Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
is it midday in Penzance, or New York? The end of a cold fine day is marked by a misty surreal sunset (much the same as last year at this time). Even though I am not that old, I reckon that in my lifetime winter has become very dry, and we have a new season, the monsoon season, that runs from May to September.
Monday, 29 December 2008
Friday, 26 December 2008
Harriet found and consumed the head of a salmon, and then found the tail about a mile away and consumed that on the way home. No fish as big as this swims in the Inny (it would run aground). All sorts of explanations spring to mind, but I think the most likely explanation is that someone had salmon for Christmas Eve supper, and something has scavenged the remains. Fox? No waste around here.
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
Sunday, 14 December 2008
Thursday, 11 December 2008
four days later the twig is bare, not a sign of a fungus or lichen. It was a cold morning but not frosty. It seems increasingly likely to me that this is ice, but I am puzzled why we only see it in areas of deciduous wood, and why I have never seen ice in this form before. A question for the New Scientist
Sunday, 7 December 2008
at almost the same time of year last year, and under similar very frosty conditions, we found these peculiar looking excrescences on dead twigs and branches in the woods (see link for more pictures). It puzzled me at the time that I could not find anything remotely similar in the (many) reference books in Spot's library when it was so very distinctive. After much searching, we have found a similar picture on Google images, at the University of British Columbia botanical forum (link). There it is suggested that this is in fact ice, not a fungus at all. This is certainly consistent with its sporadic nature in cold weather, and it looks just like wispy snow. Can this be true? If so, finding it out is yet another demonstration of the phenomenal information power of the internet, and Google in particular.
Saturday, 6 December 2008
Monday, 1 December 2008
I know, it just looks black but there is Jupiter, Venus (below the moon) and the moon hanging out together, setting over our little village. I knew there was something strange going on up there. Thanks to Spike and the Laurel Cottage crew for pointing out this wonderful spectacle.
Sunday, 30 November 2008
an interesting relic ... these pictures show the remnants of an old bridge of some sort. The stone footings suggest it must have been quite substantial at one time although as far as I can tell there is no bridge marked on the OS map at this point. It is in the deepest part of the woods and looks more than the work of a few boys having fun.
Monday, 24 November 2008
two Mary Stork figure paintings, and one figurative sculpture derived from one of her paintings, a William Scott (artist's proof), three Raku figures from the Rudge production line, one John Pollex jug (picked for the image of Nashwan), two lamps from Trago Mills (the most extraordinary store ever, even for Cornwall), and some bric a brac (priceless objets)
Monday, 17 November 2008
They look like leaves that should have fallen by now, but are in fact flocks of starlings assembling before embarking on the aerial pyrotechnics that liven up the winter days. They are very noisy; I am sure they are simply chattering away excitedly about feather cleaning, wing tips and holiday spots.
Sunday, 16 November 2008
a stunning sculptural (assemblage) work by John Howlin, made from an infant's crib, and representing the night sky seen from behind bars, and an ominous date (it is called Casement 2, and is one of a pair). It is hard to convey the solidity and strength of this work in only two dimensions
Thursday, 13 November 2008
this little midge is about an eighth of an inch long (3 or 4 mm), what struck me in the grand scheme of things is that he consists mostly of fluffy or plumed antennae. Detecting chemicals in the air must be extremely important, or maybe lady midges prefer lads with big plumes
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
and 42 years later, aged 50, he has made it to coxswain of the launch (I am not sure what this means in naval terms). I suspect 50 was a good age for a seaman. This is a sort of identity card before the days of photographs.
Monday, 10 November 2008
these are the indenture papers of Spot's best friend's great great great grandfather, born in 1795, and apprenticed at the tender age of eight on 8 December 1803, two years before the battle of Trafalgar. Painter was, I think, a seaman trade in the merchant navy. By the strange path that these things follow, his grand-daughter met and married the son of a Naval boatswain, presumably because they moved in sea faring circles (lots of tacking?). Her husband went on to design the great battleships of the late Victorian era and the first world war. I showed this document to a friend today, who visits the web site occasionally. His grandfather was a Naval constructor and helped to build several ships, including HMS Indefatigable; his family tradition has it that most of them were sunk at the battle of Jutland. When I checked out HMS Indefatigable today, who should have designed it but my very own great grandfather. It is odd to think that our (g) grandfathers must have spent many hours working together and that a hundred years later, after a multitude of life events and moves all over the world, their (g) grandsons found themselves sitting around discussing life and philosophy, and examined a document that was to link them together in a most unexpected way.
Great GP also went on to write a English Italian dictionary of Naval Terms, the only available copy of which is in the Congress library; can a love of things Italian be genetic? And his son Stanley, my great uncle was a midshipman on a battleship in the battle of Jutland. The ship was beached on the Goodwin sands, and all escaped including the ship's cat. I do not know whether to attribute his escape to good design or sound construction. Great grandpa made a fortune out of it anyway, which he dissipated on the French Riviera, and on an annuity, dying shortly after the purchase of which, thus setting the family on a new and entirely unjustified path of poverty, and proving the old saw of rags to rags in three generations.
More interesting things another day (and see this link to amongst the oaks which set me thinking).
Sunday, 9 November 2008
One of the beech trees in our garden, the leaves are a nuisance on the grass, but look stunning in the pale winter sunlight seen against the dark bark.
Poor Spot has had a nervous breakdown following Bonfire night (see this link for an explanation of this 400 year old ritual), and fireworks all week and especially on Friday when we made the mistake of going out. He tried to eat and scratch his way through the front door, and then disappeared for three hours because everyone else thought he had been a bit of a wuss. He has recovered now. Fireworks and dogs don't mix.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
the poll of the world for lurcher of the year, and most attractive dog has now closed (see side panel). The result is an overwhelming vote for President Spot (the hairy, black one), with 77% of the vote cast (by 7 to 1 !! (one spoilt vote)). Provided that there are no sudden changes in the count, or vote rigging by GOP (friends of Harriet, the smooth brown one) Spot is declared the winner. May he rule wisely and kindly. And we wish whoever wins the other little election good luck and a fair wind; none of us can afford for you to fail, or to let us down.
the top two photos are of a bracket fungus or of Dryad's saddle (the little people and wood nymphs presumably use it for riding on unicorns), and the bottom photo from 2002 and just downstream is definitely a Dryad's. And we found a white feather on our walk.
meanwhile, back at the mill there has been some progress (again see earlier pictures by clicking on the label for Beals Mill). The foreman on the site told me that there is evidence of buildings even earlier than the twelfth century, so there may have been a mill on this site for more than a thousand years. I wonder how long it will be before it becomes a mill once more.
Sunday, 26 October 2008
It hasn't been a good year for mushrooms so far. Unfortunately, we can never sort out what sort of mushrooms we are looking at, milkcaps, honey fungus or something deadly. Every year we try and identify them, and we have always forgotten by the beginning of next autumn.
Saturday, 18 October 2008
I love the mixture of real and surreal throughout the project, and the juxtapostion of the materialist landscape with the floral landscape. It reminds me of the work of an artist friend called John Howlin. he would have loved the man of parts
the first view of the biodomes at Eden Project is always impressive simply because of the sheer scale of the site. The middle photograph shows the site on our first fleeting visit in September 2000. We take our visitors there quite often. It has transformed the local economy. And one of our neighbours is on the poster welcoming you to the site. I think the logos might well be just as apt for our blogs