Street art: a tour of Berlin, Spain, and ending up in England.

Blogging challenges, Catalonia, England, Germany, London, Spain

It was in Berlin that I first really discovered a love of Street Art. Maybe it’s because I got some background understanding by going out for the afternoon with Dave, of Alternative Berlin Tours. I learnt the difference between graffiti, street art, stickers and transfers, and something of the political anger and activism that can inform so much of it: particularly near the former Berlin Wall. This has now been re-invented as The East Side Gallery and I don’t show anything of that here because many of its images are so well known. Here are some examples we saw in Dave’s company, or exploring later on our own.

Having done Street Art Module One in Berlin, I was ready a year or so later to do Module Two in Valencia, It was here that I met an irrepressible type who peoples doorways and random bits of street furniture, painted by David de Limón.

Our tutor introduces us to David de Limón

And it was here too, as we once had in Seville, that we encountered street artists doing their day – or occasionally night – job.

Here are a few more:

I like the way that the windows become part of the fantasy here.

And here’s one just for Past Squares

And we’ll have a whistle-stop tour of Spain and view a few more:

Catalan independence is always the story in Berga …
… whereas relaxing over a drink with a friend is more Seville’s style

Maybe this is my favourite image of all, a bit of fun created from damaged plasterwork in Seville:

Another Past Square for Becky, and worth another outing, I think.

Although – hang on – no. My real favourite has got to be in Manor House Gardens, Hither Green, because the artist appears to have designed this image with my granddaughter in mind.

With thanks to Patti for providing us with a chance to wander city streets this week in quest of images that amuse, provoke and stimulate us. It’s the perfect moment to join the Photographing Public Art Challenge too. As well as Monday Mural. All this and Past Squares and Monday Window too … This is taking multi-tasking to a new level.

The header image comes from the top floor of an apartment block in Málaga.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #170

Monday Mural

Monday Window

Past Squares

Photographing Public Art

A Castle Fit for a Captive Queen Revisited

North Yorkshire, Walking, Wensleydale

We seem to have been to Castle Bolton quite often recently. It reminded me that shortly after we came back from France, one of our early walks was here. Maybe it’s time to revisit my blog post about it, to remind myself, if nobody else, about its history.

A CASTLE FIT FOR A CAPTIVE QUEEN

October 2014

We travelled the road in thick white mist, fearing a dank and gloomy day.  But the higher we climbed, the more the mist fell away, and the brighter the sun shone.

Looking down over Wensleydale from Castle Bolton

As we began walking, Daphne shared some of the castle’s history with us.  It has belonged to the Scrope family since the time it was built in the 14th century, and has always been admired for its high walls.  It’s a proper castle, looking exactly like the ones you will have drawn when you were eight years old.

Bolton Castle

Tudor history is largely about the constant religious and temporal battles between the Catholic  and the Protestant church, which Henry VIII had made the Established Church, with the king as its head: the Fidei Defensor – Defender of the Faith (unbelievably, Henry hung onto this title, awarded him in his pre-Protestant days by Pope Leo X, in recognition of his book  Assertio Septem Sactramentorum which defends the supremacy of the pope).  His son Edward briefly succeeded him, and then his daughter Elizabeth, and both were Protestants.

But Elizabeth’s rule was threatened by the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, and she was held captive first at Carlisle Castle, then at Bolton.  Here she was attended by 51 knights, servants and ladies-in-waiting, not all of whom could be accommodated in the castle itself.  She also had cooks, grooms, a hairdresser, an embroiderer, an apothecary, a physician and a surgeon, while furnishings fit for a queen were borrowed from nearby Barnard Castle.  She went hunting, learnt English – for she spoke only French, Scots and Latin – and spent time with local Catholics.  She made an unsuccessful bid to escape from captivity.  It’s said she climbed from an upstairs window in the castle, and fled on horseback past the nearby market town of Leyburn.  It’s here she dropped her shawl and so was discovered and recaptured.  And that is why, so they say, the long escarpment above the town, nowadays a playground for walkers and sightseers, is still called ‘The Shawl’.

