Calendars and an Apology

An explanation of my recent lack of blogging activity and a sneak preview of the 2019 aspi.blog Cornish wall calendar (I will receive the printed versions by September 24th).

INTRODUCTION

The principal purpose of this post is to give you all a sneak preview of next year’s aspi.blog wall calendar. I am also going to explain why it has been a while since I last put up a blog post.

APOLOGY/ EXPLANATION

The reason why it has been a while since my last blog post is that I have had a very busy schedule of late, between work and various volunteering activities, and the one day on which I might have done a significant amount of blogging (Saturday) I lost to illness. I was sufficiently recovered by Sunday morning to do my volunteering for Heritage Open Day at the Bank House and to enjoy some of the experience, though I curtailed things somewhat so as not to set my recovery from the horrors of the previous day back. My opportunities will be somewhat limited during the rest of this week as I will be at the Corn Exchange helping to run an NAS West Norfolk stall for much of tomorrow and will be working Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

THE CALENDAR

Here are sneak previews of the 13 key pages of the calendar (not actual size). I decided to make this calendar a celebration both of my pictures and of the fine county of Cornwall…

Front cover

For January we have a picture of Fort Picklecombe:

Jan 2019

February features Brunel’s famous bridge at Saltash:

Feb 2019

For March the focus shifts to the far west of Cornwall, where with the exception of November and December it remains for the rest of the year. This is one of two pictures from a seal colony near St Ives to make an appearance.

March

The April picture is a trio – across the top a view from St Michaels Mount to Marazion, and sharing the bottom a heron at Lelant Saltings and a crab at St Ives.

April 2019

May features a shot of Carbis Bay.

May 2019

June features our second seal picture:

June 2019

July features the seaside garden at St Michael’s Mount, which members of the public can view only from above:

July

August is double-up, featuring a cannon emplacement at St Michaels Mount on top and a panoramic view of the mount and causeway below:

Aug 2019

September is a double up from St Ives showing an old phone box with a an antique Great Western Railway clock attached on one side and a close-up of the clock on the other:

Sep 2019

October features a red admiral butterfly spotted on the descent from St Michael’s Mount:

Oct 2019

November, sharing with July the distinction of a photo taken that month, features the lighthouse picture that is also my desktop background and the reverse side of my personal cards.

November 2019

December, just to emphasise what this calendar is all about features a shot of the Cornish flag.

Dec 2019

Each page of the calendar is 28cm wide and 21 cm high, meaning that when hanging up open and ready for use it is 28cm wide and 42cm high.

A Mixed Bag for Monday

Solutions to my last two maths problems, some sciencey pieces, a petition and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post includes solutions to the problems I posed on Saturday, and a few other things from various sources. 

SPACE STATION DODECAHEDRON

Here is the question as a reminder:

Space station Dodecahedron

Here is the answer:

Dodecahedron answer

Here is a splendidly concise solution from David Vreken:

Vreken route

A VARIARION ON THE MALFATTI THEME

Here is the question:

Malfatti Mistake question

Here is the answer:

Malfatti Mistake answer

In the 19th century Malfatti conjectured that the way to maximise the area of a triangle you could fill with three circles was to fill in the three largest circles that touch specifically two of the three sides. Although he was not alive to be humiliated it turned out that he was not merely wrong, his proposed solution has been proved not to work for a single triangle. The solution that always works is first put in the largest single circle that touches all three sides that you can, then fill in the largest circle you can in the remaining space and then do so again. In an equilateral triangle the difference is small, but in a long thin isosceles triangle it is quite substantial. 

Here is Jeremy Galvagni’s published solution:

Galvagni outdoes Malfatti

SCHOOL REFUSAL SYNDROME PETITION

This on the official site for petitions to the UK government, which means that you have be a UK citizen to sign it. Please click the screenshot below to sign and share it if so minded:

School Refusal

A TRIO OF SCIENCE PIECES

First a fascinating piece from the National Geographic titled “Can Today’s Whale Species Survive the age of Humans” which covers the past and present of the cetaceans and speculates about their future. 

