The contrasts of colonial Durban

Having spent a year in England, I was primed for the colonial side of Durban. The colonial street names are on their way out as we encounter double barreled street names like Solomon Maglangu rather than singular names such as Moore road. I have no idea who Edwin Swales is so I am happy to see him go.  I am quite happy to see more african changes. But there is still places like Victoria embankment and Queensborough. In fact the colonial side of Durban is very difficult to erase.
So I went to visit the colonial centre of Durban, and little England it is, from the sweet little hanging baskets (the pay and display parking also very reminiscent of olde England),

to the surprisingly undamaged royal statues and arches.

This is the city hall20170413_142008

Identified as South African from the cycads in front. (could be India from the palms).

In this precinct there are, as in all of Durban, the most amazing trees tat have just burst fort in flower. The alien police have not got here yet. This comes from Madagascar..looks like a normal tree for most of the year and then suddenly bursts into these amazing inflorescences. South African plants are beautiful, but some of these foreigners are utterly stunning.

No this was very british. Its the playhouse theatre

Teir shows are, however very African in style although they may have european origins. Inside it is quite stunning..with some very African artifacts. How about an African style corset?

The other import from Britain was the buying up of tickets and reselling them with an additional 50% price tag, I discovered when I wanted to see Handels Messiah over Easter. Someone called Zee had bought “too many tickets”. Strangely she hadnt even paid for them yet…sounds like some inside job too.

Open a space, and Africa will fill it. And so I wandered into a vibrant flea market

with some stunning shweshwe clothing (not shown here) and beadwork.

There were amazing fever trees..my favourite African tree..I love the colour of their trunks and the generous spread of their canopies.20170413_144122

There were also relics of the colonial and apartheid masters juxtaposed between the lightness of the market.20170413_144152

Open spaces also mean busking and this was a play with the audience. Difference to Blighty..less white skin thats all.20170413_143307

An odd and largely unnoticed sculpture was this Eduardo Villa’s mother and child. His sculptures appear in odd places in Sout Africa, and is a comment on te soft roundness of Africa compared to the hard sharpness of Western intellect. An unsung ant-Western commentator.20170413_142710

Ten I walked through the alleys to the Docks and unexpectedly in a dark narrow alley, I found this:

Rather taken over by a huge concrete monstrosity.

Durban has enormously diverse architecture..none of it all together but interspersed with hideous uncared for blocks. below is a beautiful art Deco building next to this pink thing.

This is on prime estate overlooking the harbour. Durban has these orphans needing paint and love but some may be too awful to do anything about. This is the view from these buildings.

And so I drove home, passing these iconic (art deco?) warehouses that sets the imagination off when you consider that they could be filled to the brim with sugar. 20170413_152322

London in 4 days again

I decided to reverse the way I came to the UK, but going by bus to London for 4 days and then on to the airport. So I booked into the Hostel I was in before. Luckily tings had improved there over the year. They got rid of the miserable front staff and now have polite and helpful people (this was a major complaint on their website) They also had improved their entrance and gave free wi-fi instead of charging an arm and a leg for it. I was put one floor lower, whew, those stairs are a killer, but it was in season so my 6 bed room was full of 6 sweaty people. It was hot and muggy and the window opened only very slightly. Also because of Health and safety fire rules, every lading was closed by a fire door. Now I am sure that no fire would spread there, but the health of the occupants wrt fresh air was definitely compromised. Its funny how some issues take precedence over others..too bad if you cant breathe, at least you wont get burnt down. One fat Italian had luckily bought a fan that he kept running and we opened the fire door with a fire hydrant.

Unfortunately the same fat Italian was also a LOUD snorer. My earplugs were not designed for those decibels, but somehow, amongst the other MALE snorers, I managed to sleep. (As I said before, the rooms were mixed male/female..but I was the only female.

London was full of tourists, as it was holidays for most. This gave it a good vibe too. So I planned to meet some of my OLD friends there.

