Thursday, 30 July 2015

Thoughts on the current state of the Labour Party


A right-wing friend of mine (yes, I do have right-wing friends. Befriending them is part of my on-going commitment to our Care in the Community Programme) has been goading me recently about the pantomime that surrounds the leadership election in the Labour Party. In one of his saner, less partisan, missives, MD asks for my opinion. His wish is my command (if only, MD, if only) so here are my thoughts on the topic.
 
How did Labour get its knickers in such a twist?
 
The recent General Election was, in the view of informed commentators, Labour's for the taking. The coalition was an unpopular construct, presiding over a period of falling living standards and stagnant growth with a prime minister leading a government many people felt was out of touch with their lives. But, instead of breaking through or even causing a second hung parliament, Labour went backwards and is now engaged in an existential crisis. How come? Here's what I think:
 
Labour's defeat was, to many, unexpected and the scale of defeat was more unexpected still.
Result? Gloomy activists wondering what the future holds for the party. However, I say to people to bear in mind the actual results. Labour's opponents, and that includes most of the media, are bound to overstate the numbers but remember that around 9 million people still voted Labour (compared with 11 million for Conservative) giving them 232 seats and 30.5% of the vote (compared with 331 seats and 36.9% for the Blues).
 

Those on the right of the party say the reason is obvious: Labour was too left wing.
Result? They argue the party has to move to the right and point passionately to the election success of Tony Blair as proof of it.

*  Those on the left of the party say the reason is obvious: Labour was too right wing.
Result? They argue the party has to move to the left and point passionately to the SNP's success as proof of it.

So who's the enemy for Labour? It depends on who you ask. It could be SNP, UKIP, Labour, Tories or any combination thereof.
Result? Confusion reigns.
 
A chunk of the Labour movement, its left, has, for years, felt sidelined, belittled, scorned and ignored. Suddenly, in Jeremy Corbyn, they have a standard bearer with a platform, offering a clear, socialist platform. But don't believe everything you read in the right-wing press without checking where he stands on various issues, Corbyn is not "too left-wing", he's a proper moderate social democrat. Unfortunately the whole of UK politics has lurched so far to the right that anyone to the left of Genghis Khan is now seen as a rabid communist.
Result? He can give straight answers to straight questions and talks with clarity and conviction. His supporters are upbeat and, in the electioneering spotlight, his three rivals do more twisting and turning, caveating, triangulating and not answering questions so clearly. Or even, whisper some, being boring and saying nothing that might possibly offend someone somewhere sometime.
 
Two of the Labour leadership candidates, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham, served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury when Labour was in government, at a time when Labour faces questions about its economic credibility. One, Andy Burnham, was also Health Secretary - meaning questions about the deaths at Stafford Hospital would keep coming too. And let's not forget that Yvette Cooper is married to Ed Balls and is guilty of heinous financial acts by association.
Result? Some Labour activists fret they are hostages to fortune and will provide too much ammunition for the gutter press to fire at them.
 
Supporters of Ed Miliband say one of his greatest achievements was working in the background to keep the party united.
Result? This spontaneous combustion has been a long time coming. And it really shouldn't be a surprise as the party is actually just living out the age-old pathology of a renewal cycle: Govern - Disappoint - Backlash - Strife - Modernisation - Govern. It happens after the passing of every strong leader. Just think of what happened in the Tory party after Thatcher: it went through Hague, Howard and Duncan-Smith before anointing Posh Dave.
 
* The Tories are nauseatingly gleeful - and quickly pinching as many Labour policies they think are worth pinching as they can
Result? When Tories are cranking up the rhetoric on the minimum/living wage and talking about being 'the one nation party for hard working families', what is Labour for, some ask.
 
I'm bound to have missed some important points out but put all the things I've listed into the pot, shake, stir, and you arrive at.... the current situation.

What happens next?

Obviously, getting the leadership election out of the way. Although I must say I wouldn't have done it this way. I think it was a mistake for Ed to step down so soon: he should have stayed at the helm until a new leader had been chosen. But it's more complicated than that - the party still needs to decide what it stands for and how it is going to articulate this in a way that people can identify with.

I have described myself in the past as a tribal Labour supporter but my allegiance is less to the institution of the party than the political philosophy it espouses. At the moment I'm not certain what this is and whether or not, as a social democrat, it will remain a party that I can continue to support. If it isn't, then where should my support go? It is a very worrying development that nowadays people tend to accept rapacious untethered free-market fundamentalism as some kind of 'centre-ground' instead of the extreme and nasty form of capitalism that it actually is. I remain convinced that social democracy must be a counterbalance to right wing neoliberalism. Will the Labour Party have a leader who will promote policies I, and others with similar views, can support? I have a vote in the forthcoming leadership election and, right now, I don't know who I am going to vote for. In the absence of a 'none of the above' box, it's got to be one of them but who? Decisions, decisions.
 

