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Pink Supermoon

The biggest and brightest full moon of the year will rise over the skies of the UK tonight, offering the best chance to view a supermoon in 2020.

April's supermoon – officially referred to as a perigean full moon – will be the third month in a row for the rare celestial event. It occurs when the full moon is at its closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit.

On 7-8 April, the moon will get as close as 356,907km (221,772 miles) to Earth, making it appear bigger and brighter in the night's sky.

The time of year means this full moon is known in folklore as the 'Pink moon', as it usually coincides with spring flower blossoms.

The best time and date to see the supermoon is at moonrise on Tuesday and at moonset on Wednesday, when it is close to the horizon.

This is due to an optical illusion that makes it appear even bigger due to its relative size to buildings and objects on the horizon. The supermoon's peak illumination will take place just after 6pm GMT tonight, though it may not be visible until after sunset.

The term was first coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979, who defined a supermoon as any full moon that was within 90 per cent of its closest approach.

The coinage and use of the term has been criticised by astronomers, however some welcome it as a way to encourage interest in astronomy.  But supermoons aren’t hype, they’re special. 

The supermoon will also have an effect on the Earth’s oceans, with the extra gravitational pull from the moon creating extra-high tides.

People living along the coast will notice them one or two days after the supermoon has passed, though any risk of flooding is unlikely unless the high tides are combined with severe weather.

Clear skies and reduced air pollution due to the coronavirus lockdown means April’s supermoon could be one of the best ever times to view a supermoon.

 

 

 

Minimum sizes that apply to recreational fishing in Cornwall

There have been significant changes made to the management of fisheries at a European level which will affect those fishing in the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) district in a number of ways.  One of the significant changes resulting from the new technical measures relates to recreational fishing.

CHANGES FOR RECREATIONAL FISHING

Under the new EU regulation, there are no longer any European minimum sizes for sea fish applied to recreational fishing.  However, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has said that it will apply the 42cm minimum conservation reference size for bass to recreational fishing.

The only minimum sizes that apply to recreational fishing in the Cornwall IFCA district are prescribed under our Specified Fish Sizes byelaw, and other byelaws for various shellfish species.

For recreational fishing, the following minimum sizes apply within the Cornwall IFCA district (with some small exceptions, as described below) Please note these sizes also apply to the commercial sector except where the Landing Obligation is applied.

FIN FISH    

Length 

Conger Eel          58 centimetres

Hake                    30 centimetres

Grey Mullet          20 centimetres

Red Seabream    25 centimetres

Black Seabream  23 centimetres

Red Mullet           15 centimetres

Witch Flounder    28 centimetres

Dab                      15 centimetres

Lemon Sole          25 centimetres

Flounder               25 centimetres

Megrim                 25 centimetres

Brill                       30 centimetres

Turbot                   30 centimetres 

SHELLFISH CARAPACE

Crawfish                          110mm

Edible Crab female          150mm

Edible Crab male             160mm

Spider crab                      130mm

Lobster                              90mm 

Mussels                             50mm shell length

The sizes listed above result from byelaws inherited from the former Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee and therefore, do not apply to the whole of the larger Cornwall IFCA district, principally within the rivers and estuaries.  

In addition to the above shellfish minimum sizes, please be aware that cockles that are removed from Cornish rivers and estuaries must not pass through a space of 20mm width.

SPEARFISHING 

It is an offence to catch or harvest marine species using any type of projectile, including handheld spears and spear guns used in recreational fishing from dusk till dawn or when using an aqualung.

Star of wonder 

What is the star next to the moon this time of year and why is it so bright?  The light isn’t actually a star, it’s in fact a planet - Venus.

It’s not the flashiest celestial event, and it’s far from the rarest, but the juxtaposition of the crescent moon and Venus tonight will be worth a look.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere and you’ve got a clear sky Thursday, look to the southwest and you’ll see a very bright Venus alongside the crescent moon.  With the moon just a thin fingernail, Venus will stand out in the night sky.

Venus — the third-brightest object visible from the Earth, after the sun and moon — is currently appearing as “the evening star.” It is approaching its greatest evening elongation of the year, the point at which, from an Earthly vantage, it appears farthest from the sun.  

