I’m a huge fan of all things Nordic, and I’ve just found out that the BBC is repeating a wonderful slow tv programme: All Aboard! The Sleigh Ride.
This is two hours of fabulously festive viewing, as we follow two female Samireindeer herders and some of their reindeer on a sledge ride across the snowy Lapland landscape as dusk falls. There is no narration or music, just the crunch of the snow, the gentle grunts of the reindeer and the occasional conversation between the women and people they encounter: ski-shod travellers, dog sleds and their drivers, ice fishermen on a frozen lake, and Sami living in their lavvu (wigwam-like tents).
Every now and then some graphics give us information about the Sami and their history and beliefs and social structure, about the animals and plants in the snowy lands: this is done in such a clever way, seemingly embedded within the landscape and sometimes incorporating old photographs.
The programme was first broadcast on Christmas Eve two years ago, and was repeated on Christmas Eve last year. This year it is being shown again, on BBC4 on Saturday 16 December, starting at 7 pm.
The reindeer ride follows an old postal route in Karasjok, in northern Norway, within the Arctic Circle. During their journey, the sledges cross frozen lakes and birch woodland. Sometimes the women ride, and sometimes they walk alongside the reindeer. As the hours of daylight are so short at this latitude in the winter, the journey both starts and finishes with the way lit being by flaming torches. It ends with the Northern Lights putting on a beautiful display above a lavvu. The two Sami reindeer herders are Charlotte Iselin Mathisen and Anne-Louise Gaup.
Ann-Louise Gaup and reindeer.
It may sound boring but it is absolutely magical, and I am so glad to have another chance to watch it again. If you can, do give it a look. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It’s calming, hypnotic, meditative, beautiful, informative, and utterly wonderful.
Slow tv is a type of television programming that started in Norway in 2009. It eschews music or narration, and follows real-time action, rather than that edited for speed and brevity.
If you want to learn more about how the programme was made, this Radio Times article has lots of interesting information. Four separate rides were filmed, one a day for four days, and the best ride was used. There were only four hours of daylight per day, and the temperatures dropped to minus 20 degrees C.
At 18.04 pm on 6 April I can see there are still two eggs on the nest. I do hope she lays more. Last year’s brood had four eggs. (By the way, do use the ‘full screen’ facility for the webcam: it’s a tiny screen otherwise and the details will be barely visible if you don’t enlarge.)
A peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) on the beautiful stonework of Salisbury Cathedral.
Also great to learn is that one and possibly two other peregrines have been spotted around the Cathedral. These might be the juveniles from last year’s brood.
Five eggs. The webcam view on (a wet) 16 May 2017.
Apparently three or four eggs are the norm in the wild, but in urban areas where there is plentiful prey (read: pigeons) clutches can number as many as six.
UPDATE 22 May 2017: I’m not sure when it was born, but there’s a chick in the nest now:
The first hatchling!
UPDATE 30 May 2017: Great excitement while watching the wonderful BBC Springwatch programme last night as they are featuring the Salisbury Cathedral peregrines. The first part is here, starting at 49:25. They are doing a follow-up part tonight. I hope it’s good news: every time I have looked at the the webcam the adult is sitting on the nest, so I have no idea how many chicks there are. I guess I’ll find out tonight.
Beautiful shot of one of the peregrines from the BBC Springwatch footage.
Peregrine on the spire of Salisbury Cathedral, from the BBC Springwatch footage.
UPDATE 31 May 2017: Well, the BBC is keeping us hanging on … another wonderfully-shot update last night on Springwatch, full of beautiful images, but so far no news of any chicks. The second instalment is here, from 24:26. One thing I did learn is that the peregrines are feeding on kingfishers (Alcedo atthis) and greater spotted woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major), among other prey. I guess the kingfishers come from the nearby River Avon with its watermeadows. One of my few ever kingfisher sightings was one darting across the road that enters the central car park by Sainsbury’s in Salisbury: a small tributary of the river runs alongside it.
UPDATE 1 June 2017: Finally we learn from Springwatch that a lone chick hatched, out of the five eggs laid – talk abut stringing it out! This is in contrast to four chicks (only two of which survived to fledge) out of four eggs last year. The non-hatched eggs have been removed from the nest for health reasons, because if the spoiled eggs break the chick could be affected by the rotten contents. The eggs will be analysed to see why they failed: worryingly the spectre of insecticides causing thin shells was raised as a possible cause. The upside is that the lone chick is getting all its parents’ attention and is being fed like a king, with consequent fast growth. The third instalment is here, starting at 49:41.
1 June 2017: the lone chick in its salubrious nest, surrounded by carcasses, shit and flies!
1 June 2017.
UPDATE 2 June: Just a brief update in last night’s Springwatch, with a live web cam view of the satellite-tagged female on the nest and film of the male eating a hapless green woodpecker (Picus viridis). The segment is here, starting at 8:13; it’s followed by a longer segment on some cliff-nesting peregrines.
UPDATE 8 June: Well, what a difference a few hours make! I checked on the webcam yesterday morning and it was down; I didn’t check back so got the surprise via Springwatch last night: a second peregrine chick has been successfully introduced to the nest and is already being happily fostered by the adults.
The new chick on the right; the original, Cathedral chick on the left. 7 June 2017.
