Cambridge, a summers day, sunlight filtering through willow trees – get the picture? Well what else would one do but take a punt and go up the river to Grantchester for a picnic in the meadows? It simply has to be done. And so we did it. Despite the cross wind, which made the punting awkward even for hardy boating types, we got to the meadows and settled down to share our feast. The punt was tethered by its pole but not tethered enough it would seem as, only a few olives into the hors d’oeuvres it gently drifted from its resting place and took off across the river.
Enter the nephew – a strapping young lad – who leaped to his feet, plunged into the river and recovered our (un)trusty vessel. Everyone was full of praise. delighted that our return trip to the city was no longer in jeopardy and handing him an extra piece of sausage for his troubles. I, on the other hand, was staring at his legs. He was covered in the most exquisitely smooth looking clay!
In a flash the cheese had been removed from the safety of its sandwich bag and I was down on all fours in front of my nephew’s feet. The next thing I knew, his father took pity on him and, in order to prevent the embarrassment of having your aunt scraping the mud off your legs with a butter knife, said father grabbed the bag and hot-footed it down to the river bank returning with a deliciously glutinous mass; cold to the touch and wonderfully squashy.
I am reliably told that in the Cambridge University Engineering Department, the mathematical models for soil are categorised from gravel to sand to silt to clay. At the two ends of the spectrum they decided to develop mathematical behaviours for ‘Granta Gravel’ and ‘Cam Clay’. To be honest, this may be of huge importance to the world of soil mechanics but as far as I am concerned I am simply agog to know how it is going to behave in my kiln.