I first planned to go to Camden market to get some souvenirs to take home, despite the fact that I literally had no place in my suitcase, which was already overweight, but I decided to throw away some clothes,  I had got too fat for. (yes, despite all that exercise and healthy food, I had put on weight! I put it down to the huge amount of carbs you end up eating on a low protein vegetarian diet, as you are constantly hungry. Also the fact that you cant buy a small bar of chocolate..they are ENORMOUS..so you end up eating it all in one sitting.) Camden market is some place you wont see anywhere. I had come previously with Amie (a German girl who had volunteered previously in SA and came to visit me in England).

They had this zulu restaurant with boerewors rolls for R180! (9 pounds).

I thought that I should first go to Portobello road market, as I had not yet been there. Well after that I didnt really need to go to Camden market, as I got all my souvenirs there. Its an incredibly long street lined with market stalls and shops, but difficult to find, as its not advertised.

There was this shop with literally hundreds of old singer sewing machines that echoed a similar one in camden market. In Malawi they would have been used, not just posing in the windows.

I wished I could buy more, but my bulging suitcase said no. I thought of sending some things home by post, but the cost was prohibitive. (R2000 for 5 kg). So more clothes got turfed out.

The next day I met my OLD friend, Andrew, and we walked to Kensington castle, which was where Lady Di used to live. Well, I am sure I would also have been depressed there..what an ugly square building..just lots of square rooms, and the garden was so formal and full of tourists. I am sure the paparazzi were lurking at every corner.

Then we found the memorial to prince Albert, the love of queen Victoria. Well you cant miss it..it is HUGE. She must have really loved him. At each corner of the memorial was a statue commemorating the conquered lands: Africa, Asia, Europe and America..it looked like she did it all for him.

Coming from an ex-colony, I was not impressed, and wondered what the “Rhodes must fall” group would have done. London is FULL of colonial relics. I found that the street leading to Trafalgar square had a statue of a (male) war hero very 100 yards or so, I began to wonder if that was all that was commemorated. then I found one for all The FEMALE war heroes…but war heroes nevertheless.

The worst was finding the funeral mask of Lord Kitchener in ST PAULS CATHEDRAL. He was responsible for the slash and burn tactics that led to the establishment of the first Concentration camps in South Africa during the Boer war that the Germans emulated so sadly in the second world war. Eventually 26,370 Afrikaner women and children (81% were children) died in the concentration camps. I am not surprised that he is guarded behind an iron gate, as I am sure his memorial would have been defaced.20160801_133435.[.

Frederick Joubert Duquesne, a Boer soldier and spy, claimed that he had assassinated Kitchener after an earlier attempt to kill him in Cape Town failed. I was shocked that such a cruel man was lying in state in one of the most important Cathedrals. I wonder if one day he would be brought to justice by the ICC. (The ICC seems biased towards Africans and Germans)

Another sculpture that had SA echoes, was this one in Hyde park called ” Physical energy”. 20160730_180547Three of these sculptures were created and one is at the Rhodes memorial in Cape Town! The artist: George Frederic Watts. It was dedicated to Cecil John Rhodes, but the plaque does not mention him at all.

Watts said the statue was “a symbol of that restless physical impulse to seek the still unachieved in the domain of material things”. This was particularly appropriate for Cecil Rhodes, made his fortune before he was 30 and in 1880 established the De Beers mining company, which has dominated the diamond industry ever since.

Rhodes used his wealth to try to extend the British Empire in Africa from the Cape of Good Hope in the south to Cairo in the north. Rhodes’ dream came true shortly after he died when Britain took control of one million square miles of the Transvaal at the end of the Boer Wars. Rhodes left his fortune to Oxford University to fund the Rhodes Scholarships. the third sculpture is in Harare, Zimbabwe. “Rhodes must fall” would have  a field day in London.

Talking about de Beers and gold and diamonds, we went to Harrods, and at last I saw where all the money has gone..well the SA gold and diamonds. As Trevor Noah said Britain never thought of giving the gold back, but that we could win it back at the olympics, one gold medal at a time. (I found out that each gold medal contains 0.1 ounce of gold. Thats a lot of medals to win!)

