Today's round-up looks at what it's like to get off the grid, sees how farmers are getting on with record August rain and spares a thought for the man who was thrown out of The Beatles just before they hit the big time.
Not-so-splendid isolation: What it’s like trying to spend two months alone in a remote Yorkshire cottage
The Daily Telegraph runs a piece that makes for fascinating reading for anyone who’s ever considered getting out of the rat race and moving to the middle of nowhere – or in this case, a cottage in Yorkshire.
Sophia Money-Coutts didn’t go to try and start living the Good Life, but rather to finish off a book which she had two months left to write. And without having to busy herself with ploughing fields and feeding chickens, it was other things which occupied her thoughts:
‘It’s the lack of noise that gets you. After only a matter of days, you can’t hear a thing apart from your own thoughts. And your own thoughts soon get pretty boring,’ she begins, but going on to admit her excitement about getting off the grid in a cottage where phone reception was scant and internet access non-existent.
‘The initial enthusiasm of finding oneself alone is, I suspect now, a reaction to the lives that many of us live, surrounded by people,’ she says. ‘People you know, as in family, or people you don’t know but have to spend more time than you’d like to every day pressed up against on your commute…
‘That first day in Yorkshire, I hit my allotted word count within a couple of hours and set off happily for a long walk across the moors. I remember gurgling aloud with laughter as I started on the footpath, not another soul in sight. I was high on the solitude.’
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The end result? As well as the gloom and loneliness that followed with enforced isolation came fresh insight. ‘I thought longer and deeper about life, relationships and work than I ever could have done during snatched moments on the bus in London.’ So much so that she’s doing it all over again.
Walking Derby and the Derwent Valley, on a morning with ‘dappled light on the river’
If you haven’t read it already, Fiona Reynolds’ piece on Derby and its surrounds is a lovely look at a fascinating place where the dawn of industrialisation has left its mark – but the factories and mills exist alongside great beauty, both man-made and natural.
‘Wettest-ever August’ keeping farmers stopping and starting on harvest
‘Growers have been plagued by heavy and widespread showers for the last week and, with no let-up in the conditions forecast, many are bracing themselves for more turbulence,’ reports the Farmers Guardian as this extraordinarily changeable summer of weather continues. Flooding, record heat and high winds have caused havoc and forced many farmers to begin harvesting, only to have to halt operations. While quality has apparently suffered, yields have held up – with the exception of brassica, apparently.
With yet more rain forecast in the coming week or so – and a month’s worth expected in some places on Friday alone – the record wet August of 1912 will very likely be exceeded. At least that’s good news for England’s hopes of avoiding defeat in the Second Ashes Test at Lord’s.
Miniature ‘pullet’ eggs to go on sale
For years, farmers have invariably discarded the undersized eggs laid by ‘pullets’, the name given to immature hens who are old enough to lay, but who don’t yet produce full-sized eggs. It’s quite a waste: apparently 10 per cent of an egg farmer’s stock can go into the waste in this way.
Ever keen to spot a nifty gap in the market, Waitrose have started to sell pullet eggs at £1.99 for a pack of four. They’re in every sense normal eggs, albeit ones which some chefs say are richer and rounder; the difficulty of using them coming from the trickiness of cooking eggs of differing sizes and shapes. But in the battle against food waste, this should be hailed as a step in the right direction.
On This Day… Pete Best fired from The Beatles
Mystery surrounds the exact reasons that Pete Best, the original drummer for The Beatles, was thrown out of the band on August 16, 1962, despite having been with John, Paul and George for the previous couple of years. Was he too straight-laced? Was he not good enough a drummer? Was it John who wanted him out, or Paul and George, or manager Brian Epstein?
What’s not in dispute are the facts: he was told he wasn’t wanted any more, Ringo Starr was brought in a couple of days later and the rest is musical history.
How Ice Age hunters killed off Britain’s vegetarian bear
The ‘Cave Bear’ was a type of bear common in Europe until 40,000 years ago – the time that modern men began to appear for the first time. After that, scientists have now discovered, its numbers started to plummet, and it disappeared entirely by 24,000 years ago.
‘We see this dramatic drop in the population of the cave bear starting from 40,000 years ago, which coincides with the arrival of anatomically modern humans in Europe,’ said Prof Verena Schuenemann of the University of Zurich, who led the study.
‘It is the clearest evidence we have so far that humans might have played a big role in the extinction of the cave bear.’
And finally… the biggest Frazzle in the world has been discovered
Yes, we are talking about the crisps. And yes, it does look really, really big.
Why abandoned banana peels are making Ben Nevis a treacherous climb; how snow cannons could save our ice caps; the