Research Flat Earth

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The first weekend of February half-term. Pretty mixed weather to say the least. I was out several times none-the-less, first of all on my annual pilgrimage to see the display of Snowdrops near Hawes Water.

Later I was out in the garden and was astonished to see that a Brimstone butterfly had emerged from hibernation. Not something you expect to see on a cold, wet and windy day in mid-February.

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(The orange cables are fibre-optic, for a new broadband supply. Might be a while before they get dug in)

With all the rain we were having, the two big seasonal springs had appeared at the Cove:

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Between squalls it briefly brightened up…

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On the Sunday afternoon, I took B to a kick-boxing class in Lancaster, It’s a bit longer than some of the other classes he attends, so time for me to get in a slightly longer walk.

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I followed the Lancaster Canal, as far as the aqueduct…

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…where the canal had been drained whilst some work was underway.

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River Lune from the aqueduct.

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Carrs Billington plant catching the late afternoon light.

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Unnamed (on the OS map anyway) Lune Tributary.

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On the far side of the aqueduct I joined a slightly submerged riverside path.

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I found it quite exhilarating to walk alongside the river as it ran so high.

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Skerton Bridge.

The building catching the light here is new. We’ve christened it the ‘Shreddies’ building, which tells you more about the daft conversations we have in the car on the way into Lancaster in the mornings than it does about the building itself. (There’s another building nearby which looks like a Weetabix. No really, there is.)

 

Research Flat Earth

Rusland Pool and the River Leven

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A grey day in November. Loyal readers may recognise this view, as I opened a post with it once before. It’s taken from a footbridge over Rusland Pool. On that occasion the view was obscured by mist, I was heading up onto the hill on the right, and I would later get a proper drubbing in an absolute downpour. The best that can be said for the weather this day is that at least it was better than it had been for that previous visit. In fact, although it looked ready to rain all day, I only had to endure a little drizzle.

By the time I’d taken the photo above, I’d already come up and over the wooded ridge between the Rusland Valley and Newby Bridge, where I was parked.

When does a stream become a river? I followed the Rusland downstream, eventually reaching it’s confluence with the River Leven. Rusland Pool is so small it seems appropriate to call it a stream, but on the other hand it does drain an entire valley.

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The confluence of Rusland Pool and the River Leven.

This used to be a favourite spot of mine, it’s so quiet and peaceful. It’s odd that I haven’t visited for many years.

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This was a quiet walk, though I did meet other walkers from time to time. I also had to put up with the continual popping of shotguns from the ‘sportsmen’ who were hunting alarmingly close to where I was walking.

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River Leven.

This was mid-November, and there was actually quite a bit of autumn colour in the trees still, but in the gloom, it hasn’t come out well in photos. The berries have fared better…

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…I think that these are Spindle berries.

I’ve long wanted to have a proper gander at Roudsea Wood. The sign says that you need a permit. There’s a building on the reserve, and I could hear someone inside, so I knocked on the door to ask for a permit, but they didn’t respond. So I took that as tacit permission.

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In the background of this photo…

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…is the Ellerside Ridge, where I’d walked the autumn before.

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Haws.

This Holly seemed unusually endowed with berries…

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Bryony.

I’m always on the lookout for likely looking swimming spots; here on the banks of the Leven someone has constructed their own little diving board …

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There’s a small ladder leaning against a likely looking overhanging branch on the far bank too.

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This is the bridge at Low Wood. It’s a Grade II listed building:

“Bridge. C18 or early C19. Stone rubble. 3 elliptical arches with 2 round cutwaters to each side, which are roughcast, with caps. Parapet has plain coping. Probably associated with Low Wood ironworks, the site later taken over for gunpowder works, of which the Clock Tower works (q.v.) remain.”

from the Historic England website.

Low Wood is a sleepy little hamlet. I sat on a bench and dug out my stove to make a brew. It had warmed up a little, was rather pleasant in fact.

Then suddenly…

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…a host of kayakers appeared, lugging their kayaks back to their cars. I’ve paddled an inflatable canoe down part of the Leven from Windermere, but not the section downstream from Newby Bridge, which I strongly suspect would be a bit too exciting for an inflatable.

