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The importance of History

I have been looking round locally with the intention of taking evening classes to gain a history A level. There doesn’t seem to be any available, anywhere, no one seems to be running them. Has history gone out of fashion, is there a lack of interest or is it just a lack of funds?

I know history seems a bit of an odd choice of subject for someone who works with his hands but I work with history all the time. The anvils I use are probably over a hundred years old, one that I own personally is well over a hundred years old, (it has a beautiful ring to it when struck with a hammer) some of my tools belonged to my grandfather, he died in 1978 aged 84 and most of his tools were old then.

History for me is not just about wars, dates of battles and the names of monarchs, it is about how things, were why they were, why things are now and how they might be in the future because of how things are now and were before. It strikes me that we cannot plan for the future if we haven’t learned the lessons from the past, if we neglect the past, are we failing to plan for the future?

The man who chairs the Federal Reserve Bank in America, Ben Bernanke studied the Great Depression, its causes and effects. This knowledge of this particular piece of history has helped shape the policies he has followed in trying to prevent a repitition

of another Great Depression, although it will be some time yet before we know whether he and others have been successful. Without knowledge of the history of this calamity there would be a greater difficulty in planning to deal with our current problems.

Those of us who make anything, design things or work in business are building on the foundations that history have given us, anyone worth their salt, involved in any form of activity looks at what has been tried before, what has failed, what has succeeded and why, this is building on history.

Given all this it surprises me that the teaching of history is not regarded as important, it is to me as senseless as not teaching maths, because everyone has calculators or computers.

Neil Kinnock once said of Margeret Thatcher, “she knows the price of everything and the value of nothing “.

However Oscar Wilde said it before him.

Wind powered drainage in the fens

 

 I have lived and worked near, in and around the fens all my life. The battle to reclaim the land from the waters has had a fascination for me ever since I have known about it. In reality to describe it as a battle is to diminish what has really been a war, at times the waters have taken back with ease, that which was won with much hard physical work.

The most honest evaluation is probably that which has been taken is held; mammoth and innovative engineering maintain the status quo.

I have in my lounge a reproduction of a 1645 map of Huntingdonshire, with the Isle of Ely and part of Cambridgeshire. A good portion of Huntingdonshire and the Isle of Ely are shown as under water with a few towns and villages as islands within the waters, I have another map of about a similar age titled Inumdatum which gives an indication of the extent of the waters.

The drainage of the fens has been achieved over many centuries the long straight waterways (drains), dug mainly by hand. A truly spectacular sight to me is to drive along a road with the river above me on one side above the height of the van and ten twenty feet or more below me on the other side are the fields with crops growing in them.

Hundred Foot Bank, Sutton, Cambs The B1381 road to Earith runs below the New Bedford River level.© Copyright Rodney Burton

 

The photograph shows in an instant the monumental achievement in reclamation of land from the water the land below the road has to be drained by emptying it into a river or drain above it rather than below it. When you realise a cubic metre of water weighs a tonne the colossal scale of the feat becomes more apparent. Every drop of water in that and many drains and rivers in the fens that has been run off from the fields, has to be physically lifted considerable heights to keep the ground dry and usable.

To start with wind was used to power pumps and giant scoop wheels to lift the water then steam, diesel and now electric pumps do the work. With the appearance of wind turbines in the fens, ultimately they are now to a degree being drained again by wind power.

Communications and Media

I have been thinking about the change in communications, (does it hurt? well a bit), the papers well certainly the Sundays are less about news and as much about froth, the colour supplements out weigh the paper itself . Weekly free papers we receive have moved considerably away from news content and are substantialy advertising vehicles.

Are we consuming our news nearly entirely away from the print media, both locally and nationally, has the print media given up on objective balanced reporting? Can this also be said for specialist magazines although my local newsagents shelves seem as full of all kinds of different specialist publications as ever, sales seem to be declining. We have discussed here, on the forum, advertising response from gardening magazines and the concensus seems to be pretty much in the don’t bother camp. How do we think, we will in the future, consume our news and follow our interests, will it be on the internet, through networking sites both social and interest based (such as the GardenNetwork), television, will there be a revival in the printed media or will there be something new perhaps blending elements of all three coherently together. I have discussed this with my daughters who  feel that a magazine is a simpler media to navigate than pages on the intenet, I find this also but assumed it may have been an age thing not so apparently, my daughters are in their twenties. 

The greatest advantage I enjoy on the internet is interactivity, I can respond to articles, seek feedback and often get sound useful advice very quickly, this is something that television doesn’t yet in my experience allow or for that matter does the print media. Do those of you who buy gardening magaazines buy less of them, feel that they are less  useful than they once were or have they improved and suit your interests better.

Wondering how the weather is going to affect sales this spring

I have managed a company manufacturing iron garden structures  (arches, arbours,gazebos,loveseats,obelisks,pergolas,etc.) for close on twenty four years and despite our products being semi permanent structures our sales are dependant to a great degree on the weather. A wet spell and a late cold spring delays fhe start of the season, although this year a promotion with Harkness roses has helped move things forward. Prolonged wet and cold weather in England also depresses sales, not just for us directly but also for our garden centre customers and other people we supply.

Paradoxically a really long period of hot sunny weather over several weeks with little rain has the same effect, only a really wet weekend interupting the hot weather helps. It seems people give the seaside a miss and go to the garden centre or look on the internet instead.

Ideally I would have liked a sunny Easter, a nice varied weather pattern in the coming weeks with decent amounts of weekend sunshine and a bit of rain then hopefully two sunny bank holiday weekends in May.

What weather suits other people for their gardens, gardening or garden business? I would be interested in their perspective.

Harkness Roses voucher offer extended on the seriousgardener.co.uk website

We have extended the Free Harkness Roses £5 gift voucher offer.

Would you like a free £5 Harkness roses gift voucher?

If you order an arch, arbour, bower, gazebo, loveseat, obelisk, pergola or tunnel for your garden from us before the 30/4/10 you will recieve a free Harkness Roses gift voucher to help you buy something great to grow up one of our products. If you are gardening in the Uk and grow roses take a look.

Click the link for details Harkness

Outdoor Clocks for sale on our Serious Gardener Website

We have started  to sell clocks from our seriousgardener.co.uk website, they are suitable for outdoor use and very useful for those who lose track of time when gardening .  To give your garden time as well as space why not have a look.

Would make an ideal Christmas gift for your favourite gardener

Belvoir outdoor garden clock

One of the outdoor garden clocks available from us

Garden Structures; these are what I do.

Galvanised Gothic garden arch or rose arch

Gothic Galvanised garden arch

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