As we enjoyed our history lesson, we passed a field of Wensleydale sheep.  We very much admired their sultry fringes.

Wensleydale Sheep

And onwards. Autumn colours.

A completely pointless stile in the middle of a meadow.

Then Aysgarth Falls.  What a wonderful lunch spot.  The crashing waters made conversation quite impossible, but we sat enjoying the surging waters, the coppery leaves above our heads, and the all-encompassing percussion of the tumbling River Ure.

And then it was time to turn round and head back by a different route.  Another great day’s walking, with an added history lesson.

But wait! This post was all for Fandango’s Flashback Friday, when we’re invited to dig up a Post From the Past. But Becky’s Past Squares demands a look at the past too: here’s Bolton Castle, square style:

Then there’s always Jo’s Monday Walk

Orange you glad…?

Blogging challenges, France, Gardens, Ripon, Spain

This month’s Life in Colour invites us to look at orange. Happy to help. I’ll grab your attention in the feature photo, with a rather orange sky.

When I got my new phone, my not-at-all top-of-the range, bargain-basement smartphone, I discovered that it had a feature called ‘spot colour’. I tried it out in the garden, and in the woods, making orange my spot colour of choice. Here are some results:

Now let’s abandon the gimmicks, and simply go for a walk along Ripon Canal on this early autumn day:

And let’s remember past moments in Valencia, and in Le Jardin Extraordinaire for Becky’s Past Squares:

Shall we end with a single perfect rose ….

… or with a bit of fun – the play food I made for William and Zoë’s kitchen?

An ordinary outdoor café …

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire

… doesn’t look quite so ordinary when viewed in its reflection in the Airstream trailer which multi-tasks as kitchen, serving hatch and till.

And here’s a view as I walked past – for Past Squares

And just to be really cheeky, as there’s not a pane of glass in sight, I’m including it in Monday Window, as it really is a different window on that lunch time pit-stop.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #169: The Ordinary

Photos taken at Paradise Food, Daleside Nurseries, Killinghall

Revisiting A Sheep is a Sheep is a Sheep

Blogging challenges, Festivals, Heritage, North Yorkshire

Somehow, we forgot all about Masham Sheep Fair last weekend. We forgot about the dozens of different breeds of sheep on show; the sheep-shearing demonstrations; the sheep dog competitions; the children, some really quite young, demonstrating their knowledge and prowess as sheep-handlers. There’s no help for it. We’ll have to revisit this post from October 2014 instead. And by the way. Please don’t show yourself up. Pronounce Masham correctly. Mas-ham. Anyone who lets the side down and calls it Mash’em is immediately recognised as an outsider.

And let’s include this blast-from-the-past in Becky’s Past Squares, as well as including it in Fandango’s Flashback Friday, a celebration of past posts which deserve another outing.

A SHEEP IS A SHEEP IS A SHEEP …

… or not.

On Saturday we called in, far too briefly, at the annual Masham Sheep Fair. This is the place to go if you believe a sheep looks just like this.

Saturday was the day a whole lot of sheep judging was going on in the market square.  Here are a few of the not-at-all identical candidates. And yet they are only a few of the many breeds in England, and in the world. There are 32 distinct breeds commonly seen in different parts of the UK, and many more half-breeds.  I was going to identify the ones I’m showing you, but have decided that with one or two exceptions (I know a Swaledale, a Blue-faced Leicester or a Jacobs when I see one), I’d get them wrong. So this is simply a Beauty Pageant for Masham and District sheep.

And if you thought wool was just wool, these pictures may be even more surprising.  Who knew that sheep are not simply…. just sheep?

Past their best?

Blogging challenges

On a morning like this, with rain cascading down outside, and all is gloomy and grey, most things – me included – seem to have seen better days. Let’s go for a walk and see what we can find. A virtual walk. It’s far to wet for anything else.