David Quammen, a good writer and a useful scientist to know about if you are planning an A to Z post, has a new book out on the subject of evolution, and Jerry Coyne of whyevolutionistrue has provided a very detailed review of it.

Finally, a letter to the Guardian signed by 60 well known environmental campaigners declaring their unwillingness to debate with climate change deniers, and why they are unwilling to do so. Below is the opening to the letter (please click to visit the original) and a list of signatories:

Guardian letter

signatories

SOME FINAL PHOTOGRAPHS

To finish here are some of my recent photographs:

Sea birdsFlying cormorantBlackbacked gull lands on the waterCormorant and rowing boatCormorant and sea birdsWingspanMoorhenCormorant

 

 

 

A Grockle’s Eye View of Cornwall 11: The End of the St Michaels Mount Day

Concluding my account of the day at St Michael’s Mount as we near the end of my series about my visit to Cornwall.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my series of posts about my recent visit to Cornwall. This post completes the day at St Michael’s Mount, leaving me with a post to do about the journey home and finally a page from which all the posts about this trip can be accessed. The fact that this will mean (including the page) 13 pieces relating to the trip bothers me not a jot – I have no more time for triskaidekaphobia than I do for any other ridiculous superstition.

WRAPPING UP ST MICHAEL’S MOUNT

Having finished our exploration of the mount itself it was time for lunch, which was excellent. The establishment at which we ate our lunch has a rule that alcoholic drinks can only be served if food is ordered at the same time, and according to their interpretation cream teas do not count as food, so on two occasions in the course of that meal we ordered portions of chips to go with drinks. Mention of cream teas (a speciality of the far west of England) brings me to a debate that rages unchecked: which goes on the scone first, the cream or the jam? The cream advocates argue that cream in this context is the equivalent of butter (and if it is Cornish clotted cream it is so thick that one can pretty much slice it like butter!), and that if you put the cream on first you do not get jam in it. I am not sure what the jam advocates base their case on.

Lunch consumed it was time to head back to our parking place on the edge of Penzance. The tide was just starting to turn but was still a long way out, and unlike the Mont St Michel, on which the current setup of St Michael’s Mount is modelled the tide here comes in slowly (no danger of galloping horses being swallowed by an inrushing tide, as allegedly happened at Mont St Michel on one famous occasion), so we were still able to walk back across a vast expanse of beach to rejoin the official footpath just west of Marazion. I omitted to remove my socks and shoes for this part of the journey, and they ended up thoroughly soaked, although by the end of the walk they had dried out again (without the sea breeze the heat would have been fiendish).

Mathematical Pic
The first few photos here, including these mathematical pictures are from lunch

Mathematical picsMathematical Pic IIMetal pictureThrough the windowCornish beer ICornish Beer IICornish Beer IIIBoilersdetail from bottleDetail from bottle IIPaintingLooking towards the mainland

Sea birds
Just before recrossing the causeway to the mainland, we saw these birds – the one with the red bill used for digging would have been having a bonanza – there were huge numbers of worm casts in the sand.
Causeway close-up II
The causeway from close up

Worm castReturning to MarazionLooking WestGWR works, near PenzanceBeach viewShell

Farewell to St Michaels Mount
A farewell shot of the mount

St Michael's Mount panorama

Chough
A shore dwelling corvid, the Chough

A Grockle’s Eye View of Cornwall 9: The Top of St Michael’s Mount and the Descent

Continuing my account of a visit to St Michael’s Mount.

INTRODUCTION

This is the third to last post about the day at St Michael’s Mount, and the ninth in my series about my summer visit to Cornwall. The next post will be all about the vast collection of antique maps that are on show here, and then a final post about the last stages of the day. I then have the journey home to cover to complete the series.

THE REMAINDER OF THE SUMMIT

At the end of the previous post in this series were about to head indoors for the second time in our exploration of St Michael’s Mount…

The mainlandStained glass VIIRoseCarving and stone inscriptionTrio of miniaturesShepherdEagle and windowangelthree in one frameSeptetRose II

Organ
This organ looks splendid.

