Monday 29 August 2011

Bank Holidays ... the nation departs for the coast ...

Messing about on the creek will be something many a Briton has been doing this long weekend – one of our bank holidays.  The grim squalor of intensive urbanisation in the 1800s made the seaside seem an ever more appealing destination ... then made easier with the advent of the railways.

Gladstone’s Railway Act 1844 compelled railway companies to provide safer, cheap carriages for the less well off – the tiered charging system ... but the sea towns (resorts) benefited from this influx of visitors and their commercial spend.

The great Victorian era ushered in numerous regulatory Acts protecting workers and benefiting them in other ways – as well as opening the doors to one ‘surprised’ tour operator: Thos Cook – he was a committed temperance campaigner!

The Bank Holiday Act in 1871 allowed the Nation’s pent up desire for a leisure break to really come into its own.  This Act enshrined the provision of universal holidays at Christmas, New Year, Easter, Whit Monday and today, what is known as the August Bank Holiday (at August end).

So this weekend ...  our last Bank Holiday before Christmas 2011 rolls around and the last week before schools go back!

I give you a poem sent to us by a friend in Cornwall – this was published in the “Tramway” Summer 2010 magazine from the Parish Church of Devoran, Carnon Downs, Point and West Penpol – and sent to us as a conversation piece for my mother and I – together with her accompanying pictures.

It was on this Creek we learnt to sail in a Redwing, and messed about in a dinghy for one long six week summer holiday ...  Devoran Parish is further inland ... but we were happy to be ...

Water Rail
by Clare Chipman

Out on the sea filled creek
Paddling?  Rowing?  Sailing?

Down with the west wind, Point or Pandora?
Dangle a line and drift awhile.

Up with the flood, wriggle past the mooring lines
Dreaming of water rails, otters and ratty.

Sea Pinks
Through Kenny’s cut and up the Perran,
Still dreaming of ratty, otters and the ever invisible rail.

Find the channel through to the Kennal,
Up to the Norway or back down to the island.

Sea pinks and asters, samphire and ducks galore,
Maybe a flashy blue kingfisher, osprey, or seal.

Young of all ages jumping the channels,
waiting for the tide to come back,

to slide and slither, tarry black
home to hose down and tea.


Those wonderful days of messing about in a boat, paddling on the creek, jumping amongst the rocks, seeing if you can be Canute amongst the breakers, watching the birds wheel above ... dive down, or float rocking atop the waves, or scratch amongst the seaweed and sand for a fishy feast.

Home again - kids days, happy days ... ruddy-cheeked, tousle-haired, eyes streaming while tales are told of the day spent messing about on the creek – the delight of a warm towel, dry clothes, a toasty Cornish Cream tea – and the happy memories of children with bright eyes, laughing faces, exhausted by a day of excitement in the great natural outdoors.

Glossary – for enlightenment ... supplied by Clare!

Tramway – “Tram” – is the name of the narrow road, which has replaced the horse drawn railway track, which carried ore for smelting a mile down river to Point, where the tin smelter was found in the 1800s.

(Copper ore was shipped to Wales, as it needed much more coal; coal was then shipped back to the Devoran tin smelter).  Devoran was the Port for the Redruth and Chasewater Mineral Railway (1825 – 1915).  It ran half way across the Cornish peninsula from the mining area around Redruth to the port of Devoran on Restronguet Creek off the Fal estuary.

Kenny is a very splendid local who dug a channel to link two of the three rivers (Kennal, the Carnon and the Perran) which meet here, to become Restronguet Creek.  This improved the outgoing tidal flow, by scouring the river bed of some of the silt to improve its depth.

The Norway Inn – how could I forget ... where I could get a drink! – is a large pub on the Falmouth road as it runs beside the Perran.  The name derives from the Norwegian vessels which once brought loads of timber for use as pitprops in the mines.  The timber would be seasoned for several months in shallow tidal ponds.

I hope you have all had wonderful Bank Holidays or will have Labour Day holidays with family and friends ... Autumn beckons each day ... and on towards Christmas ...