The foster chick was one of three chicks in a nest in Shropshire; tragically last weekend the parents were found dead, cause as yet unknown, on the ground below the cliff along with a dead pigeon. Toxicology tests are being undertaken, but poisoning is suspected. Utterly shameful if that is the case. Luckily the chicks were unaffected. They were removed from the nest by RSPB experts, checked over by a vet, and rehomed in the wild: the other two have been fostered to another nest in the Midlands. The segment on last night’s Springwatch starts at 10:51. The male, 25-day-old foster chick was put in the nest at around 8.30 yesterday morning, and was accepted immediately by both the parents and the original Cathedral chick. He’s a bit bigger than the Cathedral chick, as he’s six days older.
Just after introduction. 7 June 2017.
The female (with her satellite tag) feeding the new foster chick. 7 June 2017.
Grumpy! Why aren’t you feeding me, mum? 7 June 2017.
7 June 2017.
7 June 2017.
7 June 2017.
Not long and the chicks were snuggled together, and being fed by both parents. 7 June 2017.
The new family. 7 June 2017.
Such a beautiful sight. The new family. 7 June 2017.
More food. 7 June 2017.
The new siblings snuggled together with mum. 7 June 2017.
Are things ever going to change? We’ve known about sexism for centuries; we’ve agreed something should be done about it for decades, and yet it continues. 51% of the population of the UK is female, not that you’d know it from the BBC’s output.
The sausagefest that is the BBC. They’ve got ethnic minorities sorted; how about tackling the biggest, most under-represented minority of all – women?
I was looking for something to listen to today as I worked, so went to the BBC iPlayer for radio. I chose documentaries, because I can always find something new and quirky and interesting there.
After scrolling through a few pages of offerings, and listening to one on Ian Fleming and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, on page 3 I was struck by something that starkly illustrates the BBC’s problem with sexism. Each programme has a thumbnail picture accompanying it. It might represent the subject matter, or it might represent the presenter. Here’s what I noticed.
37 men in photos, including one of the back of a man’s head
1 photo of an all-boys choir, with 32 boys
7 women in photos, including one photo of a female mouth and one of a female belly dancer in silhouette
1 drawing of a female head
1 drawing showing signage for male and female figures
3 photos showing figures or body parts whose sex couldn’t be discerned (1 Anthony Gormley figure, 2 photos of a hand. They all look male to me, but I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.)
So we see a total of 70 representations of males, and 9 of females of women. That’s 88.6% males, 11.4% females. Even taking the boy’s choir out of the equation, we are left with 37 men to 9 women. That’s a ratio of less than 1 in 5 of women to men: 19.6% women and 80.4% men.
I know this is just a snapshot and is highly unscientific, but if you try it over and over again across the BBC, it is a pattern that is repeated: male presenters, male writers, male subjects, male viewpoints dominate.
Last Sunday the Antiques Roadshow came from RAF Coningsby. It was filmed earlier this summer. One of the items featured was a beautiful Arts and Crafts fringe necklace in its original Liberty case, owned by a very lucky young lady. It features moonstones and baroque pearls, with decorative leaves picked out in blue-green enamel.
Arts and Crafts fringe necklace, c. 1905, in its original Liberty case. I am sure this is designed by Jessie M King.
The expert, John Benjamin, dated it from about 1905, that the blue-green were little blobs of glass set on gold (ie vitreous enamel), and called the pearls blister pearls. He said blister pearls are ‘mis-shapen white pearls, natural pearls’. My understanding (probably incorrect) is that blister pearls are those half-formed things caught under the nacreous skin of the oyster shell, whereas pearls proper, both regularly-shaped and irregularly-shaped, are free within the shell. I am more used to seeing pearls like these — irregularly-shaped proper ‘free’ pearls — described as baroque pearls. He did not attribute a designer and valued it at £3,000.
I think this necklace positively screams out Jessie M King. It’s her style, her colour palette — everything about it suggests it is her design. Jessie’s pieces were usually made with semiprecious stones, and enamel, and she used the enamelled leaf motif extensively.
Jessie M King. Opal, peridot, baroque pearl and enamel necklace, c. 1900. Sold by Van den Bosch.
Jessie M King. Opal, peridot, baroque pearl and enamel necklace, c. 1900. Sold by Van den Bosch. Detail.
Jessie M King brooch design for Liberty & Co. Gold, moonstone and enamel. Liberty model number 1800. Sold by Tadema Gallery.
Jessie M King design for Liberty & Co. Gold, sapphire, moonstone and green enamel necklace. Sold by Van Den Bosch.
Jessie M King design for Liberty & Co. Moonstone and enamel necklace. Sold by Van den Bosch.
Jessie M. King for Liberty & Co. Ring, gold, silver, enamel and chrysoprase. Sold by Tadema Gallery.
Jessie M King for Liberty & Co. A silver and gold necklace set with moonstones within borders of blue/green enamelled leaves surrounded by gold wire wirework and gold florets. The silver chain with a gold clasp. British. Circa 1900. Size: Height of drop pendant only 4.4 cm. Width 2 cm. Width across three moonstones 11 cm. Total length around necklace 41 cm. Sold by Van den Bosch.
Jessie M King for Liberty & Co. Turquoise and enamel necklace. Sold by Van den Bosch.
Jessie M King for Liberty & Co. Moonstone and enamel brooch. Sold by Tadema Gallery.