It was actually sunny today. What I call a proper winter’s day, with clear blue skies, sharp and bright colours, and a bit of a chill in the air to remind you that it isn’t, yet, quite Spring. The relief, after so very many days of drab grey skies and driving rain, was considerable. Sadly the rain in the night meant that the gardening I had in mind was out of the question, even on my well drained soil, so I went for a little stroll instead.
I grew up in a small close of houses that had been built on the site of the old vicarage, which was strangely placed on the very outskirts of our village, some distance from the church itself. It was an old village, there was a settlement there in pre Roman times, and it is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Unsurprisingly it had a village green, which, despite the lack of a duck pond, was occasionally used for gatherings. I vividly remember being one of the children to dance around the maypole, I seem to remember us getting hopelessly tangled.
I think I had always thought of village greens as being quintessentially English, but they are actually found in older settlements throughout mainland Europe, the UK, and the US. Typically an area of grassland at the center of a settlement, the village green was a shared resource, where the community could graze animals, gather for meetings or celebrations. In Cemaes we have not one, but two.
The first is actually the Harbour, which I suppose makes sense given the official legal definition of a Village Green in the Commons Registration Act of 1965 as land:
- which has been allotted by or under any Act for the exercise or recreation of the inhabitants of any locality
- or on which the inhabitants of any locality have a customary right to indulge in lawful sports and pastimes
- or if it is land on which for not less than twenty years a significant number of the inhabitants of any locality, or of any neighbourhood within a locality, have indulged in lawful sports and pastimes as of right
Apparently, it has to be used “for 20 years without force, secrecy or request”!! So I suppose the harbour, being used for very many more than 20 years for the lawful sport of fishing, would definitely qualify.
Still not exactly the traditional area of grass with a duck pond though, is it! Though we do have plenty of ducks…
The second village green is up on the headland above the beach closest to us.
No maypole here, but at least there is plenty of grass – that kind of tussocky, bouncy grass that makes you want to run and jump.
It’s a glorious spot, with panormaic views out across the bay, and the start of the section of coastal footpath that runs past Wylfa Power Station to Cemlyn. The coast here is fabulously rocky, with lots of those inlets which the waves make booming noises in as the tide rises.
I have mentioned the spectacular rock formations in this area – indeed, in the whole Island – before, and in recognition of this Anglesey is an internationally recognized Geopark. The Anglesey Geopark project, GeoMôn, recently created a geotrail on this headland. Designed to help people understand the rich geologically structure of the area, there are a series of stone pillars with selections of rocks glued to them, one for each of the geological periods represented in the local rock formations. The pillars are spaced out around the village green, the distance between then being proportional to the distance between the geological time periods represented. Some day I would like to go on one of the guided walks that explains it all, but in the mean time, the information boards are, well, informative, and the range of rocks on display is staggering. I remain extremely ignorant, but the names are beguiling.
Take the pre-cambrian era. The rocks here are Bluechist, Limestone, Jasper, Granite and Mica schist.
My personal favourite, the Ordovician period display, which apparently consists of the rather boring-sounding Ironstone, Sandstone and Sinter. Actually I rather like the sound of Sinter, but goodness, who wouldn’t want to know more about the Ordovician period!
I found the little pebble collection amusing, it is so reminiscent of what I – and various visitors – can be seen carting back from the beach. These are – I kid you not – “Pebble Erratics” from, wait for it, “many different ages”!!
I have always thought of geology as being rather a dusty subject, or have since I understood that you couldn’t “just do volcanos”, but I suspect that the right guide could enthuse children with these displays, particularly as you can then point to the places on the coast and beaches where you can find these rocks in situ, so to speak. I think it is wonderful that the trail is here, and I wouldn’t mind one of these bench sets in my garden, either, though I think pinching one would require the kind of heavy machinery that is likely to get you noticed, dead of night or not…
Neither of the village greens in Cemaes is exactly what the term conjurs up, but I am grateful I live somewhere that has them both, and although the recycled plastic benches that the parish council has added to the headland since the GeoMôn display was created lack the romance of the stone benches, they are rather more comfortable to sit on, and today, just to be able to sit gazing out over the blue sea and sky was a welcome respite from the grey.
There wasn’t a lot to look at, plant-wise, on my little jaunt, but I am really hoping one of you can enlighten my ignorance just a little bit, and tell me what this plant is?
It grows on either side of the lane leading up to the headland, and I have absolutely no idea what it is, and have so far failed to identify it online…Update: Thanks to Sue@Green Lane Allotments, who pointed me in the direction of mallows, I think it is a tree mallow…