Virtual dog goes on a Virtual Walk

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking

Virtual Dog has been coming along with me on my Actual Walks for over a month now. She’s been complaining that we have yet to go on a Virtual Walk. She has a point. Let’s go on one today. It’s raining, and there’s mud everywhere. We could do Jude’s challenge while we’re about it, Life in Colour: Brown, and look for brown in anything but mud.

We’ll start off by the village pond. There aren’t usually ducklings at this time of year, but on a Virtual Walk, anything goes. Down the lane towards Sleningford Hall we’ll pass a friendly goat. And a herd of cows. Now I know that this hike is a virtual one. We have no cows at all north of our village, and I’ve never seen a goat either.

We’ll head towards Musterfield, and this involves a walk through the woods, and my favourite ancient oak. Look at the size of it. How many kings and queens, wars and eras of social change has it lived through?

And we’re sure to find some interesting tree fungus too. And butterflies. I’m not good at butterflies. Some kind of skipper? Can anybody help?

There are always a few friendly horses glad enough to wander over and chat. This one has a foal though (Virtual Walk, remember?) and takes no notice of us.

If we’re passing through farmland, we’re near barns. And if there are some (brownish) geese, so much the better.

And finally, because this is a Virtual Walk, just before we turn for home, we’ll visit this tiny dwelling, a home surely to fairies or elves. It’s actually at Nidd Hall, 15 miles from here. But on a Virtual Walk, we can achieve anything.

PS. It IS a rainy day today. A Virtual Walk would be very welcome. But needs must. I will go out with Virtual Dog for an Actual Walk too. And Jo, do Virtual Walks count on Jo’s Monday Walk?

Birds on a wire, a bird on the pier

Blogging challenges, Wildlife

It’s not quite the right time of year for birds en masse to gather on a wire. That was last September, when birds of various kinds gathered on the telegraph wires near our house to plan their trip, perhaps to Africa, in complete defiance of current travel restrictions Here they are, in my featured photo.

And here are a few more. They’re not emigrating. I showed the stonechat quite recently, but I like him, so here he is again, looking splendid in his best spring-time feathers.

Click on any image to view it full size.

The cormorant reminds me of a poem I learnt as a child, and which I will still recite at the least provocation:

The Common Cormorant

The Common Cormorant or shag

Lays eggs inside a paper bag.

The reason you will see no doubt

It is to keep the lightning out.

But what these unobservant birds

Have never noticed is that herds

Of wandering bears may come with buns

And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

Christopher Isherwood

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge

Finding another uplifting companion

Blogging challenges, Walking, Yorkshire

Some of you may remember my first post this month, when I announced my plan to acquire a Virtual Dog to make sure I went walking every single day, come rain, come ice, come mud. My chosen companion was Dilys, shown in today’s feature photo, but she already walks miles every day with her own family. Much as I love her, I think I really do need a Virtual Dog.

Then I remembered Ai Wei-We’s Circle of Animal Heads at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Surely that featured a dog’s head? Up a pole? It did. Here is my Virtual Dog. Sadly, it’s my least satisfactory photo from there, so I’ll include a small gallery of some of the others to give you a better idea of this circle of mainly Zodiac figures up above your head.

My Virtual Dog

I’ve completed 116 miles this month. I felt this was a decent number – nothing to upbraid myself with here. But then I discovered that Jo of Restless Jo and Jo’s Monday Walk fame has upstaged me. She does eight miles a day. Almost every day. I’ll have to up my game.

Square Up

Thank you, Becky, for cheering up a particularly long and dismal January: for giving us the opportunity for uplifting friendships in the blogosphere, and for making us crank our brains up a gear as we tried to measure up to the skills, humour and ingenuity of our fellow participants.

Rain, rain … up north and down south

Ariège, Blogging challenges, France, Laroque d'Olmes, Pyrénées, Walking, Weather

I bet you’ve been thinking, in these gloomy rainy days, that a bit of a break somewhere like the south of France might cheer you up. But not necessarily. In honour of Flashback Friday, I’ve found my post from 29th January 2013, written in the corner of Southern France that we used to call home.

RAIN RAIN …

The banner headline on this morning’s regional paper, La Dépêche du Midi, told us what we already knew. There’s been twice as much rain this month as is usual.  Of snow, we’ve seen hardly a flake.

Driving back from Foix yesterday, we saw meadows that have become mini- lakes.  Even more fields glistened with water as the water table has risen to the very surface of the soil. It’s made the month a somewhat gloomy one, even though the days have been pretty mild.  The mountain peaks are snow-capped, as expected, but the white stuff barely creeps down the mountainside and with all the low cloud and zilch visibility, it’s sometimes hard to know where the Pyrenees have disappeared off to.

The Pyrenees seen from up on our roof terrace

Our regular yomps into the countryside have been a bit curtailed.  Walk after walk has been rained off, and when we do go, we choose our routes with care.  If we don’t, we’ll be lugging kilos and kilos of glutinous heavy clay with us as it clings to our boots and the bottom of our trousers.

Muddy boots … up to our ankles in mud.

Roll on the 2nd of February, Chandeleur (Candlemas), the day when Winter decides whether to stick around or push off.  Last year, it was icily cold, and Winter stayed and made his presence felt with several weeks of constant snow, ice and bitter cold.  This year, he‘s looking much more half-hearted about it all.  We blame ourselves. We invested in snow-tyres and snow chains for the car.  We clothed our olive tree and a few other plants in white dresses of horticultural fleece.

Olive tree in a winter coat.

So Winter laughed in our faces.  We daren’t change the tyres or undress the tree though.  We all know what will happen if we do.

Square Up

Upbeat stripes and checks

Blogging challenges

Let’s have a bit of fun with stripes. Trawling through my archives, I’ve turned up images of wandering stripes at art galleries, at a road junction and at, of all things, a sheep fair.

That featured image at the top of the post shows the shadows of legs wandering round the Masham Sheep Fair.

Now let’s check up on checks. Just the one image this time, from the Museo Fallero in Valencia: a couple of figures from the annual Fallas Festival parades in the city. Those two look quite upset.

Lens-Artists Challenge #132: Striped and checked

Square Up

If after all these Squares you’re hungry for some fresh air, why not go with Frank for a Beach Walk? He’ll take you along with him twice a week, reflecting on what he sees and experiences: sand, shells, surf – it’s all there. Today it’s Storms, and I managed to find some stormy photos for him which he’s included. His thoughts are refreshing and wide-ranging: just the thing on a January morning.