IndieAni Bones and the Squeaky Hobbit

It was the day they took me looking for the Ent and the Thunder Stone… they’d promised me three sites and they only ended up finding two. That’s all well and good, ‘cause it means we’ll have to trot back out there looking for the Hawk Stone at some point… but they’d said three. I reminded them of this as we drove home… a bit of judicious whimpering goes a long way with my two-legses… and eventually, she took the hint and pulled up in a little village street.

She said that she had been here before, but had never properly written about it, ‘cause she’d ended up in the wars that day. For me, though, it was different. They’ve never taken me to a church before and I was really curious about why they turned into churchaholics. So, I dusted off my nose, opened my ears and listened. I still think it was dead mean that they wouldn’t let me do more than stick my nose inside… they said it was so I didn’t disturb anyone, even though the place was empty… and that not everyone thinks dogs should be allowed in churches. Even though their Book says their God created me too… Dead mean.

Anyway, we had a good wander round the churchyard first, and there was plenty for me to ‘vestigate there, so we were off to a good start. Other dogs, squirrelly things and rabbits… and lots of old stones and big yew trees. That’s when she started squeaking. She likes yew trees…

They said there had been a church here since about 850 AD, but that this church was only about nine hundred years old and built by the Normans. There are old arched doorways that come from that time, but a lot of the church has been altered and added to over the years.

Then they took me round to the front porch and she did a lot of squeaking… even though she had been here before. She couldn’t have missed the big Norman doorway with its carvings round the arch, or the four heads holding up the ceiling… though she had forgotten that one of the ‘heads’ was a bat.

But ‘pparently, she hadn’t even noticed the rosette of head corbels in the middle of the ceiling where the ribs join up. It was a long time ago… they had barely started on the churches then… but she noticed this time and it really made her squeak.

I stayed outside with him as she went in. I caught a glimpse of the octagonal font then, that is six hundred years old, and the old wheeled bier they use for carrying coffins, parked against the wall.

The church was still full of greenery for Christmas, and I thought it looked really nice. Then, I heard her muttering under her breath… “They’ve modernised it…” so I beat a hasty retreat. Those are not good words for her to be saying in an ancient church… I’ve heard her talk about that before and usually with words not suited to a small dog’s ears…

When she came out eventually, she was pleased though. Said they’d done a really sympathetic job of it… no microwave ovens in the nave…and she loved the new mosaic reredos that had only just been installed.

Now, okay, she might have been talking in a foreign language for all that meant to me, so I asked. ‘pparently, a reredos is the bit behind the altar and the mosaics told the story of St Kenelm, for whom the church was named.

So, I wanted to get a look at the mosaics, which also show scenes from Jesus’ life. And I knew I’d get another look now it was his turn to go inside. He’s a pushover at table, but she’s easier to manage the rest of the time. So, I let her tell me about the carved columns and heads all around the church. Then, she told me his story while we waited.

“Kenelm was one of the most revered saints of the Middle Ages,” she said, “though he is not much known today. He was crowned King of Mercia in 798, when he was just twelve years old. Legend says that he saw a tree in his dream and climbed up into its branches. There he saw the four corners of his kingdom, and while three did homage to him, one took an axe to the tree. The young king dreamed that he flew from the falling tree in the form of a white dove, that carried in its beak a scroll, warning of the little king’s murder.

“The king’s sister had bribed her lover to kill the king. When Kenelm, out hunting, rested beneath a tree, the lover began to dig a grave. The boy-king told him that he knew of his plans, but that he would not die there, so the digging was in vain. As he spoke, he thrust his staff into the ground and it burst into leaf and flower.

“Sadly, some time later, in the hills, as the young king sung praises to his God, the lover took up his blade and cut off the king’s head and buried him where he lay.

Kenelm’s soul flew to Rome in the form of a dove, carrying a scroll that told of the murder. The Pope sent out a search party for the body and found it because a milk cow would lie on the grave every night and a shaft of light pointed the way. When the body was found, a spring rose up from the ground where Kenelm had lain.”

She told me about the old memorial built into a step too, and about the William Morris window that commemorated the war dead of the village. Then I started whimpering and trying to open the door…and after a while, she caved and opened it to let me look.

She showed me a Simeon window… they get excited about these…

…and pointed out the seventeenth century painted glass windows.

