‘Wish You Were Here’

Summer used to be a time for postcards.  Sending them.  Receiving them. Receiving was better.  What to say to your friends and relations with only such a small space to play with?  ‘Wish you were here’ maybe?

The views were standard, wherever they came from.  The castle.  The cathedral.  The fisherman’s cove. The crowded beach.

Today I’m reviving the tradition, but with a different angle on the standard shots.

St. Paul’s Cathedral, seen reflected in Angel’s Wing (2000) by Thomas Heatherwick, Paternoster Square, London.
The Leeds-Liverpool Canal passing under a bridge near Gargrave.
The Port Olímpic area of Barcelona seafront, reflected in nearby buildings.
Hull Minster, as seen in a nearby office building.
An honest view of a British holiday? The countryside near Penrith on a soggy Sunday.

This is my contribution to Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #59, Angles. Leya so often joined in when I was contributing to the Ragtag Daily Prompt that it seems only fair to return the compliment.  Thanks, Leya!

 

An Amateur Bird-Fancier visits Slimbridge

We’ve just come back from a long weekend in Gloucestershire.  The highlight was to spend time with William, Zoë and their parents at the home of Sarah (daughter-in-law)’s parents, who had invited us all: the highlight of this particular highlight was watching Zoë  discover strawberries…

Another highlight was to visit Slimbridge, the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust site founded and developed by Sir Peter Scott.

So much to see: water birds of every kind.  But I’ve come away with memories of three in particular: three species of wading bird who spend much of their lives fossicking in the shallows for the small creatures on which they depend for their diet.

All three of the birds that so engaged me shared similar characteristics.  Impossibly long, fragile-looking legs, giving them a delicate and graceful appearance: impossibly long, unmissable beaks.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you various varieties of flamingo…..  Who can fail to be entranced by their pink plumage, sometimes almost embarrassingly vivid, at other times delicately pale?

….black tailed godwits ….

… and the distinctively patterned black and white avocet.

Follow the links for a natural history lesson.  For now, enjoy as we did simply observing them.

 

Click on any image to view full size.

 

Moors and hills and rugged coast: walking Northumberland

Several of you commented on my coastal pictures from Northumberland, remarking on how relaxing the whole thing must have been. Well …. it recharged the batteries alright … but not by lying down on the beach with a good book. Certainly not.

Only birds sunbathe here……

We were at Nether Grange, an HF hotel, with our walking group. And we were there with other walkers – some in groups, others not. At Nether Grange, walking is what you come for. That and good food eaten in good company. We’d opted for guided walks. Three levels of difficulty are offered each day so there’s no excuse not to get involved. I chose one of each, so finished the week with 15.3 km, 12 km and 17 km. walks under my belt.

Moorland near Etal.

This is hill country. The Pennines, the backbone range that bisects northern England becomes the Cheviots as it marches towards Scotland. In the car you’ll swoop thrillingly up and audaciously down those hillsides. They provide a backdrop to the area which is at once dramatic and bucolic.

On foot, you’ll get to know about those slopes….. actually, we weren’t often faced with gradients that had us gasping, panting and begging for mercy. But we rarely had a long level stretch either. And our leaders were there to encourage, chivvy along, provide good humour and background notes on all kinds of topics … as well as read the maps, so we didn’t have to.

We walked moorland tracks, bouncy with springy turf nibbled short by sheep. We crossed hillsides bright with golden gorse. We tracked through woodland carpeted with bluebells.

A woodland glade … no bluebells this time.

We passed Ford Moss, an extremely ancient raised peat bog where we excited the residents: Exmoor ponies charged with grazing the vegetation and keeping it in trim.

Exmoor ponies going for a gallop.

We passed farms with shire horses and hissy geese.

And on the last day, we walked the local coastal path: St. Oswald’s Way. The section between Alnmouth and Craster-where-the-kippers-come-from is characterised by craggy cliffs, and are home, like the nearby Farne Islands, to many thousands of seabirds such as kittiwakes and fulmars. Here’s what the zoom lens on my new camera can do.

Cliffs and Dunstanburgh Castle seen from afar. The next three shots zoom in ….
Craster: cottages, a safe harbour, and a few tourists.

Our group, the 17 km one (10 1/2 miles to the non-metric) finished just beyond Dunstanburgh Castle. It was built in the 14th Century by the Earl of Lancaster, who was openly hostile to King Edward II – never a good idea, because the king had him executed in 1322. This fortification was built to make a bellicose statement, in an area crowded with castles. Now it’s a ruin, and an impressive one. We slogged to the top of the keep for the views, marvelling at the extra-thick walls as we climbed.

Leaving the castle behind us.

We finished the day, and our three days of walks, with a paddle. Gotta have a paddle. Or ‘plodge’ as the locals call it.

Plodging towards home….

With thanks to our walk leaders Chris, Helen, Paul, Richard: to Reuben and Team Nether Grange, and to our own Mike and Angela for organising the holiday.

