With the arrival of strong winds and heavy rain over the last week or so I am preparing myself for the end of autumn and the imminent arrival of winter. It’s a shame to say goodbye to the mild autumn we’ve been having, I’m going to miss the many warm hues on display amongst the trees of St Fagans. But farewell it must be, as the sudden blast of heavy weather has stripped the trees of their finery and left the leaves gathering in thick layers upon the ground.
Despite this brutal de-glamorisation, trees are to be the focus of my activities over the next few weeks as we celebrate National Tree Week. During the last weekend of November we will be looking at the many different types of tree at St Fagans and finding out the best way to identify them by looking at leaf, seed, bark and bud. The RSPB will also be with us, running activities that highlight the importance of trees to our native birds. Incidentally the bird cam at St Fagans is pretty busy at the moment and you can follow the action via my twitter page
And if you’ve ever wanted to be a world record holder why not join us on Saturday the 5th of December for Tree O’Clock? We will be attempting to set a new Guinness world record for planting the most trees in one hour in collaboration with BBC Breathing Places. And if you enjoy getting into the festive spirit why not stay on and make sustainable Christmas decorations from the Hedgerow at T? Gwyrdd?
Sustainable Christmas will also be the theme of my activities at the ever popular Christmas nights on the 9th, 10th and 11th of December. Be sure to bring a torch and warm clothes as it can get pretty cold here at night!
Pupils from Oakfield Primary School asked: 'When will the bulbs sprout?'
Normally, I would say 'nothing much will happen until after Christmas', but some bulbs have already decided to pop up through the soil!
Pupils from Pentrepoeth Junior School reported: 'We were very surprised to find the shoots and we have now noticed a few more in our flowerbeds. I am attaching a photo for you to see.'
From studying the photograph, although I can't be 100% sure, they certainly look like daffodil shoots. Compare my photograph from last year - what do you think?
Please leave a comment if you see any early shoots or email any photographs to firstname.lastname@example.org
Many Thanks, Professor Plant
Pop Peth Music & Me
The Pop Peth exhbition in Oriel 1, St Fagans:National history Museum ends on January 10th, so there's still time to come and look at Gari Melville's superb collection of memorabilia, play Llwybr Llaethog's keyboard, see how a fanzine is made, learn about Spillers Records, watch music videos and leave your memories of your best gig ever!
We've been getting some lovely memories of best gigs and here are a few of my favourites....
Ashley McAvoy went to see Super Furry Animals in Clwb Ifor Bach in 1994, Nicola Stingl walked into Stuart Cable (previously of Stereophonics), Liz Magee saw The Beatles in the early 1960s but couldn't hear them because of all the screaming, Irwin Richards played tambourine with Supertramp (even though he wasn't invited to...), Beth Thomas saw CSN&Y, The Band and Joni Mitchell in Wembley in 1974, Jared lost his shoe at an Oasis concert in 1996, and lost three days in Glastonbury...Kevin Williams sat next to Robert Plant for an entire football match (Barry Town v UWIC), Stu saw Lift to Experience in Barfly in 2002, and as well as walking into Stuart Cable, Nicola Stingl also goes out with the guitarist in Through Solace. And my absolute favourite of today's bunch of best gigs goes to Laura Kemp who saw Motley Crue in the Cardiff International Arena in 2005 and writes 'I fainted when I saw Nikki Sixx for the first time.'
Maori remains to return home
Today’s a special day at National Museum Cardiff, as a private repatriation ceremony takes place which will see the skeletal remains of 12 Maoris being sent back from Wales to New Zealand. It’s the first time the Museum has held such a ceremony, and I think it's important that the remains are returned to their country of origin. The ceremony itself will be quite different to the ones we usually see here! Before the remains are packed, a call and chant of acknowledgement is made. The remains - known as köiwi tangata - will then be greeted during the hour-long ceremony, which will be attended by workers from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which has helped arrange the repatriation.
Following a closing prayer, all participants of the ceremony will press noses as part of the completion process and sprinkle water over their heads and bodies. I’m hopeful that this will lay the foundations for future collaborations between Amgueddfa Cymru and the Te Papa Museum.
