Thursday 30 December 2010

Deschampsia cespitosa - Tufted Hair-grass

Tufted Hair-grass in  road verge;

Grass of the Month

There are several mentions of "grasses" in the Christmas story in the Bible and I shall list them at the end of this blog article.

However Tufted Hair-grass, or Deschampsia cespitosa is not found in Israel - rather it is a plant of northern  places of countries around the North Pole. ... where Father Christmas lives, with his reindeer and it grows on clay damp soils.

I chose Tufted Hair-grass for this month because it is a big grass which the cattle and sheep avoid eating, and there are still tussocks of it left.. and because it is one of the easiest grasses to identify vegetatively.
(And because I took some photos in November before the snow arrived in December) the picture on the right was taken on 25-11-2008 and has Ingleborough in the background.

Winskill Stones Reserve in 16 June 2009
In summer, in areas of low grazing, the  animals selectively go for the surrounding grass leaving the tussocks standing proud. Low grazing can thus increase the abundance of this plant. This is what is happening on the right at Winskill Stones Nature Reserve.

However now the animals are hungry and they are eating it down.

Winskill Stones Reserve in 16 June 2009
Deschampsia cespitosa likes deep clay soils. It can swamp out smaller species.

 There are lots of fun things to look out for on the plant.

Six easy-peasy ways to identify Tufted Hair-grass:
  1.  Extremely strong ribs on the leaves
  2. Green and white stripes on the blades when you hold a blade to the light. The ribs are green and the grooves between the ribs are colourless and let the light through, so you see green and white stripes.
  3. Very rough blades if you trail your finger down the blade.There are tiny silica hooks on the blades which can cut you.
  4. Very long ligules -  1/2 cm to 1 1/2 cm long
  5. Beautiful big silvery panicles. the culm can be up to 1.5m tall.
  6. Tufted or even tussocky clumps.

All these features make it easy to identify. 

Tussock of Tufted Hair-grass at Foxglove Covert 25 Nov 2010

                                           Excerpts from Christmas Readings
Genesis 3 v 17 and 18 - Living Bible
God said to Adam... ".. Because you ate the fruit..  I have placed a curse upon the soil. All your life you will struggle to extract a living from it.  It will grow thorns and thistles for you, and you shall eat its grasses (other versions plants/ herbs/grains)

Isaiah 37 v7
The parched ground will become a pool, with springs of water in the thirsty land. Where desert jackals lived, there will be reeds and rushes!

Luke 2 v7
Mary laid Jesus in a manger
- The manger would contain straw or hay or other animal food

Luke 2 v 8
Shepherds were in the fields, guarding their flocks of sheep.

Matthew 2 v 11
The Kinkgs gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh
Although not  grasses, both Frankincense and Myrrh are plants which are now on the IUCN Red Data endangered species list. Both myrrh and frankincense grow as small trees or shrubs; they are of the botanical family Burseraceae. 


Well that's twelve grasses for 2010!

Next year (less than 48 hours away) we shall start on another twelve.

           All the best for 2011

And may you learn 12 new grasses in 2011.

Monday 27 December 2010

Cool Earth Coffee and Christmas Day Community Lunch at Settle

 A big thank you to everyone who came to the Settle Community Christmas Lunch because we all contributed to its success.

The lunch, held in the Methodist Church Hall was open to everyone living around Settle and we advertised it in the Craven Herald and on posters on local notice boards, and earlier in this blog.
Eleven of us came for the full meal - plus two people who came to cook and then went to help at another Christmas Meal - so that made the 13 that we expected. Then two extra groups of three who called in during the afternoon, one group helped wash up and all six people enlivened the proceedings.

My biggest Thank you goes to Ken and Angela - If they had not been keen about helping organise the meal I could not have done it myself - and especially to Ken who I discovered enjoyed organising and doing most of the cooking. It gave me the chance on Christmas morning to attend Langcliffe round the tree carol singing and the Christmas Service at St John's Church. The three of us enjoyed planning and buying materials for the meal beforehand.

We wished more people would have come - and I had tried hard with publicity-  but the late start in organising it may have prevented some people from coming. However having a small group meant that we could all get to know each other better - and we all counted!!

I would encourage individuals elsewhere to think of organising such an event.

The people who came were all so grateful that the event took place - Just the thanks that some people gave me beforehand that we were doing it.. It would have been worth doing the whole meal if only for that... I realise now it gave us all something to look forward to.
 Discovering people's backgrounds when we talked on the day was a real insight - an insight that I could not have predicted when planning the meal.

