Friday, 24 March 2017

Coast and Canal.

A half and half sort of walk in more ways than one. Half coast and half canal: half dry and half wet. But still good to get out even though the tragic events at Westminster were on everybody's mind.

Our route started and ended at the 'top' car park at Widemouth Bay just sou th of Bude. We followed the coast for roughly half the walk and then along the Bude canal for most of the rest. 
Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside, I do like to be beside the sea! A blowy day and the surf was up along Widemouth Bay. Here, we are looking south along what is one of the most popular surfing beaches in Cornwall.
A little further up the coast and the geology becomes more apparent.
Strange things by the wayside Part XXV: a barrowload of books. For a small donation to a local charity, coastal footpath walkers have the opportunity to laden themselves down with a few hardback tomes. I wonder how many succumb to the temptation?
Yet another seascape. Can't get enough of them.
The Coastguard Tower on the cliffs just outside of Bude. Known locally as the Pepper Pot, it was built c 1810 as a refuge for the coastguard, it was also an ornamental feature on the Efford Estate and part of Bude’s ambitious development plans. The octagonal tower, with the points of the compass carved as a frieze, was re-sited c. 1900 due to the eroding cliffs.  It was dismantled and rebuilt further inland but unfortunately seven degrees out of alignment. And it is, because I checked against the compass on my GPS.
A very early show of anemones in a sheltered spot by the harbour in Bude. They haven't even started showing above the ground in our garden
I didn't even know that there were elvers around this part of the world. Elver pasties anyone? What an awful thought but it might go down well with unsuspecting tourists.
The sea lock gates of the Bude Canal.
He was keeping a beady eye on our lunch and we were keeping an equally beady eye on his beak. He seemed to be in a passive/aggressive mood.
Lots of the male flowers of the pussy willow around.
A Grey Heron stalking fish or frogs or anything edible.
Heron in flight

Ditto. I've got a fast shot sequence of about 200 like this but I'll spare you them all.
Beware! Red rabbits? Not really, it's just warning walkers that there may be hares around. Apparently there is a scheme to reintroduce them on some pasture land nearby.

One last seascape at the end of the walk. Just over 6 miles and a good stretch.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Walford Break March 2017: Post the first

To Herefordshire for a few days with friends. Time to do a little exploring.
Berrington Hall, dating from the late eighteenth century, was the last landscaping project of Capability Brown. Built of a rather dour red sandstone in the Neo-Classical style, it's more interesting on the inside than the exterior might suggest.
Just a patch of daffodils but they appealed to me.
As did this autumn flowering crocus. In March?
The iron brackets along the back wall of the walled garden were a puzzle until we twigged that they originally held a glass frame to protect the fruit espalliers (peach, apricot, nectarine) growing up the wall. The modern plastic tent does the same job, albeit with much less style.
I do like a bit of Box topiary and this is about my level of ability.
Undoubtedly the highlight of our visit to Berrington Hall, was the artwork by the ceramic artist, Bouke de Vries. Entitled War and Pieces, it's six metres in length and filled the table in the Dining Room. It comprises of many porcelain figures engaged in a deadly struggle under the shadow of a central mushroom cloud. The theme echoes the tradition of generals dining the night before a battle and then breaking all of the china as an act of symbolism.
The mushroom cloud. The whole piece was very effective and affecting.
A tale of two staircases. This is the one the lords and ladies used...
....and these are the back stairs for the servants.
The Priory Church in Leominster. Very big on the inside but rather too austere for my tastes.
It's not often that I come across someone who was a POW in WW1 so my curiosity was piqued. Although the plaque says one thing, the CWGC site lists George on the Thiepval Memorial amongst the unlocated killed. Perhaps George (32) was missing, presumed dead, in the first instance and his real fate became apparent later on?
John Scarlett Davies - reknowned artist? Not by me, he wasn't. Never heard of him and that is my loss. Mr Google says that he was a landscape, portrait and architectural painter. Unfortunately he died of TB when he was only 41.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

On this day in 1917, Sergeant Nathaniel Lobb died.

Sergeant 5818
Nathaniel Lobb MM
Special Section, Special Brigade,
Royal Engineers
Died age 38
10th March 1917

Nathaniel Lobb was born in Tavistock in 1879, the son of Nathaniel and Annie Lobb, both of whom had long connections with Stoke Climsland and Downgate. Nathaniel Junior was a career soldier, joining up in 1900 and ending his career in France in 1917. The following obituary written just after his death gives a good summary of his military service.

 We regret to report that Mrs Lobb of Downgate, Stoke Climsland, has received the sad news of the death of her son, Sergeant Nathaniel Lobb RE in France. Sergeant Lobb, who joined that Royal Engineers on June 13th 1900, went through the South African War (Second Boer War) and went to France at the commencement of the present war.
He was reported wounded three times, the first time receiving wounds in the shoulder, knee, leg, hand and foot. Recovering from these he met the enemy and was wounded in the foot and, in a third effort, was wounded in the hand. He was at the Battle of the Somme and was awarded the Military Medal for bravery. So recently as January, he was home on a well earned ten days’ leave but, on returning to the Front, he developed bronchial pneumonia brought on by exposure and died in a French Hospital (10th Stationary Hospital, St Omer) on March 10th 1917.
Sympathetic letters from Sergeant Lobb’s fellow officers and comrades have been received by his widowed mother testifying to his ‘fearlessness and gallantry in action’ and his being ‘a remarkably cool and collected leader’. The Reverend Alfred Coutts, Chaplain to the Forces, in a touching and highly appreciative letter received on March 20th says Sergeant Lobb ‘was one of the finest men I have ever met’. Much sympathy is felt for the relatives in their bereavement of one of such sterling qualities both as a man and a soldier.

