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Elders Week 2 April 26 – Spinning the yarn, mending socks, how we got our name

As the bus (driven by Gabrielle with Cosy) and cars arrived Rachel introduced everyone to the just completed Clive, the ground floor compost toilet, which happened to be next to the WW2 men’s urinals from when the site was a hospital site servicing the local Holton air field.

Cups of tea greeted our group on this fresh spring day. A lazy wind, a cold east wind, kept our coats on. Demonstration of how to use Tippy Taps, was followed by a general out pouring of darning.
Dean – Do you use a tennis ball?
A – Oh bring in your socks I love darning.
It’s weaving after all
So the stories began:
V – I was bought up in a convent in Australia where we had to wear Lyle stockings. Friday was a silent day, when we had to darn – not our own but anothers Lyle stockings!
(And one said ‘Yes some of us have had 6 months in silence’)

Tell us about your name Shona asked

From Shona’s celtic name (that she liked), through biblical origins, the plague of the silent e, those named after the queen, those who almost died at birth and were named in a hurry. A shocking many disliked their name and some even tried to change it.
(The go round started going round again, before Shona looked at her watch and reminded us the day must go on).

We ventured out in to the wood to collect something we knew or did not know, either physically or by description. Rachel started with Garlic Mustard, growing liberally now along hedgerows and delicious in a salad

The Spinning of the yarn

Those who had spun their yarn last week added it to the emerging tapestry with Kally guiding the process. As they became more confident and less fearful of going ‘wrong’ they added more colours.

Brian hurdling

Brian, meanwhile, began the weaving of hazel in a hurdle beside the garden. First he made a few more stakes, (cutting and pointing and hammering the hazel pole into the dry clay earth) before collecting some freshly cut hazel about an inch in diameter and still supple and bendy, and 6-8 feet in length, to weave between the posts.

Dean dallied in the business of over hearing conversations.

Over tea and jam soaked buns, we relayed what we had found in the wood earlier or recalled of the day.

A brick, incongruous in a woodland and probably left over from the war, now softened with moss. Sticky Willie aka Cleavers, goosegrass, stickyweed, sticky bob, stickybud, stickyback, robin-run-the-hedge, sticky willy, sticky willow, stickyjack, stickeljack, grip grass, sticky grass, bobby buttons, whippysticks and velcro plant. Naomi described it as a kidney tonic: she puts into a jug of cold water over night, it cleans the water of impurities and as she drinks in the morning, and it cleans her kidneys.

So many different textures, feathers, catkins – hard and soft textures. Some bark like foscilised lizard from another time. A feather. Yellow Archangel, from the dead nettle family (Lamium galeobdolon), barren strawberry and so many wild gooseberries.

We talked about photographs, how some of us didn’t want our photograph taken, and this we respected. (Shona vets all photos we take to document the project) This led to the image of huge warehouses of servers which stores our billions if not trillians of photographs we take and never look at.

Dogs Mercury

We ended where we began, talking around Dogs Mercury. Right at the start of the day, while walking up from inspecting Clive, we talked about Dog Mercury, the plant that carpets the woodland this time of spring year. Elisabeth, who knew the plant, described how the word ‘dog’ was like false, like dog rose was a rose without smell, a rose in a way false.
Dog Latin – refers to the creation of a phrase or jargon in imitation of Latin.
Dogs days / Dogs breakfast /


Dog Mercury… Unlike the ‘true’ mercuries (Chenopodiumspecies such as Good-King-Henry), Dog’s mercury is highly poisonous and hence became known as ‘False mercury’ or ‘Dog’s mercury’. Ingestion of this plant can lead to vomiting, jaundice, coma and eventually death.

Woodland Trust

We started our book! Or rather Dean did – writing up his poem in the middle of the page, the page with the imprint of a car wheel on it, as it loitered for a short while on the Beccles Road.

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