Ecology, temperate rainforest

2022 — A Miracle Year, in One Respect

This is to put all you keen gardeners in your place.

It should be reassuring to see what happens if you do absolutely nothing. We dug the pond because we were fed up with having to evacuate the tadpoles every year as the puddles dry up and their wriggling density becomes alarming.

We dug it in June (well, Mauryg dug, I just did the interfering)
New pond July 2022. The start of a very dry summer.

Here it is 4 months later — despite the drought!

Isn’t that miraculous? The opportunism of plants — I wonder if the few things we have actually planted will survive the competition — probably not, but that is what it is all about…

There are fishes too, very tiny super-sonic ones. This is promising:

A frog wondering where her favourite puddle has gone. There are water boatmen and the southern hawker was patrolling all summer, though we haven’t seen the female laying eggs we live in hope that soon the mud will be teeming with insect larvae.

It’s been a miraculous summer all round.

In the seventeen years I’ve lived in Wales I’ve never before eaten a home grown hazel nut, the same is not true of our squirrels and jays — this year there has been plenty to share.
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Architecture, Art, British history

Looking Back

Sometimes an image will transport you to another time.

The carved bench ends of St Winnow’s Church in Cornwall take you straight back to 1520!

The same place, the Fowey estuary, but 500 years ago. A Tudor boat, like the ones they saw from the church yard, but in a heavy sea, blown by the wind god.

Local craftsmen will have been carving what they knew. Images and icons of the time, emblems, armorial bearings, monograms or, maybe an allusion to a sponsor, perhaps a guild. They were artists so there is more to the work than Christian symbolism — they capture the essence of the time.

According to Todd Gray, A Gazetteer of Ancient Bench Ends in Cornwall’s Parish Churches, these carvings of tools are images of the Passion (above is a hammer and pincers, pillar with cord and 2 whips). With my artisan’s hat on I wonder if they represent carpenters and the ceremonial truncheons — the marks of authority of maybe the constable and the two keepers of the poor-house.

You will note that some of these bench ends are better preserved than others — the church was renovated in 1874 and care was taken to preserve the ancient bench ends at that time.

This is supposed to be the symbol of the martyr Saint Catherine but her wheel should have impaling spikes to inflict her horrible death and be broken by the power of her holy spirit. Could it actually be a nod to the wheelwright who financed this particular bench end? Did he sit here?

As I get older I realise how short is a lifespan. How near we are to 1520 — how nothing changes. Here is the bench end that confirms this. Have you noticed how the archaeologists on TV are obsessed with ritual — I always look for practical explanations — is this chap a sinner or just marking the brewer’s bench?

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