And this is also an entry for Jo’s Monday Walk.

Beach patterns

I could take a walk on the beach every morning of my life.

We’ve just come back from four days in Northumberland, staying in the coastal town of Alnmouth.  Each morning before breakfast, I’d walk down to the sands to be both stimulated and calmed by the dragging, pulsing action of the sea.

There was the patterning of the sands to enjoy.  Those banks of undulations extending as far as I could see.  The designs etched in different coloured sands upon the newly-flattened beach.  Shadows and reflections in shallow pools.  The changing colours of the sea and sky towards the horizon.

Other beach lovers walked in contemplative silence too.  Their dogs preferred to celebrate the long, wide space, and simply ran and ran.

Todays Ragtag Challenge is ‘Patterns’.

Click on any image to view full-size.

My battered old notebook

I’ve known this notebook all my life.  It’s battered, scruffy … and almost empty.  I could use it for shopping lists or for all kinds of casual notes.  But I don’t.  And I don’t because this little book turns out to be an historical document, a recipe book from times when recipes were about so much more than food. 

Here are instructions for making horse powder (what?); cow drink; paste blacking (in fact several recipes for blacking); blue ink; black ink and crimson colour for show bottles (eh?).  There are instructions for making stomach pills; an efficacious receipt for the rheumatism;  red oils for bruses (sic) and sprains and two cures for cholera.  If you read this little book, you’ll know how to etch on glass; clean brass, copper and tin – and  note that brass is spelt the old-fashioned way, with an ‘f‘ in place of the first ‘s‘ when writing ‘brass‘.  This spelling fell out of use in about 1800 in England: and yet the index pages of this book are machine-cut.

On the other hand, cholera didn’t arrive in England till 1832, and was rife until 1854, when John Snow discovered the connection between contaminated water and the disease.  Does that date my little book to somewhere between the mid 1830s and 1850s?

I’ll leave you with one recipe, because I know you will want shiny black shoes in time for Christmas.

SUPERIOR BLACKING FOR BOOTS & SHOES

  • Ivory black 1 lb (that’s black pigment made from charred ivory or bone)
  • Treacle 1/2 lb.
  • Fuller’s earth 1/2 lb
  • Sweet oil 1/4 lb. (that’s olive oil).

Mix with water.

Click on any image to view full size.

 

Ragtag Tuesday: Flying the flag

Last time, we had to get to York to catch the coach to London.  This time, York had two coaches stuffed with its own.  Harrogate and Ripon had two, up from zero.  And Leeds had upped its game from two to five.

Coach to London?  Yes, to support the March for the People’s Vote.  You’ll know there were about 700,000 of us.  You’ll know the arguments.  So let’s just talk about a fun day.

A day in which I could take few photos, because I was on Team North Yorkshire, and often doing duty carrying one end of our banner. We did sing though.  All the Yorkshire marchers who could be found as we passed the Grosvenor Hotel were rounded up for a photo call.  A passing marching band (there were  musicians….)  struck up with ‘On Ilkley Moor baht’at‘ and all right-thinking Yorkshire folk joined in with lots of enthusiasm but little melody.

We talked.  How we talked.  We made common cause with voters from Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency, from Devon, from Northumberland, from Leicestershire – the banners proved that no part of the nation was unrepresented.

And we carried flags.  EU flags, Union Jacks, Yorkshire flags, Italian flags.  Progress was slow.  We snuck off to coffee shops (staffed by Italians) and pubs (staffed by any and every nation) for a quick breather and still easily regained our places.

 

Have you ever tried to fit 700,000 people into Parliament Square?  No, can’t happen.  In any case, thousands and thousands of us were still marching as the speeches started, as they continued, and after they had finished.  That was disappointing, as last time, I’d been inspired and energised by so many fired up and dynamic contributions.

Instead we got street theatre.  Anarchists on wildly decorated bicycles, a Boris Johnson look-alike, a tricycle.  It was, despite our serious purpose, lots of fun.  And tiring.

 

Look.  This is us on the coach home.  Our flags are still in place.

But I’ll end on this story, which makes me in equal measure sad and angry.

On the bus down, a French woman who has lived in the UK for 32 years told us that she no longer feels welcome in the UK, has suffered abuse, and has been told to ‘go home’.  She’d always previously loved Britain’s diversity and felt us to be accepting and tolerant.

And sadly, after two years of this different treatment, she’s decided she and her British husband have had enough and they’re moving to France. Even though she has considered Yorkshire her home for over 30 years.  This is not the first time I’ve heard tales like this.

It’s no secret that I voted Remain.  But nobody, however they voted, seems happy with how things are going.  If you believe that, having been given the chance to vote on continued EU membership, we should now be given the opportunity to vote on the Final Deal (including an option to remain), please write to your MP.  Here’s how.

Click on any image to see it full size.

Today’s Ragtag Challenge is ‘Flag’.