 


Monday, 27 July 2015

Off to the Eden Project


Off to the Eden Project today to see......
.........this dinosaur...
..and this one....
...and this one had its beady eye on us, which was very scary for a just-turned 4 year old.
It was very windy today which meant that, although there were lots of flowers, very few insects or butterflies were on them. Here's an artichoke taken with a fish eye lens effect.
Agapanthus.
The stamens of a bougainvillea.
The skeletal remains of an Allium.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Picnic at 'the beautiful place'

But where are the owners of these wellies?
A great birthday party/barbecue with the entire Parsons clan at the 'beautiful place' on the edge of Dartmoor. I think it was so successful because we had taken suitable precautions and done a full Health and Safety Risk Assessment of the area before venturing down the track to the riverbank.  As part of this, and to prove that we took our responsibilities seriously, we did a 'disaster scenario evaluation' which went along these lines:

Who would you rescue first if you were alone with the children and:
* One fell into the campfire and started burning.
* One fell off the rope swing and broke a leg in an obvious fashion.
* One fell in the river and started drowning.


After much discussion, we decided that:
* Although very painful and rather unsightly, a broken leg was not a life threatening condition, so dealing with this problem would take the lowest priority.
* An expert amongst us was insistent that as it takes a while to drown and, although the frenetic splashing would be somewhat distracting, diving into the freezing river would not be the top priority.
* This leaves dealing with the child attracted moth-like to the fire and the sizzling sausages and burgers.


What would you have done?

Satisfied that we had covered all eventualities, we went ahead and had a jolly good time. And no child was burnt or drowned and all left with a full complement of limbs intact. But we knew what we would have done if the worst had happened.
Where better to dry wet clothes?

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A trip down Memory Road

One old image: so many memories. Here's a photograph that came my way recently of Newport Road, Trethomas, dated 1960. That's my home village and the photograph shows the main row of shops always referred to as 'down the road'. It really was 'down the road' as we lived a couple of hundred yards 'up the road'. Thinking about the shops and what they sold is going back into another era and a time completely alien even to our children. If you have the inclination, come with me on a shopping expedition 'down the road' to the shops in Trethomas. I'm sure all those of a certain age would be able to so something similar.
 
1. Davies the Meirig (more formally E.C.Davies Ltd): where we bought a lot of our groceries. What do I remember? Cheese cut from a large round with a wire, butter from a large yellow cube and patted into shape, bacon sliced to the thickness of your choice directly from the side on a hand operated slicer, ham carved off the bone and biscuits picked from large tins - with a separate one for the broken remnants. There were lots of dry goods and things in tins but nothing frozen. And not a plastic bag or shrink wrap in sight. Eco-friendly shopping at its best. 
 
2. Bulgen's: for vegetables and fish. Can't remember that much about them other than the fact that they sold, mmm, vegetables and fish.
 
3. Luis' Cafe: it seemed as if every Welsh Valley village had its own Italian cafe. Many had Bernis, some Servinis: we had Luis Rabiotti. Luis came over from Northern Italy before WWII, had married a local girl and spoke with an interesting Welsh/Italian accent. His cafe was the place to get frothy coffee, hot blackcurrant squash and steamed meat pies. Steamed meat pies? In the absence of an electric heating oven, a meat pie (Thomas of Merthyr Tydfil - accept no alternatives) was put into a paper bag which was then pierced with a nozzle of the coffee machine and given a blast of steam. The result was a watery hot pie with very soggy pastry but a great taste. Before I'd really figured out what was happening, for years I thought the process actually involved injecting the pies with hot gravy - which tells you something about their meat content and how dumb I was.
 
