Here in the UK we have more than half of the world’s bluebells and you can see them in woods up and down the country each spring. They are powerful magnets for photographers and artist alike, although strangely not always the easiest of subjects to photograph and capture the colour accurately.
Native bluebells are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It’s against the law to dig up bulbs in the wild and landowners aren’t allowed to dig them up to sell them either. The ones found on many gardens and for sale in garden centres are Spanish bluebells.
Not only is Burton on Trent the brewing capital of the UK, but it is also the home of Marmite, which has been produced in the town for well over 100 years. Marmite is a by-product of the brewing process and is made from the excess yeast produced during brewing.
Those of you who don’t live in Burton on Trent can be forgiven for thinking that this is an April Fool joke. Why? Because while other towns and cities have statues of kings, queens, prime ministers, politicians, military heroes, writers, artists, sports personalities and entertainers, we have a sculpture of a Marmite jar! (Actually we do have other statues, etc. and these may be covered in future posts).
So, well established facts or April Fool fiction?
• Marmite is good for you. It is gluten free and contains high levels of vitamin B3, folic acid and thiamine
• Countless Burton babies have been weaned on Marmite on toast without any (known) ill effects.
• There is a sculpture in Burton in the shape of a jar of Marmite
• The sculpture is called Monumite
• It incorporates some digital technology and visitors can download information from it onto their mobile phones via Bluetooth.
• Recent scientific studies have discovered that ‘love it or hate it’ all depends on your genes. The Marmite Gene Project reports that ‘whether you fall into the loathe it or love it category all depends on your genes. The ‘Marmite Gene Project’ shows that people are born biologically more likely to be either lovers or haters of Marmite thanks to 15 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP’s or genetic markers, in lay terms) linked to their taste preference’.
‘March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb’. Weather lore goes back centuries and even today many of these sayings have some degree of accuracy. The trouble with March is that it doesn’t follow the transition from lion to lamb, or winter to spring, in a gradual, measured way. Each of its 31 days could be a fraction of a degree warmer, and the wind that little bit calmer, perhaps with a slightly more noticeable change on 21st as a token gesture to mark the first day of spring. But no, March keeps us guessing. A few days of fine weather followed by days of cold wind, frost, and, like today, a sprinkling of snow. If she’s feeling particularity mischievous, March will give all those things, and more, in a single hour.
Charles Dickens describes it particularly well in his quote on the back of today’s postcard.
St. Giles’ Church, Caldwell, South Derbyshire
No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow…
A postcard from St George’s Park, the National Football Centre in Staffordshire. The extensive grounds are beautifully maintained and the overall impression is that of a centre of excellence, wellbeing and perfection. It therefore seemed strange that this tree had escaped the woodcutter’s axe (or chainsaw). I couldn’t help but think of The Crooked Tree story.
Once upon a time there was a crooked tree and a straight tree. And they grew next to each other. And every day the straight tree would look at the crooked tree and he would say, “You’re crooked. You’ve always been crooked and you’ll continue to be crooked. But look at me! Look at me!” said the straight tree. “I’m tall and I’m straight.” And then one day the lumberjacks came into the forest and looked around, and the manager in charge said, “Cut all the straight trees.” And that crooked tree is still there to this day, growing strong and growing strange.
Tom Waits. From the film Wristcutters – A Love Story