Friday, 26 December 2014

A Boxing Day Poem

Boxing Day by George Cruickshank (1792-1878)

There are several theories about the origins of Boxing Day but the holiday was traditionally a time when servants and tradespeople would receive gifts, known as a "Christmas box", from their bosses or employers.

Here’s a humorous poem from the 1880’s:


Of all the joys the seasons bring,
(And roost, alas! have flown away,) 

I dearly do delight to sing
The pleasures of a Boxing Day. 

For then a host of smiling folks
Are anxious their respects to pay, 

And tell me (would it were a hoax !)
That, “ if I please,” It's Boxing Day. 

Those doleful Waits, who've Iain in wait,
To scare my balmy sleep away, 

Like bravoes, who've despatch'd their job,
Now claim reward on Boxing Day. 

The Milkmaid, who deals out sky-blue,
(Her tally's double-scor'd, they say,) 

With smiling: face, of rosy hue,
A curtsey drops on Boxing Day. 

The Baker's man, who brings me bread
As heavy as a lump of clay. 

And bricks as hard as any stone,
I can't refuse on Boxing Day. 

As I was walking in the street,
I met the Butcher with his tray; 

He thrust the corner in my eye,—
I'll think of him on Boxing Day. 

The Scavenger, who plaster'd me.
When dress'd in wedding-suit so gay, 

Now hopes I ' won't forget, d'ye see.
As how that this here's Boxing Day.' 

My house on fire—no turncock found;
My house burnt down—he came to say, 

He hop'd that I'd reward his zeal,
And think of him on Boxing Day. 

The Bellman, Dustman, Chimney-sweep,
Bring up the rear in smart array, 

And all get drunk, and strip to fight,
To prove it is a Boxing Day. 

The Comic Almanack: An Ephemeris in Jest and Earnest, 
Containing Merry Tales, Humorous Poetry, Quips and Oddities. 
Picture by George Cruickshank (1792-1878)

Our traditions have changed now from the above to either spending the day with the family, or shopping, both of which also hold the capacity for unexpected peril. So if you're engaging in either today – take care out there!

Thanks for reading


Justbod Team

Artwork, carvings & sculptures
~ inspired by history & nature ~

Celtic, Viking and Mythical gifts from Justbod


  You might also be interested in:

The Beautiful Medieval Wall Paintings of Pickering Parish Church


The Isles: Monsters, Mariners & Old Maps of Exploration


Tree of Life Wall Plaques
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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Justbod Team!
Merry Yule, Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, 
Happy Saturnalia, Waes Hael....!

- however you celebrate this festive season, 
may it be joyous, magical, peaceful and full of blessings for you and yours!

The Justbod Team 


Our main website is Justbod, if you've not seen it, 
pop over and have a nosey, when you have a minute or two...

Artwork, carvings and sculptures
inspired by history and nature, and made by bod.

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Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Winter Solstice and the Rebirth of the Sun

Winter sunset

December, for most of us, is marked most by Christmas, but this season has been a time for celebrations throughout many cultures, throughout history.

This year, Thursday December 21st 2017 at 16:28 UTC (or GMT,) marks the exact time of the solstice in London, UK - the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

It is the shortest day and the longest night of the year, when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator. This moment in time has been recognised and marked by much of mankind for as far back as we know.

Winter sun setting over Long Meg and her daughters, Cumbria
Winter sun setting over Long Meg and her daughters, Cumbria

Iron Age Celts believed the sun stood still for twelve days, and they would burn a log during this time to banish the darkness and bring good luck into the coming year. Mistletoe was also cut from oak trees to give as a blessing, as the winter fruit was a potent and symbolic representation of life surviving and thriving through the dark months of winter.

The Norse of Northern Europe saw the sun as a giant wheel, turning through and changing the seasons. The word Yule may derive from the Old Nordic word for wheel: 'Hjól,' although this is oft debated.

The Romans had Saturnalia, honouring the sun God Saturn, which ran for seven days from 17th December and celebrated the rebirth of the year.

