Wednesday, October 30, 2019

"Ramble on"

I'm writing this post because of a comment Sam made after the "Susan's summer" entry here. If you haven't seen his comment, and then Cath's, you may find them there. 

I'll just put up the you tube of Led Zeppelin singing Ramble On right off the bat so you can have it in your heads as you read along.

I'm not a huge fan (I was more of a Jeff Beck girl), but this is a great song, and even though loud and rocky it is in the English folk tradition with its words. I had to look up a couple that I didn't know because I haven't read Tolkien.



J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium location
Flag of Mordor SVG.svg
Flag displaying the Red Eye of Sauron, Lord of Mordor (based on a design by Tolkien)
First appearanceThe Lord of the Rings
TypeRealm and base of operations of Sauron.

(later ruled by his freed slaves)
Notable locationsBarad-dûr (the Dark Tower), Mount Doom, the Ash Mountains, the Mountains of Shadow (Ephel Dúath), the Black Gate, Cirith Ungol, Gorgoroth, the Sea of Nurnen, Udûn
Other name(s)the Land of Shadow, the Black Land, the Nameless Land
LocationEast of Gondor
LifespanSecond Age  Fourth Age
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional world of Middle-earth, Mordor (pronounced [ˈmɔrdɔr]; from Sindarin Black Land and Quenya Land of Shadow) is the realm and base of the arch-villain Sauron. It was located in the southeast of northwestern Middle-earth, east of the great river Anduin. Mount Doom, a volcano in Mordor, was the goal of the Fellowship of the Ring(and later Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee) in the quest to destroy the One Ring.
Mordor had three enormous mountain ranges surrounding it, from the north, from the west and from the south. The mountains both protected the land from an unexpected invasion by any of the people living in those directions and kept those living in Mordor from escaping. Tolkien was reported to have identified Mordor with the volcano of Stromboli off Sicily, in terms of geographic equivalency with the real world.

And Gollum

Middle-earth character
AliasesSméagol, Trahald ("true" Westron name)
RaceHobbit (Stoor branch)
Book(s)The Hobbit

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Two Towers

The Return of the King

Unfinished Tales
Gollum is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He was introduced in the 1937 fantasy novel The Hobbit, and became an important character in its sequel, The Lord of the Rings. Gollum was a Stoor Hobbit[1] of the River-folk, who lived near the Gladden Fields.[2] Originally known as Sméagol, he was corrupted by the One Ring and later named Gollum after his habit of making "a horrible swallowing noise in his throat".[3]
In Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings, the name Sméagol is said to be a "translation" of the actual Middle-earth name Trahald (having to do with the idea of "burrowing", and rendered with a name based on Old English smygel of similar meaning).[4] Several critics speculate that Beowulf's Grendel could have been an inspiration for Gollum due to the many parallels between them  such as their affinity for water, their isolation from society, and their bestial description.[5] Although Tolkien never explicitly stated this, he accredited Beowulfas one of his "most valued sources" when writing The Hobbit.[6]
The Ring, which Gollum referred to as "my precious" or "precious", extended his life far beyond natural limits. Centuries of the Ring's influence twisted Gollum's body and mind, and, by the time of the novels, he "loved and hated [the Ring], just as he loved and hated himself." Throughout the story, Gollum was torn between his lust for the Ring and his desire to be free of it. Bilbo Baggins found the Ring and took it for his own, and Gollum afterwards pursued it for the rest of his life. Gollum finally seized the Ring from Frodo Baggins at the Cracks of Doom in Orodruin in Mordor, but he fell into the fires of the volcano, where both he and the Ring were destroyed.

