Remnants of Autumn

Yesterday the weather was permitting so I ran round the lake shore, Kings River end of the lake. The lake is starting to fill but it was still possible to ford the river. Another foot or two and it would need to be swum and the water is getting a bit too cold for that. In spite of the cold water, the sun was warm enough for a brief sun-bathe on the sand bar just before the river enters the lake and where it is safe to ford (no rocks underfoot). Sadly I figure this might be my last circuit of that end of the lake this season.

This morning the sky was almost completely blue and my heart urged me to make one last encounter with Autumn which seems to have been rather brief this year. But we had a meeting (it being Sunday) and by the time it was over, lunch had been lunched and washed up, and a few other minor tasks, it had clouded over. Wunderground was still maintaining that rain was possible but unlikely so I set of intending to do Church Mountain. But within minutes it started to rain and it continued for most of my run which I swiftly curtailed to just the lake perimeter (Kings River end) by road.

Ominous weather over Valleymount, from Blackditches

Suggestion of rainbow over Ballyknockan

Atmospherics over the lake, from our bridge


Aunty Elsie

Stock photo of Crantock beach, Pentire head beyond the Gannel

Aunty Elsie lived in Crantock and this alone was sufficient qualification.  But she also had a small shop in which was, oh joy, a loom and a spinning wheel and she actually spun and dyed her own wool and wove it into cloth to make garments and such like. And she fed us (cream teas?) and walked us to the beach, explained the dangers of the River Gannel. And she actually liked us children!
What more could we want of an aunt? And yet she was actually only a friend of our Nana and thus not our aunt at all.

Using a treadle fret saw (which I now have) like the one above my father used to cut out plywood handles to complete the hand woven shopping bags Elsie sold in her shop.

In this photo she is garbed in orange on the steps in her front garden holding my baby sister Heather, my mother on her left, Margaret on her right.

Here we are on Crantock beach, Elsie on the left. No Heather so perhaps this photo predates her. I think the dog is Chum. I am of course at my favourite occupation.

Forever Newquay and Crantock will remain dear in my memories on account of Aunty Elsie and all she stood for. I will never forget how dangerous the Gannel is. Forever I will long to return to Cornwall, a place worthy of dreams, a place of idyllic happiness, contentment, of clotted cream and scones, ice cream locally made with clotted cream and in a zillion different flavours, real Cornish pasties freshly baked from Rock, long sandy beaches, rock pools...

To add to the magic of the place there was also the mystery behind a carving on a low-tide cave which my sister remembers visiting but I do not - perhaps it was considered too dangerous at the tender age I was back then?

Mar not my face but let me be,
Secure in this lone cavern by the sea,
Let the wild waves around me roar,
Kissing my lips for evermore.

I am hoping my sister(s) will contribute to this page to fill in any blanks in my memory...


Low lake again

Some more pictures taken on two lakeside runs.  Some of this under-foot is hard going when no shoes are allowed.


Tree roots like crabs

Ancient ruins exposed

Blessington Greenway

Evening lake

They say this tree will fall and block the road

Course of the Valleymount road before the Flood

Same, looking the other way

Ancient tracks, dykes or ditches


Around Willand again

Having run to Bickleigh and back my remaining runs this Willand Trip To Visit Grandma were hardly significant but here are some pictures anyway... Both runs were taken in the early morning before the Other People arose.

Kentisbeare in the gloaming

Dawn over the Blackdown hills

My very own Uffculme water meadows

Double yellow "preliminary caution" after Up train

The railway photos were taken on a brief walk prior and preparatory to a large dinner. As I have intimated elsewhere I have a thing about railways and signalling. Sorry to those of you who do not share my infatuations.

Receding Down train


Early morning Culm mist, Cullompton

Bridge over troubled water

So I did it!  Earlier in the year I had almost made it so the challenge just had to be repeated. Willand to Bickleigh and back, 16.8 miles, total elevation gain 842m, average speed moving 5.8 mph, barefoot of course. Here are some of my pictures to prove it.

Looking north towards Turley Down

Butterleigh village

Butterleigh Meadow

Looking back towards Butterleigh Meadow

Descending to Exe Valley

Bickleigh Mill

Devon Railway Centre

River Exe looking north from the bridge

Bridge over troubled water?

Locals maintained that the historic Bickleigh bridge was inspiration for Bridge Over Troubled Water, but sadly this claim has been refuted. The singers did, however, hang out around here for a while.

