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.

Monday 18 April 2016

hedging on mount owen, a natural history of the hedgerow by john wright

Cycled up Mount Owen on Sunday for the first time in a while.

Came across the hedge that I first photographed back in January 2012. At that stage just a short section had been laid but each year since another twenty yards and then another twenty have been done. This spring the whole stretch between the top and bottom gates has been completed. It is a beautiful work of art and craftsmanship.

Appropriately, after getting home and having a late breakfast I read a review in the Sunday Times of A Natural History of the Hedgerow: And ditches, dykes and dry stone walls by John Wright (Profile, 2016). The piece begins:

'How many species do you think can be found in a stretch of British hedgerow? In one survey of 90 metres in Devon, carried out in 2015, a naturalist found 2,070, with many more awaiting identification at the Natural History Museum. The final tally is likely to be about 4,000.'

Later there is a quotation from an Anglo-Saxon land deed defining the boundaries of an estate: 'The border of the estate runs "to crane pool, thence to thung [probably the poisonous hemlock water dropwort] pool, thence to king hill...thence along the stream as far as sand ford, thence to arse marsh’s head."' The reviewer adds: 'It leaves you simultaneously regretful at the loss of our cranes and thoughtful about what might be meant by “arse marsh’s head”.'

What isn't covered in the review but which I imagine will be discussed in the book is the value of traditional hedging like that above as opposed to the more usual flail cutting that bashes hedges to pieces and seems to lead to their gradual degradation.

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