Friday, April 29, 2011

Congratulations to the Happy Couple...

We extend our most felicitous congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the occasion of their wedding.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blog Love...

Our first post...

At the time I posted this first blog, I was completely blogilliterate. As you can see, now I've even mastered the art of mobile blogging. Luckily blogger was fairly self explanatory, but I wasn't sure whether this was going to be a 5 minute craze for me, or something more sustainable.

As it turned out, almost 200 posts later, this has been something much more than a fad. I have made some fantastic friends, and have found a very easy way to collate all our ideas for Willowbrook. Not all of them have come to fruition, but most are well underway; and I have discovered that blogging provides a way to be creative with lots of support from others online, and an excellent forum to tweak our ideas or get other people's advice, A place to share our dreams, not just our realities.

For all of you who have been regular commentators on this blog, I thank you. Following Millie's sensible lead, if your blog is one of those on the right, whose presence is cherished enough to be on our blogroll, please share your own blog-love story with us.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Orta recens quam pura nites

Happy Easter!

Above: Corregio - Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalen

Above: Sinfonia from JS Bach's Easter Oratorio BWV 249

For some ideas on Easter decorating and celebration see our previous post. David.x

Surrexit Alleluia!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


The Exultet: The Easter Vigil Proclamation of the Western Church

Above: A medieval depiction of the reading of the Exultet:

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.
It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
When Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night,
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slav'ry,
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night,
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin.

This is night,
when Christians ev'rywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night,
when Jesus broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed,
when heaven is wedded to earth
and we are reconciled to God!

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Christos Anesti: The Paschal Troparion,
Easter hymn of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν,
θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας,
καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι,
ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!

Christós anésti ek nekrón,
thanáto thánaton patísas,
ké tís en tís mnímasi,
zoín charisámenos!
Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!
Christos anesti (Χριστός ἀνέστη!) - "Christ is Risen!"
Alithos anesti (Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!) - "He Has Risen Indeed!")

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ecce Agnus Dei...

Above: Detail of the Ghent Altar Tryptich by Jan van Eyck.

Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us your peace.

A short clip of the Choir of New College, Oxford, singing Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Anglophile (noun): a person who greatly admires or favours England and things English.

It must be said, I am an unabashed Anglophile, hence this rather random post about the things I love about England and We English...

Firstly: The Royal Family

Finally the long awaited wedding of William and Kate is upon us. Next Friday millions of loyal subjects around the empire, oops commonwealth, will be glued to their sets. A royal wedding- is there anything lovelier than a huge to do. Although The Daily Mail (whom we dislike in the strongest possible terms) and some other tabloids, are bemoaning the fact they they don't want tax payers to contribute to the wedding of the century and to one of the most glorious institutions of Britain, one which does more PR for Britain, does more personal charitable work than most misanthropic tycoons and has more charitable sway than other establishments, and one which visitors all over the globe flock to see. It is a shining light in the period of austerity and economic woe. If you can blow a billion on fireworks over Libya, what's a few million for bunting on the home front?

Then there's Prince Philip, who has a reputation for political incorrectness and social faux pas par excellence...

The Queen still commands the admiration of the British public, despite her family's rather modern exploits.

Above: Annie Leibowitz's portrait of The Queen

We have met Her Majesty several times over the years...

Then there's Charlie boy and his inexplicable second wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall...

Above and Below: Camilla has a penchant for hats made out of birds' nests.

and which double as convenient cake covers to protect One's petit fours from butterflies when out on a picnic...

Charles' other son, HRH Prince Henry of Wales...

Above: Nicky Phillips' oil painting of the two princes.

Then there's Charlie's sister, HRH Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise, The Princess Royal...

Below: Princess Anne (background not foreground).

Below: Again The Princess Royal (again, background not foreground).

Yet her daughter is the stunning Zara Philips, Equesterian extraordinare and face of Rolex Oyster Perpetuals...

Second Take - No It's not Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, it's Zara and her uncle Charlie!...

Let's not forget the completely forgettable Earl and Countess of Wessex, Andrew and Sophie, and their children, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor, Princess Louise of Wessex...

and Prince James of Wessex, The Viscount Severn...

However, other members are unforgettable (an unfortunately irrepressible): Fergie, mother of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and ex-wife of HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York.

Andrew, The Duke of York...

Not such a grand old Duke of late!

Apart from the Royal family the other things We love about the English are:

Manners - We invented manners during the reign of Queen Victoria. Before that all people were mere savages.

Customs - The inexplicable way We do things, even, no especially when it takes twice as long and complicates matters, and even better when there is livery and regalia involved.