St. Mary's church, Bickleigh

Fowl activity on the way back

Almost back - crossing the M5 early morning

My track


Surprised by Joy

This morning I had free time and decided to run around the Kings river end of the lake. The decision was helped by constant and steady rain and a fair enough temperature of 12'C. By the way my temperature scale goes:

  • less than 0'C  is freezing
  • 0'C to 5'C is cold
  • 5'C to 10'C is cool
  • 10'C to 15'C is fair
  • 15'C to 20'C is warm, ideal for most human activities
  • 20'C to 25'C is hot, for many purposes too hot
  • above 25'C is tropical and to be avoided

As a result of the rain, I suppose, I had the lake to myself. I had a minor ulterior motive to explore what was once Marlfields House shown in the 1888 map and a recent aerial photo courtesy of Bing maps below:

OSI 1888 25" map
Bing aerial map of same location

In the aerial photo there is an obvious difference in the vegetation and the merest suggestion of masonry. So I diverted from the shore but found nothing more than overgrown mounds, and the grass was wet and the drooping branches were dripping in a not very inviting way - perhaps I'll explore deeper into the woods on a finer day.

Kings river itself was in a fair spate but I had identified a good fording place on a previous run at the end of the dry season and able to wade across here albeit with the current tugging me.

Running barefoot in the rain through grass, mud and puddles is exhilarating. One has to keep up the tempo in order to keep warm and this impetus to run fast adds to the exhilaration. Naw, I hear you say, but you have not tried it. There is, of course, a certain mindset required to start out and it takes maybe a mile of plodding before any positive benefit is felt. You do have to battle through that first mile and that's where my ulterior motive had its use. Having got past this stage I cannot truthfully say that the whole experience was exhilarating (but neither is any other experience in life) but there were parts that were amazing. They might even have qualified for Lewis's concept of Surprised by Joy where he says: The feeling is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and from Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again and that this Joy could not be sought because the very act of seeking diminished the thing being sought. Joy must sneak up on a person.

Rather like quantum mechanics where, we are told, it is not possible to precisely locate because the very act of seeing the object affects its position.

He rewords it here: It jumps under one’s ribs and tickles down one’s back and makes one forget meals and keeps one (delightedly) sleepless o’ nights. It shocks one awake when the other puts one to sleep. My private table is one second of joy is worth 12 hours of Pleasure from a recently discovered letter from Lewis to a Mrs Ellis.

Lewis says it much better in his fiction (isn't that what fiction is for?) - here from Perelandra and quoted in this site and in my previous post:

Now he had come to a part of the wood where great globes of yellow fruit hung from the trees-clustered as toy-balloons are clustered on the back of the balloon-man and about the same size. He picked one of them and turned it over and over... He had meant to extract the smallest, experimental sip, but the first taste put his caution all to flight. It was, of course, a taste, just as his thirst and hunger had been thirst and hunger. But then it was so different from every other taste that it seemed mere pedantry to call it a taste at all. It was like the discovery of a totally new genus of pleasures, something unheard of among men, out of all reckoning, beyond all covenant. For one draught of this on Earth wars would be fought and nations betrayed. It could not be classified. He could never tell us, when he came back to the world of men, whether it was sharp or sweet, savoury or voluptuous, creamy or piercing. 'Not like that' was all he could ever say to such inquiries. As he let the empty gourd fall from his hand and was about to pluck a second one, it came into his head that he was now neither hungry nor thirsty. And yet to repeat a pleasure so intense and almost so spiritual seemed an obvious thing to do. His reason, or what we commonly take to be reason in our own world, was all in favour of tasting this miracle again; the child-like innocence of fruit, the labours he had undergone, the uncertainty of the future, all seemed to commend the action. Yet something seemed opposed to this 'reason'. It is difficult to suppose that this opposition came from desire, for what desire would turn from so much deliciousness? But for whatever cause, it appeared to him better not to taste again. 
Over his head there hung from a hairy tube-like branch a great spherical object, almost transparent, and shining. It held an area of reflected light in it and at one place a suggestion of rainbow colouring. So this was the explanation of the glass-like appearance in the wood. And looking round he perceived innumerable shimmering globes of the same kind in every direction. He began to examine the nearest one attentively. At first he thought it was moving, then he thought it was not. Moved by a natural impulse he put out his hand to touch it. Immediately his head, face, and shoulders were drenched with what seemed (in that warm world) an ice-cold shower bath, and his nostrils filled with a sharp, shrill, exquisite scent that somehow brought to his mind the verse in Pope, 'die of a rose in aromatic pain'. Such was the refreshment that he seemed to himself to have been, till now, but half awake. When he opened his eyes - which had closed involuntarily at the shock of moisture - all the colours about him seemed richer and the dimness of that world seemed clarified. A re-enchantment fell upon him. The golden beast at his side seemed no longer either a danger or a nuisance...  Looking at a fine cluster of the bubbles which hung above his head he thought how easy it would be to get up and plunge oneself through the whole lot of them and to feel, all at once, that magical refreshment multiplied tenfold. But he was restrained by the same sort of feeling which had restrained him over-night from tasting a second gourd. He had always disliked the people who encored a favourite air in an opera-'That just spoils it' had been his comment. But this now appeared to him as a principle of far wider application and deeper moment. This itch to have things over again, as if life were a film that could be unrolled twice or even made to work backwards... was it possibly the root of all evil?

