Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Porridge weather

Well, my children call this porridge weather. When they were small and went for a walk on the farm in weather as we are having at the moment, the clay soil would stick to their boots and pretty soon the "clod" would be bigger and a lot heavier than the wellington boot itself. Its like walking in porridge, thus the family saying. It makes a family walk quite exhausting, especially when I used to have to carry a toddler when they got tired - plus you come back absolutely plastered in mud - but fun too - though another load of washing for the washing machine!

Everything is looking a little bedraggled - I travelled to London on the train and was looking at other peoples farming out of the window - being nosy really! and I was struck by how waterlogged the fields were and the high level of the rivers and streams.

I will try and take some photos if we get a brighter day, lots of fog and mist lately, because the oak trees are still holding onto their autumn leaves. The birds are eating the seed out of the feeders as quickly as we fill them, so the wet weather must be affecting them too.

The sparrow hawk has taken to sitting on the telegraph wires as it does every winter morning just surveying the scene. Living on the farm, we are so lucky to be able to be this close to nature.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Ploughing Match heritage

After Alan's comment I thought I would put another photograph on the blog to show the horses in the match ploughing competition. An important Herefordshire tradition that we keep alive and is thriving!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Ledbury Ploughing Match

The day before I went off on my Nuffield Scholarship trip to the US we went to the Ledbury Ploughing Society ploughing match. It is a fantastic day where we celebrate ploughing and also other rural skills.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Back from Nuffield study trip

I came back from my Nuffield Study tour on Tuesday elated with all I had seen and learned in the US, but then saddened to hear that we have H5N1 avian influenza back in the UK. Let us hope that it can be isolated and dealt with quickly. 2007 has been a bad year for animal disease what with foot and mouth, blue tongue, ongoing bovine TB issues and now avian influenza. We will have to watch future developments with avian influenza very closely.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Washington DC

I have been in Washington DC for the last week of my Nuffield Study and whilst I was here I felt I had to go to the Lincoln Memorial that commemorates both Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. It was an amazing statute of Lincoln and a fantastic exhibition too. I would recommend a visit.

View from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

This is the famous view from the Lincoln Memorial - the area was filled with people when Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech in August 1963 - before I was born!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Hotel health warning

Virtually every hotel I have stayed in has displayed this sign at the entrance, didn't know quite what to make of it and people thought I was very strange to be photographing the sign!

Crossing the road

After five weeks in the US, I think the hardest thing I have found is crossing the road in cities. For those that haven't been in the US, the number nine means that you have nine seconds left to cross the road. The vehicles are obviously on the other side of the road, when I was in Davis the students, hundreds of them were riding bicycles on the other side of the road and I was having to dodge across the road resembling I am sure a female version of Mr Bean. Some places drivers beckon you across even when the red hand for crossing is visible others try and cross the crossing when the numbers are still counting down. For someone as uncoordinated as I am it has been a very tricky experience and I am sure a great spectator sport.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Arroyo Seco

In the midst of Pasadena is a large gorge called the Arroyo Seco. The watershed stretches from the San Gabriel Mountains to Los Angeles. On the day I walked through the gorge the concrete channel that carries the water was virtually dry. The photograph on the Arroyo Seco website shows how much water passes through the channel at full flow. You can also read about the work that is being undertaken to safeguard this vital resource.


I spent a few days with some dear friends in Pasadena. I went to Huntingdon Gardens and marvelled at the plants and ecosystems. I was especially pleased to see how they engaged the children in learning about plants, flowers and science in such a fun, hands-on way. I posted a picture of a bonsai tree on Green garden chat
I also loved the bamboo forest which was so cool in the Californian heat.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

River Sacramento

This is the River Sacramento, which forms a major part of the water systems that ultimately supply water to most of the population of California. I have been studying this river system as part of my Nuffield Study on water supply security.

Sacramento Capital

I have been spending time visiting officials and policy makers in Sacramento discussing water issues. The central political building is the Capital and in the park that surrounds it there is an arboretum with palms, redwoods, native oaks to name just a few. A very beautiful space.