February 1st, one month down and 11 to go before the next year turns. What a chilling thought. As I review the past month, icy temperatures have hit the UK. The cold snap, according to forecasters, is due to an area of high pressure that has extended across Europe from Siberia and is expected to reach its peak at the weekend. We had a small fall of snow at Winterborne K on Monday, otherwise it has been a matter of hugging the Aga and getting out the winter woollies which have languished in drawers until now. The cold weather is timely in one sense; 65 years ago I was born in one of the coldest winters on record when, I have been told, my teenage uncle trudged to Portsmouth Grammar School on the morning of my birth, through a foot of snow.
It’s been a real mixed bag of a month since New Year. I’ve been up to London a couple of times; once to attend a Conch Society meeting at the NHM and on the second occasion I met Dan at his office in East London, we went to lunch then walked over to see the Occupy London sites at Finsbury Square and at St Paul’s.
Dan and I stood in a small marquee, and watched from the margins, as a vociferous group sat in circular forum and barracked a couple of fellow protesters who seemed to be ‘in charge’ of the meeting. They were trying in vain to obtain approval for some relatively modest, it seemed to me, expenditures, firstly for a fiver to compile an emailing address list of supporters, and secondly for funding someone (to the tune of about £130) to stake a claim on a new potential Occupy site, should the appeal against eviction from the St Paul’s frontage fail. In this microcosm you could see why true, pure democracy can never be achieved.
In this month Tobias Maxwell was born. With his birth he brings the gift of motherhood to my niece Briony and the gift of grandmotherhood to my very deserving sister. Towards the end of the month he was brought to Winterborne K for tea and cake. He also met a second great-aunt and his great grandmother.
We are managing a health issue with our 8-year old feline. Upon our return from Mauritius we noticed that Rooney was drinking copious amounts of water and seemed permanently hungry. A trip to the vet confirmed my suspicion that he has diabetes. At the time of posting he is being monitored to assess what level of insulin he should receive. He may not have to be on such a regime permanently. We have switched his food from the very convenient dried biscuits originally recommended by the owner of Rooney’s mother, to the rather more toothsome-smelling sachets of meat in jelly.
In the garden we have taken two steps forward and one back. We have had panels of trellis made for the brick wall which forms our eastern boundary. Andy the carpenter has fixed them and we have started to weave such climbers as we have through the wooden fretwork. This has increased our privacy levels somewhat. On the other hand, under neighbour Anne’s guidance, Nick has topped the Victoria plum trees and removed the young Ash which was crowding the younger plum tree out. He has also started to shape the southern boundary hedge, bringing the height down so the bushes can thicken up.
Free time has been given to dealing with the mollusc sortings from field trips to Skye in 2009 and Connemara in 2011. Identification and segregation of species, tubing, and labelling all take inordinate amounts of time. As that task progresses I become more inclined to discard some material for which I already have plenty of reference material from mixed localities. This desire to put my conchological house in order is derived from the shining example of Stella Maris who lives in Cornwall and who started the task of dissemination of specimens, artefacts and books at least 10 years ago, possibly a bit more.
In the middle of the month I drove down to Cornwall to visit Stella, also to visit Dave Fenwick, a regular contributor of mollusc records and other sightings, and to stay overnight with friends Pam and Andrew. On my drive home I made a detour to spend a second night away, as guests of Bas and Rosemary, friends who live in the sticks on Exmoor. Bas is a fellow sheller so lots of shop was talked, and as the current President he was in a position to rattle my cage over the resolution of certain conundrums in respect of the biological recording database we maintain. Not a man for excuses.
As this first month of 2012 takes its leave, I sit at my screen, tapping out the memories that sprang most readily to mind. In the course of surfing for a line about the passage of days I was beached on a website which purports to offer an explanation for the familiar phenomenon. Have you ever heard the phrase “time flies while you’re having fun”? Do you wonder why older people say time flies while little kids can’t wait to grow up? Or what about those moments that “last for eternity”? This might seem like a mystery but it’s actually very simple. Open up this link and read on………….