In a few short months I will reach something of a milestone. It’s a slightly notional milestone, some would say. It’s not so much that I will turn 46 years of age. It’s more to do with identity and how I see myself. If you were to ask me where I’m from, my answer might depend on where you’re from. To a Mexican, I’m British. To a Scot, I’m English. To an Englisher, I am a Londoner. To a Londoner? Perhaps I’m a bruv. I’m not sure. It’s been a while since I tuned into Eastenders. But anyway, given that I left the capital in favour of the south coast at age 23, in a few short months I will reach the point where I’m just half a Londoner, and then a day later I will become less than half a Londoner, and more than half something-else. If we are to be precise, I will be 50% Londoner, 37% Dorseter and 13% Mexican.
The River Avon as autumn approaches.
Swans are by no means exclusive to the British Isles, and I dare say many other nations have their own, different, view on this, but to me the majestic swan has always seemed ever so very English. Perhaps that is because it is majestic, and this is a land of monarchs. Where, incidentally, the vast majority of swans are arbitrarily declared the property of the monarch.
We do have the largest managed colony of mute swans in the world. This is partly due to the fact that it is the only managed colony of swans in the world. We visited the Abbotsbury swannery on Sunday, and there does indeed seem to be a degree of management involved. However, the vast majority of this management seemed to be in managing the humans, and relieving them of the fairly extortionate sum of £12 (or thereabouts) to have the pleasure of wandering amongst these fine birds. Which were here for hundreds of years before the management.
It is a nice place, and it was nice to wander amongst the swans. It would have been nicer to have done the wandering with the £12 in my pocket, but such is life. I might then have spent that in the coffee shop. But then again, seeing as the coffee shop served up food and drink with the most extortionate price tags imaginable, I suspect I might have waited till later to quench my thirst and sate my hunger.
Having said that, were there not a management committee in place, keeping everything orderly, I might well have sated myself with a feast of roast swan. It was once, in Tudor times, a popular meal amongst the nobility. But when the birds were hunted to near extinction, they were declared Royal property, and off limits. Shame. I found a rather tasty sounding recipe…
Scald it and take out the bones, and parboil it, then season it very well with Pepper, Salt and Ginger, then lard it, and put it in a deep Coffin of Rye Paste with store of Butter, close it and bake it very well, and when it is baked, fill up the Vent-hole with melted Butter, and so keep it; serve it in as you do the Beef-Pie.
I took a short video of the swannery. It’s not terribly good. I haven’t made many videos of late, for the simple reason that my ageing computer just isn’t up to the job. It took about two long, frustrating hours all in all to produce this four minute clip. Which is why it may well be some time till the next video. Still, the old ‘puter still manages to handle photo processing just about. You can see the photos of the swannery here.
Mrs P has come to the conclusion that people in England are either really, really nice or really, really grotty. I do understand what she means. Yesterday she met one of the nice ones. An old gent feeding bread to the swans. He shared some with her – she also likes swans. These mute swans are resident to the UK, not migratory, and are (unless marked) all owned by the queen. Once upon a time, swan was a luxury meat favoured by the nobility. But after being eaten to near extinction, they were made property of the crown, and today thrive in our rivers. They are much like humans in many ways. They are monogomous and can pair for life, but will both cheat and ‘divorce’.