August 26, 2014
Last Saturday lunch time the Combine Harvester arrived in the village in order to cut the wheat on the 26 acre Town Field. By eight o’clock that evening, not only had the crop had been fully harvested but the straw had been completely baled. All done in roughly 6 hours. By my calculation the wheat crop would produce enough flour on that one field to produce 210,000 large loaves of bread. Incidentally, a quantity which would only be sufficient for 4 minutes worth of the national demand for bread (roughly 12 million loaves per day). This made me think. At the outbreak if the First World War, crop yields were less than a quarter of those which are attained now. In fact, the yield was probably only enough to provide for 53,000 large loaves. It would have taken nearly three days to harvest the wheat on that same field, and then only if they had the benefit of a modern reaper/binder. Before such machinery was available, three experienced farm workers, along with their families to help gather the sheaves and “shock” the crop would take nearly three weeks to cut the wheat. In all likelihood more than three worker’s families from the village would be involved. No wonder harvest was such an important event. An event which now is limited to a Saturday afternoon. A sad comparison in so many ways, but at least we have enough to eat.
August 7, 2014
A rare event at Brampton in memory of a special Brampton person took place this evening. The church was packed. Standing room only inside, with many able to get no further than just into the porch. The event was the memorial service for the late Wendy (Brereton) Preiss.
Any such service that can mix the wisdom of Spike Milligan, the ritual of swimming in the North Sea, hunting with harriers and the poetry of Catullus, must reflect the life of a polymath.
Wendy was extremely well read, she was interested in everyone and had an opinion on everything – whether you agreed with it or not. Above all she was a communicator, in many ways a one women network. Meeting, knowing and understanding people was her forte. Conversations with her were littered with “you must know..(so and so)” or “have you met (such and such)”, but not in some shallow ‘Facebook Friends’ manner. Rather from the genuine interest in helping people make connections along lines which she thought were otherwise missed opportunities. She had a sixth sense for who should meet whom. I guess that she took some private delight in having engineered and acquaintance between those who may have not known about common interests or view points. I know for fact that she was the root creator of many lasting friendships.
Her opinions were deep and firmly held. She thrived upon debate and loved to throw an opinion into a group like a grenade. She seemed happiest when justifying her view, predicting some political development or finding the scurrilous cause behind some otherwise mysterious event.
A natural huntswomen, she knew how to get her message across open country. Volume was often high and when the deeply held beliefs needed pressing home. The combination of a lively mind and loud voice made for a powerful weapon. She would have made a superb political campaigner on the traditional soap box.
It was testament to all of these personal traits that drew so many to pay respects to her memory at Brampton church. I don’t think I have been to a service with such an eclectic mix in attendance. Real people. No one artificial or affected. All of whom had been blessed with having known her. Many solely connected with others there just because of her. A rare event, a unique and rare person. We will remember her for a long time.
July 8, 2014
It is one if those fine Summer mornings. The barley looks fit and will be ready for harvest soon, the wheat is still green but is on the turn. The ghostly crop marks of the Roman Town are showing themselves in the wheat for that short period before they disappear in a smear of gold as the crop matures. A Barn Owl weaves it’s way amongst the dappled shadows of the trees along the old railway line. As the dogs and I walk up to our turning point we become the focus of attention of a sole Roe Doe. Her ears in sharp v-shaped relief against the white gold of the barley in which she stands. It is not until we haves turned and are at least fifty yards distance, and moving away, that I see her relax and continue browsing in the golden morning.
June 23, 2014
In the first place it was Andrew’s desire to actually see and not just hear a Cuckoo that made me keep my eyes peeled. The occasion was the Village Barbecue – a gathering of neighbours, which this year was to be held on Geoff and Helen’s ground. Their garden has an enviable location, lying snugly along the western edge of the grazing marshes known as Brampton Common. The Common itself is a wildlife highway. The focus of movement is the route of the clear, slow flow of the River Bure. It seems that much wildlife migration, whether local or international, follows this line.
It was across the Common or at least on electricity cables which cross it, that the Cuckoos gathered. Not just one Cuckoo but, as our eyes adjusted and binoculars were gathered an as we watched four Cuckoos grouped on the cables. Each would call from time to time. Almost in turn they swooped down intermittently in what must have been the pursuit of some hatching insect. Some food item had drawn their attention and collected them together.
I attempted to photograph the event with the camera which I had to hand. Grainy images were all I could muster. Some provided a recognisable silhouette, others merely proved that “bird sits on wire”.
what we saw was a rare event and certainly as far as I am concerned, unseen before now. My original theory that it was a pre-migration gathering (although a little too early in the year) has since been disproven as Cuckoos have continued to call locally all the way through to the end of June.
it was solely down to that helpful combination of gatherings, a food source and many pairs of eyes. That goes for those at the barbecue and those birds on a wire.
The morning of 1st day of June and Brampton is at its verdant best. Last week, a period of showers and occasional sun drew out out the first crop of Mayflies, But now a blue cloudless sky only serves to highlight the rich green of the oak and ash trees which border the old railway line, where Speckled Wood butterflies bask on leafy branches. On the Town Field the wheat is in ear and nearby the allotment gardens are near fully planted. The growing Sunflowers are leaning towards a warming morning sun.
In the garden the air resounds with the feeding calls of newly fledged Blackbirds and Blue Tits. In order to sustain a nest full of hungry young the Barn Owl hunts constantly over the grazing marshes. The meadows carry a golden cloudy glow with the flowers of thousands of buttercups. The lanes and verges are brim full of Cow Parsley and Red Campion.
May 6, 2014
May 5, 2014
Muntjac Deer are a regular sight on the Common. This does cause some slight anxiety among tots the allotment gardeners. A serious amount of damage to your spring veg is a real possibility. But so far so good. Whilst wandering back from the Church with the dogs this evening there was a real racket emanating from the scrub land between Low Farm and the Common. The barks were almost fox-like, but to a Muntjac they must be their version of love duets. So, more deer on the way, no doubt.