30 Wild Days: day 21 – Roses on the Longest Day

So I would like to say that I was up at dawn watching the sun rise on the summer solstice at some prehistoric site… But that would be a lie. I was up early, but it was entirely related to the wild ones.

Anyway, as if to mark the start of summer my neighbours roses seemed to be blooming.
Roses are often named in love spell, and rose water was used to ward off evil.

However, it is supposed to be bad luck if a petal falls when a flower is cut.

We were just happy to enjoy them

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Dear Prof. Dawkins…

“Is it a good thing to go along with the fantasies of childhood, magical as they are? Or should we be fostering a spirit of scepticism?”

“I think it’s rather pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism – we get enough of that anyway”

The likelihood of me ever meeting Prof. Dawkins is very slim, and I would imagine my kind of research wouldn’t interest him in the slightest, but if i was to meet him following his, rather extraordinary, statements at the Cheltenham Science Festival, I would like to say this.

Prof. Dawkins, Richard if I may, as a scientist you seem not to checked your data set very thoroughly. You state that  “Even fairy tales, the ones we all love, with wizards or princesses turning into frogs or whatever it was. There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it’s statistically too improbable.” Correct, it is statistically too improbable, but that is not the reason for the story, at least the non disneyfied versions anyway.

Fairy stories teach us many things, but a belief in the supernatural, in my opinion (for what it is worth), is a long way down that list.

They teach us that bad things happen to good people (Beauty and the Beast), that sometimes we can’t always have what we wish for (The Little Mermaid), and if we do, it doesn’t always go well (Pinocchio). We see that sometimes good acts aren’t rewarded, and sometimes we can get hurt for trying to help (Rapunzel’s prince). Stories like Hansel and Gretel tell us as children that the world can be dangerous, and those that are supposed to care for us sometimes fail us.

Fairytales can be a child’s first glimpse at some of life’s toughest lessons, but also have a wonderment that can spark imagination and curiosity. Armed with this arsenal of ideas and images, perhaps later a natural need to question and scepticism will grow.

Surely even the most hardened scientist can see that exposure to such information as this doesn’t lead to an unquestioning blind faith in everything supernatural, the statistics (to paraphrase) don’t add up to that either…

Another short walk – Signs and Symbols in a coastal town

This gallery contains 12 photos.

I’ve mostly been thinking about/working on a non-landscape related commission lately, but I am always interested in the capturing a sense of place, and movement through landscapes. A couple of days ago I took a very wet walk through a coastal town; the conditions were shocking and in no way good photography weather, but I […]

Slight Return (or ‘The Sign of Four’)

I’ve neglected this blog over the last few months. Not completely my fault you understand, there are reasons for my tardiness; the first being the late stages of pregnancy and subsequent arrival of my now 11 week old. But the main reason is the frustrating situation I found myself in waiting to hear about possible funding sources.

I’m in a funny position. Being a honorary researcher sometimes finding funding is tricky as you’re associated with (in my case) a brilliant institution/department, but in many cases unable to get finances under your own right. This means I’m reliant on selling my research proposals to ‘proper’ academics without seeming like a mercenary and, sometimes, before they are truly formed, in order to secure a institution from which to co-bid from. (put into the mix that I also have a day job that requires me first and foremost to secure grants for other academics, the time I have to formulate ideas in the first place is precious but often in short supply…)

My choice of research doesn’t always help either – in many instances too academic or archaeologically focused for those interested in folklore, myths and stories, but too unusual for the more traditional landscapists.

So I found myself going round and around during the twilight part of last year with a book proposal that was universally liked but “didn’t fit the current list” of a number of publishing houses, a funding opportunity that I’d been approached about several months prior going cold, and requests for information going unanswered.

Combine that with late pregnancy hormones and I’d about had enough….

So, skip forward a couple of months. I’d had a break from academia (which is the joy of the honorary position – it allows a little breathing space) and with Little ‘un at school, and Littlest ‘un asleep I opened my inbox; four emails stood out:

  1. The return of pilot project funding I thought was dead and buried
  2. A possible book commission
  3. An approach for research collaboration
  4. Agreement to work on a large proposal

Four simple correspondences, but to me four signs to keep going and ride the rough with the smooth.

The game as they say is on…

Once upon a time…

As I start on a new research project, I wanted to make a space to collect and share folklore, old wives tales, local saying etc, and explore their place in past and present landscapes.

In particular I’m interested in how certain stories collect in particular places and focus on archaeological remains.

Please feel free to comment, share, and add to any post here.

The new project is at its very start, and more information to follow, but is building on ideas and research I’ve worked on for a while.

From little acorns….