Showing posts from September, 2023

The Lay of the Land

  This is a rather dry post I'm afraid, but the story of how the countryside in the region came to look like it does, underpins a lot of the detail in the notes on my bike routes and other posts. Credits first. This is helicopter history. I do quite a bit of reading but if you want a clearer and better informed view, I must recommend David Crowther's 'History Of England' Podcast. It is mostly free but you currently need to pay a modest membership sub for the 'Life & Landscape' episodes relevant to this post.  That might change.   Link:    The History of England Pod: Life & Landscape And a plot spoiler. My inexpert summary is that there are three stages in the history of our farming landscape, the lost, the ancient and the planned. The last of these is the layout of scattered farms and regularly shaped fields which you see in many places today. It emerged incompletely and over centuries from the enclosure of the open, communally farmed fields centred on v

A Thousand Words on a Brick

Once, as a schoolboy, I prematurely exited a class through a (ground floor) window. My reward was a requirement to produce a 1000 word essay on a brick. I failed. What is there to say? Scroll forward. I wish I could email stuff back in time to my fourteen-year-old self because now, when I look at the humble London Stock bricks of my Edwardian London terrace house, mottled yellow and ochre, dull streaked with shades of blue-grey, I see the materialisation of the city. In comparison red bricks used elsewhere are gloomy, modern brickwork is just boring and the Scottish and Cornish granite of the monuments and temples of finance is as grim as the people it honours. Start from the very, very beginning, in the primeval smoothie. Perhaps a few hundred thousand years later it began to cool and matter formed; initially the tiny and mysterious stuff understood only by physicists, but which later coagulated as atoms, the woo of stardust. These disappeared into the mincer and mixer that was proto