Monday, 31 May 2010

Box Hill

So on Sunday, the only reasonably bright day of the late May bank holiday, we went to Box Hill.  We had been thinking of it anyway, and then it was mentioned in Outnumbered - synchronicity, we had to go. 

As people have been discovering for centuries, there were marvellous views from the top - admittedly overlooking Dorking...

I tried to construct a panorama with some freebie software - it didn't come out too badly, although it is hard to see from this image...
Box Hill is named after the Box trees that grow on it, altough I have to admit we didn't knowingly spot any.  The Hill is part of the North Downs, cut away on the South side by the river Mole - the steep fall makes the views so good.

The wood on the top of the Hill does contain many different trees.  We saw oak, beeches, silver birches, and many others...
We also saw many of the well-known sites.  This is the grave of Major Peter Labellière.  Wikipedia says: He was buried (on July 11, 1800) head downwards, and according to some sources he reasoned for this by saying "the world is topsy turvy, and I'll be the right way in the end"; other sources indicate that he merely wished to emulate the example of St. Peter, who was apocryphally (in the Acts of Peter) crucified upside-down.

This is the old fort, again according to Wikipedia: This was built in the late 1890s as one of a number of forts (known as the London Defence Positions) built to protect London from invasion from continental Europe.  Also, according to the same article, bats nest there.
After the fort we stopped briefly at the new visitor centre to eat our sandwiches.  Very nice, typical NT establishment. 

The family grew slightly irritated when I insisted on reading chapter 43 of Emma - for the obvious reasons - but honestly, only a very little of it out loud.  So some of us juggled instead.

The roads were full of cyclists - I guess the Hill is an interesting sort of challenge, and not too car-bound. 

Every so often we would turn a corner and be surprised once again by the view...
The woods were darker and cooler - and fullof birdsong.  Here is one of the perpetrators...

We cam across this fantastic old Yew tree (one of many).
I like the skinny tallness of this tree, with so few branches at such dizzying heights...
And this one for its drama...
The trees were also aswarm with these caterpillars, hanging from silk and landing in hair, clothes, etc.

Horse Chestnuts

The horse chestnut trees along the Rye are fully in blossom at the moment - each one alight with hundreds of candles.  However this is one I spotted in Nunhead cemetery, hanging over into Linden Grove.


There weren't going to be any new cheeses this week, until a slab of processed cheshire was found in the freezer.  White, waxy and crumbly.  Very nice.  I nibbled a little and had some more on toast.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Poem of the Week

Philip Larkin

Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?
Can’t I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off?

Six days of the week it soils
With its sickening poison -
Just for paying a few bills!
That’s out of proportion.

Lots of folk live on their wits:
Lecturers, lispers,
Losers, loblolly-men, louts-
They don’t end as paupers;

Lots of folk live up lanes
With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines-
They seem to like it.

Their nippers have got bare feet,
Their unspeakable wives
Are skinny as whippets - and yet
No one actually _starves_.

Ah, were I courageous enough
To shout, Stuff your pension!
But I know, all too well, that’s the stuff
That dreams are made on:

For something sufficiently toad-like
Squats in me, too;
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
And cold as snow,

And will never allow me to blarney
My way of getting
The fame and the girl and the money
All at one sitting.

I don’t say, one bodies the other
One’s spiritual truth;
But I do say it’s hard to lose either,
When you have both.

Monday, 24 May 2010

True Technocrats

Mind you, pace my last post, it has also been pointed out to me that True Technocrats seem to want to downgrade nowadays.  Hence the craze for the Arduino.  Maybe.  Something like that.

It's all beyond me.


After the Mobile University symposium, I couldn’t stop myself noticing the number portable devices (phones, PDAs, music players, etc) people carry with them nowadays. Everyone has something. Locking themselves away into separate worlds. It feels like the moment in a Dr Who episode when you look around and realise that everyone surrounding our heroes who a few seconds ago seemed so normal actually has this weird tendril thing coming out of their noses. Or whatever.

I’ve just begun to notice the tendrils (a lot of them are white and stick in your ear).

This feeling was reinforced by a recently-repeated BBC 4 documentary on the desire so many of us have, to upgrade our gadgets to the latest possible technology. In “Upgrade Me” the poet and confessed technophile Simon Armitage tried to understand the allure of the upgrade.  But for me it just made all that technology seem doubly creepy. Don’t get me wrong – it was a well-made documentary - I just felt out-creeped by it.

Watch out for the tendrils.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Linden Grove

I wondered once whether there were any lime trees on Linden Grove. Well here is one, hanging over the wall of Nunhead Cemetery.

Poem of the Week

A Somewhat Absent Minded Attempt to Be Politically Correct

John Hegley

Someone I don't know that well
tells me they have a little boy.
"Oh yes," I enquire, "and how old is he or she?"

Saturday, 22 May 2010

This week's cheese

Included Stilton, Cheddar (very basic, just grilled on toast) and Mozarella (from Sainsburys - very bland).  We are making progress!

Nunhead Cemetery Open Day

Nunhead Cemetery Open Day last weekend. The Cemetery can appear a little offputting at first:
But actually, the Open day is a little like a summer fair or fete. Lots of special interest groups, a summy day, refreshments and people meandering:

An apiarist (but no bees):

Bugman Jones (a Nunhead notable)and his Bug Hunt:

Refreshments by the Scottish Martyrs' memorial:
The bodgers in demonstration mode:

... and the birds of prey:

The Cemetry is a beguiling combination of Victorian graveyard and nature reserve:

With the odd Weeping Angel to liven things up:

Wild garlic:

Another Angel?

Some people just had to dress up...

The crypt:

More costumes (are these middle-aged Goths?):

Inside the crypt (I think this may be the Nunhead Ukelele Orchetra...)

The road from the main gates to the crypt:

Have to mention the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery (FONC) of course:

Model of the two gatehouses at the entrance (one lived-in, the other currently derelict)