Longer Daylight, More Sunlight = The First Flowers of Spring….

… spotted on a walk through our village yesterday.

Snowdrops – first spotted on January 1st.
These daffodils by the village pond are always extra-early – even though it’s North Yorkshire.
Aconites bravely push up through the gravel.

January Light

A Sunday Walk, Accompanied by Thirteen Dogs

Our good friends Gill and Dave host a mid-winter walk for all their friends after Christmas every year.  We’re invited, and we’re never sure why.  We’re not known for showing much interest in horses, and we don’t own a dog.  As you can see from this shot taken just as we set forth, fortified by bacon sandwiches and coffee, having a dog in tow is pretty much expected.

Boots, wellies and dogs organised.

We love this post-Christmas event, and this year I was especially keen.  I’ve not been able to go on a decent hike for six months now because of a knee condition, but today was the day to begin to put all that behind me.

So here we all are.  Here are the dogs, here is the mud, here are the woods and the local views – understated, pleasant good old rolling English countryside.  I’ve deliberately overstated the mud for dramatic effect – it really wasn’t bad at all, and with enjoyable company we didn’t notice it anyway.

Back home with Gill and Dave, we ate and drank, laughed and talked for most of the afternoon.

The human friends are all inside eating, drinking and making merry. It’s a dog’s life.

And on the way home, this was the sunset.

Another entry for Jo’s Monday Walk.  It’s been such a long time since I’ve had the chance…

Magical Meditative Moments

Come with me.  Come with me into the walled garden.  It doesn’t belong to us – it’s our landlord’s.  But it’s his joy, and his joy to share it with us.  We can see it – look – from our kitchen window.

So whenever the weather’s on our side, as it is today, that’s where we’ll be.

Where shall we sit?  Here? Right in the centre, where there’s space for friends as well?

Maybe here at the side.

Or tucked away at the very back.

Here there is utter peace: the flowers and shrubs, the main events changing now from high summer to autumn: the bees, fuzzing and humming in the background: the background birds – perhaps a skein of geese will fly squawking overhead on their way to our local nature reserve, then onward, onward to their winter residence.

It’s our magical place.  It’s where all thoughts of the dire state that our country is in are banished, and we live in the moment.

 

My entry for Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #63: Magical

The Secret Garden

We’ll still be able to get our weekly bunch of flowers come the Revolution (Brexit).  We shan’t need to worry about just-in-time-deliveries via the Dutch flower trade.  We’ll carry on just as we are, strolling to The Secret Garden, just outside Ripon, to choose a bunch of just-picked seasonal blooms.

On Saturdays, as you arrive there, you’ll find a somewhat retro caravan – this one.

Look inside, and there are jugs and buckets crammed with bunches of flowers chosen and gathered by the Secret Garden’s owner, Victoria Ramshaw.  Every bunch includes a mix of varieties that complement and enhance each other.  Every bunch was picked the previous day and plunged into water overnight to be ready to arrange, tied with raffia and presented in a twist of brown paper. Pick one up… then another …. it’s hard to choose….

Now you’ll need to go and pay.  Wander up the garden to Victoria’s hut, and enjoy a chat with her.  Listen to the River Laver as it tumbles and jostles alongside.  Watch the butterflies and listen to the bees.  Spend time looking at the flowers.  Enjoy the moment, even though the garden’s now just past its best and a bit end-of-termish. Take your flowers home, and as you look at them, you’ll remember the pleasure you had choosing them, and taking a few moments out from the daily round.

It sure beats cramming a bunch of chrysanthemums into your trolley as you do your weekly shop.

This is an entry for  Fan of….. #9

 

How Not to Lead a Walk

Day sack, walking poles: what could possibly go wrong?

Get up, bright and early.

Get washed, dressed, and have a hearty breakfast.

Make sandwiches and pack day sack.

Check map: I’m leading today’s walk!

Put boots and walking poles in bag.

Put bag and day sack in car.

Drive to Ripon rendez-vous.

Welcome walkers, who all car-share to start of walk – not my car.

All get booted-up and ready to walk …..

… Except me.

The boots in my bag are not mine.

They’re my husband’s.

Stare at battered canvas sneakers I wore to begin the day.

Realise these won’t do for a country walk.

Thrust map and walking route into press-ganged hands.

Wave walkers a reluctant goodbye.

Trudge along the road, back to Ripon.

Not recommended.

My boots …..
…. Malcolm’s boots. Not exactly identical, are they?

My contribution to Six Word Saturday.

Framing North Yorkshire

There’s an invitation  this week, in Amy‘s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, to consider Framing the Shot.

Walking in the Yorkshire Dales gives so many photo opportunities that I thought I’d stay right here, on my home patch, to give this a go.

Here’s a wintry shot from just outside my own village. Trees provide a traditional frame.

Over in Reeth, I  made use of some less-than-attractive wire fencing to frame the distant hillside.

Harlow Carr Gardens provided its own frame above a pond.

While at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, (in West Yorkshire, this one) Henry Moore  provided a frame through which to view the landscape.

But there’s no need to take framing so literally.  There are other ways of a picture inviting you in.

The Pennine Way, near Gargrave North Yorkshire.

Those fields of rape plot the path we may take over the hills.

While these two suggest the limitless landscape lying beyond the dry stone walls.

And these sheep, this cormorant, highlight the vastness beyond them, just as the tree below, utterly unframed, suggests the famous bleakness of the Top Withens moorland near Hawarth, home of the Brontë sisters

Let’s finish with typical Yorkshire weather.  A view taken in the Crimple Valley one very dismal day in May.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #60– Framing the Shot