When I was a child I loved the books of Alan Garner particularly, when I was about eleven years old, "The Weirdstone of Brisingamen" and "The Moon of Gomrath". They were strange, mythical tales which combined the familiairy of the landscape of my home in the North West of England with the shifting world of legend and folk tale. As I grew older I also loved "The Owl Service" and "The Stone Book Quartet". It was both a surprise and no surprise at all to find, about twenty years ago, that my husband Ian knew Alan and his wife Griselda and so they both became our friends.
In 2004 they set up The Blackden Trust to preserve the ancient site on which they live which has been occupied for ten thousand years and the two medieval houses which now stand on it. The trust offers courses on a fascinating variety of things relevant to the house. Last year I went to one on Tudor herbs and spices and this year I am tempted by the one on Poetry and Place in the 17th Century.
There are also tours of the Old Medicine House, an ancient timberframed building which the Garners rescued from destruction forty years ago. It is a compelling, beautiful, magical place where the breath of the past sighs like someone standing just over your shoulder, their presence felt but just out of sight.
I was for some years the Treasurer to the Trust which is why it is here on my blog. It is a fascinating thing to use my professional experience for such a different cause after a lifetime dealing with multinational corporations.
There are rare places which give you insights into other times and other worlds. Blackden is one of them. Do go if you can.