer sun eventually slid from behind the clouds and the sky changed from a blue bruise, to the blue that accompanies lashings of ginger beer. A quest was sort, a quest was made, but nothing from the quest was gained. Not materially anyway!

To explain – the Reckless Relic fraternity set out for a carboot and on arrival at the country farm destination – no one had ever heard of it!

I believe it happens frequently that someone has a good idea, tells the world via the internet, then forgets to let the world know when the idea falls through. So on a lovely hot
day we ended up in a nature reserve, the fish were jumping, the kids were playing and someone had slapped together a reconstructed iron age hut that looked like it would probably dissolve in the next squall of wind and rain. We spotted some heavy duty screws and some plastic, so I predict it will be half the disaster it could have been, but on the day of its demise it is still going to look right sorry.

In the nature reserve - hut held together with big screws
A quest was sort, a quest was made, but nothing from the quest was gained

I sometimes wonder how people managed back in those days – what a hard, short life. Nothing like the constant pressure of survival to make a person value what little they own and what little time they had got on the planet. Our ancestors would scoff at us for our little gripes about trivial things.

Mind you – I bet they wouldn’t have said no to a minty Cornetto – you know the day can’t have been a dead loss when ice cream is involved!

Sunny Days with pictures of the Queen and the Emperor

Its been a very busy summer and despite failing at dieting (although I must say I am failing ‘well’), old friends have been about and I am coming close to finishing my latest book.

Catching up with friends meant a trip to Rochester and peering into the wonderful cathedral brought me eye to eye with Her Majesty The Queen – two huge images of her in what is called the Jubilee Photo Mosaic, commissioned to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Made from five thousand photos, it was quite stunning. The artist was Helen Marshall, aided by Polly Tiles, a computer art expert. The piece is exhibited in the Nave of Rochester Cathedral from 8 to 19 August.

Jubilee Photo Mosaic of the Queen at Rochester Cathedral
Exhibited in the Nave of the Cathedral

Finding pictures for my books is never easy but I came across a fantastic artist who has allowed me to use a picture. Her name is Steph Roche and her website is:

She studied at Blackheath School of Art in London, then went on to Leeds. A copy of her contribution is shown here, I believe she has called it ‘Underworld Duality’ and for me it gives an evocotive view of early man’s perception of leadership, representated by a figure wearing stag’s antlers seated on a throne (as we know the Stag is the Lord of the Forest). So I am over the moon that Steph has allowed me to use her brilliant picture and after one more proof reading I will be publishing ‘The Emperor’ – the fourth issue in the series ‘Tarot Decoded’.

Underworld Duality is the title for this picture
An example of Steph Roche’s art. This picture will appear in The Emperor, Issue Four of the series ‘Tarot Decoded’ – This series is designed to assist in learning about the meanings of the Archetypal images of Tarot cards.

Steph Roche is currently exhibiting her amazing art at ‘Postcards From the Astral’
La Terre, 22 High Street, Glastonbury, Somerset.
From 14 Aug to 30 Sept 2012

This coin is from the fifth century AD, based on the Gupta style
The Huns were a force to be reckoned with and challenged the Romans, trying to conquer many parts of Europe in their attempt to build an empire. They feature in the Emperor as the history of empire-building is examined in this book.

Diamond Seeds Podcast Three


Andrew Robbins drops in to DJ for Diamond Seeds and presents a radio show of specially picked tunes from the best up-and-coming artists of 2012.

This show is a Cousin Special with shouts going out to Stevie G and cousin Julie who is going to the Zoo. We send a shout also to John in Wales who only just avoided a flooded caravan this summer. The Welsh summer put us in the mood for these great tunes – and we send a Happy Birthday to Chris in Wales and a shout out to the Dark Lord who had us summoned to Kent at short notice! (Big Up to the Bristol Ring Road and John’s dodgy sat nav).

Also have to mention the Leviticus crew who put on the Leftfield site in Luton while some people were running around with an Olympic Torch – the bands were great and it was great to catch up with Janet, Kath Keenan (!), Tim (thanks for letting us stay over), the performers, and the organizers who did a fantastic job.

It may be a wet summer but it wont stop the Diamond Seeds crew from loving the music. Keeping up to our usual high standards – we hope you enjoy Podcast Number 3!

