Today, yes, today, I was at a village celebration! ….. Excited?
Well, if I told you this was a celebration for the opening ceremony of a LAY-BY – would you still be excited?
Yeah – I know it sounds weird … but this is country life… and when they say things move slowly in the country this lay-by is a prime example. The post-office corner is a good right-angled bend and the road is just wide enough for two cars to go round it carefully. Opposite the post-office village shop used to be a fairly high bank, seemingly grassed, but as we all know, grass banks in Cornwall hide a slate and granite hedge! There has always been a bit of roadside parking up the little lane leading down towards the ‘main’ road through the village, but not much, and you were always aware that tarrying too long meant others could not park. Then there are the Mobile Library days, when all that space it taken by the Mobile library for half an hour. Or deliveries to the shop, or the postman collecting the mail.
All in all, many would stop on the corner, against that high bank… and thus prevent the bus getting round the corner much to the consternation of the bus drivers ( Yes we are lucky enough to still be on a regular bus route – and I imagine each time the bus is prevented from keeping to schedule the likelihood of keeping the service diminishes)
So, for years … and I mean Y E A R S …….. the idea of having a small carpark opposite the post office village shop has been mooted. However, up until now, nothing has ever come of the ‘idea’. It has taken a savvy person on the parish council to work though the ever tricky procedure of applying for grants and permissions, others to plan and oversee the works, for a community group to put forward some of the funds to show willing and for the grants to be actually awarded and in the end we have it!
It was part of the stipulation of the largest funding body that there should be a formal opening ceremony with press – so it became an event – with posters drawn by children from the village primary school, with official ribbon cutting, with tea and cake, with a procession of vintage cars, one carrying the oldest village resident at 101, and a vintage bike against the bike rack with its basket filled with bunches of flowers for various people handed out by children from the village school and with speeches (short ones!) of thanks to all involved!
And so, it turned out to be a really nice country-style village celebration of something both very small and significant at the same time. There is now room for 5 cars ( if they park tidily) plus the space for three up the side lane remains, and no excuse to block the path of the bus (or any other large vehicle that needs to turn the ‘post-office’ corner).
We all hope it makes a difference inside the shop too, with more people using it – as we are also very lucky to still have a post office and village shop and that needs the village people to use it and buy a significant amount every week to keep it going.
The first lucky seven people will be getting their choice of my already published novels arriving in their email inbox on Friday!! There is still a chance to get in on the first draw if you enter before noon on Friday 7th June… but even if you enter afterwards you will be in the draw for the next three weeks draws. If you’re not sure what this is about .. just click on the link to go to my **Pre-Launch Party** where YOU CAN WIN a copy of one of my novels. (if you haven’t got an ereader these are available as pdf – or download kindle for pc and ask for a mobi version – to read them on your computer)
I’M GIVING AWAY ONE eNOVEL A DAY ALL THROUGH JUNE!!
Do you live in a village or tight-knit community?
What makes your community special?
Do you find pleasure in these ‘small things’?
You know I love to hear from you – do share 🙂
AND NOW.. the next excerpt from THE ANGEL BUG ……
Gabbi has returned to the Foundation building…
Andy and Naomi were heralded by their voices, obviously in heated discussion, followed by their persons as they came up the central staircase into the light and airy office space.
‘But it could be Thrips Palmi,’ Andy was saying.
‘What, with the quarantine measures all in place? Besides it isn’t as if it came from some dodgy place.’
‘Well, Kew has been known to have its own problems with diseases and vectors.’
‘Do we have a new problem?’ I cut in.
‘W04, some die-back co-incidentally right beside the new introductions.’
‘Which were quarantined for three months as usual!’ Naomi retorted.
‘Anyhow, we’ll know soon, samples coming over pronto.’
‘Well we’re going to be busy then, I’ve asked for you to see some from the Moringa as soon as they come in. It’s a bit tricky, it’s the last tree we want to have a problem with just now,’
‘Why? Any time is bad for any of them isn’t it?’ Naomi said, shrugging.
‘Ah, but Luke Adamson’s coming and he’s sure to make a bee-line for it.’
‘Why’s that?’ Andy said as he sat down.
I looked at Andy and Naomi, both of them looked puzzled, and young all of a sudden. I smiled, ‘Well back when you two were in nursery school, Luke made his name with the first comprehensive ethnobotanical study of the Moringa.’
‘Oh dear!’ Andy pulled a mournful face, waggling his head in a mocking way.
‘Oh dear, indeed,’ I almost laughed, Andy, at least didn’t seem in awe of the superstar.
The three of us busied ourselves in the portacabin laboratory at Watering Lane, Eden’s nursery a few miles west of the main site, each wearing the standard kit, lab coat, latex gloves, and, when we were cutting, goggles.
