A few quiet moments

"St Peter's Church Oundle - geograph.org.uk - 1429523" by Keith Evans - From geograph.org.uk. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St_Peter%27s_Church_Oundle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1429523.jpg#mediaviewer/File:St_Peter%27s_Church_Oundle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1429523.jpg
“St Peter’s Church Oundle – geograph.org.uk – 1429523” by Keith Evans – From geograph.org.uk. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St_Peter%27s_Church_Oundle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1429523.jpg#mediaviewer/File:St_Peter%27s_Church_Oundle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1429523.jpg

I wouldn’t have gone to Oundle just to look for a Black Redstart but since I had a reason for going anyway (getting a Robert Gillmor print (the cover of the 2013 Bird Fair programme in fact) framed) then I did go.  And I needed a break.

I’m writing two books at the moment, and I’d had a very good writing week up until yesterday, but things weren’t going so well yesterday for some reason, and I usually find that having a break, is a better response to that situation than plugging away. It’s the same with crosswords, if you get stuck, then put it down, do something else, and come back to it later. That’s my advice.

I wonder whether the break works because, unbeknown to my conscious self, my brain is working away on the problem (writing or crossword) all the time and therefore has the answer sorted  out when I feel as though I am turning my mind back to the problem. Or whether it is simply that the brain has a bit of a rest and is in a different state after a break and in that state it picks up the problem again and solves it quite quickly. I wonder whether anyone knows?

Anyway, that was why I went to Oundle, but since a Black Redstart had been reported on St Peter’s Church, half way up the tower (see above), a few days ago, I thought I would look at that too.  I don’t want to keep you in suspense – I didn’t see a Black Redstart.  But I did stand in the quiet, with occasional Oundle School pupils passing me, in the quiet area by the church and enjoyed the quiet of a few autumn minutes. the church looked lovely in the rather weak sunshine and some of the trees were showing bright autumn colours.

It wasn’t completely quiet because Jackdaws were shouting at each other and the sound of their calls bounced off the ancient stonework.

Peter Scott was at school here in Oundle. As I looked at the church tower, first a Red Kite and then a Cormorant flew past. The Red Kite was elegant and easy in the air, the Cormorant just flapped past. Either would have been a very unexpected sight for the young Scott as he went from class to class in the early 1920s.  Now, they are pretty much commonplace.

And the Black Redstart began to colonise the UK as a breeding species when Scott was 13.

But the church, I guess, would have looked very much the same. And the autumn colours would have been just as bright.

I wonder what will fly past the church in another 90 years.


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18 Replies to “A few quiet moments”

  1. I spent an interesting couple of hours in our local church tower on Wednesday. Together with a couple of experts we were measuring up to install a swift nest box complex behind one of the high louvre windows. The local vicar and PCC have been very supportive and there is an initiative throughout the area to install these boxes.
    see here: http://www.oxford.anglican.org/mission-ministry/environment/resources/swifts-churches/
    There is a colony of swifts in a private residence in the village but each year it gets smaller and we rely on the goodwill of the owner. We hope to get it completed before the return of the swifts in May and will play some calls from the tower to attract them in. Looking forward to spring already!
    Hope the writing's back on schedule this morning Mark.

  2. Writer's Block is really annoying but I sometimes feel it is actually boredom masquerading under a more acceptable name. As your years advance towards 94, you might also be afflicted by a related disorder often known as "Senior Moment" - when some word or name you know perfectly well - in your case it could be "Linnet" - just vanishes as you are about to say it. This often happens to me and the convention between myself and Dearly Beloved is that the word "Godalming" is substituted for the missing term, to be corrected later when the elusive item floats across the screen of consciousness. This may be after the passage of a few days and often occurs while stopped at traffic lights, but is always understood. Use of a code word short-circuits all that muttering about I nearly had it and tip of the tongue and the conversation can move on.

  3. I walked past that church everyday for five years as my boarding house was in the marketplace. Indeed I could see the spire from my study window. It is a lovely and peaceful churchyard as you rightly say Mark. A Red Kite sailing past said spire would have stopped me in my tracks a quarter of a century ago.

    You have prompted me to look at my old notes from my school days. In 1991 Hawfinch were regular on the house paddock. Cuckoo too. On the River Nene behind the house (wander down there next time you're in town) I remember seeing Arctic Tern on migration. Kingfisher were a regular fixture too as they whizzed up and down.

    1. Ed - I thought that would prompt you to comment. You'd be lucky to see a Hawfinch in a whole school career there now. The Cormorants probably ate them - that's normally what happens, I'm told.

      1. Careful Mark, your comment about the Cormorants and Hawfinches sounds like something the "IffyGamekeeper" (https://twitter.com/breadismurder) would say!

  4. For the record, I am suffering from writer's block at the moment too. A break sometimes work wonders in order to get a fresh perspective. Very true with crosswords.

    It can become very frustrating though and a vicious circle. The pressure from the need to perform can make it considerably worse.

  5. Mark,

    Your reference to Peter Scott reminded me of the times in the late ‘70s, when as a lad on my local patch in the north-west, I was fortunate enough to meet the great man and the lasting impression he had on me. I’m well-aware of the famous story of how he came to question his shooting but a wildfowler I know tells me that, contrary to popular belief, Sir Peter continued wildfowling/shooting until at least the 1960s at places like Slimbridge amongst others .
    I’ve read Sir Peter’s autobiography and also the biography by Huxley but can’t recall there being any mention of this so I was wondering if you or any of your readers knew whether there was any substance in this. Of course, given his legacy of the WWT and his work on promoting wildlife and habitat conservation, it doesn’t matter a jot whether he did or did not but I would be interested to hear of this (or any other recollections) by anyone who might have met or worked with him.


  6. I saved a footpath beside the Nene in Oundle from being diverted to an inferior route behind the boatsheds. I opposed a diversion order promoted by the school, in about 1995, went to an inquiry and won.

  7. Nice 'to stand and stare' from time to time Mark. I only scraped through Chemistry A level by sleeping on things that were baffling me and a long time time ago I believe I read some evidence that the brain does work on problem solving while one is asleep. I have used this ever since to help with problems and difficult decisions (much to the annoyance of some who want to hurry me up!).
    Next time you pop to Oundle you could go a bit further up the road to the Wildlife Trust's nature reserves at Short Wood and Southwick Wood if you've not visited before? They are managing the land between (acquired a few years ago) to revert to woodland and re-connect the two woods in the long term. Lovely in the spring, but good now for fungi I believe.

  8. Richard Dawkins was also a pupil there in the years after the war. More recently, Euan Thomas was a fantastic biology master who kept school records of all the nature sightings in the area for years.


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