Entrance and roof box of Newgrange, Boyne Valley, Ireland
The roof box and entrance to Newgrange - aligned with the Winter Solstice

Many of our ancient megalithic monuments, such as Newgrange, Stonehenge and Maeshowe are aligned with the sun at the Winter Solstice, suggesting its importance stretches far, far back into the mists of time. 

Even in our brightly lit Western cultures there is a sense of relief and welcome as we pass the shortest day and begin to look forward to longer days and the first signs of Spring. What must it have been like in a time with little light, where darkness could be absolute, and a harsh winter could mean death? The return of the sun, with its life-affirming and life-giving powers, is a powerful reason for celebration, giving hope for times ahead.

Winter is also a time when Nature sleeps and goes within, hybernating, gestating and waiting for Spring. As well as a time for celebration, as we prepare to welcome the rebirth of the sun, Nature teaches us to also find time for silence, stillness and reflection. To go within to absorb and process the experiences of the passing year, and to transmute these into our hopes and dreams for the future.

Happy Solstice!

Thanks for reading

Justbod Team

Artwork, carvings & sculptures
~inspired by history & nature ~


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Friday, 19 December 2014

A Tower of unknown date, a Cross-Section of York's past and a Tragic Accident

Anglian Tower, York

 York's Anglian Tower

Tucked inconspicuously at the dead end of a narrow path behind the City Library, accessible either from there, or from Museum Gardens, and usually overlooked by the majority of tourists, is the Anglian Tower.

Its date is not known for sure, and the options seem to be that it was either a late Roman edition to the City's defences in the third or fourth century, or constructed under Kind Edwin of Deira in the early 7th century, or that it dates to the mid 9th century. This is because no reliable dating evidence has been found. It sits on top of the old Roman defences, and was buried sometime in the ninth century, so was obviously built sometime between these two time periods.

York Anglian Tower

Discovered in 1839 by workmen constructing a tunnel, it was restored in 1969-1971. There used to be two brass plaques on the tower, the first of which said:

This building is the lower storey of a tower built into a breach in the 4th century Roman fortress wall, perhaps in the reign of Kind Edwin (616 - 632 AD.) It was hidden under the Danish and later ramparts and rediscovered in 1839.

The second plaque commemorated the death of archaelogist Jeffrey Radley in 1970, who died when one of the structures supporting the excavation gave way:

This plaque is erected to the memory of Jeffrey Radley M.A.E.S.A. who carried out the excavation of the tower and was tragically killed in a subsequent accident at the site on July 22nd 1970.

Just behind the tower is an interesting cross-section of wall ramparts showing the relationship between the successive stages of City defences.

York historical cross-section of rampart bank

The different levels are:

Roman 1c - 4c, Dark Ages 5c - 10c, Norman 11c - 12c and Mediaeval 13c.

Path to Anglian Tower York

A really interesting, poignant and atmospheric place, yet down a narrow, deadend track that I am fairly sure tourists are rarely tempted down. It deserves more attention and is well worth a visit as part of any trip around the City Walls, or as part of a visit to the Museum Gardens. The path is accessed through a gate in the Roman Multangular Tower, which is another very impressive structure well worth visiting...

Thanks for reading!


Justbod Team

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Sources and further information: 

A detailed article on the Anglian Tower in
Carla Nayland's blog
Article in York Press June 2010
Wikipedia Page 
A touching short piece about the second plaque and Jeffrey Radley can be found on York Stories.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Enigmatic carved words, pilgrims, sanctuary, and a dour message...St Mary's Church, Fridaythorpe

St Marys Church Fridaythorpe
We visited this beautiful and interesting small church at the start of what was meant to be a long day's walk on the Wolds. We were already full of misgivings about our timing, the day was brooding dark, the skies grey and full of rain....

Lychgate St Marys Church Fridaythorpe
Just as we walked through the lychgate, the heavens opened and we immediately ran into the church for shelter. This turned into a really interesting and memorable experience, as the church seemed to immediately wrap us up with a sense of comfort, safety and sanctuary, as we were surrounded by the drumming of the unrelenting rain hammering on the roof.

