Visiting Scholar, Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge
|Maiden Castle by trekker308 at flickr.com|
|Imagining the relative size of a pliosaur, human, and whales.|
The weather in southern England has been divine since my arrival on December 23 with the exception of one day of heavy rain and winds downed numerous trees, including many in Scotland. The Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh lost 40 old trees including huge oaks. The good news is that healthy lichen were found at the tops of these trees meaning that the city pollution was far less than previously thought.
Temperatures on the whole over the country remain in the low 50s, good for walking along the beach at Lyme Regis with the dogs. Numerous people throughout the country mounted up for the annual Boxing Day hunt, although fox hunting is banned now, while others took to the frigid Thames for the annual plunge. The morning papers also revealed that the Duke of Edinburgh was released from hospital in good condition after treatment for a blocked coronary artery, driven away in a land rover to the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. He ventured out to church on Boxing Day and was greeted by 300 well wishers, while the Queen in a great coat was photographed on a massive draught horse, riding about the estate grounds.
Yesterday, January 3, we traveled by car to the town of Chard in Somerset to view a house for sale on the market. In 1805, Chard consisted of two streets, market day was on Monday, -probably the largest market in England for potatoes and for cattle. One arrives at Chard from Dorchester through the village of Cricket St. Thomas on the A30 road between Chard and Crewkerne. Crewkerne sitting on a branch of the river, Ax, and also an ancient town, is well watered and wooded and blessed with a salubrious air. The town church is an elegant ancient gothic structure with a room containing bones dug up in the church yard.
Broccoli and Stilton Soup for ONE
1 tbsp olive oil½ onion chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 bunches of broccoli florets, blanched
4 ½ oz hot vegetable stock
1 ½ oz Stilton cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1) Heat the oil in a frying pan then add the onion and garlic and try until softened
2) Add the broccoli and the stock and simmer for 8-10 minutes
3) Add the stilton and season to taste, and salt and pepper
4) Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth.
5) To serve, pour into a warm bowl.
January 6, 2012: we traveled 7 miles distant from Dorchester by coach to Weymouth on coastal Britain, site of the Pliasaur find mentioned above. In 1348, the Chronicles of the Greyfriars of King’s Lynn documented the arrival of a seaman aboard a ship sailing from France who was infected with the plague. Known as the Black Death, the plague reached London by 1348 and by the next summer it covered the entire country, killing about 1/3 of the population before ending in 1349. At Weymouth we saw the much acclaimed “The Iron Lady,” Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female Prime Minister. Although there are a few flaws in the film, Meryl Streep’s work in this film has earned rave reviews on both sides of the pond. Reviewers agree that this is her best work ever, making her a certain fit for an Oscar.