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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Odds and Sods July 2021, Part 1

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas AUGUST. 03, 2021

So, Odds and Sods, Part 1? Well I seem to have so many odds and sods from July, I had to spread it over two posts. It may have something to do with the world here getting back to some sort of normal and we have been going out more. The weather has also been fairly good so more piccies.

The first four are from Bolt Head coastal path. The picture below is the gate post between fields and what is interesting is that I am on the eastern side of the gate and because the prevailing weather is westerly or south westerly any wind and rain blows to this side of the rusty hinge. So the wall is rusty this side and not the other. It's a sort of rust fallout zone.

This next photo is the edge, and it is straight down about 300 feet. Some selfiecionados these days like to get so close to the edge for maximum Instagram notoriety that they go right over. It's certainly one way of becoming famous.

Selfiecionado - An expert in the self and the selfie, or a narcissist.

I made this one up, but I quite like it. It is a portmanteau word, which is a word combining parts of two or more others, in this case one of those being a hypocorism.

From Portmanteau - a suitcase that opens into two halves.

In this case Selfie - the hypocorism -A hypocorism; from Ancient Greek: 'to call by pet names' or pet name, is a name used to show affection for a person or object. It may be a diminutive form of a person's name, such as Izzy for Isabel or Selfie for Self-portrait..

and Aficionado - a person who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about an activity, subject, or pastime.

Please feel free to spread this word around. It is the 2nd of August 2021, 13.24 GMT and you saw it here first. I am just making that clear for the Oxford English Dictionary for when it gets added next year.

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia who was known for his beauty. According to Tzetzes, he rejected all romantic advances, eventually falling in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, staring at it for the remainder of his life. After he died, in his place sprouted a flower bearing his name.

If Narcissus was alive today he would have been on Love Island by now and this is what you would be reading....

Since being on the show, Narcissus has been working hard to capitalize on his popularity and the new opportunities that have been coming his way. He decided to sign with a Minneapolis based agency called Average Talent Management. Working with an agency will definitely help Narcissus as he navigates his career. Over the years, we’ve seen countless people bounce back and forth between shows and make careers out of it. However, that isn’t Narcissus’s plan at all. While he does hope to get into acting, he says that he is done with reality TV and has no interest in doing any other reality shows in the future.

But as usual I digress, to the point of lunacy.

"The gate post with the rusty hinge", that would make a great title for a novel. The whole mystery would revolve around the rust on the murderer's coat and where it came from, placing him at the scene of the crime.

Here it is below, and for some reason it has a hole in the top with a small grass garden growing in it, which I thought was quite cute. I also like the large pale grey lichen circle. It's the Narcissus of lichens. "I want to stand out and be noticed", it rustles. Lichens probably don't rustle, I'm not sure what they do. They are very good indicators of clean air, so maybe that is their mission. When young, they all set out with small knapsacks and travel the world looking for a spot with clean air, where they can set up a small outpost to signal to the world, "here be clean air". The yellow lichens are a bit disorganised, a tad lazy if I am being honest, you know they would never do the washing up or dust the spare bedroom. They just sit around waiting for the next episode of Love Island. They are the dreamers just wanting to be the large grey lichen circle but not prepared to make the effort or put the work in.

Planets and planetary-mass objects being what they are, there is a lot of water in the creek at the end of July. Not as much as there is in March or September, but a sort of second best. This makes it look prettier and the boats tend to work better too.

It is mainly the Moon we have to thank for this. Without it the water wouldn't go anywhere and it would always look a bit samey and dull. As it is, because of the Moon, seawater is always rushing about here there and everywhere, like a modern parent driving around a demanding teenager.

So here is the water, second visit of the day, dragged here by the largest natural satellite in the Solar System relative to the size of its planet.

Although you can see the Moon with the naked eye you will only ever have seen 59% of it, unless you are an astronaut, as the other 41% cannot ever be seen from the Earth, because the Moon does not turn relative to the Earth, but sort of hovers about a bit, glowing, and keeping it's backside to the wall. Like a shy elegant young lady in a pretty frock in the grand ball scene in Pride and Prejudice, the one who never gets asked to dance.

The result in any case, is views like this one below.

