This is the last Snapshot Saturday. WordPress has decided to discontinue its weekly photographic challenges. I’m a bit sad about this. It’s been fun tussling with choosing images for each week’s idea, and through it, I’ve ‘met’ fellow-bloggers and made virtual visits to all parts of the globe.
This week, we’ve been invited to bow out by posting our all-time favourite shots. That’s far too difficult. Instead, I’m taking you to the Ariège in France, where my blogging journey began when we lived there for some years, and offering you some favourite shots from there.
The best of times. Picnicking at lunchtime on our regular Sunday walks. Shared food, shared wine, shared landscapes.
Walking in the Aude, there were vineyards, always vineyards.
Snowy days near Montferrier.
Springtime in the Dolomies, near Foix.
One super-dramatic sunset at Laroque d’Olmes.
A less snowy day near Foix.
Another view from le Cap du Carmil.
The Pyrenees viewed from Saint Julien de Gras-Capou.
Another much missed treat. Shared meals in the sunshine, with old friends and new. This is in Mirepoix.
Montségur one snowy March day.
The summer solstice at Montségur.
Le lac de Montbel, our nearby water playground.
Montségur, our nearby landmark and Cathar stronghold, one misty morning in July.
Just outside Laroque d’Olmes, our home town.
Tabariane, near Mirepoix.
Views from le Cap du Carmil in June. Still snowy on the peaks.
Last November, in Valencia, the building which first grabbed my attention was this one, and day and night, I always paused to enjoy its energetic entrance and attention-seeking windows.
This ebullient building now houses the National Ceramic Collection. Once it was the family seat of the Rabassa de Perellós – title-holders of the marquisate of Dos Aguas. Dos aguas: two waters – the nearby rivers Júcar and Turia which flow plentifully, twisting and turning, from the statue of the Virgin Mary which tops off the doorway. I’ve forgotten the rest of the story, and Google can’t help. Just enjoy this wonderfully rococo statuary, twisting round this exuberant doorway.
A contribution to this week’s WordPress photo challenge: Twisted.
We’d never heard of Coniston Pie before. Best head over that way then, and find out all about it.
Coniston’s a tiny village in North Yorkshire, wedged into the glorious limestone scenery between Kettlewell and Grassington. We couldn’t go there without exploring a bit and working up an appetite for that pie.
We began with a bit of a scramble, a bit of a climb before hitting a steadily climbing path leading us upwards between dry stone walls and statuesque and wind-shaped trees. Sheep were our constant companions as we continued to plod ever upwards, 1000 feet in all.
We rested at the top. We had a snack (just a biscuit, no pie for us), before taking the winding turfy track downwards towards the valley bottom, then turning sharp left to join the Dales Way back to Coniston.
And that’s when we saw it. Coniston Pie. It’s not hearty fare to be tucked into after a hard day’s lambing apparently, but this: the view the shepherd sees as he does his daily round.
Still, it does look exactly like a pie, filled with good things and topped off with a thick pastry crust, doesn’t it?
This week’s WordPress challenge asks us to post something unlikely.
We were walking on Thursday, near West Witton, Swinithwaite and Redmire. Because it was April in Yorkshire, it was bitterly windy and cold with occasional hail: that was after we’d confidently started off in deceptively warm sunshine with a light breeze.
The final slog was along a long ridge, with a just-as-long line of dry stone wall keeping us on the straight and narrow every step of the way. Here it is.
Earlier though, while the sun was still managing to shine, we passed a different sort of line. Solid stepping stones crossed the river in a gentle curve, inviting two of our number to take the challenge and leap from boulder to boulder to the other side, then back again.
It was on a day out in Sitges near Barcelona that I had my light-bulb moment. It was a gloriously sunny January day, and we had the beach almost to ourselves: a clean, sandy and utterly unpolluted beach. Here it is.
And yet …… I took it into my head to spend just five minutes having my own personal Plastic Litter Pick on this apparently plastic-free beach. Here is my haul.