When it is on the far side of the Sun, Venus can’t be seen, but as it comes round, getting closer to Earth, it becomes brighter and brighter, reflecting light from the Sun.  As it gets closer to us it is visible in the evening, then when it passes its closest point and moves away again it is visible in the morning.

When the greatest evening elongation is close to the spring equinox, Venus is visible for a maximum time after sunset.

During next month’s crescent moon, a similar display will occur, with Venus reaching maximum elongation on March 24. 

In the latter half of the year, Venus will shift to become “the morning star.”

 

 

 

 

Government Bill proposes ban on plastic waste exports

Exporting polluting plastic waste to developing countries will be banned or restricted under a new law.

The rule presented to the UK Parliament is aimed at protecting poorer nations against becoming the dumping ground for unwanted rubbish.

The latest trade data shows that some 356,233 tonnes of plastic waste was sent for recycling from the UK to developing countries in 2018.  The plastic often ends up dumped in waterways.

The revised Environment Bill also rules that firms producing packaging must take more responsibility for products and materials they put on the market.

Environmentalists say the bill should also include measures to reduce the amount of plastic produced in the first place.

Other powers in the bill include the promise of legally-binding targets to reduce air pollution from ultra-fine particles known as PM2.5s.

There’s also a framework for long-term legal targets to support nature and improve the quality of air and water.

How strong is the new bill?

Green groups have welcomed much of the bill but they say that, in some ways, it still leaves environmental protection weaker than under the EU.

They are especially concerned about the role of a proposed new “independent” environmental watchdog that will replace the over-seeing power of the EU and hold ministers to account for their policies after Brexit.

The EU can threaten to fine nations that fail to meet environmental laws – that threat forced the UK to tackle air pollution more seriously.

The new Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) won’t have the power to fine the government. What’s more, its members will be appointed by ministers, so critics say it won’t be fully independent.

The government says it will still hold ministers to account – including on the issue of the UK meeting its 2050 Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions target. 

Most of the clauses in the draft legislation were unveiled before the election. 

The revised bill introduces the promise of a two-yearly review of significant developments in international environmental legislation to ensure the UK keeps up with green protections.

What does the bill do for wildlife?

The bill will support the government’s 25-year plan to improve the state of nature by demanding that developers show they will actually improve conditions for wildlife. 

Critics say this may prove hollow unless the current balance of power between developers and local councils is shifted away from developers.

The bill also includes steps to give communities a greater say in the protection of local trees, following the row over tree felling in Sheffield.

There will be a more consistent approach to recycling across England to tackle the "postcode lottery" on waste collections.

Will plastic spoons face a levy?

There will be powers to create a deposit return scheme for drinks containers and a mechanism for introducing a levy on single-use plastics that could be applied to takeaway cutlery.

The Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: "We are facing climate change and our precious natural environment is under threat. We need to take decisive action.

"We have set out our pitch to be a world leader on the environment as we leave the EU and the bill is a crucial part of achieving this aim.”

The bill promises that the environment will be at the heart of all government policy making – although environmentalists are asking how that squares with ministers’ plans to spend £28.8bn on roads.

Kiera Box from Friends of the Earth commented: “We welcome much of this bill, but we’re concerned about the OEP. It needs to have independent staff – not appointed by ministers. 

"It needs a guarantee of multi-year funding and it needs complete organisational independence from Defra (the government environment department).”

Will a waste ban solve the problem?

The group also said banning plastic waste to developing countries wouldn’t solve the problem as non-developing countries such as Turkey and Poland both host poorly-regulated dumps receiving UK plastic and other waste. 

Ruth Chambers from Greener UK – a coalition of environmental groups – fears that the bill doesn't guarantee the avoidance of back-sliding from EU environment standards after Brexit.

She said: “This bill is not itself regressive – but it offers no legal guarantee to raise environmental standards in line with other nations in future.”

On the issue of air pollution, Dr Alison Cook from the British Lung Foundation, said: “This Bill is a step in the right direction and we welcome the commitment to set legally binding targets on air pollution, including PM2.5 which is the most dangerous form of pollution to human health.” 

