Friday, 25 February 2011

Teatime in the Execution Chamber

There was very low cloud on Carningli yesterday, but I went up for a walk anyway -- and became enveloped in thick mist and rain on the top.  There was a south-westerly wind, and the only place where I could get some shelter was that rather spooky place which I refer to as the Execution Chamber.  (That's where a lady on one of my walks almost freaked out, and told me afterwords that it was a terrible place where people had been killed.......)

Since there is an Iron Age hillfort on the summit, and since the Iron Age people were rather brutal towards one another, it's inevitable that there must be some spot on the mountain where enemies would have been executed and maybe where human sacrifices were conducted.  It's just below the main summit, on the north side, on the track leading to the "village".

Anyway, I hunkered down and enjoyed my hot chocolate and nibbles in the shelter of an overhanging rock, out of the wind and rain -- and it was very pleasant indeed, with no moanings or howlings, and not a ghost to be seen anywhere.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

On Angel Mountain is ten years old

I have just realized that "On Angel Mountain" was first published -- with a degree of apprehension -- in 2001.  That's ten years ago.  A lot has happened since then -- including a Corgi contract, large print and audio versions, and seven printings.  Total sales so far are over 20,000, and the title is still going strong.

I hope I don't have to do another printing this year -- not sure that the house can take the extra weight.....

Martha and the Whipping Cart

I'm often asked what the tradition of the whipping cart was.  One of the key episodes in "On Angel Mountain" is that in which Martha is dragged behind the whipping cart and scourged by the henchmen of the evil magistrates.  This sort of public (and extremely painful) humiliation was normally reserved for women of low status who were found guilty of relatively minor misdemeanours -- it would have been virtually unheard of for a female member of the gentry to be subjected to such a whipping.  That is why Martha feels so soiled by the experience, quite apart from the fact that her back is striped and bleeding -- and why, in the end, the crowd gives Martha its sympathy and turns against the magistrates.  I found this old illustration:

Friday, 11 February 2011

The Carningli throne

I have been looking again at this strange "seat" on the south side of Carningli, just a few yards west of the highest "ty unnos" ruin on land belonging to Gelli.  It is nestled in the lee of a slight ridge, which means it's quite sheltered from the westerly winds, and it commands a fantastic view down into the valley.  But what on earth is it?  The "seat" is a massive flat slab of rock big enough to seat two people, and it's incorporated into a ruinous small building that must have had original dimensions of c 2x3m.  Just the remnants of the walls are left.

I thought at first that this might have been the toilet or "ty bach" -- but that's extremely unlikely.  For a start, it's on the windward side of the house, and it's above the catchment for the spring used for the cottage's water supply.  And a toilet has no room for a great flat slab of rock -- what you need is a wooden seat high enough to allow a bucket to be placed beneath it. 

I think it might have been a sort of mini-scullery or dairy, with the stone slab used for storing and cooling milk, butter, cheese etc.  Very strange.  More romantically, let's just think of it as a throne, designed by nature (and with a little help from the locals) for sitting and enjoying the view.

New image for Martha

Some time ago I put up a few photos which might "fit the bill" with respect to the physical appearance of Mistress Martha.  None of them was quite right ....

But how about this one?  I found it on some free web site somewhere.  The period is about right -- she is wearing a Regency dress.  No idea who she is, or the name of the artist...... but she is young, black-haired, and very attractive.  She's looking at the artist in a way that is direct and sexy -- and even provocative.  She's not at all demure and retiring, and I quite like the appearance of self-confidence that I associate with Martha's character.

Just an idea....