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 Very Old Post Box

Blogging challenges, England, North Yorkshire

See this little window? It’s not very spectacular, being at one side of the old cottage shown in the featured photo, in the nearby village of Studley Roger. But I think it’s quite privileged. It’s just above one of the oldest post boxes in the area, one of the diminishing number of post boxes still to exist from the reign of Queen Victoria. Its design means it can’t have existed before 1857, and it’s certainly 19th century in origin. So the window earns its fifteen minutes of fame as a Monday Window, and the box itself as a bonus for Jude’s Life in Colour, which this month celebrates the colour red.

Monday Window

The Devil’s journey from Ireland to Stiperstones Revisited

Blogging challenges, England

Last week we were in Shropshire, visiting good friends Perhaps soon I’ll take you with us one one of our trips but today, because it’s Fandango’s Flashback Friday, I’ll revisit a post I wrote last time we stayed with them.

Our road from Church Stretton to the start of our Shropshire walk.

The Devil’s journey from Ireland to Stiperstones

August 2016

Shropshire’s one of England’s forgotten counties, and full of secret landscapes for the lucky traveller to discover.  We found a few ourselves this week, when visiting ex-Riponian friends Hatti and Paul.

Here’s our route, as shown on the OS map.

They took us on a walk along one of those characteristic long, narrow scenic ridges which offer easy walking, and wonderful long distance views to east and to west.  So there we were, rambling from Wentnor to Bridges along the ridge for a rather good pub lunch, and then back to Wentnor along the valley floor.

To the right of us was the Long Mynd, a gently sloping plateau.  To the left, and higher above us were the more rugged Stiperstones.  Both hillsides were covered with an intensely purple carpet of flowering heather.

You’ll want to know how the ridge of Stiperstones came to be covered with an untidy tumbling of large and rugged boulders.

It was the devil who dropped them there.  He’d once noticed an old crone carrying her eggs to market by holding them before her, nursing them in her apron.  That was the way to do it! That was how he carried a large bundle of rocks all the way from Ireland to Shropshire, where he planned to drop them in the valley called Hell’s Gutter.  It was heavy work, and he sat for a rest at the very top of Stiperstones on a rock known since that day as the Devil’s Chair.

The Devil’s Chair (Wikimedia Commons)

As he stood up again, his apron strings snapped.  Out those rocks tumbled, all over the ridge.  He didn’t bother to pick them up.  They’re there to this day.

Look carefully, there on the skyline are the devil’s carelessly-lost rocks.

Climatologists and geologists have a different explanation, more credible but less fun.  If you get the chance, go to Shropshire, savour its varied and delightful landscape, and decide for yourself.

For more on this story, look here.

A Red Letter Day?

Blogging challenges, England, Germany, Spain

This month, Jude is inviting us to hunt for red in her Life in Colour challenge. So let’s go on a Virtual Day Trip and hunt for red. I think we’ll travel in the bus that was conveniently parked in the next village when the Tour de France came to Yorkshire. West Tanfield is also where we see the poppies in the featured photo.

We’ll whip over to Bradford first, call in at the Bombay Stores, and get some headgear for you chaps.

Still in Yorkshire, we’ll pop in to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to see Damian Hirst’s Virgin Mother.

Berlin next. We’ve only time to wander down a handsome street …

… before arriving for a quick visit to the Berlin Wall.

Right. That’s Germany done. Straight off to Spain. Are you peckish yet? Seeing all these peppers, tomatoes and pots of Moorish-style tea has made me think of food.

Where next? We could catch a wedding in Seville …

… and please don’t tell me we’ve come to Córdoba just to see this garage door.

We’ll forget that by visiting La Concepción Historical Botanical Gardens, Málaga.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve nearly had enough for one day. Time for a glass of wine, I think …

Then there’s just time to write a few postcards, and post them in that perky pillar box I know in Buxton.

I’ve realised that Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge is also about the colour red. Let’s make this post multi-task!