Harrods has to be seen to be believed. It is really a hub for the ultra rich, I am surprised they dont charge you to go in. Frankly, its quite embarrassing in its opulence in a world of so much poverty. When you flaunt riches like that, you are asking for economic migrants to come to your country. (I also wonder how much can be truly said to be earned rather than stolen at some point in history and even still.) I am afraid I felt quite sick.

The fashion, however, was unusual and creative, but totally unaffordable.

We walked down Baker street, where people were queueing to go two by two into Sherlock Holmes’ tiny house at 221B, 20160730_142348then we  went to Regents park, where we were serenaded by the open air theatre that was staging Jesus Christ Superstar, and sounded magnificent although we could only hear it. Other typical scenes were bobbies on the beat that still wear those Mr Plod hats, women doing a race for cancer awareness and many street performers..mostly levitators.

The next day I went to meet a colleague from Constantia Waldorf school..Eva Binamu, who is now Eva Godfrey, our wonderfully popular and under appreciated (by staff) eurhythmy teacher who is excelling at Kings Langley Waldorf school in London.

We had trouble meeting each other, as London roads were blocked off by a bicycle race similar to the Argus in cape town, (but not as big, even though they say theyre the biggest in the world..I have checked..its not as long and not as many people ride it). it raises funds for charity..see the flags and see my previous post about charity in the UK.

So finally we met at Kings cross station which is huge. 20160731_164822The Eurostar to Paris leaves from here and so does the Hogwarts express, where I saw platform 9 and 3 quarters..with everyone in line trying to get a photograph next to a baggage trolley.

The new harry potter had just come out and a harry potter shop was doing a roaring trade in wands,owls and funny sweets.

The queue was too long to buy any momentoes. It was lovely seeing Eva, and we had a good skinder..although she’s too sweet to skinder. It was good to see how fully involved she was..a member of college and board, and planning to start a school in Tanzania.

Last and not least, I went to the Tate Modern again. A new wing had been opened that I wanted to see. 20160801_101817By this time, my feet LITERALLY were blistered from walking, so I took the tube. First to Big ben and watched the hundreds of ways people were photographing it in all kinds of ways.

Then to the millenium bridge, which I walked over, admiring the contrasting views of St Pauls cathedral and the shard.

There were some of my favourite artists like Kandinsky, Matisse,

but not their best works, but the Picasso was my all time favourite,the weeping women, that I had seen many years ago in Paris. 20160801_115835I ventured into the new wing that had HUGE spaces for HUGE art pieces.20160801_101658 The installations were so odd: this was a mirrored installation, used as an excuse for a selfie20160801_102210…that I found I had mistaken an office for an installation. 20160801_110642I found an interesting African artist making a comment on colonialism using a colonial desk, gold bullion and money. 20160801_104608Active installations like the one of Marina Abramovic, who lets herself be abused by the pubic by displaying a host of items on a table that can be put on her, then videoing the results;20160801_105816 and another woman artist from Bangladore, who uses human hair to knit these great spider webs. 20160801_112138However, the installation that electrified the audiences who could not stop photographing was that of Jane Alexander, a South African artist who used a the red kalahari soil and created a  surreal 3 dimensional landscape that stopped you in your tracks, with Chandeliers dripping from the ceiling, a commentary in the appropriate place on colonialism.

And so, my exploration of my colonial roots ended as I passed some vandalized bicycles to remind me that Britain is not so different to SA.

and  in me pushing my overfull bags to the bus stop using a Tesco trolley bergie style, as I refused to pay the exorbitant taxi fare to get around the corner. I didnt take a photo of that! But this is me at the airport, using the disabled toilet so that I could get my baggage in with me, taking a selfie in the mirror.A20160802_123834

And so I headed home, having had some enlightening experiences and also VERY glad to be back in SA. My next blog will be looking at my own country from British eyes.20160803_081312

LAST TRAVELS IN THE COTSWOLDS AN ARTY PAINSWICK EXPERIENCE

I had one weekend left in the Cotswolds, as I had decided to spend my last days in London and to reverse the process of arriving. So, still not being able to sell my car yet, I decided to make good use of it and go driving to Cheltenham to find that horrible building that houses the English secret services..yes, its a huge building that makes sure that everything s under control..control..control…, listens in to conversations, monitors the CCVTV (commonly called the sharks). Well, I didnt quite manage to get there, because I found something much more interesting along the way. At a little village was a festival of costume and design.

