… in the Valley Gardens, Harrogate.
… in the Valley Gardens, Harrogate.
This is what I saw as I was walked through West Tanfield, the day before Earth Day.
Drawn to this bright and cheery vardo, a traditional Romani caravan, I stopped to chat. No, they weren’t going to Appleby Horse Fair. It’s been postponed. Instead, one man, one woman and their horse were spending the next months travelling simply, exploring as the mood took them, always one of them walking, leading their horse as the other rode in the wagon. They’d travelled fewer than fifteen miles that day, on side roads and country lanes. The slogan on the back had attracted anger and rebellion from many passers by. But others, like me, had liked the clear distinct message.
If you’re from the UK, you’ll recognise the person in my featured photo. It’s Clare Balding, presenter of sports programmes, stories featuring animals, and as far as I’m concerned, BBC Radio 4’s Ramblings, and today, my One Person from Around the World. I’ve been lucky enough to be in two of Clare’s programmes, walking with her first on the route of the Jarrow March, and then, exactly four years ago, on the Nidderdale Way. Let’s revisit my post from that day, especially for Fandango’s Flashback Friday. There are even four Bright Squares. I’m multi-tasking today.
Walking on the radio
26th April 2017
I’ve been out for the day with Clare Balding again, for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Ramblings’ programme. Last time, her producer Lucy was looking for a local rambler to lead the Ripon to Ripley section of the Jarrow March, and she ended up with me. Last time, as the walk finished we fell to talking about local long distance walks, such as The Nidderdale Way.
And lo! Now they have a six-programme series in the bag, waiting to be transmitted in May and June, on …… the Nidderdale Way, all 53 miles of it. She invited me to be part of the last leg, together with my friends Chris and John.
Let me tell you how it works. We walk. We chat. Lucy walks beside us with her muff-on-a-stick, recording little and often. Clare stops from time to time and paints evocative word pictures of the scenery, the sights, smells and sounds, the passers by. She chats to us about everything from geology, to history, to walking, to long-lost industries, to living near Nidderdale.
We see our local landscape through fresh eyes. Instead of its being the backdrop to our daily lives, it becomes vivid again, and we remember the wonder and the intense pleasure we experienced when it was new to us too.
Clare loves people. At Brimham Rocks, where we insisted she take a detour, she chatted to children with their families and took part in their photos. Later, she hung over a drystone wall and talked to a farmer. She patted dogs and enjoyed a few moments with their owners.
Just as well she’s good at this sort of thing. When we arrived at Pateley Bridge, she became a sort of stand-in for the Queen. She was whisked from shop to shop, always leaving with a little local speciality -a pork pie, some home-made fudge. With Lucy, she was given a newly-minted badge for completing the entire Nidderdale Way. They got flowers, a book by a local historian, hugs and handshakes galore, and repaid all this attention with genuine interest and friendship. Pateley Bridge by the way is in the thick of preparing for the Tour de Yorkshire 2017, which goes through the town – and past our front door – on Saturday 29th April.
Please listen to this series when it comes out: it’s available as a podcast even if you don’t live in the UK. The first programme will be on BBC Radio 4 on 18th May, and the programme featuring our team will be transmitted on Thursday 22nd June. You’ll make immediate plans for a holiday in Nidderdale after you’ve listened.
This week’s Lens-Artists Challenge is Taking Flight. What to choose? I thought of hot air balloons I’ve seen. I thought of planes. I thought of bubbles magically released into the sky to delight children and adults everywhere. In the end, two ideas insisted on their fifteen minutes of fame.
The first is the starling murmurations which are such a feature of life here early every spring. Once, one even took place over our garden. We were entranced until we saw the state of our car afterwards. Have you seen one? Murmurations take place towards evening, when thousands of starlings swoop and swirl in the sky above their chosen roosting site for that night. Are they keeping predators at bay? Exchanging information before nightfall? Nobody’s sure. But as suddenly as it begins, the display stops, and the birds descent to their roosts, and it’s over for another night. Here are a few shots – and look at the featured photo too.
Then there was our visit to the Farne Islands, a protected National Trust bird reserve off the coast of Northumbria What an afternoon we had here. We saw puffins, we saw razorbills, guillemots, eider duck, fulmars …. sea birds of so many kinds. But if it’s flight you want to see today, we’ll just stick with the Arctic Terns, with their bright white and grey plumage and orange beaks.
Arctic terns are feisty, aggressive birds, fiercely protective of their young, as these pictures may suggest. They are impressive migrants, flying between 44, 000 – 59, 000 miles a year to reach their European breeding grounds from the Antarctic.
Lens-Artists Challenge #144
I didn’t plan to post today, but since I shared my sundown stroll with you last week, it seems selfish not to share the delight of a bright sunrise walk this morning. I left the house at 6.20, going along the River Ure, up the hill to a neighbouring farm, and back through the grounds of Sleningford Hall.
Peaceful? Not at all. The rooks in the rookery were circling their home patch and gossiping loudly. Oyster catchers gathered in groups and screamed and called as they flew high above the river while others skimmed its surface. A single curlew called. The lark ascended. And though the dawn chorus was all but over, blackbirds on every other tree took up their posts to offer an unending programme of melody to the morning sun. Lambs bleated plaintively as I passed, while their mothers’ objections were even more assertive. Only the rabbits, off to bed for the day, were silent as they swished through the dewy grasses.
I haven’t been on an evening walk all year. It’s time to put that right. Will you come too? We’ll go along the woodland path behind our house.
Look! On either side as we walk , there are bright kingcups, primroses, wood anemones.
And here we are in the village, by the pond. Are there any ducklings yet? Apparently not – no ducks either just now.
We’ll turn towards home. Only a short walk. But we can watch as the sun goes down, and have a few quiet words with the horse in the field. Not a bad way to begin the end of the day.
Let’s have a bit of culture, and have a Museum Tour. Our only aim is to find Things That are Pink. We’ll start off at the V&A in London: there’s a view of one of the entrances in the featured photo. In fact we won’t have time to go inside – there’s plenty of pink outside. Then we’ll catch a bus over to the Horniman, and see its Aquarium, its Butterfly House, and pop William into the changing colours of the lightbox which was there for a temporary exhibition on colour. Then it’s over to Dulwich Picture Gallery, just for a very quick look round. We’ll whiz down to Gloucestershire, to Slimbridge. It’s not a museum of course, but its purpose is collecting and educating. We’ll only stop long enough to find two pink flamingoes, because then we have to get straight over to Spain, to Cádiz and to El Museo del Titere – The Puppet Museum. If we hurry, we can be home in time for tea.
The first three images are from the bright and glowing aquarium, and are therefore bright squares.
What a difference. Exactly a year ago, on 13th April 2020, I spotted my first mallard ducklings of the year, with their unusually attentive father shepherding them around the village pond. This year, night temperatures are below freezing, and there are gusty winds most days. Despite the sunshine, I think we’ll have to wait a little longer to see this year’s first brood. Let’s plunder the archives for some memories.