Sunday, 20 April 2014

A Number Of Unrelated Items

Life Cycle

If you take the cycle path from Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge out towards Great Shelford you find yourself following this odd multi-coloured path. The colours seem to be randomly distributed and the whole thing goes on for quite a distance.

The Sustrans website explains:
This section of the National Cycle Network .... marks the 10,000th mile of the National Cycle Network, opened in September 2005 by Sir John Sulston. The work on this route celebrates the role of the nearby Sanger Institute in decoding the vital human gene BRCA2.
BRCA2 is just one of the 30,000 genes in the human genome and, plays an important role in our bodies; producing a protein that helps to repair human DNA. 
A series of stripes in four colours representing the 10,257 genetic letters, or bases, of the gene BRCA2 have been laid on the path using thermoplastic strips heat welded onto the tarmac. It is the sequence of the four bases colour coded - adenine (A) in green, cytosine (C) in blue, guanine (G) in yellow and thymine (T) in red - that contains the code for life. As visitors cycle or walk over these stripes they will be traversing a portion of their own genome.

And there's a sculpture at the end which represents the double helix.

Royal And Ancient ?

On Royston golf course there are many mounds and hollows to be negotiated. Most of the mounds are raised tees or greens but nearby is this mound (as well as several other similar ones) which is of an altogether more ancient origin. For it is a Bronze Age burial mound constructed for a tribal leader and situated on the skyline and commanding huge views over the flatlands of Cambridgeshire.

Colour In Church

In Bassingbourn church are these welcome splashes of colour - quilted banners hanging from the stone columns or, in the case of the larger one, decorating the pulpit.

Community Chest 

Tucked away in the corner of Abington Piggots church is this rather battered chest. All parishes used to have one to store important records. Generally there were several locks and all the keyholders would have to be present in order for documents to be deposited or taken out. Even so records in many parishes  are incomplete.


When I was young I remember being very taken with the word 'obelisk'. It was only ever used, as far as I could tell, to describe Cleopatra's Needle, the Egyptian obelisk on the banks of the Thames. It seemed a waste of such an excellent word! Little did I know that we had one in Cambridgeshire.

It is a memorial to Gregory Wale who departed this life in 1739. What heroic deeds did he accomplish to deserve such a monument? Well, apart from a leading role in local government, nothing very remarkable. And that's what I like about it. It was erected by a friend to mark the fact that Mr Wale was "a good subject, an agreeable companion, a faithful friend, an hospitable neighbour and in all parts of life a useful member of society": things which can not always be said of those who have achieved more fame.

Everything Under The Sun

A house displays a Fire Insurance plaque as householders would have had to do in the early days of insurance. If you didn't keep up to date with your payments they wouldn't put out the fire! 
I'm not sure if this is an original plaque or not - it's certainly been put up quite recently as can be seen from the modern screw-heads!

Take care.


  1. I like the multi-coloured cycle path; it seems to give energy, and helps keep you on the straight and narrow :) Thanks for the explanation. The Fire Insurance is also interesting; it makes me think of days when we needed a TV Licence. I'm not sure it UK still requires tv licencing??

  2. I'm thinking that multicoloured path must have taken a while to put down. Seems appropriate for the area near where the double helix was discovered.

    Fire insurance? I'm glad coverage is included in our taxes. One less bill to have to think about. ;)

  3. To Gregory Wale; may his tribe increase.

  4. Fascinating pathway and I have become very interested about the genomes lately. I never knew that fact about the old days of insurance. Enjoyed your photos as always.

  5. You do find some interesting things:) Love the barrow and the parish chest but best of all is Mr Gregory Wale - if only there were more like him!

  6. What a really interesting and informative post John. I found the coloured road so hard to understand that I am ashamed to say that I moved on. But that wonderful old church chest - we saw several when we were in Norfolk on holiday last year - they absolutely ooze history don't they?

  7. John, once again you have a fascinating post, and your part of England has such delightful things to discover. I adore the colorful bike path, and the idea of a friend constructing an obelisk to memorialize a buddy is really special. I need to start working on my own buddies to encourage them to erect one for me. And I will probably have to fund it, too.

  8. Your cycle track is way more colourful than the yellow brick wall John :) The burial mounds are fascinating.. It really is quite amazing how many obelisks there are around the world erected for many reasons. The fire insurance plaque looks pretty new.. So I wonder if there was a fire and no plaque would they really just let it burn down?

  9. I'm catching up on blog-reading again, and as always I'm entranced by your lovely photos and the humour in your writing. Such a treat to visit. I really like the picture yesterday of the leaded glass. Very unusual and so well-seen.

  10. "By Stargoose and Hanglands" has been included in Tuesday's Sites To See for this week. Be assured that I hope this helps to point many new visitors in your direction.

  11. Your posts are always interesting and the themes various, but this time you have really outdone yourself - from a Bronze age mound to a DNA cycle track! WOW, as they say across the pond.

  12. That "community chest" looks like a coffin...


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