The Tree House. Just One Window, Just One Door.

If you go walking in Wensleydale: if you go for a walk from Jervaulx to Jervaulx via Thornton Steward, you’ll come across this tree home, at the edge of a field, commanding views over the valley.  It has just one door and, importantly for Monday Window, just one window.

It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but I always like to imagine a doting grandfather, tall and rangy from a tough life’s farming and probably reminiscent of the BFG, lovingly creating a little refuge for his grandchild in this hollow tree.

I couldn’t fit in it, neither could you.  Perhaps the grandchild is too big now.  But I know a couple of young people who’d love to play there.  Perhaps you do too.

Playing With a Poorly Camera

Ooh dear.  Just look.  I’m meant to be using the manual settings on my camera to experiment with Depth of Field – not something I often do.  And as soon as I switch to fiddling with Aperture, this is what I get.

It wasn’t misbehaving earlier in the week and now it is. But with my Tame Camera Shop being shut for the duration, I’m stuck.

Ah well, I’ll go out to play instead.  I’ll stand in a single place on the riverbank and take photos of the ox-eye daisies, zooming in to get ever closer.  It’s the best I can do. My feet don’t move, but my zoom does.

This last photo isn’t part of my ‘homework’.  But who doesn’t love a poppy, perfectly poised on a parapet?

 

2020 Photo Challenge #23: Depth of Field

Revisiting Transhumance in the Haut Salat

I struggled to decide what to re-blog from our years in France this month.  June then was an opportunity to get further away from home to walk and to explore.  Should I take you for a snowy walk to the heights of Lanoux?  Or on a horrifyingly vertiginous expedition?  Maybe le Cap du Carmil?

In the end, since we’re getting a bit fed up with being socially distant these days, I thought we’d go off and have a bit of a knees-up over in Seix.  Come with us.

June 13th 2011

Transhumance in the Haut Salat

Transhumance.  It’s that time of year where here near the Pyrénées, the cattle and sheep are moved from their winter quarters down on their lowland(ish) farms up to the lush summer pastures in the mountains.  They’ll stay there till Autumn, and then be brought down again.  And each time, it’s the excuse for a party.

On Saturday, we joined in, and went over to Seix to meet friends who live there.  The Transhumance celebrations in Haut Salat last three days, but we made do with Saturday morning.  We nearly arrived late – very late – because we found ourselves behind a herd of cattle making their steady way along the road.  Overtaking’s not an option: the cows commandeered this route hundreds of years ago.  But we managed to zip down a side road and make a detour.  A whole hour later, after coffee with our friends, the herd reached the edge of Seix and passed their door….

…and finished their long walk into town.  We went too, and arrived just as the last flocks of sheep were arriving, to be corralled like the cattle, at the edge of the town square.  For a while, and probably much to their relief, they were no longer centre stage.

Instead it was jollity of the traditional kind. There were processions of large solemn plaster effigies, local bands.  Dancers from Gascony, the Basque country, the Landes made sure we all had fun, and Malcolm and I even joined in some Basque dancing.  Stars of the show for us were the shepherds from the Landes.  Theirs is flat, marshy country, and they used to keep their eyes on their roving flocks by ranging round on stilts.  But this was a day for dancing, and that’s just what they did, up high on those stilts.  Have a look at the photos.

We went off for lunch at the end of the morning.  But there was more celebrating, more meals to be shared, particularly by those farmers and country people who over the centuries have welcomed the fellowship of Transhumance as a break from the routines of an often lonely life.

Barcelona’s Best Windows

This time last year, we were near Barcelona, me and my whole family, celebrating two significant birthdays.  What a difference a year makes.

This year, nobody’s travelling anywhere much, so I’m going on a virtual journey, to Barcelona and to one of my favourite destinations there, the Hospital de Sant Pau.  I’ve already written about it twice, here and here.  Today, let’s celebrate its vibrant, colourful windows, with glimpses of the glorious buildings that lie beyond.

Monday Window

The Warm Light of Day

I’ve been thinking about the light as I’ve been on my walks this week.  The clear light of the early morning: the clear bright colours that the midday sun encourages, and the warm golden light of evening.  Sadly, the weather turned a bit cold and cantankerous as the week drew on, but I did my best to outwit it, or make use of it.  And I’ve included just one photo from the winter months, to remind us of the atmosphere of a misty cold day that began with a crusting of frost.

Click on an image to see it full size, and to reveal the caption.

