"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

New e-Petition to End the Badger Cull Instead of Expanding it to new areas

As many of you will know the Government has been carrying out pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire since 2013 and extended the cull to Dorset last year. Today it has been announced that seven new licences have been granted for parts of Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Somerset and Dorset. Up to 10,000 badgers could be killed this year.

Regular readers of my blog will know how strongly I feel about these slaughters. I am not going to turn this into a long rant and repeat all my reasons for being so anti-cull but will just say that independent badger experts and scientists are against the culls, the vast majority of badgers slaughtered will be healthy and an independent panel in the first year of the pilot cull came to the conclusion that the slaughters had been inhumane and ineffective. None of the badgers killed have been tested for bTB and monitoring of the slaughters has been virtually non-existent. The main cause of bTB in cattle is due to cattle to cattle transmission - the badger (a protected species) is just being used as a scapegoat. The way forward is not the mass extermination of badgers in such an inhumane way but better biosecurity, improved cattle testing and movement regulations, vaccination of badgers (and eventually cattle).

Since 2013 the slaughter of badgers has cost the tax payer £25 million and yet DEFRA's own statistics show that, despite badger culling, the number of cattle slaughtered because they are infected with bTB continues to increase both in and around the cull zones. Scotland became officially bTB free without killing a single badger and badger vaccination (not culling) in Wales has resulted in new herd TB incidences decreasing by 14% in the past year. Ireland, having slaughtered badgers for years, has now decided to stop this policy and vaccinate instead.

There is a link here to an article in the Guardian last week by Dr Brian May.

The main purpose of writing this post is to ask you please to consider signing a new Government e-petition put forward by Simon King to end the badger cull instead of expanding it to new areas. The link is here

Already 8000 people have signed this petition and I would also ask please if you could consider sharing it on facebook/twitter and ask family and friends to sign. We have to give badgers a voice and let the Government know how we feel about these senseless slaughters otherwise 1000's of badgers could be killed for no reason.

Thanks so much.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Hanbury Hall - Part 2: The House

As mentioned in the last post Hanbury Hall was built in the early 18th century by Thomas Vernon (1654-1721), a successful London lawyer, as his country retreat. Bowater Vernon (1683 - 1735) inherited the estate from Thomas and immediately set about the squandering the fortune he had been left.

I found the story of Emma Vernon (1755-1818) particularly interesting. She married Henry Cecil, heir to the 9th Earl of Exeter and they lived together at Hanbury but Emma fell in love with the local church curate - a William Sneyd. Unable to continue living a double life she confessed to her husband Henry and promised to give up Sneyd and be a faithful wife. However, when she went to say goodbye to William at a Birmingham coaching inn she gave Henry the slip, escaped out of a window and ran off with Sneyd to Portugal. She did eventually return to the Hanbury area following Sneyd's early death and later married a local lawyer. She finally moved back in the Hall after the death of her first husband Henry. Following Emma's escape to Portugal, Henry exiled himself to Shropshire where he lived as a gentleman farmer falling in love with and marrying a local farmer's daughter, Sarah Higgins. When Henry finally returned to his landed status she became known as the "Cottage Countess".

This photo of the Cupola is taken from the guide - it was another occasion when I could have done with the zoom on the Canon bridge camera!

Sorry for the quality of some of the photos - usual story of low light and low shutter speed!

Main Hall (Great Hall)

Drawing Room (Great Parlour)

Dining Room (Withdrawing Room) - this was my favourite room.

Sitting Room (My Lady's Parlour)

The Great Staircase - Sir James Thornhill's (1675/6-1734) paintings show the story of Achilles - a great hero of the Trojan War recorded in "The Iliad" by Homer. Other works by Thornhill include the Painted Hall at Greenwich Hospital and the Cupola of St Paul's Cathedral.

The Cedar Bedroom - this was the bedroom of Lady Georgina, wife to Sir Henry Vernon (the first baronet)

The Blue Bedroom - the worsted damask hanging around the bed dates from the 1730's.

The Hercules Bedroom with views of the Sunken Parterre

After looking round the Hall we sat in the Parterre for a while and

then went and had another cup of tea (it was very hot the day we visited). I managed to resist the scones!

Finally, a quick look round the shop and second hand bookshop (for once I didn't make a purchase!).

It will soon be conker collecting time.

The Eastern gazebo - the Moorish looking window was designed by R W Billings.

It was a lovely day out and I hope we can return perhaps in the Spring to explore the parkland and look for veteran oaks - remnants of the Feckenham Forest. The Parish Church of St Mary in Hanbury also looks well worth a visit - it is located on top of an Iron Age Hill Fort (Alfred Watkins (leylines) would be thrilled :)

The Strange Things You see on Motorways

On the outward journey the M42 was very congested :( so I amused myself spotting unusual items.

An interesting registration number!

The dreaded Active Traffic Management System was in use (I am sure this causes more problems than it is supposed to solve!) and just ahead is an unusual car wrapped up like a parcel

and here's a better view when we overtook it.

I've never seen anything like it before unless it is a brand new car being delivered somewhere - all protectively wrapped up?