Track 1 – Baloji, Going Home, from the second album called Kinshasa Succursale
Track 2 – Schiralli, The Clearingand from her debut single, May 2012
Track 3 – Veronica Falls, My Heart Beats – this track will be on their second album.
Track 4 – The Milk, Broke up the Family – released in April. The Milk are on tour – but looks like the gigs have sold out around London
Track 5 – Nostramus, Wow Interesting from the album Doomsday Dot Com on the Diamond Seeds Record Label
Track 6 – Clark, Secret – featuring Martina Topley Bird
Track 7 – Ella Jo, Brak the Sound from her third album ‘Attitude is Everything’ released on the Diamond Seeds Label.
Track 8 – Wind Up Bird, Being Dramatic – from the album The Land on Sturdy Records
Track 9 – Mystery Jets, Someone Purer released 30th April 2012 on Rough Trade Records – from the album ‘Radlands’ which came out in May
Track 10 – Boom Bip, Clocked released it on 29th April. From the compilation album called Complex on the Co-operative music label


Cleaning Up Da House

A busy day cleaning up the house meant it was time to tidy the livingroom – which was a big job. It was a joy to discover a little copper jug, which compliments my copper kettle, so now the two keep each other company on the wood-

The Scythians liked to make  elaborate patterns with the stag's tines
I think this design came from a tattoo

burner, along with my mystery candle holder. They all look good together.

As the day passed and I tackled the kitchen I found a couple of things which should have been put away! It always seems something must be left out! In this case it was four egg cups with a classic pattern in blue. No backstamp on them, and they seem quite modern, but they have an elegant, retro style. Next to them was a small vinigarette jug in the Irmari
style. I was washing it out and forgot about it on the window ledge. This doesn’t have a backstamp either, and it wobbles a little on a flat surface. Makes me think it could be quite
old, so I will look it up. Shame it has a tiny chip – its barely visible, but there all the same! Still, another reason to believe it may have seen a long life!

At long last I now have the time to get on with my current book, ‘The Emperor’ about the Tarot card of that name. I have reached the fun part where I get to choose the pictures and I am looking at lots of Scythian art. They exaggerated the horns of animals like stags and goats, making elaborate patterns which they used in tatoos!

Will I ever get round to making tea?

Diamond Seeds Podcast Two

Ds Cast Two
Ds Cast Two

The show where the cat from next door was banned, Ella Jo reminisces about a gig at Belper River Gardens and shouts go out to people around the world, including Paul the traveller who was the first traveller to visit a Himalayan mountain in 2012 and listeners in Sydney Australia and Singapore.
Ella Jo plays a track from neighbour Garrys birthday party and advises listeners to clear some space so they can get a boogie on during the show….


Send demos to
and have a look at our website –

Track 1 – Bev Lee Harling, Barefoot In Your Kitchen, from album of the same name on Wah Wah 45s Label
17th June Lovebox festival, London, 21st July Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire, 23-27th August Shambala Festival, Northamptonshire
Track 2 – Chrishopher Rees and the South Austin Horns, Warm By My Fire from the album Heart on Fire on the Red Eye Music Label
Track 3 – DJ Food, Giant re-mx featuring Matt Johnson, The Illectrik Hoax EP on the Ninja Tune label
Track 4 – Nostramus, The Ooh from the album, Earthlights on the Diamond Seeds Label
Track 5 – Fiction, Careful on the Moshi Moshi music Label
Track 6 – Ella Jo, Subplane Highway from the album Limits of Milkweed on the Diamond Seeds Label
Track 7 – The Wind Up Birds, Cross Country from the album The Land on Sturdy Records
Track 8 – Damn Damn Patriots, Family Unit on Wooden House Records
Track 9 – Kid Kombat, Chinga on Televizion Record label
web sites :
Track 10 – De La Soul’s Plug1 and Plug 2, Must Be The Music from the album First Serve on Pias Recordings


A Storm In A Tea Cup

Its a frustrating thing when you just want to get on and the weather puts a stop to your plans. Three days in a row I have had to turn off the computer because the rumble of thunder is just too close. And therein lies the frustration – I am unable to carry on with my projects and have to think about boring things like housework. I have danced in the rain already last week, and marvelled at the rainbow that went over the house – (then the sky went a very peculiar orange!)

I can see a rainbow

Plans to go camping have been scuppered (especially after seeing how badly the Isle of Wight Festival went this year). As for a getting a tan – don’t make me laugh! I’m an English girl and the weather is my constant companion.

So to make up for the lack of sun, or exercise – and the interruptions to writing my book and setting up this website, I invited my cousins around for tea, during which time my cousin Andrew was DJ for the Diamond Seeds Pod Cast (number 3) which became a Cousins Edition.

The night ended on a jolly as we looked at some family pictures I had scanned onto the computer. These were among the first pictures I had tried to restore and the early attempts were not too successful. Hence there was general hilarity at one picture of my grandmother, whose face I had cleaned up successfully, but had not got round to her neck and shoulders! (I think she was wearing a ball gown). My cousins saw the mistake and found it very funny!

Hetty Pustansky in her Ballgown
Hetty Pustansky in her Ballgown

So having an evening off with family was all very well, but now I have found another job waiting to be done – and still the thunder rolls which has me dashing for the off button and the plug socket!

Some days its better to just pick up the guitar and write a song!


A Double Rainbow means twice as much good luck?

A Double Rainbow means twice as much good luck?

Watery Sunset making for an orange and purple sky!
Watery Sunset making for an orange and purple sky!