This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge invites us to show images of where we’d rather be at the moment. Well, I’ll tell you where I’d rather not be, and that’s here, in North Yorkshire.
I love Yorkshire, and I’m happy to agree that it’s ‘God’s own country’. But frankly, life here is a little trying just now. Like most of England, we had The Beast from the East a couple of weeks ago bearing snow, blizzard and fierce wind. And much of the rest of the time it’s been raining. This photo was taken a couple of months ago: since then, things have only got worse.
So how about a little trip back to the Ariège, where we lived from 2007 to 2014? Here’s a selection of photos, all taken there in March or very early April. Down in the foothills of the Pyrenees where we lived, blossoms were out, and wild daffodils carpeted the more out-of-the-way hills. At the weekend we would head off for Montségur and higher land to enjoy the snow that was still thick there. We were never fans of snow-shoeing, but now I’d be more than happy to exchange their crisp deep snow for our thick deep mud.
Nature has had the upper hand lately. Snow, and plenty of it, disrupted our daily rhythms a few times in recent weeks. Rain, and plenty of it, has swamped fields and tracks, making a walk in the country an utterly unreasonable pastime.
The other day though, cabin fever got the better of us, and we made a break for the countryside near West Witton, reasoning that some of the tracks there would be more or less passable. They were. More or less.
But Nature made its presence felt in full force. Here was almost our very first sight on our walk – a mother ewe with twin lambs so very newly born that she was still calmly licking them clean as they tottered beside her, looking for their very first feed of milk.
The weather was mild. Surely the snow would be long gone? Not up here. Bitter howling winds a week ago had snatched the snow into deep drifts at the edges of fields, or pounded it into hillside crevices.
Redmire Force lived up to its name. Look at the waters swirling, frothing and plunging over the boulders in the River Ure. Look at the tree torn from its cliff side, now hanging precariously over the river.
And as we came to the end of our walk – look! Is this a river, or is this a field, unusable by the sheep who normally graze here, but forming a stopping off point for the occasional passing water bird?
I don’t think the humans in my life whom I love would be happy for me to plaster their images all over the blogosphere. I have no pets, beloved or otherwise. So I’ll have to look a little further.
Here’s a little miscellany of images, beloved images:
The Yorkshire Dales, whose rolling hills, bisected by ancient drystone walls I missed so much during our years in France.
The Pyrenees, from their richly flowered springtime meadows through to winter, when their rocky slopes are covered in deep snow, and which I now miss every single day. I’ll miss the shared picnics on our walks together, when our French friends pooled resources, and we ate everybody’s offerings of home-cured sausage, local cheeses, bread, home-baked cakes together with wine and somebody’s grandfather’s very special eau de vie.
Springtime daffodils. Every year I go into deep mourning when they wither, die and finally become untidy heaps of dying leaves. I’m happier now as they thrust their sheathed stems through the hard soil, promising to flower soon- but not quite yet.
There are books: I need a pile beside my bed to get me through the night.
A single, perfect cup of coffee from Bean and Bud in Harrogate.
Skeins of geese flying overhead mark the seasons here, and I love their haunting, raucous cries.
And so on….
The Pyrenees seen from St. Julien de Gras Capou in summertime.
A shared picnic near Montaillou, in March.
The Nidderdale Way.
Near Pateley Bridge.
We’ve already seen our first daffodils in North Stainley this year.
Just a random pile of books. I don’t think I’ve read most of these.
Our beloved Bean and Bud,
Geese flying uncharacteristically untidily over Marfield Wetlands.
I’ll end though with this. I wasn’t beloved of this elephant in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, who was only doing his job when I visited him ten years ago on my Indian Adventure. But I felt beloved and very special when he raised his trunk and brought it down upon my shoulder – his very distinctive way of blessing me.
Click on any image to see a slideshow of the photos, full-size.
For the last WordPress Photo Challenge of the year, we’ve been bidden to come up with our favourite shot of 2017. How to choose?
I was thinking of maybe reviewing the year, one month at a time: family moments, walks in the Dales, trips to Poland, Germany, France and Spain. Nope, it wasn’t working .
The shot that I found kept presenting itself was this one, taken on a chilly walk not so far from here almost a year ago. It chimes in with my somewhat gloomy feelings about the future: political uncertainty here, in Catalonia, in America, to name just three.
Not all was gloom though. Look! We were walking with friends. And in the end, the sun came out, and we were able to turn our backs on the damp unfriendly fog.
If only politics were so simple. Happy Christmas everyone.
This bulky cliff of long thin fang-like rocks that we could see last week from our Black Forest hotel while on our European Escape piqued our interest. So on our last afternoon, while Malcolm was having a rest, I set off to explore.
I had only the most basic of maps: but this is Germany, land of the Walker’s Waymark. Once I knew I was off to Falkenstein, there was no problem. I yomped up to the woods outside town, turned right, and set forth.
I even tried to get a little lost, but however hard I tried, I was never far from a reassuring sign pointing me onwards to my chosen destination.
Once there, I found I couldn’t have more than a peek at a time. That solid mass of rock visible from our hotel was never once in full view. Instead, one, two, possibly three peaks at a time pointed skyward from my path below. Here they are.