Reasons To Be Cheerful

Ben joined Sam and I for our morning walk today. We were a bit tardy and didn’t leave the house until half past seven. Ben decided that he wanted to take his bike across the Lots so that’s what we did.

It was beautifully bright and clear and we could see large groups of birds dotted about the bay.

In the strip of trees on the clifftop near to the Cove someone has planted some flowers. It must have been very recently because they weren’t here when we last came this way. It seems an odd spot in which to start gardening, I wonder if they have been placed here in memory of someone for whom this was a special place?

I certainly know how easy it is to develop affection for this spot. The views are ever-changing and always interesting.

In the foreground is the Cove. The dark ellipse on the cliff opposite is a small cave. Northward across the bay is the town of Grange-Over-Sands. ‘Over sands’ is appropriate because that is how travellers used to arrive in Furness. Sobering to think that this great empty space was once a major thoroughfare with carriages and livestock regularly crossing. Wordsworth describes make a crossing, on horseback I think. Stories abound of the perils of the swift tide and the treacherous quicksands. The sands still have an official guide, and on summer weekends you can see long strings of sponsored walkers making the journey across to Grange. Amy’s school are organising an event so I may be posting about making a crossing myself in the summer.

On Sunday, when Ben last came out for an early morning jaunt, things got a bit fractious when he got hungry and wanted to go home immediately. So today I brought snacks to try to avoid mid-walk tantrums.

The pre-breakfast fruit bars were a big hit, but unfortunately as an anti-tantrum strategy it failed miserably because as soon as his was gone Ben wanted to eat Sam’s. (“He doesn’t want it. He isn’t eating it” – this despite all the evidence to the contrary.)

Fortunately, Ben’s tiff was fairly short-lived and we were soon debating the feeding habits of a great tit we saw perched on a branch.

“Birds eat fish Dad.”

“Some birds eat fish Ben. I think that Great Tits eat insects and seeds and maybe berries.”

Ben thought about this briefly before replying with conviction: “And fish.”

As we arrived home it was beginning to spit with rain and the western sky was very dark and threatening. Regular readers will know that I have been vexed of a late by my lack of knowledge about the presence or otherwise of Rooks in the area.

This was in next door’s garden and is definitely a Rook. The tell-tale sign is the large grey patch on the face above the beak which is there because of the Rook’s habit of feeding by digging its beak into the soft mud of fields looking for grubs and worms.

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After a short sharp shower the weather soon cleared up and we decided to take a family trip to Crook O’Lune. Here the river loops back and almost meets itself. There is a road bridge and a former railway line crosses the river twice. There is also a picnic site with a kiosk serving drinks and butties. Turner painted the view from here…

..although I think that that can be said for an awful lot of places. The hill in the background is Ingleborough. (Yet again!)

Sam fell asleep on the way so again Angela took Amy and Ben, and this time their bikes, whilst I waited with Sam. This time I had remembered to bring some poetry. I took a few shots of the view and some of the many birds around the car park. I thought that I heard a Greenfinch rasping away from a high perch. I found the culprit but only confirmed that it was a Greenfinch when I got home and looked at my photos on the computer – strike one for my new camera and one for my burgeoning birdsong knowledge. (Burgeoning from virtually nothing to only almost nothing.). I bought a tea from the Kiosk and went to collect my book from the car, only to find that Sam has already woken up.

A quick nappy change (in the car boot), and we set off to meet the others, following the loop in the river. A grey wagtail sat on a rock near the water’s edge. By the time I had my camera ready it had flown. So I captured this female Mallard instead:

The river bank was steep and wooded and carpeted with anemones.

It was lovely walking, but not at all appropriate for bikes and I hoped that Angela had ignore my advice about coming this way.

This is the road bridge over the Lune:

The second-half of the loop was more open and the sunshine was being enjoyed by Jackdaws:

And more Mallards:

I also saw my first Cuckooflower of the year.

I finished the loop without meeting the rest of the family. In fact Angela had wisely chosen to take Amy and Ben along the old railway line, now a cycle and foot path. I found them playing pooh sticks in the river from one of the bridges:

We had variations on a breakfast bun theme from the kiosk for lunch. (Excellent if you are ever in the area.) They even have Redbush tea. We cam home to do a couple of chores around the house, then Angela took Amy to a local maternity ward to see our friend Emma and her new baby Esther.

Given the option Ben wanted to go to Woodwell – so we did. We were joined initially by Eddie (our cat). She – Eddie is short for Edwina – walked with us as far as the vicarage and then deserted us to explore the garden there.

When we reached Woodwell Ben was initially disappointed:

“This is not Woodwell. There’s no climbing frame.” I don’t know where he was thinking of – possibly the Wolfhouse Gallery which is nearby. He soon cheered up though when the ‘fishing for algae with a big stick’ game evolved into ‘fishing for algae with a big stick and putting it on Dad’s jumper’. Which could have been pretty annoying if he ever came close to succeeding, but he wasn’t really trying, and besides he was too busy giggling to manage it.

We were watched by a family who were there with a Dormobile – camping perhaps. The man fetched an instrument from the van, something like a Bodhran, and proceeded to play it and sing a song. The drum had feathers attached and the song, about an Eagle, was vaguely redolent of American Indians in Westerns. Ben was fascinated and dragged me with him to take a closer look .

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Reasons To Be Cheerful

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