Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Ponies of the New Forest, Hampshire, England

Last month my sisters met me on the day that I arrived in England and we stopped for lunch in the village of Beaulieu, which is located on the south eastern edge of the New Forest National Park in Hampshire. Beaulieu has a population of 829 people and is 92 miles SW of London.

Rooftop of one of the local cottages

Some of the local points of interest are the Palace House which overlooks the village from across Beaulieu River. It began in 1204 as the gatehouse to Beaulieu Abbey, and has been the ancestral home of a branch of the Montagu family since 1538, when it was bought from the crown following the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII.
Although still home to the current Lord and Lady Montagu, parts of the house and gardens are open daily to the public. 
The estate includes the British National Motor Museum with over 250 vintage and historic cars on display including Donald Campbell's Bluebird.

The New Forest Pony is considered to have a gentle temperament, and the ponies are noted for their intelligence, strength and versatility. New Foresters are amongst the most approachable of all the native British pony breeds, perhaps because of their history of frequent contact with humans.

The New Forest Pony is one of the recognized Mountain and moorland or Native pony breeds of the British Isles. The breed is valued for its hardiness, strength and sureness of foot. It is indigenous to the New Forest and many ponies can still be seen roaming loose there.

The earliest record of horses in the New Forest dates back to 1016 when rights of common pasture were granted to the people living in what was a royal hunting ground. 

The ponies living full-time on the New Forest are almost all mares. For much of the year the ponies live in small groups, usually consisting of an older mare, her daughters and their foals, all keeping to a discrete area of the Forest called a haunt.

The cattle and ponies living on the New Forest are not feral, but are owned by commoners (local people with common grazing rights), who pay a fee each year for each animal turned out. The animals are looked after by their owners and by the Agisters, employees of the Verderers of the New Forest – the Verderers are a statutory body with ancient roots that shares the management of the forest with the Forestry Commission.

The average height is 4’8”. New Forest Ponies are most commonly bay, chestnut or grey. 

There are approximately 6,500 animals using the right to pasturage, i.e. grazing in the New Forest. These are ponies, donkeys, cattle and pigs.

I know that the word Agister may be new to some of you from other countries. Agisters, in the United Kingdom were formerly the officers of the forest empowered to collect the agistment. They have been re-established in the New Forest to carry out the daily duties of administering the forest.

My family and I have been visiting the New Forest since we were children. It has always been a delight to watch the ponies roam around while freely grazing there, and to realize that this custom has been in place for more than a thousand years. The right to graze animals is one of the Common Rights under ancient forest law. These rights attach to property in the forest so anybody living in a house that has Common Rights attached, gets these rights automatically and they apply equally to property owners and tenants.

The current rights are:

1. Pannage or Mast - the right to turn out pigs between 25th September and 22nd November each year to feed on acorns and beechnuts. Not only does this fatten pigs for Christmas, it also prevents ponies and cattle gorging on acorns which could cause inflammation and death.

2. Common Pasture - the best known of the Common Rights, which is to turn out ponies, cattle and donkeys to graze in the open forest.

Nowadays, only the rights to Common Pasture and Mast are practiced to any extent. The ponies  are predominately New Foresters, some other breeds such as Shetlands are also found in some areas. The lives of the ponies are relatively unhindered by humans unless they need veterinary attention or additional feeding, when they are usually taken off the Forest.

New Forest National Park covers an area of 219 square miles and  contains the highest concentration of very old trees in Europe.


This was the  first day of peacesojourner's meanderings in England. It feels good to be home .  I will share more of my adventures with you later. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Can We Talk? - re: Robot Teachers

Can we talk?.....................

It has finally happened. A proposal to replace teachers has come along.

According to the news ‘In Tokyo, Japan a robot has been made. But the developer says it's not about to replace human instructors.

Her name is Saya and she can express six basic emotions — surprise, fear, disgust, anger, happiness, and sadness — because her rubber skin is being pulled from the back with motors and wiring around the eyes and the mouth. In a demonstration, the robot's mouth popped open, her eyes widened and eyebrows arched to appear surprised

According to the news article the children were amused when she called out their names. Still, she is remote-controlled by a human watching the interaction through cameras.

The idea in Japan and other nations are hopeful that robotics will provide a solution for their growing labor shortage problem as populations age. But scientists express concern about using a machine to take care of children and say more research in human-robot interaction is needed before overly relying on robots.

"The robot has no intelligence. She has no ability to learn. She has no identity," and is just a tool." says one professor. (Duh!)

