Sticks, Clogs, Ribbons And Bells ~ Yesterday Was A Big Hurrah For Apples At Coalbrookdale’s Greenwood Trust

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The Ironmen lining up.

And the Severn Gilders Morris doing their stuff:

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While the band played:

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And apples were pressed:

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And unusual varieties identified:

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And home-made cakes and roast pork buns scoffed, stories told, local makers’ wares displayed, and all matters relating to trees and woodland widely shared, and then bottles of fresh-pressed juice to take home…

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And all in celebration of the apple whose magnificent variety and native seasonal range has been much undermined since the advent of supermarkets which managed to reduce a possible choice of 750 cultivars to half a dozen. But things are changing. Old apple trees are being rediscovered and nurtured, and orchards replanted. Nor could there be a better time to be planting them. Trees absorb carbon and we need to plant three trillion fairly fast. Apart from which, there is much to be said for the old saying: an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Line Squares #13

Abermawr Cove ~ It’s The Seal’s Whiskers

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It was hard to tear myself away from Tregwynt Mill; unexpected burst of hot September sun or no, there was a strong inclination to curl up among Welsh tweed quilts and cushions on the showroom bed. To distract myself from wool-lust I suggested we walked down to the sea. It’s not far, I tell Graham, he who too often suspects me of total map-reader-error. I was surprised when he agreed.

We followed the course of the stream that had once powered several mills in the valley. The lane was bosky, enclaves of deep and mossy shade, then sudden sprinkles of sunlight through sycamore, ash and alder. There were old walls, built in the local style of vertically laid stones wherein strap ferns and pennywort had found a root-hold.

After about half a mile we found the sign to the coastal path, and almost at once, there we were, looking down on Abermawr beach. The cove itself was sparse in humanity, and we found out why when we got down there. The pebbles were so heaped up and huge they were almost impossible to walk over. Most people were passing by, following the cliff trail that crossed at the back of the cove.  We perched on some rounded rocks and tried to locate the source of the strange barking calls to seaward. And then we saw it. And it saw us. And in between sunning its face, it watched me taking its photo. Nor was it alone. Its partner (parent perhaps) was somewhere out in the bay, doubtless doing some fishing, but whenever it returned to the cove it did not seem keen to show much of itself.

And so a chance walk proved to be one of life’s blissful moments, a piece of happenstance that won’t be forgotten, sitting by a blue sea, under blue sky, dreamy warmth, blue coastline of Llyn Peninsula barely there on the sea-line, and now and then meeting the eye of a sun-bathing seal.

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Line Squares #6

What Next: A Cloud Of Herring?

Once it was said the hauls of  herring landed at Fishguard were so great that the fields of West Wales were spread with the excess catch. And if this sounds balmy, decomposing fish would make a good (if environmentally expensive and pretty maloderous) fertiliser. When I read this I then remembered that the farmers of the great Inca Empire of Peru were said to do a similar thing. Before planting their maize seed, they dibbed a hole and dropped a fish in first to feed the growing plant. I’m assuming it wasn’t a fresh one that could otherwise have been eaten.

The sculpture (maker not credited) sits beside the harbour in Lower Fishguard and commemorates the town’s rich herring days. The trade was already established by the 900s CE when the Vikings, who spent a lot of time raiding Wales and Ireland, left off pillaging for a bit of fish buying.  These rapacious sea-raiders called the little inlet Fiskigarðr  and this, according to the town web page, means ‘fish catching enclosure’ in Old Norse. The name Fiscard in fact hung on for centuries after the Vikings were long gone, and only Anglicised at the end of the 19th century. The Welsh name is of course quite different, and probably these days more geographically useful. Abergwaun means the mouth of the Gwaun River.

The herring industry scaled reached industrial heights in the late 18th century. Fifty Fishguard coastal vessels were bringing in catches that were sold in Ireland and the English ports of Bristol and Liverpool. Oats were the other main export, the crop doubtless well fish-nourished on the fields of the West Wales hinterland. It now becomes clear why the town’s shipping was targeted by the American privateer Black Prince in 1779 (see previous post). It looked like the town would be good for £1000 ransom fee. But then looks can be deceptive.

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Line Squares #5

Six Word Saturday

Scenes From The Realm Of Ancestors

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Two thousand years ago the people who lived within the mountain hillfort of Carn Ingli (seen here in the distance) would have looked down on this 5,500 year-old chambered tomb of Pentre Ifan. Back then, the Neolithic burial cairn was probably mostly intact, still covered with an earth mound and extending some 120 feet (36 metres). Over the centuries most of the stones have been removed, most likely for wall and house building; only the most immovable stones remain. The capstone is reckoned to weigh 16 tonnes and is supported on the tips of three larger-than-man-size stones.