Organ close-up 1Organ close-up 2DedicationAngel and windowMemorial and windowMemorials and windowPainting and windowTrio and window panelsText and windowThe second Lord St LevanArchitectOrgan and windowLiving roomPortrait XPortrait XIMantel clockbusts and windowCupid

At this point we entered the map room. As an appetiser for the next post I offer one picture from there…

Christopher Saxton's Cornwall

After the maps came a display featuring large amounts of weaponry…

remains of spiral staircase
The remains of a spiral staircase

hornDollArmour IgunsTruncheonstruncheons and gunsMore gunsWeapons VSpearsWeaponryWeaponry IIShield IIHorses Head

Cornish map with extras
A final map, separated from all the others.

girls armourbreastplates and helmetsGiant clock IClockfaceClock case18th Century mugMug provenanceUniformCapShoulder plate

That ended the indoor stuff until lunch time.

THE DESCENT

The descent takes past an emplacement of mini-cannons which are of French Revolutionary origin…

mini cannonsMini cannoncannon markings ICannon markings IICannon markings IIIMini cannon emplacementCannon markings IVCannon markings VCornish flagCannon markings VICauseway from the cannon emplacementFarewell to the cannons

Just beyond this I encountered a Red Admiral butterfly:

Red Admiral I
At first it had its wings folded making ID difficult…

Red Admiral II

Red Admiral III
…but when it opened them out there was little room for doubt.

Red Admiral IV

Not long after this we could see our next destination, where we would be having lunch.

Nearly back at sea levelsea level buildings

A Grockle’s Eye View of Cornwall 3: A Visit to a Seal Colony

INTRODUCTION

My previous post in this series covered the journey from St Germans to St Ives and hinted at the feature of my time in St Ives. This post picks up the story. The Cornish Maid has produced posts giving a more local take on St Ives in her blog.

SERENDIPITY IN ST IVES

From the station I headed in the general direction of the sea front, taking photographs along the way.

SculptureSt ives Bay lineSt Ives Bay lineBeach scene St IvesSt IvesChurch towerclock face

Old phone box, St Ives
This olde-worlde telephone box caught my attention, while the attached clock had all the appearance of being an old railway clock…
Old GWR clock
…soon confirmed by my zoom lens.
Panel set into wall of RC church
This panel is set into the wall of the Roman Catholic church
St Ives Guildhall
St Ives Guildhall, a handome building, though not quite in the class of King’s Lynn’s 15th century masterpiece. It is home to a tourist information office but they evidently have staffing issues as it was closed and locked that day (a sunny friday in July)

Bronze sculptureSt Ives map and pictureBeach scene, St IvesLighthouseWall with porthole windows in itLooking across the bayspeckled gull

Church
This is the main Anglican church

As I hit the sea front area I encountered a man selling tickets for boat trips to a seal colony. Knowing that I was operating to a time limit (the connections back being less good than those for the outward journey I needed be back at the station around 3PM to be sure of getting back to St Germans at 6PM as I intended) I made enquiries about departure times and the length of the boat trip. I benefitted from being a natural born singleton – there was exactly one seat remaining on the Sea Horse, which was departing at 12:00 and would be back around 1:15, and that was the decision made (there is a seal colony at Blakeney Point in Norfolk, but this seemed likely to be an improvement on that). 

One takes a small boat out to the main boat one is booked on, and at low tide (as it was for my outbound journey) one has to walk out into the sea to about knee depth for the first pick up. The water was cool but not shockingly so, and it was actually very pleasant standing in the shallows. 

Small boats taking people out to the bigger boats for trips to see the sealsCrabWaiting for the SeahorseSwimming gulllooking out to seaHeadland and rocks

OUTWARD BOUND

I managed to board the small boat taking me and others out to the Seahorse (a 12 seater boat, so still not huge) without incident, and the transfer to the Seahorse also passed without incident.

Looking back from the boattour boatCornish coastCoast from the searocks with birdsrocky coastlineMoss and rocks

rocks in the sea
The rocks in the background of this shot are the near edge of the seal colony.

