It’s Ice To Meet You!

Our latest meeting was kindly hosted by Jeremy who put on an excellent vegan spread, not to mention inviting some spectacular ice sculptors to entertain us, which provided an excellent backdrop for three discussions that really broadened some minds.

Upon our arrival guests were invited into Jeremy’s home, an excellent example of a classic Cornish country home minus the hunting trophies and guns! In true CMG tradition we started off with a round or two of drinks to loosen up before beginning with our first discussion of the night: the ethics of bat-watching in Cornwall.

Although they might not be the first animal that are considered to be distinctly Cornish, large numbers of bats call our county their home. Depending on their species, they can be found in caves, domestic attics or even churches. The Barbastelle bat, Brandt’s bat and Leisler’s bat are amongst just a handful of species that reside in various dark spots around Cornwall, we first discussed our opinion on these animals before moving onto our main question of topic: considering their meek temperament, it it ethical to seek out and ‘spot’ these bats?

Our host put forward the opinion that these animals were easily startled and that to scare them, whether intentionally or not, was an act of cruelty. Thomas, our bird-watching enthusiast, argued that triggering an animal’s ‘fight or flight’ response was not an act of cruelty, and that we shouldn’t anthropomorphise these creatures to the extent of attributing human qualities such as ‘fear’ to their emotional intellect. The discussion ended after this we and we moved on to the entertainment for the night, a live ice sculpting demonstration by an impressive artist.

Our ice sculptor for the evening, Matt, first explained his relationship to Jeremy followed by a brief overview of his experience as a sculptor, before getting to work on four cubes of ice. Using a variety of tools, including a chainsaw, hammer and chisel, Matt got to work and we were left to guess what it was he was creating. Many of us guessed that he was creating an animal, but it wasn’t until half an hour had passed that we began to call out our guesses. Nicola won the game, correctly guessing that Matt was carving a polecat.

After the sculpture was finished, we congratulated Matt on his achievement before moving inside once more for a theme discussion on the polecat itself and its historical persecution as led by Elizabeth I. Our host Jeremy, the only member of the party who was in the know during the ice sculpting, presented his findings and explained to us all how, despite being widely hunted for a time, the polecat is slowly starting to make a resurgence.

For our final discussion of the night we touched on the problems of fly-tipping throughout Cornwall. Consultation with local farmers has led to the conclusion that construction workers and domestic civilians alike have been fly-tipping across both private farmed land, as well as public conservation property. Besides being unsightly, much of this waste has a negative impact on the environment, polluting sources of water and top soil that many species survive on. The group agreed on creating a new campaign to target this issue and raise awareness throughout Cornwall.

Thanks once again to Jeremy for setting up the meeting and Matt for providing such an excellent, topical diversion for us.