Friday, 8 May 2015

Spring Bank Holiday

Because The Better Half’s (TBH) birthday falls around that time, we often go out for a short outing during the bank Holiday weekend and this year we went to Broadway. No, not that one, this one is a small town in the Cotswolds with a high street full of antique shops and restaurants offering everything from a full meal to cream tea.

A Typical view of Broadway
The reason TBH wanted to go there was to look for some brand of clothing which is found only in a very few actual shops and she knew there was one there. There is no substitute for trying something on in a shop. With internet shopping, although convenient for many things, you can only try on clothes by the long process of receiving the garment trying it and returning it by post if it does not fit and waiting for the replacement. A process that can take a week or more. So cut out all of the posting back and forth bit and go to a shop. QED We had already had a celebratory meal at TBH’s favourite Italian, Fabio’s and having indulged in a very large and very nice meal we did not need much to eat that day and certainly needed to do a bit of walking to remove the extra calories we had taken on board.

One of Britains useless signposts passed on the way

The weather was not the best for wandering around, because it was not very sunny and the wind seemed to have come directly from the Artic, but we stoically did the tourist thing having first visited the shop and acquired the new clothes desired by TBH.
One of the attractions in the area is Broadway Tower. This is one of those odd towers you find around the British countryside known as a folly. Many were built a long time ago in response to the French Revolution of 1789, although some are much more recent and really are a folly. The original towers were generally declared to be a fashionably foible of the extremely rich in order to prevent the peasants from finding out their real purpose. The idea was that if a revolution broke out in the local area, these towers could be used as a means of rapid communications. By having the towers as high as possible a beacon on the tower could be seen from a long distance. They could then use the tower signal a warning to the other nearby landowners that the feared pitchfork army was on the rampage. They there was never any great risk of revolution, but the towers were built nonetheless and now work well as tourist attractions.
The Broadway Tower

Broadway Tower was completed in 1798 designed by Capability Brown and George William 6th Earl of Coventry with the help of the architect James Wyatt. The view from the top of the tower is quite spectacular, overlooking much of the Cotswolds as it does, but it was so cold, TBH decided to stay in the car whilst I took a very quick look around with my camera at the ready.

There are several things to see inside the tower
I did not go up the tower, since it would have meant that TBH would be sitting alone in a car for a long time on her birthday outing, so I raced over to the tower, took a few shots and raced back. One notable event was that there must have been a wedding nearby because there was a bride and groom all dressed in their wedding gear being photographed by a professional photographer who was using the tower as a background. The poor woman must have been freezing, because she had a low cut wedding dress and nothing over her shoulders or back and the wind was bitter.

 In a field next to the tower were some deer of a kind that I do not recognise. They were obviously domesticated and were grazing in an enclosed field, unlike many deer that are usually free to roam, at least over the large area of a private estate. Looking across the open landscape you can always see bright yellow fields of rape seed, which are grown extensively around our region and no doubt elsewhere in the country. In fact on the journey out and back, you could hardly travel a mile without coming across another yellow field.
Thew view from the ground outside the tower. Plenty of yellow fields.

This made me wonder what happens to all this rape seed. I know that you can buy bottles of rape seed oil for cooking and it is supposed to be better for you than any other kind of cooking oil. In the supermarkets, this kind of oil is very expensive compared to other kinds of cooking oil. This despite the obvious fact that we seem to be growing the stuff in huge quantities judging by the amount of yellow fields we encounter at this time of year. What kind of yield does a farm get per hundred acres? In North Dakota, they were reported to be getting around a hundred gallons of oil per acre. That is not imperial gallons, so under one hundred over here and we may have better farming conditions than ND, which suffers much longer colder winters. I have not found any figures for the UK, but considering that it looks like half the countryside is growing the stuff, what makes the price so darn high?
More yellow on the way home

Anyway, just another little moan to add to my reputation as an old curmudgeon.