I think this…

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…must be the Clock Tower Works referred to above.

“Grade II* A mid-C19 saltpetre refinery associated with Lowwood Gunpowder Works and remains of an earlier C18 ironworks.”

from the Historic England website.

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Backbarrow.

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Another view of Backbarrow. Coniston Old Man, in the background, has a few patches of snow on it.

Back at Newby Bridge, I took some photos of the bridge…

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…hence fulfilling a promise I made here. This is another listed Grade II*:

Bridge over river Leven. Date uncertain, repaired in C17. Stone rubble with limestone coping. Long narrow bridge with 5 segmental arches stepped up to centre, triangular cutwaters between rise to form refuges to both sides.

from the Historic England website.

When I wrote about this bridge before, I said that it had been built in 1651, but Historic England’s ‘repaired in C17’ suggests that it may be even older than that.

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Before I drove home, I sat on a bench overlooking a weir on the Leven and made one final brew.

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A highly enjoyable stroll, despite the grey skies.

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And that, folks, will be my one and only post about last November. What did I do for the rest of the month? Search me!

Rusland Pool and the River Leven

Listed Lancaster: Storey Institute Back Entrance

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“Former frontispiece to Cawthorne House, which was built in the 1770s by Richard Gillow for John Fenton Cawthorne and stood on the site of the present Post Office in Market Street. Re-sited and reduced in height c1906. Sandstone ashlar. Roman Doric portico with 2 columns in antis under a triglyph frieze and cornice. Above this 3 courses of masonry with chamfered quoins and a small moulded cornice, then a single course surmounted by a pediment with dentils. (Originally there were 2 storeys between the portico and the pediment.) The openings of the portico are furnished with elegant wrought-iron gates and screens, also from Cawthorne House, which have elaborate scrolled cresting. The structure frames a rectangular opening in a single-storey building.”

from the Historic England  website.

I’ve wanted to get a photo of this marvellous gateway for a while, but there’s usually a vehicle parked in front of it. I didn’t realise that it had been moved here from somewhere else, but that does make sense since it does look somewhat out of place in its current position – even on Castle Park where listed Georgian buildings are the norm rather than the exception.

There’s a photo of the front of the Storey Institute in this post.

Listed Lancaster: Storey Institute Back Entrance

Haarlem

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With a little more time to spare, we decided to have a whistle-stop wander around Haarlem on our way to the ferry terminal.

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It was a brief visit, although we did find time for an ice-cream, but my initial impression is that with more time to see it properly, I would really like Haarlem.

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Then we were back on the ferry and bound for home.

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Haarlem

Medemblik

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The last day of our European odyssey. We’d spent the day before at one of those swimming pools where nobody actually swims because they’re too busy swooping down slides, messing about with inflatables, or waiting for the wave or current machines to perform their magic again. Not usually my cup of tea, but the kids enthusiasm was infectious and we all had a great time.

Now we’d had to leave our accommodation quite early, but didn’t need to board the ferry until late afternoon. Time to squeeze in a little more sight-seeing.

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We’d already visited Medemblik a few times, mainly for groceries. We’d also been for a meal – Trip Advisor had recommended a bar as the best place for vegan food locally. When we arrived it was to discover that the only vegan option was a Caesar salad. Without the chicken. Or the parmesan. Or the dressing, which contains anchovies. So – a bowl of lettuce. For sixteen Euros. Fortunately, the Italian restaurant next door was much more accommodating.

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As you can see, Medemblik has a castle.

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It also has a marina and a complex of harbours and lots and lots of boats, which made me very happy.

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Many of the boats were leaving the harbours for the IJsselmeer, which seemed like quite a complex process, requiring some careful manoeuvring and a plenty of consideration for other sailors.

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Frankly, I could have watched the boats going in and out all day.

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Holland really does seem to be absolutely criss-crossed by canals. Both of the properties we rented in the Netherlands neighboured small canals. It also felt as though almost everybody had a boat of some kind.