Traditions - Like customs, but with less regalia and more tea.

History - A short or long account of how We were right and the other side was wrong, esp. when it comes to the French, and the Germans, and well, most people really. As Winston Churchill said: "History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."

Sense of Humour - There is nothing like a British wit. Call it cynical, call it dry, call it cruel. If you don't understand it don't panic, it is just over your head.

Eccentricity - The word we use to describe being weird. Unlike being weird, being eccentric is not a bad thing, in fact, some people strive towards it (c.f. the Royals, the C.of E., the Bloomsbury set, the Oxbridge set, the Badger cette).

The Language... Spoken by the Queen, and until ca. 1960, most of her subjects.

Regional dialects... A way of telling who's related to whom.

A sense of Decorum and Propriety - something in fast decline, along with the language and the manners and the customs etc. etc. etc.

For others out there who may just be a little anglophilic, here are some other blogs to check out...

One London One

Please note: Vast segments of the above prose is written tongue in cheek, and is not intended to offend (either royalists nor republicans). It is meant as a glib trifle, hopefully not triflingly glib.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Almost There...

Followers of Willowbrook's progress will know that the completion of the lake has been a long drawn out affair. It was the first large project we undertook at the park. The lake, a quarter of an acre, was dug out in June 2009. This was just before winter and it then filled with water before we could line it. By the first summer the lining had not been fabricated (as we were a long time in deciding exact material and thickness and manufacturers (UV stabilised vs non-UV, 500 micron vs 1000 micron, prefabricated and welded vs spray on rubber... Who knew there were so many options!).

Above: The field before

Below: The Lake and Bluebell walk after

By the time we had the liner by the lake ready to go, we had come to the following autumn, and due to intermittent rainy days falling on the only days the installer could come down from Auckland, we were then into Spring of last year. In the interim we pumped out the water, enough to build the jetty. As you can see, soon after the jetty was finished it flooded again. It looked lovely over winter, but the problem is that it dries out over summer. An unseasonally wet spring prevented us once again from completing the project. Now, finally, the stars have aligned, and the lining company was able to make it down, and the weather held out, and now we have a 1/4 acre of strong butyl rubber liner installed, and the edges ready for planting next month with irises, lillies, pickerel, and narcissi. The water is on, and we shall wait patiently for it to fill (as will our ducks). Given that we will not be shooting any wild ducks on our property this season, we guess that it will become a safehaven for the local mallards come May.

Above: The small hill destined to be the site of a small neoclassical folly...

Below: Delusions of grandeur????

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Forest Xylophone...

Another random post: a friend showed me this Japanese advertisement for a wooden mobile phone case, which involves the actual creation of a real wooden xylophone track through a forest.

Something to being a smile to your face...

Monday, April 11, 2011

All grown up....

Now that our Indian Runners have grown up and have a good sense of 'home' we have been able to dismantle Stalag 13 and let them range around the whole farm. They return at evenings to their hutch for dinner, and despite being hand fed every day since they were chicks, are still very wary of people (this photos belies the difficulty in capturing them!).

Life remains hectic, frantically packing up the house in our spare time. We have until the 1st of July to vacate the premises, but as a friend bought it there is no panic. We have found a place to stay a 1/4 mile down the road from Willowbrook. We hope to stay their until the manor is completed (about a year from now).

No need to build the farrowing pen just yet - our sows deflated over night. We have been told that they must have had phantom pregnancies, but to get 2 sows both with phantoms at the same time is unusual. Let's hope they have better luck next time.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Wild Flower Project

This winter we will sow a strip of wild flowers along side the brook and under the willow trees. We have found inspiration for this in several places...

Above and Below: The famous wild flower meadow at Highgrove. The wild flower project there was started by the Prince in 1982, with the help of Miriam Rothschild. It was in response to the effect that modern farming techniques were having on native wild grasses and flowers due to spray drift and country road verges being mown before the flowers had flowered and hence seeded. It took several years for the 120 different varieties of flowers and grasses from 33 differing species to take a hold. The first couple of years were not so rewarding (so we shall know what to expect), but after they established themselves amongst the natural flora they found their stride.

Above: Painting by Jenny Causer.

Below: The great Southern Motorway idea of planting between the lanes of traffic south of Auckland with wild flowers. They have unfortunately not been replaced after 2 years, but they brought much pleasure while the project was running.

Below: Poppy Meadows

The strip of flowers will hopefully give some definition to the brook, as a temporary measure until we get our dry-stone wall built. Leigh at Brabourne Farm has some more stunning photos of meadow flowers here...
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