Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Beeleigh - Meeting of the rivers

Well this was a place I had wanted to visit and it was a great disappointment when we finally arrived. This is where the rivers Chelmer and Blackwater meet before they empty out into the estuary at Maldon. Think it says 'waterfall' in some of the blurb, but a one foot drop does'nt really equate with Victoria falls...
The weather has been very dry these last few months and the Chelmer river has always sparkled, but here the pools and locks looked dull and lifeless. There had at one time been a mill here, one that would have stretched back to a medieval mill which belonged to the monks at Beeleigh Abbey.
We sat on the bank and had a picnic, joined by a 6 month old collie, who ate a lot of my pasty. Her owner was walking the river path to meet friends at Paper Mill Lock, but seemed to have no idea of the length he would have to walk (two or three hours) there and back. I did show him the map but I'm not sure he took in the detail! Anyway the pup was gorgeous, and we were joined for a brief time by a fisherman and his labrador, the canoes negotiating the lock we were sitting by, it seems a place for picnicing and generally messing around in.

Swan family having a wash

father making a strange shape on the surface of the water


resting demoiselle of which there were a few

culvert, probably back to the mill

Cleaning stones probably before the small weir

Saturday, June 26, 2010


The little yellow water lily in the mill pond, a mirrored reflection. If you look into the clear water there are also leaves at the bottom, an under water world of slow moving green plants. But what else, today the Guardian has a horrific article on how the turtles are being burnt in the oil by the methods BP is using to control oil in Louisana. This of course a prime breeding place for several varieties of turtle, it requires no link. My Resurgence also came through the post this morning paying homage to Sustaining Life (obviously published before this disaster hit the headlines). There is a charming photo of two women in Nepal hand pollinating apple trees. But the label holds a darker message...
"Bees in Maoxian County, at the border between China and Nepal, are now extinct, forcing people to pollinate apple trees by hand. It takes 20 to 25 people to pollinate 100 trees, a task that can be performed by just two bee colonies"
The Guardian also has a fold out poster of all the creatures becoming extinct in Britain, another sombre message. Originally there were 19 bumble bee species in this country at the beginning of the 20th century, now there are only 6 species. They seem plentiful this year, and the plants both wild and domestic have flowered well after the late start to summer warmth. They are already predicting that this weekend will be hot, not good news for the tennis players at Wimbledon.
Not only Wimbledon dominates our tv but football as well, an email from my granddaughter asked which side I wanted to win - actually I hope England loses tomorrow and then life will become more peaceful. Someone in the neighbhourhood has one of those wretched noise making horns that are the rage in South Africa, hopefully a parent will consign it to the dustbin soon...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gypsy horses diary

Another foal has arrived, so that there are now four. The horses had come up to bathe in the muddy puddle on the track, but then decided to take off down to the other end of the water meadows and a small story is enacted. A mother and foal were left behind, the horse happily rolling in the grass but the little one was anxious to follow the herd. He decides to go by himself, but does'nt take the right path and panics. Mum stands by the fence waiting for him to come back and then they both canter off after the others.....

Think this one is still in foal...

The stallion looking a bit sorry for himself as he was slightly lame

dyeing experiments

Madder on wool and silk

Madder, indigo, alder, cutch dyes

cutch on silk and wool
Madder; wool and silk + white vinegar mordant(silk did not take properly) Wool pretty pink.
Cutch; 1 teasp.cutch/ 1 teasp.copper sulphate (mordant). Wool bronze/green, silk totally different.
Indigo (chemical); desertspoon tumeric/camellia ash (mordant) and half teaspoon of indigo.
Trying for green, but it came out dark blue, except on piece of silk. Wool only.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Hole in the World by Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein says it all in the following article about the oil gushing uncontrolled out of the deep sea well in the Mexican Gulf. Its an environmental disaster of such large proportion that it is difficult to express one's sadness at the whole manmade disaster that is slowly unfolding, only that she writes with such intelligence as to what will be lost of our diminishing biodiversity as we put our needs over the need of the planet to be self sustaining.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Queen Edith/Eadgyth

