Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

Low Water

Wednesday 12th July 2000
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backwater of the Calder
THE RIVER is low again. There are long streaks of foam below the rapids. It looks much as it did in the 1960s and 70s, when pollution was at its worst. At the moment there isn't enough rainwater to dilute its regular burden of effluent and, being so shallow, it gets stirred up as it crosses the ruins of the old wier.

ruins of the wier The wier was probably built to supply a head of water for a mill. A lock near the wier still connects with the canal, via the narrowboat moorings, although I've never seen it used. Low water has revealed a jumble of substantial sandstone blocks scattered like children's bricks across the river. Two of them are edged with convex mouldings. They look as if they were cut as coping stones, at least 3ft x 2ft. Perhaps they once capped the wier.

spider As I sit to write my diary, a spider scurries across the settee. It runs up the back of a cushion, so I lift it outside. It's quite a fast runner and has a silvery lustre on the plain pale brown fur that covers its body. Its body is slightly flattened, like a pasty or a teacake, so I guess that it is adapted to living in confined spaces. It's no more than a centimetre long in total length.

Inches versus Centimetres

I must apologise for my inconsistency in measurements. I grew up in pre-metrication days, but even so, in woodwork, I could never cope with a measurement that involved adding five eighths of an inch to thirteen sixteenths of an inch. I was delighted when centimetres came along and I've never used anything else for my graphic design work. But when it comes to larger objects, as my feet are each twelve inches long, and I'm over six feet tall, I find it natural to revert to imperial measure.

Of course, at art college I learnt about typographical measures such as ems and ens. The only time an 'em' came in useful was once when we were playing Scrabble in a holiday cottage in France (miles from the nearest English dictionary), but, would you believe it, my brother disallowed the word because no-one else had heard of it!

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; 'richard@daelnet.co.uk'

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