Painswick has the strangest church graveyard. It has 100 yew trees, all clipped into various spooky shroud shapes..not a place you want to go at night.

Anyway, they have an odd charity that offers design courses and an annual couture festival where you can enter a costume you have designed using some upcycled materials to create some fantasy. It was set in the graveyard at the church..rather an odd but fascinating setting.

Many designs had fantasy themes:

Some were more futuristic:

Some had themes from stories:

Some were just odd:

This one was a brilliant African one before and with full regalia:

There was a childrens section too:

These were dummies with clothes from previous years:

 

Then there was also a body paint section in a separate hall. These had come out for a smoke:

I am not sure who won the competitions as I left before the end. I never quite found the MI6 headquarters building, but it looks like this: It is naturally called the doughnut.unnamed

Tintagel a search for King Arthur

It is very odd for me that British people do not like to be identified with mythology and legends and magic, and would prefer facts to fiction. So any references to King Arthur always have some caveat alluding to the fact that its “just” a legend. To me this Mysterious and magical past is to be celebrated. King Arthur is more than a romantic legend, and whether he was real or not, much of him is hidden deep in the British Psyche..maybe too deep for many.  Yet you will find all kinds of things about King Arthur popping up here and there, and for me, its what makes Britain more than a little Island in The Atlantic.  These were sculptures in a park that I happened by chance to come across in Wales of king Arthur and various other legendary figures near Tintern Abbey.

Being a South African, I have realised that much of my education has been colonial. The stories of Britain are also my own.. the stories of my childhood. And so, of course I went searching for “Camelot” at Tintagel on the north coast of Cornwall. Nobody knows where Camelot is (since it is only a legend), but to get to Tintagel, you have to cross a river called the Camel and past a town called Camelford..it doesnt take much to add lot to Camel. So it is agreed that Tintagel, in Cornwall,  is the homeground of King Arthur.

Cornwall is quite different to the rest of England. It is a much more open landscape with smaller trees. 20160430_113742There are hundreds of wind generators dotting the countryside. Some of an older design that doesn’t work so well. I assume its because the wind blows a lot here.20160430_103401 My OLD friend, Anthony works at the national grid, and his job is to distribute the electricity coming in and he said that when the wind blows, they suddenly have to cope with a huge amount of energy flooding in. However, it is heartening to know that some countries do have both wind farms and solar farms.

I hate tourism, as whole towns find every which way to exploit it. Here Tintagel was no different, charging a fortune just to park..as usual. So with a short time at my disposal with the pay and display meters dotted EVERYWHERE, I walked to “Camelot”. 20160430_114332Well the castle viewed from a distance is fairly new and is really just a Hotel cum tourist castle where they have all kinds of touristy things. (Apparently they used the facade for the Dracula movies in 1979 as Dr Sewards asylum)

But I walked on along the path to the real castle..which is not king Arthurs castle but that of an Earl who was taken with the Arthurian legends.

A castle was built on the site by Richard, Earl of Cornwall in the 13th century, during the Later Medieval period, after Cornwall had been subsumed into the kingdom of England. It later fell into disrepair and ruin. The castle has a long association with Arthurian legends. This began in the 12th century when Geoffrey of Monmouth described Tintagel as the place of Arthur’s conception in his “fictionalized” account of British history, the Historia Regum Britanniae. Geoffrey told the story that Arthur’s father King Uther Pendragon was disguised by Merlin’s sorcery to look like Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, the husband of Igraine, Arthur’s mother.

It is owned by Charles, Prince of Wales as part of the landholdings of the Duchy of Cornwall, the site is currently managed by English Heritage. (The people of Cornwall have objected to English heritage taking it over as they are touristifying it more.)