After the meal, we had a round when everyone was invited to say if they wished,  where they were born.
Then we read poems or articles that people had brought in - people had enjoyed bringing something. Then we sang carols. "Pass the parcel" was cut this year to a "lucky dip" choice of wrapped present from a bag. Then Christmas Cake, mince pies and Wensleydale cheese.

But it is because we ALL came is what made it so good for each other. So Thank you!

And an event on this blog at this time would not be complete without a jar of Cool Earth coffee - reminding people to support Care of the RainForests -

Friday 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas - Snow scene near Settle

Happy Christmas to all Readers. Enjoy these best of my Winter photos in December 2010. I displayed some of these on the church hall notice board. Right is a tree near "Spinning Jenny" between Gargrave and Hetton.

Below was 6th December at Lower Winskill.

Below again is the view from a friend's window in Settle.

And below that again is above Stainforth on 5th December, looking above Helwith Bridge Quarry above Foredale towards Ingleborough

Saturday 18 December 2010

Settle Community Christmas Day Lunch - Do come if you live near Settle

25th Dec 2010 - St John's Methodist Church Hall, Settle BD24 9JH

Christmas Day Lunch
(A similar event is arranged for 2015 - and this year  50 people are expected!!! -still space for a few more)

Coffee 11.45am and lunch at 12.30 
Afterwards (optional) light party games and carols, followed by tea

A special invitation is given to old people and to people living by themselves, and also to people where there will just be two or three people together. If you need transport, please request a lift.
And a special invitation to people who had planned to go away but get stuck at Settle due to bad weather!!

People of ALL AGES welcome.

Picture of last year's event
This year there will be both old people and younger
people -so come whatever age you are
Volunteers, helpers, drivers, participants, people needing lifts - all very welcome and should contact Judith Allinson or Ken and Angela Barton ...Email

Anticipated cost between £5-00 and £8-00 - We will run it on a part organised, part Jacobs Join (Bring and share) basis

Please get in touch as soon as possible to offer help and to contribute ideas on activities during the lunch or book.   It is for people of ALL AGES .

This is following on from the splendid lunch under the banner of Age Concern lunch run by Margaret Holgate and Jean Carr but they are not able to run it again this year so we are starting from (almost) scratch, and running it as a Community Lunch.

Please tell other people who you think might be interested. Email for more details, or to book.

We start with coffee at 11.45am - Cool Earth Coffee! - one jar saves on rainforest tree.

Here is a picture of last year's event - this year there will be both old people and younger people - so come whatever age you are..

This morning Ken and Angela and I planned the food and  then went into the Hall to plan the event.
Afterwards I took photos of Settle:-
Here's Settle Methodist Church looking through an arch of the Settle Carlisle Railway line. The Church Hall is on a side alley left of the van with the black window.

And here is the Church Hall seen from Castleberg Flagpole

Here is the same picture but wide angle - can you see the hall - it is a third in from the left and a third up from the bottom.

 Castleberg cliff seen from Settle Christmas tree - my car is next to it.

The moon was rising as I drove home - the white line above the sheep is the Settle Carlisle Line

Friday 10 December 2010

Ribblehead Station Carols 2010 and Cool Earth Coffee

The annual Ribblehead Station Carol Service (N Yorks)  took place this Thursday 9th December with slightly reduced numbers due to the potentially foggy and snowy conditions. We rush out and sing for the passengers on the 5.42 train as it stops on its journey from Carlisle south to to Settle and Leeds.

The vicar from St Leonard's Church in Chapel le Dale organised the readings

The picture shows some of the carol singers enjoying  Cool Earth coffee
(The sale of one jar saves one rainforest tree)

We also had hot punch and mince pies.

We raised £29 for the Children's Society

Right: one piano accordion in its case on Ribblehead Platform before going home

Thursday 2 December 2010

Settle Telephone Box Star

This is the telephone box in Settle next to the Cenotaph. Churches Together in Settle now rent it from the Council. We hope to follow the example of Gallery on the Green  in upper Settle which maintain the telephone box there as an art gallery.

The star started shining ready for Settle Lights-On on Saturday 27 November. Inside there are some of the cards listing the Christmas time services of all the churches in Settle.

I hope we may get some positive involvement of the people/children in the neighbouring Northfields estate

Same pictures but bigger:

And here are pictures of the Gallery on the Green in Upper Settle taken on 14th November. They have an excellent exhibition about 3D photography