Saturday, 18 December 2010

Wear Wool

How do they do it?  It reached minus ten last night and is snowing hard this morning, but still the sheep seem to be serenely unperturbed.  I follow suit and wear a great deal of wool in this weather, and it really is the best thing.  I can remember the 'polar fleece' revolution of the 1980s, when wool became unfashionable and was generally replaced by fluffy man made fleeces.  However, wool has experienced a comeback of late and if you want to wear something warm, durable, attractive and environmentally friendly do what the sheep do!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Fieldfare

An apple tree in a very weak winter sun.
I walked into an orchard yesterday and it exploded in a chuckling, chattering grey mass of fieldfares.  This highly sociable thrush comes to these shores from Scandinavia during the autumn and feeds on berries.  This year they probably feasted on our berries, but I've already bored you with the super abundance of hedgerow fruits this year!  If you walk or drive down the lanes the fieldfares burst from the hedgerows in alarm and are a marvelous spectacle which would cheer anyone up. 

The local name for them is 'felts' and they seem to come here in great numbers, albeit they are on the RSPB's red list.  I expect they were in the orchard feeding on the windfall apples, which must be rather sugary by now have been frozen and thawed so many times over the last few weeks. 

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Indian Wrestling

Today an Indian family came into the shop.  They were very interesting people and I was amazed by how many languages they spoke, each having six to eight in total.  Along with Hindi and English they also spoke two or three local languages and two or three regional languages!  I've always wanted to go to India and find the sub-continent's culture and history fascinating.

I asked the family about Indian wrestling and the men were big fans.  Indian wrestling appears to be a great sport and training for it is arduous.  Over the last couple of years I have employed some of the exercises used in Indian wrestling, namely the dand [aka Hindhu press-up] and the bethak [aka Hindhu squat] .  I've also acquired an Indian mace,or Gada, which is good fun to use if a little exhausting.  Despite this I've never tried the wrestling itself and would probably last a few seconds against even the most junior of opponents.

Meeting so many people from all over the world in this one little village gives me a real thrill, so long may it last!

My Gada.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Old Man's Beard

Old Man's Beard, or clematis vitalba, always looks so contrasting to the sparse brown hedgerows that it trails over, with its silky, round whiteness.  I took these snaps in between Bibury and Ready Token on a place called Shagborough Bank, which is covered in an almost impenetrable mass of shrubs and brambles.  Shagborough Bank is a great name, don't you think? 

Old Man's Beard is a type of clematis, which are surprisingly members of the same family as the buttercup, and can grow up to forty foot in length.  It always reminds me of cotton plants that I have seen in photographs and I wonder if it has ever been used for its softness?  Next time I go out I will take a cushion cover and stuff it full of Old Man's Beard and see if it is any good for soft furnishings.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Roman Rust

On yesterday's walk I came across a rather plain rusty iron, six bar gate that reminded me of Roman armour.  It is now thought that on a long campaign the legionaries would let their armour rust a little and then rub it with some oil.  This would have created a solid rust and iron patina that would protect the iron underneath from further corrosion.  The shiny 'lorica segmantata' [the armoured segmented tunic] seen on films, such as Gladiator, would only have been seen where the legionary had the time to clean and polish the armour.