Seventy at Seventy

Life Begins at 70


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[58] Danger of Death

[58] Danger of Death – A Pictorial Blog of Cheltenham Signs

You know something about Cheltenham from its blog. When I walked round the town recently for pictures I didn’t just look at buildings and street views. I looked at the signs.

This blog is just some of the signs you can see in Cheltenham. I could have taken hundreds more. They are in order so you can track my progress by comparing this with the Cheltenham blog.

(I came up with the idea months ago when I took lots of pictures of Slimbridge signs. I kept them in reserve but decided to try a similar theme on a sunnier day.)

Here are the pictures. If you look closely you can almost see me reflected in a few signs on glass.

I have some more pictures of Cheltenham signs in the other blogs about Signs.

 

 


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[08] The Serpent Beguiled me

[08] The Serpent Beguiled me – a Blog about Fruit

One of my first blogs was [07] Berries, done as essentially part of autumn. I left the rest of fruit for a later blog and here it is.

Fruit

Scientific terminology rarely agrees with common usage. Technically a ‘fruit’ is a seed-bearing structure but we may use the word more loosely in a way that relates to what we eat. Edible fruits have a symbiotic relationship with animals (including humans.)

We tend to think of fruits as fleshy, generally sweet, and edible in the raw state – apples, bananas, grapes, lemons, oranges, strawberries, …

But strictly we should also include nuts, bean pods, tomatoes and wheat grains (and mushrooms!) And there are fruits that we call vegetables – peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, courgettes … Not to mention nuts, grains and spices. And of course the rhubarb that acts a fruit in desserts is not a fruit, it’s just the stalk of its (poisonous) leaves.

The fruits most familiar to us are berries like cranberries, gooseberries, grapes and tomatoes – also aubergines and bananas (and citrus fruits!); drupes (with stones) like cherries, olives and plums; and pomes like apples and pears (and rosehips.)

[Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are not berries. They are aggregate fruits.]

 

The fruit is produced towards the end of the annual cycle of life but it is not so closely linked to the season of Autumn as I first thought. Trees and plants flower almost throughout the year. Some types have an extended period of many months for flowering and some may have buds, flowers and fruit at the same time. So I didn’t have to wait for autumn to come round again.

Here are my pictures roughly grouped by species with the more obvious fruits first, then the pods, cones and seeds.

 

 

I was going to say that we all know the story of Adam and Eve and the apple but nowadays younger people don’t get the religious education we used to have with its Bible stories. Before I go any further let me say that it’s a story. Nobody now believes that it actually happened like this.

It comes from Genesis, the first book of the Bible, just after God created the World and the first two people, Adam and Eve. They were young and innocent. As always I use the King James Version with some minor adjustments to spelling and punctuation. Here is the first part of Chapter 3.

 

  • Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, ‘Yea, hath God said, “Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” ’
  • And the woman said unto the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden …’
  • ‘But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, “Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” ’
  • And the serpent said unto the woman, ‘Ye shall not surely die …’
  • ‘For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’
  • And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
  • And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
  • And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
  • And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, ‘Where art thou?’
  • And he said, ‘I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’
  • And he said, ‘Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?’
  • And the man said, ‘The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.’
  • And the Lord God said unto the woman, ‘What is this that thou hast done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.’

We all know the story and think of it as an apple but Genesis just calls it the fruit of a tree.

It’s the best I can do for a blog about fruit.

 


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[33] Caput Apri Defero

[33] Caput Apri Defero – A Blog about the Forest of Dean

This will be similar to [32] Slimbridge and [31] Pittville Park, my other blogs about birdwatching haunts. I will treat it as a walk round with pictures mixed from summer and winter just to confuse you. It’s slightly different because it covers a large area so I will stop at a few places.

The Forest of Dean

I will explain the first picture later but you are probably wondering who Dean was. There are several theories. It could come from ‘din’ meaning ‘hill-fort’ in either Welsh or Old English but an old reference to ‘Danubia’ suggests that it may come from early Viking (Dane) settlements.

It’s an area of about forty square miles of mixed woodland in the west of Gloucestershire roughly between the rivers Severn and Wye. Reserved for royal hunting before 1066, it’s an ancient woodland, in size second only to the New Forest as a crown forest.

Historically its main economic functions have been to do with forestry including charcoal production, iron working and coal mining. Now it acts as a nature reserve and is an area for leisure activities, especially walking and birdwatching.

There are many places within the forest where you can park and take a walk. I will concentrate on my main stops.

Woorgreens

As for many of these places you probably won’t find Woorgreens on the map. You park on a bit of cleared mud by the road through the forest, big enough for about six cars, and walk on an unmarked footpath about a quarter of a mile.

The sign is new. I came here for several years before I discovered the name from someone else. Just beyond this gate and sign you come to the lake.

You can walk round a sometimes muddy path to the right to a spot with a little beach area (for dogs to splash into the water) and closer views of the island.

[That’s another very new sign!]

The lake is a good place to spot Goosander visiting in the winter and in theory it’s a haven for Dragonflies because it has no fish. But anglers like fish. They put them there to catch them. Every few years the lake has to be emptied to remove the fish.

Cannop North

The two Cannop ‘Ponds’ and the marshy area further north are special areas for wildlife. It is a short drive from Woorgreens to the northern lake with its winding car park within the woods. (I can’t call them ponds. They are much too large. They are lakes.) I start near the car park by the bird feeder area. As well as the more common birds you may see Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Jay, Treecreeper or Reed Bunting here.

It’s a very short walk from the car park to the bridge over the water leaving this lake.

Before going round the lake I head left down into the trees and the fast flowing water. Grey Wagtail are common here and Dipper may be seen occasionally.

The lake itself is always an impressive view.

We head next up the far side of the lake.

The Mandarin Duck is now quite rare in the Far East but a growing population of feral birds in England is now almost as large. They are water birds but they nest in trees which makes the forest an ideal habitat. You may see them anywhere in the Forest but especially at Cannop.

At the far end we meet a bridge and a narrow strip of land separating the lake from the marshy nature reserve. You may find the mixture of seasons confusing but there are other changes. I think of this strip of land as a thin muddy path between two rows of trees but on my last visit trees had been cut down!

We finish the loop round back to the feeders and the car park.

Cannop South

It’s a short walk following the water or a longer drive round a circuitous route to get to the South Lake. Created in the early Nineteenth Century to feed the now disused Parkend Ironworks, this lake is now used for the stoneworks at its southern end. There is a car park here by the lake and a small lay-by also used as a car park.

The lake itself is very similar to its nearby twin but it is less used by the public. There are walks into the forest from here.

There are bird feeders within the stoneworks maintained by someone inside. You can just about guarantee seeing Siskin at any time of the year.

I don’t go far here. I just look at the water outlet down to the stream which is the River Cannop, sometimes the haunt of Dipper.

Newnham-on-Severn

My next two points to visit are not actually in the forest. They are on the Severn. Next on my schedule is usually the pleasant little town of Newnham with its clock-tower.

(The last building above is a house hat backs on to the river. It has been empty for over fifty years.)

One of my reasons for going to Newnham is the excellent George Café. It always seems to be coffee time or lunch time – I have been known to go there twice in one day.

But the river is also worth a visit. It is very tidal here.

Lydney Harbour

The road from Gloucester to Newnham follows the river and I head next further downriver to Lydney. Instead of turning right to the town of Lydney I turn left down along a mile long road – over level crossings, past lakes to a fairly desolate industrial estate and Lydney Harbour.

There are notices about redeveloping this site but at the moment you go down what looks like a private road to a car park. You can walk round the muddy locks at the harbour entrance. I have only just discovered that this is the end of the River Lyd.

You can walk (carefully!) to the end where you have an extensive panoramic view. To the north is the muddy bank of the Severn by the Yacht Club. As you turn to the east, south and west you see more of the river and the landscape behind it.

At low tide much of this is mudflats so you may see waterfowl, gulls or waders. There are also the remnants of some wrecked ships.

I do a little loop round passing a pale imitation of Stonehenge that is much more modern! The harbour at the centre of my loop is full of little boats.

Here is my attempt at a better panoramic view of the river just using cut-and-paste.

New Fancy and others …

For hundreds of years there has been free-mining of coal in the forest and there used to be some extensive mines in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, with some influence on the landscape. Not far from the Cannop Ponds is the New Fancy Viewpoint where the spoil heap from a former colliery has been turned into a hill. You can climb to the top for views of the forest all round you. It is visited by birdwatchers as an ideal point for viewing Goshawk.

There are dozens of other sites through the forest, many accessible only on foot but some with small parking areas. They have names like Boy’s Grave and Crabtree Hill and you can see more birds not often seen elsewhere – Crossbill, Hawfinch and Nightjar.

Wild Boar

The forest is also home to lots of other wildlife. You often see sheep on the roads and there are many wild boar. Generally the boar are elusive but sometimes they are fairly tame in areas where people try to feed them. They breed profusely and are regularly culled by the Forestry Commission. You can often see the damage they do to grass as in my first picture above.

Ok, I was desperate. I needed a quotation for a title. You will recognize it from the Boar’s Head Carol. At least you will if, like me, you used to sing it every year in the Sixties around the streets of Ilford.

As always, most of my information is from Wikipedia. This macaronic carol describes the very old Yuletide custom of eating a boar’s head probably predating its use as a Christmas carol. [It has always fascinated me that we have the word ‘macaronic’ for something so unusual. But it was common in mediaeval times when Latin was the language of scholars, universities and priests but songs and stories used the vernacular English. It comes from a Latin/ Italian word that is cognate with macaroni.]

The words used today were published in 1521 in one of the World’s first printed books.

The first of three verses is:

The boar’s head in hand bring I,

Bedeck’d with bays and rosemary.

And I pray you, my masters, be merry

Quot estis in convivio.

Each verse is followed by the chorus

Caput apri defero

Reddens laudes Domino.

[OK, if you didn’t do Latin at school, Caput apri defero means I carry the boar’s head.]

 

 

 


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[04] Daffodils, Hearts-ease and Flocks

[04] Daffodils, Hearts-ease and Flocks – A pictorial Blog of Garden Flowers

I have had a lot of difficulty in dividing up several hundred pictures of flowers. I went for a split into Garden Flowers and Wild Flowers and realized that there might be difficulties. Many wild flowers have been bred and cultivated for use in gardens and quite a few garden flowers have escaped and spread into the wild.

But then I thought, ‘It doesn’t matter.’ It’s my decision and you may not agree with me. Of course what we call weeds are just wild flowers where they are not wanted.

Here are lots of pictures of garden flowers in no particular order. The rest will be in [02] Wild Flowers.

Country Gardens is an English folk tune collected by Cecil Sharp and arranged for piano in 1918 by Percy Grainger. There have been several popular recordings.

How many gentle flowers grow in an English country garden? I’ll tell you now, of some that I know, and those I miss I hope you’ll pardon. Daffodils, hearts-ease and flocks, meadow sweet and lilies, stocks, Gentle lupins and tall hollyhocks, Roses, fox-gloves, snowdrops, forget-me-knots in an English country garden

[I bet you are wondering about hearts-ease. It’s Viola tricolor, used as a herb in earlier time and also known as heart’s delight, tickle-my-fancy, Johnny Jump up, Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me, come-and-cuddle-me, three faces in a hood, love-in-idleness or Wild Pansy.]

 

 


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[30] Health and Education

[30] Health and Education – A Blog about Cheltenham

Cheltenham is a very old town which rose to prominence as a spa town with the discovery of its waters. You can still sample the taste at the magnificent Pittville Pump Room – but I would not recommend it! The town became fashionable with the visit of George III in 1788 and much of the central residential area reflects Regency architectural styles. I have lived here for nearly fifty years so I think of her as my home town.

Flowing through it is the River Chelt. I don’t think he town’s origins or name derive from this quite small stream. It’s probable that ‘Chelt’ is actually derived from Cheltenham.

Cheltenham has grown in the last fifty years and is now a popular shopping centre, probably most well-known through the UK for its horse racing.

I won’t say any more about my home town. [No, we are not jealous of Gloucester because it’s a city. Everything about Cheltenham is better than our near neighbour.]

After a lot of failing to get on with this blog I just took a walk around on a nice sunny day and took lots of pictures. Here they are in order.

I started on the Gloucester Road by TGI Fridays and walked along the A40, passed Dean Close Preparatory School, (formerly Dean Close Junior School,) Cheltenham Police Station, the old Gloucestershire Police Headquarters building and Westal Green to Montpelier.

I did a brief walk round Montpelier Gardens with its Art Gallery and bandstand, then went through Imperial Gardens for a look at the Town Hall. In the Promenade I saw Neptune’s Fountain and the Municipal Offices then headed towards the Regent Arcade – to see the newly restored Kit Williams clock.

Coming out on the High Street I went eastwards towards the London Road turned into Sandford Park and looped back round to take the High Street westwards.

With a coffee stop at Marks and Spencers and a diversion for the Everyman Theatre I went on past Boots corner to the brand new Brewery Quarter, then back and into the Parish Church. I wish I had done this before [41] Churches because it’s the best church I have been in this year!

Back to the Promenade for Cavendish House and the Minotaur and the Hare before heading homewards via Royal Well Road and Royal Well Lane. I walked along beside the River Chelt, paid a visit to Waitrose and took the Honeyboune line back to the Cheltenham Spa Station.

Watch out for the buildings I have noted in bold but also some of our old houses, (many in Regency style,) shops and statues. You can also spot the Queens Hotel and several views of the Cheltenham Ladies College.

I have many more pictures including some equally impressive and famous buildings but I can’t fit them all in here! You could look at [20] Remembrance, [31] Pittville Park, [41] Churches, [45] Streets, [48] Statues, [64] Cheltenham Trio and all the posts about Signs for more of my home town.

‘Health and Education’ is a loose translation of the Latin ‘Salubritas et eruditio’ on the Arms of Cheltenham. Google Translate says ‘Healthfulness and learning’ but I’m sticking to my version. Wikipedia agrees with me. I can confidently predict that a version of these arms will appear in [58] Cheltenham Signs and perhaps some explanation in [50] Heraldry.

 

 


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[10] Old Macdonald

[10] Old Macdonald – A Blog about Farm Animals

As I am sure you know, ‘Old Macdonald had a Farm …’

I am not sure what this says about the need to catalogue and codify our knowledge – but Wikipedia has quite a lot to say about the song. Each verse adds the sounds made by another farm animal and verses are generally cumulative. If you don’t know the words you can see Wikipedia, which also discusses other versions and many translations into different languages.

Farming in Britain

With Wikipedia as my source of information, I will say just a little about agriculture in the United Kingdom. Any statistics I give will be approximate and probably out-of-date. [I will consider agriculture in Britain as more or less equivalent to agriculture in England. Wikipedia points out that the available agricultural land in Scotland and Wales is generally of lower quality.]

About a third of the agricultural area of is used for arable crops with the rest mostly grassland. About half of the arable land is used for cereal of which two-thirds is wheat. We have about 30 million sheep, ten million cattle, ten million poultry and five million pigs. Farming is highly intensive and mechanised but the UK still only produces 60% of the food needed. The country annually exports food and drink to the value of £15 000 million, with imports at £30 000 million. Almost all this trade is with Western Europe.

You might like to guess the top agricultural products by value. You could probably get the top ten or twelve, perhaps not in exact order. Here they are, listed by value – milk, cattle meat, chicken meat, pig meat, wheat, sheep meat, potatoes, rapeseed, eggs, sugar beet, turkey meat, barley, carrots and turnips …

I won’t go any further but this leads into my pictures of farm animals. With this list you might expect to see cattle, chickens, pigs, sheep and turkeys – but you won’t! This is not the place to discuss farming methods but intensive methods mean that chickens and turkeys are not normally see outside. Pigs and cattle are also sometimes farmed inside buildings. I can only show you what I have seen.

Horses

I know. We don’t farm horses but you see them outside in fields and I have decided to include them in this blog. We used to have farm horses before the mechanization with tractors but now horses are for riding or racing.

Cattle

English is such a strange language that we don’t have a word for one of these beasts. You can skip this bit if you are not interested in the linguistic issues.

The word ‘cattle’ did not originally refer just to these animals. It derives from the Latin ‘caput’ (head) and originally it meant movable personal property, especially livestock of any kind, as opposed to the ‘real property’ or land. It’s a variant of ‘chattels’ and is cognate with ‘capital’ in the economic sense. In the King James Bible, ‘cattle’ means ‘livestock’ and ‘deer’ means ‘wildlife.’

The Anglo-Saxon word which became ‘cow’ had the old plural ‘kine’ now occasionally used as an archaic plural form.

In the UK, the USA and British influenced countries of the Commonwealth we have several terms.

  • The adult male animal is a bull.
  • A castrated male is a ‘bullock’ or a ‘steer’ (US). Sometimes a bullock used as a working draft animal is called an ox. (Yes, the plural is oxen.) Of course in some circumstances ‘ox’ is a more general reference to the meat or carcass of the animal, for example ‘ox-tail.’
  • An adult female, after having one or two calves is a ‘cow.’
  • A young female is a ‘heifer.’ (To those unfamiliar with farming there is no distinction. A cow is any female older than a calf.)
  • A young animal before weaning is a ‘calf.’

There are other terms used in farming and outside the UK.

In general we call them cattle and they may be beef cattle or dairy cattle.

Sheep

We think of sheep as white and generally they are white. (In a field of fresh white snow they look a very dirty white or even light brown!)

Sometimes some or all of the wool may be dark brown or black by a perfectly normal process of genetic variation. But we have the idiomatic expression ‘black sheep’ with its pejorative connotations. The black sheep of the family is the person who didn’t quite fit into the family’s expectations. You can read about this in Wikipedia. Traditionally the black sheep was an obvious prominent anomaly and its coloured wool was less valuable. It is a term found in many languages although some illustrate the concept differently as a ‘white crow.’

Now the value of the wool is insignificant and farmers generally don’t attempt to control the wool colour. We see sheep and lambs with black wool more often. Some breeds are all brown.

Goats

As I noted above we have a large dairy industry based on dairy cattle. In many other countries cheese derived from sheep or goats is more common than in the UK. Here are some goats from Croatia – from the zoo on Brijuni.

Pigs

We see cattle in the fields in summer and more hardy sheep may be seen in the winter but pigs are rarely seen. I think most pig production is intensive and indoors. You may sometimes see them in large numbers in their corrugated iron arcs or just two or three in a field, perhaps rare breeds for show.

Precise terminology in farming for these animals is as complicated as for cattle but most of the time they are just pigs. Swine is an archaic term and originally the word ‘pig’ was used for a young swine, what we would now call a piglet!

The adult male is a ‘boar,’ a word now generally associated with the expression ‘wild boar’ for the non-domesticated (or feral) animal. The adult female is a ‘sow.’ The word ‘hog’ generally refers to a mature, fully grown animal but can be synonymous with pig.

Shetland Ponies

I included horses because I felt like it and I will end with some Shetland Ponies.

(Donkeys will come in another blog.)

 


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[40] Green and Pleasant Land

[40] Green and Pleasant Land – A Pictorial Blog of Landscapes

You may recognize the title from the poem by William Blake. We call the poem, put to music as a patriotic hymn, ‘Jerusalem,’ but its proper title is the same as its first line. ‘And Did those Feet in Ancient Time’.

It was inspired by the apocryphal story that Joseph of Arimathea may have visited England at Glastonbury. It uses the word ‘Jerusalem’ as a metaphor for heaven.

And did those feet in ancient time; Walk upon Englands mountains green:

And was the holy Lamb of God; On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine; Shine forth upon our clouded hills?

And was Jerusalem builded here; Among these dark Satanic Mills?

The often misquoted ‘Chariots of Fire’ comes from the second verse.

Bring me my Bow of burning gold; Bring me my Arrows of desire:

Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold! Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight; Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:

Till we have built Jerusalem; In Englands green and pleasant Land.

Of course, none of this is relevant to my blog but we may use the expression ‘green and pleasant land’ to refer to the countryside of England.

This is a collection of pictures of landscapes in no particular order. Most of them are from England but some come from Wales or abroad.