“We now need to see a firm commitment from government that limits for PM2.5 will be set in line with those recommended by leading experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) and for them to be met by 2030 at the latest.”

Business groups commented: “The return of the Environment Bill sends an important signal to business, but the bill needs to clearly set out the expected ambition of future targets and how they will be set."

 

 

Big Garden Birdwatch 2020

Why not take part in the world’s largest wildlife survey on 25-27 January and do something great for nature. Just choose an hour any time over the three days and enjoy time with nature counting birds.

How to take part

It’s so easy to take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. An hour with the birds is a wonderful opportunity to sit back, relax and spend time with nature. So, pop the kettle on, put your feet up and start counting!

Watch the birds for one hour 

Choose an hour between 25 and 27 January to watch the birds in your garden or local park.

Count the most birds that land at once 

Only count the birds that land in your garden or park, not those flying over. The same birds may land more than once, so you can avoid double counting by recording the highest number of each bird species you see at any one time – not the total number you count over the hour.

Tell the RSPB what you saw 

Every count is important, so don’t worry if you don’t see anything. Observing which birds aren’t around is as important as seeing the ones that are. You can submit your results online at rspb.org.uk/birdwatch from 25 January until 16 February.

If you’d prefer to send your results by post, you can download a submission form from rspb.org.uk/birdwatch. Please make sure you post your findings back to us by 11 February. 

What about other wildlife?

The threats to nature mean that it's not just birds facing tough times. It's our hedgehogs, frogs and other wildlife too. So, to help the RSPB get a more complete picture of our garden wildlife, they also ask about what other animals you see in your garden as part of the Big Garden Birdwatch. By filling in this section – even if you don’t see anything – you are helping them to build up a fuller picture of how our garden wildlife is faring.

Happy watching!

 

Cornish wrestling - an ancient sport still practiced today

Cornish wrestling (Omdowl Kernewek) is an ancient form of wrestling which was established in Cornwall and is colloquially known as "wrasslin" in the Cornish dialect.  It is a tradition that survives to the present day.

The wrestlers in the Cornish style both wear tough jackets enabling them to gain better grip on their opponent. All holds are taken upon the other wrestler's jacket, grabbing of the wrists or fingers is forbidden as well as any holding below the waist. Although all holds are to be taken upon the jacket, the flat of the hand is allowed to be used to push or deflect an opponent.

The objective of Cornish wrestling is to throw your opponent and make him land as flat as possible on his back. Three sticklers (referees) watch and control each bout whilst also recording down the score of points achieved in play. Four pins are located on the back of a wrestler, two at the back of each shoulder and two either side just above the buttocks. If a wrestler manages to throw his opponent flat onto his back, simultaneously scoring with all four pins they score four points in that single throw and this is called a "Back" at which the bout is then finished and the throwing wrestler is the winner. The sticklers will each raise their sticks when they perceive a Back has been achieved. If two sticklers raise their sticks but one does not, a back is still awarded.

The Cornish Wrestling Association was formed in 1923 to standardize the rules and to promote Cornish Wrestling throughout Cornwall and indeed Worldwide.

History

The history of Cornish Wrestling goes back so far it is lost in the midst of time. The first mention of Celtic Wrestling appears in the ancient book of Leinster, referring to the sport being included in the Tailteann Games which date back to at least 1829 BC. We know Wrestling was established in Cornwall before the Roman invasion and that the Cornish meetings on Halvager Moor were held during the dark-ages.

The Cornish contingent with Henry V at Agincourt (1415) marched under a banner depicting two Wrestlers “in a hitch”. The banner needed no words; the pictures of the wrestlers was enough to let anyone know the men of Cornwall were behind it.

During the famous meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I of France (on the Field of the Cloth of Gold) a team of wrestlers representing the English king defeated the champions of France. This contingent, which humbled the French team, consisted entirely of men from Cornwall. Godolphin the chief wrestler had received the Royal command direct to bring his men to uphold the king’s honour at Calais.
Wrestling is our national sport in Cornwall, a direct living link with our ancestors handed down through an un-broken chain, from father to son, brother to brother and friend to friend for over 3,000 years.

