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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Meeting a very old mulberry tree - in Lewes


This blog is about low-carbon family travel. Exploring Lewes you may find the oldest mulberry tree - at 35o years old it's ancient, but a mere tot compared to the oldest tree in the world that's found in California, and reckoned to have been there for 5,000 years. Shame Lewes is so much colder than California... Post by Nicola Baird 


Posing by the UK's oldest mulberry tree in Lewes. It's close to 350 years old.
Dried mulberries are sold in the Turkish shops near where I live in London, but finding fresh ones - or even seeing a mulberry tree is unusual. Even so I can guide you to the two mulberry trees nearest to my house and if it's late summer will try and spot the bright berries that seem to grow off the trunk. If you catch them then they are tasty to eat and fabulously burst into red squishes as you pick them and aim for your mouth.

The TV adaptation of Hilary Mantell's amazing study of Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall showed us that the decision makers of the day enjoyed cherries when they were in season - well they liked mulberries too. I guess where the nursery rhyme, "Here we go round the mulberry tree... " dates from.

Nestled between the South Downs, the Sussex-town of Lewes boasts many historic attractions from first bowling green to oldest mulberry tree.

The mulberry tree is from the 17th century and found  in the city centre at Southover Grange Garden. This is a public park now, but it used to be a private garden.

I love the fact that this mulberry tree is not far from Anne of Cleeves house. Anne was one of Henry VIII's luckier wives who neither lost her head or heart. King Henry had been wowed by her Holbein portrait but wasn't so keen when he met her, allegedly saying she looked like a horse (not in a good way). Her house was part of the "conscious uncoupling" settlement and luckily for visitors is open all year round so gives another insight into how the Tudors lived.

Old giants
There are still quite a few very old trees around. The Woodland Trust keeps a record of ancient trees, and recently (autumn 2014) it's tree fans voted the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, Nottingham - where Robin Hood allegedly used to hide - was named old tree of the year.

The oldest tree in the world is probably a bristlecone pine growing in California's white mountains  which has been there for 5,000 years. It's nicknamed Methuselah.

If only trees could talk, what stories they could tell.

Find out how to tree ID old trees with the Woodland Trust here.

1 comment:

Nicola Baird said...

This was put on google+ from
CL: There's a wonderful mulberry tree in the grounds of Torre Abbey, Torquay, said to date back to at least 1200AD, that I loved to walk past as a child. [The Abbey was founded by the Pre-monstratensian Canons in 1196.] Our Georgian terraced house in Torre (at least a mile away!) was built as out-houses for Torre Abbey. 

NB: I think this is an ancient mulberry tree but it is likely to have been replaced every 250 years or so.