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This prevalence of waterways and passion for boats means that driving anywhere requires a fair deal of patience, as lifting bridges seem to be the norm, even on very major roads.

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I have a feeling that this rather odd building might have housed some sort of gallery or museum.

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A sculpture to honour the sailors and fishermen of Medemblik’s past.

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One last trip-advisor outbreak of muppetry to report: too tight-fisted to book breakfast on the ferry, we took a convoluted route through South Shields to a recommended vegan cafe to find that not only was it not vegan, but that it didn’t even exist. After another interminable drive, the second recommendation provided an excellent vegan breakfast, I’m told. At lunchtime. Better yet, the boys and I found a storming greasy spoon just around the corner without any online assistance.

That being said, not all online advice is bogus, and I can heartily recommend the area around Medemblik and Enkhuizen.

Medemblik

Zuiderzeemuseum

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Back in the 90s – I wish I could be more specific – I travelled to a cousin’s wedding in Ratzeburg. I was travelling with my Mum and Dad again, and making a very leisurely journey. They were in their Motorhome, at the other end of the scale from a mini, and I had my own car this time. We caught the ferry, to Dunkirk I think, and camped almost immediately, perhaps at Bray-Dunes. I remember we spent some time on the beach, but also that we visited some of the memorials around Ypres, including the wonderfully eccentric museum at Sanctuary Wood and the Canadian Memorial at Hill 62.

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When we moved on, we crossed into Holland and stopped on the fringes of a town called Enkhuizen on the shores of the IJsselmeer. Enkhuizen is home to the Zuiderzeemuseum, which I have remembered fondly ever since, and always wanted to return to.

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So we did. Alongside the museum’s usual attractions, there was a musical festival on in the grounds, with folk bands playing, some of them English.

The back room of this shop…

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…housed a collection of large wooden heads which used to act as shop signs apparently…

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It’s a very hands on museum and there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to get involved…

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Now, I love this kind of museum. Beamish in the north-east of England is terrific, for example.

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It wasn’t as big a hit with the rest of the family, but that was perhaps a bit much to ask.

The DBs did like this Archimedean Screw, which was there to demonstrate how windmills could be used to control the water levels in the dykes and canals.

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In fact there were quite a few games for them to play. And they liked the boating lake…

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Although the wind was still very strong and it was hard not to end up stranded on the seaward side of the shallow pond.

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We were staying, incidentally, in Opperdoes, near to another harbour town, Medemblik and I liked the area generally.

The wedding, by the way, was fantastic – a big family get together. The reason I had my own car with me was that, after the wedding, my parents headed off home, but I had other plans.

I drove south, for an appointment with a total eclipse. I did it in small hops, stopping for a few days whenever I found a campsite somewhere which took my fancy. I visited the Ardennes and the Vosges, watched the eclipse (it was fairly cloudy, sadly) from somewhere north of the Black Forest, and finally wended my way up through France, somehow finding my way to the coast of Picardy. I know that sounds a bit vague, but the memory is decidedly hazy. I probably have some photographs somewhere, I wonder how long this enforced isolation will last….

 

Zuiderzeemuseum

Greifswald

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Another day, another picturesque Baltic coastal town to investigate.

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I’m not sure how I managed to take a photo of the market without managing to include a fish sandwich stall: they were legion. Clearly, the good burghers of Greifswald really like their fish sandwiches. Having tried one, with a plate of salads too, I can see why.

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Greifswald has several large churches, but this is the Dom St. Nikolai. As in other German towns we visited, because of other buildings nearby, it was difficult to take a photo showing the exterior of the cathedral.

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I assume the shabbiness of parts of this church are a consequence of its location in a part of the former Eastern Bloc.

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This…

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…is the corner of a slab in the cathedral. I assume that it’s a fossil of some sort. Always gratifying to sneak in a nature photo!

I’ve included this photo of a courtyard…

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…because it appears to be the only photo I took in the thoroughly underwhelming Caspar David Friedrich museum. I studied his paintings when I took an OU course years ago and was very pleased to discover that he was born in Greifswald (when it was part of Swedish Pomerania – who knew?). I think it’s fair to say that he’s a major artist, so I didn’t expect to see any of his famous paintings on display, but maybe some sketches or juvenilia? But – nothing. This was a museum with no content at all, just lots of information boards and a video. It did keep us out of the rain, but it seems a bit cheeky to charge for an empty museum.

