Welcome to justthoughtsnstuff

I started posting to jtns on 20 February 2010 with just one word, 'Mosaic'. This seemed an appropriate introduction to a blog that would juxtapose fragments of memoir and life-writing. Since 1996, I'd been coming to terms with the consequences of emotional and economic abuse that had begun in childhood, and which, amongst other things, had sought to stifle self-expression. While I'd explored some aspects of my life through fiction and, to a lesser extent, journalism, it was only in 2010 that I felt confident enough to write openly about myself. I believed this was an important part of the healing process. Yet within weeks, the final scenes of my family's fifty-year nightmare started to play themselves out and the purpose of the blog became one of survival through writing. Although some posts are about my family's suffering - most explicitly, Life-Writing Talk, with Reference to Trust: A family story - the majority are about happier subjects (including, Bampton in rural west Oxfordshire, where I live, Oxford, where I work, the seasons and the countryside, walking and cycling) and I hope that these, together with their accompanying photos, are enjoyable and positive. Note: In February 2020, on jtns' tenth birthday, I stopped posting to this blog. It is now a contained work of life-writing about ten years of my life. Frank, 21 February 2020.

New blog: morethoughtsnstuff.com.

Sunday 25 April 2010

faces of the countryside

I cycled this morning for the first time in a fortnight because I've been digging the allotment the last couple of weekends.

The countryside was looking really fresh after the rain last night, which was apparently heavy for about half an hour, although I slept through it.

The oilseed rape is coming into flower between the Great Brook and Aston, the neighbouring village. It's an odd but quite startling and dramatic sight. The oily, itchy pollen hasn't begun to fill the air yet.

Another thing that's got going in a big way since I was last out on the bike is fly-tipping. There were lorry tyres in the Great Brook and the pile of rubble and rubbish above in a gateway between Aston and Yelford. Whenever money is tight fly-tipping increases.

Between Yelford and Lew I came across several clumps of cowslips and one of cowslips and bluebells (above).

It's really nice to see cowslips, although I'm not sure whether these ones are wild or sown. The daffodils further along the lane were definitely garden ones. I remember when I was a child lying down in the watermeadow at Tynings Farm*, our off-lying holding, which was a sea of cowslips. In the years that followed cowslips and other wild flowers disappeared as spraying crops became widespread.

When I got home and had breakfast there was a disturbing article in the Sunday Times about a new book called Silent Summer, which is named after Rachel Carson's seminal work on the effects of agricultural sprays that came out in 1962. The new book has a foreword by Sir David Attenborough and contributions from 40 British ecologists. The Sunday Times sums up Silent Summer's message as follows:

'The book describes the decline of 75% of butterfly species, the near disappearance of many moths and similar reverses for bees, flies and snails.

'Attenborough warns that such organisms make up the foundations of Britain's ecosystems. "We tend to focus on the bigger animals and ignore the smaller ones--but small creatures like these are the basis of our entire ecosystems and they are disappearing faster than ever. That loss is transforming our wildlife and countryside," he said.'

The causes of the decline of these creatures include pesticides, population growth and intensive agriculture.

A chilling article.

For more info about the book, see http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521519663.

*My father eventually sold Tynings Farm to the property developer Gerald Ronson. It became his family home for a time.

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