When all this is over, I’ll remember the quiet moments …
… the early evenings in the garden, as the birds chattered tunefully among themselves …
… the woodland walks, where I was soothed by the changing patterns as, day by day, green leaves unfolded above me, and the flowers of spring, then summer, came and went alongside my path.
And I’ll remember this walk too, from Monday this week, when I exchanged my bosky local landscape for the wider vistas near the North York Moors National Park, where a long slog up a long hill rewards with far-ranging views. And maybe the chance to take a photo requiring depth of field, for Jude’s current photo challenge.
A June walk near Richmond in Yorkshire. Not this June as it happens, but it’s a walk I remember well.
This was the countryside we strolled through.
The banks of the River Swale.
Richmond Caste in the distance.
And this was the abbey we found near the end: Easby Abbey, ruined since shortly after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536, and as atmospheric as ruins generally are.
.. and the still-standing parish church.
The site includes the not-at-all-ruined parish church which is still very much in use. When we popped in, we didn’t expect to find a poor swallow, struggling to get out. Church members were trying to help him, but he was still vying with stained glass angels as we left. Poor swallow.
Birder friends: can you help please? I realise this may not be a swallow, but it doesn’t seem to be a swift or house martin either. Thoughts?
Just look at that. Twelve words. I have to weave those twelve random words into a single poem.
Our U3A writing group is one of the few things that’s continued throughout lockdown. It’s a positive activity at a somewhat negative time. But what CAN you do with a list like that? This, it turns out. I’m not too displeased. And here too are a few photos to illustrate the day.
Right. Well, I should take this seriously – I’m new to macro photography.
The garden’s ready and waiting. That’s one thing sorted. Tripod? Well, I have a three-legged stool, and a pile of books so I can adjust the camera height – same thing really .
But the ground proves to be disappointingly uneven, and the slight breeze moves those cranesbill petals around. The bees to whom I’d be happy to offer either a leading role or at least a bit-part are disappointingly uncooperative. Maybe pick a few flowers and move indoors?
Card to display flowers on – check. Tripod-substitute: one packet of tea and another book – check. Nice even light streaming in through the window – check. What could possibly go wrong?
That’s part of William’s birthday present. Sssh – don’t tell him.
So here we are. Macro photos in the time of Covid 19. Make do and mend rules.
Oh, and I thought I’d put the flowers in a bit of context and show them in our landlords’ garden. We spend as much time there as they do. Aren’t we lucky?
If you go walking in Wensleydale: if you go for a walk from Jervaulx to Jervaulx via Thornton Steward, you’ll come across this tree home, at the edge of a field, commanding views over the valley. It has just one door and, importantly for Monday Window, just one window.
It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but I always like to imagine a doting grandfather, tall and rangy from a tough life’s farming and probably reminiscent of the BFG, lovingly creating a little refuge for his grandchild in this hollow tree.
A first glimpse ….
… a second glimpse …
… and the whole thing.
I couldn’t fit in it, neither could you. Perhaps the grandchild is too big now. But I know a couple of young people who’d love to play there. Perhaps you do too.
Ooh dear. Just look. I’m meant to be using the manual settings on my camera to experiment with Depth of Field – not something I often do. And as soon as I switch to fiddling with Aperture, this is what I get.
It wasn’t misbehaving earlier in the week and now it is. But with my Tame Camera Shop being shut for the duration, I’m stuck.
Ah well, I’ll go out to play instead. I’ll stand in a single place on the riverbank and take photos of the ox-eye daisies, zooming in to get ever closer. It’s the best I can do. My feet don’t move, but my zoom does.
This last photo isn’t part of my ‘homework’. But who doesn’t love a poppy, perfectly poised on a parapet?
This time last year, we were near Barcelona, me and my whole family, celebrating two significant birthdays. What a difference a year makes.
This year, nobody’s travelling anywhere much, so I’m going on a virtual journey, to Barcelona and to one of my favourite destinations there, the Hospital de Sant Pau. I’ve already written about it twice, here and here. Today, let’s celebrate its vibrant, colourful windows, with glimpses of the glorious buildings that lie beyond.
I’ve been thinking about the light as I’ve been on my walks this week. The clear light of the early morning: the clear bright colours that the midday sun encourages, and the warm golden light of evening. Sadly, the weather turned a bit cold and cantankerous as the week drew on, but I did my best to outwit it, or make use of it. And I’ve included just one photo from the winter months, to remind us of the atmosphere of a misty cold day that began with a crusting of frost.
Late morning sun. The poppies brighten the scene.
Without strong sun, there would be no dappled shade in the woods.
Rain’s on its way, making the shot almost monochrome.
The field of barley emphasises the mellow evening light.
The rain mutes and softens the colours of the trees.
A December day in Ripon. Only the street light gives away the fact that this shot isn’t in black and white.
Click on an image to see it full size, and to reveal the caption.
We went to Colsterdale on Sunday. It’s nearby, but feels remote and isolated, because the only road through leads nowhere very much and so it remains one of North Yorkshire’s best kept secrets. Perfect for a Day Out whilst maintaining that all-important Social Distance.
Edged by the pastoral views of farming country, it climbs to become stark, treeless, commanding views to the distant North York Moors, and to the higher parts of the Pennines. Its ascetic bleakness is what appeals to me.
Scar House Reservoir in the distance
We’d almost reached the area where we planned to park and begin our walk, when I saw them. There! There on the roadside! Look! Two curlews, almost within touching distance. These are shy, beautifully camouflaged birds normally only seen and heard as they quarter the sky, calling the evocative plaintive sound – ‘cur-lee, cur-lee’ – which gives them their name. These two were probably drawing a would-be predator away from the nest.
Whatever the reason, it was such a privilege to watch these birds at close quarters, with their mottled, camouflaging plumage, and their distinctive long downward-curving beaks.
YouTube RSPB video
They flew away after a couple of minutes, and we began our walk, relishing the space, the wild emptiness and the only sounds those of distant curlews.
Addendum: several commenters have expressed surprise about the curlew frequenting moorland. Just to show how very much at home the bird is in these surroundings, here is proof. It is the symbol for the nearby long distance walk, the Nidderdale Way. FAO Jude, Agnes
Today, I’m going no further than my kitchen window. The lilac has been glorious this year. Is it because it has been – well – especially spectacular, or have we simply had more time to enjoy its big blowsy blooms and seductive smell? It’s June now, and lilac has no place in the summer garden, so here is the view that has greeted us every breakfast time for about three weeks. Can’t complain about that.