Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 29 February 2016
Yellow Up-Skirt Freak-Show!
I am ashamed to say that this is how I initially read Melanie's latest post title. I think I am turning into Bluebeard.
You have excelled yourselves with your titles today - normally this is John's job, but Jennifer has come up with one called 'Perverts and Thieves'. It was about a pervert and a thief, and not just made up to attract visitors like my titles are.
It is a fine day today, and I am told it will revert back to the wind and rain which has characterised the whole of this year and two months of the last, so I really ought to take the opportunity of walking through a Capability Brown landscape in search of fresh rock.
Well, Tufa can hardly be called a rock at all really - it is formed very quickly in lime-rich water, and builds up in inches per year, so I will not be doing any lasting damage by quarrying it if I do find some.
About 30 years ago, I was sawing through a huge block of the stuff, and when the two halves came apart, I discovered a little pocket of fresh, brown leaves deep in the middle. That's how new it is.
Just outside Penarth in Wales, there is a cliff-face with great bands of pink alabaster running through it. It is identical in appearance to sugar mice, both in colour and texture. I have always wanted to carve an enormous sugar mouse from it, using a length of rope for the string tail.
A few miles away on the other side of the Bristol Channel, if you clamber down an extremely precipitous slope beneath the old toll-bridge, you will find the other end of this band of alabaster which curves under the water and rises up in England. This stuff is a bright, lemon-yellow. Maybe I could make some other sort of sweet from it.
Some more miles West along the North Somerset coast, on the vast beach at Blue Anchor Bay, you will find this same band of alabaster, but here it is a striking and shiny, gun-metal type of blue-grey. Maybe I could make a toy gun out of it.
Aside from the age, there is a vast difference between Tufa and Alabaster. Tufa is formed in water, but alabaster melts in the rain. It spends millions of years sheltered by the surrounding soft rock matrix, but as soon as it drops to the beach, it begins to disappear - just like a real sugar mouse.