Once upon a time there was a Plan. It was a Good Plan. It got permission from Planners so it must have been. The plan was for Houses in Streets. Some of the Streets were known as Drives, some as Lanes and some as Ways, but that's OK. We knew what they meant. People moved into the houses and children played in the Streets, Lanes and followed the Ways. Ancient pathways transformed into new as the Houses went up. But what no one told the people was that the Sign for the One Street (or was it a Way or a Lane or a Drive?) had disappeared into a vortex of mystery, lost in the mists of time.
The other Streets (and Lanes and Drives) had names. Some had more than one name and they changed from time to time until the People came and said, "No more. Let a Name be a Name. Our Mortgage Company is confused." And one day someone said, "Let's send out seekers for the Lost Sign for the One Street for the new people and the new children. Then if they get lost they can find their Way and their lost cats and dogs can be returned unto them. Post ladies and gentlemen thought this was a good Plan. The people thought this was a good Plan. The Elders thought this was a good plan. So good in fact that they didn't have to make sure it would happen. They knew somehow the People would find a Way.
"Lo!" said the Master Builders. "Let the people read the signs in the sky and gather their wisdom from the trees. Look how the lichen grows differently to the North. Let the post ladies and gentlemen, the ambulances and the lost policemen divine their way home. Who knows? There may be strangers from the East following a star. Who cares? We have made our money so therefore let us depart to the Forest byways and bylaws. We do not need a Sign because who among us will look back on the new people, the new houses and the new People? We have found our Way and it leads to riches beyond the powers of our wildest imaginings. (Well, to Cinderford anyway.)"
And thus the Sign was hidden from view until the One, pure in heart and wise as the hills, came from the Site Manager's Office seeking to find it. After searching the new Streets, Ways, Drives, the new Houses and knocking on all the doors to the new people, the One came to a Skip. A star shone down on it as the dust cleared and it glistened. "I have found the Sign!" cried the One and the people came to see. The children danced in the Streets for they were not Lost any more. They had found the Way. They called an Elder to read the runes on the Sign. "But wait!" said the Elder. "This cannot be true. This is for another Street in another Universe. It is not here. We are Lost once more. Search for another Sign, children." And so, to this day, the children search in the rubble and the people say, "There is a Sign. Somewhere. We will find our Way."
It's not actually. It be national 'Talk Like a Pirate Day' instead, but there we be, me hearties. I'm sure not all pirates were actually from the South West, but I know one little girl, born in Devon and adopted by friends, whose first word was definitely 'Arrrr' and whose nature is for sure piratical. My son has already asked her to marry him, but she has had a previous offer, so there may be trouble ahead. They are all six and under, so plenty of time to fall out, make up and enjoy themselves being children before they have to grow up.
It's not really that simple is it? For example, we currently have a problem in that we go with the recommendations of the film censors. Frankly though, a recent film that involved kidnapping and torturing parents, blowing up cities and ethnic cleansing of all superheros (I'm talking primary-coloured building blocks films, non-parents) that was given a U certificate had me wondering whether we could go with their advice at all. Harry Potter is a popular game at school, but we are all quite happy with the 'Explore, Rescue and Protect' ethos of Octonauts at the moment. I've learned some fascinating things about marine life in the process and don't mind at all the anthropomorphism if it encourages young 'uns to look after the planet. I love the fact that the swordfish all have French accents and the whales all sound like they are from Abergavenny. I haven't heard any Black Country accents on the show yet. What sea creature would do justice to such an inland linguistic landscape? Flamingoes possibly? I'll always remember seeing them for the first time with my Nan at Dudley zoo. Riverine creatures so far in the show have been limited to those from the Amazon. I'm sure there are some South African accents, but I find it hard to hear them as different these days, after six years of being married to Mr Reeves, unless it's proper Pretoria/ Afrikaans. His parents were from Birmingham, so his mum has an interesting blended Zimbabwe/ Brum accent.
The Scottish Octonaut is a sea otter called Sherington and is a marine biologist. I like this because I lived next door to Gatty Marine Laboratory on East Sands at St Andrews for a year or two and had the time of my life, studying biology there under the eye of Dr John Somerville and colleagues. It was there I learned never to blow across a flaming dish of alcohol for example. His Italian PhD student did this and lost his eyebrows, but it was a memorable demonstration. John is one of Scotland's finest and played a great part in me getting my First class degree. St Andrews took me in when I had made an abysmal attempt at studying Physics, with a laconic, "OK, we'll have you, but you have to wait a year." St Andrews and the Scottish education system helped me go from being a certain Third class (or worse) to a First in four years. I would have been very upset today if they had gone their separate ways. I wouldn't have blamed them and I'm sure they would have been fine, but maybe my little biologist would like to 'Explore, rescue and protect' sea life one day, starting at the Gatty.