When we got back to Ripon, we found that a new group had been formed. Initially a group of two, it quickly grew. These are local people looking for a Plastic Free Ripon.
Plastic is part of all our lives (you try eliminating it and see just how hard it is), but single-use plastic doesn’t have to be. We’re 60 miles from the nearest beach, but it’s coastal communities who have perhaps woken up to the threat that plastic in our oceans represents, and Surfers against Sewage who have provided Ripon, and dozens of other communities with a toolkit to help us begin eliminate needless plastic from our city.
Thanks to a small group of foot-soldiers marching to local businesses and spreading the word, neighbourhood shops have committed to discouraging customers from having plastic bags. Some takeaways have invested in compostable food containers. There are bars that have decided against issuing plastic straws. Commit to taking three decisive steps to eliminate plastic, and your business in Ripon can be awarded plastic free-status. Many have eagerly responded to the challenge.
There’s much else to do. Hotels and bed and breakfast establishments are still providing little single-use plastic bottles of shower gel and lotions. School dinner providers still issue single-use bottles of water. Garden centres sell their wares in single-use plastic plant pots. Residents and passers-through who should know better sling bottles and packaging from car windows or outside take-aways. So that’s why there will be regular community litter-picks.
I wish I could say I was in the vanguard of all this action. I’m not, though I’m a small part of it. There’s a small gang working utterly indefatigably, and already they’ve made a huge difference. All the same. Like so many others, Malcolm and I have gone old-fashioned and eschew the plastic milk cartons in the supermarket. The early-morning milkman delivers us our early-morning pinta in a glass bottle for us to rinse out and return. Just like the good old days.
‘Prolific’ is this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge.
Originality has gone out of the window as I enter Day Twelve of the Great Coughing Virus. I’ve found some pictures from last year’s much more clement spring. This is a walk round and about the awakening garden, exactly a year ago.
This week’s WordPress photo challenge is ‘Awakening’. Click on any image to view full size.
I’d thought that as a child, I was bookworm too. Compared with Lucy Mangan I wasn’t even trying. She resented the time wasted in eating a meal, and as for playing with friends – she never even considered doing that.
Yes, I can remember that Christmas when I was 10, when I was given 19, yes NINETEEN paperbacks, and had finished the first one before we’d even cut into the Christmas cake.
I can remember the row when my father, getting up for a night-time toddle to the bathroom, found me happily reading my way through another installment of ‘Jennings and Darbishire‘ or ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe‘. Did it never occur to my parents to wonder how I could have got through a book a day any other way?
Lucy’s mother must be a few years older than me. Lucy herself is only a couple of years older than Tom, and was brought up only a a mile or two away from where he lives now.
Because she was such a redoubtable reader, Lucy Mangan not only read the books that I enjoyed reading with Tom, Ellie and Emily, and now with grandchildren too: but she also discovered the treasures familiar to me as a child of the 1950’s. I know she wrote this book just for me.
I’ve shown these photos before. I’ve even shown them in a previous WordPress Photo Challenge. But I’ll never forget this February sunset from a few years ago in Laroque d’Olmes. ‘Dramatic’ doesn’t seem an overstatement here.
This is my contribution to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge inviting shots of a sunrise or sunset. Click on any image to view full size.
Last Monday, towards evening, the place to be was our home. We dashed from window to window, watching as dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of starlings descended on the trees round our house. They weighed down the branches, then in coordinated waves – responding to some urge we could not understand – they swept skywards, tearing across the garden, swooping, diving, before briefly settling again to repeat the performance again and again for a whole three-quarters of an hour, before finally disappearing to settle near the river for the night.
So near to our house, those mesmerising formations of groups of birds twisting and turning in harmony, as if in some graceful aerial dance weren’t so apparent as they are at a distance. We were rewarded instead by seeing them at close quarters, rising, landing and rising again from the trees near our house.
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.