4. Morgan's the Butcher: the only 'out-of-town' branch of Lewis the Butcher from Bedwas (not to be confused with Morgan the Butcher of the same place). Run by Mervyn Morgan (who was a different Morgan the Butcher than the Morgan the Butcher from Bedwas), it mostly supplied meat raised on the farm of the eponymous owner and that of his brother, Lewis the Milk. Food miles? About two! Sausages, faggots, black pudding etc were all made either on the premises or up the road in Bedwas. Mervyn and Luis were great friends and had worked next to each other for many years. As I got older and got to know them better through a weekend job I had with Lewis the Milk (yes, I was known as Deri the Milk for four or five years but I don't put that on my CV. I was also known as Deadly Deri to some of my early friends, but that's another, not particularly edifying, story.), they recounted their adventures during WWII when Luis was briefly interned as an alien and then released to join the local Home Guard. Thank goodness, Hitler never invaded Trethomas as I don't think Luis, Mervyn and their colleagues would have been a match for the Third Reich. Or perhaps I'm doing them a disservice? "Here, take this Thomas of Merthyr gravy pie in the face, Fritz". "And see how you like the feel of a well-aimed faggot, Helmut". "Gott in himmel: ze trackz of mein panzer ist clogged mitt ze string of Welsh sausages". "Donner und blitzen, attacked mit low flying schwartz puddings"....and on and on and on........
 
5. Wolfson's drapery and haberdashery: Mr Wolfson's stock was never ever going to rival Carnaby Street for its up-to-date fashions but it did supply a whole range of 'sensible' items for the working man and his family. I remember buying some Welsh flannel shirts there (collarless, made of thick itchy wool but very hippyish), a supply of collar stiffeners for my school shirts and, on the morning of my wedding, a white shirt to go with my suit (it's a long story but my original choice got the thumbs down from everyone who saw it).
 
6: Worthington's the ironmonger: Glynn Worthington supplied all sorts of nails, screws, wood, paint, spades, shovels etc. Nothing pre-packaged and you could buy exactly the number you required for any particular job - our Trewortha's in nearby Callington reminds me a lot of Worthington's. You could also get paraffin for those heaters that everyone seemed to have around that time: Worthington's sold Esso Blue. Does anyone else remember the Blee Dooler ad?

7. The telephone box: ah, the telephone box. Worthy of a Blue Plaque. This featured prominently in the early days of my courtship of Miss L, later Mrs P. We didn't have a 'phone at home, like the majority of the people in the village, and this was my hotline to the younger daughter of the posh family living in the distant land of Risca. I spent a lot - and I do mean a lot - of time down there and often had to run the gauntlet of good humoured but risqué comments from Luis and Mervyn. I became very adept at dialling Risca 227 for free (and illegally. So arrest me!) using a trick passed down to me by older boys and which could only be done on the old-fashioned analogue contact equipment.

L.P Hartley wrote, in The Go Between, that "the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there". It certainly seems that way but I'm ever so glad that I had the right passport. As I've said before "you can take the boy out of the valleys but you can't take the valleys out of the boy". Happy days.

Tonto wasn't the only good Indian

During my childhood years (encompassing, gulp, the 50's and very early 60's) we often played cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians. Both were variants of the good guys vs bad guys theme: good vs evil, light vs dark, civilisation vs savages. In these games I, like everyone else in my gang, never really thought of 'Indians' outside of these parameters - bad guys, evil, dark and rather stupid. After all, who in their right minds would keep on riding in circles around heavily armed 'whites' just waiting to be picked off? As I got older and more curious, the true history of the "Indians" - the indigenous peoples of North America - came into focus: the broken treaties, the forced removals, the genocidal violence and the racist stereotypes.

I'd assembled this picture from a jigsaw of information gleaned from journals, newspapers, Amnesty International reports etc. And a single visit to a Cherokee reservation in Cherokee in North Carolina which introduced me/us to the Trail of Tears. But I'd never come across a good book dealing with the subject - not, I have to admit, that I made any efforts at all to root one out. Until, that is, I came across The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King. It is subtitled 'a curious account of native people of North America'. It's not a conventional historical chronology: it's a highly personal narrative (a little bit ranty in parts but who am I to complain about anyone who rants?) in which the author sees Native American history not as a straight line but rather as a circle in which the same tragic dynamics are played out over and over again. At the heart of the dysfunctional relationship between 'Indians' and Whites, King writes, is land: “The issue has always been land”. It's funny, it's readable, and it makes you think. If the reader has any kind of a social conscience, it will also make you angry. I know I was/am.

And it still is about land - or rather the resources associated with it. Some would say that it is time for the 'Indians' to put aside their grievances, lawsuits and various complaints from the past and move towards the future. That's easy to say if you are not directly affected by the issues but the catalogue of broken treaties and land grabs are still going on. Take what's happening in Arizona right at this very moment.