Dear Mr Postman – nothing much changes here ... but we are peaceful and comfortable which is all I can wish for my mother.

We pray that our East Coast friends were not too battered or damaged by Hurricane Irene.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday 26 August 2011

Wisdom, Music, Fear of Failure and Inspiration ...

Ravi Shankar performs in
Delhi, March 2009

... then add in Judy Dench, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ziggy Pop, Ravi Shankar et al and finally Eve for you younger readers ...

This link takes you to Brain Pickingsit is an amazing blog, incredibly educative about all kinds of subjects and I could immerse myself here for hours on end – though the links out would send me off in all directions.

The Post is titled Andrew Zuckerman: Curiosity and Rigour are the Key to Creativity by Maria Popova ...  and quite honestly I leave you with her post to read, listen to and inwardly digest ... it is extremely entertaining ...

Horns on the head of Moses 
(Michaelangelo) are a graphic symbol
of Wisdom (found at the Church of 
San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome)
The 6 minute trailer for Wisdom – I highly recommend ... Chinua Achebe (writer), Frank Gehry (architect), Bill Withers ( Musician), Jacques Pepin (chef), Clint Eastwood (film maker) ...

Popova describes Zuckerman’s latest project, Music (6 minute trailer), as just as much a treat, featuring beautifully shot, deeply moving interviews with 50 of the greatest living music icons ...

Love is the most important thing ... life is not perfect, we just need to make the best of it ...

The reason for this posting and bringing it to your attention ... is that I want to come back and re-watch these videos again and again ... just wonderful and I don’t want to forget them .....

Chinese Naxi Musicians
(Nakhi dongjing musicians in Lijiang,
Yunnan Province)
.... and if you love gloves, then some cheekbones, and a few wrinkles!  – just give a check it out!  Grab a water, a coffee, a tea, a glass of vino ... and enjoy ....

I am sure you’ll agree with me – who and what were their words inspiring you in these trailers?

This post utilises content from Brain Pickings - just delightful and thought provoking ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday 20 August 2011

Lenny Lee - Creatures, Critters, Georgia on my Mind, Red Arrows ...

Lilac Breasted Roller - c/o Kruger Park
Lest we forget – personal letters or postcards cheer us all up – my mother loves her letters and cards, and Lenny – “our” Lenny Lee – whom someone described as a talisman ... loves his cards!

We had a Lenny Lee blogfest in June set up by Theresa, Sharon and Shannon ... he’s one special lad ... and we sent him some cards – real ones .. those cardboard-paper things .. you know what I mean – remember them?!

I spotted Lenny up and about again around the blogosphere ... and thought I’d send another card or two with a letter – nothing like a surprise through the post. 

Lenny’s smiling face lit up .. and he replied with an email ... which lit my fire and cheered me up enormously ... and now I’m passing on our cheer.

I started this blog because I had letters back from friends and family ... saying please don’t stop your letters – they’re so positive and so informative (about how my mother was doing following her strokes, and the sorts of things we were discussing) ... a blog was born. 

It’s a two way process ... my mother got letters and cards, I replied and the process was repeated ... much as blogging – a post, a comment and a reply.

Back to the important one – Lenny!!  Here’s how he starts his email:

hi miss hilary!

wow! what a neat surprise i got in the mail of a cool postcard all the way from england. wow! how cool is that!  i love that bird. its sooooo pretty and i like how its got a lot of different colors. it looks just like a blue bird that we got her in georgia. it sorta for its shape looks like a carolina wren that we got here. i love those little wrens.

The bird he’s referring to is the Lilac Breasted Roller found in Southern  Africa .. such a descriptive name ..  Lenny’s email goes on (I’ve put the odd capital in ... and made a few paragraphs) ...  

A House Wren .. Rene or Renoir?
Could you believe a little while back a girl and boy wren got through a hole in our house and builded a nest in a hanging plant we got in the kitchen.

My bother sebastian name them renĂ© and renoir.   They stayed there for the whole winter and came in and out of the little hole. We didnt fill up the hole cause it was cool haveing those wrens.

