Black Looks

This afternoon we visited Elizabeth to have a look at her work on a camellia shrub on which she had sought Jackie’s advice yesterday, and to invite her to dinner this evening. She had done a good job and was pleased to accept the invitation.

On this drizzle-dismal day we drove through increasingly descending precipitation for a short while.

The usual group of Shetland ponies crossed Bull Hill in search of fresh pasturage among the gorse and heather. I got a bit wet wandering amongst them.

Virginia creeper draped over trees blended well with the fence around the land attached to the ramshackle house on Pilley Street.

Alongside School Lane, Portmore, a small flock of Valais Blacknose sheep, a German breed originating in the Valais area of Switzerland, did their best to keep their prized wool dry.

Smoke from a garden bonfire drifted across Hundred Lane, the origin of which I imagine being the Old English subdivision of a county or shire. These divisions had their own courts, and sometimes the term was applied to the court itself.

The Oxford English Dictionary states that the origin of the word ‘hundred’ is exceedingly obscure and that very diverse opinions have been given as to its origin. ’It has been regarded as denoting simply a division of a hundred hides of land; as the district which furnished a hundred warriors to the host; as representing the original settlement of the hundred warriors; or as composed of a hundred hides, each of which furnished a single warrior’ (Stubbs Const. Hist. I. v. §45).

’It is certain that in some instances the hundred was deemed to contain exactly 100 hides of land’ (F. W. Maitland).

As to the extent of the hide itself, the dictionary offers that ‘the general conclusion seems to be that it is equal to 120 acres although the area of the acre may vary.’

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s hot and spicy paprika pork; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; and tender runner beans with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, Elizabeth Hop House Lager, and I Séguret Cotes du Rhone Villages 2019.


  1. The sheep are wonderful — and they look as if their wool coats keep them very dry in that rain. The horses, on the other hand, look a little down-trodden, bedraggled in the wetness of the rain!

  2. The sheep look a little sinister to me. No faces! On the other hand, I think I might have been a Shetland Pony in my last life and if there is any justice I’ll be one in my next life, too. I tried to finish a bottle of Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc but gave up. More for tomorrow!

  3. beautiful photos even on drizzle-dismal day, Derrick. as always, the ponies and sheep are delightful! excellent header photo! 🙂

  4. It seems the origin of hundred is as dark as the countenance of those German sheep. Having never set my eyes before on the breed, I am surprised at the density of blackness from whom no light seems to be able to escape.

    1. Uma I love your words. Your first sentence sums it up beautifully, I always look forward to your comments.

  5. Those Shetlands look well-fed going into the season. They are sweet!
    I enjoyed reading about the origins of “hundred”. I always learn something new here!

  6. A hundred hides, or a hundred warriors, the origins are fascinating … thank you for this curious historical snippet Derrick..

  7. The muster (I’ve forgotten your local term) has resulted in ponies with very tidy tails. Won’t reach as far for fly-swatting but since autumn seems definitely to have descended on you, perhaps the flies have flown south.
    I just read an article that the Valais are voted the “world’s cutest sheep”, and that a couple in Devon are breeding them as pets, and that they “typically sell for up to £7,000 but the most attractive rams can fetch £10,000.” Apparently they are both meat and wool sheep, used in felting and carpet, rather than clothing as our fine merino. Let’s see what happens to your neighbourhood gang.

  8. Those Valais Blacknose sheep are remarkable. I’ve looked very closely at them, and they don’t appear to have any facial features, just a mini-black hole.

  9. We also had a drizzly, dismal, dreary day yesterday. I do like though how the bright colors stand out against the grey sky. The photo of the black and white ponies caught my eye, as did the bright flowers, but lots of beautiful photos. Thank you for those, and also for the discussion of “hundred.” There was an early settlement in 17th century Virginia called Martin’s Hundred.

  10. I like your drizzle-dismal day – the phrase, not the weather! The Pekingese sheep are highly photogenic. I’ve recently realised that I have lost one half of my shorter OED.

  11. Poor wet ponies don’t look too happy with this weather. The black and white sheep seem to be indifferent to the rain, though. I appreciated the quaint, fascinating explanation of the term “hundred.” Only in England, I think!

  12. 1 – There is not a lot more miserable than a horse with wet hair hanging over his eyes. 2 – A producer of fine wool in Australia would be very careful not to let any sheep with any coloured wool anywhere near the shearing shed. Any touches of black in any sample bale would cut his income dramatically.

  13. I came across that reference to land being in hundreds when researching hubby’s great great grandfather a South Australian colonist. I’ve heard that in NSW one could claim the land that one could ride around in a day, in SA things must have been a little more orderly.

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