Country Life Today: Happy Apple Day, and the sad mystery of the Coventry wagtails

In today's round up, we celebrate the rich tradition of British apples, experience first-hand what the world will be like if climate change is not halted and look at a sculpture that has been saved for the nation through listing.

Celebrate Apple Day

Today sees the UK’s annual celebration of apples and orchards. Launched in 1990, the event is not only a way to pay tribute to a staple of the British diet but also an opportunity to reflect on the richness and distinctiveness of heritage apple varieties, ensuring they are preserved for the future. And of course it’s the perfect excuse to enjoy a glass of cider…

Full details (Common Ground)

Climate emergency future revealed in hard-hitting installation

A new immersive experience at the National Trust’s Montacute House, near Yeovil, in Somerset, shows what life will be like in 2050 if temperatures keep rising.

Using augmented reality and CGI imagery, it contrasts a heavily polluted world wrecked by climate change, with the rich wildlife and environment we can have if we curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

The installation encourages people to do their bit by using smart meters to reduce their energy consumption.

Full story (Somerset Live)

Hepworth sculpture saved for Cheltenham through listing

A Cheltenham building that features a sculpture by Dame Barbara Hepworth on its façade has been granted Grade II-listed status, ensuring the artwork won’t be removed from it.

Installed in 1972 on the then newly-built Cheltenham House, in Clarence Street, the tryptic, called Theme and Variations, was the last public commission by the Wakefield-born artist, who died in 1975. It measures about 30ft and Hepworth said it was the longest work she had ever done.

The owners had proposed taking away the bronze from and replacing it with an exact replica. A Building Preservation Notice issued by the local council initially protected the original façade, which has now been listed, citing, among others, the fact that ‘the sculpture was designed to be part of the street scene, its character unfolding to the view from different angles and distances, demonstrating Hepworth’s skilful demonstration of the potential for art to enhance the built environment and become ingrained into a collective sense of place.’

Full story (BBC)

Experts baffled at mass pied wagtail deaths in Coventry

Animal welfare charities are investigating a mass death that saw a grim shower of birds dropping dead to the ground outside the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire, in the West Midlands, earlier this month. A local man who had been visiting his grandmother at the hospital began filming the incident as more and more animals, later identified as pied wagtails, fell from the sky (as documented in the video below but, please note you may find it distressing).

Although many conspiracy theorists were quick to blame 5G, a trial for which was recently started in the area, the most likely explanation for the mass death was that the birds hit the hospital windows. ‘I didn’t see any hit windows, but I’ve spoken to the RSPB who have taken a look at the video, and they think that most of the birds have twisted necks, like they’ve hit something,’ the man told Coventry Live.

The RSPB has now passed all the information to the RSPCA, which is investigating. Anyone with information should call 0300 123 8018.

Full story (Coventry Live)

On this day

On October 21, 1956, Carrie Fisher was born. The Star Wars icon was the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher. After a difficult childhood, she made her acting debut at 18 appearing as Lorna Karpf in the comedy Shampoo. But it was two years later that she shot to global superstardom, when she appeared as Princess Leia in the first of George Lucas’ Star Wars films, Episode IV – A New Hope.

1977 TCF/Lucas film starring Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa here with See Threepio played by Anthony Daniels

Despite a varied career that saw her appear in films as diverse as The Blues Brothers and When Harry Met Sally, she remained identified with Princess Leia in the popular imagination, a role she took up again in 2014 with the launch of the series’ sequels. She had recently completed filming Star Wars: The Last Jedi when she died at age 60 in December 2016.

Beware poisonous mushrooms

Foragers are being warned that poisonous fungi are peppering woods across the country following the recent discovery of the fairy tale mushroom —as toxic as it is pretty — at the rich foraging grounds of Thetford Forest, on the border between Suffolk and Norfolk.

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Fungi Foraging and Fairy ring searching in Thetford Forest 🌳What a pleasant day yesterday was.I took my trusty camera to Thetford in search of the magic that befalls Autumn,and boy did we come across a lot of fungi.Theres never enough room on Instagram for all of them so I may share more tomorrow,sorry in advance(mushroom spam).I was so mesmerised by it all,that we ended up spending four hours trudging the forest paths and woodlands searching under mulch and trying to stop the dog from taking a nibble.We were met by baby monk jacks,hares and pheasants aswell as watching the military planes coming into land. I can’t express enough how amazing Norfolk is and the walks near us to investigate.Free open spaces,it costs nothing to embrace the beauty around us. #norfolk #norfolklife #norfolkbloggers #blog #blogger #ilovenorfolk #thetfordforest #thetfordnorfolk #fungi #fungiphotography #fairyrings #mushroomsofinstagram #norwichlife #visitnorfolk #woodlands #walks #discoverunder1k #norwichblogger #igersnorfolk #igersnorwich

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Forestry England has asked people to forage ‘sensibly and responsibly,’ ensuring they know what they are picking and urging them not to take mushrooms from wildlife conservation areas.
Full story (Thetford & Brandon Times)

And finally… your chance to see a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine

A treat is in store for Thomas fans. A life-size copy of the beloved character is making an appearance at the Kirklees Light Railway on November 9 and 10.

The first train of the day, which departs at 10 am, will be pulled by Thomas all the way from Clayton West to Shelley — a 25-minute journey — with Emily and local locomotives Owl and Sian pulling the later services.

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Thomas & Friends are back at the #kirkleeslightrailway for a Day Out with Thomas on 9-10 November. This fun-packed, family event is a must for all Little Engineers. With face painting, donkey rides, unlimited platform rides, adventure playgrounds, the Imagination Station, Thomas tattoos, the opportunity to meet The Fat Controller & get up close to Thomas, Emily, Toby, Mavis & Percy ALL INCLUDED IN YOUR TICKET PRICE, it's so much #morethanjustatrainride! Tickets are available now from or please call 0843 208 1840. #dayoutwiththomas #thomasandfriends #daysoutuk #hd8 #thomasthetankengine #familydayout #familytime #makingmemories #thingstodowiththekids #toddlerdaysout #huddersfield #barnsley #wakefield

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Other memorable characters from the Wilbert and Christopher Awdry series will be on hand to entertain visitors, from Mavis to Toby and the Fat Controller.

Full story (Leeds Live)