I managed to get a good look at a strangely painted memorial to a guy called Stevens Wisdom, who is kneeling and looking at the date of his own death in 1633. A bit unnecessary, I would have thought…

I would really have liked a better look, but maybe there are churches they can take me to where I can see a bit more. I can see why they like them so much. Loads of history and loads of that symbolism stuff I hear them talking about for hours when I sit under the table…

Anyway, we had a last wander in the churchyard and then headed home. It had been a good day.

I’m happy to go on adventures with them… it keeps them out of trouble 😉

But I might let her write up the churches… all these words are a bit hard on the old paws.

Wonder if she can take dictation?

Much love,

Ani xxx

The Small Dog Chills…

I thought I’d relax in the sun for a while,
Just soak up some rays, be off guard, chill and smile,
The cows have all gone from just over my fence…
No reason for me to be watchful and tense.

They’re always so curious, I’ll have you know,
Keep sticking their heads through where heads shouldn’t go,
There’s holes in the hedges where they watch and moo…
So I watch them back… well, what else can I do?

The crows are all busy, the pigeons have flown,
The sparrows and robins? Their chicks have all grown.
For once I am left with no guarding to do…
Perhaps I should dig for a bone I could chew?

I’m settled all peacefully, planning my day,
But strange smells and noises are coming my way…
There’s men in my field using sticks to hit balls!
I get to my feet, ‘cause I know duty calls.

They stayed until all of their balls had been lost…
That grass gets too long, as I know to my cost…
I just settle down when a new threat appears
A dog and a girl in the strangest of gear.

She has a hard hat and she’s wearing tight trews,
I thought to myself that her whip was bad news,
I watched to make sure that the dog was okay
He just ambled behind and they went on their way.

But when she came back she was riding a horse,
She’d set up some kind of an obstacle course,
And then, when they’d gone, machines chopped down the field.
I wondered just what else my morning would yield!

I kept my eyes open for ‘copters and fliers
And dive-bombing pigeons and fish on high-wires,
But what with the day that I’ve had until now,
I have a request… please just bring back the cow!

Tails from Westley Piddle: Henry ~ Part Five, from Zozo and Jools at Usual Muttwits

Concluding the saga. If you have missed the earlier episodes, click the links to read part one , part two, part three and part four


Hen-ree, Hen-ree Mayumi pleads as Henry raises both front paws to begin some solid hammering dead center of Tuffy’s snout holes. Her voice puts him off balance and he lands down with a stumble. More than enough time for Tuffy to scrabble away.

Wot? he growls down at her.

Fearlessly she walks right up and bumps snoutz with him.

It don’t matter, Hen-ree. Really it don’t…

Continue reading at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo

Tails from Westley Piddle: Henry ~ Part Four, from Zozo and Jools at Usual Muttwits

Continuing the saga… click the links to read part one , part two and part three…


“webothagreed,mrStevens,nodogsallowed” Revlegs whips off the cover from Halfleg and GitOrrf!

Hold on mate, it’s freezing

“whaa?” Halfleg slurs “howdid’that’muttgetthere?”

“right,that’sit!”

Gitorrf! is in the air, being carried straight to the front door by Revlegs. A moment of déjà vu as he’s slung out on his toilet brush tail into the snowlick. “thisplaceisonylforthehomeless”

I’m with Halfleg so I’m homeless, too

“stayout” Revlegs slams the door in his snout.

Slam!

Wait – wait a mo GitOrrf! scratches at the door with his front paws how’s Halfleg gonna stay homeless without me?

“andstopyerbloodyyapping” Revleg’s muffled scritching from behind the door.

Continue reading at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo

IndieAni Bones and the Thunder Stone…

We had barely got in the car than we were out of it again. Just a mile or two down the road to a tiny village and she was looking for somewhere to park. Now, I have to say that the next stone they took me to was fairly underwhelming at face value, for all it is seven feet tall. Someone built their garden wall to sort of include it, so you can only see the part that faces out onto the road and you can’t get to sniff it properly or anything. It seems quite a sad stone… unloved and unwanted somehow, yet it is still standing after five thousand years… and that really is quite strange, when you think about it.

It stands in the village of Taston, which takes its name from Thor’s Stone. Legend has it that the stone was a thunderbolt cast down by the god, although it must predate Thor’s ‘arrival’ in Britain by millennia. She said it might have been part of a larger monument, like a burial chamber or circle, of which the other stones have long since gone missing.