Sergeant Lobb’s time in the Second Boer War entitled him to wear the Queen’s South Africa medal, with clasps for service in 1901 and 1902 and for the Transvaal, Orange Free State and Cape Colony campaigns. His medal, shown above, features prominently in a display at the Museum of the Royal Engineers at Gillingham in Kent.

Although we do not know the nature of his work in South Africa, his assignment to the Special Section of the Special Brigade of the Royal Engineers is very interesting. This indicates he was one of the engineers drafted in from other units, initially as volunteers, to develop and deliver poisonous gas. These moves were in retaliation to the Germans’ deployment of similar materials earlier on in the war. The British efforts started in 1915 and the British army employed poison gas for the first time in the opening barrage for the Battle of Loos, principally to overcome a shortage of artillery.
Sergeant Lobb’s final resting place is in the Longuenesse Souvenir Cemetery, near St Omer. He is mentioned on his parents' headstone in the graveyard of Stoke Climsland church.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

On this day in 1917, Private Frank Jasper was killed.

Private 36436
1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment
Died age 24
4th March 1917
 Frank Jasper was born in Lezant, the son of William and Jane (nee Mayne) Jasper. In 1911, he was living and working on the farm of Thomas Trewin at Tolcarne in North Hill. Frank enlisted in the army at Launceston and entered the Worcestershire regiment, initially into the 10th Battalion but subsequently he was transferred to the 1st and travelled to France.

He was killed in action during an attack on German lines east of Bouchavesnes to the north of Peronne and the River Somme. This attack was part of many actions in the Ancre Valley prior to the withdrawal of the German forces to the Hindenburg Line. These attacks were strategically diversionary and were intended to keep German attention focussed on the Somme area while preparations continued for the Arras battle further north. The attack was carried out under a creeping artillery barrage and the German positions were soon won. Casualties suffered by the battalion during the day were 5 officers and 44 other ranks killed, 4 officers and 158 other ranks wounded and 1 officer and 11 other ranks missing. Those fallen who have no known place of rest, Frank amongst them, are commemorated on the Thiepval Monument (Panel Reference: Pier and Face 5 A and 6 C). His mother, Jane, was the sole legatee of Frank's will and she received £5 7s 3d from the War Office on 28th October 1919.

As well as featuring on the Stoke Climsland War Memorial, possibly because his mother came from Venterdon, his name also appears on the Lewannick War Memorial.

Lewannick War Memorial

Register of Frank Jasper's effects.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Just a tiny bit of the Coastal Footpath walked

We continued our run of walks in new places with one from the coastal village of Seaton (Seaton Cornwall, that is, not Seaton, Devon). The weather was kind despite an ambiguous weather forecast.
Our route started and ended in Seaton. Because of a map reading error (not mine!) what we ended up doing was not quite what was planned but it certainly didn't suffer for that. At 4.5 miles, it was a little shorter than anticipated but a long, steady climb more than made up for the shorter distance. Briefly, we walked up the Seaton Valley in the woods for a mile or so, then climbed out of the woods, dropped down to the next village along the coast (Downderry) and then walked back along the beach to our starting point.
The River Seaton is around 18 miles long and arises on Bodmin Moor - near the Cheesewring Hotel in Minions. For its first few miles it runs through the mining area of the Gonomena Valley and picks up mineral contaminants, mainly copper. The copper concentration is high enough to depress the invertebrate population which, in turn, leads to very few fish in the river.
An allegory for our times?
An early flowering Malus of some sort, helped along by its sheltered position in the Seaton Valley. The one in our garden is way behind and its flower buds are barely discernible.
A bee getting a snack from a snowdrop, which are getting past their best now.
Lunch in dappled woodland amongst the skeletons of trees.
A Black Oil Beetle. About 2 cms long and our commonest Oil Beetle, but not that common in other parts of the UK. The kinked antennae help with the identification. It has a fascinating life cycle for those who care to look it up.
Some would say that I'm sitting in exactly the right place (the clue is in the plaque).
I wonder how many people not 'of a certain age' will reccognise this as an old mangle. I can remember my grandmother using one but I can't remember when it disappeared as she moved onto using more modern (at least what was modern in the 1950s).
The beach at Downderry and typical for this part of the coast. Flat rocks, interspersed with dark sandy shingle. No good for building sand castles but plenty of space. And a good place to exercise dogs, of which there were many (too many) running around.
Our group taking lunch in the sun on the seawall at Downderry.
Looking west to Seaton, with Looe just visible to the left. I think the next time we'll be down here, we'll be walking the coastal footpath from Seaton to Looe. 
And on the beach, there was this solitary tyre.