They didnt get afraid of us and we put a little bowl of water on the table and some seeds and they came and drank and ate. In the morning they did a real pretty whistle before they got outside.

After their eggs got born and the wrennettes (that what my one brother called them ha ha) got big they didnt come back any more. I’m doing a attachment for you of a picture of a carolina wren and a bluebird ... hope you like it.  (I do Lenny .. posted above - sent via Dropbox ... this kid has got some teaching to do to bring this old bird back in the UK up to date!)

Barn Owl
We got lots of birds that come at our back yard.  We got lots of trees round our house and a big woods at the back.  We got squirrels and chipmunks and rabbits in the day time and at night we got raccoons possums foxes and sometimes coyotes.

One time we even saw a flying squirrel.  It was way cool. Oh, we got a big ol hoot owl that comes round some times. My brother Andrew build a critter cafe on our deck and that how come we got lot of them coming at our house for dinner.

I got a little video of a raccoon thats my friend and I named him ‘cashew’ cause he loves eating cashew nuts and I gave him some of my brothers one time and now thats all he could want. He likes strawberry jam too. I’m gonna see if I could find that vidio and send it so you could see it.  (Hi Lenny .. I did see the video - amazing ... but I'm not clever enough to put it here .. perhaps you can put it up in your next post?)

Wow its way cool that you had a air show. I could like to see that. Its neat how those planes could so all those tricks and I like when they get that smoke coming out the back.

Thanks again for the thinking of me and sending me that cool postcard.  I love getting surprised in the mail.

I hope your mom is doing ok. I do prayers for her and for you.

...big hugs from lenny :x lovestruck

Well ... from me to all of you – I sure hope this has cheered your weekend ... it has mine ... easy post!!  What an absolute treat though ... and I know my mother, if she was well enough, would be delighted too –

Red Arrows escort Concorde at the flyover
for the Queen's Golden Jubilee 2002
Lenny – you’re an inspiration to know ..  have a glorious weekend with your family ... and very definitely with big hugs from me ... we can learn so much from the eleven year old you!

Here’s a video of the Red Arrows practising over Cyprus (an island in the Mediterranean Sea) ... with the song Queen booming away in the background .. everytime I see the Red Arrows now – that song comes into my head – even at the Royal Wedding earlier this year.

For some reason for someone so unmusical .. 'Georgia On My Mind' – also comes into play too ...  and I learnt that it is the song of your State written by Hoagy Carmichael ...

Lenny Lee Blogfest post - Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud ... 

It is with enormous regret that I need to tell you that one of the Red Arrows crashed earlier today ... with peace we think of them all and the family at this very sad time.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday 15 August 2011

Let’s Talk Turkey ...

Metro OnLine - Actor during filming

Well I said it ... so let’s do it ... I sat quietly the other night to watch “My Life as a Turkey” .. thinking, as I expect you’re all thinking, well this can’t be interesting.  I was stunned into being glued to watching tv for an hour ...

.. turkeys are for eating – aren’t they ... huge birds over which families spend hours cooking, in order to have a veritable family feast ... not watching?  I was so enthralled – I took notes ... good post coming – then the thought would anyone want to read it ... my mind wanders along that path.

A wild turkey
Five days later Saturday arrives .. and the Saturday Times Review announces ... “Documentary of the week – probably of the month, possibly of the year – was ‘My Life as a Turkey’”.  So, this old girl, had some turkey life left in her and could spin her yarn ....

... perhaps you’ve heard of Joe Hutto, the American biologist ... this is the guy that spent a year raising 16 wild turkey chicks from the egg in the depths of the north Florida Everglades – here he narrates while an actor and the wildlife re-enact his story.  (First published as a book in 1995: ‘Illumination in the Flatwoods’).

Hutto had a dream of being able to raise wild turkeys but was relying on a local landsman to let him have a clutch of eggs ... he had been waiting a year – so when they arrived out of the blue, he was taken aback ... but delighted.  He wondered if they’d survive.

