Snow: reflections on landscape, chronicles, and a walk to church

Snow is more than transformative; it is transformation itself.*

Last weekend, just shy of the vernal equinox, we had the second significant snowfall of winter. I love snow. I love listening to it and can gaze out of the window for hours making myself dizzy watching it fall in clumps or blow round the streets in incredible arching swirls. Above all I love walking in it and the sensory experiences such activity induces, particularly the excitement of fresh snowfall rendering the familiar unfamiliar.

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Politically and historically conflicted: thoughts on the Macron, May, and the Bayeux Tapestry

As everyone knows by now President Macron has agreed to loan the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK, possibly in 2022 and definitely subject to conservation decisions.* Since the announcement, I’ve been engaged in lively conversations on social media about the politics of the decision, matters of conservation and whether the Tapestry should be moved at all, as well as doing my bit to promote research and scholarship at my place of work by writing pithy comments and being interviewed by a local news channel. Such is the lot of the medievalist when their work becomes unexpectedly topical.

I am, however, genuinely conflicted about this announcement.

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Normans and identity

This post is a response to some questions on Twitter about the nature of Norman history and identity, particularly

and

I responded on Twitter, but it’s not a great medium for extended discussion, so I’ll do my best here.

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Woman in sensible swimming costume performs minor acts of environmentalism

The title of this post would not be out of place in ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’s‘ newspaper headline round.* While I would not dare to place my comic talent, such as it is, on a par with Barry Cryer et al., the echo is deliberate. This is a post inspired by Victoria Whitworth’s book Swimming with Seals and Gary Budden’s ‘Landscape Punk’. It’s a little story about a little swim on a little beach in a small part of Cornwall. Continue reading “Woman in sensible swimming costume performs minor acts of environmentalism”

In search of Orderic Vitalis

Originally published in September 2008 on ‘On boundaries’ (now defunct). Reivers is still my partner in all things, but now keeps his own blog under his real name somewhere on GitHub.

I haven’t mentioned Orderic Vitalis for at least a couple of months, so it is about time he had another post. Reivers and I have recently been on holiday in Normandy, causing one colleague to ask if I’d had a productive time in the archives as he couldn’t understand why I went on holiday to an area I research. I didn’t spend any time in archives, but I did visit, with Reivers in tow, many sites and museums. One of those was St-Evroult, home of Orderic.

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Reflections on the ‘countryside’

This blog is called ‘Landscapes of the Normans’ and so far, there’s been very little about landscapes, though rather more about Normans. As other articles and projects are now done and away, I can finally get on with drawing together the disparate threads of the landscapes project, send in the book proposal and write it [1]. Recently, a modernist friend, Matthew Kelly, wrote a long post relating to his current research on the nature state, national parks, and rewilding asking ‘what is the countryside for?’ His answer was nine-fold and for me posed interesting questions about definitions, the longue durée, and historical responses to the problem of people living on this planet.

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