Finding another uplifting companion

Blogging challenges, Walking, Yorkshire

Some of you may remember my first post this month, when I announced my plan to acquire a Virtual Dog to make sure I went walking every single day, come rain, come ice, come mud. My chosen companion was Dilys, shown in today’s feature photo, but she already walks miles every day with her own family. Much as I love her, I think I really do need a Virtual Dog.

Then I remembered Ai Wei-We’s Circle of Animal Heads at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Surely that featured a dog’s head? Up a pole? It did. Here is my Virtual Dog. Sadly, it’s my least satisfactory photo from there, so I’ll include a small gallery of some of the others to give you a better idea of this circle of mainly Zodiac figures up above your head.

My Virtual Dog

I’ve completed 116 miles this month. I felt this was a decent number – nothing to upbraid myself with here. But then I discovered that Jo of Restless Jo and Jo’s Monday Walk fame has upstaged me. She does eight miles a day. Almost every day. I’ll have to up my game.

Square Up

Thank you, Becky, for cheering up a particularly long and dismal January: for giving us the opportunity for uplifting friendships in the blogosphere, and for making us crank our brains up a gear as we tried to measure up to the skills, humour and ingenuity of our fellow participants.

Rain, rain … up north and down south

Ariège, Blogging challenges, France, Laroque d'Olmes, Pyrénées, Walking, Weather

I bet you’ve been thinking, in these gloomy rainy days, that a bit of a break somewhere like the south of France might cheer you up. But not necessarily. In honour of Flashback Friday, I’ve found my post from 29th January 2013, written in the corner of Southern France that we used to call home.

RAIN RAIN …

The banner headline on this morning’s regional paper, La Dépêche du Midi, told us what we already knew. There’s been twice as much rain this month as is usual.  Of snow, we’ve seen hardly a flake.

Driving back from Foix yesterday, we saw meadows that have become mini- lakes.  Even more fields glistened with water as the water table has risen to the very surface of the soil. It’s made the month a somewhat gloomy one, even though the days have been pretty mild.  The mountain peaks are snow-capped, as expected, but the white stuff barely creeps down the mountainside and with all the low cloud and zilch visibility, it’s sometimes hard to know where the Pyrenees have disappeared off to.

The Pyrenees seen from up on our roof terrace

Our regular yomps into the countryside have been a bit curtailed.  Walk after walk has been rained off, and when we do go, we choose our routes with care.  If we don’t, we’ll be lugging kilos and kilos of glutinous heavy clay with us as it clings to our boots and the bottom of our trousers.

Muddy boots … up to our ankles in mud.

Roll on the 2nd of February, Chandeleur (Candlemas), the day when Winter decides whether to stick around or push off.  Last year, it was icily cold, and Winter stayed and made his presence felt with several weeks of constant snow, ice and bitter cold.  This year, he‘s looking much more half-hearted about it all.  We blame ourselves. We invested in snow-tyres and snow chains for the car.  We clothed our olive tree and a few other plants in white dresses of horticultural fleece.

Olive tree in a winter coat.

So Winter laughed in our faces.  We daren’t change the tyres or undress the tree though.  We all know what will happen if we do.

Square Up

Upbeat stripes and checks

Blogging challenges

Let’s have a bit of fun with stripes. Trawling through my archives, I’ve turned up images of wandering stripes at art galleries, at a road junction and at, of all things, a sheep fair.

That featured image at the top of the post shows the shadows of legs wandering round the Masham Sheep Fair.

Now let’s check up on checks. Just the one image this time, from the Museo Fallero in Valencia: a couple of figures from the annual Fallas Festival parades in the city. Those two look quite upset.

Lens-Artists Challenge #132: Striped and checked

Square Up

If after all these Squares you’re hungry for some fresh air, why not go with Frank for a Beach Walk? He’ll take you along with him twice a week, reflecting on what he sees and experiences: sand, shells, surf – it’s all there. Today it’s Storms, and I managed to find some stormy photos for him which he’s included. His thoughts are refreshing and wide-ranging: just the thing on a January morning.

Sun getting up? Or sunset? The Answer

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking

Well, you were game for a bit of a bet yesterday, and both sunrise and sunset got pretty much equal scores. Shall we go for a walk and see who’s right? Click on any image to see it full size and to get rid of the caption.

I took my puzzle picture, now shown in a different format as my feature photo, shortly after I’d left the lake. But this wasn’t overlooking another lake. It was yet another flooded field. Time? One minute past four. Sunset: the first moments. So I was up to no good, offering you sun down instead of sun up on a challenge featuring All Things Up,

Jo’s Monday Walk

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Zest up your day with toast and marmalade!

Blogging challenges, Food & Cooking, Spain

It’s that time of year when the house is permeated by the bitter, bright, clean and honeysweet smell of marmalade-in-the-making, as a pan of carefully cut up peels, juice and sugar bubble away enticingly in the kitchen to make this year’s supply of Seville Orange Marmalade. Is anything more guaranteed to wake you up and start your day with a zing than a couple of slices of toast and home-made marmalade?

I first wrote about it here, on this day in 2011. I wrote about it often. But our most memorable marmalade year was two years ago, when I wrote about it again, on almost this day.

Up above your head, in many a Spanish street, are oranges, glowing orbs of colour that brighten the cityscape. And two years ago we were in Valencia, home of the orange. Finding windfalls abandoned in the Turia Gardens, we gathered them and brought them home. What could be better than marmalade made, by you, from oranges you’ve harvested yourselves?

Oranges growing in Valencia

Flashback Friday

Square Up

It turns out that my first marmalade post was written on 21st January. Today is the 22nd. I hope this isn’t a hanging offence, in the world of Flashback Friday.