If we include the intellect in with our senses, would it be true to say that this Joy is a function of our senses and thus wholly subjective? As opposed to having anything whatsoever to do with one's belief in God - in which case the joy in [Jesus] who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross must be something different. Indeed that joy could not have been momentary like Lewis's.  Certainly I can identify with Lewis's Joy, as I did this morning, but the other deferred-gratification kind I find harder, especially when the deference gets unmanageable long. And yet I do think they are linked, for was it not the promise of Joy that drove me to do the loony thing of enduring running through rain, mud and puddles this morning?


More island and more mud

Tuesday - I finished my painting job and the weather was beguiling me so, in the couple of hours I had, I set off down to the far lake shore again partly because it was somewhere to go and partly because I figured this island deal wasn't quite closed.

Along the lake shore you can get within about 50 metres from this "homestead island" and from that vantage point I took the following photos. 

To the right

Towards the middle

Not particularly interesting and no sign of this farm machine yet, so I moved along the shore to the left to change my viewing angle, and...

Far left of island

...and I still could not see this rusty machine. Clearly it is positioned just at that point where it is impossible to see it from this shore, doubtless to ward off would be thieves. Why does it matter anyway?

The road to the homestead

I had to retrace my steps - there was insufficient time to make it around this part of the lake - and on the way back I located the remains of the road to the homestead.

This part of the lake shore is Very Muddy. Typically you sink ankle depth but every so often I suppose there is an old stream bed and you disappear to waste depth in mud. When I say 'you' I mean 'me' of course - no-one else would be fool enough to explore these realms. Fortunately I was bare foot - it's easy to clean feet, shoes are not so easy. However my shorts did get rather muddy and I had to sluice lake water over my lower half, then entered our property at the nether end so as Not To Be Noticed and took a 'shower' in our poly-tunnel (hosepipe with spray attachment) until I figured I was clean enough to cross the threshold of home, and then a long power shower. Bliss!

OK: this famed homestead island is put to bed now. I promise not to mention the subject again.


Arago's spot

The story goes like this. Mr Poisson, like Isaac Newton, believed that light was made of a stream of particles, whereas Mr Fresnel theorised that it was a wave motion. Poisson (this is back 200 years ago) imagined an experiment that would prove Fresnel wrong - consider the shadow caused by a perfectly round object: diffraction (yes they had diffraction back then, how the particle people thought it worked I know not) would occur around the edge and, if light was wave-like, diffracted rays would constructively interfere only in the centre of the shadow because by symmetry the lengths of the rays to this point from the objects edge would be equal, and thus there would be a bright spot in the centre of the shadow, a spot almost as bright as if the round object were not there. As in the diagram below.  Wikipedia will give you the maths if you are interested. Poisson considered that this scenario was absurd -whoever heard of a bright spot in the middle of a shadow? And therefore light was corpuscular. This was 10 years after Young's double slit experiment which I had always thought was proof enough.

Mr Arago heard this debate and thought he would see for himself. He set up his experiment and demonstrated the spot of light which is now known as Arago's spot (or sometimes, out of spite, Poisson's spot), thus proving that light is indeed wavelike.

200 years later I thought I would repeat the experiment. You need a point source of light to ensure coherence around the object's edge, and a laser diode fits the bill. For my round object I chose a 4mm ball bearing which I superglued onto a microscope slide. The laser was about one metre behind the slide and the wall, as a screen, a similar distance in front of the slide.

And why did I go to all this bother? Because it is a really cool experiment which actually worked. And because I did 'O' and 'A' level Physics at school, then an Honours degree course in Physics at Oxford, and through all that Arago's spot somehow evaded me so that I only came across it a few weeks ago. Which is also kind of cool. And, honestly, these are my pictures below:

My Arago's spot 200 years after Arago's

My perfectly round object


The island identified

So - in my last post I figured I had found the miscreant island so today I confirmed it by cycling clockwise around the Kings river end of the lake (on roads - not the lake shore!). My first picture is the same as in my last post, as taken from the air by the Gardai.

The island is in the centre of my next picture taken from the highest point on the road past Valleymount, and the next is the same zoomed in so that some detail is visible.

Panorama from Blackditches

The homestead island identified

Looking back to our bridge: normally this would be all water

Taken from a bit further along this road

The next picture was taken from Johns town on what we call goat man's lane on the way home, so shows the island from a different perspective. The farm machinery that the Gardai managed to zoom into so well is just visible at the left end of the island in this picture. You can of course click on the pictures to enlarge them but I have saved you the bother in the next picture.

From Johns town

Digital zoom into the above shot

Finally here is the 25" 1888-1913 map of the area superimposed on current mapping from the OSI mapping portal, clearly showing the homestead just under the 'O' of "Monamuck". The area shaded blue is the modern normal lake level.

courtesy of OSI