I spoke to a friend the other day. A friend who was deeply upset, because one of his friends had left it too late to check himself out… and now has a cancer which can’t be cured. We don’t yet know how long he has. It’s heartbreaking, and more so because it could have been avoided.
In the meantime, I’ve been receiving – for two bloody years – requests to put a heart on my wall, or an eight ball as my status, or to accept the challenge of posting a black and white picture, or a no make-up selfie, to raise awareness for cancer. Well, challenge accepted. Here’s my black and white, no make-up selfie, no hair selfie, no boob selfie, and no husband selfie. Our most recent portrait together, a few weeks ahead of our fifteenth wedding anniversary. ❤️
You don’t raise awareness of cancer by putting little…
‘Everything stops for tea’. Not if you take it on the train it doesn’t. Just imagine. You and your fellow guests are seated at an elegantly appointed table covered with a damask cloth. Here are china cups and saucers, heavy cloth napkins, weighty cutlery. Before you, a Proper Cake Stand, prettily stacked with sandwiches (cucumber, of course, but also egg mayonnaise, ham and chutney and so on), two kinds of scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam on the side, and properly English cakes: chocolate cake, sponge cake, cream-filled meringues, tiny eclairs. Attentive and charming service. Unlimited pots of tea, of course too .
We were on the Wensleydale Railway, at the invitation of Susie and Pete, old friends from France and currently visiting England.
This is a heritage railway, staffed by volunteer enthusiasts, with engines and rolling stock from earlier times. Our carriage had been built in about 1913, at the behest of the infamous director of the Titanic who dressed himself as a woman in order to make his escape from the sinking vessel in a lifeboat. Our tea time experience was masterminded by the Institution at Bedale.
Our tables were ranged down the middle of the carriage, enabling us all to have views of Wensleydale as we sat enjoying our tea. The train chugged steadily along the track, offering views quite different from those available to us as we travel by road, or walk along country footpaths. We were in another less hurried age, and enjoyed passing through little stations, past signal boxes pressed into service once more when trains like ours are on the move.
At Redmire, we had to dismount as the engine chugged away to turn round and pull us back once more to Bedale. We had time to admire the rolling stock.
Our steam train was off for repair. This youngster dates from the 1960s.
This was afternoon tea at its finest: a leisurely experience enabling us to put present worries aside, just for a couple of hours.
It was a couple of days before Good Friday when we first saw them. Mrs. Mallard swimming on the village pond with her eight tiny ducklings. We kept a proprietorial interest in them, and were dismayed when over the next few weeks they became seven, then five …. then only two balls of fluff. These two kept growing until they were, in duckling terms, almost teenagers. Then they too vanished.
No more ducklings on our pond. Just a single baby coot.
Last week though, walking along to a friend’s house, I spotted them. Mrs. Mallard had hatched another brood. Seven this time. I wonder whether this little lot will make it? It seems as if there have to be an awful lot of ducklings put upon this earth even to maintain the population at replacement level. Both male and female mallards will attack and kill ducklings who are not their own.
It’s eleven weeks since we first saw those baby ducklings. Mrs. Mallard is still no nearer to successfully rearing the next generation of mallards to replace her. In some ways, time has stood still.
WordPress Photo challenge: Delta. For this week’s photo challenge, share a picture that symbolizes transitions, change, and the passing of time.
This time 54 years ago – more or less – I was sitting my O Level in Geography. Among other things, we studied the economic geography of England, interpreting Ordnance Survey maps, and a little elementary geology.
Our walk the other day would have made an excellent field trip. We were over in West Yorkshire, and our route from Gargrave took in sections of the Pennine Way, and quite a stretch of the Leeds and Liverpool canal.
Map-reading wasn’t our problem, because John and Pat were competently leading us onwards. The hills weren’t a problem, because the slopes were relatively gentle. They were the drumlins which are a feature of the area.
O Level question: What are drumlins? Drumlins are elongated hills of glacial deposits. They can be 1 km long and 500 metres wide, often occurring in groups. They would have been part of the debris that was carried along and then accumulated under an ancient glacier. The long axis of the drumlin indicates the direction in which the glacier was moving. The drumlin would have been deposited when the glacier became overloaded with sediment.
We walked through fields of cows, fields of sheep, and through woodland, emerging at lunchtime on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
O Level question: What is the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and why was it built? The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is a canal in Northern England, linking the cities of Leeds and Liverpool. Over a distance of 127 miles, it crosses the Pennines, and includes 91 locks on the main line. It was built from 1770, and allowed textiles to be sent from the woollen towns of Yorkshire for export from Liverpool. Liverpool also required coal to fuel its manufacturing and shipping industries.
What an industrial thoroughfare it was then. Busy, dirty barges and narrow boats piled with goods moved between Yorkshire and Lancashire, where now there are only bucolic scenes and holidaymakers enjoying tranquil holidays slowly wending their way along the canal.
We watched as boats rose or descended through one, two, three, four, five, six locks to reach a different level of the canal. We marvelled at a section of our route along the canal towpath. We, and the canal itself, were travelling along a viaduct, and far below us were fields and a river. I couldn’t organise photographic proof. Soon after, we were back in Gargrave.
A view of some of the locks.
A lock gate slowly letting out water to lower a narrow boat to the stretch below.
So there we have it. If only I’d done that walk when I was 16. I would hardly have had to do any geography revision at all.
It was the summer solstice this week. It was also, for three days only in the north of England, summer.
So let me whisk you back eighteen months, to a crisp and clear January day when I took myself off to walk for a couple of hours or so, looking upwards rather than at my surroundings. Skyscape succeeded skyscape. These changing skies perfectly illustrate this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: transient.
Sun, sea, sand. The basic requirements for a day at the seaside, if you’re nearly two, or even a bit older.
On Monday, I was in London, i/c William. But at the last moment, Tom got an unexpected day off. The sun was shining – and how- and London was hot and sticky. So we packed buckets and spades, towels, sun cream and sunhats …. and set off for Whitstable.
It’s a picturesque little town with a harbour, fishing boats and a reputation since Roman times for having jolly fine oysters. It had sun. It had sea. What it turned out not to have was sand. Here is the beach.
William didn’t mind. Stones are fun. Paddling’s fun, even when the stones beneath are jagged and a bit uncomfortable. Chasing seagulls is fun. Looking for crabs and tiny fish is fun.
We took a break for lunch. Miraculously, the tide had gone out and a sandy shore line had appeared. More paddling, this time rather more comfortable. More fish, crab and seagull hunting.
Then we went home. Guess who went to sleep in the car?