Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 18 March 2016

I Bring Thee Draughts of Milk

Thou know’st that twice a day I have brought thee in this can
Fresh water from the brook as clear as ever ran;
And twice in the day when the ground is wet with dew
I bring thee draughts of milk, warm milk it is and new.
From WilliamWordsworth’s ‘The Pet-lamb, a Pastoral'

This is a delightful pastoral scene and a picture of innocence; I do so hope this lamb grew to give lots of wool and is memorialised in many a fine knitted garment. I prefer not to think of the lamb we enjoy as a roast dinner on Easter Sunday. It’s all about sacrifice and rising again, so if indeed this little lamb was not of the woolly jumper variety (pun intended) let this instead be its memorial.

I’m very into poetry at the moment, having just completed an online course about Literature and Mental Health with Warwick University. William Wordsworth popped up more than once on the course, and I must admit I’m seeing some of his work with new eyes, whilst at the same time trying to learn his poem ‘Daffodils' by heart (I’m halfway there!), as encouraged in the course. The poem above can be read in its entirety here, but I first found it in one of my vintage poetry books, collected over the years. This one was, ‘A First Poetry Book’ by M.A. Woods, a wonderful little tome published in 1905 and with the name name 'Vera Allcock 1908’ written inside, in sepia ink. The first edition was 1886, and the preface was written by Miss Woods herself, the Head Mistress of the Clifton High School for Girls. In it she acknowledges the contributions of a variety of poets, some unfamiliar and some well-known, such as Mr Browning, Mr Lewis Carroll and Mr Kingsley. It’s a little treasure indeed.

Wordsworth imagines the thoughts of a little country girl he sees with her orphaned lamb, and dreams that she will one day make it her pet when its limbs are strong enough to pull her little cart. Again, we have no idea what really happened; that child could just as easily have been helping to fatten the lamb for for her family’s Easter feast.

Now that this particular rural idyll has been shattered, lets banish the thought and move on to other pet lambs, past and present.

Here is the author of this blog with a very soft and cuddly pet lamb, about twenty-three years ago. My first headship was in a small Wiltshire village school, where many of my pupils were from farming families; it was inevitable that we should have a visit from a newborn lamb during Spring.

It didn’t follow anyone to school, and it wasn’t against the rules, in the manner of the Nursery Rhyme ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’. You will also note that its fleece was not as white as snow, but a deep chocolate brown-black (as was my own hair in those, happy days). I still remember how warm and soft the lamb was.

We lived very near those mystical places, Stonehenge, Avebury Stone Circle and Old Sarum and as a family we would often visit them. Sheep grazed happily on both Old Sarum and at Avebury, and here are some Avebury Stone Circle Spring lambs from about a quarter of a century ago, and already quite mature. A restful, bucolic scene and one of my favourite photographs.

This grass is tender grass, these flowers they have no peer.
And that green corn all day is rustling in thy ears.

A couple of years ago we visited London to see our children and grandchildren and we enjoyed a rare day out together at Mudchute, a city farm set in the shadow of London’s Docklands area. Click here to find out more about this remarkable place. On the website there is an invitation to 'select an animal from the menu on the left’ which, unfortunately, made me think of food again. Quickly, move on! There are twins, in the prompt image, and our own twins had a lovely time at Mudchute.

If you enjoyed this post, why not join us over at Sepia Saturday, where other contributors will be delving into the rural archives.


  1. Oh you are so good at this! I am going to be literal, so prepare to be underwhelmed if I haven't totally discouraged you from dropping by my blog.

  2. Even closer to our house were the piglets in pig city - a collection of aluminium shelters just over the fence from the lane where we lived near Old Sarum..

  3. My friend who has a neighbor with a field where sheep are being raised, has decided to stop eating lamb while she looks at others cavorting in the field. I can't blame her.

  4. Oh these are cute! I would love to hold a lamb.

  5. Well done! Lambs deserve a special place in the cuteness scale of human/animal relations. However there is an urban farm a few blocks away from my home where they raise goats, and baby goats are arguably just as cute too.

  6. Lambs and goats are delightful to watch at play. Edgar's Mission has many rescued lambs and kids it is so much fun watching them play with all the vigour of any young. You look right at home cuddling the lamb. They are so soft and cute.

  7. "Mudchute" is an interesting name and when put together with farming gives me an image of sliding down a muddy hill/chute! Surely not!

  8. I have always thought Mudchute is a strange name too. Some expert on London once told me what it meant, and I am ashamed to say that I have forgotten. It was to do with some kind of industrial works there at one time, though.

  9. Goodness you tied this up nicely with a soft bow bravo. Your course on line sounds very interesting too. Also another new must see for me is Old Serum such a rich history to be discovered there. I do hope I make it back to England soon. My daughter and her hubby will be there for 12 wonderful days in October, and she is putting quite the itinerary together!

  10. I enjoyed the twins even more than the lambs. I have boy/girl twin grands too.

  11. That little black lamb is so cute! And cuddly too, it would appear. A lovely picture of the two of you. And as I've mentioned in regard to others' entries this week - children and young animals just go together in a sweet magical way. :)

  12. I like your inclusion of poetry in this post. I also like the photo of you and the little black lamb. Lucky you!
    --Nancy. (ndmessier @ aol.com, nancysfamilyhistory.blogspot.com)

  13. My daughter tells me she has taken our granddaughter to Mudchute and enjoyed it, despite the weather being pourng rain. I'm looking forward to seeing hosts of golden daffodils when we visit in a few weeks' time.

  14. We had jacob sheep when I was growing up - just a few. They were always breaking out and causing trouble! But we all got very excited when there were lambs to look after. You'll be glad to hear they were raised for their wool - Mum and Granny were really into spinning and knitting then, so everyone ended up with thick, scratchy jumpers or socks!

    Your Uni course sounds very interesting, love to hear more about it - and good luck with the memorising. Lovely picture of you cuddling the lamb and the tranquil scene of the sheep by the standing stone. Great to see the twins too, growing up fast.

    Just had a really good catch up - you write with such warmth about the people who've touched your life - always a joy to read Marilyn. Hope you have a lovely Easter.

  15. Beautiful picture of these Avebury Stone Circle Spring lambs, with the light, the dark head of the lamb looking at the viewer, and the strange rock thing.