The day was wonderfully clear and the natural landscape was incredible and needed no touristifying. Looking high over a natural harbour with water rushing into Merlins caves. One could see that this could be a place to find safety in a storm.

Legend has it that Joseph of Arimathea,  by which the poem hymn of William Blake is an icon of British hymnary: ‘And did those feet in ancient time, walk upon England, who donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus after Jesus’ crucifixion escaped here with Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail. There are many tin mines in the area, and there was a family connection with Joseph and tin mining. There is a Cornish story how “Joseph of Arimathea came in a boat to Cornwall, and brought the child Jesus with him, and the latter taught him how to extract the tin.” This story possibly grew out of the fact that the Jews under the Angevin kings farmed the tin of Cornwall.

There is a bridge that connects the main land to the blip where the castle was built. 20160430_120135The bridge is now going to be rebuilt according to some amazing design that has symbolic meaning. Of course they charge you an arm and a leg to go on it. I was happy to see it all from the bridge, as again I had no time to explore, on account of needing to rescue my car from the car park. I felt I got enough of the atmosphere of it. You have to spend a whole day there and bring a picnic.

I went back to south Devon via north Devon, where I had tea at this lovely untouched village, before returning via Dartmoor. That is another story.20160430_153618

The Eden Project.. a brief encounter with Cape Town

 

 

I was foolish enough to offer to do a main lesson with class 9 at Alexandra’s  school in Devon, as she was a bit overloaded with work and this is another story. This meant, however, that I was lucky as she offered to let me camp in her home for two whole weeks in Totnes. I took this opportunity to not only experience a British Waldorf school, but to explore further South. So, since I had time on my hands, as I only taught 2 hours a day, I went exploring South Devon and Cornwall. Well I didn’t expect to have a brief encounter with Cape Town while I was there.

I had heard of the Eden project, first when I did a main lesson on platonic solids and discovered these geodesic domes, commonly called bucky balls, ( which is a truncated icosahedron discovered initially by Archimedes, now used in the making of soccer balls) was also used to make these huge buildings to house a biome of plants from different areas of the world. A geodesic dome makes a stable closed “sphere” that is structurally quite stable, and was popularised by Buckminster Fuller, a wacky architect. This shape of alternating hexagons and pentagons, is also used to describe the structure of Carbon 60, as it strangely forms balls that have 60 molecules stuck together.

And yes, they are HUGE. I went simply to experience the scale of it. It is expensive to get in, and since I only arrived at 4pm, I felt I couldn’t justify R500 to get in. Yes, you can come in for free for a year after that, but it was unlikely that I would be back within a year. (Privately I think they do this to make you feel better about parting with your money. ) However, they let me in without paying, as I was late and I was amazed at the scale of it…no words can describe.20160505_164114

These HUGE biomes are kept at the atmospheric conditions of each area, and I went to the tropical zone, which was hot and humid to the point at which it is uncomfortable.  20160505_165221Another biome was hot and dry, and this was the Mediterranean region and tucked way at the same conditions was South Africa. Well it was a hodge podge of south Africa, mainly focused on fynbos, but I caught a welcome glimpse of pelargoniums and proteas.

The Eden project is quite wonderfully unique in that it was developed out of a derelict clay quarry not so long ago (in plant terms). 20160505_163336There is still much that is still newly planted. But it is an astounding project run on charity money. (That still did not encourage me to pay, as I am a charity case myself, especially at the current exchange rate, although, just so that you think I am snoep, I would have if I had a whole day to explore). There are also many eating places selling eco-friendly food. The eco-focused shop was huge with very interesting gifts.

There are also interesting sculptures scattered here and there like this around the grape vines of a bacchanalia in action. This made of old motor parts and this ENORMOUS bee.