The US government is about to let an international mining company (sadly with British connections) dig up a beautiful stretch of national forest held sacred by the Apache tribe. For centuries the San Carlos Apache have used the Oak Flat area of the Tonto National Forest in Arizona for traditional religious ceremonies. This cultural significance and its natural beauty mean it has had protected status for many years, and repeated attempts to open the land up to mining have failed to pass Congress. Arizona’s Senators, both of whom have financial links to mining companies, only got it through Congress last year by attaching the approval to a totally unrelated but supportable national defence bill. The peculiar logic and political horsetrading involved in putting these bills together means that approving one (the national defence bill) means approving the other (and screwing the Apache). You can either wring your hands in despair or, like me, make a gesture of support and objection by signing this on-line petition (https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stand_with_the_apache_global_loc/?bJVIrab&v=62153) Getting towards 500,000 people have already done so and, who knows, it might make a difference. It's better than sitting on your hands and doing nothing.


Sunday, 19 July 2015

Some thoughts on Iran

Lots in the news over the weekend on the deal to limit nuclear development in Iran. The shades of opinion range from support to outright opposition. Let me say at the outset that I have no knowledge whatsoever about the agreement other than what I have read and heard, I am not an expert on the Middle East and I really do not understand the economic impact of this agreement. So, what do I think of it? Given my last but one sentence, why should you care? Here is my opinion anyway.

I think the agreement will certainly make it more difficult for Iran to develop an atomic bomb and that is a good thing. If that doesn't turn out to be the case, I believe we will still have the same most unpleasant and undesirable option of bombing the crap out of their reactors that we have today. That much hasn't changed.

I suppose you could make the argument that releasing billions of dollars to Iran by ending sanctions will make it easier for them to develop a bomb.  Maybe, but I think that Iran could find a way to finance atomic development if they want, and destroying their economy with economic sanctions might only make them more intent to build and use one. Many people think we, the West, should have continued sanctions, brought Iran to its knees and forced them to agree to whatever we demand. To me that sounds like a recipe for contempt, hatred, and a desire for revenge. If you corner a defenceless animal, you will be scratched or bitten. If you humiliate and beat down a country, that country will also scratch or bite when given no other choice.

The people of Iran broke out in celebration at this agreement; hundreds of thousands of people were dancing in the streets. Were they happy because now they could build a bomb and kill millions of people? Perhaps. But I think a little more of humanity than to believe that. Maybe, just maybe, the people in Iran were celebrating expected improvement in their economic conditions that will follow this agreement. This seems to me to be a good thing. Poverty does not make people compliant. People with no hope are dangerous people. Affluence seldom leads to rape, plunder and war. Affluence and hope for the future leads to industriousness and productivity, education and modernity: it creates people who are too busy to hate and too busy to make war and risk what they have.

Perhaps this agreement is not the best that could have been achieved but, given the context, it is probably better than no agreement at all. Let's face it, if we listened to all the pundits we would never have an agreement…ever…with anybody. I don't think this agreement makes us any more vulnerable to a dangerous Iran. Maybe it will delay or stop their nuclear development; maybe it will help move the Iranian people to be less antagonistic. What do we really have to lose? After all, what have we done in the Middle East in the last 75 years that has ever improved conditions and reduced cultural animosities?

Friday, 17 July 2015

Dartmoor Walk from Fernworthy

It seems like ages since we've been up the moors and yesterday took us to a part we'd never walked before. Our starting point was the car park at the top of the Fernworthy Reservoir and from there onto an area that few seem to visit. A robust 9 miler under our belt which, if I'm honest, was quite heavy going in some places. But a great day out with spectacular views and lots to see. Enjoy the virtual perambulation.