It seems a long time since I posted anything in this blog. That's the summer holidays for you. Also, I have been working as a gardener and now have several clients. Back in April, we took on an allotment, Lollipop Farm, with the Forest of Dean Allotment Association and worked hard to clear 3/4 of the plot in the early summer. The name was decided democratically by vote and suggested by the youngest member of the family. Lollipop Farm has it's own wildlife population and our scarecrow, Mr Cheesy Feet (also named by the smallest farmer). He does not actually have feet, but has a fetching stripy T shirt and a stick. I'm not sure what the pigeons think - we had our veggies netted up until recently so they probably weren't that interested in our plot. We will have to see if he is earning his keep now the butterflies numbers are reducing and the nets are off.
We have a frog (Napoleon) and a lizard (Alphonse) on Lollipop Farm and we hope to encourage these fellows to eat all the giant slugs that have taken a quarter of the crop so far, despite Lollipop Farm produce being barricaded like Fort Knox. We had sand around the plants, which they are not supposed to like going over, and we grew seedlings on in pots with copper scourers (the cheapest form of copper available and very easy to pop over a pot and roll down), which is supposed to give them an electric shock. I cut off the bottom of the pots and put them straight in the ground. To some extent, having left some out of pots as a control experiement, this has worked, but plants like kale droop their outer leaves down when it rains, which is when the slugs come. Gardening at a distance has it good side, as it's lovely to be out in a meadow in the heart of the Forest and get away from Oakdale from time to time, but we can't go up to Lollipop Farm every night or every time it rains to remove the pesky critturs.
Once you start talking to other gardeners, you realise just what a ruthless bunch we are. I was sharing slug control methods over afternoon tea at Lydney Parish Fayre and confessed to stabbing slugs with my fork to get rid of them and exposing them much as Romans used to get rid of unwanted babies in the days of Romulus and Remus, on top of our giant compost bins. (Incidentally, these were from Gloucestershire County Council and we got two for £8.99 each. Best bargain around.) Now all we need to do is train the pigeons to prefer slugs to cabbages. Other organic methods include releasing nemotodes, which are a parasite that invade the slug. This is an expensive treatment that lasts only 6 weeks, but my training in biology makes me worry about messing with the eco-system. I have also read that there is research that shows that the fewer slug trails there are, the more slugs will lay eggs in that area. You could end up with a much bigger and self-perpetuating problem if that's the case.
Over the summer, we visited Yorkley Court Community Farm on one of their open days and were shown kindness and hospitality and gained from their experience in growing organic veg. My son ate peas for the first time from the pod because someone from YCCF gave him one. This made me very happy, though I have grown them from seed in the garden with him myself, without success. When he was first weaned, he was so hungry (having been born at 3 lb 1 oz) that he would eat anything we gave him, starting at the equivalent of 2 months. I was staying with a friend who is a doctor and on my birthday, I was joking about trying him with baby porridge when she suddenly said, "Do you want to then? I'm going to town." She posted a request for advice on a doctor's online forum and a GP responded to say go for it, so we did. Two weeks later, I wiped the porridge off his face and took him to his consultant paediatrician at the premature baby clinic in Walsall and he said that we could begin weaning him. Brilliant. He ate everything after that until one day, age around 18 months, he suddenly became ultra fussy, overnight. The only veggies he eats now are cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower and if we are lucky, baby sweetcorn. School dinners have saved my sanity as he gets his main meal of the day there and I can do fruit and sandwiches (with cucumber usually) when he gets home. It's not my problem what he eats at lunch time, but I know that it's all locally sourced and produced and the menu is well balanced and healthy. There is always extra bread and fruit available. And now it's free for his age as well, so we stuck with it, despite occasional protests for a packed lunch. So far this term, I've had no complaints. We will work on our broccoli growing techniques. The entire crop went slug-wards this year.
Hello! I am the editor of this website. I moved to Lydney in November 2011 with my husband and son and we have been living on Oakdale for two years now. It's an interesting time to move here, so I set up this website to encourage community links between and within the old and the new in Lydney and to try and help create a stable and happy community.