• Preying eyes

Hawks in abundance at Trevose Head.

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• Horse, water, stone

In three weeks’ time I’m leading a section of my neighbouring parish’s ‘Beating the Bounds’ ceremony, only 36 years since the last one.  My bit takes us over the moor, down into the marshes and up and over the other side, some eight to nine miles in all.  So I’ve been scurrying through the undergrowth, wielding my compass, and donning my wading boots in search of the best route, sticking to the line of the boundary rocks and boundary stones wherever possible. Yesterday was the final reconnaissance.

First stop: a pregnant white mare near one of the taller stones:

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Second stop: the Witheybrook, mellifluous in tone as ever:

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Third stop: a boundary stone that’s virtually inaccessible.  Getting to it was a matter of jumping streams and leaping from tussock to tussock over marshland.  This stone was eventually found hidden under a thicket of trees, covered in moss.  It has three faces, as it stands at the junction of three parishes.  Hence the three letters carved in it: N for North Hill, A for Altarnun and C for St Cleer.

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Job done, it was time to retrace our steps back to the Witheybrook.

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• Bearah and Hawk’s Tor at dusk

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• “No snow in Cornwall today” (ITV)? Pah!

ITV West Country News stated in its 18.00 programme tonight that there had been no snow in Cornwall today.  Pah! In my neck of the woods, on the eastern flanks of Foweymoor (Bodmin Moor), there was loads of it as far as the eye could see.  From deer tracks and bent saplings to snowy vistas in which familiar trees take on a quite new character, here are eleven photos taken before 09.15 this morning.

1. Deer tracks, 18.01.13

2. Bent saplings, 18.01.13

3. Contorta, 18.01.13

4. Cornus, 18.01.13

4. Sycamore a la Brueghel, 18.01.13

6. Magic Hawthorn, 18.01.13

7. Magic Pond, 18.01.13

8. Pine Stump, 18.01.13

9. Cross-path, 18.01.13

10. Winding path, 18.01.13

11. North prospect, 18.01.13

• Buds in January

Pussy Willow, 3.01.13

Early signs of Spring?  Pussy Willow buds behind the house this afternoon.

• A Moor with a View

There’s nothing quite like a New Year’s Day walk with friends, climbing steep roads riddled with gullies from recent rain, striding along old granite railway sleepers, ending up with a good pub lunch at the highest village in Cornwall.

On the way back, we peered into a huge hole that’s opened up over a mine shaft, were too late to find gold in a prehistoric barrow, and scrambled over the ruins of a disused chapel once surrounded by a drunken shanty town.

Best of all were the views, when the sun shone between the heavy showers and the rusty corrugated roof of an old barn glowed in a deep raddle reddle ruddle.

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• Oh deer

In the dishevelled wilderness that is the top of the garden this year (I blame the weather…), I’ve finally got proof of what’s been causing damage to the shrubs.  For each of the past few winters, since I planted them, the young witch-hazels and azaleas have been systematically top-sliced.  Young buds are severed by clean, 45-degree cuts through the stem.  It’s surgically precise.

This is in an area with two stock fences, one between the garden and the wood, another between it and the moor.

I caught the culprits just after dawn this morning.  They’re the biggest I’ve seen hereabouts.  I went out to remonstrate with them, as you do, but they can leap a four-foot fence from a standing start and were gone in a bum’s flash.

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• S.A.D. or in the Pink?

A lonesome foxglove still pining for the summer we never had.  It’s seasonally disordered, but today’s a good day.


• All Red. It is Dusk

East Cornwall, 17.11.12


• Hands off Brown Willy

[reprinted from The Telegraph, 5 November 2012]

The people of Cornwall, or some of them, want to change the name of Brown Willy on Bodmin Moor, at 1,378ft, the highest point in the Duchy.  The motive is to stop people sniggering.  It is pointed out that in Cornish the name is Bronn Wennili, “hill of swallows”, which has pleasant associations.  But can place names simply be changed?  This is not the Soviet Union.  Places are what people call them.  If we are the first generation of adults who, like the comic book character Finbarr Saunders, see double entendres everywhere, what is to become of Great Cockup and Little Cockup in Cumbria; Crapstone, Devon; Penistone, South Yorkshire; Brokenwind, Aberdeenshire; Shitterton, Dorset; North Piddle, Worcestershire; Nether Peover, Cheshire; Slack Bottom, West Yorkshire; Pratts Bottom, Kent; and Titty Hill in West Sussex?


[cornishadrian] … and, while we’re about it, let’s revert Bodmin Moor to the original ‘Foweymoor’ (= Fo’ymoor) and name it after its river like ‘Exmoor’ and ‘Dartmoor’.  For one thing, ‘Bodmin Moor’ was an Ordnance Survey invention of 1813.  For another, linguistically ‘Foweymoor’ flows, while ‘Bodmin Moor’ is lumpy.

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