That made-to-order robot will cost about 5 million yen ($51,000).

It has been said that everyone remembers their first grade teacher. Well, I'm guessing that would be especially true if your first grade teacher was a robot. Saya the robot teacher is not able to administer lessons or give individual attention to students. It may be cost effective but is this the wave of the future?

After reading the article I thought about my teachers and my days in school.
I tried to remember the names and faces of the teachers and discovered something that was quite unexpected. I could only clearly remember one of my teachers. The memories of the others are a blur. Mr. Leno, my 6th form teacher, at Pinner County School, is certainly the one who is indelibly sketched in my mind and has my grateful respect.

He was tall and slender and this was accentuated by the way he dressed. He was the only teacher that I ever had who wore his professors black gown and mortarboard to every class. He also addressed every student as Miss or Mr. and expected us all to do the same. Thus teaching us to be polite and respect him and each other.

He had a creative way of teaching mathematics and his lessons remain with me today. He would assign each student a problem in geometry and when it was our turn we would have stand and look at the problem that was written on the chalkboard. We then had to solve the problem by saying each move out loud whilst staring at a blank board. I can remember protesting and saying that I just was not able to do it. He was relentless and insisted that I could. I can still remember feeling as if the cobwebs in my brain were moving out of the way, and it actually felt painful to make my brain work so hard. But guess what? All of the students finally managed to solve the math problems in our heads without writing down a single number and I can still do this today. Sometimes when people observe me adding up triple digit numbers in my head they are surprised. Mr. Leno taught me how to do it.

Another lesson we learned was not so pleasant but never forgotten. I remember (with shame) that we had a substitute teacher one day. She was young, obviously nervous and we were probably her first class. She had a mop of bright red, curly hair. Young children seem to have radar for identifying the vulnerable and collectively we decided to give her a hard time. When she attempted to teach us, all of the students started mumbling ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah” and we refused to let her get her message out. She eventually ran out of the class crying. Leaving us all stunned and wondering what to do now that we were without a teacher in front of us.

The following day Mr. Leno stormed into the classroom and slammed the door shut behind him. His black gown was blowing in the breeze and he was furious.
He shouted out “Scum of the earth!” and in his rage, proceeded to tell us how ashamed he was of us and how disrespectful we had been to the substitute teacher. It was a scene that I have never forgotten and I will eternally feel ashamed of our collective behavior on that day. Trust me, it never happened again!

Now I ask you, to think back to your memories of your teachers. Was it a lesson in life skills, a compliment, a warm smile or hug? How could one ever have such memories from a robot teacher? A robot cannot be that kind of inspirational role model.

Also, the robot teacher has to have someone behind the scenes viewing the class in order to press the buttons to change her facial expressions (shades of Big Brother here). What is the point if she has to have the Wizard behind the curtain who is operating her?

A grateful thanks to those who were my teachers and also, to my friends who are educators. You each bring a unique quality to teaching and you love what you do. Thank you. You deserve to be recognized as being compassionate human beings and, I am sure, you hope that one day at least one student will say, “Yes, I remember that teacher very well………”

Can we talk? Here is my personal opinion - No, no, no! No to robots!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Barack Obama - Settling in at the White House..............

Contemplating in Solitude 

For the President's Eyes Only

What Would You Tell Me If You Could?

Listen Up To What I Told You Baby Girl........

What 's On My 'To Do' List Today?'

B-Ball In a Suit? This May Start a New Trend.

Working Late.

Reflecting in the Red Room


Thanks to TIME Magazine  for these  wonderful photos.  

They truly give us a glimpse  of life in the White House as the First Family is settling into their new home.

The captions are by peacesojourner (with apologies to TIME)   :-)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Reflection - Sunrise Over The Atlantic Ocean

Psalm 136:8 - The sun to rule by day: for His mercy endureth for ever.

Matt 16:3 - Red sky in the morning, cloudy and storming. 'You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky yet you can't interpret the signs of the times?'


Sunrise with the Lord

Do you ever start the day out
Sharing a sunrise with the Lord? 
Just having a little chat with Him
Feeling grateful He’s on board? 

Perhaps you’ve got a problem
You need to share with Him
A worry that’s not fading
And the light in your world is dim

Or maybe things are going well
And you just want to tell Him so
‘Cause you’re feeling mighty peaceful
Your life is heading where it should go

So you get up in the morning
Before the sun peeks out
Just to have a little visit with God
You don’t even have to shout

Because He’s always waiting for you
In case you need to talk
While you enjoy His bright creation
As you take that morning walk

It can be one of our greatest pleasures
And something we can all afford
Along with our morning coffee
Watch the sunrise with the Lord! 

