Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Cranberries come from Shrewsbury?

Autumn is here, the leaves are turning and the blanket bog up the mountain has ripe cranberries ready for harvesting.

A while ago I had assumed that cranberries would have come from a bush or a shrub, like bilberries do. But no, they grow on thin trailing vines, with leaves a bit bigger than the size of thyme, resting on mounds of sphagnum moss, with the fruits almost buried by the moss.

Each year we go for the harvest and at first sight there seem to be none. But then you get your eye in, and pretty soon you have a couple of cups full, enough for the sauce for Christmas dinner. Rain-washed berries, sugar, water and 15 minutes of boiling is all it takes to make a jar full and, in a good year, there is maybe enough for one of the neighbours too - living ‘off the fatta the lan’.

This is how and where people would have got their cranberries in the past but these days there are special flooded fields in North America where commercial crops are harvested by huge machines.

Their name in Welsh is ‘llyg aeron’, which translates to shrew berries. Could this be from where Shrewsbury got its name?

New Jersey Cranberries

Codi Cerrig – Raising Stone – Blaenau Ffestiniog’s Slate Heritage

Blaenau’s slate industry is all but gone but its heritage has been preserved to help project its image into the future. So, if you’re visiting Blaenau to experience one of the many adventures, such as the Downhill Biking, or if you’re riding a train or walking the mountains, there is no mistaking Blaenau for anything but the Victorian slate capital of the world.

The town centre has been revamped, with a great deal of European money, and in pride of place are the 4 giant slate splitters’ chisels. Each is made from 15,000 roofing slates laid at an angle of 30- that’s the angle at which the slate beds go into the mountains.

Walking between the giant chisels, each 7 ½ metres tall, you cross the road to the River of Slate. It’s a pavement mosaic with a river running down the middle and on either side are the names of the 350 slate quarries in Wales. Each quarry has its name chiselled into a block of slate which is the same colour as the slate it produced. I never realised there were so many colourful shades of slate.

In this film called Codi Cerrig, the artist Howard Bowcott explains the inspiration behind the designs and their significance.