St Marys Church Fridaythorpe
Markings of crosses and various other bits of graffiti are spread on bits of stonework, and the church leaflet explains that these were made by pilgrims marking their progress en route from York to the shrine of St John at Bridlington Priory (the village of Fridaythorpe is the midpoint of the ancient road 'twixt the two.) We couldn't help but feel connected to these pilgrims and the many generations of people who may have sought sanctuary within the very same walls.

St Marys Church Fridaythorpe
The tower of St Mary's is 12th century and the stone and carvings inside point towards both the Anglo-Saxon and Norman periods so, although there is some folk knowledge dating the church back to 713AD, the only certainty is that there has probably been a church on the site for at least 1000 years.

Fridaythorpe is mentioned in the Doomsday Book as Fritagstorp - probably meaning 'the outlying farmstead of Frigedaeg,' and is the highest village on the Wolds.

St Mary's is a listed building and one of the 'Sykes Churches' - churches built, rebuilt or renovated by the Sykes family of Sledmere House in East Yorkshire.

St Mary's Church clock Fridaythorpe
One of the best known features is the bold and unusual clock on the West end of the church: said to be influenced by an 18th century French Chateau, it was designed by architect FC Eden and paid for by the vicar, Charles Sellers. Dated 1903, it has the rather dour message: "Time is short, eternity is long."

this 713 found hear inscription St Marys Fridaythorpe
A stone that forms part of the pillar on the north east side of the chapel, has the enigmatic words "this 713 found hear," carved into it. Almost worthy of a clue in a Dan Brown novel, the meaning has been lost, but some believe that this is the original foundation stone, reused in the pillar.

St Marys Church Fridaythorpe
Doorway St Marys Church Fridaythorpe
A beautifully carved 19th century Altar and Reredos from Sledmere Church, visible inner workings of the clock, beautiful stained glass, a fragment of the old wall paintings depicting part of the Ten Commandments, and one of the old bells, are some of the other items of interest.

Wall painting St Marys Church Fridaythorpe

Carving St Marys Church Fridaythorpe

There are many more interesting features within this small church, well covered by the available and informative leaflet, but, for me, it was the feeling tone of the church in the middle of truly awful weather, and that sense of connection with those who have gone before, that will be my abiding memory of this warmly beautiful little church.

St Marys Church Fridaythorpe
St Mary's Parish Church is well worth a visit. Please consider leaving a donation to help with the upkeep and maintenance.

We ultimately decided to postpone the rest of the trip for another they say...that is another story....

Thanks for reading!


Justbod Team

~ Justbod ~

Artwork, carvings and sculptures
~ inspired by history and nature ~

You might also be interested in:

The Beautiful Medieval Wall Paintings of Pickering Parish Church 


Celtic Lovers Wall Plaque in Bronze and Oak
Visit Our 'Lovers' Page

For regular updates on new products, articles & offers:  

Sources and further information: 

St Mary's Parish Church - A Brief Guide by Liz Smedley  
(available inside the church for a nominal fee)

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Our Top Ten Trees of the Year

Silhouette tree at sunset
Top Ten Lists - everybody's at it! 

Time we got in on the act, we thought...
We post every day throughout the year, on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and, after only one day, our lovely posts, that we sweated over, debated over, loved and hated...are gone....
well.... not any more.....welcome to our first compilation....
- our top ten trees from this year!

As you probably know, we love trees, and have posted a fair number over the year, we had to discipline ourselves to get it down to ten and our first rule to help with this was that it had to be a single tree, and have some character, a reason for inclusion. It also had to be one of our photos, a tree we'd personally seen. The internet is full of jaw-dropping amazing trees, it is important to us that our trees were witnessed by us...if you see what I mean...but, there is one exception, one that we just couldn't resist including.....everything should have at least one exception......

Here's our short list of ten, if you follow us on any of our other social sites, some or all may be familiar to you, where we can, we've included a link to the original post, 
should you wish to view it with comments etc..... 

We hope you enjoy our small selection.... in no particular order....

