Postcards from 2022

How to summarise 2022 in just a few photos? That’s what the Lens-Artist Challenge demands of us this week. What makes it so hard is that a memory is invested in every photo. My own favourite photos may demonstrate no particular skill, but can transport me – and not you – straight back to a treasured moment. Ah well, let’s give it a go, and see what I can find that we can all enjoy.

Let’s book-end the year with ordinary pleasures: Fountains Abbey in springtime, and in late autumn…

Let’s remember summer with – here – an extraordinary sight: Scar House Reservoir, almost unable to do its job of providing water.

Scar House Reservoir in August 2022.

Let’s have a look at happy moments: Ripon’s first Theatre Festival took to the streets, Masham’s annual Sheep Fair returned after a couple of years’ Covid-hiatus. And my family enjoys one of life’s simpler pleasures: curling up with a good book.

Memorable May: a fantastic few days in the Balkans: North Macedonia, Albania and Greece, to enjoy its wildlife. A very few photos stand in for the whole experience of this area, still in many ways rooted in its traditional past.

Shepherds on the move all day and every day. leading their sheep and goats in quest of pasturage.

… and not forgetting the stars of the show: peacocks at Lake Ohrid.

The header image shows Lake Prespa, and the island of Agios Achillios, where we spent a few days.

In Catalonia with The Barcelona Branch of the family, we had an unforgettable trip to what may be The World’s Best Museum, CosmoCaixa, Barcelona.

We’ll finish off with Christmas lights at Eltham Palace. It was so cold, no wonder my fingers slipped!

A Group of Goats posing for Monday Portraits

I know it’s not a Group of Goats. It’s a Flock; it’s a Herd; it’s a Drove (as in the header photo); it’s a Tribe. But Group is more alliterative.

On our Balkan journey, we got used in Albania to seeing shepherds wandering along the mountainsides with their mixed herds of sheep and goats.

In Greece though, we stayed on a small island, Agios Achillios, on Lake Prespa. Semi-nomadic practices weren’t an option. Instead the goats had to put up with lush and varied pasture on hillsides overlooking the lake, which they shared with their neighbours the pigs and the dwarf cattle of the area, and who may have their moment of fame another week.

Balkan postcards 4

Off to the hills around Albanian Lake Prespa today, we got to see something of the tough life of a farmer here. Though the sight this morning of a shepherd with his small flock – fewer than 40 animals – of sheep and goats and three sheepdogs wandering slowly along as they grazed seemed idyllic, I’m sure the reality of this subsistence-level existence is rather different. We spotted several other such flocks throughout the day. Do take the time to look and listen to the grazing sheep with their melodious bells in the video I link to below. It all seems to be from a very different world.

A shepherd, his sheep and his goats

https://photos.app.goo.gl/MMPJTU9VDUUet97aA

Throughout the day, we saw solitary elderly women working alone in their narrow fields, weeding and wielding heavy mattocks. We spotted distant farmers working with ancient tractors. The thin rectangular fields set in regular grid formation in the picture below are a throw-back to communist days, but have been retained because they work.

A grid of fields, shared fairly between local farmers.