Exciting news story about a Wessex Saxon princess hit the headlines this morning. The bones of Edith came home for a brief spell to Bristol University earlier on this year to be dated. Her bones had been found in her tomb in Magdesburg Cathedral, Germany, something of a rarity. The details of the story is in the above link, suffice it to say that her grandfather was Alfred the Great, and her father Edward the Elder, who had had three wives and 17 children!
Edith was the child of the first marriage, and seem to have followed her father round Wessex, this is shown through strontium testing of her teeth, but when her father divorced her mother they were both put into a nunnery until she was sent abroad to be the wife of the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I, in 929 AD .
Her half brother Athelstan became king of England, but it is Edmund his half brother (and hers) and his untimely death at the age of 25 at Pucklechurch that reminded me of the little church of Abson a couple of miles away.
Some Dates of the reign of the Wessex Kings
Alfred the Great 871-899
Edward the Elder 899-924
Aethelstan the Glorious 924-939
Edmund the Magnificent 939-946
Edmund was very young when he died, though he had fathered three children by the age of 25. He used to come to Pucklechurch to a hunting lodge there and it was here that he was knifed and killed by Leoff a banished robber. Leoff had been ordered out of the lodge and a fight had broken out, Edmund came to the aid of his men and was then fatally wounded., he was buried at Glastonbury and the lands of Pucklechurch (Pucelandcyrcan) manor was granted to some monks from there.
Abson land a couple of miles down the road also came under the ownership of the monks, and the little church of Abson has hidden in its stonework some original Saxon stonework, one of which is the very unusual male sheela-ne-gig. History is written in the stones of the church, a pointed arch doorway and an earlier Norman round doorway show the alterations over the years, the small fragments of the earlier Saxon stonework used in a probable utilitarian manner.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Oil and bumble bees

Sometimes one is in despair about the news, the oil that goes on leaking in the Mexican Gulf, the sight of oil drenched birds, no end to be seen for the short term and long term future of this area. Oil is king, we need it for everything, we will not give up our, (or cannot for the time being until new technology comes into being) right to use it in the car, it also grows our food through the use of power, chemicals etc, without it we would run short of most things and starve. Well this is'nt a monologue from the green perspective, I have perhaps given up hope on humankind actually stepping back from the edge of disaster, greed and human folly seems to be part of our nature. BP has been caught deep drilling, a dangerous activity at the best of times but that is where the oil is for the future, or in the tar sands of Canada, so we must either learn to live without conspicious consumption of the stuff or an awful lot of us will get wiped out.
So I shall concentrate on the bees that come to the flowers this day, I have stood spinning with a spindle watching the foxgloves, checking the bees, though the day has been dull.

The delicate flower of a hybrid deadnettle, perfect landing space for a small bee

White-tailed bee deep in a foxglove

Turning round with full pollen sacks

One of the many bellflowers

red-tailed bee in the bellflower

Young starlings having a bath, I could watch them all day, last year we had a creche of about 20 baby starlings on the lawn. Young sparrows and blackbirds are around as well. Keeping the cats at bay is an ongoing project at the moment

The blue holly butterfly - always on the move..

Red valerian in the front

A rather dispiriting hour long lecture on the figures relating to oil exploitation from Stanford University......."The'>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTsYjRqPmNA The future of Oil

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A River

The last of the series of Halycon River has just finished, otters, kingfishers and dragonflies. The name of this river has been a secret throughout the programme and justly so, but in actual fact I know which one it is, having walked a different stretch of it. As I am always fascinated by rivers, it was a pleasure to learn the secrets of its wildlife especially the little water voles that are managing to survive, and in this last episode the large American crayfish which made an unwelcome appearance in this country a while back and seem to have taken hold of our waterways, but there was the little 'ark' streams which are trying to save our smaller British crayfish.
Well this small river has other aspects to it, some prehistory not too far away but it is best protected from the curious who may disturb the small fragility of its wildlife, so a couple of photos must suffice.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gypsy Horses

We stood for half an hour watching these horses, three foals this year, different mares, one a dead ringer for a zebra. The stallion, which I have photographed before kept well away from his mares and foals, preferring to roll his immense weight on the grass in the distance. The mares bickered amongst themselves, some still in foal, and there was a lot of charging at each other with ears laid back.

Orchid at Langridge barrows

June has arrived with warm sun and clear blue skies, and as the flower buds of the foxgloves open in the garden, it brings back memories of the wild orchids around the downs in Somerset. An earlier blog here from two years ago gives some information as to how they were seen in the medieval period.

Reading Geoffrey Grigson at the time, bought up the the rather beautiful Unicorn Tapestry housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in America. The individual framings of the story of the tapestry is highlighted by the stories of the animals as taken from the medieval 'Bestiary', and the story of the flowers that lie so thickly round the killing of the unicorn is all told in the little highlighted boxes.

White Campion much rarer than red campion