The Beagle For Beauty Monthly - Sept/Oct 2021



“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains” - Anne Frank


Updates

Firstly: I’ve moved the release date of the Beagle to the first week on the month rather than the last. It will always land on a Friday. I can then point you to events or seasonal ideas beforehand. Secondly: my shop is coming soon. My hubby and I have been choosing samples, sourcing the right supplier. I want to be 100% satisfied with the end result so that you get the very best quality pieces. Thirdly: I’ve designed a free downloadable calendar page just for you. Print at home if you have a good printer or take it to a shop where they make prints. Simply click HERE or on the image to receive your page. This pdf is password protected and you need to be a Beagle Monthly member to access. Join up via the link on the home page and the code will be sent to you. You can leave at any time.

Lastly: next month will be the Beagle's 1 year anniversary! I am going to be giving a special giveaway to celebrate so keep a look out for that.


Really lastly: If you enjoy the Beagle would you please consider sharing about it any which way you can? Whether that's social media, email, word of mouth or carrier pigeon. I offer this for free as an encouragement to others but really want to reach as many people as possible. If you were to help me that would mean a lot : )


This month

  • Artists: The ‘new’ Vemeer. Comic artist Lunarbaboon. Austin Kleon and his pandemic prayers.

  • Giveaway: October calendar page.

  • Dallas Jenkins; destiny from disaster.

  • Watching: Larkrise To Candleford. Tokyo Story.

  • Poetry: The Darkling Thrush, Thomas Hardy

  • Books: Sarah Clarkson. Help, I’m Drowning. Digital Minimalism. The Castle On The Hill.

  • Music: Bejamin Gordon. Andy Squyres. BFB monthly Playlist.

  • Recipe: Chicken Parmigiana.

  • Adventuring: Lindisfarne, The Holy Island.

  • Photographer: The water lily harvest in Vietnam, by Trung Huy Pham.

  • What’s on my iPhone? Did you know I link every book, film, recipe etc in the Beagle? Where you see words highlighted, simply click the link.

 

A big warm welcome around a steaming pot of tea to my new Beagle friends. Many of you landed here via my giveaway with dear friend Sally Clarkson. I’ve known Sally for almost seven years and have been involved with encouraging mum’s with her in the UK. I recorded a fun podcast with Sally before she went back to the States for hip surgery: Beauty: A Profound Anchor In The Storms of Life. You’ll hear more about our friendship as we giggle, and also talk about the importance of initiating in friendships. I’m no Pollyanna but you’ll find me seeking beauty, truth, goodness while grasping the nettle at the same time. We wrestle with life and sometimes with God but I think we can learn to wrestle well, like the Psalmist. There’s hope in the hurting. I hope you find this a place of kindred spirits. I’ve shared previously about why I create the Beagle before if you’d like to know more. This is my death-defying work!

 

The pathway which leads to our front door is currently strewn with windfall apples. I really must gather them in for compost but the fragrance of ‘apple cider’ as I walk it each day is quite comforting. We also have a hazelnut tree which has been enthusiastically sharing its seed pods, they resemble something you’d find in a rock-pool with their many curving tentacles. The squirrels will be sad to discover that the street sweeper came this morning and happily gobbled them all up though. Well, here we are friends, entering autumn. There’s so much to love about this time of year, though I feel a little crest fallen. The summer seemed too short, lockdown so long, I find myself longing for length of days and sun-kissed walks a little longer. I know this is natural, I can’t be the only one? Like the natural seasons we’re in a time of transition in our home. I’m a recently graduated Home Educator, my sixteen year old once about the house is now off to college each week. I’m like a teenager again with a world of opportunity before me. This in-between, is in itself a season tucked amongst the folds of seasons. At times I’ve felt a little suspended, adrift in space like the Apollo mission entering the dark side of the moon. Transitions can feel like that, yet transitions are hallways, and in and of themselves a space we inhabit. We do come out the other side. Beyond the seeing of the eye or the hearing of the ear we are tethered and being carried along in a greater ongoing story. It’s natural in the unknown to cry, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”. For the moment we are in the middle, we are the caterpillar soup that precedes the emerging butterfly. If anyone were to look inside a chrysalis midway they’d wonder if there was anything of worth in there. There’s a lot of creative work going on in the mess! What we think looks untidy, like loose ends, could actually be the midpoint between death and resurrection.


