(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2017 Angharad
This is a work of fiction any mention of real people, places or institutions is purely coincidental and does not imply that they are as suggested in the story.
I had quite a surprise the next morning, I read about my own university and a project they were involved in about repopulating the Solent with oysters. The Solent is the stretch of water between the south coast and the Isle of Wight; once famous as the most expensive ferry crossings in the world and can be crossed using hydrofoil, conventional boat or hovercraft.
Oysters used to thrive around the coast of the British Isles and in Charles Dickens’ days, they were seen as a cheap form of protein and used by poorer families to feed their children, to eke out any meat they were having. A combination of overfishing, pollution and climate change contributed to oysters being a non viable crop in many places. The problem with modern commercial fishing is the scale and destruction it does, bottom-trawling or dredging destroys the sea bed as an ecosystem which can take decades to recover if it ever does, but we seem to allow it happen. It should be banned.
Anyway, back to Portsmouth Uni and the oysters: this was all arranged before I became responsible for everything scientific there, so I’m pleased to see it getting some kudos. There is another problem, it’s called Crepidula fornicate, otherwise known as the American slipper limpet which is an invasive species, which has taken over most of the area that once were oyster beds. Still that’s not for me to worry about although apparently you can eat them. Seems like the plan is to seed the beds with young oysters, then they will also release loads of the oyster larvae, from adults which will be kept in cages in various places such as harbours, along the south coast.
Oysters filter quite large amounts of water so it’s hoped they’ll assist in keeping the water cleaner by filtering out pollutants. Not sure I’ll be eating them in that case, not that I like them anyway. However, most of the ones eaten in the UK are farmed Pacific oysters which are different to the native ones, the latter being the ones they’ll use in the project and which they hope to restore to sustainable populations and which may then be fished in a controlled manner.
It concerns me as a conservationist that people who produce or harvest food seem to think bigger is better and look to maximise profits at the expense of everything else, even to the point of despoiling places then moving on to spoil somewhere else. All of these resources need to be harvested sympathetically or we’ll never be able to feed the future human populations—which similarly need to be controlled, though no one publically seems to talk about it. I suspect our own adaptability, which has led to overpopulation, will one day lead to our demise, dying from our own cleverness. I just hope it doesn’t affect other species, the ones we haven’t already driven to extinction, too much. We are the most invasive and destructive species the planet has ever known, sadly we’re also the most wilfully ignorant, selfish and aggressive. We seem to have lost the capacity to live in harmony with the planet, preferring to actively control everything as if we have a god given right to do so, which some people actually believe—but I did say we were wilfully ignorant.
I sent an email to our marine biologist helping to run the project then went downstairs to have breakfast. Mr Dunstan had done us a full English again plus a bowl of porridge. If I stay here much longer I’ll be too fat to fit behind the wheel of my car, he’s looking after us so well.
The girls were bemoaning the fact that the snow had disappeared. I didn’t share their feelings, yesterday had given me more than enough of it. They’d seen it as exciting, I saw it as dangerous and inconvenient, but accept at their age I’d probably have shared their view. Hopefully, they don’t see the danger because they trust me to protect them. I might be a bit delusional there, but hopefully that’s what my role is and so far I’ve managed to fulfil it.
“What’re we doing today, Mummy, seeing as the snow’s all gone?” asked Hannah.
“I’ll need to check the weather forecast.” I said looking towards Mr Dunstan who was still scoffing his own breakfast.
“Better today, should stay dry,” he said enlightening my ignorance.
“We could try and get you a picture of a mountain or two,” I said, hoping we’d see a few more eagles if we did.
“Nah, my boots are still wet and it wasn’t that good was it? What’re the shops like?”
Danielle who’d been busy alternately applying mascara and eating her breakfast smirked at her sister’s comment.
“What about you, Danni? Shopping or something else?”
“Shopping’s okay with me,” she added also adding more mascara to her heavily coated lashes. She’ll probably need to steam clean them to get it off again.
“Okay, we’ll take a wander round Perth then.”
En route, Danni spotted Huntingtower Castle on the map, so we had a quick look at it. I found it hard to believe that someone actually lived here until 2002, but they did.
(picture by Brian D Osborne courtesy of Wikipedia)
It’s originally fifteenth century though bits were added afterwards. Apparently, it had two towers and the story goes that the daughter of the first Earl of Gowrie fell in love with one of the servants and they used to meet in the servants part of the castle. Her mother got to hear of these clandestine meetings and went to surprise the lovers, only Dorothea, the daughter, heard her coming and ran up to the roof then managed to leap across to the other tower and scramble inside and back to her room. They apparently eloped the next day, though we know nothing of what happened to them.
There are however, sightings of a tall young woman in a green dress, who is associated with disasters for those who see her. I was listening to the guide telling us all about this when Danielle went very quiet and looked very pale. I walked her over to a seat and asked if she was all right.
“I saw her.”
“Lady Greensleeves—am I going to die?”
“You saw the ghost?”
“Yes, they say people die after seeing her, don’t they?”
“I expect it’s pure coincidence, now did she say anything to you?”
“I dunno, she smiled at me and I was so shocked I didn’t hear if she said anything.”
“She didn’t ask you for help or anything?”
“No—she’s dead, how could I help her?”
“Okay, now, first things first, you are not going to die as a result of seeing her, okay?”
She nodded at me but still looked quite pale.
“If she appeared it was for a reason or you imagined it after hearing the guide telling the story.” I tried to bluff her worries away.
“No, Mummy, she went pale as the guide started the story.” Hannah wasn’t helping my efforts.
“Here hold my hand, Han, you stand guard.” I said as I tried to imagine myself in the castle meeting with so called Lady Greensleeves to see what I needed to do to save my daughter. Why do these things always happen to me?
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