Let’s start off in the farmyard:

Beyond these farms is a country house, with mossy gates.

Sleningford Hall, North Yorkshire

Perfect for Hallowe’en, don’t you think?

OK. Take off your boots now, and let’s go for a city stroll instead.

Even towns have gardens. Harlow Carr is a marvellous RHS garden near Harrogate. They keep things immaculately … except in the Edwardian garden shed.

Lastly, let’s have a bit of a clean up. Here’s plenty of rubbish from the past found on a recent litter pick near a factory in Ripon. Perfect for Past Squares. Let’s find it by looking through The Square Window today (anyone remember Play School?)

That’ll do for one day I think. Time to go home and stay out of the rain.

The featured photo was taken in Seville.

Lens-Artists Challenge #168: Seen Better Days

Past Squares

Six Degrees of Separation in October

Books and reading

‘On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

Six Degrees of Separation: Kate W

The Lottery, a short story by Shirley Jackson begins our chain this month. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here. If you haven’t read it yet, every single one of my choices will be a Spoiler Alert.

I’ve been accused, perhaps rightly, of making some dark choices for Six Degrees. And my first choice, linked to that short story, involves death, because it is a murder mystery. But I don’t read Donna Leon‘s books because I’m all that interested in the crime perpetrated. I’m more than a little in love with Our Hero, Commissario Brunetti. I’m more than a little in love with the back streets of the city he calls home, Venice: and with his wife Paola, and his adolescent children: the meals that they eat and the family occasions they share. There’s the endlessly clever Signorina Elettra at the Questura too, and a backdrop of Brunetti’s opposition to corruption and back-handers. Against these riches, the murder mystery is just a bit-part in the story. None of Donna Leon’s books disappoint, so let’s take the first one I ever read to stand in for them all: Death at La Fenice.

We’ll stay in Italy to meet Commissario Montalbano. Maybe you know Andrea Camilleri‘s detective from the series on BBC 4? I met him in print some years ago, and he’s older and less handsome than his TV alter ego. But still as personable. He’s keen on a good meal, keen on swimming in the sea that laps the beach near his home, and can be funny as well as insightful. I’ve just finished Game of Mirrors: an intrigue involving his neighbour, a bombed warehouse, and a trail of false clues.

Another detective now, Joe Faraday. He lived, as I did once, in Portsmouth. He’s real enough too. His wife is dead. He has a profoundly deaf adult son, with whom he bonded in his early years of widowerhood by their shared love of birdwatching. Working with gritty crimes involves juggling paperwork and bureaucracy besides solving the conundrum of the offence, and it’s this rounded picture of Faraday’s life that I find so appealing. The first Faraday novel by Graham Hurley that I read was Turnstone. You might like to try it too.

DI Charlie Priest lived and worked in Yorkshire. His creator, Stuart Pawson was my friend and colleague when we both worked as mediators for the Probation Service: sadly he died a few years ago. Priest loved to pound the moors and fells of Yorkshire, as I do. His life involved too much work and too little play , but like the previous two detectives, he’s a rounded and believable individual. I’m choosing The Judas Sheep, because he dedicated this book to me.

Jason Webster is an English writer living in Spain. He’s fairly recently turned his hand to detective fiction, and his hero is Max Cámara. I was interested in A Death in Valencia since this is a city I thought I knew quite well. As ever, it turned out not to be those parts of the city that I’d visited, but a much seamier place, with corruption at the heart of local government a commonplace. Add a murdered paella chef, and even the pope to the mix for another thoroughly readable story.

My last choice isn’t a murder mystery. But deaths occur, and the whole thing, like the short story we began with almost feels like a pact with the devil. Alix Nathan, in The Warlow Experiment tells us the story of gentleman scientist Charles Powyss, who in the eighteenth century sets up an experiment to study the effects on humans of total isolation. Uneducated labourer Warlow is that isolated man. Offered every comfort, decent food, books (he can barely read), all he needs – apart from human company – it all goes horribly, desperately wrong.