“In winter I believe you, in springtime I see you . . . my hope has come” Cherry Blossom, Andy Squyres


I was away in Northumberland last week and one of the delights of being in such an agricultural area was watching the farmers plough the land.


I envy the farmer. I understand it’s a hard life but they have a connection to the earth and calendar year which anchors them in the present yet with an eye on the horizon. I watched one tractor systematically moving back and forth as a weaver’s tool. The seagulls flew up before him as he approached and settled behind me after he passed, it was so rhythmical, mesmerising, I could have watched for a long time. So much about our daily living unhinges us from a sense of the here and now, the internet and social media being chief to unpick the hours. I think it’s a high and holy habit to cultivate slow living, to lean into the in-betweens and down days, to create beauty and bring a sense of lived-inness (I created a word) in the ploughed furrows of everyday living.


 

Still Life

My Sweets

The colours in this month’s shoot reminded me of the sweets I loved growing up, Rhubarb & Custards. That mellow mix of creams and pinks with a hint of purple work so well together. The snapdragons are very photogenic with their curved waist and reaching limbs and the dahlias seem to blaze with radiant petals like a floral sun.


It was common to use sea shells in still life compositions. Often arrangements would feature man-made or natural objects such as flowers, fruit, bottles, bread, taxidermy creatures. They would typically reflect a celebration of life or, serve as a reminder of the brevity of it.



Which is the show-stopper Dahlia here, the blushing pink or the dreamy cream? I’m leaning towards cream.

All my blooms were purchased from Caroline at Where Inspiration Blooms. If you’re local check them out, they also run some fantastic courses.

 

Adventures - Lindisfarne, The Holy Island: Let There be Light!


Oh dear, I really do have so many delightful and soul-filling treasures to share with you this month, in fact too many! At the risk of oversharing I'm going to spread them out over the next few months.


But for this edition - Lindisfarne. It’s been so long that I’ve wanted to visit this historic and iconic location. I worked it out, twenty three years or so. The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is just off the extreme Northeast corner of England near Berwick-upon-Tweed.

An island that isn’t really an island. After checking the tide timetables my daughter and I drove across when the causeway exposed by the receding tide. Those who fail to do so might find themselves in a bit of a wet pickle! The thought of getting stranded made it a more thrilling drive (although there was no real threat) but it did add to the excitement! Spot the ‘refuge’ hut in that footage.

From Wiki: Holy Island has a recorded history from the 6th century AD; it was an important centre of Celtic Christianity under SaintsAidan of Lindisfarne, Cuthbert, Eadfrith of Lindisfarne and Eadberht of Lindisfarne. After the Viking invasions and the Norman conquest of England, a priory was reestablished. A small castle was built on the island in 1550. (below) Priory ruins.

There is some debate over the exact date and by whom, the Gospel first came to the British Isles. What we do know is that here in Northumberland St. Aidan was sent from Ireland, via Iona in Scotland around 635 AD and established a Christian work. This is the birthplace of the Lindisfarne Gospels, long acclaimed as the greatest masterpiece of Anglo-Saxon book art. It survived the Viking raids of the time and contains the four Gospels depicting the life of Christ. You can see stunning images from the book HERE on the British Library website as well as read more about this important work. I hopped on the tube this morning and took myself to have a look at it up close. It was pretty special. To think, Eadfrith around 698 AD put his hand to these very pages and set his heart to such a grand and glorious work, and now my eyes see it. I was a little sad it wasn't open to one of the carpet pages but left grateful none-the-less.


Here are a couple of the carpet pages to give you an idea of their intricate design but the British Library link before shows so much more in detail.

(below) Looking through the Priory ruins across to Lindisfarne Castle.



(below) St Mary’s Church, founded by St Aidan in 635 AD.

(below) An instillation depicting the monks fleeing Lindisfarne with the relics of St Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels.


Please do watch this short but informative piece about these beautiful and important creations.

(below) The interior of St. Mary’s. The light and subsequent tones were beautiful.

(below) Looking across to Lindisfarne Castle.

(below) Heading to the castle now, looking back on the priory ruins and some of the village.

(below) The castle was originally a fort but was converted into a holiday home by Edward Hudson, founder of Country Living Magazine.

(below) The entrance to the castle home. This interior didn’t feel like a luxurious space or a cosy haven laden with soft cushions and furnishings, but it was a dramatic and probably theatric setting for it’s owner. I think it provoked the social scene buzz Howard had hoped for. The front could definitely benefit from a few flower pots don’t you think!


