Wednesday, December 14, 2011

up the snod

We leave the dark month of December briefly to look back at this record of a hot and dry morning in late September. The River Sid can be followed inland and upstream to where it connects to The Snodbrook, a small tributary of the Sid, having its source in the hill to the north. A small tarmac lane runs beside the quiet and unseen Snod. In the Sweetcombe Valley we pass by the beautiful Boswell Farm, which originally dates back to pre-Norman times and has a threshing barn built in 1710 which still stands on its original stone monastic pillars.

A couple of cars pass by and then all is quiet again. I don't meet anyone here for the next hour or two and then not until I get back to the bright lights of Sidford. I decide to get off the lane and have a look at the Snod. After working through the abundant plantage the Snod is found to be a dark but clear river about six feet wide. The lane becomes a green lane, unmade and used by ancient packhorses and drovers. These can date back to Bronze Age times, others may be just a few hundred years old. Some are known as Hollow Ways, those that have sunk below the level of the adjacent ground. Hollow Lanes sometimes give the impression of being circular in shape, so you get the sensation of walking down a long tube of flickering light, foliage and track. The lanes in the middle section of the photos are about seven to ten feet wide and are used by the occasional land rover or tractor and for the movement of cows. Gates and other exits or passing places are few and I am glad that I don't meet a herd of cows coming down the lane towards me. The lanes amble around the hills, going nowhere in particular but always connecting the fields and the isolated houses and farms to nearby civilisation.

The word Snod might have its origins in Scotland and the North of England, where it is an adjective used for smooth and sleek or neat and tidy. In old Norse there is snothin - bald and snauthr - bare. It has been suggested by some that it means sweet in Old English. It's a bit like snood, the distinctive headband formally worn by young unmarried women. In Italian Snoda seems to mean winds, in Arabic it might be الرياح . I found it in an extensive Anglo Saxon dictionary produced in 1921, appearing as snoda redimicula, Latin for a band, a necklace, or a girdle. It's even in the Urban Dictionary where Snod is an acronym for Slutty New Outfit Day, described as being when attractive girls wear outfits that are very slutty on the first good day of spring. Snod is also there as drunk and on mushrooms."Dude, I was so snod last night, I don't remember was awesome!"

These lanes are close to the towns but are quiet and empty and as such they are very much recommended for travel and exploration. The hedgerows contain lots of food, so it is possible to eat as you walk.



nobody said...

Hullo John,

I'm not sure what to make of this one. It frustrates my expectations. The path rolls ever on, each turn more beautiful than the last and yet we never get to wherever it is we're going. Where's the payoff? Why aren't our desires fulfilled? Why isn't the world as I wish it? Dukkha - put up your dukes! How dare it let me down.

Anyway John, thanks for this metaphor. We shall all continue to travel through it and no doubt after the next turn there will be another. As that guy said, when you get to a fork in the road, take it. Very good.

john said...

Hi nobody.

A lot of the lane walking is like this. It can feel claustrophobic as it's a confined space where your choices are often limited to only two directions, backwards and forwards. Every now and then you arrive at a gate and you get a spectacular or sometimes unexpected view. You then have the possibility of launching yourself over the gate and striking off on your own course. You get the idea and anyway you got to see The Snod didn't you?

Come for a guided walk around the largely unknown places of East Devon with old misery chops himself. Please bring a packed lunch.

How's the van going, that's what i want to know eh? Is it shipshaping Bristol fashion yet. Will it be done by Christmas. What are all those bits left over. You might've said something at the haiku place, I should go and have a look. It was a good image, the circuit board chip thingy, all sorts of ideas, most of them too late. There's been a lot of good haiku going on there lately hasn't there? Hope all good where you are nobody and I'm sure it'll all be done soon.

john said...

Yes nobody, all the info's at the haiku blog and it all sounds excellent. Didn't completely miss the reference to Young Mister Grace I think it was, Mrs. Slocombe and all that. I had plenty of trouble keeping off the double entendres with The Snod. At one point it started with the line 'I have often considered taking The Maid up The Snod' and then it's all downhill from there.

It sounds like some adventure is beginning for you. Happy trails, as they might say.

nobody said...

If they were a cowboy, ha ha.

Otherwise I suspect that all my grand plans for how one might live in a van will get a grand comeuppance. What seems like sensible convenience on paper isn't quite so convenient when you're actually in there doing it. Still I've only spent two nights in it, and they in the city, and there's a lot of learning yet to be done. Out in the middle of nowhere will be another story altogether. I suspect it will all make sense there.

Anyway, I proudly persevere in the great cause of reinventing the wheel. At the moment I'm inclined to think that 'round' is the best shape but perhaps that's just some trick foisted upon us by the PTB? No doubt I shall get to the bottom of it all.

Or 'snod' as we say. "He kept his fingers crossed this it would all come together when he took it up the snod."

john said...

You'll get the hang of it nobody, it's early days yet and there's plenty to find out. You'll soon figure out what you need to carry, it might be quite a long list.

Cities a good place to try it out though, easier to go back for stuff you've forgotten. Can openers, vegetable peelers, swords, cutlasses, that sort of thing. waters handy. Yes it'll probably be quite a bit of stuff.

If you're away from the cities, get a good look at the night sky. Different stars from ours but plenty going on. There may be fearful beasties in the wild out there, where you are, I don't know, but you'd have to get very lost indeed to find yourself up The Snod.

reem said...

Sunny morning ,clear photos ,interesting walk .i guess you've enjoyed John but what have you got for lunch from thus bushs ?

I like the first three photos and the last one too , the lights across the branchs are so beautifull ,the lanes seem so quiet .

One word ,differant meanings ,that's nice , i wonder what is the meaning of my name ? in arabic it means deer ,mybe i'll get search for that .

Here days are short too and soon the dark comes and the weather is cool we enjoy walking in the gardens ,it's christmas time but this year syrian people will not see the adorned pine trees on their balconies ,they will pray for their homeland in the churchs .

Anyway i like to say merry christmas for them and merry christmas for you and for your friend nobody .Take care yourself John and have good ,nice christmas time .All the best for you .

john said...

Choukran Reem.

I didn't get my lunch from the hedgerows this time. You would have to be quite hungry to eat some of it but there were still tiny wild strawberries about which are nice. It is a very quiet place to walk which I enjoy, I like a bit of peace and air.

I worry about the events that are happening around the world and particularly in Syria now. There isn't much I can do that will help or change things unfortunately and words fail me here. What can be done?

It must be nice that you have cooler weather where you are Reem and that you are able to enjoy the gardens. It has been a hard Christmas for us this year as we have lost some of our family and their absence is somehow even more noticeable at times like this. I'd like to say Merry Christmas to you too Reem and wish you all the best.

And cheers to everyone who has passed through here in the last year. You're a good lot who are either cleverer or nicer than me, or both, so thanks for being there.