Most probably this song is where I first heard the word, "ramble". When we in the US use it, we usually mean someone is going on and on telling a story. 
But I have rambled in England. When we two young kids went over in 1971, we were enchanted by footpaths with stiles and gates. We were amazed that we could walk (ramble) right into someone's pasture. When we went with our children in 1992, we actually had to run away from a bull! 
The whole idea of land is different in the two countries. We have private land and public land, and rarely do they meet. The only time I think anyone is allowed on private land is during hunting season, IF the land isn't posted with no hunting/no trespassing signs. Land is pretty sacred. The image you must have seen of a guy with a gun keeping people off his land is not made up. 
I've read in books, and seen on television shows over the years about people parking their "caravans" on someone's land. In Pie in the Sky, a group of people move onto a vegetable farmer's land and the owner can't really stop them. The police aren't going to bother moving them off. So maybe public and private are a bit wound together there? That would never happen in the US. The police would be there in a shot moving them along. 
It's possible that other places in the country might be different. I really don't know. I have a friend in Vermont and she could only put up signs that said to stay outside a certain distance from the house and yard during hunting season. I would be a wreck having animals and kids in that situation. We might have an occasional straggler way up on the land, but over all these years people would come and ask if they might hunt here, and were kindly and polite when we said no. 
I know my cousin on a ranch in Texas would never have anyone come onto her land and make camp. It just isn't done, and isn't even thought of. 
I look forward to my English readers' comments about this situation. I've wondered about it for years, and now may find out the answer.
I also want to take this chance to say how very thankful I am for you who read, and for you who comment. In the world of social media where a quick sentence or a "like" button will do as a reply, I am grateful for the thoughtful responses I get to my posts, and the wonderfully long and meaningful posts I read on other blogs. The blogging world is alive and well, which makes me very happy.


  1. What an interesting post. We have the 'right to ramble' here in the UK. Loads of public footpaths all over the place including those which go over privately owned farming land. The farmers are not always too keen on this as the public do not always treat the livestock and fields with respect, (dogs off the lead can be a particular problem with sheep). Most do but you always get someone spoiling it for all. I may be wrong about this but I don't think people have the right to park their caravans on someone else's land. Although we do get travellers doing it but they're not supposed to. It's a bit of a grey area I suspect. Anyone wanting to pitch a tent on farming land is expected to ask the farmer first I believe... most would find an official campsite I think rather than do that. Wild camping is offically not allowed in England but is ok in Scotland.

    Hunting with guns is not as much of a thing here in the UK as it is in the US and France. Pheasant shoots take place but are very organised on big estates in, for instance, the wilds of Scotland. You would never have people wandering around willy-nilly with guns shooting at wildlife, other than farmers maybe on their own land keeping the rabbit population down. When we visited my late sister-in-law in France once and wanted to go for a walk she told us to take care as it was hunting season and the hunters sometimes made mistakes and shot people. My shock was profound. LOL! Of course we used to have fox hunting, but that really is a 'whole other story' as you say over there. They did sometimes trespass, I vividly remember my mother-in-law's fury as she recounted how the hunt once rode through her garden trampling her wonderful garden in the process. She was the keenest gardener I ever knew and it broke her heart nearly. I don't remember the outcome but suspect she probably got an apology for their behaviour and rightly so.

    By the way you don't see so many stiles these days but as a child in Cornwall they were all granite and when out with family the kids crossed and recrossed each stile umpteen times as opposed to the adults 'once'. We'd stand on the top stone chanting 'I'm the king of the castle and you're the dirty rascal'.

    I too am very happy that the blogging world is alive and well.

    1. Oh, how I loved your informative comment! So much to think about.
      I wouldn't be happy if people and dogs went walking through my pasture.
      They have hunting places in some states - mostly western, I think, but not here. The hunting seasons are specific times for certain creatures- the one where we stop going into the woods at all is deer season which lasts about two weeks in November and December. We are always happy to see deer after the season to know they lived. But no "willy-nilly". There are occasional accidental deaths. One was an FBI man - Lots of controversy about it. The answer is to not go in the woods and post your land.
      No rabbit shooting in our area.
      What an awful thing about your mother-in-law. So sad. How could they make such a mistake? Susan Hill has something interesting to say about the hunt in the book I'm reading. She is really of two minds. Rare to see anyone see both sides of any subject!
      So love the stiles story.
      Travellers are not here. There were stories when I was a child that were probably not true about "gypsies" as was the word 60 years ago shoplifting in the town. And always stories of children being stolen. Isn't that just awful to think people actually said such things?

