I should open my Severnsider mailbox more often, I know, but mostly it’s full of technical stuff that I don’t understand – which is why I only found a polite note concerning the proper Welsh spelling of an author I’d written about – it ran – “Not a massive typo – you have Carwyn down as ‘Carwen’ on this post which is the female rendition of the name.” The post, from many months ago was titled “This is beginning to look like my mother’s siege larder” – and I’ve just amended the spelling by placing Carwyn in the correct gender.
Blog posts are ephemeral of course, but books last forever so I thought I’d give Carwyn Graves another plug for his two books; the first was (I think) published in both Welsh and English and it was called “The Apples of Wales”. If you’re at all interested in the innumerable local varieties of apple which result from its promiscuous cross pollinations, then this is a really interesting book offering marvellous insights into the local histories of some of these varieties. And if you’re really interested there’s a whole orchard of Welsh apple varieties behind Plan yn Rhiw on the Lleyn peninsula, and we were also able to visit an orchard at Cwmdu in the Brecon Beacons which was planted by the Marcher Apple Network – a society for reviving old varieties of apples and pears. We’ve planted a number of traditional varieties on the allotment, and our friends in the Beacons have planted many more.
Carwyn Graves’ excellent new book “Welsh Food Stories” is equally engaging and informative, so much so that I was tempted into following up on some of the books he mentions and I’ve managed to buy two or three of them secondhand. So I hope this mention makes up for my inadequate knowledge of the Welsh language; long may it prosper!
Anyway, while I’m in the mood I’ll also mention a piece I stumbled on yesterday called “Failing nature on Dartmoor – why its protected areas are in such poor condition and what needs to be done” by Tony Whitehead, analysing the heated debate on successes and failures in preserving Sites of Special Scientific Interest on farmed land on Dartmoor. It’s a subject that I’ve written about before and it’s been much clouded by misreporting and exaggerated accusations. I won’t attempt to paraphrase it but if you’re interested in getting a better grasp of what’s at stake it’s a really useful summary.
Back on the allotment an instinctive starting pistol was fired over the Easter holiday and the site was swarming with allotmenteers. For once it seemed sensible to be planting the potatoes on Good Friday, and the intoxicating smell of the wet but warming earth – known as petrichor – carried the subliminal message of the season. Is there some kind of spirituality here? – something to do with being held by an embracing framework? Nonetheless, not everyone is as engaged with nature as we are. We were expecting a delivery of plants which eventually turned up yesterday, three parts dead, after sitting in a courier’s warehouse for six days. The boxes were festooned with notices that warned they contained live material.
Now we’re sitting indoors waiting for Storm Noa to pass over while Madame sorts the wheat from the chaff in the seed box. This is such typical spring weather. Southwesterlies laden with moist air bring pulse after pulse of rain and sunshine to us in the west country, gifted by the Atlantic. The warmer the sea gets the more extreme the weather gets.