Pandemic Pondering#85

South East Cornwall received a month’s worth of rain today. The day’s activities were not planned by a clock but by a weather forecasting App.Most of January, February and March of 2020 were the same and then with Lockdown for the pandemic the weather changed to something resembling the Mediterranean. Some days we’ve had to plan dog walks to avoid the heat. Today was a shock to the system. Puddles where previously we experienced dust bowls.The change in weather gave Lola a massive sense of her own destiny. Authoritarian signs were not going to stop her.She was straight out of the nature reserve and straight into the churchyard.Finding a brown dog in a churchyard is a tricksy thing, it took a while,but I forgave her when I found this grave. It forms the boundary of the graveyard and I walk past the back of it every day. So much information …This gentleman drowned in the Hamoaze on April 10th 1834. Aged63He wasn’t found until 6th May, unsurprisingly his remains were interred the very next day.So much information and completely plays to my nosey, or do I mean interested side. A quick glance to the grave next door added another possible layer to this already sad story.Another gentleman with the same name is also listed as drowned on December 29 th 1803. Aged 54.There has to be a story here, probably very sad and entirely suited to a grey day.I’ve noticed during my weather watching during the pandemic that I am extraordinarily thrilled to know whether my gibbous is waxing or waning.

Pandemic Pondering #30

Book bags and Woodland walks, featuring dog bums

We don’t forward plan much these days. A firming up of rules on driving to exercise during Coronovirus Restrictions freed us up to venture just a little further afield. The journey also gave us the chance to drop bags of books on the doorsteps of ‘Shielding Bookworms’ , actually members of a local book club,who need to self isolate for 12 weeks. Describing them as I did I made them sound like a covert infestation requiring pesticide.

Cadsonbury Woods, a Riverside walk near Callington has been a favourite walk for 30 years. It has an additional uphill walk to an ancient Hill Fort. We rarely do that because we always have the dogs and the fields are often being grazed by sheep. Without the dogs we would normally sprint up hills of such challenging gradients like mountain goats. Not today.
https://www.tamarvalleyvibe.uk/?p=1639

There were a few cars in the car park but we mostly had the woods to ourselves. Most visitors must have been of the mountain goat variety.

The birdsong was beautiful and recent work, felling trees to protect the river bank from erosion, had really opened up the walk to bright daylight. We even found a Memorial Bench.

There’s a lot of dog bums in the following pictures, some faces, some nature in springtime but I completely forgot to take a picture of the most significant part of the outing.

A cup of tea from a flask and a shortbread biscuit, which we had to share, after a couple of hours of walking in the woods. Bliss in these unusual times.

Pandemic Ponderings #2

This is not the blog I imagined I would be writing today. Yesterday I did some classes at the gym and as the day progressed I thought I had given my chest and neck muscles a good work out. But the pain settled around my ears and even my unpredictable exercise moves could not give me an ear workout.

So a virus has found its way in, maybe not The Virus, but a virus never the less. So it’s social isolation for me and I may as well measure time using this.

Like all viruses Coronovirus has a pleasing organic image.

As we all know this pretty thing originated in China. As luck would have it I have a Chinese chrysanthemum that nicely fits in with pretty round organic shapes.

Fortunately theoldmortuary is very close to a nature reserve so I did not feel too much of a fool walking the dogs dressed as the Lone Ranger. I didn’t meet a soul.

Everything looks better in the sunshine.

This morning’s dog walk was always going to be beautiful. Amazing bright sunshine after a rare, for this winter, frost.

Sunshine lifts the soul. What better than to do a great walk not once but twice, the second time extremely slowly.

I opted for the nature reserve walk this morning even though time was limited as I had some gym sessions booked.

On the way I took photos of mundane things looking glorious in the sun.

Lola and I had a moment in the sun, represented by long shadows.

Even the festive wreath was given its last moment of beauty before being cast into the compost heap.

This was moments before I discovered the house keys had exited my jeans pocket at some point during the walk.

The second walk was much slower, scanning the ground for the recalcitrant keys. Unhappy dogs kept on their leads for added concentration.

Luckily everything does look better in sunshine and keys twinkle.

Cotehele Garland

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The Tamar Valley can be a grey and dank place between November and January. Outings tend to need the right sort of clothes and a brew. A trip, at this time of year, to the medieval Manor House, Cotehele, provides numerous muddy walks along rivers or in the countryside and plenty of chances for a brew. It also alleviates the dankness with a fabulous flashback to the fecundity of Summer.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele

The tradition of the garland goes back to the 1950’s. It celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2016. Because it appears in November and carries on beyond the new year. Many first time visitors are surprised by its colour scheme. It doesn’t shout Christmas with rich jewel colours  or bold glossy green foliage, instead it is a joyous celebration of summer colours. Everything in the garland is grown, dried and stored on the estate.

 

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My eye is always caught by the bright pink abstract wiggles of Limonium suworowii or Pink pokers. Tethered, as they undoubtedly are, in the garland, they look like horticultural escape artists waiting to break free.
The garland is the responsibility of the head gardener. Each garland takes 12 days to assemble but it has taken a full gardening year to grow the plants from seed and then harvest them to be hung and dried ready for the November assembly. Depending on the quality of the summer weather, between 23,000 and 35,000 flowers are produced. Volunteers spend 70 hours a week caring for, then cutting and stripping the flowers ready to be dried. Picking starts in April, once ready, they are bunched and hung to dry until November.

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Each garland differs slightly depending on the growing success, or not, of the various flowers that traditionally form the garland. Some years a theme is adopted that has a particular significance, for example, last year was the centenerary of the end of World War 1.
The green base of the garland is the product from fifty Pittosporum or Cheesewood trees, an evergreen shrub with small, shiny, leathery leaves. Ninety feet of rope forms the beginning of the swag, bunches of Pittosporum are then tied to the rope until it is covered.
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Photo credit . The National Trust. Cotehele

The swag is then ready to become a garland.
Scaffolding is erected indoors and the swag is hung in the Great Hall, gardeners clamber up to create the lofty design, the beauty of a years harvest of flowers and hard work are pushed into the greenery one colour at a time to ensure an even distribution.

sdr_vivid The Garland attracts 32,000 visitors to the estate. For some it is an annual visit, to rekindle the memories of past visits, for others, it is a unique experience, never to be repeated but wonderful never the less. The volunteer guides at Cotehele are a huge asset. This pondering was all gleaned from talking to a volunteer for less than ten minutes, I don’t think she missed a single thing.