15th September, 2017. Cassini-Huygens.

The final day of the wonderful Cassini mission and the aerial robots study of Jupiter’s outer atmosphere – as well as Huygens on-the-surface study of Saturn’s largest moon Titan. A fantastic achievement of modern science.

14th September, 2017. Farm animal welfare, pt.2.

I have never been supportive of the idea of vegetarianism as a response to concerns about farm animal welfare – by reducing the market one is not necessarily improving the existence of those animals still in the system. However with a growing world population and demand for meat going-up faster vegetarianism would put some brake on the pressure to rear farm animals simply as economic units.

One way to hopefully improve things is to be a responsible consumer. As regards this local area for example ‘Mick and Mark’ sell a wide range of sausages using free-range pork reared by ‘Anna’s happy trotters’, M. and M. mostly sell from a van at markets and farmer’s markets but also retail from behind the old Tasty Foods building on High Street, Barton.

Tesco sell ‘outdoor reared’ pork meat which I assume means what it states. Co-op now advertise that all their meat retailed is from British suppliers, but, of course, this means mostly factory farmed meat (Co-op use to pioneer free-range meat sales!). Waitrose retails quite a lot of free-range meat as does Sainsbury’s, although here some stores stock less than others which is frustrating for discerning customers.

At Mr. Harrison’s restaurant ‘The Old Tile Works’, Barton the initial intention was to use free-range meat from his farm – I am not sure if this is still the case.

‘Pink pig’ farm near Scunthorpe is, I think, an entirely free-range meat outlet.

The remaining butchers in Barton don’t seem to bother with free-range meat whereas Fields butchers in Anlaby retail quite a lot of free-range meat along with non-free-range. I don’t think butchers in Hull and Hessle make much effort on the free-range front but some might that I am not aware of.

Above picture taken from Anna’s Happy Trotters leaflet. A large field of housing for free-range pork production can be seen beside the A134 between Stradsett and Wereham, south-west Norfolk. The produce goes to Sainsbury’s.

13th September, 2017. Recent highlights.

Gave my talk on the River Hull last Wednesday 10 – 11 am at Hull History Centre as part of an extended programme arranged by Hull Civic Soc. for the national Heritage Weekend and to compliment Hull’s City of Culture status this year. More attenders than I had expected.

For Barton’s contribution to the national Heritage Weekend Ian Wolseley organised a very extensive programme of events in collaboration with Heritage Lincolnshire and I did the guiding at Tyrwhitt Hall on Sunday pm as my contribution.

Forthcoming events – Friday 15th at Joseph Wright Hall in Barton a presentation by Dr. David Neave on Lincolnshire landed gentry families, co-supported by the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology as their Rex Russell memorial lecture.

On Saturday 16th some members of the British Brick Society are visiting Barton.

On Tuesday 19th a guided walk in the afternoon round Wansford village, near Driffield and beside the upper River Hull and the Driffield Canal (see above image of the five-arch bridge the river at Wansford).

13th September, 2017. Farm Animal Welfare, or lack of.

Today was  global day of action against the transport of live farm animals, particularly the ‘long-distance transport’. The current government have indicated some sympathy with this objective and in the past claimed that it was the E.C.’s that allowed ‘long-distance’ transport to continue (context of Brexit). In fact DEFRA publish detailed regulations regarding the transport of livestock, these enforced – if they are – by VOSA. These regulations do allow ‘long-distance’ transportation (that defined as over 8 hours duration) if certain regulations are complied with.

A recent under-cover film made by Compassion in World Farming activists shows appalling conditions being suffered by cattle on long distance transport on the Turkish border, having endured these horrors the creatures are often then destined to be slaughtered in an inhumane way by those who put religious dogma above fellow creature welfare. Sheep and goats often suffer the same experience.

About a week ago the team at Compassion in World Farming discovered that the draft Brexit bill deliberately did not include the statement that farm animals are ‘sentient’ beings, this defined as able to feel pain or suffering and able to experience ‘joy’. After a long campaign in the 1990s the EC did incorporate this statement into EC law. So does this slyly open a door to poorer animal welfare standards – poorer standards which see farm animals, particularly in factory farm environments, as economic commodities, not sentient beings. A petition to be presented to the government is being raised by the Compassion in World Farming charity.

Of course with modern factory farming units and transport vehicles we never actually see the animals as they are never in a field and not visible as the lorry passes, so ‘what the eye doesn’t see the heart doesn’t grieve’ – so we just buy the meat!

6th September, 2017. Complacency.

I have very few ‘ornaments’ but one of the few is a little furry elephant figure sent me by the World Wildlife Fund as a proportion of my monthly subscription goes to benefit the welfare of the elephant population of south-east Asia.

A written statement by Claire Morgan, an artist who I have never met, caught my eye recently in the context of a art installation she has created called ‘Elephant in the Room’. She states ‘out of sight means out of mind, and we can more or less experience the world through a device, purchasing things that have been grown, killed, or manufactured cheaply in places we will never visit, by people we will never meet, all the while signing on-line petitions for ethical treatment of humans and animals in order to absolve ourselves of any guilt.

Its a system that offers just enough value, just enough separation, and more than enough convenience to keep our concerns at the very back of our minds’.

The introductory sentence introducing Claire’s quote reads ‘Claire engages with the impact which human activity has on the earth’s life, finding new ways to remind people of the beauty and fragility of the world around us’.

A stern taskmaster, but a right one.

5th September, 2017. Christianity and History.

Independent of one’s own religious beliefs the history of the Christian faith is central to the history of the British nation state (and, of course, many other countries too). Its buildings, from the majestic to the rustic are all fascinating sources of historical evidence and often reflecting in their very fabric the history of their locality – the joy of church studies. Studies to be encouraged at every opportunity in a century when the buildings are listed as grade 1, 2 or 2* and yet face a very uncertain future in a secular age.

Atheist, or whatever, church music invariably has the capacity to lift the spirit and calm the troubled mind.

The liturgy, styles of worship and relationship with the many books of the Bible, all so often through history sources of contention, even fought over, yet central to an understanding of church history, independent of the student’s opinions.

Too often current-day agnostics dismiss church studies on the grounds that divisions within the Christian church past and present have been a cause of strife and conflict – too often the church assumes that only present-day believers are welcome to take an interest in the buildings and history of their faith.

Above picture shows the north side of St. James’, Grimsby, picture taken from near Freshney Place with monument to local fishing industry in the foreground.

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