A real wild turkey nest
As a biologist he incubated the eggs, turned them twice a day, made turkey noises ... and after 25 days (which is normal turkey-bird procedure) stopped the turning ... and waited.  They hatched themselves, clawed their way out ... and he had fifteen turkey chicks.

He imprinted on them from the beginning – making sure no other humans came into contact with him or them ... so that they ‘accepted’ him as their “mother” – as a biologist this is what he wanted to do – they had similar interests ... snakes and birds and interesting artefacts.

He was there for them ... they tottered around, gathered strength ... and he spent all daylight hours with them, chuntering away in turkey language ... in seven days they can fly.  He’d made a roost for them and a cage of chicken wire – so they had all the turkey mod cons they could wish for ....

Saw Grass Prairie, Florida Everglades
... and a few wild friends one or two could have done without ... a rat snake slim enough to get into the coop, too large to get out having reduced their numbers to 14!  Early on when they go out walking with Hutto ... a hawk swoops down and now we’re down to the dirty dozen – thirteen.

The documentary seems to have taken the media world ‘by storm’ with its ringing endorsements – some of the asides presented seem to be brushed off by the journalists – I guess a logical aspect.  The incredulity of someone, even a biologist, wanting to spend time raising, bonding and talking to turkeys seemed a little ‘beyond the pale’ ...

For a whole year he nurtured their wildness ... he walked them through the Florida Everglades ... saw them start to fly, watched the years of accumulated wisdom seep out ...  that intuitive wisdom flora and fauna have in order to exist, live and adapt as necessary.  Something humans don’t have ... we’re not sure about things until we find out ...

In a tropical hardwood hammock,
trees are very dense and diverse ... 
live green oaks, gumbo limbo, royal
palm .. typical Everglade trees ... 
(new word hammock - dense hard
wood stand in Everglades)
... yet these birds were distressed at a cut-tree stump but not at fallen trees or branches; they developed specific calls for rattlesnakes (danger), but not for the great rat snake – because by now they were its match ... the mob effect.  Hutto learnt 30 of their calls, he recognised the sounds they made in reaction to specific wildlife, to the sounds around them ...

He noticed that they seemed to understand ecology – the special relationship they had with their natural environment ... they were far more conscious of everything about them – so “in the moment” – than most of us ever are.

Hutto remarked they were teaching him how to live their life ... to live now – i.e. not worry about what happened previously, or worry about the future ... now was the time to exist in full awareness – a necessity if you’re a turkey in the wild ...

We, as humans, are essentially nomads in this complexity that is life around us – unlike the wildlife ... we don’t appear to have the basic blueprint that 20 million years has instilled on other life on earth.

But these thoughts interested me and brought me up short to think about them ...  as the turkeys grew to becoming more independent and not sitting on his lap any longer ----?! – they intuitively knew which bird, reptile, insect or plant were harmless and which were to be avoided.

Hutto named the chicks – SweetPea became his favourite ‘girl’ .. while Turkey Boy was the home loving, but wild male bird ... after a year or so the flock melted away into the bush ... Sweet Pea had some eggs ... but had a sorry end ... she was killed on her nest, and her eggs smashed ... Turkey Boy – you need to see the film!

The Times' reviewer ends their piece ... “A closing credit informed us: ‘Joe is now living with a herd of mule deer in the mountains of Wyoming’.  That has to be a sequel, please.  I want to see an actor playing Joe Hutto roosting with mule deer in a tree”.

This film will be distributed by the BBC Natural World in due course ... but I did find out that Passion- Pictures co-produced the film and have the rights ... and in emailing them I got this answer:

Captured during filming!  BBC2
 In regards to My Life Is A Turkey, I believe that WNET/BPS will be airing it in the States although we haven’t been given any broadcasting dates yet.

Most of our feature length documentaries can be brought on DVD – Amazon stocks a majority of the titles. You will be able to find the details of our other films we on our website

It’s just extraordinary how a wildlife film can take us by storm .. I loved this and I’m sure it will become a cult movie ... the camera shoots of the wildlife, the scenery, the turkeys’ feelings, the turkeys growing – I hope you get a chance to view it ... now let’s talk Turkey!

BBC2 - more photos and details here ... 

Dear Mr Postman – my mother is quiet and peaceful after a difficult patch ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Oh I do love to be beside the seaside ....

Where's my Ice Cream?

A story and ... some snippets of life by the sea ... photos that don’t match the text – but who worries once in a while ... a few time capsules .. . and of course a little history ...

You’d never have thought language could get so ‘complicated’ ... a friend’s email starts ...

So if you take off your high heels, cowboy boots, or ballet slippers to change into shoes for a walk and could not locate said walking shoes you might    you might think to yourself     or say out loud, "My plimsolls.  My plimsolls ... Wherefor art my plimsolls?"

Pile of 'athletic shoes'
Or if you walked into a sporting footwear store, you might ask for running plimsolls?   And would you say soccer plimsolls?  And is a boot really a bonnet, a crisp a chip, a chip a fry and ... so we could go on .. but we won’t!

Should you investigate the historical facts further (c/o Wikipedia) .. you’d run into:

- trainers (British English)
- sandshoes, gym boots or joggers (Australian English)
- running shoes, runners or gutties (Canadian English, Australian English, Hiberno-English)
- sneakers, tennis shoes (North American English, Australian English)
- gym shoes, tennies, sports shoes, sneaks, tackies (South African English and Hiberno-English)
- rubber shoes (Philippine English), or
- canvers (Nigerian English)
- plimsolls (English English)
- daps (Welsh English)

Girls' Annual - for the girls - Jannie and I
more my age than hers ... 
Just because via email (Jannie and I) .. we’d got into this discussion re sneakers and Jannie thought that was tennies to us Brits .. back came plimsolls from me ...  and:

plimsolls??  Noooo way!!




Me: Yup! .. plimsolls .. so called after the guy who invented the Plimsoll line on ships ... more Plimsoll history here ...

Colman's Mustard - copy of postcard from
the Museum of Advertising and
Packaging, Gloucester
Charles Goodyear invented the vulcanisation process (eventually .. he tried and failed many many times) – and is the first of the ‘Firsts in Springfield, Massachusetts’ – the town where so many things have been invented.

But my history lesson is not quite done .. ‘gutties’? and Hiberno-English? ... well I’d never heard of that language ... simple really: it’s ‘Irish English’ ... and is the dialect of English written and spoken in Ireland.

“Beyond the pale” – does that phrase ring a bell? ... English was first brought to Ireland during the Norman invasion (12th C) ... and was mainly spoken in an area known as the Pale around Dublin – with Irish being spoken throughout the rest of the country.  Now we can see where ‘Beyond the Pale’ came from ... the English referring to the ‘infidels’ elsewhere ..?

My mother's uncle, family and friends at the beach 1920s

Enough of my ramblings ... there’s some scatter pictures of seaside Britain through the ages ... my mother’s uncle and some relations on Porthminster Beach (next one along from St Ives in Cornwall) in the early 1920s ... an advert for mustard, Girls’ Crystal Annual 1954, World Belly Board Championships 4th September 2011, a Ghost Sign ... remember those shrinking woollens? .. Donkey Rides – boy ... more interested in “Where’s      My Ice Cream?”!

World Belly Board Championships of fun ...
notice the stockings, wig and tutu ... need I say more
(Held in Cornwall)
All’s well here – we’re gearing up for the Red Arrows ... this middle weekend of August is our fire-power, our weekend for the boys, or those who love aircraft from British Aerospace Hawks, to a Typhoon F2 Swing-role combat aircraft, Battle of Britain Memorial planes – the Spitfire, the Hurricane Bomber and the Lancaster – and all possible types of aircraft in between ....

Wonderful 'Ghost Sign'
Anne from a Jobbing Writer 'collects' signs and knows a lot about history ... and found this one ... remember those saggy bathing costumes ... just loved this ...

It’s summer – time to use those sneakers, tackies, gutties et al!!  To all on vacation happy holidays ...

An archive of ghost signs ... should you wish to look ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories