Three favourite photos?

Ari├Ęge, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Laroque d'Olmes, National Trust, North Yorkshire

Choose my three favourite photos? What kind of a task is that? Hopeless, I’d say, because so many favourites rely on the memories that surround them, that only matter to those who shared the moments.

But Sarah, of Travel with Me fame, has asked us to do just that for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.

Anyway. Let’s go. This photo dates from years ago, when we lived in France, and once, just once, there was an astonishing and dramatic sunset which we’ve never forgotten, even ten years after the event.

You can perhaps guess from the cross on the right that we’re looking up at the churchyard on the hill above the town, edged with the heavily pollarded plane trees you can see silhouetted against the sky.

Living as now we do near Ripon, we have two ‘back yards’. One is Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, where I volunteer. And the other encompasses the paths, fields and woodland near our home.

Because I’m so often in both these places, I’ve been able to photograph them in every season, and at every time of day. Here’s an autumn favourite of Fountains Abbey.

I like how the beech leaves frame Huby’s Tower, while their warm russet tints contrast with the austere grey of the abbey’s stonework.

Meanwhile, during the summer months I like to photograph the drifts of poppies in the fields of crops near our house. It was hard to choose just one, but in the end I settled for this one. I like the poppies tumbling about in the foreground, set against the much more organised stems of wheat in their vertical serried ranks.

Ask me to choose three favourites tomorrow though, and you can bet they’d be entirely different shots.

Just listen to that tree!

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, National Trust, North Yorkshire

As you wander down the hill to Fountains Abbey, and arrive at West Green, you’ll spot a tree, a sweet chestnut tree with – how odd! – a girdle of headphones hanging from its branches.

This information board explains all: these headphones enable you to listen in, via highly sensitive microphones, to the hidden sounds of the tree.

Truly – it’s astonishing, mesmerising. Just as our blood courses round our body, day in, day out, so water and air courses constantly through the tree. Through headphones, it sounds something like the tinkling of a mountain stream as it tumbles over pebbles. And behind it, as your ears adjust, there’s a low, more intermittent soft rumbling sound. This is the tree moving. Saturday was a still day, but we could hear that rumbling as we listened closely. On a windy day, I wonder what we’d have heard?

This next photo is the last I took, and the last one of all for April, so one for Brian Bushboy’s Last on the Card

During May, I’m taking a break. I probably won’t even have a chance to read the posts of those of you I follow. When I get the chance though, I’ll try to send a virtual postcard or two.

Framing the view

Barcelona, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Harrogate, London, National Trust, North Yorkshire

For this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge, Ann-Christine asks us to think about curves. What a big subject! Flicking through my photos, almost every one has a curve in it somewhere or another. How to limit it? In the end, I decided to go with curves-as-frames.

There are deliberate curves as framing devices, as here in Studley Royal, where the estate gates are placed to emphasise the view straight down towards Ripon Cathedral.

Or here where the band on a bookshop barge on the Regent’s Canal in London has organised an arch above the musicians.

Or here, where a metal arch has provided an impromptu frame, so long as you choose your point-of-view. This is Harlow Carr Gardens, Harrogate ….

… or here, where a handy metal arch can be encouraged to frame the Maritime Museum in Barcelona.

Bridges may be arched, and garden entrances, even if not curved themselves, are often softened by climbing plants.

Let’s go to more serendipitous framing in the natural world. Here’s my grandson at Brimham Rocks.

And finally, we’ll go to Fountains Abbey, where I spend so much time. I’ve chosen two different views of the Abbey, one taken in high summer, then the other, shown as the featured image, in autumn. In each case, Huby Tower has been framed by leaves cascading in gentle curves.

As well as the Lens-Artists Challenge, this post fits the bill for Sarah’s Friendly Friday Challenge: Framing your subject.

Monday Portrait

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, National Trust, Wildlife

It wasn’t much more than a year ago. I was walking in the grounds of Fountains Abbey when I heard a vicious one-sided conversation going on above me. It was a squirrel, a very heated and angry squirrel, who evidently had a great deal to complain about. Maybe it was me he was angry with. I never found out. The complaining went on long after I’d gone out of his sight.

Odd things among the follies at Studley Royal

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, National Trust

Last summer. the gardens of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal celebrated some of the follies which are such an important feature, with installations by Steve Messam.

Generally, these installations were well received, and recognised for what they were, playful additions and talking points in a garden given over to pleasure rest and recreation. They were indeed ‘These Passing Things’, visible for one summer only.

For Becky’s Square Odds

… and Marsha’s Photographing Public Art Challenge #36

PS. I prepared this post yesterday, just before I became aware of the devastating flooding at the site caused by Storm Eunice, and which you can see here.

A morning walk with the rangers at Studley Royal

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Heritage, National Trust, North Yorkshire, Walking

It’s 7.45. Here’s the sunrise on our way to Studley Royal.

And having met the rangers and our fellow walkers – volunteers on the site, here’s who we’d come to see.

Red deer, but ancient trees too. Cherry trees aren’t meant to last 400 years, but somehow this one is clinging on. Whereas the oak nearby is thought to be more than 800 years old, and dating from the days when the monastic community was at its height in nearby Fountains Abbey.

Come with us as we walk past the entrance to the park, framing the view down towards Ripon Cathedral, before we climb uphill to less frequented parts of the parkland, where deer usually roam free and we could enjoy open views across to Ripon and the North York Moors beyond.

And by 10.00, the rest of the day’s our own.

For Jo’s Monday Walk, because I know Jo would love this walk too.