Category Archives: Nottinghamshire

Some Birds at Clumber Park

I wrote this last night, with the intention of posting it in the morning. That way, I thought, I’d come home to a selection of comments and I wouldn’t have to rush to write a post tonight.

As you’ve probably guessed from the opening paragraph, things didn’t work out.

I’m not exactly clear what I did, but the absence of post tends to suggest that I shut down without saving. Yes, it’s thirty years since I first laid hands on a computer and I now know less than I did in 1987.

So here it is again.

It’s a big lake, and there are plenty of birds about, but they aren’t the most interesting selection of birds. Swans, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Mallards, Tufted Duck…

As you can see from the photos there were Shovellers, Gadwall, Cormorants, Goosanders and Black=headed Gulls.

At Arnot Hill Park, or even at Rufford, the scale is more manageable, and you are generally closer to the birds. There’s a little more excitement at Arnot Hill, because you are never quite sure what is going to be there, and at Rufford there are plenty of woodland birds as well as the waterfowl.

To be fair to Clumber, I only ever scratch the surface – it’s so big. The main thing I go for is the end of the lake with the dead trees and Cormorants. In the 1980s and again at the start of this century, mine workings subsided near the end of the lake and the resulting low ground filled with water, drowning the trees.

When I first visited Clumber in the 90s there were more dead trees in the water and they were full of Cormorants. Now when I visit there are just a few trees and a handful of Cormorants, but there is still a possibility of interesting photos. Sadly there were no good Cormorant/tree photos to be had, but I did get a heron on a tree.

 

I also saw a family of Long-tailed Tits, a Goldcrest and a dozen squirrels, but couldn’t get decent photos of any of them. The only in-focus Long-tailed Tit was so badly framed all I pictured was feet and belly.

 

The Leaves of Clumber Park

The woods have really pinged into life since the frost and we are finally seeing some good autumn colour. My camera, of course, is doing its best to take the colour back out. I really don’t know what goes through the minds of camera designers, but they really seem to hate colour.

I first noticed this when taking a sunset with my old camera. A deep red, cloud-flecked sky behind Sandal Castle became a pale pink sky with pale grey wisps.

In the old days of film you used to buy Kodak for restrained colour or Fuji if you wanted something brighter. These days, with my camera at least, you can get the same effect from selecting “Scene” mode. I selected the “Cuisine” option, which brightens all the colours. It’s meant for taking pictures of food but it seems to work for autumn leaves too. Some, like the oak leaves didn’t need help. With others I forgot to use the setting. It did help with the landscapes but even with this help the colours in the photographs are more restrained than they were in real life.

Julia had a Safeguarding Course at Worksop today so it seemed like a good time to visit Clumber Park. It’s the home of an 87 acre lake and the longest Lime Tree Avenue in Europe. It was planted in 1840 and is 2 miles long with 1,296 common limes.

At the end of the lake is a shallow section with a number of tree stumps and drowned trees. These date from the 1980s when subsidence from coal workings dropped the level of the ground. The new low-lying areas filled up and the trees dies. A few still stand to provide perches for cormorants and gulls.

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Drowned tree at Clumber Park

I read a haiku today, by coincidence. I can’t remember it, but it was about how maple leaves are at their best just before they fall. I wish the same could be said for me.

In Japanese they have the word koyo – autumn foliage.

Autumn Leaves

I finally did what the photography magazines have been recommended for the last month and looked on the floor. There are, ass they point out, colourful leaves on the floor.

The problem is that on a well-walked path many of the leaves are looking a bit threadbare. I’m sure there are still plenty of nice ones in the woods but I didn’t really have chance to check today. Another trip is needed.

Here is a selection of a few of the better ones.

 

They are reasonably easy to photograph compared to birds, as they aren’t very mobile and you can move them round a bit. However, they are trickier than teasel as they tend to blow away as the breeze stiffens. See my last post for further comments on this.

I’ve added a couple of other shots too – one of leaves catching the light whilst still attached to a tree and a couple of an archway that links two of the islands in the lake (taken from different sides of the lake). I can’t recall the exact date when the lake was built but a quick scan of the internet suggests 1750, which seems reasonable. It looks a bit like a bridge but it looks a bit steep and impractical so I’ll stick with “archway”.

The final picture is an example of “health and safety gone mad”, as I would say if I was writing for a tabloid. I’m waiting for the warning about uneven ground. There was one at Donna Nook on Monday. Uneven ground in the countryside, whatever next?

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Yes, I’m sure they can. I expect the sign is more about avoiding liability than about preventing people being injured. Or am I just been cynical?

 

Breakfast, Landscape and Cottage Pie

Today I have been concerned with toilets to a greater degree than I would have liked.  Some days are like that. It is, as I often say, my age.

I had to stop for toilets before reaching Newark. This was a nuisance, but there’s always an opportunity in adversity, and in this case it was a Bridgford Breakfast at East Bridgford Garden Centre.

As a result I didn’t need to eat again until tonight, when I added mince to the left-over vegetables and curry from the last two nights and topped it with sweet potato slices. It produced a flavoursome and fibre-filled version of Cottage Pie.

On the way home from Newark I took a few photos, topped up my grudge against cyclists and got home just in time to fall asleep and miss Pointless.

Why would anyone ride one of these? I can see there are advantages, but the main disadvantage, that cars and lorries can’t see you, seems to be a compelling reason not to ride one. There’s no point in being fit and healthy if you’re flat. There are more strange cycles here.

As a positive end to the day – Julia has taken orders for five nest boxes. That’s £25 towards new covers for the polytunnels. Only another £475 to go. Or 95 more nest boxes…

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Field near Kneeton, Notts

Thoughts of Mayors and Medals

I thought it was time for more from the junk box. We’ve covered coronation medals and other commemoratives so here is something a bit different.

