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 19 April 2015

cowslips, childhood memory, edward thomas events, a conscious englishman by margaret keeping, 'junk food' wiping out bees

Saw my first cowslips of the spring this morning. In a place I'd never seen them before too - on the edge of the Thatcher's field, just below the millennium wood. Beautiful sight. Seeing them always brings back a childhood memory, first described in the 'faces of the countryside' post of 25th April 2010.

There are a number of Edward Thomas events coming up over the next few months. On May 16th a plaque will be unveiled on 113 Cowley Road in Oxford at 2 pm. The house was where Thomas moved to as a non-collegiate student at Oxford University in 1897 (the same year as his first book was published, The Woodland Life). You can read more about this event on Margaret Keeping's blog. (Margaret's wonderful novel about Edward Thomas is, of course, published by StreetBooks: '[Margaret Keeping's] inhabitation of Edward, Robert, Helen and their world is tender and subtle...A lovely novel.'  Robert Macfarlane.)

On Saturday 13th June, the National Trust are holding a May Hill Celebration event between 10 am and 4 pm. 2015 being the centenary of Edward Thomas' poem Words, which he was inspired to write on May Hill. The event will include arts and poetry and the judging of the Trust's May Hill Poetry Competition, and is very much a family day out.

It seems the mention of cowslips on jtns is destined to go hand-in-hand with a depressing nature article in the Times. In 2010 it a piece about the book Silent Summer. Today, there is an article entitled, '"Junk food" wiping out bees'.

The article is hidden behind the Times and Sunday Times paywall but its central theme is summed up in the second paragraph: 'Scientists have found that, as native plants are replaced by crops, bees face a double threat. One is that for much of the year they cannot find enough nectar and pollen to survive; the other is that, even when crops such as oilseed rape come into flower, their pollen is often nutritionally deficient - the bee equivalent of junk food - making it harder to raise young or fight infections.'

It also makes the sad point that 23 bee and flower-visiting wasp species have become extinct in the last 160 years 'starved of food and nesting places by land use changes, according to research published in Science.'

The article ends with a quote from Bill Kunin, professor of ecology at Leeds University: '"Any remedy will involve maintaining more stretches of pristine natural habitat... Bees need a balanced diet, same as us."'

I suppose that seeing the cowslips today and my memory of seeing a field full of cowslips as a boy reflects the dramatic changes in the British countryside. Now we are just so grateful to see three or four cowslip plants.

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