Lindisfarne Castle - A Place of Light


My breath was taken away several times by the natural light flooding the rooms and corridors of Lindisfarne Castle. One room in particular, the bedroom, looked like a painting in-camera. This was a modestly furnished residence but what it lacked in touches it makes up for in ambience. That said, the kitchen area was most welcoming with its ‘Brown Betty’ teapot, rocking chair and hearth. The seating is arranged so as to invite small parties for conversation and refreshment. All the best parties end up in the kitchen anyway. See what you think.






(below) I’m getting Vemeer vibes! The lighting of this room was cleverly done.





(below) The view from the top followed by the walk back down.


And finally, the good place where all pilgrims land, the place of holy water, the elixir of life itself - Pilgrim’s Coffee! I kid you not, that’s what it’s called :D



 

Inspiration

Loaves and Fishes. If you ever feel inadequate about what you ‘do’ or have to offer, I hope you find this an encouragement. Dallas Jenkins is the creator of The Chosen series and I found this testimony deeply inspiring.

 

Artist

The “new” Vemeer. Blake Gopnik has written about it here. Scroll down his page a little.



Lunarbaboon I first came across this artist on IG. School teacher, cartoonist, someone who navigates depression, I find his work profound and delightful.


Austin Kleon and his Pandemic Prayers using the blackout poetry technique.

© Austin Kleon


 

Photographer

Trung Huy Pham has captured some stunning images of the water lily harvest in Vietnam. Be sure to check out all the beautiful captures here.


© Trung Huy Pham

 

Reading

This kinda falls under the reading banner I think, it’s definitely a bookish delight. I’ve been following and reading Sarah Clarkson’s work for years but she recently launched a Patreon where she regularly hosts Book Girl Fellowship talks, poetry readings and enjoyment thereof, book recommendations and hosts other events such as her upcoming Novel Theology and Kells Cottage Retreats. Help, I’m Drowning, by Sally Clarkson. Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport. The Castle on The Hill, by Elizabeth Goudge (re-reading)




 

Watching

TV Series: Larkrise To Candleford. Now is the perfect time to immerse yourself in these two villages and their charming characters! Heart warming, humorous, harkening back to the English rural age pre-industiralisation. Based on true events. I have rewatched this a few times in my life and miss these people every time the season ends. Tokyo Story. This is a Japanese film with English subtitles and tells the universal story of rural elderly parents visiting their city dwelling adult children. I watched this at the recommendation of my daughter who starts film school soon, it was on her list. An enduring tale, slow burn, life observant, funny and sweet. It’s free on YouTube if you click the film title. If you’d like a little overview you can see a good review HERE. This makes for good discussion. [Occasionally my recommendations may not be for everyone. My choice of films, books etc are based on my particular tastes and tolerances. Just a note for my G-rated friends]

 

Poetry

I am quite a novice poetry reader and appreciator, but I really want to grow more in my knowledge of poetry and how it speaks to me. The early church fathers believed that words and the miraculous were intertwined, I agree. It seems there’s something about a well crafted poem, it has the ability to penetrate the deepest parts of our soul. This is a page from my daughter’s Florilegium. In medieval Latin a florilegium was a compilation of excerpts from other writings. The word is from the Latin flos (flower) and legere (to gather) : literally a gathering of flowers, or collection of fine extracts from the body of a larger work.


A friend shared this poem with Zoe and it sets my heart soaring, especially as we enter autumn.


Here we start with a bleak picture, depressing maybe? Possibly the writer experienced SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder? The landscape is sceptre-grey, tangled stems score the sky, they appear broken and no longer sing to the writer or the heavens they are strings of broken lyres. It’s a desolate image, everyone has retreated indoors around cosier scenes. The softness of Summer’s presence has passed away now all he sees are sharp features, the dying of the season personified. The only sound in the air is that of a death-lament carried on the wind. No sooner has this cloak of despair enveloped him, every spirit upon earth fervourless as I, when all at once a full-hearted evensong arises. Not any old song but an evensong, a song of worship. Not half-hearted either, neither hesitant or shy, but full throttle. Against the desolate backdrop of the ancient Frost a lone soloist had chosen to fling his soul upon the growing doom. Yes, this is our call, to cast our rejoicing selves into the blossoming gloom with our all! As Rudyard Kipling writes, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same”. He seems diminutive, weather beaten in blast-beruffled plume, an aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small but he holds a powerful secret. The writer assumes so for there seems little cause for carolings of such ecstatic sound. It is a mystery of which he was unaware but surely a blessed Hope exists of which the little bird is privy. Creation knows to praise its Maker even when man forgets. The little thrush is aged, he’s seen this many times, he isn’t moved or discouraged but quite the opposite Those are just a few observations that make my heart soar about this poem among the many splendid images it conjures. I hope you take time to dwell on it a while and see all it’s beautiful facets.