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Greifswald

Stralsund

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We visited Stralsund several times. We drove through, for example, on the way to and from Rügen. It was also our go to choice for shopping. And we had a bit of a wander around a couple of times.

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Very charming it was too.

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Here Little S is giving an impromptu recital on a piano seemingly left out for just such an eventuality. He’s never had lessons and was probably playing chopsticks. A, who can actually play, refused to give us a rendition.

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The Dom and the Rathaus.

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This is part of the bridge over to Rügen. The pano below is my attempt to capture it all.

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I don’t have a photo of the tiny Turkish cafe where we ate a couple of times – kebabs and falafel at a fraction of the price we might have paid elsewhere and very tasty too.

When these photos were taken we were in town to visit one of Stralsund’s many attractions. More of which to follow.

Stralsund

Back to Rügen

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We returned to Rügen the following day because we were keen to climb this enormous tower in the beech woods.

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I’ve read that it’s 17m tall, which doesn’t sound all that high, but it certainly feels huge when you are on it.

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The views from the top were superb, although I don’t think any of my photos really do them justice. Rügen has several large lakes and also there are numerous other islands just nearby – from the tower you can look down on all of that.

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It was most enjoyable. There were various entertainments on the way up and down the tower, like this xylophone type instrument…

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And this…

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…sand sculpture by the car park.

Later, we drove to a long stretch of beach on a peninsula in the south-eastern corner of the island.

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The DBs were desperate for a swim. TBH and A were equally adamant that they wouldn’t join us. They read their books on the beach instead.

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They had their reasons: the sea here was teeming with jellyfish. It seems to always be the way with Baltic beaches. The DBs found it highly amusing. B said he could feel the jellyfish stinging him, but he must be more sensitive than me because I just felt them brushing against me. Eventually, we swam out a little further and there it began to feel like swimming not so much with jellyfish as in a jellyfish. Like a slimier version of one of those kids ball pools that ‘fun pubs’ have. I have to confess that I found that a little unnerving and even the DBs seemed to be a bit put off.

From there we drove to Thiessow at the tip of the peninsula for a wander along the beach. It was a quiet and very tranquil spot.

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The beach extended into a sandbar continuing out into the sea…

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We had a wander into the dunes behind the beach.

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There were signs warning walkers not to disturb the snakes whose habitat this was. Sadly, we didn’t spot any, but we did see loads of the these very large snails…

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I think that this might be Helix Pomatia, the Roman snail, perhaps better know as escargot. We don’t see them in the North of England, though they are found further south. Fortunately, I think that they are protected in Germany.

Back to Rügen

A Family Day out In Lübeck

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A and S in front of the Holstentor.

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We were a party of twelve all told, out for a wander around Lübeck.

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The Cathedral is huge, but has buildings all around it, so it’s hard to get a good view.

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The Rathaus is impressive too. The next few photos show various views of it.

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This…

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…is one of the buildings in the town associated with Thomas Mann. Günter Grass is another former resident.

Whilst these literary claims to fame are impressive, the first thing that springs to mind for me when I think of Lübeck is marzipan and the company Niederegger which has several shops around the town…

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That’s the principal one on the right. There’s a shop on the ground floor, a restaurant above that and a marzipan museum on the top floor.

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In Lübeck it seems that almost anything can be modelled from marzipan.

This ship was one of the displays in the museum…

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As were these almost life-size figures…

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I’ve been to Lübeck a few times. It’s a charming place with fascinating architecture.

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Although I’ve been a few times before, I didn’t know about the quiet little alleyways which abound. This time we had the advantage of a local guide, my cousin S who was born in Lübeck.

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The alleys seem like they might be private, but apparently there is a right of access, although some are only open to the public at certain times of the day.

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Little S was clearly wanting to venture down this watery avenue, but was hesitating…

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Until cousin S chivvied him along.

A Family Day out In Lübeck