A Walk to the Planetarium

I’m in London on Half Term Duty.  Zoë’s at Nursery, but William’s four, and at school these days, where an early encounter with the planets quickly turned into an all-consuming passion.

So I thought I should take him to the Planetarium in nearby Greenwich.  There’s not much he doesn’t know about the solar system (Makemake anyone?),so ‘Moons beyond counting‘ seemed a likely hit.  Twelve thirty, I said, that’s when we’ve got to be there.

At 8.30, William was all present and correct, dressed; rucksack packed with essentials such as a pencil case and an I-spy book of birds; shoes on; coat organised, demanding to leave.  I fobbed him off for a while, but by just after 9.30, we were on the top of a double-decker bus bound for Blackheath and Greenwich.

Not the normal view of Blackheath: a bit of a fairground and a rubbish lorry doing its work.

Greenwich has one of London’s lovieliest parks.  There are wide avenues, trees, green space – hills even – and if you walk to the far end, a wonderful playground.  William was persuaded that this was a good place to spend the two and a half hours before the show.  We trotted down avenues and gravelly paths.  We chatted to dog walkers – William, having given his full address to one, informed him that I was a visitor who didn’t normally live here.

We examined tree bark.

And we reached the playground, where William climbed, chased, crawled, bounced, made new friends and finally announced, round about 11.30, that he was hungry.

We climbed one hill and then another, looking across at the views of Greenwich below, and the City of London, just across the Thames.

And we picnicked pretty much on the Greenwich Meridian line.

Visitors to the Observatory and the Meridian Line enjoy the view.

Finally, it was time for the show.  We sat next to a boy called Jack who turned out to be just as much of a planet geek as William.  The performance over (it was very good thanks, and back home, William gave a far better account of it than I did), Jack and William hurled obscure facts and quiz questions at one another, and were half pleased and astonished, half vexed that each knew as much as the other.

We decided enough was enough, and took a different route back through the park to the bus stop and home.  Where we spent the rest of the day doing – what else?  – a jigsaw of the solar system.

The moon, seen not at Greenwich, but on the Rotterdam to Hull ferry, June 2019.

A walk for Jo’s Monday Walk.

Patterns Through the Window, on the Wall

Look out of that window.  Who wants to go out unless they have to?  Instead, I’m inside and cosy, seeing if I can find photos that fit Jude’s 2020 Photo Challenge for February, Patterns.

I decided to go with the built environment.  I looked not for deliberately created architectural motifs, or applied ornamentation, but for reflections, distortion, or for other elements that weren’t intended as the main event.  Except in one case, where reflection and baffling the eye was definitely the main story.  Which one was that do you think?

 

This challenge was provided by Jude, of Travel Words.  

A Line of Trees

I don’t know about you, but I need a break from the world and its vicissitudes.  And I’ve got just the thing.  One of our favourite walks, near Masham, near home.  It offers wetlands with waterbirds, calming pastures of sheep, woodland, a stretch along the riverside – all available in a four mile stroll.

This month, Jude of Travel Words invites us to consider Pattern.  This walk has plenty, starting with the skeins of geese often to be seen designing sinuous flight lines across the sky.

Marfield Wetlands.

I’m going to show you a particular line of trees that I’m fond of, towards the end of the walk.  A repeated pattern, tree after tree after tree.  Sometimes, especially in high summer, these are enough to fill my mental screen.  At other times, I notice the pattern echoed.  A line of sheep, maybe.  A different line – of fencing.  Even – and I never manage to catch this in the same shot – a line of snagged sheep’s wool caught on nearby barbed wire.

Stark winter trees.  Fencing edges the nearby field.
Winter again.  I like the shadowy trees lower down echoing the crisper line above.
Another much longer view of those trees. With sheep below following the same horizontal line. It’s still winter.
That line again. It’s summer now, and other stands of trees draw the eye down to the lower edge of the shot.
Sheep again. They just left their wool behind.

I’ve chosen in many cases to echo the linear nature of the pattern by a spot of judicious cropping.

There.  Did you forget the headlines just for a few moments?

Saying ‘Thank EU For Being Here’

North Yorkshire for Europe made the best of a very bad job yesterday: a party for locally-resident EU citizens, to say ‘thank you’ for making their home here.

It was a great night, with fun, friendship … and tears.  More tomorrow ….

An entry for Six Word Saturday.

Car Light Through the Soapsuds

I thought I couldn’t let January end without a final entry for Becky’s Squares: January Light.  So here we are at the car wash.

 

Frankly, though, I’m not really in the mood.  Not the day that the UK leaves the EU.  I’m looking forward to this evening though, when North Yorkshire for Europe is holding two parties, one in York, and one in Harrogate, where we’ll be.  The group’s invited EU nationals who’ve made their home in Yorkshire, so we can say ‘Thank EU 4 being here‘. We’ve already been mentioned on the Today programme, and …. well, we’ll just have to see.

Light-headed? Blame the Gin….

… because it’s Seville orange season, and time to make next Christmas’s supply of Seville Orange Gin, that perfect winter warmer after a day walking in the bright frosty air.

January Squares, # January Light

PS.  Several of you have asked for a recipe.  There are any number on the internet, but they are all similar to this one from The Cottage Smallholder.  I saw a different recipe that suggested cardamom, so I have used this instead of cloves.  And I only used 150 g. sugar.  Also.  Three years?  Not a chance.  We’ll be drinking ours at Christmas.

Highlights of a Bird-free Bird Reserve

RSPB Saltholme.

We had to go to Middlesbrough for an appointment the other day, so we thought we’d stay and explore.

Middlesbrough is what’s known as a ‘post-industrial town’.  Once, its steel and other heavy industry and its port brought wealth (to some), employment, and attendant grime and looming industrial architecture.  Now, it’s reliant on newer technologies, engineering and the presence of  the university developed in the 1990s from the older Polytechnic.

But its landscape is still an industrial one, as is that of the surrounding towns: Billingham, Stockton, Redcar.  Could it be true that the RSPB had developed a Nature Reserve here, on its outskirts?

It could.  RSPB Saltholme.  Though it was hard to believe, as we navigated along roads edged by towering chimneys, great metal hangars, clattering unseen machinery.

But in the end, there it was, among the industrial flatlands – wetlands actually, punctuated by shallow lakes and pools.  We’d arrived.

Light-providing pylons stride purposefully across the landscape behind the reserve.

But the birds had left.  How silly of us not to remember.  At our local nature reserve, Nosterfield, the birds regularly knock off at lunchtime, only reappearing towards dusk.  Who knows where they go?

Sunlight plays across the bird-free water. There’s the Tees Transporter Bridge dominating the skyline.

Never mind.  We enjoyed a peaceful walk.  We got a moment of drama when flocks of birds DID appear, swirling and swooping above the lake.  It was quite likely that they were taking evasive action from a resident peregrine falcon hunting for a meal.  Drama over, they disappeared once more.

We enjoyed our time in this peaceful oasis.  We explored trails that ended in well-equipped hides.

Sky-light, lake-light from the hides.

We studied noticeboards with information about what better-informed visitors had spotted that very day.  We passed fields with the inevitable large numbers of greylag  geese. And towards the end, we were rewarded with just a few sightings: some shelducks feeding; a shoveler or two;  a few swans and a very distant heron.

But we enjoyed our afternoon. A near-empty wetland, with its unusual backdrop of an industrial past and present, and the never-out-of-sight Tees Transporter Bridge made for a fine afternoon’s walking … and there was even a café.

Camera-shy shelducks.

This multi-tasking post is for Six Word Saturday, January Light (January Squares), and Jo’s Monday Walk.