Many times, Cornish Wrestlers have displayed their prowess before a royal audience. King Charles II believed that the Cornish were “masters in the art of wrestling” after attending a tournament at Bodmin while on his way to the Isles of Silly. It was during his reign that Tomas Hawken of Cubert threw Lyttleton Weynorth, who claimed to be the champion wrestler of “all England”.

Richard Carew, famous for his survey of Cornwall (1602) said that at about 1590 even their Breton neighbours did not match the Cornish in the art of Wrestling. Men from all walks of life took part in the sport. One of the best known wrestlers of the 17th century was Richard Stevens, the head master of Truro Grammar school; inventor Richard Trevithick was another. In the 18th and 19th centuries for which information is more readily available, we see records of tournaments that ran for a week to find the standing men to contest the semi-finals and finals on the Saturday and Sunday. With crowds of upwards of 10,000 for such finals or big name challenge matches, large sums of money often changed hands

Perhaps the most famous Cornish wrestler was the US President, statesman and soldier Theodore Roosevelt, whose training started when he was New York governor, where he was taught three times a week by Professor Mike J. Dwyer.

 

 

 

Officially the hottest decade since records began

2019 was the second hottest year on record for the planet’s surface, according to latest research. However, both the past five years and the past decade were the hottest in the last 150 years.

The succession of records being broken year after year is undeniably a consequence of human action, and is bringing increasingly severe storms, floods, droughts and wildfires.

The previous hottest year was in 2016, the year that a natural El Niño event boosted temperatures. The new data is for the average global surface air temperature. More than 90% of the heat trapped by human greenhouse gas emissions is absorbed by the oceans, but on Monday scientists revealed 2019 was the warmest yet recorded in the seas, calling it “dire news”.

The average temperature in 2019 was about 1.1C above the average from 1850-1900, before large-scale fossil fuel burning began. The world’s scientists have warned that global heating beyond 1.5C will significantly worsen extreme weather and suffering for hundreds of millions of people.

The World Economic Forum’s global risk assessment for the next decade, also published today, found the top five dangers were all environmental, including extreme weather, failure to prepare for climate change and the destruction of the natural world.

 “The last decade was easily the warmest decade in the record and is the first decade more than 1C above late 19th-century temperatures,” said Gavin Schmidt, of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which produced one of the temperature records.

“What is important is the totality of evidence from multiple independent data sets that the Earth is warming, that human activity is driving it and the impacts are clearly being felt,” he said. “These announcements might sound like a broken record, but what is being heard is the drumbeat of the Anthropocene (the Anthropocene is a proposed geological epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change).

“It’s now official that we have just completed the warmest decade on record, a reminder that the planet continues to warm as we continue to burn fossil fuels,” said Prof Michael Mann at Penn State University in the US.

The four temperature datasets are compiled from many millions of surface temperature measurements taken across the globe, from all continents and all oceans. They are produced by the UK Met Office with the University of East Anglia (UEA), both Nasa and Noaa in the US, and Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. Small differences between the analyses arise from how data-sparse polar regions are treated, but all agree that the past five years are the warmest five years since each global record began.

The Met Office’s forecast for global average temperature for 2020 suggests this year could well set another record and is very likely to be among the top three hottest. The UK government will host a critical UN climate summit in Glasgow in November. The UN secretary general, António Guterres, and many others are urging nations to increase dramatically their pledges to cut carbon emissions, which would lead to global temperatures rising by a disastrous 3-4C.

 “It is obvious we are not succeeding in preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, which was the main goal of the original 1992 UN climate change convention,” said Bob Ward, of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics.

“Even if we succeed in limiting warming to 1.5C, this would not be a ‘safe’ level of warming for the world,” he said. “Therefore we must focus on cutting global emissions to net zero as soon as possible. We know the transition to a net zero economy is the growth story of the 21st century.”

Without doubt, this will involve every nation and every one to act... right now!

Five ways to appreciate Cornwall's natural wonders this autumn and winter

Autumn and winter can be difficult for a lot of people, and it’s normal for spirits to slump amidst the cold and long, dark evenings. Yet there’s much we can do — by taking the change of season in our stride we can make the most of our natural wonders and experience a feeling of psychological renewal. The Cornish coastline is always inspiring, the ever-changing sea even more dramatic and the refreshing wind ready to blow your troubles away.  