Yet others say that the old stones are still there… but now form part of a rather odd stepped ‘cross’, just a few yards away. The cross was erected so close to the standing stone, say the tales, to abate its evil influence. Most ancient and therefore pagan monuments were seen as evil by the church… who built their chapels on ancient sites, re-shaped ancient stones to make their crosses and even built stone circles and menhirs into the wall of their churches.

Was that, she muttered, to purify the ‘evil’ influences? Was it a purely practical re-use of sites and materials? A continuation of the old directive to take over ancient and sacred sites so that the locals would keep coming, even after the spiritual allegiance of the place had been forcibly changed? Or was there an awareness, in spite of official denial, that these sites and their stones, after thousands of years of reverence and built upon significant points in the landscape, were hallowed by the faith of the locals and the earth upon which they stand?

Surely, my two legs grumbled to herself, if the villagers had thought Thor’s Stone so evil, or the Church had believed it inert and powerless, they would simply have torn it down and smashed it to bits? Instead, they built a cross in medieval times to counteract its influence… Even to me, that seems a bit weird.

Between cross and stone, there was once a huge elm tree, where the locals say that people used to meet. Perhaps both the stone and the old preaching cross mark a gathering place too?

We walked through the village to the bottom of the hill, looking out for anything else of interest, until we came to a spring that forms a pool beneath a well. The wellhead that marks Thorsbrook Spring is not an ancient monument, but how can you date a flow of water unless artefacts are found to say how long it has followed a course or been in use? In winter at least, the abundant flow would be cause enough to settle close to the spring. Perhaps it too is older than it looks?

The well house though was only built in 1862 as a memorial to Henrietta, Viscountess Dillon, by the Victorians, who marked death in the grand manner. Now, I’m just a dog, so what do I know? Isn’t dying just a natural part of living? I can sort of understand this two-legged idea of marking a resting place or a memory, and I definitely get the old idea that the ancestors still play a part in the lives of the living… so houses for the dead make sense. But I really don’t understand these big, fancy monuments when the person isn’t even there…

The Hawk Stone [Detail]
Image: Geograph © Copyright Michael Dibb CCL

We walked back up the hill to the car. There was one last stone they wanted to find before the light failed… but try as they might, they could not find the Hawk Stone. This is a bit odd, as they are always finding hawks… but this one didn’t want to be found. Not this time anyway. “We’ll just have to come back another day and try again,” they said. I sent up a silent ‘thank you’ from the back seat… ‘cause that will mean I’ll get to go on yet another adventure soon.

Tails from Westley Piddle: Henry ~ Part Three, , from Zozo and Jools at Usual Muttwits

Continuing the saga… click the links to read part one and part two

The secret ingredient to KFC Gitorrf! is explaining through a noshful of spicy chicken strips to his bestie is chicken!

Howd’ya mean? Tuffy, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, is shaking both his head and his butt at the same time to escape from a KFC plastic bag. Half a cardboard box of chips between his chops, chips flying everywhere.

Continue reading at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo

Tails from Westley Piddle: Henry ~ Part Two, from Zozo and Jools at Usual Muttwits

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Continuing the saga… read part one HERE


“whe…wherzzz…wherzzmeBullmers??”

Outside, in the gutter, where it normally is

“givvusmeBullmers,yernastymutt”

Ain’t my problem yu dropped it, yu go get it

GitOrrf!, the scruffy-bellied Border Terrier, sits on the camp bed, Halflegs curled up on it under a blanket. Revlegs approaches, giving GitOrrf! the hard eyeballs, before gently shaking Halfleg.

“mrStevens….mrStevens” Revlegs rouses him from his Bullmers Original sniffy sleep. “Itoldyoubefore,nodogsallowedinside” he points up at a big sign on the wall.

NO DOGS ALLOWED

Halfleg peeks from beneath the blanket.

“whatdogReverend?”

“thatdog!”

“ain’tmine,Rev…nosir,yerholiness”

Revlegs eyeballs GitOrrf! who gives his best invisible look.

“arethosechickenbones,there,onthefloor?” Revlegs scritches, pointing “dog-eaten,chickenbones?”

Only me brekkers, mate


“rightthen” and GitOrrf! finds all four paws lifting into the air as sniffy Revlegs grabs him by the scruff and carries him towards the front door of the hospice. Towards the unwelcome snowlick falling outside.