Thousands of young scientists study climate change
National Museum Wales is working with 3,600 young scientists to investigate and understand climate change.
Over the past few weeks bulbs and pots have been delivered to schools and home educators all across Wales - ready for the big planting day on the 20th October. Some schools have sent in some lovely pictures and reported on how excited the children are to be taking part.
From now until the end of March 2010 each young scientist will be recording the weather and flowering dates of their Daffodil and Crocus bulbs as part or a long-term study looking at the effects of temperature changes on spring bulbs.
The study started in 2005, and will hopefully continue for many years to come. To see the results so far or to sign up for next year please visit Spring Bulbs for Schools
Each pupil will work through Professor Plant's tasks to be awarded a Super Scientist Certificate and the most dedicated school will win a trip to the Really Welsh Daffodil Farm and Kenfig Nature Reserve. The Really Welsh company kindly donated all the daffodils for this experiment - which are grown in good Welsh soil at Kenfig, near Bridgend.
Watch this blog to see some of the schools reports & observations - or watch the picture diary in the spring.
If you are taking part and would like to send Professor Plant a question - then please get in touch. Professor Plant would love to hear from you.
A 'must see'
Rembrandt's painting of Catrina Hooghsaet has gone on display at National Museum Cardiff today until the 21st of March next year. We're delighted to have it here, and are very grateful for the loan from Penrhyn Castle in North Wales. It's a special opportunity for the museum, and I'm sure it will be a popular attraction.
First Minister Rhodri Morgan has described it as a real coup for Cardiff, stating: "Rembrandt is a towering figure in the history of art. Next to having the Mona Lisa on loan, I cannot think of any better ‘must see' attraction that we could possibly have in the National Museum." Well, that's one satisfied visitor. Make sure you come along to see it for yourself!
National Poetry Day 2009 at Big Pit
On National Poetry Day in October 2009, Big Pit’s poet-in-residence Mike Jenkins encouraged visitors to contribute to a ‘BIG Big Pit poem’. The theme of National Poetry Day was ‘Heroes and Heroines,’ and contributors wrote about the heroic people who worked in difficult conditions and jobs in coal mines.
Contributions came from 3 schools: Goetre Junior School, Merthyr, Queen Street Primary School, Abertillery and Oldbury Wells High School in Shropshire. Mike awarded a signed copy of his children’s poetry book ‘Poems for Underage Thinkers’ to the junior classes for their inspired efforts.
Adult poets were:
Mike Tanner from Blaenavon, Justin Hamilton from Kilbirnie, Derek Edmondson from Woodford, and Mr and Mrs Gilbert from Little Witcombe, as well as Big Pit staff.
Find out more about Mike’s award-winning poetry and prose by visiting his website: www.mikejenkins.net.
BIG BIG PIT POEM
A communal poem created at Big Pit on National Poetry Day 2009
Underground what will we see?
Underground is dangerous
Ponies hauled dram after dram
Thrusters and hurriers pushing tram after tram
Pickers hitting as hard as they can
Children crying and crying.
The canary was a warning.
Lots of water on the ground
It was leaking into the pit
Getting deeper and deeper.
It was dark like night when the lights went out,
It was scary. Slippery like water.
The cage went fast then slow.
Down the pit there were tracks.
Struggling by the light of lamps.
The axes and sledgehammers were dirty as muddy water.
Some were very old.
The men were heroes because they worked twelve hard hours.
The fireman who risked himself to save his workmate’s face,
After a fall, threw himself down to protect his friend.
The horses were heroes because they saved people.
Masks protected the ponies’ faces, some of the ponies died.
Seventy two worked down the mine.
Many of them became blind.
The miner had to pull the drams.
The girls were heroines because they helped.
Dad and son worked side by side
Deprived of sunlight from day to day.
Some men died.
Some men cried.
Coughing up black dust
Working like navvies from dawn till dusk.
Mothers sad when there was an explosion.
A message home when there’s no hope left
Scratched into a bottle.
Day and night death always occurred.
But everyone pulled together
Washing away the day’s toil.
A hot bath, joke and a laugh.
To the hole in the wall, have a fag
Desperate for that first drag.
Figures hunched against the driving rain
Thirsting for the hoppy nectar
To soothe away the pain.