Our nearest city is Plymouth, and just north of Plymouth is the edge of Dartmoor. Dartmoor is big and attracts rain, a lot of rain and the rain on that side of it drains down toward Plymouth, which is handy, because one thing cities need is water. So they made Burrator reservoir, for that very purpose.

There is a walk above Burrator reservoir which I found out about from Colin Massey on Photoblog. That is how we found ourselves above Burrator reservoir last month. For the whole duration of the walk, we knew the reservoir was there but we couldn't see it, it was always just over the ridge down below, tantalisingly close.

We parked under a grove of trees where the wild Dartmoor ponies come to graze on sandwiches and crisps and apple cores and anything else they can get their little hooves on. Curiously just to our left in this photo below (I didn't like to intrude by taking a photo) was a family having a picnic. They had carefully arranged their folding chairs in a semi-circular fashion around the boot (trunk) of their car with their backs to the stunning view of Dartmoor. Such is the British attitude to the great outdoors.

For many decades we drove randomly around France into it's most remote nether regions discovering lone British cars pulled up in lay-bys with picnic chairs set up around mounds of road menders gravel, usually a hundred yards away from the most stunning natural vistas France had on offer. We on the other hand always backed into a field, like the one where we discovered an unexploded World War II shell about a foot long on the roadside, ploughed up by the farmer and awaiting collection by the bomb squad. Oh, how we laughed.

That also reminds me of this little anecdote. Yes it's anecdote time. We were in a restaurant in the middle of nowhere in darkest deepest France. Actually it was more of a bar or a "Zinc" that served food.

Emile Zola wrote of le zinc in his 1873 book The Belly of Paris and described it as a counter for serving customers in bars and cafes. This bar, of course, got its name from the galvanized steel countertop on which these drinks were served. Just a few years later the term was used to name the cafes and bar themselves, which almost exclusively served coffee, wine and beer with small snacks like cheese and hard boiled eggs sometimes available. They were, essentially, the neighbourhood bar, the equivalent in many ways of the local pub in Britain.

So being non-smokers we were ushered to the dark rear of the bar where there were only two other people and all the cigarette smoke from the smoking area at the front. We were seated at the table opposite them. We had enough French to get by, certainly good enough to get a meal that you expected, rather than one you got surprised by. I cannot say the same of this other couple.

He was rude and loud and the small hand written menu was in French. We listened to them discuss and ponder what was on offer. The diminutive aging waitress was obviously also the cook. It was also obvious she spoke only French. Well obvious to us.

I then heard the immortal words from him, "Well terrine sounds like tureen so that is obviously soup". The fact that terrine had been absorbed into the English language over a hundred years ago and therefore was the one word in the menu that didn't need translating had passed him by. We said nothing as it was highly amusing. The old lady came out to take their order, so he used sign language, loudly, to ask her to explain the menu. She obviously answered him in French, whereupon he very loudly, despairingly and rudely said "No, not in French, in English" to which she shrugged, having no idea what a complete a*se he was. Had he not done this we would have intervened at this point to help out some fellow travellers. However it was far more enjoyable watching his face as his soup turned out to be pâté .

After the construction of the Burrator Reservoir, Plymouth Corporation Water Works (PCWW) placed numerous markers on south west Dartmoor. Farms within the water catchment area were purchased and cleared after 1916. The original PCWW 1917 stones appear to follow the line of the Forest of Dartmoor boundary.

This is not the reservoir in case you were wondering.

This is the reservoir below, at last, and it was worth the walk. Dartmoor proper is in the distance collecting the water and pointing it towards the reservoir for the taps/faucets of Plymouth.

This below, is the quayside in Kingsbridge, tide in again, the Moon has been busy lately.

This is a nice little mosaic floor, below, in a shop entrance, a remnant from a time when the utilities were nationalised (state owned) so every hamlet in England had a fully staffed Gas Showroom, as we taxpayers bought all our gas and gas related products from ourselves. We paid the huge taxes that ran the nationalised industries, and we paid for the services they provided, and somewhere in between there was a large reservoir not unlike Burrator, full of cash, that was slowly draining away. The products they sold had wonderful names like the Baby Belling, which was actually something you cooked food on. There was also the Creda Carefree and the New World Crown, with Eye Level Grill or the Flavel Tina. We hadn't gone full Socialist or we would have called them things like Cooking Device 12 or Radiant Heater 6.

Gas by the way, for our American friends, was the wispy invisible stuff that smelled funny, not the runny, liquidy stuff that goes in cars.

This lovely Gas doorway now welcomes you into an Estate Agent (realtor).

I am going to squeeze in another quick anecdote to warn the foolish and ignorant who idealise Socialism, still to this day, what they are missing.

In the seventies we in the UK had a choice of two telephones, both, fixed to a wall with wires. That was it. That was Socialism. When you hummed and hawed about which one you were going to have you probably then waited several weeks, possibly months, before they came and fitted it. And we were lucky.

On my first visit behind the Iron Curtain to Hungary we had a guide who whispered to us how awful it all was. You see we were rank amateur Socialists in Britain. We had sent some of our best Socialists to the Soviet Union so we didn't have the staff, well actually they escaped there to be fair, taking all our advanced cooker designs with them and a couple of telephones. They were Oxford and Cambridge graduates too, like our current batch of Socialists.

We even had a small old man in quite a worn coat walk up to us in Budapest cathedral and befriend us, after which he pleaded with us to take a letter he had ready in his pocket, written, and sealed in an envelope with a British address on it, for us to post in Britain when we got home, because otherwise "it would never leave the country from a Hungarian post box".

Our guide explained that her brother had moved into an apartment three years previously, vacated because an old woman had died. She had probably died due to an excess of queuing for basic foodstuffs which were guaranteed to be fairly priced if you could find them. One day there was a knock on the door and the telephone company man was there to install a phone. Her brother was incredulous and very excited, but fatally, expressed surprise, because he hadn't ordered a phone. When the man checked his records he discovered that the phone had been ordered eight years previously by the woman who had been dead for three years. Of course that meant he couldn't install the phone.

When we visited the Stasi museum in Leipzig they had documentation on display showing an advertisement from the local paper during Communist times boasting about how a range of foods were cheaper in the East than they were in the West. This is a little like the coverage we get about Europe since we left, only in reverse. Our newspapers continually tell us how much better it is on the other side. The range of foods was so extensive that a naïve citizen wrote into the paper to ask where they could be obtained. The documentation in the museum showed how this innocent enquiry resulted in the person concerned, being immediately added to the dissident watchlist of enemies of the state.

It's a little like querying the use of face masks on Facebook today. In fact they are thinking of rebranding Facebook as Facemaskbook.

But I digress.

This is a nicely preserved old shop front in Lostwithiel, Cornwall. It is no longer a grocer's shop but still displays two old signs for good proper English tea. English tea mainly comes from places like India where the weather is warmer and people have no concept of frost. Having said that, Cornwall actually now has a tea plantation, I believe the only one in Britain, so tell that to all those miserabilists who moan on and on about Global Warming or is it Global Cooling or Climate Catastrophe, it seems to keep changing every few months. Trouble is how do you get worse than Climate Catastrophe, they are running out of superlatives of calamity. Let's just have a cup of tea.

Below is 9 Fore Street Lostwithiel. Grade 2 Listed.

House and shop. Dated 1688, with alterations of mid C19 for shop and some later alterations. Rendered stone rubble. Slate roof with gable ends and gable end stack to left. The house has a central entrance to front, leading to the shop at ground floor; first floor has two 16-pane sashes, with recessed datestone between, with inscription TBA 1688.

If you want to see the whole building you can go to and there you will find details about "Images of England", a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Isn't that an amazing project?

This is a public thoroughfare below, in Lostwithiel, built at a time when people were a lot shorter, the top of the archway is about level with my chin, it's why I have a bruise on my forehead, people were also generally a lot younger then, not because people aged better back then but because they mostly didn't age at all. Only just over a hundred years ago the average life expectancy in Britain was about 42. Think about that. If Covid had arrived in 1650 it's likely nobody would have noticed, the older generation had already died from stubbing their toes and getting gangrene. I only discovered today that we had a brilliant naturalist living locally, George Montagu, who I will cover another day on another post, he died in 1815 after stepping on a rusty nail, only three miles away from where I am sitting now. How advanced would human society be today had all these innovators and geniuses of the past not died in their forties?

We have so much to be grateful for and almost nothing to complain about, and we need to shout that out loudly.

Also in Lostwithiel, the old bridge, still in use today. It is in fact so old that records state that when Henry VIII was lopping off heads this bridge was around and considered ancient even then. We do know that it was repaired in 1357.

Events of 1357, Influenza is first identified as a disease, the first public exhibition of the Shroud of Turin is recorded. and the Battle of Bubat took place: The Sundanese royal family was massacred by the Majapahit Army on the orders of Gajah Mada; the death toll included Sundanese King Lingga Buana and Princess Dyah Pitaloka Citraresmi, who commited suicide.

That is an example of Wikipedia being inclusive.

In a country as old as ours we have a lot of respect for our old stuff but you can't let it get in the way of life in general, so if it's so old we don't even know how old it is, we still drive cars over it. We don't put a mask over it, just in case.

Lostwithiel Bridge is a Scheduled Ancient Monument situated in the town centre at the lowest crossing of the River Fowey — at its tidal limit. The bridge is likely to date from the Medieval era when Lostwithiel was capital of the Duchy of Cornwall, and a busy port for the export of tin.

By comparing it to the architectural styles of buildings in Lostwithiel, historians have dated at least part of the bridge to either the late 13th century or early 14th century, although there are no records of its construction. However, it is mentioned as a place in records of 1314 and instructions were issued for its repair in 1357. In 1437, Bishop Lacy of Exeter granted an Indulgence for its repair, and in 1533 a survey carried out for Henry VIII recorded that the bridge was an ancient structure.

Just a house in Lostwithiel, but what a house. There are Inca temples with bigger gaps between the masonry. You just know it will last as long as the bridge.

St. Neot church in Cornwall the most complete survival of a set of medieval stained glass in the country. I also covered the Leper's Squint in a separate post.

This is the Rood Screen which I believe is "modern", though it is difficult to be sure what they mean by "modern" in this case, the church being at least a thousand years old.

At the west end of the north aisle is a very fine early seventeenth century slate tomb chest on which are the kneeling figure of William Bere and his wife, part of the carved eulogy reading ‘Here lyeth Bere whom Angels to heaven beare’.

Putting in Bere and Beare counted for witty and clever back then. At least we know they had a sense of humour. Perspective on the other hand hadn't reached this remote part of Cornwall.

Linear perspective is thought to have been devised about 1415 by Italian Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi and later documented by architect and writer Leon Battista Alberti in 1435.

Perspective is simply an artistic device to portray a facsimile of reality, where things appear to get smaller, the further they are away from the eye. Before perspective, art looked flat, more like a map, where objects had other reasons for being large or small in the finished work. Important subjects tended to be larger than less important subjects. On some ancient tombs in British churches you sometimes see miniature figures placed alongside the larger life-size figures. These are often the children of the tomb's occupants, but these children are people who died as adults and their figures show them as adults wearing adult clothes and yet they are the size of small babies.

This photo below has me perplexed because I had taken this font to be a "modern" addition maybe 1960's but the only reference I have found online says it is fifteenth century so I remain perplexed.

In the grounds of the church just outside the main entrance are some elderly stone crosses.

On the right the tallest of the crosses with the damaged top is the "Saint Neot" cross (c.870-80) richly ornamented with Celtic interlacings, thought to have been given by Prince Alfred (later to become King Alfred) who visited Saint Neot here. (Detail above)

Alfred the Great (848/49 – 26 October 899) was king of the West Saxons from 871 to c. 886 and king of the Anglo-Saxons from c. 886 to 899. He was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf. Alfred had a reputation as a learned and merciful man of a gracious and level-headed nature who encouraged education, proposing that primary education be conducted in Old English rather than Latin.

Englands first Brexiteer by the sound of it.

A legend tells how when Alfred first fled to the Somerset Levels, he was given shelter by a peasant woman who, unaware of his identity, left him to watch some wheaten cakes she had left cooking on the fire. Preoccupied with the problems of his kingdom, Alfred accidentally let the cakes burn and was roundly scolded by the woman upon her return. There is no contemporary evidence for the legend, but it is possible that there was an early oral tradition. The first time that it was actually written was about 100 years after Alfred's death.

I finish with some assorted creek photos and close up details. No more digressions or anecdotes, you have suffered enough.

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