I began with a few murder mysteries. And I end with a death or so too. Unnecessary, bleak, as was the death with which our chain began. Next month’s choice promises to be a harrowing one. I’ll have to see whether I’m up to dealing with reading it: Sigrid NunezWhat Are You Going Through.

Library Checkout

Books and reading

I have always enjoyed Bookish Beck’s monthly Library Checkout, but it had never occurred to me to join in. Partly, I’ve been outfaced by the sheer number of volumes she manages to devour. But I’ve had a busy-for-me reading month, as well as a higher number than usual of ‘Nah, not for me’, so let’s get started.

Read

Adam Nicolson: The Sea is not Made of Water. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ A study of what – apart from water – fills the seas. At tides, at geology, at social history and philosophy. Frequently fascinating, informative and thought provoking, but for me, the whole thing didn’t quite hang together

Frances Quinn: The Smallest Man⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ The rags-to-riches story of Nat Davy, dwarf, who avoids being sold as a fairground attraction when his father, who wants rid of him, gets a better offer for him to be the plaything to Queen Charlotte in the court of Charles I. Nat is soon at the heart of the action in the hotbed of political and religious discontent which is Stuart England. An enjoyable and easy to race through account.

Jason Webb: The Anarchist Detective. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Mini-review forthcoming in October’s Six Degrees of Separation.

Roy Jacobsen: Eyes of the Rigel. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ I chose this from the library on a whim, unaware that this was the last of a series of three. It didn’t matter. Ingrid, inhabitant of a small Norwegian island sets off to find her Russian lover and father of her child in the aftermath of WWII. A discomfiting but highly readable story about the aftermath of war, about collaboration, guilt.

Joe Shute: Forecast. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ A clear-sighted and readable account of how our seasons are no longer the four seasons we’ve traditionally recognised over the centuries, but are rapidly involving into something new, and difficult for wildlife and ourselves to adjust to. Shute has travelled the kingdom, delved into literature, folklore, plant and animal life, traditional industries, personal reminiscences, and even noted how language has changed in describing the weather. In among, he reflects upon the difficulties he and his wife have in conceiving a child: which might sound gratuitous, but isn’t, at all.

Alix Nathan: The Warlow Experiment. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Mini-review forthcoming in October’s Six Degrees of Separation.

John Green: The Anthropocene Reviewed. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ I intended to dip in and out of these musings, developed from a podcast series about many different aspects of life on our planet. Instead, I read it from cover to cover, almost at a sitting. Green considers anything from the QWERTY keyboard to the Lascaux cave paintings, sunsets to teddy bears with his personal thoughts, anecdote, research, in a way which is at once engaging and amusing, as well as thought provoking.

Returned Unfinished

Garry Disher: Bitterwash Road. This is the gritty and well-told story of Hirsch, police whistle blower, demoted because of his actions and now the constable in a one-horse town in the Australian outback. The dialogue is slick and believable, the descriptions of characters, town life and the countryside evocative, the plot fast moving. This is a book that has everything. But after a few chapters, I’d had enough. Didn’t finish it.

Anne Griffin: Listening Still. I’d loved When all was Said, reviewed here. But a cosy two generation family with an undertaking business, two of whom can talk to the dead briefly, before they totally expire? Just …. nah.

Eugenia Rico: El Otoño Aleman: I seriously overestimated my reading stamina and abilities in Spanish. Back to basics!

Borrowed, and waiting their turn.

Alastair McIntosh: An Island Journey

Janice Galloway: The Trick is to Keep Breathing.

Ian Stephen: A Book of Death and Fish.

The Decameron Project: 29 New Stories from the Pandemic

Is this a typical month? Maybe not. There’s a higher proportion of non-fiction here than usual. Have you read anything from my pile? Tempted by anything?