  2. While we would never dream of camping on someone's private property without permission, we have indeed camped on private property utilizing a camping membership called Harvest Hosts. Most of the hosts are either wineries/vineyards, farms or museums. Our favorite was a lavender farm in Sequim, WA. These are free places to camp for a night (sometimes two nights) and not cost us anything other than whatever we might wish to purchase like a bottle of wine or some other food item. That's not a requirement, but it seems like the polite thing to do. :)

    1. I understand "hosting" but not just driving onto a field and settling in! I think those would be my favorite kind of stopping places if I were traveling.

  3. That is indeed a lovely song, Nan. I will have to ask my husband about it, he is the Led Zeppelin fan in our family. I am pretty clueless with music of any kind.

    That is funny about different meanings of ramble. I do think of rambling around as walking around an area or such (but not hiking, which has a purpose), but my family on my mother's side is well known for telling a rambling story, so I guess I use it both ways.

    1. I love that you know it both ways, esp. the last. Tom tends to do that as well.

  4. The general view of land here in Germany is more similar to the US, minus the guns of course. Here, you can not simply pull your caravan or erect your tent whereever you please, but only in designated spots. On the other hand, there are many public footpaths through privately owned woodlands, orchards, vineyards and fields, as you see in the pictures on my posts.

    1. I wonder what makes Europe and the US so different when it comes to public footpaths? Of course it could be that Americans tend to not walk that much for pleasure. And maybe because it is so big. But I've never heard the idea even mentioned here. BTW, my friends' son and wife and daughter have just moved to Germany! Landstuhl, I think.

  5. Nan, sorry but I don't have time now to reply in full. I agree with Cath's post and for the last 20 years of my working life I was a Rights of Way officer dealing with claims for public rights of way - footpaths, bridleways, byways open to all traffic. The law is complicated and difficult and at times my job was fraught to say the least. very contentious. Maybe some other time I can explain in more detail - but we can't walk everywhere in this country and certainly people can't shoot within distance of a public right of way.

    1. Very, very interesting. What a job to have had! Nothing relaxing about it.

  6. We have ancient 'rights of way', which may cross private land and are hotly defended by those who wish to use them.
    In 1932, the mass trespass at Kinder Scout led to the opening up of more land to walkers.
    You certainly can't just park a caravan anywhere you choose. As Cath said, travellers do it and are extremely unpopular as a result because it's so hard to get rid of them. It's a vexed issue which causes tempers to flare and I won't go into it.
    If I found someone in my garden, I would certainly ask them to leave smartish!

    1. Just the words "ancient rights of way" are a kind of poetry. I just looked up the mass trespass. So interesting. And the idea of a "code". I feel like this is all part of the politeness of the English. We would have to have a law for it to work.
      I wonder why it is hard to get rid of travellers if they are on your personal land. That's sure what I saw in the Pie in the Sky episode. If you "asked" them to leave, would they? If you called the police would they come?
      This is just the most interesting subject to me.

  7. It truly is wonderful to walk in England where one has a public right of way. Like you, the first time I saw this, I was astonished. I love the kissing gates that you can come upon! They allow people to get through but not cows. Let's go walk in England, Nan!

    1. Oh, how I would love that! I keep thinking of the As Time Goes By episode when Jean and Lionel try to find a small hotel they stayed in years before, and how it had all grown up on the former path. That happened to Tom and I the first time we went to Cornwall. We got caught in gorse.

  8. I echo what all the other British dwellers have said. There seem to be a lot of stiles wherever I go, but they may flourish in some areas and not others. As a trail runner I hit a lot of those and also a million different kinds of gate. We have the countryside code which tells us to close gates to fields and not let our dogs chase animals and all sorts.