                                                 Marilyn Lott 


Photos by peacesojourner

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The United Nations - New York City - 2009

An artist's sketch of the United Nations Plaza

A child's vision of a perfect world - UN building, NYC

Flags from many of the nations represented at the UN

The UN Building

Additional flags from countries of members of the UN

One of my favorite places to visit has always been the United Nations building in New York City. Whenever I am in town I make my way to the UN Building to take a look around.

I have always loved the concept of the organization that was formed to promote world peace. In the past the general public was able to enter the building without any barriers.

I understand the need for increased security, however, I felt a sense of intrusion at the searching and questioning that I recently had to undergo before being granted entrance to the halls of peace.

A brief history of The United Nations is that in 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter. The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and a majority of other signatories. 

The Charter is the constituting instrument of the Organization, setting out the rights and obligations of member states, and establishing the United Nations procedures.

The purposes of the United Nations, as set forth in the Charter are: 

 'to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples; to cooperate in solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems and in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these ends'.

In the past, while living in England, I met students from many countries who were studying to become interpreters for the United Nations and their passion was fervent in the desire to help bring about  peace in the world.  Several graduated their studies  and are still my friends today.

Even though entrance is now guarded, the UN is still a place that one should not miss while visiting NYC.  It is a sad reflection of the current times and the world that we live in, that 63 years after the formation of the UN, security measures have been so drastically increased. I can appreciate that it is an attempt to make us safer but I must say that I do not like it.

I pray that the primary concept of the United Nations will never be lost and will prevail over current and future generations.

United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October each year.

Photos by peacesojourner

Monday, May 11, 2009

Eggsactly Right

Here is the little house where I live

And, here I am in my baby carriage (pram)

Everything is eggsactly right for me.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Psychedelic - A New Fish Species

Welcome 'Psychedelic'

A recently discovered fish named 'psychedelic' is shown in the waters off Ambon Island, Indonesia.

The frog-like fish - which has a swirl of tan and peach zebra stripes that extend from its aqua eyes to its tail - has been classified by scientists as a new species.

Look closely at the photo above - it is amazing don't you think?

Our Mother Nature never fails to leave me in wonder - her art is perfection!

 I also wonder how long this 'recently discovered' fish has been in existence.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Clothes Line - Laundry Day

The Clothes Line

Do young people today even know what a clothes line is?
For all of those who are older, this will bring back the memories.


1. You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes.
Walk the length of each line with a damp cloth around the line so that the clean, wet, clothes will not get dirty.

2. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order and always hang
whites with whites and hang them first.

3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders, always by the tail.
What would the neighbors think?

4. Wash day on a Monday...... .....never hang clothes on the
weekend or Sunday for heaven's sake!

5. Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so you could
hide your 'unmentionables' in the middle.

6. It didn't matter if it was sub zero weather..... clothes would
'freeze dry.'

7. Always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes.
Pins left on the line had to remain clean for the next use.

8. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that
each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes
pins with the next washed item.

9. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the
clothes basket and ready to be ironed.

10. IRONED?????? ???? Well, that's a whole other subject.

A POEM (city-bred)

A clothes line was a news forecast

To neighbors passing by.

There were no secrets you could keep

When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link

For neighbors always knew

If company had stopped on by

To spend a night or two.

For then you'd see the 'fancy sheets'

And towels upon the line;

You'd see the 'company table cloths'

With intricate design.

The line announced a baby's birth

To folks who lived inside

As brand new infant clothes were hung
So carefully with pride.

The ages of the children could

So readily be known

By watching how the sizes changed

You'd know how much they'd grown.

It also told when illness struck,

As extra sheets were hung;

Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,

Haphazardly were strung.

It said, 'Gone on vacation now'

When lines hung limp and bare.

It told, 'We're back!' when full lines sagged

With not an inch to spare.

New folks in town were scorned upon

If wash was dingy gray,

As neighbors carefully raised their brows,

And looked the other way..

But clotheslines now are of the past

For dryers make work less.

Now what goes on inside a home

Is anybody's guess.

I really miss that way of life.

It was a friendly sign

When neighbors knew each other best

By what hung on the line.
Author unknown

I received this as an e-mail message and found myself reminiscing -
how about you? :-)
Actually, I do still hang my clothes out to dry (weather permitting) and now that I think of it I should encourage all readers to do so rather than use the dryer - definitely is a way to conserve energy.