However you think about it, this tomb is an extraordinary feat of construction by people who only had tools made of stone, wood and bone. In the next photo I have included men (near and far) to give some sense of scale – height and original tomb length. The burial place, probably used for successive interments and not only for one individual, is also in sight of the sea, the harbour inlet at Parrog, Newport, which may well have been used by trading boat as far back as the Neolithic.

I’m wondering what the ancestors would think of us now: the age when folly and ignorance finally ‘triumphed’ over wisdom?

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Six Word Saturday

Thoughts From The Blue Glass Sea

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Yesterday, 20th September 2019 when young people around the world were on strike to urge politicians to start telling the truth about climate emergency and to take action NOW to save their future, I looked out on this view across Cardigan Bay in West Wales. And I thought: isn’t it time we all stopped killing the planet and thus everything we truly value?

On the 23rd September 2019 the United Nations Climate Action Summit takes place. Let’s hope the world leaders attending have their brains switched on. It will cost us a lot otherwise – the earth in fact.

Six Word Saturday

Monday Musings: A World Worth Saving? And Why Aren’t Our Leaders Taking Action NOW?

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And so asks Greta Thunberg:

 

Because there’s so much we could be doing and now. See the UN’s Climate Action site: https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/climate-action-areas.shtml

Meanwhile this is what the Secretary-General of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, António Guterres was saying a year ago when he called for global action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNe-jBVij-g

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. You can find all the scientific reports Here, including the special report on global warming Here.

None of us wants to think about this, but there are things we can do, beginning with our own community leaders. For instance the council of my  county town of Shrewsbury has declared a climate emergency and a 2030 net carbon neurtral target, this after energetic campaiging by residents and members of Extinction Rebellion.

Many other councils across the country have done likewise. You can see the UK map at climateemergency.uk

However, our county council leaders are dragging their heels. Under public pressure, they declared the climate emergency but seem unprepared to take action if it will upset economic interests. They further appeared not to know of the many innovative business initiatives (especially in biogas generation) already taking place in Shropshire. At the parliamentary level, only one of our 5 county all Tory MPs, Philip Dunne, has acknowledged the crisis and said he will do all he can to change resistant attitudes. Last week I wrote to ask him how he meant to do this, though I’ve since noticed that he has been pressing Government for zero road emissions. All in all though, there are still monumental obstacles to shift, and here in the UK we’re still stuck in the 3 year Brexit Effect – tactic of mass distraction.

So time for every one of us to get snapping at the heels of our local representatives/councillors/senators/MPs/ministers. Use their social media sites. Join or support a campaign group. Government inertia will take a lot of shifting. E.g. The oil men have known about the effect of carbon emissions on the climate since the 1970s yet, as Greta Thunberg states, still we use 100 million barrels a day. A staggering amount – and all those oil dollars into somebody’s pockets; all the wars and regime-change invasions involving oil. And it’s not just oil; it’s all the waste from the by-products of oil. Even the deniers of manmade climate change cannot deny the mess we’ve made of the planet.

And if this is leaving you feeling depressed then check out what the small ‘negative carbon’ nation of Bhutan has been doing to protect itself and help out its neighbouring countries, and indeed provide a wellbeing pattern for global action, and for all of us.

An Elephant In The Garden?

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That would be of the hawk-moth variety, Deilephila elpenor. The elephant in the name is not due to its size, though with a wingspan of one and half to two and half inches (45-60mm) it is quite large, but to the appearance of its caterpillar which has a trunk-like protuberance. The caterpillars like to feed on Rosebay Willowherb and bedstraws found in rough grassland, while the moth prefers to sup on the wing, from dusk till dawn, feeding at tubular flowers such as honeysuckle.

Before this particular Elephant hawk-moth was in the garden, it was in the utility room. We found it on the window blind, but decided it would be better off outside with the honeysuckle. It did not react to being moved or having its photo taken. In fact I think it was asleep. A very striking livery though, as moth colour schemes go.

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The Changing Seasons ~ July’s High-Summer Gold

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Without a doubt July’s stars in the-garden-over-the-fence are the Dyer’s Chamomile daisies, also known as Golden Marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria). They have flowered and flowered for weeks now, spilling out on to field path behind the house, tumbling into the garden through the fence. So much gold from a small packet of seeds bought from Jekka’s Herb Farm.

