My neighbours the animals

North Yorkshire, Walking, Wildlife

Lockdown again.  Forensic exploration of our own neighbourhood again, as we set off for daily exercise.  Yet one way or another, I’ve posted dozens of shots of the area I call home, and I can’t expect others to delight in it as I do. The other day though I noticed, as I hadn’t since the car-free spring lockdown when birds were vying for territory and nesting, distant birdsong.

It made me think about the creatures who share our daily round.  Not the elusive ones – the stoats, weasels, foxes, deer who decline to stick around as you get your camera out.  The types like Basil and Brenda, as our neighbours call the over-sexed pigeons who stomp across their roof, noisily indulging their passion at 6.00 a.m. 

Basil? Brenda? Who knows?

The horse who moved in with the Jacob sheep in the next field at the beginning of lockdown when her stables closed for business.  She’s still here. The hens next door, who sometimes deliver eggs for our breakfast.

The large flocks of sheep who are part of every farmer’s daily round in these parts – no cattle for us..

The heron who nicks fish from our landlord’s pond.

The mallards on the village pond, and the crows on the rooftops.  The squirrels dashing across our path and up the nearest tree.  The pheasants who are even more abundant this year, as lockdown’s put a stop to the shooting parties they were specifically bred for.  Rabbits too.  So many rabbits.  Why haven’t I got any photos of them?

The featured photos shows our much-frequented path through Sleningford Hall at Easter time, with all the new lambs.

Lens-Artists Challenge #123: Found in the Neighbourhood.

Top Square

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire

I picked up a copy of  our little-read community newspaper today ….

‘Because of the almost world-wide lockdown caused by Covid-19, Concours Top Squares, due to open in Topcliffe Village Hall between 1st and 30th April, will now be held in camera.

This now internationally acclaimed exhibition has for the last three years brought together arts practitioners from a range of backgrounds working in less conventional materials.  The only requirement is that entries must be entitled ‘Top Square’.

Locally, hopes for a top prize are pinned on a promising new Arts Collective working from Middle Park Farm, near North Stainley, and who call themselves ‘Windewe’. The prevailing wind and local sheep have worked in constructive partnership, winding and weaving wool round the wire fencing surrounding the sheep’s pastureland.  They’ve made dozens of such works, mainly confining themselves to using the sheep’s own wool, though some examples incorporate dried grasses, leaves and small twigs. Apart from those chosen for the exhibition, all other works by Windewe can be viewed from the Ripon Rowel path, and are on permanent display.’

Top Square 8

Sleningford Gazette, 8th April 2020.

For technical reasons beyond the Editor’s control, this article was omitted from the edition of 1st April.

 

# Square Tops 8

Round the Edge of the Village: It’s All About the Texture

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking

Sunday’s walk, on a cold blustery afternoon, along a too-familiar path, could have been a non-event, a means to burn off a few calories and not much more.  Jude’s challenge this week brought me ideas though.  ‘Look for texture’, she said, ‘close in on your subject and capture the texture and not the context’.  Challenge accepted.

Here we are by the village pond.  Here’s Mrs. Mallard.  And here are her feathers.

And – a sure sign that spring has sprung – here’s a dandelion.

Off to the track through the fields now.  I trudge past the sheep, stolidly munching grass and hay, and spot a rusty old shed at the end of the pasture. Lichen on rust.  Perfect.

Well, you can’t wander through the woods without finding a fallen log.  And fallen logs mean knots, nooks and crannies, velvety moss.  I take a couple of shots.

Oh look.  Here’s a muddy bit:  and I haven’t got my decent boots on.  But oh, look again!  Here’s texture a-plenty. A goose-print; a – er – what – squirrel perhaps? print; a different bird print (offers, anyone?); and a dog-print.  And finally a cracked-mud print.  That was good value.

Any walk in our countryside produces any number of long-established oak trees.  So here is some bark – both shots from the same tree.

The last shot of all doesn’t follow the rules.  But here’s a farmer doing his Sunday afternoon ploughing.  Unturned earth, turned earth, and all being thoroughly investigated by a host of sleek white black-headed gulls.  If that isn’t a symphony in textural contrast, I don’t know what is.

And since this is a post for Jo’s Monday Walk too, I’ll just mention that there was tea and Drenched Lemon Cake waiting for me when I got home.

#2020 Photo Challenge 13: Texture.  ‘Get close to your subject and capture just the texture itself, without the context’.

Jo’s Monday Walk.

Returning to my roots

Ariège, Blogging challenges, England, Harrogate, Laroque d'Olmes, London, Yorkshire

My life has come full circle.  Many of my earliest memories come from Sandhutton, current population 260, where my mother was head teacher of a two-teacher school which educated all the village children between five and fifteen years old.  These days I visit the village weekly – it’s less than ten miles away.  The school no longer exists, but my Spanish teacher lives there.

There we are. Sandhutton School, c.1951, just before I started there.

When I was five, my life changed a bit.  We went to live in London (current population 8.13 million).

A trip down the Thames: nearly at Westminster now.

I was a student in Manchester (538,000).  Then I went on to live in Portsmouth, in Wakefield, in Sheffield, in Leeds: all cities numbering their citizens in the tens,or even hundreds of thousands.  I loved city life.  I relished the opportunities only a city could usually offer, and the diverse populations living in them.

One of my favourite places in Manchester: The John Rylands Library. Who wouldn’t feel a real scholar in these surroundings?

When we moved to Harrogate, some twenty years ago, I announced we were moving to a small town.  A mere 75,000 people lived there.

Harrogate: one of its many open spaces: the Valley Gardens.

But that was before we went to France.  Laroque d’Olmes has a population of some 2,000 people, and its county town, Foix, has only 10,000. We came to appreciate small town life: its neighbourliness and our sense of belonging – the space to appreciate the countryside and mountains beyond.

The street near the church in Laroque, with the Pyrenees in the distance.

When we came back to England, that small town of Harrogate suddenly seemed horribly large, traffic-infested and in every way untenable, despite its green spaces and lively community life.  So here we are in North Stainley, population 730.

In fact we’re not even in the village, but in a little enclave just outside, with that walled garden I showed you last week.  Population 8.  It’s perfect.

One of North Stainley’s three village ponds.

 

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #64: Countryside or small towns.

Pretty in Pink

Blogging challenges, Gardens, North Yorkshire

Overlooking the lake at the Himalayan Gardens, Grewelthorpe.

I couldn’t be doing with pink when I was younger.  I thought it was an itsy-bitsy sort of colour, suitable to be worn by annoying little girls of the Violet Elizabeth Bott persuasion (You do know who I’m talking about here, don’t you?  Violet Elizabeth was the lisping, spoiled creature who tormented Richmal Crompton’s delightfully grubby-kneed and accident-prone Just William, as popular now as when he was first created in 1922).

I declined to dress my young daughters in pink, or to wear it myself.  I despised its sugar-sweet prettiness.

These days I’m rather less hardline.  I even have a raspberry pink shirt.

All the same, I think pink is happiest in the garden.  It’s here that flowers can celebrate the colour in all its variety, from the softest most delicate shades of baby pink through to vibrant, vivacious flamingo pink.  Pastel pink.  Shocking pink.  And pinks that use flower names: cherry blossom; rose; fuschia; carnation; cyclamen; dogwood.

Here’s a picture gallery of May time flowers taken over the last few years.  All of them are pink.  And I like every single one.

Many of these pictures were taken in our garden; in our village; at Newby Hall; and at the Himalayan Gardens at Grewelthorpe.  It’s my entry for today’s Ragtag Challenge: pink.

Click on any image to view full size.