New splash of colour in Kelston clump

This was nice to see after our December bluebell planting efforts.

We’re very much hoping these are Hyacinthoides non-scripta and not the other ones; we love Jamon iberica but Hyacinthoides hispanica not so much…

Here’s the key to distinguish them…

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Middle Ground Growers’ equinox celebration at Roundhill Barn

We were pleased to welcome our new neighbours the Middle Ground Growers from the other side of the hill for an equinox celebration of their new venture and successful fundraise.

Their Weston Spring project is a new market garden growing local organic fruit and veg, with local delivery by e-bike. In an age of mini-courgettes flown in from Kenya and asparagus from Peru they’re taking the World Heritage City to the old ways in an outstanding, natural and beautiful way. Let’s not forget this is how Bath’s earlier Roman and Georgian residents would have fed themselves.

Starting a new venture is always risky, and earning a living from local farmland is hard work. Their worthwhile project is something we’re happy to support.

Weston Spring project supporters wandered up to the clump as drinks were served, with local cider and beer from the Electric Bear brewery .
Anticipation building as the bands soundcheck while Robbie cooking up a storm in the kitchen.
World music legends Baka Beyond – our local friends Su Hart and Martin Cradick with a superb Senegalese rhythm section – dishing up mellow danceable traditional Cameroon sounds. Excellent support by Easy Peelers.
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Spring, and the lettings season restarts for Roundhill Barn

Spring and beautiful weather has seen increased visits to Kelston Clump. The Roundhill Barn is again available for short-term hire: see dedicated web site here. Apologies if the lettings team has been hard to contact for some weeks: we had admin and staff issues (all now happily resolved).

This weekend two lucky 16-year-olds had a memorable birthday weekend of sunlight and moonlight with dozens of friends. Adult supervision was kept at a safe distance with the elegant solution of a 1967 Airstream Trail Wind from Nick at Glamstreams: all mod cons in a classic aero-engineering aesthetic.

Heating, shower, loo, cooker, super-comfy double beds; LED lighting and USB power throughout. The refurbished and modernised classic Airstream from Glamstreams is the business.
Who says 16 year olds aren’t responsible? Roundhill Barn beautifully cleared up by young people after an intense evening of exuberant celebration.
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More Roundhill pics: Dick Bateman

Dick Bateman, learned retired geography teacher and keen walker who knows Kelston Roundhill as well as anyone, has responded to Ben’s pictures below with some of his own.

Maybe its time we revived our photo competition (first prize was a Bath Soft Cheese, consolation prize hard cheese, and past winner in most categories typically the one and only Matt Prosser).

Jackdaws on Kelston Roundhill (please supply your own sound effects)
Kelston Roundhill on the horizon with mist over Kelston and Saltford (looks like from Prospect Style, but Dick may correct me)
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New Kelston Roundhill photo book project by Ben Walmsley

The photographer Ben Walmsley contacts us with some photos and questions:

I am a photographer currently putting together a series of images of Kelston Roundhill for a book. I was wondering if you had any information about the history, I have found that there is something about how it was very important to the town of Kelston a long time ago, but is there anything more you can tell me, or be able to point me in the right direction of where I could find out such information

Where do we start? Maybe with the Kelston History Group, and perhaps the detailed description of Dick Bateman’s 7000 years of enterprise walk from Saltford to Kelston, part of the RGS’ Discovering Britain series.

Thanks for the images Ben. Do share more as we go through the seasons, and best of luck with the book!

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Boxing Day planting bluebell bulbs; a gift from Middle Ground Growers

Boxing Day we planted a mass of English bluebell bulbs in Kelston clump. It always feels like an ideal location for bluebells, but we’ve never seen any flowering in there until spring 2021, and even then it was just a few of the invasive sort.

So we accepted with pleasure a generous Christmas gift from our new neighbour Hamish from the Middle Ground Growers of a bucket of English bluebell bulbs. He said it was 200 bulbs; we reckon we planted about 500 and had a good quantity left over for another round. We dug hem in around the base of trees, and sprinkled some chili flakes and cinnamon to deter pests.

