Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Minimal coronavirus comments. Improved weather. Well dressing. Out and about.

 Large numbers of schools in the UK are reported to be affected by Coronavirus. Are we surprised? The Home Secretary says two families of four stopping and talking to each other in the street constitutes mingling and is against the new rule of six. (But huntin’ and shootin’ parties are okay!) She declares that she would not hesitate to call the police if neighbours of hers were breaking the rules. This from someone in a government that proposes to break international law! You really couldn’t make this stuff up!

So I shall write about other stuff.

It appears not to have rained since Saturday night/Sunday morning. Here we are on day three of decent, fine weather. Washing dries beautifully in the garden. The footpaths have

also dried up splendidly. Even my mud-puddle has diminished: no longer ankle deep in water, just a rather squelchy but passable mess. The blackberry harvest is very poor though. This time last year I was picking loads of blackberries and baking cakes and pies. This year there are very few ripe berries, but lots of measly-looking green ones. Maybe if the the sun keeps up for a week these will ripen sufficiently. I was looking forward to some good foraging and I feel let down.

Running round the village this morning - managing to stride over the remains of the famous mud-puddle - I noticed that the well-dressers have been busy again. So presumably they have managed to get together despite the restrictions. According to Wikipedia, “well dressing, also known as well flowering, is a tradition practised in some parts of rural England in which wells, springs and other water sources are decorated with designs created from flower petals. The custom is most closely associated with the Peak District of Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Both Scotland and Ireland do have a long history of the veneration of wells, however, dating from at least the 6th century.”

And now it seems that Saddleworth also has such tradition, only revived a few years ago.




Wikipedia continues: “It has been speculated that it began as a pagan custom of offering thanks to gods for a reliable water supply; other suggested explanations include villagers celebrating the purity of their water supply after surviving the Black Death In 1348, or alternatively celebrating their water's constancy during a prolonged drought in 1615.”

This is how they do it: “Wooden frames are constructed and covered with clay, mixed with water and salt. A design is sketched on paper, often of a religious theme, and this is traced onto the clay. The picture is then filled in with natural materials, predominantly flower petals and mosses, but also beans, seeds and small cones. Each group uses its own technique, with some areas mandating that only natural materials be used while others feel free to use modern materials to simplify production.

The pictures are of our well dressing, not close to any well, if there ever was a well in our village, but not too far from the river.

Yesterday I cycled over to my granddaughter’s house. She has a week off work so I thought we might find things to do together. We considered digging over her garden, getting rid of the nettles and dandelion roots we never quite eradicated in our earlier attacks on the garden and trying once again to remove the brambles, which have regrown prodigiously. My granddaughter blames the rain we have had. Personally I think it’s perhaps because she never properly followed up the ‘jungle’ clearing work I carried out. However, we decided it was actually too hot and sunny for digging. It will have to wait for a cloudier day.

Instead we went on a walk along the canal towpaths and bridle-ways near her house, following in reverse a route we have done a fair few times in the last few months. The bridle-way there looks as if it too was once a railway line, like our own Donkey Line. The big clue is the old station house at the start of the footpath but there are no organised information placards giving the history of the line as there are on the Delph Donkey Line. Queen Victoria must never have travelled that bit of line, as she supposedly,did on the Donkey Line. 

My granddaughter’s housemate came along on our walk, on condition that she could bring the cat in its cat-carrier. She wanted the experience apparently. The cat carrier is a rucksack affair, most impressive looking and seemingly quite comfortable for the feline, although he did protest quite a lot while we were out and about. We had some strange looks from other walkers who heard the yowling coming from the backpack. So it goes!

Now here’s an odd animal story. Yachts are being rammed by pods of orca in the Straits of Gibraltar and other waters in that part of the world, some of them sustaining serious damage and causing their sailors to need rescuing. Tillers have been bitten off and navigational equipment messed up with all the pummelling. Yacht people have been used to orcas popping up around their boats, usually very friendly, but these have been very aggressive. What has upset them? Have they decided that humans are messing up their world? Have they taken the law into their own flippers and chosen to punish the human race? Nobody knows!

Life goes on. stay safe and well, everyone!

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