This week’s Lens-Artists Challenge is Taking Flight. What to choose? I thought of hot air balloons I’ve seen. I thought of planes. I thought of bubbles magically released into the sky to delight children and adults everywhere. In the end, two ideas insisted on their fifteen minutes of fame.
The first is the starling murmurations which are such a feature of life here early every spring. Once, one even took place over our garden. We were entranced until we saw the state of our car afterwards. Have you seen one? Murmurations take place towards evening, when thousands of starlings swoop and swirl in the sky above their chosen roosting site for that night. Are they keeping predators at bay? Exchanging information before nightfall? Nobody’s sure. But as suddenly as it begins, the display stops, and the birds descent to their roosts, and it’s over for another night. Here are a few shots – and look at the featured photo too.
Then there was our visit to the Farne Islands, a protected National Trust bird reserve off the coast of Northumbria What an afternoon we had here. We saw puffins, we saw razorbills, guillemots, eider duck, fulmars …. sea birds of so many kinds. But if it’s flight you want to see today, we’ll just stick with the Arctic Terns, with their brightwhite and grey plumage and orange beaks.
Arctic terns are feisty, aggressive birds, fiercely protective of their young, as these pictures may suggest. They are impressive migrants, flying between 44, 000 – 59, 000 miles a year to reach their European breeding grounds from the Antarctic.
Pink. When I was a girl, I couldn’t be doing with it at all. Pink went with frilly dresses, white knee socks and patent leather shoes. Pink went with ballet lessons and Violet Elizabeth Bott. I utterly despised it, even though I was far too much of a wimp to be a proper tomboy. These days, I’m far less hard line. I treasure the first glimpses of spring time blossom, and all the glorious blooms of summer. I love a magenta sunset. I even have a pink jumper – though I don’t like it very much.
Today, let’s look at the streets. We’ll go to Spain, France, the UK, and South Korea in search of not-too-pretty in pink. The featured image is a scene from Cádiz.
At the moment, we all need the glow, the zing that a good splash of yellow can provide. Luckily, Jude has provided the perfect opportunity for us to hunt down all our yellow-rich images, in her challenge Life in Colour. Let’s have an injection of gutsy, vibrant lemon, amber and gold alongside our long awaited Covid vaccines.
I’d thought of showing those springtime flowers we all love – aconites, daffodils, primrose, tulips and kingcups. But maybe I’ll save those for another day. Here’s a complete hotch-potch of yellows to cheer up a day which, here at least is thoroughly and dismally grey.
To view any image full size. just click on it. The quotation of the post title is by Vincent Van Gogh. No wonder he liked sunflowers. And the header photo shows one word from another quotation. Wander round the St. Paul’s area of London and you’ll eventually uncover the whole sentence, from Virginia Woolf’s novel, Jacob’s Room: ‘What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?‘ What indeed? In this area of London, enough to fill an entire guide book.
I am very late in joining Jude’s Photo Challenge #51, but here I am. She invites us to make a collage of images, some of which have strong geometric shapes, others of which are organic in form. I had fun looking back though my collection. And what I soon realised was how hard it is to determine what makes a good photo when those images are so bound up with the memories they represent. I suppose that’s what makes me a snapshot-ist rather than a photographer.
I also found myself choosing photos which were primarily geometric – of buildings and so on, but which were enlivened in some way by more organic forms. So Jude, I may not have quite stuck to your brief (again!) but you’ve made me think (again!)
The featured photo shows Brimham Rocks in Yorkshire. Nobody could accuse them of being geometric.
It’s been a strange Not-Quite-Christmas – in our case quite an enjoyable one, and today I’m going to offer a Not-Quite-Monday-Window. Why not? Eyes, it’s said, are the windows to your soul, and we saw plenty of eyes when we visited Knole Park the other Christmas with Team London. Those eyes belonged to some rather over-friendly sika deer. I’m not clear about whether deer have souls, but they they certainly provided a different sort of window through which we could remember our visit. Here’s a picture of me with my son and his son, as seen through the eyes of a passing deer.
I keep on referring to myself as Country Mouse. That’s because I am, and have been for the last thirteen years or so. But it’s not always been like that. Here’s my back-story, written during our last weeks in France, back in 2013.
We were Christmas shopping in Toulouse yesterday. A day in this, the fourth largest city in France, is always a treat. And yet….By about half past three, we’re footsore, weary and confused like Aesop’s poor dear Country Mouse who decided the simple, yet safe country life was preferable to the riches and dangers of life in the city. We want to go home.
I was nearly always a city girl. Raised in London, after pre-school years in rural Yorkshire, I had a childhood enriched by Sunday afternoons at the Natural History Museum or frenetically pushing buttons at the Science Museum. We’d go to watch the Changing of the Guard at Horseguards Parade, nose round hidden corners of the city, still scarred in those days by the aftermath of wartime bombing. We’d go on our weekly shop to Sainsbury’s: not a supermarket then but an old-fashioned grocery store, with young assistants bagging up sugar in thick blue – er – sugar paper, or expertly using wooden butter pats to carve up large yellow blocks of butter. If we were lucky, there would be a Pearly King and Queen outside collecting for some charity.
It was Manchester for my university years. I loved those proud dark red Victorian buildings celebrating the city’s 19th century status as Cottonopolis, as well as the more understated areas once populated by the workers and managers of those cotton mills, but developed during my time there as Student Central. I loved the buzz of city life, the buzz of 60’s student life.
Then it was Portsmouth. Then Wakefield, and Sheffield, and Leeds. City life meant living with up to 750,00 neighbours. And I thrived on it. I never felt too far from wide open spaces, yet a short bus ride brought me theatres, cinemas, exhibitions, shops, choices of schools for my children. When we moved in 1997 to Harrogate, with a mere 75, 000 inhabitants, it felt small.
In 2007, we came to the Ariège, to Laroque, population just over 2,000. The largest town in the whole area is Pamiers, with a mere 19,000 inhabitants. How could we still think of Harrogate as really rather tiny? So we needed to change the way we saw things. We’re accustomed now to at least recognising most of the people whom we see round and about. We enjoy the fact that we count many people in the community as friends, and that we all turn up to the same events. We relish the space, the more relaxed pace of life, the sense of belonging that we have here.
Now, as we plan our return to England, the idea of the clogged roads of the Harrogate rush hour is unattractive, the busy streets unappealing. Ripon, where we more recently lived is much more like it: 14,000 people. But we ask ourselves – is even a town this size too big and scary for Country Mice? Should we continue as we’ve started? Perhaps we should look at Galphay, Gargrave, Greenhow or Grewelthorpe, average populations about 400? Or Masham, about 1,250? All of these are near our centre of gravity, Ripon.
So much to think about. But wherever we end up, we’ll still want the odd sortie to The Big City. Toulouse hasn’t seen the back of us yet.
And reader, we did end up in a village near Ripon. North Stainley. Population 700
Photos 4, 5, 6 0f the Toulouse series; the Pearly Kings and Harrogate’s Valley Gardens courtesy of Wikimedia Commons