Sunday, 12 July 2009

Berney Arms Windmill : open at last

AT LAST English Heritage has opened up the Berney Arms windmill. It may only be on Mondays during July and August, but after years of drift and delay it is undoubtedly a start. The best news of all is that English Heritage has teamed up with Steve "Tug" Wilson (see earlier posting) to make the visit possible. Now you get a great view of Breydon Water on board Steve's beautiful Southern Belle followed by what I am sure are spectacular aerial views from the top of the mill's 70-foot tower.

* To book call Steve on 07906 020225. The trips leave every Monday at 11.30am and 2.15pm.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

E J Moeran - The Wherryman's Way composer.

I'M NOT sure many people have heard of E J Moeran. I certainly hadn't until a chance conversation with the then landlady of the New Inn at Rockland St Mary a couple of years ago. Moeran was a twentieth century composer. His critics said his music was too derivative of Ralph Vaughan Williams, while a dedicated hardcore of fans call him the "greatest unsung genius of English composition". So what's he got to do with the Wherryman's Way? Well, Moeran grew up in Norfolk. And later in life, his Fantasy Quartet for Oboe and Strings was composed while he lodged upstairs at the New Inn - hence the landlady's interest.
This "reedy neighbourhood seems to suggest oboe music," he wrote to a friend. Now Moeran's music is destined to become better known. Today's Daily Telegraph sees Simon Heffer celebrating the fact that EJ's one and only symphony is to be played at the Proms - for the first time in seventy years.
*Read the full story here.
*Listen to an extract from his symphony here.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Cetti, Cetti, sang sang

LANGLEY Staithe is always alive with birdlife at this time of year. And today I bagged my first definite Cetti's Warbler. (And by the way it's pronounced Chetty, or else you're not going to get the dreadful pun in my headline.) Reed warblers are more numerous in these parts and the RSPB says that Cetti's have only arrived in this country as recently as 1973. Bill Oddie describes its song as "Chip, Chewicha, weecha". But for me it's the cocked tail that distinguishes it from a reed warbler. ...That and what the RSPB call "rich chestnut upperparts." Incidentally I needed its online bird identifier to be sure. With audio and video as well as a description, this website is great for all us novices.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Bramerton on Sea - complete with shells

TIME for a gentle geology lesson from Bramerton Common. Wander into the woods and have a quick scrabble in the dust beneath your feet. Because, as Broads author William Dutt put it in 1902:

“At Bramerton the beds of sand, clay and shingle known as the Norwich Crag are exposed. This crag is rich in fossils, and visitors seldom have much difficulty in obtaining at least a quantity of shells.”

In other words, Bramerton might be almost 20 miles inland, but the earth it sits on, has all the attributes of the seaside. Now in the age of SSSIs, digging for shells is probably actively discouraged here. But given that the Crag goes down for 12 metres and has survived for at least 1.8 million years, I don't think you can do too much harm with a short sharp stick. I found the shell pictured above in less than five minutes.

So what does all this prove? Well, that all those years ago sea levels were much higher. So much so that Bramerton and Norwich would have been on the coast. Because the crag is exposed to the surface here, Bramerton is famous-ish in geological circles. The "Bramertonian Stage" is the name given to the part of the Pleistocene geological period when this mix of shell and sand was first laid down.

But hey, they all know that at the bar of the Woods End, don't they?