Top Square

I picked up a copy of  our little-read community newspaper today ….

‘Because of the almost world-wide lockdown caused by Covid-19, Concours Top Squares, due to open in Topcliffe Village Hall between 1st and 30th April, will now be held in camera.

This now internationally acclaimed exhibition has for the last three years brought together arts practitioners from a range of backgrounds working in less conventional materials.  The only requirement is that entries must be entitled ‘Top Square’.

Locally, hopes for a top prize are pinned on a promising new Arts Collective working from Middle Park Farm, near North Stainley, and who call themselves ‘Windewe’. The prevailing wind and local sheep have worked in constructive partnership, winding and weaving wool round the wire fencing surrounding the sheep’s pastureland.  They’ve made dozens of such works, mainly confining themselves to using the sheep’s own wool, though some examples incorporate dried grasses, leaves and small twigs. Apart from those chosen for the exhibition, all other works by Windewe can be viewed from the Ripon Rowel path, and are on permanent display.’

Top Square 8

Sleningford Gazette, 8th April 2020.

For technical reasons beyond the Editor’s control, this article was omitted from the edition of 1st April.


# Square Tops 8


Life in our home has become simpler, pared back to basics.   All the things I cheerfully filled every day with – the volunteering; the classes and choir; the must-get-to-the-shops; the to-do list; even seeing friends – have all vanished.  Astonishingly, I don’t mind. The one thing that is a constant now is Daily Exercise, as prescribed by the Government: ‘People can leave their homes for exercise once a day’.  For Malcolm, it’s a bike ride.  For me, it’s a walk.

Denied trips out to the Dales and wild places, I’m exploring our home patch anew- every ginnel, every bridle way, every woodland and farmland path.  My Daily Exercise sometimes lasts an hour, more often two or three.  I rarely meet a soul.  It’s just me, the ground beneath my feet, the sights I observe, the landscape, the cloudscape, the satisfying rhythm of my feet as I pound my chosen path for the day.  Every day I choose a slightly different route.  Every day things change a little.  Buds, once tightly furled are now tender young leaves: new flowers burst into bloom; lambs grow stockier, more playful.  I have time to notice these things.

I value these hours.  Like everyone else, I want this horrible crisis under control.  I want to meet my family and friends again.  But when that time comes, I want to continue savouring quiet moments like the ones I’ve enjoyed so much over the last few weeks.

For me, these are early April’s Top Flowers, and my walks have given me the chance to enjoy them.  What have I left out?  Wild garlic isn’t flowering yet round here, nor the hedgerow plants.

This dramatic cloudscape evolved over the course of my walk, holding my attention.
A simple view through trees at the fields beyond.
Back in the village, a greylag goose guarded the village pond, hissing at me as I paused to admire narcissi, a magnolia, and beyond these, early cherry blossom.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #91: Simplicity

Square Tops #7

Top Scran

I had a friend once, boarding school educated (I thinks that’s relevant) who used to describe a good meal as ‘top scran’.

Definition from

This is top scran.  It tastes good, and it’s mainly free. I foraged this wild garlic found alongside yesterday’s Top Dog.

Here’s a recipe: Simi’s Wild Garlic and Potato Curry.

An entry for April Squares #Top


A Distant Tree

There across the field is a solitary tree.  It’s definitely maintaining its Social Distance.  Just as I am on my solitary – but not at all unhappy – walk.

Just like me though, the tree is not really alone.  There are trees to the right of it, trees to the left of it, and – zoom –  a forest of trees behind it.  Perhaps, like me, it’s happy enough with its lot.

And even though it’s distant, I can still get a shot of its topmost branches to send Becky a shot of this Top Tree.

For Lens-Artists Challenge #90: Distance

and Becky’s April Squares: Top