1.The Wonderland Tree 

Wonderland Tree East Yorkshire

This had to be included. We all loved this tree. Like a tardis it was even bigger inside than it looks from the outside. Easily big enough to accomodate any self-respecting hermit and all his/her mod cons. It also looks a little like a giant face.....

Location: Just off the Wolds Way between Market Weighton and Londesborough by the deserted medieval village of Towthorpe.

2.Topping Tree

Roseberry Topping Tree

Yes, it's a bit of a pun, but this is our 'topping tree' at Roseberry Topping. Don't know if this is technically a tree, or a shrub, but we love the way it frames, and 'tops' the famous landmark. Very Bonsai! We don't have the original post link unfortunately.

Location: Roseberry Topping, North Yorkshire

3.Fairy Castle Tree

Fairy Castle Tree

We thought this old, decaying tree looked like a fairy castle, 
or an old man of the woods, or an Ent. What do you think?

Location: Hackfall (woods) near Grewelthorpe, North Yorkshire 

4.Drunken Couple Tree

Drunken Couple Tree

We loved the feeling of this one, it feels like a gloriously happy, 
slightly tipsy couple on their way home from a good night!

Location: Roundhay Park, Leeds, Yorkshire

5.Old Man of the Woods

Old Man of the Woods

This is the exception. This evocative picture was kindly shared with us on Facebook from Brian Abnett. Sadly he doesn't know where it came from, and neither do we. 
If you do, please tell us!
Descriptions range from Swap Thing, Hagrid, the Green Man, an Ent, old man of the woods through to an army sniper.
You could say 'that's not a tree, it's a root,' but we wouldn't be listening.

Location: Currently unknown.

6.Tree at Sunset

Silhouette tree at sunset

bod has a 'bit of a thing' for winter trees silhouetted against the sky and used to decorate all manner of things with them. He was a big advocate of including this in our Top Ten List, and, luckily, we all loved it too, so there was no argument. 
Sadly, we don't have the original post link.

Location: Upper Poppleton, near York

7.Yesterday's Nut

Yesterday's Nut Tree

"Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground." - David Icke

We included this because we love the quote, and the tree! The tree is part of several quite large and characterful oaks nestled amidst very much younger silver birch trees. 
They have a very tangible presence.
Location: Skipwith Common, between York and Selby

8.Wizard's Cape Tree

Wizard's Cape Tree

So called because it was possible to stand inside this tree and, when viewed, it almost looked as if you were wearing the tree. One of the comments on Facebook was 
'Looks as though if you stand in the middle bit it will give you a cuddle' -  Exactly! 
Another one from The Wolds, East Yorkshire. 

Location: On the Wolds Way between Fridaythorpe and Gill's Farm - just after West Dale.  

9.Sculpture Tree

Sculpture Tree

We loved this because of its powerful presence, standing right in the middle of the path. Also because it was another example of bod's wee quote:
 'Nature is the greatest artist and sculptor of all.' 

Location: Hackfall (woods) near Grewelthorpe, North Yorkshire 


10. Dancing Tree

Dancing Tree

Definitely one of our absolute favourites of this year. The original wording with the post was:
Walking Tree in Cornwall (with flares I think.....)
.....or perhaps dancing.
Definitely dancing we now think.....
A small confession....this was from a photo 'archive' or ours and wasn't really seen this you think that's ok.......?

Location: A graveyard in a wood somewhere near Boscastle, Cornwall.

Onward and Upward and into the new year!

We will obviously be continuing our wee adventures in the British countryside (mostly Yorkshire!) next year, and reporting back on all the interesting trees that we see.

Do you have any pictures of great trees that you've seen in this fair land of ours?

If so, we'd love to see them and maybe share them on our sites on Facebook/Twitter/Google etc. - you can send them to us either through one of the above sites, or email us via our Contact Us page on the main Justbod Website.

Thanks for reading!

The Justbod Team

Visit our main site:

Artwork carvings and sculptures
~inspired by history and nature~

You might also be interested in :

  In Search of the Cowthorpe Oak
The Celtic Tree of Life 'Crann Bethadh'

Tree of Life Wall Plaque
Visit our Tree of Life Page

For updates on new products, articles & offers:  

Sources and further information: