November 2015

SDC10327Today the countryside lost what remained of its lush coat of green summer foliage as strong winds and  rain blew in from the Atlantic. Yesterday the golden brown hues of autumn lingered on, but alas in the space of a few hours trees were striped bare to be left forlorn looking until next spring. Although still very mild at the moment,, this sudden tree stripping act does seem to me, to be natures way of heralding the tail end of autumn and giving advance notice of the rapidly approaching winter.

Pavements and roads have been carpeted with a layer of brown wet leafy mush, and it is not surprising it is a time of years that accident rates from slips and falls sharply increase, especially for the elderly. One thing I do appreciate about Mother Nature is that the local fields and hills in the distance remain green except for times when there is snow around.

I suppose it is to also be expected at this time of year when weather gurus start to predict how harsh or not the winter ahead will be. I am however not that strong believer in local weather folklore and simply accept what will be will be.

A few weeks ago we had the natural phenomena of what is know as a “Super Moon” in conjunction with a eclipse of the Moon by the Earth. Although tis must have occurred millions of times before on the celestial time scale, on the human time scale it is a somewhat unique event with the next one not due to take place for another 18 years in 2033. I did manage to take a number of photographs of the event throughout the evening, some of which I have placed below.

 

Yeoman WardersToday being November 5th, is the UK’s historical anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament by Guy Fawkes and his villainous associates,  always reminds me of a travelling companion of mine. He was a Yeoman of the Guard which is the smallest regiment in the British Army. The Yeoman are a small group of ex-servicemen with long years of service. They carry out their mainly civilian occupations but assemble as Yeomen when ceremonial occasions require them.

One such occasion is the 5th November when the cellars of the House of Parliament are searched by the Yeomen which is how Guy Fawkes was originally discovered and caught. Effigies of Guy Fawkes are also burned on large bonfires in the evening at fireworks parties. Children also used to sing a song around the bonfire which started:

Remember, Remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Well the UK has never forgotten the Gunpowder Plot which occurred in 1605 and we have been celebration Guy Fawkes going up in smoke ever since.

 

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Super Moon

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Super Moon

 

 

 

 

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Prior to Eclipse

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Earth’s shadow across the Moon

October 2012


As Summer gently slips into Autumn and leaves turn a deeper shade of red each day, it is to me a sign the October has arrived. I find October something of a strange month, something of a transitional month like March in reverse. Weather-wise, October can greatly vary from year to year, sometimes warm with lengthening shadows, other times wet and windy with storms. October is a time when holidays have become distant pleasant memories, Harvest Festivals are done and dusted, the long break of the Silly Season is also over. All these are recent events now finished to be replaced by the daily bombardment of political speeches, often full of empty rhetoric and equally empty promises as the trade union and political party conference season gets underway. Politician after politician will stand on rostrums throughout the country offering yet another all curing panacea to whatever they perceive ails the country, before once more disappearing into relative obscurity.

Slightly unusually this year both the Olympics and Paralympics have played part in disrupting many peoples normal schedules. I was six years old when they last took place in this country and I suspect it will be many, many years before they ever return. We can now only wait and see as the hyperbole dies away, if all the promises made about “The Olympic Legacy” come to fruition.

To me October also allows one to reflect on recent history and certainly weather has played an important part in all our lives. Rain, rain, rain I think is what most of us will remember. Rain seemingly non-stop since May. It is hard to believe prior to then, all the pundits of doom were talking about severe water shortages and rationing.

The weather pattern this year seems to have followed a similar trend to the previous two. A short unseasonal hot spell in Spring or earlier, followed by prolonged rain and bad weather for the remainder of the Summer. It’s almost like the seasons have started to shift round their allotted time slot in the calendar. Flooding has badly effected most counties in one way or another in the previous few months. Crops have been ruined or completely lost. In Somerset where I live, the cider industry is badly effected with yields in the apple crop down by about two-thirds. It is inevitable that the forces of supply and demand will mean dearer prices for food. What I always notice is how once prices have risen, how slowly the fall, if at all, once the supply situation improves.

No doubt the pundits will be out in force blaming everything on global warming. Politicians will probably quickly get on the band-waggon as an excuse for introducing even more “greener than before” taxes. In the meantime rather than accept that mother nature normally does remarkably well in regularising weather patterns, those that think somehow mankind has a divine right to control global weather, emerge in force as if somehow they now have a licence to do so. The latest serious theory I have heard put forward is to capture a large asteroid, pulverise it to dust, (I assume with an atomic explosion), and then let the resultant dust cloud envelop the earth to act as a heat shield.

When I picked myself off the floor from laughing at this serious proposal, I could not help but recall how often mankind’s previous attempts to dabble in the environment and ecology resulted in bigger problems than originally existed. In Australia for instance, numbers of invasive creatures, fungi, diseases and parasites have either been introduced into the country or arrived by other means. Although the living or growing habits of creatures or species are often well understood in their own native environment, in new surroundings with a lack of natural predators, often things do not go to plan. Consequently some of the problems Australia now faces include, Invasive bees, tramp ants, citrus canker and so on. Even here in Somerset, man is attempting to disrupt nature with a highly emotive badger cull on the grounds of eradicating T.B.. I still recall the disastrous effects of Myxomatosis in the UK in the 1950’s. The disease was first artificially introduced in France in 1952. Within one year it had spread throughout Europe including the UK and by 1955, 95% of UK rabbits were dead.

It’s strange how October can conjure up all these thoughts and memories.

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