I’m a fan of fog. Not the yellowish throat-catching, grimy sooty pall that that I remember from a 1950s London childhood, which dirtied our clothing and made us cough while we waited in vain for buses, delayed by their headlights’ inability to pierce the gloom with their faint orange glow. Sometimes the conductor, carrying a torch, had to walk in front, picking out a path through the murk. No, now I enjoy peeking through the windows at a landscape softened in a mantle of greyish white. Or walking in the Dales, barely able to distinguish the path ahead, as sheep suddenly loom before us, concealed behind frozen grassy clumps.
These are all from the Yorkshire Dales, in Wharfedale near Burnsall. Here are just a few more – three taken near our house, and one, like the header photo, at Fountains Abbey.
In my last post, we took a walk through my village. Over lockdown, and the weeks and months afterwards, I came to know our local paths more intimately than I would ever have imagined. But I came to see them through fresh eyes, enjoying the changes of season: the difference between a walk taken at dawn, at midday, at sunset. A sunny walk: a snowy walk: a rainy walk: a windy walk. Walks with bluebells: walks with poppies: walks in mud.
Following last week’s Lens-Artists Challenge, when we were encouraged to dip into a new challenge or two, I think I’ll give Monday over to just that – for a while anyway. I’ll revisit the challenges that were new-to-me then, as well as revisiting older favourites.
My last couple of posts have not been light-hearted. I took you for a walk across a stark and austere landscape. I invited you to read a number of stark and austere books. Since Jude’s Life in Colour is all about gold this month, I thought I’d hunt out – not very original of me, I know – a few sunrises and sunsets. These can get their golden vibe by being yellowish rather than reddish, but they’re gleaming, resplendent, hopeful, bright.
My featured photo, and the one below come from L’Albufera de València, a natural freshwater lagoon that is home to thousands of birds – and fish too of course. Its sunsets are a wonder on any day of the year. But I particularly like the understated dirty-golden glow in these two shots.
Travelling’s tough these days. Better to stay local and get up early, and enjoy the sunrise just near the house. These two shots show our river, the Ure, at daybreak in spring.
Or just a little later, in the parkland of Sleningford Hall …
You’d still sooner be abroad? Best take a ferry then …
And we’ll head straight for Granada. We might get there just in time for the sunset.
Tina’s asked us to consider light, in Lens-Artists’ Challenge #162. I decided I could do worse than wander about our own home patch, and go for a stroll that lasted from early morning to evening, from summer to a snowy day and watch how the light changes as the day wears on.
I got into the habit, during lockdown, of getting up bright and early to watch the sun rise. Here it is, over the River Ure.
And here we are, never more than ten minutes away from home, in the morning, at noon, and at sunset.
The last two are taken, firstly on one bright morning when there’d been so much rain the fields had flooded, and then later, one evening just as the sun had set.
Poor old window. Poor old washing line. They each wanted their five minutes of fame as a Monday Window, and as a Monday Washing Line. And instead their shadows grab the limelight.
If you want to know why the window seems a bit curvy, that’s because the wall it’s projected on is pretty old. Vestiges remain from the days when it was first built, in the 15th century, for lay brothers from Fountains Abbey who lived and farmed here.
On the last day of April, I took myself for a short walk, from country house to country house near me. They’re all called Sleningford-something-or-other – Old Hall, Hall, Grange – in memory of the village of the same name that was ravaged by marauding Scots in the Middle Ages, never to be seen again. Though they had older antecedents, all these buildings are from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and they all mark pleasant pauses in our walking routines. Here’s the gatehouse to the first, Sleningford Old Hall, its window enabling the gatehouse keeper to keep his eye on all the comings and goings into the estate. Well, the last actually. I’m showing my last photo first, and working back towards home.
Only the upstairs windows of the house itself were visible over the high wall which maintains the owners’ privacy.
A mile or so beforehand, I’d already passed Sleningford Park and Hall. You can see the house set in its parkland in the feature photo. The conservatory has glass enough, and the gatehouse too has windows pointing in every direction to help the gatekeeper do his job.
I’d started from home of course, less than a mile before that. Not that we live in the house you see here. But we’re lucky enough to live in its grounds, in a rather simpler dwelling, which has its own long history – that’s for another day.
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.
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.