Saturday, 18 September 2010

When you can't sleep . . .

1.30 a.m. on a cool September morning. Having gone to bed at 8.30 p.m. feeling doozy, and then waking at midnight, wondering if my daughter was in yet, I am now paying the price . . .

At 12.15 I padded downstairs, barefoot, thick dressing gown pulled tight around me and peered outside. The peering through the curtains in our bedroom, and then the half-landing showed a deep darkness that hid any possible silver grey car shape on the driveway. I opened the front door, and peered out. I still couldn't see a car, so in a scattering of kittens (who are now about 4 months old and well grown, and have taken to spending the night on my gardening kneeling mat on the porch), I padded, still barefoot, along the pathway until I could see that the drive was still empty. I went back to bed, and laid there for another 15 minutes, until my middle daughter arrived home from her bar job. I waited for sleep to reclaim me. It blardy-well DIDN'T. I got hotter and thirstier and gave up the unequal struggle, so here I am, a hunk of home-made bread in front of me and a half-empty glass of lager . . . well, the principle is it should help me relax and sleep.

I would love to read some more of a new-to-me-but-2nd-hand book that my daughter brought me back from Bristol: Journal of a Somerset Rector 1803 - 1834. He was John Skinner. Not a happy man - curmudgeonly even - but the poor chap had lost his darling wife, their dearest daughter (who was a chip off the old block) and various other close members of his family in fairly short order (several to TB) and his life was never really happy after that (not unsurprisingly). He lived in Camerton, a small mining village near Radstock in Somerset. He was an antiquary, like many of his ilk in that time, and never happier when holed-up in his study, proving to himself that he lived in Camulodunum - that wonderful spot where had once lived Caractacus, where Ostorius had settled a colony, and "where Arthur had fought the traitor Mordred" . . . he was positive that Camerton was none other than the Camulodunum of Tacitus, and he spent many many hours researching and "proving" this fact. He took himself to Stourhead, home of Sir Richard Hoare, and there holed up in HIS study, doing more research, though once another antiquary had the afront to state that Camulodunum was actually COLCHESTER! His jottings finally filled 98 volumes (!) of manuscripts, but sadly, at some point along the way, they ceased to be less about Camulodunum and more telling of the foibles of John Skinner . . . I cannot wait to read further . . .


  1. Somehow going to bed early never works well! It seems a necessary thing at the time and then there is that stretch of "wee hours" when time seems out of kilter. I must say the crumudgeonly man's essays might not lull me happily back to sleep--
    My late MIL's remedy for late night prowlings was hot milk with a lashing of honey and a good sprinkling of ginger. Its better than it sounds and the lurking felines always think it would be nice of me to make them a milky midnight drink.
    Methinks your feet may be chilly when you go back to bed!

  2. Hope that you finally got to sleep, it's awful lying there wideawake when you should be in dreamland. I'm beginning to wonder if I shall ever write anyone a letter ever again but I WILL e-mail you later today.

  3. If I'm not asleep within an hour of going to bed, I get up and read or do a crossword puzzle and am thankful that being retired I don't HAVE to get up early in the morning.

  4. One of Richard Hoares descendants is a regular visitor to the manor {grin} the most delightful man,Stourhead is now turned over to the National Trust but he lives in the grounds.My first encounter with him was on one of my first nights here....The front door knocked(which means business) & I opened it thinking crikey its late who wants me??!! & he was there hopping up & down like a small boy lol! shrieked dearest lady at me! & said here are the keys to my landrover, I without thinking answered GREAT! I will get you the keys to my Mondeo estate!!! It was dawning on me even as I said it that he may be someone work related...& I wished the words back in my mouth as soon as they flew out...but he roared with laughter & hugged me!!!!!!
    Every visit he is here is a complete delight, his wife is a darling & I am always over the moon when I know they are coming!
    Hope you drifted back to sleep x x
    GTM x x x

  5. GTM - Fancy that! Is he a Colt-Hoare or a plain Hoare?! There was mention of a Mr Else in the diary too . . . I thought of your local bod and wondered if he's a descendent?

    Folks - I am resting up and Being Good. No option as I felt so lousy earlier on when I tried to do some work and have the shortest of walks.

    MM - I don't LIKE milk!!

  6. Plain lol Hoare,his grandfather gave Stourhead to the NT.The Else's are a family of butchers & fishmongers from another village,must be an old name though :o)
    Hope you are feeling brighter x x xx

  7. I think you did somehting much better than sleeping--reading about this interesting character and now you even know something about this descendents.--Hart

  8. Just a suggestion... I find that a small inexpensive mp3 player loaded with either talking books or old radio shows and kept tucked under the pillow really helps when I can't sleep because of a busy mind. (The volume is low and I just use a single earbud so don't disturb my husband) All Gas and Gaiters and Jane Austen are on their at the moment

  9. or even 'there' ..I wish I could type

  10. I have had nights like that recently BB. Reading long into the small hours is often the only way to feel sleepy again.

    How fascinating that GTM knows the modern representatives of that family. I`m hoping for a visit to Stourhead this autumn, to walk in the beautiful gardens as the leaves change colour.

    I hope you are feeling better today.x