A time to remember – A visit from an old friend and colleague from the Netherlands prompted thoughts about the 1980s when I believed the EU was a force for good, and teacher education the "priority of priorities". No longer, of course. We remembered visits to €eurocrats in Brussels, and a never-to-be-forgotten trip to Limerick to the Nth ATEE conference. There, there was a limerick competition which we both duly entered only to find our entries censored. It's still hard to see why; mine was a modest satire on the poor organisation of the event; his a delicate Lutheran skit on St Mary in whose immaculate college we were staying. Humourless *******.
To Stourhead – for modest exercise and good conversation with more old friends, and a visual stimulus that's second to none if you like your landscapes to be of the managed 18th century sort. I read that such Capability Brown-type gardens (this one's by Henry Hoare) are under attack by certain groups across the UK for their cultural uniformity and tendency to nostalgia. I noted that the long-neglected overshot water wheel was now fixed. And so it turned, but as it was not connected to anything, no useful work was done.
Meeting up with Johnny Voun – To have lived so long – 55 next birthday; but don't ask what number base that is expressed in – and not to have comes across Johnny Voun seems most remiss. Johnny V is an English apple with deep crimson skin whose colour bleeds into the white flesh which is sweet with a slightly anise flavour and lovely aroma. Somewhat like a Discovery, but denser and more subtle. Say what you like about the National Trust – and who doesn't these days – they do know their apples.
Chinese visitors – It was good to meet Li Shan and Hu Sifan, from Mengla and Shenzhen, respectively, who are in the UK enquiring about environmental and sustainability education from the botanic garden perspective. It was an engaging hour at the university with two articulate and perceptive people.
Life and Death in the afternoon – Perhaps a never to be repeated or forgotten incident was the dispute between three magpies and a sparrow hawk on the grass in front of my house. We watched from 15 metres or so. The hawk had taken a wood pigeon out of the sky and was trying to eat it, but the magpies were intend on having it instead. But they were no match for the hawk and were too disorganised to get the better of it. They had the last word, however, as when the hawk had had its fill, they disposed of what was left leaving only a few feathers. There was only one metaphor on display here.
All plastic and no apples – Where are English apples? I've long given up on the Co-op having English apples as it's not part of their understanding of sustainable development, and sure enough the university's shop only had imports and fruit that had been stored for months. I was surprised, however, to fine none in the lage Bath Sainsbury's store. When the country is awash with the best apples in the world, where are they all? Well, the chance is that, when they do turn up, they'll be wrapped in plastic as most apples seems to be these days. Just when we'd been weaned off take away plastic bags, the supermarkets are still using tonnes of the stuff, mostly needlessly, I suspect to make life easier for themselves.
A carbon-neutral white van – Finally, to round off the week, we got a parcel via a cheery bloke in a big white van which (the parcel, that is) proclaimed itself to be carbon-neutral. Anything is now possible, it seems.