The Bees and the Birds

England, Wildlife

What do you think of when Derbyshire’s Peak District is mentioned? It’s a  glorious area of England, part of its Pennine spine.  There are old stone-built towns and villages with long histories of hard work in mining, textiles and farming.  There are limestone and millstone grit uplands and escarpments, with distant forest and moorland views, and valleys and gorges cut deep into the limestone.  

A view from Hay Dale

We were there last weekend.  Not for the broad brush of those appealing landscapes, though we got those too.  Instead, we were there to inspect what we could see inches, or at most feet from us, as we and a small band of like-minded people slowly wandered narrow pathways and farmers’ tracks with Mark Cocker., on a tour which he organised with Balkan Tracks.

These were the tracks of our childhood, a time when (if you’re as old as me) flowers and insects weren’t routinely eliminated from the fields by cocktails of fertilisers and insecticides.  Nature Walks were the once-upon-a-time weekly staple of the village school where I began my education: a neat crocodile of children hunting curiously for leaves, berries and treasures for the Nature Table in the corner of the classroom. Our group last week formed anything but a neat crocodile, and we collected treasures through the lenses of our cameras, exchanged young eyes for our pairs of binoculars.

The places we explored with Mark often had poor thin soil.  It’s not worth cultivating, but huge numbers of wild flowers seek out and colonise such spaces and it can be pasture-land too.  Where there are flowers, there are insects: flying creatures of all kinds, bees of all kinds, beetles, moths, butterflies.

I knew there were a fair number of different bee species, though I had no idea that there were some 270 of them.  But I thought a bumblebee was a bumblebee was a bumblebee.  It turns out that there are getting on for twenty different kinds, and that some of those are cuckoos.  Cuckoos?  Well, yes.  Cuckoo bumblebees are as wily as the birds they are named after.  They lay their eggs in another bee’s nest and leave the workers of that nest to rear the young.

Erm… I hope this is a white-tailed bumble bee

We found caterpillars, we found flying creatures and bugs, we found moths and butterflies.  Mark was excited enough about one find to write it up in this week’s Guardian.

We climbed up to Solomon’s Temple. We wandered through Millers Dale, once the site of a busy railway line.  We explored a now disused quarry, now colonised by a rich variety of life, including orchids, and a collection of stunted trees.  Unable quickly to get the nourishment they need, they reach maturity as dwarves. We explored almost unvisited dales such as Hay Dale.  All these were limestone, but we had a little time in the imposing millstone grit landscape of The Roaches, which – don’t tell anyone – is actually just in Staffordshire.

Our days were far from silent.  Even if it’s no longer prime bird-song season, there were spotted flycatchers, willow warblers and sightings of various finches and tits. Wheeling above us: buzzards, red kites, hobbies, while shallow rivers, busily chattering over stones and rocks were feeding stations for dippers and ducks.

We even had a little time to explore Buxton, where we stayed, and where, each evening, we ate, talked, laughed and generally got to know each other at the (highly recommended) Brasserie.

Buxton by night

What a weekend. I’ve learnt that I still have an awful lot to learn. And our own garden is the perfect classroom. 

Taking flight

Blogging challenges, England, National Trust, Wildlife

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 bright white 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.

Bright Square

Lens-Artists Challenge #144

Out in the Streets – in Pink

Ariège, Blogging challenges, England, Spain

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.

And the market in Cádiz

Here’s one for Becky’s Bright Squares: a young Korean woman, bright and pretty, wearing traditional hanbok for the festival of chuseok.

And finally, a sunset above my grandson’s London primary school.

Click on any image to view it full size.

Life in Colour #10

A Window on Liverpool

Blogging challenges, England

Today, simply a collage of views-of-a-window-or-through-the-window taken in Liverpool. No stories, no explanations. Just a short saunter through a city full of surprises and views worth noticing.

Annoyingly, this type of gallery won’t allow for captions. Still, if you don’t know the city, perhaps it’ll whet your appetite to go and explore for yourself.

Monday Window