‘So,’ I said firmly, looking up from my microscope, ‘it’s definitely not a dehydration problem, these cells are as turgid as we could wish for.’
‘And so far I have found no signs of microbacterial infection,’ added Andy. ‘So I’m going to culture some sections, especially of the red cells.’
‘You just do that!’ Naomi said to his back as he went into the second half of the lab.
‘Nothing?’ I asked, looking across to her. There was an atmosphere between them that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, though it might have just been the cross accusations over the source of the plant infections.
‘Nothing, certainly on this sample, I’m off to take a good look at that tree and the area, put down a few sticky pads to see what insect vectors I catch.’
‘Okay. I have to admit I’d rather we found something concrete before Adamson turns up.’
Naomi turned and gave me a quizzical look as she hung up her lab coat. ‘I don’t know why you’re worrying, Gabbi, that new senior botanist will be here tomorrow and she can talk herself out of any hang-ups Dr Adamson has about our trees.’
Naomi just about slammed the door behind her, leaving me wondering what had ruffled her feathers. There was something in the way that she had said ‘senior botanist’ that suggested that the new boss was a problem, but, as I had not been in on the day of the appointment I’d not met Dr. Ananias. I had heard that she had made an impact on all of them in different ways, some by her looks, some by her ‘air’ and some by her obvious intelligence, however, perhaps not all opinions were favourable. I recalled that Naomi had been unusually reticent at the time.
I turned the leaf over again; the under side was a definite red, not unlike many plants that have a red underside to reflect light back through to the chlorophyll-bearing leaf tissues. I began to wonder whether the Moringa had the ability to adopt this red pigment in reduced-light circumstances. After all the ETFE bubbles of the domes did not allow a hundred percent light through them, then add to that, the fact that many of the largest of the trees in the tropical biome had grown so fast, faster than had been expected, that they had already needed pruning to prevent them reaching the skin of the dome, and so they were cutting out even more light.
‘Hey, Andy,’ I called. ‘I’m going over to reception to see if I can chase up anything on Moringa and low light levels.’
‘Okay, catch you up later.’
I cleared and washed up, then hung up my lab gear and left the laboratory. I glanced up at the vast range of glasshouses that had brought on the bulk of the trees and plants needed to create Eden, and now continued that work, with the sideline of producing plants for sale in the shop. Reception was a building that looked, appropriately, like an overgrown garden shed. Inside, it had the appearance of belonging to a set of artistic hippies; six foot butterflies hung lazily on fine threads from the ceiling, a foam rubber and papier-mâché tree wound itself around a central pillar, and collection boxes for all kinds of recyclable stuff were everywhere. The reception desk itself was little more than a bare board and unmanned as usual, yet above it hung the ubiquitous picture of Luke.
‘Hiya, Jim,’ I called as I circled round to a spare computer.
‘Will be if we can sort out this blessed Moringa before he comes.’ I nodded to the picture.
‘Yeah, I heard you had a problem. Anything I can help with?’
Jim was one of those truly green-fingered horticulturalists that make you believe in such things; anything he touched grew.
‘Not unless you can tell me why these Moringa leaves should turn red with no obvious reason. I’m just looking up the likelihood of a change to utilise reflected light, though there was nothing in the Forestry guide’
‘No watering problems?’
‘Hmm, light sounds like a possibility then, and that guide’s not infallible. I’ll leave you to it,’ he added as he left the building.
Half an hour later Andy broke through the trance that I’d sunk into as I flicked from article to article dealing with plants that utilised the red underside of their leaves. There were no cases where Moringa had exhibited this pattern of adaptation and the only plants where the colour changed, as opposed to always being red, had a well documented histology that demonstrated that they were always ready and willing to change as soon as the light levels decreed it.
‘Ready to go back?’ he asked.
‘Yep, might as well, not getting anything useful here. Of course I might be on to a new research paper,’ I grinned. ‘The adaptation of Moringa to life under ETFE.’
Andy grinned back; he knew how little I wanted to do any such thing, even though progress in the scientific world was made just that way. I’d said often enough that I was so glad I didn’t have to jump through those hoops as I had no ambition now to be a botanical high-flyer. After all I’d seen at first-hand what it meant. James had been at the top of his field for decades and it had driven him to despair at times, especially when out ‘scrounging’ for research funds, yet it still amazed me when he threw it all in and retired at fifty, many of his colleagues were just getting into their stride at that age.
We were no further on when I left for home. I drove my mini quite sedately, there being no need to hurry home, and the twists and turns of the high-banked hedges and the road between them meant that being ready and able to stop within a few yards of spying another vehicle was a distinct advantage. My mind wasn’t on my driving however; it was still on the problem of the Moringa.
….. to be continued