High Voltage Rain

Pylon and cows in rain

The Monday Photo

It was a grey wet day, and as I took this picture, I could hear the high voltage power lines crackling above me. It’s an electrical effect known as a Corona Discharge.

What I could hear was the sound of the air breaking down electrically, and moisture in the air helps to speed the effect. Sometimes you can hear this crackling it’s snowing, or when there’s a heavy fog.

If you are very lucky when you hear it, you can see the blue luminous “crown” of tiny sparks that gives this breakdown its name; “corona” is Latin for crown.

But when I took this photo, the heavy rain stopped me from seeing anything very clearly; it could have been happening right above me and I’d never have known.

The higher the voltage in the wire the more likely is the discharge to occur, and this pylon near Winslow carries 400,000 volts, nearly 1,700 times the mains voltage in your home.

This huge voltage doesn’t seem to bother the cows, grazing under the lines at the far side of the field. They are just getting on with it.

There’s been research on whether cattle, and also some deer, behave differently under these lines. There’s supposed to be a magnetic effect. But the four articles I read, all about the same piece of research, contradicted each other.

I couldn’t make any sense out of it, but what do you think?

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The Mill on the Post

Post mill  Pitstone

The Monday Photo

This is Pitstone windmill. It's the oldest windmill in the British Isles, and there are several ancient dates carved into the mill. The oldest is 1627, but the mill may be even older. It’s a post mill, turned into the wind on a great central post.

Unlike Quainton’s windmill, where just the top turns automatically into the wind driven by its fantail, the miller at Pitstone had to turn the great bulk of the mill by walking around at ground level, pushing on the tail pole.

You might just be able to see the red painted wheel it ran round on, in the photo.

Not facing in the right direction led to the mill being wrecked in a violent storm in 1902. Damaged beyond economic repair, it rotted in the fields for 35 years, then it was given to the National Trust.

They eventually rebuilt it, and in 1970 it was once again able to grind corn. But now, fifty years later, the sails cause too much vibration when they turn and the mill can’t be used.

In normal times, Pitstone Mill is open to the public. But there’s not much room inside a mill and social distancing must be impossible. However, as you can see, visitors do visit the mill. But they can’t go inside.


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A Visit From the Boys


The Monday Photo

I walked across the field to the Hawthorn trees in the corner. They were on the river bank. It was a warm sunny evening. In the field, bullocks were calmly feeding. I had come to photograph the May blossom for last week's Monday Photo.

I concentrated on photography, my back to the field. I could hear the bullocks moving around as they cropped the lush grass, but I took little notice.

A few minutes later I felt a snort of warm breath. I turned round to see a bullock having a good sniff at me, his huge white head not an inch away. Around and behind him, every other bullock in the field had come with him to see what I was up to.

He sniffed at me again, and as I looked at them they drew back a little. I began taking their pictures, but with me now facing them they soon drifted away and left me on my own.

I turned back to the Hawthorn blossom and raised my camera again.

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