Our route, with its elevation profile.
Through the towering conifers of Fernworthy Plantation and....
...out onto the open moorland. Looking vaguely north-east at this point.
Our first target was Grey Wethers with its two almost completely symmetrical Neolithic stone circles, seen here looking back on the way up to Sittaford Tor. What was the purpose of the circles? No one knows but 'ceremonial' seems to be the most often cited function. I had to fiddle with the contrast on this one to make the stones stand out; in the process I've somewhat bleached the colour out of the grass.
The path looks fairly innocuous but don't be fooled. It was tough going in parts as there were lots of tussocks and a barely discernible track in many places.
Lots of English stonecrop (Sedum anglicum) on the rocks and walls. It's amazing what it will grow on and adds a splash of colour to the grey of the stone.
Oi! What are you looking at?
Dotted here and there in the bogs was the bright yellow Bog asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum) It was once thought to be the cause of brittle bone in cattle grazing on it, hence the name ossifragum, meaning ‘weak bone’. In fact, the cause is lack of calcium in bog plants as a whole. This plant has been used as a cheap substitute for saffron and as a dye.
It doesn't look much but this is probably one of the most important Neolithic sites in Northern Europe. Buried underneath this mound, and placed in the chamber in the centre, were the funerary remains of a person (presumed female by the nature of the artifacts found). The excavation was unique in that the entire cyst was removed intact and dismantled under laboratory conditions. Look up 'White Horse Hill Cyst' if you want more information and pictures of the jewellery and beads recovered.
Walking across the peat bogs on Dartmoor is not easy: just think how much more difficult it is if you are on a horse hunting. To make it easier for local hunts to seek their prey and transport across the bogs more generally, Frank Phillpotts decided to dig 'peat passes' to make transit easier.  He got men to dig through the peat to the bedrock beneath to give a firm base for travellers and users. There are about 12 around the moor but were never intended to form a cohesive network, rather they dealt with local difficulties.
Why was this fish sign placed on top of a wall at a ruined farmhouse in a desolate place? Orienteering? Harriers? I've no idea.
This is the impressive trackway leading to the ruins of Teignhead Farm. Dating from the early 1800s, it was inhabited until the 1960s. A lonely, inhospitable place to try and make a living. Originally, this farm was one of the 'new takes' designed to reclaim some of the moorland and bring it under more productive cultivation. Some of the 'new takes' still exist as working farms but many of them failed and are now ruins.
The clapper bridge spanning the Upper Teign and part of the original access to Teignhead Farm. The massive granite slabs must have been quarried locally and, from the way the edges dovetail with each other, it looks as if they came from the same block.
Not that common so it was  a pleasure to find the basal rosette of the round-leaved or common sundew (Drosera rotundifolia). It's a carnivorous plant and if you look closely you can make out the insect-trapping sticky hairs on the leaves.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The shortest scheduled flight in the world?

We are back in Orkney next month for a nine day stay and are starting to pull together an itinerary for some of the islands we want to visit. Papa Westray, one of the smallest, is on this list. It sounds just the sort of place we like: it has 60 archaeological sites, lots of wildlife and is home to just over 90 people (according to the 2011 census). Bill Bryson, no less, has cited Papa Westray as one of his favourite places in Great Britain. And if it's good enough for Bill, it's going to be good enough for us. 
How to get there from the Mainland island? Two options: ferry from Kirkwall (2.5 hours) or flight from Kirkwall (30 minutes). We've opted for the latter as we are ferrying to Westray earlier on in the week. By taking the plane, we have the excitement of having the shortest scheduled flight in the world as the final leg from Westray to Papa Westray. Apparently we'll get a certificate to prove it. Yippee! You can experience the flight by watching the YouTube clip at the bottom, timed at 2.36 minutes, which includes take-off and landing. Here's hoping we get such clear conditions when we fly.
And here's our boarding pass to show that it's a 2 minute flight: depart Westray at 8.49am and land on Papa Westray at 8.51am.
The distance of 1.7 miles is scheduled at 2 minutes, but depending on the wind direction, it can be as short as 47 seconds.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Pigs 2015: Part 1

Back in the piggy business!  A little later than anticipated because of livestock transport restrictions around the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Show but they are here now. Learning from last year, they are six weeks younger at this stage but they will soon be putting on weight. It's good to back with them.
See if you can count all nine of them. Two more than last year but still very manageable.
And this is why they are called British Lop Eared Pigs.
For size comparison, this photo was taken around the same time last year. They were a good bit bigger.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Quadruple Chocolate Cake

Knowing that I have one or two chocoholics amongst my regular readers (you know who you are), I thought I'd share this recipe from my latest baking session for the village 'pop-up' café. Just in case you are wondering this cake is not named for the bypass you might feel you'd need after eating it but because of the four choccy-factors that go into it: cocoa to make the cake; chocolate chips to fold into it; a chocolate syrup to drench it once it's out of the oven and dark chocolate shards to top it before serving. It's a Nigella Lawson creation with a few personal tweaks to give it a little more 'body'. It's easy peasy and looks good but I'll have to leave it to others to let me know how it tastes (see later for verdict).
Use the best quality chocolate possible and never never ever use milk chocolate
Ingredients  
                                       
For the cake
  • 200 grams plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 50 grams cocoa powder
  • 275 grams golden caster sugar
  • 175 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 80 ml sour cream
  • 125 ml boiling water
  • 175 grams dark chocolate chips 

For the syrup and topping
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 125 ml water 
  • 50 grams golden caster sugar
  • 50 grams dark muscovado sugar
  • 25 grams dark chocolate (from a bar)                           
And the verdict of the punters? Nice but very rich. A real treat for the discerning chocolate lover but you don't need a big piece of it. It would make a great pudding with a chocolate sauce or sour cream, perhaps.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

A sign of things to come?