1. Watching the arrival of magnificent marine predators

In autumn huge shoals of sardines, whitebait and sand eels begin to amass in the seas around Cornwall. These are soon sought out by some of our most iconic marine predators, eager to enjoy new feasting opportunities after spending the summer in deeper waters. They often put on quite a show; feeding frenzies can include whales – minke and even humpbacks – jostling with dolphins, bluefin tuna and diving companies of gannets.

One way of connecting with the spectacle of these beloved visitors is through our citizen marine recording project, Seaquest Southwest, which puts on lots of events to help volunteers survey the sea from the cliffs.

Alternatively, we’re lucky in Cornwall to have a number of excellent wildlife boat operators all around our coast, which endeavour to provide the best possible viewing opportunities. If this takes your fancy, make sure you choose a WiSe (Wildlife Safe) accredited operator, which shows that they are committed to not disturbing wildlife while still providing breath-taking introductions to its wonders.

2. Diving into an underwater winter wonderland

Diving in Cornish seas during the winter can be a truly amazing experience. The water is often clearer in these months, and the coastline offers many sheltered dive sites with a great deal to see and appreciate. A good example is the mearl beds of St Mawes, where several type of slow-growing calcified red seaweed create a rich purple lattice that forms deep beds home to a huge diversity of species. In many of our estuaries you can also experience the beauty of seagrass meadows, and if you’re really rather lucky, you might be able to spot an elusive seahorse.

If you’re a qualified diver and would like to dip beneath the waves with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, then you might like to get involved with Seasearch, where volunteer divers help keep track of nature’s underwater happenings. Just email seasearch@cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk and take it from there.

3. Taking the opportunity for some top-notch bird watching

During the winter Cornwall is home to a range of delightful feathered visitors, who come in search of a more temperate climate after a summer of breeding in Scotland and beyond. The Cornish south coast between Falmouth Bay and St Austell Bay is a key site for great northern divers, black-throated divers and Slavonian grebe, and has therefore been designated as a Special Protection Area.

Winter is also the ideal time to catch a glimpse of the black-browned albatross, great skua, puffin, Balearic shearwater and storm petrel. If you take to the cliff tops, just make sure you bring a pair of binoculars; you never know when you’ll be gifted the opportunity to witness something amazing take to the sky.

4. Uncovering treasures from the deep

Stormy weather might disrupt our Christmas shopping trips with high wind and driving rain, but the rough seas also bring a wealth of riches to our coasts. Shark egg cases (known as ‘mermaid’s purses’) are a particular favourite, but beachcombers can also find shards of sea glass and exotic driftwood carried by currents from far flung oceans.

Unfortunately, in addition to these fascinating discoveries, we also have to contend with the arrival of plastic pollution. Admittedly, some of the plastic can be interesting in itself: crisp packets dating from the 1970s are found every year, as well as gear from fishermen working off the northwest coast of the United States. Yet the plastic presents a serious problem, and throughout the winter months volunteers from the Your Shore Network and Cornwall Plastic Pollution Coalition work to keep our local beaches pristine and plastic-free. 

5. Going for a festive ramble

One of the most joyous winter experiences is spending times with family or friends over Christmas, making the most of seeing loved ones who have journeyed down to Cornwall from up country. One of the best (and cheapest!) things to enjoy together is a good walk, and in Cornwall we’re lucky to live within a tapestry of beautiful countryside criss-crossed with footpaths. Just make sure everyone is suitably wrapped up, and that there’s plenty of hot chocolate and mulled wine waiting for you when you get back home.

Have a look at our nature reserves directory, which includes information about parking, wheelchair access and nature-spotting opportunities for all fifty-seven of Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves. From the amazing wetlands of Windmill Farm, to the varied natural splendour of Helman Tor, there’s almost limitless scope for wonderful rambles.

The wind might blow and the rain might fall, but if you wrap up warm and step out your front door, you’ll surely find your reward.

Our thanks go to Cornwall Wildlife Trust for making these great suggestions.

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Updated on January 27th, 2013

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