Snapshot Saturday: I’d rather not be in a mudslick

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge invites us to show images of where we’d rather be at the moment.  Well, I’ll tell you where I’d rather not be, and that’s here, in North Yorkshire.

I love Yorkshire, and I’m happy to agree that it’s ‘God’s own country’.  But frankly, life here is a little trying just now.  Like most of England, we had The Beast from the East a couple of weeks ago bearing snow, blizzard and fierce wind.  And much of the rest of the time it’s been raining.  This photo was taken a couple of months ago: since then, things have only got worse.

This is what our country walks have become: Nutwith Common in January

So how about a little trip back to the Ariège, where we lived from 2007 to 2014?  Here’s a selection of photos, all taken there in March or very early April.  Down in the foothills of the Pyrenees where we lived, blossoms were out, and wild daffodils carpeted the more out-of-the-way hills.  At the weekend we would head off for Montségur and higher land to enjoy the snow that was still thick there.  We were never fans of snow-shoeing, but now I’d be more than happy to exchange their crisp deep snow for our thick deep mud.


Click on any photo to see it full size.

Forces of Nature

Nature has had the upper hand lately. Snow, and plenty of it, disrupted our daily rhythms a few times in recent weeks. Rain, and plenty of it, has swamped fields and tracks, making a walk in the country an utterly unreasonable pastime.

The other day though, cabin fever got the better of us, and we made a break for the countryside near West Witton, reasoning that some of the tracks there would be more or less passable. They were. More or less.

But Nature made its presence felt in full force. Here was almost our very first sight on our walk – a mother ewe with twin lambs so very newly born that she was still calmly licking them clean as they tottered beside her, looking for their very first feed of milk.

The weather was mild. Surely the snow would be long gone? Not up here. Bitter howling winds a week ago had snatched the snow into deep drifts at the edges of fields, or pounded it into hillside crevices.

Redmire Force lived up to its name. Look at the waters swirling, frothing and plunging over the boulders in the River Ure. Look at the tree torn from its cliff side, now hanging precariously over the river.

And as we came to the end of our walk – look! Is this a river, or is this a field, unusable by the sheep who normally graze here, but forming a stopping off point for the occasional passing water bird?

We’re not quite as in charge as we like to think.

Click on any image to view it full size.

Snapshot Saturday: many stories – one cathedral

This week’s pictures hint at two or more stories: at that of the life of Jesus, from whose life and teaching spring one of the world’s great religions. And at the building of La Sagrada FamiliaAntoni Gaudí’s cathedral celebrating Jesus’ family, created by thousands of craftspeople with special stories to tell, gathered over the last 136 years …. maybe only another eight or so to go.




‘Story’ is this week’s WordPress photo challenge.  Click on any image to view full size. 

Running the marathon miles in memory of her beloved husband

Today, on International Women’s Day, Worldwide Cancer Research has shared my daughter’s story on its blog.  Many of you have read many chapters of this story, but maybe you didn’t know about the London Marathon training……

In 2016 Elinor Hamilton’s life changed in a way she never would have imagined. Phil – her loving husband and father to their two young sons – passed away. Press the link to keep reading.

Source: Running the marathon miles in memory of her beloved husband

In which I more than feel my age

When I take William to the park, the playground, a museum, the library or the shops, there’s always a grandparent or two like me, doing their share of childminding.

Not today. Sarah’s friends recommended the new adventure play at a local leisure centre as a good place to spend the morning. I’d be able to relax while William let off steam.

It didn’t work out like that. Towers, tunnels, trampolines and slides went from ground to way above our heads. Daunting at first if you’re only two. ‘Granny come too’.

Which is all very well, but safety netting was at small-child-head-height. We scrambled up padded stairways; inserted ourselves into cylindrical tunnels; dropped through chutes to the floor below, and zipped down slides that, were they removed to a domestic setting, would have to be sited leaving from the bedroom window.

At this point I noticed that I was easily twice the age of the next oldest carer. Just now, sore and creaky, I feel at least four times older.

Snapshot Saturday: Snow fun in the dark

For comparison purposes, here is the garden by day. In a moment, you and the rabbit will see it by night.

At Christmas, Tom & Sarah gave us a night camera, so we could see what went on in the garden after dark. So far no bears, wolves or lynx have revealed themselves. Sadly, no foxes, badgers or deer either, though we know they’re there: we just have to find the right spot.

This week however, with all the snow, the garden took on an other-worldly aspect. And the rabbits came out as little as possible. But here’s one who braved the cold. Please note the temperature.

Rabbit in a hurry.

And in the morning, as short periods of sunshine briefly melted the snow, we spotted, apart from rabbit prints…

…. and pheasant prints …..

….. human bootprints too.

Although I rather liked these ghostly negative image prints. I thought they looked out of this world.

Gardens of Light

It was cold the other night. Very cold. And for three hours, I stood outside in the dark. I was happy.

I was volunteering at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal as part of an event that spanned two continents: in Poland; in Denmark; in Germany; in Russia; in France and in China. Do follow the links: you’ll immediately have a clutch of places to add to your ‘must visit’ list.

In all these places, for one dark chilly night in February, there was a Garden of Light. Normally, we can only enjoy the Water Gardens of Studley Royal by daylight. But thanks to this international festival, there was a new opportunity.

Looking across the Moon Ponds towards the Temple of Piety as night falls.

As night fell, lighting designed to spotlight the special features of the gardens pierced the darkness, revealing a garden in harmony with the philosophy of the time in which it was conceived: where Nature and Art work hand in hand. 18th century music played in the background.

Visitors were able to stroll round, lanterns or torches in hand, focusing on the Temple of Piety and the classical statuary of the Moon Ponds; or glancing upwards at the Octagon Tower and Temple of Fame, all bathed in golden light. The Moon Ponds themselves were lit by glowing orbs – sometimes silver white, sometimes red or blue, fading in intensity as the evening wore on.

The Abbey too was lit up, though I barely saw this as it wasn’t my role to be available there.

A deliberately out-of-focus shot of the Abbey.

The moon was perfect – exactly half way between waxing and waning, it lit the visitors’ paths and illuminated the night sky. Whenever I looked up there was Orion’s Belt – and so many other stars usually invisible to town-dwellers.

Those of us there relished the chance to enjoy this peaceful yet joyous occasion. And as the event drew to a close, owls reclaimed the night, and their plaintive hooting accompanied us as we walked away, chilly but content.

The evening draws to a close and visitors take their lanterns home.