Come and check in April. We’re hoping to see some first flashes of blue. But maybe you’ll just find a bunch of well-fed squirrels…

Super sunny conditions for a Boxing Day outing.
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Two Kelston Roundhill poems to mark Winter Solstice 2021 – by Jon Hamp

Winters lighthouse keeper

There should be a lighthouse here.
Here, high upon this hill
It’s arm would hold us steady
and guard the western wall.

& it’s great light sweeps the stars from white horse manes,
esplayed on Eastern hills

and turns to fracture
snow on beacons
West,  beyond the deeper waters.

Keynsham and Salford from Roundhill Barn, 21 Dec 2021

Solstice City Blue

A cold pearl in the oyster
the grey shell in the pearl –
So, let the city’s nighttime flag
dissemble and unfurl.

Slowly, silent through the dark;
move shimmering Emerald planes.
Diamond cars hiss softly
of sleeping sapphire trains.

Jewels of winter colour, scatter –
strewn across the charcoal sheet
out to where the hope of Spring –
our broken blues and yellows meet

And all these toys beneath us
(Once on front room carpets)
lay Winter at our feet.

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Reflections on 2021 Winter Solstice at Kelston Roundhill

On 21 December a couple of dozen of us dressed warm, gathered at Roundhill Barn and walked up to Kelston Clump to watch the end of the year’s shortest day.

It’s great to mark the Solstice properly; it marks something of fundamental importance about this time of year and has a wonderful way of liberating you to enjoy Christmas more fully.

Sunset on the shortest day of 2021 (photo: Jon Hamp, approaching from the north east around 1530).

Earlier we had the sun break out for the first time in weeks as we set up, so was a spectacular evening. Our very own Kelston Laureate Jon Hamp shared poems, with rich imagery rooted to the spot and that moment: the Roundhill as our lighthouse in a stormy sea.

We returned to the barn and – in a short event put on by Isabel Russo and Craig Kenyon – shared reflections about Solstice, about the beauty of life stripped back to the winter minimum, and how even if we fear the dark it the time we need to dream.

We shared reflections about Solstice, why we fear but also crave the dark, and looked forward to the return of longer days.

Solstice is a great moment for reflection, especially at a time when we’ve all got massive issues and challenges to think about. The months of darkness allow us to winter; to prepare not just for new life but also a renewed scrutiny when the light returns.

It’s good to remember that we dream in the dark, and that we’re now closer to spring than to September

As we rounded up Pete Judge treated us to a Solstice fanfare, and we danced round our circle of intentions. We shared refreshments and mulled wine, and headed off ready to face all that Christmas and to approach new-year challenges with hope. How else can we approach near-lockdown, delinquent leadership, fraught relations with neighbouring countries, a climate crisis and life’s usual challenges?

As we packed up and left around 1930, with Jupiter and Venus visible to the south, the moon started to rise to the east behind the clump.
Where are our photo-heroes Matt Prosser or Tim Graham when you need them? Hard to do the moonrise justice with my old phone, but here’s the best I could do…
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Can spreading curds and whey encourage the growth of mosses and lichen?

Last users forgot four 2-litre milk containers in the fridge for a couple weeks. Here it is sprayed over the courtyard wall.

The conservation architects I used to live with spoke of soaking bricks in ox blood to get an authentic colour and spreading milk and yoghourt on walls and benches to encourage the growth of mosses and lichens.

Does that even work? There’s only one way to find out. Tho my sister and co-owner says you need to mix in manure for best results. And this web site says you need to throw in some moss and mix it in a kitchen blender (like you keep a spare one for stomach-churning experiments). More to this than meets the eye.

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Advent Brushes Clean – poem by Jon Hamp

The weight of winter builds
to lean against the summer dam,
The dark deep waters whisper, fading, softly
Here I am.
Winter trees.
Distant cousins to the summer siblings
that we knew,
Winter takes an artless brush to
paint our reverie
Mountain blue.
The water forces flowers and sticks apart,
Sending sunlit smiles downstream.
as sediment on a coastal shelf
(A family smiling in the surf)
A hilltop moment, headlight beam.

Jon Hamp 2021

Kelston Roundhill on a clear December day.

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