Historian and Researcher

So back to the mini-series of Who I am and what I do.

6912b-historian
though I do not have a beard!!

So I’ve done the “biggies” on my business card – writer, airbnb host –  and also the easy to define one, Dog walker, and now it moves down to the ones that are harder to define. What do I mean by a “Historian and Researcher”. Well it was made clear to me the other day when I had some round from the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust to talk to me about doing workshops up there. For one we talked history and threw ideas back and forth but then once he had gone I googled what we’d been talking about, sent emails to friends to ask for information, and then went to the library to gather books. I printed stuff off, made notes all over it and then pondered. Yes that’s what I do after I’ve gathered lots of information – I ponder it all. But also I googled the man I’d met to see more about him.

But I realise that actually I only do this when it comes to historical things. When it comesgwrych-1161 down to other things I go by “feel”. So if someone asks to meet me I first of all go by gut instinct and only after I’ve met them and want to go further with what they have said, and actually only if I feel like I have connected, do I research the subject and then the person. I discovered that, for me, to try to research something beforehand leaves me jaded and uninterested. Something has to have piqued my interest first.

Also with things like History and even Bible study, I do need to see many different sides. So with history I love historical fiction and find that is an easy way to learn things. Often I would like to do it with my laptop by my side so I can google things as I do to check out whether the author is stick to the facts. But a lot of historical fiction is interpretation – in fact so is a lot of historical fact where flesh has to be put on the bare bones of an article – so  it is good to read many different authors stories about the same period in history, covering often the same characters. Some people will have a passion for a certain king, some will have a hatred for the same person. With Bible study what is written is interpreted differently  as I did say before in “It says clearly in the Bible” that it does not say it quite so clearly as one would like. There are few words and what one thinks it says is interpretation, which is why we should hear from many different people; some we will love and agree with, some we wont. A bit like the historical fiction writers. And we will gravitate to an interpretation we like but … I digress!

keep-calm-and-read-everything-9I should have known I was a researcher years ago. When I first became a Christian I read every book I could lay my hands on in regard to what I was now believing and read my Bible 2-3 times a year (not boasting, just showing what sort of researcher I am!)  for the first few years, wanted to go on every course and conference, just wanted to know. When I had my children I bought nearly every child rearing book I could and then borrow from the library. And the same as they grew  older. I think I’ve got lazier but maybe not.

So don’t just tell me something – give me the references and then a bit for me to run with.

And also if anyone out there knows anything about the Picturesque Movement and some suggested books I could be reading I would be very grateful 🙂

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How Mankind Tames Landscape

I met a lovely lady dog walker a couple of days ago who told me about a walk from my

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Gwrych Castle 

house that goes via the castle which I can see from my window, over the North Wales Expressway, then on to the beach and back via the park. It is a lovely walk taking in all sorts of terrain and today the tide was out so we got sand too. What struck me though as I walked was how much mankind has altered the terrain, tamed it, organised it.

First of all I was thinking of the two roads I have to cross – one, the old A road that is still well used. This runs along an older carter’s route. Modern man has just tarmacked it. This has then been replaced by the dual carriageway, much faster and straighter A55 where traffic goes along at a steady 60-70 miles per hour. These two routes make it clear how

north-wales-coast-nr-abergele-looking-towards-colwyn-bay-showing-the-crffc4
Ariel view of the area

man has used the landscape for his own means. These routes have to run where they do because it is near the coastline and so flatter.

Then there is the castle, built in the nineteenth century and looks like a fairy castle. Again it has taken the lie of the land and shaped itself around the hillside, put in proper roads and paths. At the moment there are a group of long term unemployed people who have to come and work the estate so they get their unemployment benefit. They are taking what is there and moulding it and shaping it, putting in more paths and are going to make a children’s playground. Again taking what is and changing and making something that fits where life is now.

As I walked I thought that at least the sea has been kept from all this but no! As you look out there are three different groupings of wind turbines standing sentinel in the sea. In 2013-05-15-14-36-11fact you can see the wind turbines from our bedroom window which is how we know we can see the sea! Again man has harness what is to make it his own. Though the wind does decide as and when it is going to make energy. Yesterday the wind was so strong, the tide so high that it was a wild and woolly day, but today the sun is out, the wind has dropped and the sea is hardly rippling. Even though mankind does take what is there is still some of nature that still has it’s own way.

So as I walk I am amazed at what we human beings have done to this land. There is very little there that would have been the same to the iron age hill dwellers who camp I can just see from my house too. Even back then they took what was there, the hill with its view of the sea and back across the land, and shaped and changed it into the circles of hills and ditches that would keep the families castellcawrphotosafe.

So as I ponder global warming and all that I have great confidence that mankind will adapt and change, will somehow find a way through. I wonder what the fears of Iron-age man, Tudor man, Victorian man where? Yet each of them shaped and changed and alter what was to work for them. This is not to say that we should just carry on using energy and resources like we do. No we should definitely take responsibility, but I do think we should stop fearing and trust in our own ingenuity.