 

”Yet her strength was in her age. Like the great yews the roots from which she had grown reached back into the darkness and sucked forth power” The Castle on The Hill, Elizabeth Goudge

 

Recipe

Chicken Parmigiana from Lidia’s Italy in America. As long term member of this community you’ll know I love Lidia’s recipes! I’m a no fuss cook, I like recipes simple, minimum faff and full of fresh ingredients. Occasionally I push the boat out but mostly I like everyday good wholesome comfort food for the family that’s quick. This requires a little more effort but I promise your folks will be begging for more. Serves 6 (But I had leftovers) Ingredients: 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 340g ricotta, drained 3/4 of a cup of grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano 8 large fresh basil leaves, shredded Freshly ground black pepper Plain flour, for dredging 2 cups dry breadcrumbs 2 large eggs Vegetable oil, for frying 4 cups marinara sauce (see page 108) (Buy Passata if you don’t have the book) 230g low moisture mozzarella, thinly sliced (packet slices) Method: Preheat the oven to 220°, fan oven. Make a horizontal pocket 3 inches deep in the chicken breasts. Season chicken with the salt. Stir together the ricotta, 1/4 cup of the grated cheese, and the basil in a bowl, seasoning with black pepper to taste. Put the cheese filling in a pastry bag with a wide tip. (If you don’t have a pastry bag you can squeeze the cheese filling out of a regular resealable plastic bag with a corner cut off.) Pipe the filling into each pocket of the chicken breasts. Spread the flour and breadcrumbs on two separate plates. Beat the eggs in a wide, shallow bowl. Dredge the chicken in the flour, tapping off any excess, then dip in the beaten egg, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Coat the chicken on all sides in the breadcrumbs. Heat 1/2 inch vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, in batches if necessary. Cook until browned and crispy, about 4 minutes per side. Drain the chicken on paper towels. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the marinara in a baking dish large enough to fit the chicken in one layer. Lay the chicken breasts on the sauce, and top with the remaining marinara. Layer the sliced mozzarella on the chicken, and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Bake until the chicken is cooked through and the topping is browned and bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes. I served with steamed greens.


Next month I’ll be sharing my delicious apple cinnamon cake recipe!

 

Listening to

Benjamin Gordon. Back To You was the first track which grabbed my attention from his album Where Did We Get Lost. You can watch a 9 min documentary about this work HERE. Gritty, honest, a mix of R&B, Soul and Blues, this is the soundtrack of Benjamin’s journey from adolescence into adulthood. It gets messy but resolves in hope. ”This album is a remedy for a particular period and moment in my life. It's just how I operate as a person, it's a mixture of darkness and hope. I think you have to have a balance otherwise you’ll either be a pessimist or an optimist . . . you can't be fully honest and uplifting at the same time, sometimes you need to say how it is even if it's difficult and dark .” - Benjamin Gordon. Andy Squyres. Cherry Blossoms. A modern day poet, prophet, part Cohen, part Dylan vibes. The full monthly Beagle playlist can be found HERE on Spotify.

 

© Morgan Harper Nichols

 

I really hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s edition, the remainder of my Lindisfarne captures are after this plus a couple of special extras. The upside down boats converted into boat sheds are so creative, can you see them? Here are a list of the treats ahead:

  • Oxford, The Ivy Brasserie (Adventures with Sally)

  • Romsey, Romsey Abbey (Adventures with my niece)

  • Flower Festival

  • Chenies Manor House & Gardens

  • London City

  • Hughendon Manor

  • York

  • Northumberland: Hexham, Alnwick Castle, Barter Books, Hadrian’s Wall, Seaton Deleval Hall, Blythe Beach.

  • Newcastle: Laing Gallery.

  • Carlisle: Tullie Gallery

  • Lyme Park aka Pemberley, from the BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. This really warrants its own space and grandeur. Beautiful interiors, that iconic front aspect and a most unexpected Orangery. Until next time, With love, Jacqui x


Next time - Pemberley