2020 Photo Challenge #2

A Tale of Three Birds: Chapter Three: the Fledgling

Monday’s walk was along the edge of some local woodland.  Suddenly, there on the path in front of me, I spotted … a fledgling.  A tottering, tumbling ball of fluff, cheeping plaintively and stumbling uncertainly on its large ungainly clawed feet.

I knew enough not to interfere and attempt a rescue, but this little foundling upset me and I felt guilty leaving him to what I assumed would be certain death – especially when, heart-wrenchingly, it tried to follow me.  Was the robin perched in the branch above its parent?  Later, paging through bird books, I decided not.

Back home, Google was my friend.  This article from the RSPB assures me that the parents were probably practising tough love, and beginning the little bird’s preparations for an independent life.

A Tale of Three Birds: Chapter Two: the Curlew

We went to Colsterdale on Sunday.  It’s nearby, but feels remote and isolated, because the only road through leads nowhere very much and so it remains one of North Yorkshire’s best kept secrets.  Perfect for a Day Out whilst maintaining that all-important Social Distance.

Edged by the pastoral views of farming country, it climbs to become stark, treeless, commanding views to the distant North York Moors, and to the higher parts of the Pennines.  Its ascetic bleakness is what appeals to me.

 

We’d almost reached the area where we planned to park and begin our walk, when I saw them.  There!  There on the roadside!  Look! Two curlews, almost within touching distance.  These are shy, beautifully camouflaged birds normally only seen and heard as they quarter the sky, calling the evocative plaintive sound – ‘cur-lee, cur-lee’ – which gives them their name.  These two were probably drawing a would-be predator away from the nest.

Whatever the reason, it was such a privilege to watch these birds at close quarters, with their mottled, camouflaging plumage, and their distinctive long downward-curving beaks.

YouTube RSPB video

They flew away after a couple of minutes, and we began our walk, relishing the space, the wild emptiness and the only sounds those of distant curlews.

Jo’s Monday Walk

Addendum: several commenters have expressed surprise about the curlew frequenting moorland.  Just to show how very much at home the bird is in these surroundings, here is proof.  It is the symbol for the nearby long distance walk, the Nidderdale Way.  FAO Jude, Agnes

geograph.org..uk

A Tale of Three Birds: Chapter One: the Mistle Thrush

I was out in the garden reading (Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl Woman, Other since you ask).  Absorbed, I hadn’t noticed, but suddenly I did…  A bird’s call – loud, imperious, by turns chiding, whistling, chirruping or tuneful.  And incessant.  A mistle thrush was responsible, and he wasn’t hard to find.  He had found a high perch, as he’s supposed to do, in the top branches of a copper beech.

Once noticed, he was impossible to ignore.  He called and he sang until after half past nine that night.  The next day he began at ten past four, as the sun was rising.  Since then, during daylight hours, he’s barely stopped.  Not for him a tea break or a spot of down-time.  He’s claimed his territory, and he’s not letting it go.

Today it’s raining for the first time in ages.  He’s still at it … and the video gives no idea at all of the volume of sound produced.

Lilac through the Window

Today, I’m going no further than my kitchen window.  The lilac has been glorious this year.  Is it because it has been – well – especially spectacular, or have we simply had more time to enjoy its big blowsy blooms and seductive smell?  It’s June now, and lilac has no place in the summer garden, so here is the view that has greeted us every breakfast time for about three weeks.  Can’t complain about that.

 

 

 

Monday Window

A Backlit Virtual Tour for a Snapshot or Two

Let’s have a day out.  Lockdown’s still somewhat in force, so let’s make it a Virtual Day Out.  We’ve got homework to do: it’s time for Jude’s assignment:

This week's assignment - Use strong backlighting (i.e. shooting towards the light source, but do not look directly at the sun) to create a contre-jour image where the subject becomes a silhouette, OR shoot the light through flowers or leaves creating a transparent effect.

We’ll stay nearby at first: go to the local woods, and quite simply glance upwards.

 

Then we’ll whip over to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.  There’s a group of hikers beginning their day out, but we haven’t got time to join them …

… because we’re off to London.  William and I enjoy visiting the Bishop’s Palace at Eltham.  Last time we went, the sky turned an extraordinary colour for a while, and I took this photo.

Back at his house in time for sunset, you can see his school from a bedroom window.

Off to Gateshead now.  We’ll join a crowd of sightseers at the Baltic, looking over at the Tyne Bridge.

And we’re back home just in time to see another sunset.

2020 Photo Challenge #21

Who knows when or if I’ll be posting again? WordPress seems intent on our using block editor to prepare our posts, and currently, I’m flummoxed, and cross.