Friday, April 29, 2011

cliff top drama

More startling and unexpected developments as reported by a trusty local newspaper.

Looking at the photographs of the devastation caused by the tornadoes in America I thought how eerily similar they looked to the Japanese photographs. Houses shredded, trees stripped but still standing and all the upturned cars, people sifting through the remnants of their destroyed property, fires burning.

Watching the youtube footage of the Japanese reporter driving around Fukushima with a geiger counter was like having a science fiction disaster movie become real. The abandoned animals roaming around, the vegetable plots growing what appears to be normal looking food and all the while the increasing click of the counter. Apart from the absence of people the place looked just like any normal town anywhere and I thought how easily this could be my own town. Things that used to look a long way off now seem to be much closer and what was once a distant land appears somehow familiar. There seems to be an enormous amount of earthquake activity around the world lately.

I am woken from a deep sleep this morning by the sound of a bird fluttering its wings very close to me. There isn't a bird in the room so it must have been just outside the window, but I am awake now and the telephone rings almost immediately. We have had plenty of bad news lately from all sorts of different directions but we try to help and support each other the best we can, as all circumstances can change so suddenly.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

a spring driven thing

Spring is here and the land becomes green and covered with flowers. I watch ants and bees at work, doing what they have always done and I see a skylark singing, floating above this beautiful blue morning. The view out here is so quiet and peaceful, with just the song of birds and the living hum of insects. Who would think to look at it that it is now covered with a deadly and invisible radiation? An invisible pollution to go with the electro magnetic pollution and all the other awful stuff that we have covered the planet with, and almost none of it visible.

The world becomes increasingly radioactive in what is starting to appear as a great war to pollute the environment and poison the future. In a search to see how we can protect ourselves from such stuff I have come across so many pieces of advice that it even seems a high salt diet complemented with lots of fag smoking might be a good idea at the moment. This is obviously more than a bit daft.

I was working outside when Chenobyl went down and seeing which way the wind and rain were blowing and the government advice that everything was fine, wondered what I might be able to do to protect myself. Not having much access to information I pulled my hat further over my face and carried on digging holes in the ground.

There seems to be a lot of cancer around these days and it could well be that our poisoned environment is now killing us. I remember reading an article about the examination of ancient egyptian mummies for traces of cancer and that only a very negligible amount of tumourous cells had been discovered, which led me to think that perhaps cancer is pretty much a modern invention, though I would be happy to be wrong about this.

Like a lot of people I was always against nuclear power and nuclear armaments. We protested and were derided and ignored as much as possible and nuclear power and the arms industry went on their merry way with the great help of the governments, whichever left or right position they pretended to be and all of it subsidised by the taxpayer, so that we payed for the privilage of being poisoned and poisoning the rest of the world. Our elected representatives? In what way have our interests ever been represented by these people? I think of all the money and the notion of 'I'll be gone, you'll be gone' and people like Warren Anderson and plenty of others.

The first five photographs were taken a week or two before the following photos and show the way that the woodland changes so rapidly at this time of year. Already they need updating as spring is swift here even though it has been very dry. At the moment the woodland is half in leaf and half bare still, though that is changing rapidly. The wild flower in photo five is Honesty, which is in short supply in many places these days.

Keep up the good work you lot and all the best to you wherever you are.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

the beach and full moons - how do I love thee?

Just a few pictures taken at night during some of the recent full moons. The first photo was taken on the 17th of February and shows the constellation of Orion , a familiar sight to anyone living in the northern hemisphere. The upper orange star is the red giant Betelgeuse and the v shaped constellation to the right is Taurus, the brighter star being Aldebaran.

The rest of the photos were taken on the night of the 20th of March , just after midnight and again on the following night at just after nine o' clock. These were all taken with an exposure of about 30 seconds.

Photo two shows the very low tide that occured during the March perigee moon. This low tide caused five ships to run aground on a bank of shingle not normally exposed, just along the coast from here on the Solent, near the Isle of Wight. Among them was the 2,900 tonne cargo ship Paula-C, on its way to Cowes with a crew of nine.

On the cliff at the top of photo three is a small pale shape which is the house, called The Gazebo, that the author R. F. Delderfield built on Peak Hill. Because of coastal erosion the house is now only a few feet away from the edge of the cliff. It is a two or three bedroom thatched cottage built in the 1950s or 60s to a circular design and is currently up for sale for the substantial price of £795,000.

Other notable local residents of the past include Sir Edmund Leach, the English social anthropologist who was born here. The Duke and Duchess of Kent, being the parents of Queen Victoria, lived in Sidmouth for a time. The Duke had large debts and sought a place where they could live inexpensively. The coast of Devon was recommended to them and The Duke took a lease on Woolbrook Cottage in the town, where he rapidly caught the pneumonia from which he died of on 23 January 1820.

Jane Austin is reputed to have met and fallen in love with a young clergyman while staying in the town in 1801, of whose manners, intelligence and charm her sister, the letter burning Cassandra, most warmly approved. Having gained the permission of the family to continue the friendship later, he died suddenly. Jane gives the resort only one very brief mention in one novel, Persuasion.

The astronomer Sir Norman Lockyer retired here in 1911 and built an observatory on top of Salcombe Hill, which is still in use. Beatrix Potter holidayed here and painted a small watercolour which captures the pleasure of a sunny afternoon on the beach, in a view not much changed. Turner passed through not long after the great gale of 1824 and painted a watercolour of a stormy sea with the town in the background. Included in his painting is a sea stack which was later destroyed by another storm. The poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her family moved here in 1831 and stayed for about four years. Elizabeth is also supposed to have had an unhappy love affair during her stay in the town.