A Red Letter Day as we picked our first tomatoes of the year from the greenhouse. OK, only two were ripe but it's a start and there are lots more on the way.
For those interested in the detail (come on, you know you are one of them), the smaller one (Roma variety) was about an inch long and that will give you an idea of the size of the larger one, which is a Shirley.

What did they taste like? Not too sure as they were rather overwhelmed by the cheese we used in the sandwiches we made with them.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Emily Hobhouse of St Ive


I've been researching Mrs P's Cornish forebears for a while now and have recently come across an unfamiliar surname with a connection to one of her lines. The surname is Hobhouse and the place of interest is St Ive, twixt Callington and Liskeard and about 5 miles from our home. The connection is via a brother of a 3x-greatgrandmother marrying a Sarah Hobhouse. Cue a little more research into Hobhouses of St Ives and this comes up with one that I'd heard of before: Emily Hobhouse.

Emily (1860-1926) was the daughter of a vicar of St Ive and she had an unusually colourful and productive life. First Emily tried mission work with hard drinking Cornish Miners in the United States, then she travelled to South Africa where the second Boer War was going on with the Dutch settlers. Shocked at the conditions in the newly invented concentration camps, as any right minded person should be as they were quite horrific and were used mainly for women, children and the elderly (a strategy designed to deny supplies and shelter to the fighters), Emily led a campaign to demand their closure. The British authorities were furious but her efforts resulted in an official enquiry (in which, of course, she was not included) which resulted in improvements in the conditions. As an aside, Kitchener regarded her as so dangerous that he once refused to allow her to enter South Africa.

That her own nation misinterpreted her actions and motives during the Anglo-Boer War remained a bitter pill to her up to the end of her life. On 1 May 1926 she wrote:
"My work in the concentration camps in South Africa made almost all my people look down upon me with scorn and derision. The press abused me, branded me a rebel, a liar, an enemy of my people, called me hysterical and even worse. One or two newspapers, for example the Manchester Guardian, tried to defend me, but it was an unequal struggle with the result that the mass of the people was brought under an impression about me that was entirely false. I was ostracised. When my name was mentioned, people turned their backs on me. This has now continued for many years and I had to forfeit many a friend of my youth".


Women's War Memorial at Bloemfontein.
Emily's pacifism lead to her attempting to promote peace during World War I but her efforts fell on deaf ears. She braved accusations of treason at home and possible internment in Germany, and went to Germany to try to persuade the German ministers to stop the War. Afterwards she founded many children's charities but suffered from increasing bad health and lack of money. She lived out her final years in St. Ives (the seaside resort) in a house paid for by her South African friends before moving to London where she died in 1926 of pleurisy, cardiac degeneration and cancer. She was cremated and the Boers buried her ashes, in a state funeral, ''like a princess'' in a niche in their Women's War Memorial at Bloemfontein. She is still remembered in South Africa as a national heroine and there is a commemorative event held in her name at the memorial every year.   

Perhaps with a little more research I can establish a definite link into Mrs P's family tree, perhaps not. At the moment, we'll put it in the 'interesting coincidence' file. However it turns out, I've enjoyed learning about Emily and I'll finish with a quote from her which still resonates: 

"We in England are still dunces in the great world-school; our leaders are still struggling with the unlearned lesson that liberty is the equal right and heritage of every child of man, without the distinction of race, colour or sex."
 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Green grow the rushes.........and grasses...........and trees..........

If I had to describe Cornwall in colours, I think it would have to be blue and green. Blue for the sea, obviously, and green for pretty much everything else. You can get greens from a Pantone chart or you can go direct to source and get an infinite variety of shades from nature. Here is just a selection from a walk we did last Sunday around North Hill. Better than any old Pantone chart any day.
The Withey Brook at the start of our walk.
A plod up an old green lane onto the eastern fringe of Bodmin Moor.
A quiet country lane down off the moor, dropping down to.....
.....the River Lynher. About 1/4 mile down from where we crossed the Withey Brook. Question: what makes a brook a river?
Not green but a very attractive Little Magpie Moth. Yes, there is a larger version, the Magpie Moth, which looks similar but bigger. This specimen was about 2 cm across.