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Monday, September 28, 2015

JACARANDAS


When over in Australia visiting my daughter I was completely smitten with the blossoming Jacaranda trees (they also come in white). Not indigenous to Oz, they originally came from South Africa but enjoy the similar climate in Australia and have flourished.

Although they will not tolerate an English winter I was determined to try to grow one here. I picked up a seed pod underneath one near Perth, W.A.


Later on my daughter sent me a small wooden box with some of the seeds in it. Shades of The Lord of the Rings when Galadriel gives Sam a similar box:
"For you little gardener and lover of trees," she said to Sam, "I have only a small gift." She put into his hand a little box of plain grey wood, unadorned save for a single silver rune upon the lid."Here is set G for Galadriel, but also it may stand for garden in your tongue. In this box there is earth from my orchard.......there will be few gardens...that will bloom like your garden if you sprinkle this earth there. Then you may remember Gladriel and catch a glimpse of far off Lorien that you have only seen in our winter...."

Over the years I have planted seeds and nurtured a tree. It has to be "portable" since it must live indoors when the first frosts come. I have pruned it and steadily reduced the root size in the hope that it may "bonsai". The sorrow is that it will never blossom at such a small size, but it is a memory of Oz and my daughter.




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

WHAT ROAD SAFETY OFFICERS GET UP TO

For most of my working life I was a  Road Safety Officer. My work was mainly training and publicity, but some accident investigation was involved and I thought I would post the following report to show the types of thing we got up to:

The Highways Agency found over 200 dead crows on the M4 motorway near Bridgend and there was concern that they may have died from Avian Flu.

A Pathologist examined the remains of all the crows, and, to everyone's relief, confirmed the problem was NOT Avian Flu.

The cause of death appeared to be from vehicular impacts. However, during analysis it was noted that varying colours of paints appeared on the ...bird's beaks and claws. By analysing these paint residues it was found that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with lorrys, while only 2% were killed by cars.
 The Agency then hired an Ornithological Behaviourist to determine if there was a cause for the disproportionate percentages of truck kills versus car kills. The Ornithological Behaviourist quickly concluded that when crows eat road kill, they always have a look­out crow to warn of danger. They discovered that while all the lookout crows could shout "Cah", not a single one could shout "Lorry"

Interesting.....................



Wednesday, September 09, 2015

ELEGY (?) IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD

A morning spent cleaning out the garage (it needed it). A pleasant afternoon meant I could take the e-bike out for some relaxation.

(Click on images to enlarge for more detail)

St. Rumswold Churchyard, Bonnington was a good destination for a short ride (about 12 miles) and a stop for coffee. It is a favourite spot, where one day (not too soon, I hope!) my ashes will be scattered. My seat there is courtesy of Steven Cross, in whose memory it was erected. The Robert Louis Stevenson quotation carved on the back is most apt, for an avid yachtsman. (Home is the sailor/Home from the sea)


Close by is his grave with an unusual "stone" made of good English oak. His wife Cynthia, a "passionate horsewoman", who died a bit later, is buried beside him in her own grave - not side by side, but with their memorials facing each other. Poignant. Both had short lives, I see.

















The church stands on the boundary of Romney Marsh. It is the oldest in the area being first constructed in 796. It would once have been on the banks of the ancient river Limen which wound its way over the Marsh from its Channel estuary near Hythe and was probably a point for unshipping  goods for the old road northwards.

But the local topography is steeped it history. When Napoleon Bonaparte threatened invasion it was decided to construct a defensive Canal across the Marsh, feeding it from the local rivers which were diverted into it. The photograph below shows the old river Limen bed to the right at the field's edge with the later Military Canal running behind it through the trees.


Interestingly there is a relic of a later war, a machine gun observation post, when, in 1940 Hitler's armies again threatened this frontier of Kent.

A little afternoon meditation encapsulating history -  796, 1806, 1940 all from a country churchyard