Unfortunately I had to race back, as it was my last night with Alexandria and her wonderful family and she was cooking an amazing spring lamb dinner. Here is Alexandra and Alastair, cooking up a storm while bopping to the radio. Thanks, friend.20160505_193954

 

LONDON TO GET A SCHENGEN VISA (“LUCKILY” FOR TECHNOLOGY)

 

As a South African, I need a Schengen visa to visit Europe, and honestly, the process is as bad as applying for a British one. One would think that, having a British visa would allow me entrance to Europe, since they are part of the EU, but no such luck.

It is all very strange that every Schengen country has different rules in order to get a Schengen visa, yet, when you get it, you have three months to travel to any Schengen country you like. Also the form you fill in is the same for all Schengen countries. I first tried to get one for Spain. Well, many conflicting websites later, I found I had to go through an intermediary..and then scan their website daily to get an appointment. This was my first encounter with the technology needed to be a traveler in this side of the world.

I then decided I would try for the French and the Spanish visa at the same time and see which was more efficient. I managed eventually to get appointment at the French one, so carried on there. Their rules were incredibly bureaucratic and illogical. You cant go ANYWHERE without a hotel booking (via some website or other..I am not sure that AIR BNB counts as a hotel. I thought the best way was to have a place to stay with Agathe, my fellow French volunteer, but you have to have a letter of invitation, which she duly wrote,

Well, the only place you can get a visa is in London..for the entire country..hows that for first world organisation! In SA there are 3 places..Cape town, Pretoria and Durban. You have to go in person for “Biometrics” , where they photograph you and fingerprint you..all electronic. So I took a day off to go to London, which is 100miles from where I live.

Well it went smoothly driving there, finding a cheap all day parking (When I say cheap, its R100) and then going in with the tube.

The tube to the station I needed (olympia) wasn’t running at the time, (technology failure!), so, I got out at the previous tube station, and luckily I knew where I was from my previous visit (see blog 1) and so headed where I thought I was going..on foot (luckily for feet). Well. It took me 3 hours to find the place..luckily I gave it plenty of time.20160401_160122 some high street art I found along the way.

Luckily for smart phones that I could find the address on opera mini, but ran out of airtime to get google maps, then couldnt load new airtime due to a technological hitch at Vodacom.

At first they wouldn’t let me in without my invitation..which I had failed to print. Luckily for smart phones, I could call it up. Then they usually scan your bags for instruments of destruction..except, at that point, the searcher had to go to the loo, and so I just walked in (Luckily for non-technological human needs) so they did not find my pen knife.

Well there were three levels of checking my application. One at the reception desk, where they pointed out a mistake in my date, but let me through. The second wouldn’t let me through, and I had to fill in a new form because of the date error. They also found that my ferry ticket didn’t have my name on the page with the details, and my insurance didn’t have the dates but the number of days. Then they said, my letter of invitation from Agathe wasn’t the official one..which is supposed to be a form that the inviter has to fill in and have stamped by their local councillor. Now Agathe is still in England..it would have been a little difficult for her to go home to France, get the form, go to her councillor and get it signed, just so that I could come and stay.

Then they said I had applied for the wrong visa as I was visiting friends and not touring (tourist visa). (I wondered why you cant do both).  So either I had to have Hotel bookings for my entire trip, including where I planned to go to in Spain, or I had to apply for  visiting visa and fill in a new form. She said “For all we know you will be sleeping on the streets”. No room for changing your mind or being impulsive here. But I suppose the world is on paranoia alert. I might even want to stay there and become a refugee in the Jungle, while I await their magnanimous concession to live and work there. Who knows, I come from Africa after all…third world and desperate for civilizing.

I also noticed that the people awaiting Schengen visas were mostly Chinese with a smattering of Africa and Arab. ( the discriminated few..no Americans, no Australians…why not? Are they more worthy than us lowly citizens? Less prone to asylum seeking?..perhaps)

Well eventually I did fill in a new form, applying as a visitor, and with some persuasion, I just asked them to submit it. It then goes to the next level..which is the consulate..who MAY be more lenient, as I had enough money to support me..had to provide bank statements, a letter for Ruskin mill that I was working there, plus pay slips of my meager stipend. I also had to have at least 3 months on my British visa AFTER I return. (Other countries do not have this regulation).