    1. As I wrote to Call Me Madam, I just love the idea of a "code". So you get a little cross training by having to climb up and over!!

  9. This was fascinating and I enjoyed the comments left too. I was familiar with the UK meaning of Ramble from all the British shows I've watched on Netflix--binged for the second time on Midsomer Murders before the deadline came when they took it off, something I hated to see happen, and from watching Father Brown more leisurely. And I've been fascinated by the concept of "ancient laws", something used as a theme on more than one show.

    But Nan, I had no idea that here in the US hunters are allowed to hunt on private land without permission. I know when we had 24 acres, previously, that we always made our kids where orange hats during hunting season just because we were afraid that hunters on neighbors' land wouldn't realize where the boundaries were. And there were many times when my husband went running out into the woods yelling when he would hear guns being fired, letting hunters know to keep off, while I waited inside afraid that he too would get shot.

    Since our woods were not dense enough to get lost in walking in them is something I miss. I always felt the way Ronald Blythe wrote about it, that a walk in the woods was perfectly liturgical. However I can easily imagine it being frightening to get lost in them.

    I've never read Tolkien and never even watched the movies with our kids until a few years ago when I was pressured to try one. I remember loving it, wondering why I did because they just aren't my kind of thing.

    I've always loved how so many things are called something different in the UK compared to here in the States and when I come across one new to me in a book I'm reading I always wish I had started a list years ago.

    1. I think all the Midsomer Murders are on Acorn: Do you get that? You would love it, my dear.
      I think as long as land isn't posted, hunters are allowed, as would be four-wheelers, cross-country skiers, etc.
      I used to go out in the yard and yell when I heard a gun that I thought was on our land. I yelled, no hunting, there are children and animals here!
      I really must read Ronald Blythe. I have a book here, but have heard about him for ages.
      So many people love Tolkien, but I just can't seem to, though I do like reading about The Inklings. I have three books about them!

  10. I've never read Tolkien, although judging by frequent references, many people have.
    When living in WY we learned that much open land was referred to as BLM--[Bureau of Land Management]. I never learned just how it differed from 'open range' or privately held land.
    Here in KY we've been told that when in unfamiliar territory and approaching a homestead, the correct thing to do is stay in the vehicle and sound the horn until someone appears and acknowledges your presence. In Vermont, where we lived for much of our lives, that would have been considered rudeness.
    Yesterday I brought out Lee Pennock Huntington's little book of essays, "Hill Song" to read the entries for Autumn. She mentioned the yearly dilemma of giving limited permission to hunt their 'posted' land. Its an issue to ponder.

  11. I read a blog of an English lady that has a goal of so many "walks" per year. She and a friend do them. They are what I would call hikes. The pictures she posts of the walks are fascinating to me. I would so do that if there was such a place to walk around here.
    As to squatters, I have read that there are people that will go into an empty house set up housekeeping and you can't throw them out unless you can prove they have no right there. Some say they have contracts to stay and you have to prove they don't. CRAZY but it happens apparently.
    I used to live in the country and I would hear shooting ever so often. Scary really because a lot of people aren't so conscientious about safety.

  12. We walk the footpaths in the south of England frequently but sometimes come unstuck if using an out of date guide book. We prefer short circular walks and know many of them from memory now but if they are not well maintained it can get rather difficult. I don't like finding myself edging gingerly along a path with barbed wire on one side and brambles on the other! Stiles are sometimes obscured or collapsed and fields can contain unwelcome livestock. We once ran the gauntlet of a field with a bull and a swarm of bees!

  13. Nan, this was a fascinating post and wonderful discussion amongst your readers. I do not think that hunting on private lands is automatically permissible here “out west” but many properties would border BLM or other public lands where it might be permitted. One thing I absolutely hate to see (it almost makes me ill) is the occasional farm that opens itself to paid game hunting (either native or imported animals). That is so so wrong. ... I live in the City limits, but there are public walk/bike paths everywhere ... I love being able to walk to the River and to the ponds.


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