Hold on a tic Revlegs, but I’m with…

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Tails from Westley Piddle: Henry – Part One

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Henry, the English Mastiff, the biggest and mildest fourlegs ’round abouts is at Westley Piddle Veterinarians for his annual rabies jab. But he wakes up to something worse. Wotz got to do with his very own plum bobs and a new nick name spreading fast.

A particularly snowlick time in Westley Piddle. That unremembered small town on the Thameslick between Bisham and Cock Marsh. Winter arrives and the snowlick falls from the sky leaving favorite squirting spots and marker posts all buried beneath it. Easy for the hindlegs who snifz particularly idiotic this time of year, mindlessly leaving random tracks all over the snowlick in Herdwick pooping park – seeing how many tracks they can kick up with thems footpaws for no sensible reason at all. That’s hindlegs for yu.

Fourlegs in winter are much more sensible, corss. They trot from A to B and trot back from B to…

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The Small Dog Introduces Henry…

Watch out tonight for the first part of Henry’s story…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Ani, the Small Dog would like to introduce Henry, from Westley Piddle… and muttwits.com.

Henry is a gentle giant with a problem… the vet.

Starting here at 9pm (GMT) tomorrow, follow Henry’s story as he faces a fate no self-respecting Mastiff should face…

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IndieAni Bones and the Ent

A couple of years ago, my two-legses got together for the Winter Solstice, which was nice. It didn’t mean presents… unless you count my share of their cheese, ham and salmon… but it did mean I got to go on an adventure with them again! They were a bit sneaky about it this time… she packed my bag with water and stuff while he took me out for a walk in the fields. So, I didn’t even know I was going until they opened the car and told me to get in! She’d come across something, doing her rummaging on the ‘puter, so they decided to go and take a look.

I managed not to sing too loudly in the back seat this time… but every time they slowed the car, I was hoping we were there. It wasn’t long, though, and we went into a wood that smelled awesome with all the mud and leaves and stuff. ‘Specially as loads of dogs seem to go there too! She said it was s’pposed to be difficult to find, this thing, but soon she laughed and said, “I think I might have found it…”. It was, after all, a bit too big to miss…

In a neat little enclosure in the corner of the wood, we found the Ent. Now, being what you might call a literary dog, this was not the kind of Ent I was expecting, but it was a big fellow. The stones are in a village called ‘Enstone’ which some people think comes from ‘Enna’s stone’, which just means a ‘boundary stone of a man called Enna’, and she sighs and says ‘they’ always say that about names ‘they’ don’t understand. She says that another possibility is that the words ‘ent’ and ‘stan’ literally mean giant stone. I like that better.

The other name for them is the Hoar Stones and there are a lot of places with this name. She read that they might be called after ‘the Great Goddess Hoeur’… but she can’t find anything else about Her, apart from the fact that She was one aspect of the Goddess in the ancient land. But she keeps finding Her name in odd places, so she’s keeping that in mind and hoping someone might know…

The stones are all that remains of a portal dolmen, built as houses of the dead, between four and a half and five and a half thousand years ago. Standing stones, one of them nearly ten feet tall, formed a chamber, roofed with a huge capstone, whose broken remains lay nearby. According to antiquarian reports and sketches, and the evidence of similar sites elsewhere in the country, the stones were almost certainly once buried beneath a mound of earth.

They let me do a bit of ‘vestigating, cause, after all, I have the nose for it. The stones reminded me of those at Rollright, all pitted and scarred… oolitic limestone she had called it there. Only three of the main stones are standing now, and one of them is broken, but I found a load of others half-buried.

The place has a real presence and the stones want to whisper to you. One tale in the village is that they are an old man and his dog turned to stone… though no-one knows why. A lot of the old circles and stones were, according to folktales, once people before they were petrified. I think I’d be petrified too if I met a dog that size!

Another story tells how the stones come down to the stream to drink… you get that a lot too. The most interesting thing about the stories though, is the one told by an old gaffer who said that the stones were the burial place of a king, ancient before the Romans came, whose body had been carried from Ditchley, along a path called Dead King’s Rise or Dead Man’s Riding. Oddly, with all this talk of travel, there are two leys meeting at the stones… and it may be these that are being remembered in the old stories.

Not a bad way to celebrate the Solstice! I didn’t want to leave, but they said we would have to come back on a warmer day… and that anyway, we still had some more stone-hunting to do 🙂

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