Flashback Friday: Malcolm and the Microlight

Ariège, Blogging challenges, Laroque d'Olmes, Pyrénées

We’re going back eleven years today: not to Malcolm’s actual birthday, which is In The Bleak Midwinter, but to an April day when we were still living in the foothills of the Pyrenees, and when a bunch of amateurs – the friends and family of Malcolm – formed an impromptu production company to deliver, for one day only – Malcolm and the Microlightto celebrate his birthday.

Malcolm and the Microlight

23rd April 2010

… celebrating in style for a 70th birthday

Starring Malcolm and Jacques.

Director: Henri

Producer: Margaret

Assistant Producers: Léonce & Brigitte

Script: Malcolm

Wardrobe: Jacques

Shot on location in the Ariège by Jacques, Malcolm & Margaret.

A Lawrenson-Hamilton-Clift Production MMX

Jacques’ microlight

‘Curiously, I had no feelings of fear or apprehension, perhaps because of what our friends had told us about Jacques, the pilot, and his machine – it’s his pride and joy, and he takes great care of it.

There was a sharp feeling of exposure after take-off – we were not in a cabin, there was no protection from wind, we were just vulnerable beings in a powered shell under a giant wing – it reminded me of riding pillion on a motorbike, but this was in the air.

Malcolm in the bright morning air

The various destinations came up quickly – not like travelling on the ground, even though our speed was only about 80-85 kph.

Over the mountain peaks, it was very cold – temperature had fallen from 13 or so on take-off to minus 1 over the snowfields and the flat white surfaces of isolated frozen lakes were still clearly to be seen.  And suddenly, directly underneath, a herd of Pyrenean chamois, running and leaping, disturbed by the engine’s sudden sound in their snow-quiet world

A few minutes more and we were at 2600 metres, when the mountains seemed so empty and cold, even in the lovely morning sunlight.   We could see long distances in the clear air at this altitude – 200 km away, we could see the Pic du Midi

The warmth after we left the mountains behind and lost altitude was welcome, and I could concentrate on the views of walks we had previously done, and which had sometimes seemed long and meandering, but were now clearly visible with their beginnings and ends.

Then back to the field and the short grass runway.  As we flew over, I could see Margaret far below, waving.  Then it was down, very smoothly, and a turn, and back to rest.  What an experience!  And how kind of my family to make this possible.

Flashback Friday

Bright Square

And finally … thanks so much Becky, and everyone who brought such joy in a month of Bright Squares. Here’s a Bright Bouquet.

Attention! Climate Crisis Emergency Response Vehicle

Blogging challenges

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.

Six Word Saturday

Bright Square

Walking on the Radio revisited

Blogging challenges, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire

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

Looking across Nidderdale from the Nidderdale Way.

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.

Lucy records Clare describing the countryside

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.

Lucy pursues John for a soundbite at Brimham Rocks.

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.

Clare even interviewed this bright-eyed pig. Well, she grunted for her …

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.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday

Just One Person from Around the World

Bright Square

Catching the end of the sunrise

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire

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.

Bright Square

Jo’s Monday Walk

The forgotten pleasure of an evening stroll.

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire

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.

Beatswell Wood

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.

North Stainley village pond.

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.

Jo’s Monday Walk

Bright Square

The Museums of Pink

Blogging challenges

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 Victoria and Albert Museum

Horniman Museum

The first three images are from the bright and glowing aquarium, and are therefore bright squares.

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Museo del Titere

Life in Colour #10

Bright Square

A cheery post for a cold bright day

Blogging challenges, Wildlife

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.

Bright Square

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge