Thursday, July 31, 2008

Burrough Hill and Somerby

On Burrough Hill - the 'toposcope'.

We brought a map.
An ash tree regenerates.

Worth the effort for the flowers in the boggy meadow?An unusually coloured calf.

Slugs and snails

Eating in the garden
Is a sign of summer fun
A day of warmth and laughter
Not meals grabbed on the run.

I sit and nurse a wine-glass
And let silence bathe my skin
The evening air’s delicious
I don’t want to go back in.

And then I hear the chomping
As the gastropods attack
Bring out the garlic water
Those snails keep coming back!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Walking without the map

A walk through the 'highlands' of Northeast Leicestershire turned out slightly longer than we intended. it was one of those times when we were following a twenty-year-old guidebook, and had no map. Once you're off-track it seems almost impossible to get back on again, so we made an unintentional couples of miles detour. The local map is now on my shopping list, since the one we used to have has disappeared. Ex-railway station
I liked this tree
Lowesby Church
Lowesby Hall

One for the birdhouse collection.
Pause for a drink in the churchyard at Twyford
Through the jungle.
Off-track - we should not have gone under the viaduct.

I'm convinced that the trees must have grown since she wrote the book, or she must have been ten feet tall, as she constantly told us that Tilton church spire should be in view, but we couldn't see it until close to the end of the walk. Oh, maybe that was because we'd strayed from the path.

Free verse etc

Postings on WD have led me to look back at some of the poets I studied long ago, for 'A' Level, and at uni. Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud. This could keep me busy for some time.
I don't have any flag to fly for free verse as opposed to formal and when I write I flit from one to another. But maybe this could make me become more conscious of what I'm doing and why.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

And I really believed it.

St Swithin's Day - I thought the deal was - rain on July 15th - rain for forty days; fine on July 15th - fine for forty days. Apparently not. One of those lose/lose superstitions.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Speed cameras

While I'm in my safe motoring, and 'the motorist is not a victim' rant mode, I'll post a copy of the summary of an Independent article today. The black type below is reprinted from the article. My comments appear in blue.

So are speed cameras the answer?

* Studies have shown that a reduction in the speed limit to 20mph in built-up areas causes a 60 per cent fall in accidents
* Evidence from Swindon showed a 30 per cent reduction in the numbers of people killed or injured since cameras were installed
* At 10 of the sites in Swindon where cameras were introduced, no road accident deaths have been recorded

All three look like factual evidence to me. The most relevant is the second one.

* Critics say it's not speed that kills but tiredness and careless driving. It's this that should be targeted with safer driving campaigns - yes, I can see that working. Not. Do I hear cries of 'Nanny State'? Don't individuals always know best? Especially when travelling in a metal box.
* Speed cameras are being used as an easy way for the authorities to bump up their revenues, antagonising the public - as several people have said, you pay the voluntary tax if you decide to speed. Commit a crime, pay the fine. Your choice.
* Cameras are counter-productive in creating a tendency for drivers to break the speed limit when they are not around - surely only those who believe they have a divine right to speed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Motoring costs have dropped 18% since 1988

A report by the motorists' organisation, the RAC, shows that in real terms motoring costs have fallen by 18% since 1988. Read the full report here . (I haven't yet.)

Cars cost less to buy, and less to maintain, and often do more miles per gallon, though the price of fuel has risen by 210%.

A third of motorists said they went on shorter journeys than they did 20 years ago, but 9% of drivers said they never walked anywhere.

So, why not stop whinging, folks? Well, 60% of those interviewed (a sample of 1,116 people) said they thought the biggest change over the last 20 years was a RISE in costs. It seems that the costs apart from petrol and road tax are not as clearly seen by drivers, and of course these vary according to the individual car.

A little later in the day, this article has vanished from the front page - no link to it from 2p fuel duty dropped.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The big and the small Harringwrth Lodge & back by road

A walk across fields and tracks above the Welland Valley - around an old ironstone quarry, where the flowers and plants are miniature versions of those you find in more fertile soils, spotted orchids again, lots of them, birds'foot trefoil (eggs-and-bacon, when I was young), and brambles promising a rich harvest this autumn.

Masses of butterflies - gatekeepers or ringlets, I think, and moths such as the one in the picture. A gall on a wild rose bush - memo to self. Look this up. Then we were faced with some ferocious looking cattle with horns like highland cattle. They were so interested in us that we climbed the fence, only to discover that there was an open gate. Slowly does it, and they soon lost interest. My one regret - this picture was as good as I could get. So the beasts didn't get very near. Even when I zoom in it looks like a sub-impressionist pastel drawing. Shall I risk the same walk again for a better picture?
I'm afraid on the way back we decided it could be easier to brave the traffic on the country roads. Hmm. Well it was a shorter route, though probably more dangerous.

No kingfisher today, no visible fish in the river, but two fine swans.

some textured birch bark

and a picture which needs taking again, with white balance adjusting? It's a bird table with a roof like a gothic church.

WritersDock Poetry Competition Winners

1st - Sabita Banerji More Gardened Against Than Gardening

2nd - Grace Galton Awakening

3rd - Geoff Lowe Death Comes in Two Parts

You can read the winning entries here.

I act as a moderator for WD, but as someone who didn't enter or judge the competition, I'd like to congratulate the winners, and the judging team, and say how much I enjoyed all three poems.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Poverty, like obesity, is your own fault?

From Guardian article, today.
Or under this headline in the Times:
David Cameron tells the fat and the poor: Take responsibility

"I have not found the words to say it sensitively," said Cameron. "Then I realised, that is the whole point: we, as a society, have been far too sensitive. In order to avoid injury to people's feelings, to avoid appearing judgmental, we have failed to say what needs to be said. We have seen a decades-long erosion of responsibility, of social virtue, of self-discipline, respect for others, of deferring gratification instead of instant gratification."

Calling for an end to the "stultifying silence" about what mattered, he said: "We talk about people being 'at risk of obesity' instead of talking about people who eat too much and take too little exercise. We talk about people being at risk of poverty, or social exclusion: it's as if these things - obesity, alcohol abuse, drug addiction - are purely external events like a plague or bad weather."

Some truth in what he says, but I am worried that poverty has somehow found its way in there among all those variables we can control. Low wage jobs wouldn't have anything to do with it of course.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Pipewell, hares, a heron and a pillar.

When Marta and I go walking we end up in some odd places. This is usually because we haven't brought the map with us, and tend to talk and follow our noses rather than think about directions. Last Friday promised well - we saw a heron stalking elegantly across a field as we drove into Pipewell. We parked and walked across the fields, hoping to head for the WW2 airfield along a path I have followed a couple of times in the past.
This is what happens when I use a tripod on uneven ground.
But the trees, a pond in a hollow and a solitary phallic pillar distracted us, brought out our silly side and like a magnet drew us too far to the left.
The pillar turns us slightly silly. And I should have compensated for the lightness of the sky.
To be fair there was something like a path. A startled hare ran out from very close to us, a piece of summer magic. No sign of young or 'form' where it had been. Then we had to cross a field full of cows, calves and a bull. Unfortunately the animals seemed interested, so we decided on a non-confrontational approach, and headed for a gate on a diagonal to our original path.

There was a big well-kept farm house ahead, and next to it mown grass like a private bowling green, complete with pavilion. We skirted round it mostly. Then stood looking bemused. This is definitely not the route we should have taken.
On the way back via the road, we found this stunning wild-flower meadow.

It'll probably be a neatly manicured garden by this time next year, since someone is having a house renovated.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Roar emotion? Grrr.

Sport and emotion

I wish that I could ban the word emotion
from interviews with athletes on the box.
I like to watch them play with skill and vigour,
not hear each tick-tock of their inner clocks.

I’m sick of hearing – run us through your feelings
For heaven’s sake, what ever can they say?
Yeah, I was scared, or tense, or maybe joyful.
It doesn’t shed much light on how they play.

One day perhaps we’ll plant them with electrodes
and alongside all the stats and previous form
brain parts will light up clearly as they’re playing
so all of us can share the feeling-storm .

If all we ever do, is talk emotion,
it takes away the magic and the fun.
It feels as though we’re dripping vital fluids
and slashing mental veins to see them run.

Written rapidly after getting annoyed with Sue Barker's harping on emotions in her interview with Rafael Nadal after he won Wimbledon.

Cotswolds June 2008

I didn't post anything about this at the time. While I was in Bristol we had a day out to the Cotswolds, where Esther took part in a triathlon. We didn't arrive in time to see her. A 6am start from Bristol seemed a little excessive. Not a real dragonfly
T'lass didn't do badly, especially in the running part - see her report for Southampton Tri Club.
Not Esther swimming

We had coffee and then lunch at a waterside pub, before going for a short walk along the Cotswold Canal, dry in places, but in the process of being restored.
It's a grand part of the country which I hardly know at all.