The third level was the Biometrics and hefty payment, that I would lose if they refused my visa. At this point, I stopped caring. I am only going for 2 weeks, for heavens sake, is it really worth it just to see a few mouldy buildings? I decide at that point that I was done with traveling. Give me a hole I can creep in with no smart phones, no wi-fi, somewhere in my own warm country. Really, traveling is just another myth promoted by good advertising and glossy photos. In fact I wont postpone my stay, as planned, and I will get back at the soonest convenience..luckily for airplanes, and forget my down Africa trip. From now on I agree with Byron, I wont go anywhere that requires a visa…its all a money making scam and not worth the effort. In fact, Home is where the Heart is.

Well 2 hours later, I entered busy London again. Saw an old Fiat 500. I used to have an old green Fiat 850 called snarley. 20160401_154302I was going to visit Maurice (another lost OLD friend) for  coffee next to the Serpentine, but that was scuppered by time at the consulate mostly and his family obligations. I thought of visiting a couple of museums and places, but  didn’t feel the yen. I went past the Olympia exhibition centre, which had a wacky bright green and purple carpet with an exhibition of home ware…lovely space, but homeware? Not for me who has no home at present.20160401_155501 Went to an exhibition of contemporary Arab art. Then felt that maybe I shouldn’t if I am trying to get a visa for Europe. They might think I am plotting something.20160401_162148

So I took the tube back to my car 20160401_164655and drove back to Nailsworth, happy to reach my cosy room and a bath.

THE FISHERY AT RUSKIN MILL

THE FISHERY AT RUSKIN MILL
Probably the only Biodynamic Fishery in the world, Ruskin mill took over a commercial trout fishery and now run it biodynamically and use it to teach skills at the college. As with everything at Ruskin Mill, there are corners here of beauty that make it unique. Whoever heard of a beautiful Fishery?:The beautiful ponds circulated with flowforms is what makes Ruskin Mill what it is.

There is the all encompassing roof seeded with soil and growing hair.20160115_084822  A lone wooden sculpture of a heron with a couple of real ones standing hopefully around the fish ponds waiting for a break in the netting to steal a fish. Occasional kingfishers also flit in and out this landscape. There are otters and crayfish hiding in the shallows of the pure streams that feed the ponds. and many springs.

Then there is this exquisite totem pole made with wood carvings and copper mouldings.

This metal bridge is also unique.20160226_113526 But best of all is the landscape. The various colours of dog wood show their colours when the leaves fall off in winter.20160226_113931
The water flows from a lake, held high by a bank, which then allows the water to flow through rapidly. 20160311_095154There used to be a water wheel generating some electricity but this is no longer in use. 20160115_083956The water is then aerated and regenerated through the ponds by flow forms, moving in step from pond to pond.
Once a week, brown indigenous trout are harvested for our Friday fish and chips and some are smoked at the smokery. Here some students and Aaron, the tutor are netting some fish in a similar way to the fishoek trek fishermen but on a smaller scale.


There is also a hatchery with thousands of baby fish waiting to enter the waters. It takes about 2 years before they are big enough to harvest.


Our responsibility, as volunteers, has been to clear neglected areas of reed and bramble. Here we are in waders setting out to clear the ponds.IMG-20160208-WA0002

 

We have also been dredging the silt from the stream that enters the ponds. Hidden is the reward of uncovering beautiful landscapes and these kinds of sculptures behind the reeds.

Aaron manages the fish farm, which is a big job to maintain.This is the hatchery where the eggs and sperm are milked and then fertilized. These are the thousands of baby trout that will be placed into the ponds as they mature.

The ponds are linked and are drained by pulling out a long pipe “plug” that drains at the top and filled by putting it in so that it continues to let the water move without letting the fish out. Its stops the ponds overflowing, as when the water reaches the top, it flows through without letting the fish out.

The ponds need mist nets to prevent the total plundering of the fish by all manner of birds and otters.

The water flows into a beautiful lake in front of the mill before flowing off into Nailsworth and beyond.20151123_085645