Worster break 8.

Above = geese on Camp House site (s.p.b.s).
Walking the Riverside footpath from Camp House into Worcester I came across a relatively new metal footbridge over the River Severn just north of the Georgian road bridge. Seeing the footbridge was called the ‘Sabrina’ bridge I wondered what the connection was between it and the 1950s ‘blond bombshell’ (Norma Ann Sykes, 1936-2016). The connection is a coincidence, in that Sabrina was the Anglo-Saxon name for the River Severn.
It seems that after Sabrina’s ‘glittering career’ declined in the 1960s and her marriage ended in 1977 she drifted into a reclusive lifestyle in Los Angeles where she had previously moved to from Blackpool. For 40 or so years she avoided men and people in general and is said to have been living in ‘squalor’ and some poverty when she died. Such is life.

Worcester break 7.

As mentioned earlier in the week there is what I call a ‘hutment colony’, although now mostly caravans, near Camp House (s.p.b.s) beside the River Severn. The photo shows one substantial hutment. Hutment ‘colonies’ often developed after the Great War in the 1920s, sometimes earlier, in an age before strict planning regulations came into force. Such colonies might ‘evolve on farm or local authority land and comprised a motly collection of ‘self builds’ although ex-railway carriages were also popular, each compartment serving as a separate room. In Winifred Holtby’s novel, based on the south-Holderness area, the ‘Shacks’ were just such a colony although there a collection of homes, second-homes and holiday homes, the residents and tenants generally accepted by the wider community. The idea was to live in the countryside without all the constraints and responsibilities of ‘normal’ domestic life.
It was also a time when gypsies were still gypsies and tramps were tramps, before standardisation and conformity enveloped all. In some respects such a time represented a truer respect for personal freedom – although in the novel Nancy Mitchell felt humiliated at the Shacks and yearned for a proper house.
The site was probably just above the flood waters of Feb. 2019 (s.p.b.s).
In south-west Norfolk back in the 1960s there was a small ‘colony’ between West Dereham and Denver that I passed when cycling to school sports matches in Downham Market, also in Boughton there were two old railway carriages in the corner of a field – all now long-gone.

Worcester break 6.

At the Camp House (s.p.b.s) the waters of the River Severn are always flowing downstream, the extent of the tidal impact on the flow of the River being from the Severn Estuary upstream to Gloucester.
The Severn Bore, a moving wave pushing upstream, also does not reach Worcester. The ‘Bore’ results from spring-tides pushing water from the Severn Estuary into the River, to an extent it is presumably a result of the large tidal range in the Severn Estuary, one of the largest in the world at 48 feet difference in the height of the water’s surface between low tide and high tide. In places the Humber also has a large tidal range of perhaps 15 to 20 feet. The impact of spring tides in the Humberside region is not sufficient to create a bore, but with climate change?
Rowing on the River Severn, particularly in Worcester itself, is very popular. The Worcester Rowing Club has its hq. beside the River near the Racecourse and rowing is clearly encouraged as a physical activity by King’s School, a prestigious independent school based partly in the cathedral quarter buildings. Birmingham University also has a boathouse on the opposite bank to King’s School.
Rowing is clearly good exercise although it would be tempting to opt to be the one who sits at the end of the long boats and just gives orders!

Worcester break 5a.

(I still don’t understand why some pictures come up sideways when they are the right way up on the desktop), anyway another photo of the lane from Hallow to the bank of the River Severn at Camp House (s.p.b.s). So why a young mature oak tree? – simply because they are now uncommon in eastern England and not particularly common in the west. There are, it seems, hundreds of species of oak native to the northern hemisphere (are there oak trees in the southern hemisphere?), many native to lower latitudes/warmer climates.
One fine example locally is in the disused cemetery on the north side of Sculcoates Lane, Hull which is very wide-spreading and therefore must be a pedunculate oak. As oak trees can live for well over half a millenium the one in Hull must surely predate the cemetery which was first laid-out in the 1870s. I would guess the one above to be 150-200 years old.
Walking under the above tree and looking up it was clear that oaks are characterised by a dense network of branches, offshoot branches and twigs, this and their longevity explaining why each tree can support such a wide diversity of fauna.
Throughout the middle ages there are many state paper archives referencing when the monarch donated ‘oaks’ from the royal (hunting) forests for high status building projects such as cathedrals. The wood was often used in the construction of roofs above the vaults or in strenthening a tower and/or spire out of sight to visitors, although could also have been used for visble fittings such as rood screens, misericords and bishop’s chair in the quire etc. Will soon get on to the cathedral.

Worcester break 5.

Although I have no definative evidence I think that, in this part of Worcestershire at least, the River Severn has an incised river valley. This means that the original river valley is left ‘high and dry’ when changes in sea level or earth movements cause the river to start eroding a new river valey within the old one. The photo above shows a section of countryside to the north of the lane leading to the riverbank from the ‘cottage’ (s.p.b.s). The water body partly shown is a fresh water fishing lake sitting, if I am right, on the bed of the previous river’s course, the hillside the old valley bank. If this was the case the previous river-bed would have been much wider than today with extensive freshwater wetland along each valley side. Once reclaimed these riverine silt lands would have been/are fertile land, but very prone to flooding. The banks of the present River do not appear to have been artificially heightened, as with the River Hull for example, but repeated flooding has caused natural levees.

Worcester break 3.

Today’s photo shows the hillside beside the lane leading from Hallow, past the ‘cottage’, to Camp House (s.p.b.), the lower part of the hillside showing a ripple-effect in the topsoil. These don’t qualify as ‘linchets’ (lynchets) as the bedrock isn’t chalk but are they a natural feature or evidence of past man-made terracing? I would suggest the former, the result of soil slumping down the slope, usually when waterlogged, or even just ‘soil-creep’ down the surface of the bedrock (probably not far below the surface), this often seen on the lower slopes of the Yorkshire Wolds hillsides. Such surface features are farmore likely to be in evidence on permanent pasture than arable land.
The soil of the nearby arable fields is light/sandy.
A bit further down the lane towards the River Severn it becomes a ‘sunken lane’ with high hedges to either side, a feature rarely seen/never seen in eastern England these days.
The horse silhouetted on the hill-top in the evening light.