Strange days indeed. For the first time in Herstory’s history, I’ve had a talk cancelled (‘The Battle of Waterloo’ for Castleford Historical Society, the last one in my winter lecture season) due to a global health crisis. All TBS activities – general meetings, archery shoots and guided walks – have also been suspended at least until July, and the forthcoming Battle of Towton commemoration (Palm Sunday, 5th April) has been cancelled. Restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic will also impact on all Frei Compagnie and other early-season re-enactment events around the country – so let’s hope it soon passes and life can start returning to normal.
Luckily for us, we were able to use a lovely Christmas gift, tickets to see The Canterbury Tales at Wakefield’s Theatre Royal, on 7th March - shortly before the closure of all such places of entertainment. The famous Tales, written in the late 14th century by Geoffrey Chaucer, are stories told by a group of pilgrims to entertain each other on their journey to Thomas à Becket’s shrine at Canterbury Cathedral, and range from humorous through bawdy to very dark. This selection of four tales, (the Franklin’s, Nun’s Priest’s, Pardoner’s, and Miller’s), was performed by three splendid musicians and actors, Chris Green (who wrote the adaptation), Sophie Matthews, his partner in the duo GreenMatthews, and Tom Fermor, (plus a good deal of audience participation). Very funny and enlivened with some excellent medieval music played on period instruments, this was a real treat of an evening – highly recommended.
Other big news is that Beckside finally made it into the Spring 2020 issue of Country Smallholding with my contribution, ‘Things I Can’t Live Without.’ Editor Julie Harding did a lovely job of updating the piece, written this time last year – and if you’d like to see an illustrated version of the original on which the magazine text is based, click the button!
I’m pleased to say that some of the future plans it mentions are now being realised: stock fencing to contain livestock is in the process of being installed, and, thanks to Hubcap and a team of willing helpers, our big pond is practically finished! In accordance with recommendations, it will be left to fill and develop a natural ecosystem for at least a year before we introduce anything to it - and we were thrilled to discover that it should fill at least partly from rising groundwater as well as rain, run-off from the field, and, eventually, top-ups from the rainwater cistern. I’m incredibly proud of Hubcap for creating this, and we’re both very excited about the potential increase in biodiversity. We already have frogs, toads and newts on site, spawning in our little proto-pond Belfast sink – not to mention aquatic spiders, mayflies, dragonflies and other wondrous creatures – so I can hardly wait to see what we end up with in a far more substantial body of water. Watch this space!