We found ourselves tussling with the fag-end of Storm Hector on Thursday, as it exhausted itself gusting round the neighbourhood. It closed the market early as stallholders gave up the battle to keep their goods and stands in one place, and dumped leafy branches in the path of unwary motorists.
It reminded me of a more than breezy walk last February. Look! Here are the grasses edging the wetlands at Staveley Nature Reserve.
We don’t often go walking in the evening. But yesterday we did, and found ……. orchids – I only know the last one, the bee orchid, by name…..
…… trees stalking the skyline……
…… inquisitive young calves huddled together: they thought we were scary ..
….. and best of all, this sheep. Naughty thing, she’d escaped from her field, and was having a high old time eating the contents of this wheat field. We told the farmer when we saw him later. Was he bothered? Not a lot.
The WordPress Photo Challenge is dead. Long live the Photo Challenge.
I enjoyed that weekly photo challenge. It was fun looking for ways – for photos – to meet the challenge. It encouraged me to think creatively, and to flick through my albums, reviving memories of walks, holidays and days out.
This week, Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge is ‘Shoes or feet’. And I remembered a sunny day in Whitstable last summer, having a properly happy family day at the seaside with my son and his son, my grandson William. I remembered our lining our sandals up on the breakwater as we went hunting shells and stones and baby crabs, and paddling, and generally being Brits at the Seaside. Here is the evidence:
Fellow former users of WP Photo Challenge. Please share your finds, if you know of any other good challenges.
I’ve always been a fair weather walker. I never see the point of trudging through mud as dripping waist-high grasses lash at my already sodden trousers. In heavy rain, my waterproof anorak proves powerless to stop rivulets of rainwater trickling down my neck. And since windscreen wipers for glasses have not yet been invented, I have no view of the path ahead, much less the landscape. Really, why bother?
Then last week, watching ‘Springwatch’, I saw the wonderfully evocative nature writer Melissa Harrison, encased head-to-toe in a black, heavy-duty oilskin. She was tramping across a rain-drenched landscape as she explained the peculiar pleasures of a wet walk, on camera.
So when Saturday arrived with murky skies, I stuffed my best all weather gear into my rucksack, and set forth with my friends on our planned walk. And the rains came. We strode through woodland, protected by all those newly-leafed trees canopied overhead. We relished the fresh sweet earthy smell of the rain as it reached our leaf-mould path. We remarked on the leaves, glistening with raindrops. Even the birds seemed happy and continued to trill and chatter above us.
We hit meadowland. How subtle the tones of green and grey in the misty landscape! How muted the colours! Let’s watch the rain as it soothingly patterns the surface of that pond, a thousand concentric circles at a time! Yes, walking in the rain, we agreed, brought pleasures well worth seeking out.
The rain continued. Our weather proof gear kept the rain out, but perspiration in. Our legs got soggy from walking down narrow paths marshalled by soaking nettles and grasses. Someone’s boots began to leak. Someone else commented we still had six or seven miles to go. Yet another of us was hungry, but didn’t fancy a squishy sandwich. The plastic-encased map revealed that in a mile or two, we could make our escape to the nearest bus route. Let’s do it! Heads down, we traipsed on, only wanting to get it over with now. Every now and then, one of us would get in touch with our inner four year old – ‘Are we nearly there yet?’
Finally, we were. We dripped onto the bus, at which point it (briefly) stopped raining.
*Alfred Wainwright MBE was a British fellwalker, guidebook author and illustrator and something of a National Treasure to keen walkers.
This is the last Snapshot Saturday. WordPress has decided to discontinue its weekly photographic challenges. I’m a bit sad about this. It’s been fun tussling with choosing images for each week’s idea, and through it, I’ve ‘met’ fellow-bloggers and made virtual visits to all parts of the globe.
This week, we’ve been invited to bow out by posting our all-time favourite shots. That’s far too difficult. Instead, I’m taking you to the Ariège in France, where my blogging journey began when we lived there for some years, and offering you some favourite shots from there.
The Pyrenees viewed from Saint Julien de Gras-Capou.
Tabariane, near Mirepoix.
A less snowy day near Foix.
Snowy days near Montferrier.
The summer solstice at Montségur.
One super-dramatic sunset at Laroque d’Olmes.
Another view from le Cap du Carmil.
Le lac de Montbel, our nearby water playground.
Walking in the Aude, there were vineyards, always vineyards.
Montségur one snowy March day.
Just outside Laroque d’Olmes, our home town.
Springtime in the Dolomies, near Foix.
The best of times. Picnicking at lunchtime on our regular Sunday walks. Shared food, shared wine, shared landscapes.
Views from le Cap du Carmil in June. Still snowy on the peaks.
Montségur, our nearby landmark and Cathar stronghold, one misty morning in July.
Another much missed treat. Shared meals in the sunshine, with old friends and new. This is in Mirepoix.
Wildlife has had a tough time getting going this year. Bluebells late, lilac late, bird migrants late – where are our swifts, diving and swooping in the evening skies, gorging on feasts of flies before night sets in?
At last though, mallard ducklings have appeared on the village pond. There seem to be three families: tiny ducklings; some a few days bigger; and one lot who could be described as teenagers. Apart from having little in the way of wings yet, they look pretty grown up. We idled away part of the afternoon the other day, just watching them scuttle and swim.
It’s as well they breed so prolifically, those ducks. The babies have little chance of making it to adulthood. The resident goose doesn’t like them. Jealous drakes don’t like babies who aren’t their own. Foxes like them alright, but as a snack. And then there’s the road, though drivers try hard to avoid these creatures, who simply haven’t learnt their Green Cross Code. My favourite sight from last year was seeing a mighty dustbin lorry shudder to a halt, and wait while Mrs. Mallard led her brood of seven efficiently across the busy road.
Last November, in Valencia, the building which first grabbed my attention was this one, and day and night, I always paused to enjoy its energetic entrance and attention-seeking windows.
This ebullient building now houses the National Ceramic Collection. Once it was the family seat of the Rabassa de Perellós – title-holders of the marquisate of Dos Aguas. Dos aguas: two waters – the nearby rivers Júcar and Turia which flow plentifully, twisting and turning, from the statue of the Virgin Mary which tops off the doorway. I’ve forgotten the rest of the story, and Google can’t help. Just enjoy this wonderfully rococo statuary, twisting round this exuberant doorway.
A contribution to this week’s WordPress photo challenge: Twisted.