AT THE SEAL COLONY

I will let the pictures tell their own story…

A first glimpse of sealsSeal rockstwo large sea birdsseal rocks IISealsthree sealsSeals IILots of sealsSeal about to be submergedSeals on rocksSeal in the water

seal waves a flipper
Some of the seals, like this one waved flippers at us.

Seal wavesSeals on the rocksseals IIIseals IVseals in numbersSeals VISeals VIISeals VIIISeal about to be waterbornelarge sealseal waves a flipper IISeals IXSeals Xseven sealsSeals XISeals XIISeals XIIIseals with yacht in backgroundmossy rockfour sealsSeals XIVswimming sealSeals XV

BACK TO ST IVES

The start of the return journey featured the bumpiest sea of the entire trip (fortunately there was a breeze rather than a serious wind blowing, so the sea was choppy rather than actually rough). I imagine that in a winter storm (I encountered Cornish winter storms and their effects in 1989 on a christmas holiday when we stayed in a Landmark Trust cottage. I believe that the enitre village was actually owned by Landmark Trust, but the perimeter fence of RAF Morwenstow was within walking distance for those looking to place it). Fortunately the tide had risen to the point that the transfer boat could get right up to the quayside, so no further paddling was required.

ruinBeach from the boatIsolated housePassing a beachBeach shot797798Beach sceneThe seas edgeApproaching landLanding areaLooking across the bay IIApproaching land II

Standing tree stump circle
This put me somewhat in mind of Seahenge, now on display at The Lynn Museum.

A Grockle’s Eye View of Cornwall 2: St Germans to St Ives

The second post in my series about my visit to Cornwall, in which I cover the journey from St Germans to St Ives.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the second post in my series about my recent vsiit to Cornwall. As mentioned in the opening piece in this series I am breaking my coverage of my day out in St Ives into several posts. This post deals with the journey there (for the record, a day return from St Germans to St Ives costs £10.80), which is very scenic. For a Cornish perspective on St Ives check out this offering from the Cornish Maid.

ST GERMANS TO ST ERTH

The railway element of the journey to St Ives consists of two parts – a journey west along the main line as far as St Erth (penultimate stop on that route), and then a short journey north along a branch line which terminates at St Ives. St Germans to St Erth is a scenic journey in its own right:

Folk waiting flor 0927 to LondonConverted Carriage ISt Germans mapConverted Carriage IIGWR service to LondonGWR service to London IIGWR service to London IIIOld Oak Common locoUpgrade bannerSt Germans stationThe Bodmin and Wenford Railway curves away into the distanceAbove the line to LooeBodmin ParkwayBodmin and Wenford RailwayBodmin and Wenford posterLostwithielParSt AustellRedruthTowerPart of TruroCamborneCamborne II

Camborne III
I was particularly glad to note this tribute to the great Richard Trevithick.

ChurchesHayle

ST ERTH TO ST IVES

Though the route from St Germans to St Erth is scenic by any normal reckoning it is as nothing compared to the branch line from St Erth to St Ives. Although the route lists several intermediate stops the only one still in regular use is Lelant Saltings. I secured a window seat, although it turned out that I was not on the best side of the train and settled down to see what I could capture in the course of this journey.

Sea viewMarshlandMarshland IILelant Saltings

Heron, Lelant Saltings
The stop at Lelant Saltings enabled to me to zoom in on this heron.
River flows into Carbis Bay
The next few pictures feature mhy attempts to capture the beauty of Carbis Bay from a moving train.

Carbis Bay ICarbis Bay IIwatchpoint, Carbis BayPromontory, Carbis BaySt Ives StationWalks

A SNEAK PREVIEW OF THE MAIN FEATURE OF MY NEXT POST

A few minutes after my arrival at St Ives the decision about my main activity while there was settled. It will be the subject of my next post – for the moment here is a clue to whet your appetite:

seal waves a flipper

A Grockle’s Eye View of Cornwall 1: Getting There

The start of a new series – A Grtockle’s Eye View of Cornwall.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome the first post in my series about my recent visit to Cornwall. Before we move on, here is a little bit of etymology for you:

Screenshot 2018-07-22 at 9.41.12 AM

For an insider’s view of Cornwall check out the Cornish Maid blog. In this post, because it is an introduction, and mainly about the journey down, you will only see Cornish photos near the end of it, but there will be several with many more pictures (St Ives is getting at least two posts and maybe more, St Michael’s Mount may well get more than one post and the Cremyll Ferry may figure in more than one post) before I wrap things up with a post about the return journey.

