Thursday, 28 April 2011

Shandy moths

I like just pottering along with my moths blog, but I'm aware that this makes me rather remiss in checking out, liaising with and commenting on the truly wonderful array of similar musings, professional and amateur, which are out here, free, on the internet in the amazing modern world.

I can make up for that a little today, in the absence of anything interesting in the trap last night, by flagging up a couple (in addition to the 'mothy websites' links to the right on this page, which are all well worth visiting).

The first is the new Shandy Hall moth blog, which opens our eyes not just to moths in the pretty North Yorkshire village of Coxwold, but also to the strange and irresistible world of Laurence Sterne and Tristram Shandy. Patrick Wildgust, the sprightly director of the Laurence Sterne Trust, is brilliant at finding ways of enticing people to Sterne's old home, Shandy Hall, at the Thirsk end of the village where the writer was the vicar, and running moth sessions to entice children towards an otherwise sometimes intimidating book.

They love it. You can hear one of them, 11-year-old William Smith, talk with impressive fluency about Wildgust's Death's Head Hawk moth project (see pic above, and the Shandy blog for more) on Requiem for a Moth, the programme on Radio 4 next Friday which I relentlessly keep promoting. Another excellent Wildgust wheeze is to designate the rambling old farm as the International Centre for Non-linear Narrative, a genre which Sterne pioneered.

This brings scholars from all over the world and accounts for the hall's extraordinary library of books written without using the letter 'e' or composed of 100 unbound pages which can be read in any order. It's also responsible for the handrail required by health and safety for disabled access which Wildgust has playfully based on one of Sterne's odd diagrams from Tristram Shandy, which trace the extremely non-linear nature of the plot (pic above left). It all helps to keep one of Yorkshire's most interesting old houses going, though I would recommend a visit just to enjoy the place, its lovely garden and the Wildgusts' lively company.

The other website I came across last night, while checking out support for the Guardian's threatened Leeds Local operation (please join efforts to save this) is Kirkstall Creatures Great and Small which has currently got some fabulous pictures of Green Hairstreaks on Otley Chevin. Like me, these butterflies are fond of bilberries. The continuing sunshine has brought them out, so I know where Penny and I will be walking this weekend. Thanks to Rampant Scotland for this pic.


worm said...

wow that book with the deaths head pic is beautiful!!
also, on checking out their blog I was pleased to see the scorched wing - a moth I've never seen before! (..of course never seen a live death's head either!)

Banished To A Pompous Land said...

What a wonderful and unexpected collision of two of my favourite things in the world! Insects and the Shandy family.

Next time your over a Banished's Bugs check the admittedly rather small image I use as my picture.

MartinWainwright said...

Hi guys

That's an excellent coincidence, Banished! How appropriate, what with your thumbnail pic and all. Patrick does a tremendous job of enthusing one and all about Sterne - and moths. You can read more about that in the latest post.

Oh to see a DH hawk moth! We've had the Scorched here, though. One-off patterning and another reminder of the sheer variety and imagination of colouring and design in moths' wings.

All v best as ever


kirstallcreatures said...

Hello Martin, thank you for mentioning my Green Hairstreak post, much appreciated & hope you managed a trip out to Otley to see them for yourself. Best wishes, Linda