This is a fund raising medal issued by the Borough of Newark to raise funds for the families of soldiers who fought in what they refer to as the Transvaal War, now generally known as the Boer War in the UK, though they have other names for it in South Africa. I won’t discuss the Boer War here, as it will take a lot of space and reflects no credit on the British.

As you can see, it is one step beyond the junk box and appears to have been buried at some point. It also looks like someone has attempted to put a hole through it at the top, probably to use it as a watch fob or wear it on a ribbon.

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Newark  Fund Raising Medal 1900 (Reverse)

They originally cost a shilling, with silver ones costing five shillings and a case costing sixpence extra. There were 12 pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings in £1, in case you are a decimal baby.

As you can see from a careful look at the picture, they were made by Vaughtons of Birmingham.

It is the local equivalent of the Absent Minded Beggar medal, part of a massive Boer War fundraising effort.

The war served as something of a wake-up call to the British, when they got the runaround from a bunch of farmers. This meant that we called for volunteers and found that one in three was rejected due to the effects of poor diet. This would lead to the Education (Provision of Meals) Act (1906) because properly fed citizens were needed for the services. I would have thought it was counter-productive as fatter soldiers make bigger targets, but I suppose they need to be strong enough to march and carry things.

There’s a picture of F H Appleby here, with a truly inspiring soup strainer moustache, with further details here. He really was a busy man.

The spiritual descendent of this medal is the current Newark Patriotic Fund, which helps ex-servicemen and their families.

 

 

 

More From the Junk Box

The top picture is a lapel badge issued on Nottingham Warriors Day in 1921. It took place in March 1921 and was to raise funds for the Earl Haig Fund. There were a number of events, including a matinee performance that raised £400 for the fund and it was supported by the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII. He was popular in those days.

This would later be eclipsed with the launch of poppy sales on Armistice Day 1921 – £106,000 raised in just one day.

Poppy seeds can lie dormant for many years. People used to say 90 years but now we are in the centenary years of the Great War they tend to say one hundred. It’s possible that poppies blooming today were seeds in 1914-18.

Try this for a less sentimental view of poppies.

After many references to sports teams, martial arts and eco-warriors I finally found references in a newspaper archive. I knew most of it, but when you are about to tell people from all over the world you really need to check your facts.

Most of the links just proved that like “hero”, the word “warrior” has been devalued over the years. Playing rugby for Worcester or recycling your newspapers should not qualify you for the title Warrior. On the other hand, the ironic use of keyboard warrior does meet with my approval, and yes, I admit I can be one myself.

Moving on to 1928, we have a medal for the opening of the new University buildings by George V and Queen Mary on 10th July 1928.

 

We then move on to 1935, the Silver Jubilee of George V and Queen Mary. This medal, as you can see, was given out by the Nottinghamshire County Council Education Committee. I presume it was given to school children. In a Lancashire my parents were given mugs, which they used to display in a cabinet when I was a kid. They are wrapped up in a box now, When I die I expect my kids will sell them. I don’t blame them. A fascination with the detritus of past times is not for everyone.

You may notice that the coat of arms looks a bit like it’s been designed by a child with a handful of crayons. It was replaced in 1937 by a proper one. I quite like the old one but as coats of arms go I have to admit the new one looks more traditional. I can’t find more details at the moment.

One thing that could have done with a medal is the opening of Gunthorpe Bridge on 17th November 1927 by the Prince of Wales. Yes, him again. Nobody seems to have bothered, so we just have to make do with a plaque on the bridge. One day I might stop and take a picture. One day when I am past caring about being squashed by a lorry.

Once you cross the Trent at Gunthorpe, the next crossing is Newark. I’ll leave that for the next post.

History in a Junk Box

There was a time when dealers used to have junk boxes full of clapped out coins, broken bits and base metal medallions. I certainly did. When I bought mixed boxes at auction the detritus from the bottom, after being carefully checked, would end up tipped in the junk box.

When buying, the junk boxes of other dealers were my natural habitat. I’ve bought some good stuff out of junk boxes. It seemed like they would never end. Then ebay came along and  it all ended up on line.

The contents of the box could cover anything from ancient coins to petrol station giveaways, via Georgian medals, Victorian adverts and pre-decimal coins. One of the staple items was the mass produced commemorative medal. They really started in a big way with Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 and ended in the 1930s with a flurry of royal events – George V’s Jubilee, the abdication (though this is shown only by the  items of Edward VIII (which aen’t really rare, whatever dealers may say) and, finally, the coronation of George VI.

This is the medallion Nottingham produced for the 1897 Jubilee of Queen Victoria

This is the Edward V!! medal from Nottingham – note the foresters supporting the coat of arms.

The colour changes for 1911, as do the supporters on the coat of arms, but the general idea remains the same. There is a second version of the medal, often known locally as the unofficial version (see below).

There is a medal very similar to the 1911 coronation medal – made for the 1914 Royal visit. It isn’t just in recent years that the Royal Family has been unpopular, there were seven attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria and one on Edward VII. In 1914, to encourage public approval George V embarked on a programme of visits. I’ve seen the itinerary for his visit to Nottingham – he visited Arnold and Mansfield too, though I think he just waved at Arnold in passing.

Royal visit to Nottingham (above( and Dundee (below).

Things seemed to tail off after that, with a much smaller selection being produced for 1953. To set it in perspective, rationing was still in force in 1953, and the fledgling Matchbox company struggled to produce model cars when metal supplies were diverted to fighting the Korean War.

This is one of the later medals, from Mansfield Woodhouse.

I have plenty more to show you yet, so don’t worry about me running out for the next few weeks,