Monday, 31 March 2014

Beacon Hill

All of a sudden, the island exploded.

The glow of molten rock lit up the night, as, with a sound like the cascading of a million marbles, the land slumped into the sea.  Chunks of stone shot into the air as if catapulted by a giant hand, and the ocean writhed as it was pelted by countless burning pebbles.  A great cloud of ash rose up, blackening the stars and blotting out the moon.

After a time, the turmoil ceased, and the island grew quiet again.  The ash settled silently on the surface of the sea.

Slowly, the dust and ash sank beneath the waves.  Down it drifted, down into the deep, and became rock again, pressed against the sea bed.  The feathery forms of ancient creatures fell too, and left their imprint.  Plants?  Animals?  Impossible to know.  Their kind long ago vanished from the earth.

Time passed.  Continents shifted.  Seas rose and fell.  The unstoppable movement of tectonic plates bent the rock, lifted it and shaped it, and finally made it part of a new island.  This one, eventually, was named.  The natives called it Britain.


One sunny Sunday in March, a family walked on Beacon Hill.  The three-year-old and his dad played hide and seek amongst the stacks of craggy rock, and drove toy cars over the warm weathered surface.  Mum found a secluded nook to feed the hungry baby, gazing out over the hazy green fields as he sucked.  A ladybird was discovered ascending the lichened heights, and captured for minute inspection.

Mountaineering.
Inspecting the ladybird.
Ferrari with ladybird brake light.
No, that's not me!
And as we scrambled and clambered and balanced, we had no inkling that we were touching some of the oldest known rocks in the world, formed in such a dramatic way over five hundred and fifty million years ago.

That's a long time!

This is meant to be a face in profile - can you see it?
(For more of the geology and pictures of fossils, see here)

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

How to be a baby

Welcome to the world!  For the next two months you are officially the second cutest thing in the universe.*  Make the most of it.  A carefully timed smile will get you anything, even when you've just spat milk over their best clothes.  You will find you have particular influence on women over the age of 50, especially if their name is Grandma.  Here are some other useful notes for your first few weeks of life.

  • The one they call Mum is your food supply.  It is imperative you keep track of her at all times.  If she shows the slightest inclination towards an independent life; for example, by having a shower, reading a book, or even, heaven forbid, trying to leave the house without you, start screaming immediately.  This is a clear violation of your baby rights.

  • It is recommended that you activate your extra-sensory device as soon as possible after birth.  This cunning gadget enables you to detect when your family sits down to eat, even if you are apparently fast asleep or in another room.  Your belly is, of course, the most important one in the house, and should be fed first.  Don't hesitate to let them know.

  • If you are placed near or in a large bowl of water, the person concerned is obviously trying to drown you.  Don't be fooled by any of this talk about needing a bath.  You are entitled to make as much fuss as possible until safely dry and dressed again, and hopefully they will think twice before trying that again.

  • Full body contact with another human being should be insisted on at all times.  Being put down by yourself is the thin end of the wedge; next thing you know they'll be expecting independent mobility and making you do your own laundry.

  • The best time to pee or poo is right after your nappy has been removed.  Bonus points if you hit the adult in the face, or manage to dirty two outfits at once.  The inconvenience of being changed for the fifth time in one day is well worth it for the entertainment value, believe me.

  • Above all, don't forget to cultivate that slightly drunk, cross-eyed look.  Remember, they think we know nothing.  The floppier and sillier you act, the better.  Don't be the one to give the game away!

*According to research, kittens beat human babies to the number one spot by a whisker.  Sorry.