In fact some of you may remember that back in the winter I was worried about the plants’ survival. Some started flowering late last autumn and were still going in December. I was afraid that after such an untimely show, they would keel over and die. I needn’t have worried. I think they have magic powers, though they do have their foibles. For one thing, they are not early risers, and if you catch them too soon in the day, they will not be properly dressed. Each night as the sun goes down they fold back their petals, tight to the stem so they look like a crowd of golden lollipops. Now there’s a thought to ponder on. It makes me wonder if they do this to attract particular  night-time pollinators.

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And talking of pollinators the garden has been humming with hoverflies, bumbles and honey bees. And now as the month draws to a close, hot on Marguerite’s sunshine heels come Helianthus, Doronicum, Golden Rod, while among them, dots of mauve and purple from Centaurea, Phlox and Drumstick Allium add a touch of flair. What a happy garden. Which of course makes us happy too. So I’m passing it on Sun even though today it is raining here in Shropshire.

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The Changing Seasons ~ July 2019

Please pop over to Su’s to see her changing seasons in the southern hemisphere.

 

Bugs In My Borders And More About Climate Change

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It’s cool today after yesterday’s roasting, and thinking is easier. I’m still brooding on Boris Johnson’s climate change contentions (quote and article link in previous post) and it occurs to me that when an issue becomes polarized between sceptics and supporters, more energy goes into the argument than the resolution. In other words, nothing gets done and the conflict becomes an end in itself.

A poor end, I might add; the kind that happens in marriages, between nations, in neighbour feuds. And so when it comes to the climate-change sceptics, those cash-loaded, vested-interest, shadowy entities who fund political campaigns, and infiltrate their agendas across our mass media through advertising and sponsorship, then such wily bodies with share-holders to appease are sure to understand this very well. Distract. Confuse. Immobilize.

In some ways, then, whether rapid climate change is caused by humans or is the product of the planet’s own cycles, isn’t the point. The point is we need to act, because we’ve known for decades that environmental degradation affects the climate. If you cut down a forest, there will be less rainfall and more soil erosion. If you overgraze grassland you will create a desert. If you crop, mine or drill for natural resources and leave a wasteland of pollution you threaten the lives of the locals and their resulting survival tactics may only add to the problem.

Another fact: humans have been radically changing the natural environment for 10,000 years, ever since they took up cultivation and herding for a living. There is absolutely no doubt that these events happened. Environmental degradation creates and accelerates human poverty in a multiplier vortex of deprivation. Those of us who live in more privileged conditions may then be alarmed by the threat of arriving migrants, and this in turn starts colouring the complexion of a receiving nation’s politics – and not for the better for any of us.

But many of these things can be fixed. If we want to fix them. And since thinking globally is too big ‘a think’ for most of us, then there is much that can be done on local and regional levels. Here is a stunning example from China. Watch the video and be heartened and amazed. This is what it says about itself:

In 2005, the Chinese government, in cooperation with the World Bank, completed the world’s largest watershed restoration on the upper banks of the Yellow River. Woefully under-publicized, the $500 million enterprise transformed an area of 35,000 square kilometers on the Loess Plateau — roughly the area of Belgium — from dusty wasteland to a verdant agricultural center.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QUSIJ80n50&t=1810s

The further good news is, the Loess Plateau model is now being used to tackle desertification in other parts of the world. So you see we CAN do it. Acting locally, regionally, nationally can go global.

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copyright 2019 Tish Farrell

 

July Squares #26

What A Good Yarn! Knitting Bombs in Bishops Castle

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Well you can’t help but think it, can you: would that all bombing were so beautifully harmless and smile-inducing. In my last post I mentioned our ‘guerrilla garden’, but here we have a spot of guerrilla knitting found in and around our favourite small Shropshire town of Bishop’s Castle. The great knitting outbreak apparently began here a few years ago to coincide with the town’s arts festival, but I noticed some more recent additions on our last visit. It’s inspiring me to get my knitting needles out again for a little more creative procrastination, though yarn bombing Wenlock might be a step too far. Maybe the allotment…?!*&

Knitted peas and carrots anyone?

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Crocheted cupcakes at Poppies Tearoom?

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Much indulging of the imagination at the bookshop:

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And then some subtle, ‘environmentally sensitive’ yarning:

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Last but not least, in the entrance of the Town Hall you may also see a knitted version whose accompanying notice says it was created by Nigel. It’s there to serve a particular good cause, inviting donations for the care and renovation of this lovely building that sits so finely at the top of the town:

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July Squares #16