KINGS LYNN TO PADDINGTON

I had booked my tickets in advance, and part of the deal was that I had to be on a specific train for the long haul section between Paddington and Plymouth. My recommended itinerary had me on the 08:44 from King’s Lynn, but my usual prompt preparations on the morning of a major journey saw me at the station in time to catch the 08:12, and figuring that having extra slack to make the connection across London from King’s Cross to Paddington could not hurt I took that train instead.

This service was listed to call only at Royston between Cambridge and London, but at Cambridge stops were added at Letchworth, Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park, at which point having got the earlier train seemed an even better idea than it had originally. 

From King’s Cross to Paddington was noteworthy only for the fact that in a situation that is practically headline making these days all of London Underground’s lines were working properly at the same time, and I was early at Paddington, and had to wait for information about the platform. 

Cambridge NorthKing's Cross main stationKings Cross St Pancras MCHCKCSP roundelUxbridge trainGreat Portland StreetDistrict line mapCHC mapBaker StreetMail trainEdgware RoadPaddingtonTFL RailTFL Rail logoPaddington canopy roof

PADDINGTON TO PLYMOUTH

I was booked in a seat in a designated quiet coach, a window seat that should have been facing the direction of travel, but because someone had decided to reverse the running order of the train was not. However, the coach was quiet, and although I was facing against the direction of travel I did get some pictures along the way, and this train stuck exactly to its schedule.

Near Old Oak Commondistant view of trainsDepotHanwellPassing traintrackside tower, BerkshirePassing a train, BerkshireOld FactoryStation, BerkshirePassing a stationCountry house, BerksApartment blocksReadingPassing a train IIMaintenance trainUrban sceneChurch tower IChurchTrain at stationstation shotMajor station565BoatsBoats IIBoats IIIBoats IVSmall YachtSmall boatFishing boatsLong bridgeHouse through the trees585Water

PLYMOUTH TO FORT PICKLECOMBE

My train from Plymouth to St Germans was due to call at a number of places en route, and at Devonport it picked up a number of schoolchildren, who were fortunately well behaved, and not too noisy. It arrived at St Germans exactly when it was supposed to as well, making two successive trains that had run to schedule. My parents picked me up at St German and we went by car to their apartment in Fort Picklecombe.

Metal SculptureDevonportTamar Valley line590

The Brunel bridge
Crossing the Tamar

Many boatsArmadalarge boatsA medley of boatsBoats all over the placeGathering of boats

Unusual flower pot
This “flowerpot” can be seen at Saltash station
Bridges
A distant glimpse of the famous bridge. bridge that is used by Saltash station for advertising

HarbourRiverriver with boats

AT FORT PICKLECOMBE

Thursday evening in the vicinity of Fort Picklecombe is fish ‘n’ chips evening, courtesy of the two wonderful girls who run ahoyfishandchips, a mobile chippy. The meal was magnificent – if you are ever in an area being served by Ahoy Fish and Chips do not miss out. 

BreakwaterLighthouseA137sloopdecorative containersLighthouse and boatsBoat and islandOfficers messslipwayemplacementRocks

Fort Picklecombe
A view of the fort from out on the bfreakwater.

Sun on the waterPassenger boatLighthouse and fishing boat

Looking towards The Hoe
I found a location harbourside from which The Hoe is visible (this is only a couple of miles from Plymouth in straight distance).

Mooring ring

Crab I
A crab in the shallow water

Crab IIlooking out to sea

salt deposits, breakwater
This image from the breakwater reveals two things: The concrete had not set before someone walked on it, and that it regularly gets sea water washing over it.

ahoyfishandchipscruise linerCruise liner IIPrinsendam

Ferry and cloud
A rarity – a sky with exactly one cloud in it.