Heathwaite with A

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A lovely walk with A, around Heathwaite, where the Oxeye Daisies were putting on a display, and up the Knott.

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Aquilegias are abundant in our garden, but usually more elusive in the wild, but one part  of Heathwaite had a small area with several plants. It’s odd how the stems droop whilst flowering, but then straighten up when the seed-heads develop.

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This is yet another poisonous plant, with the roots and seeds potentially being fatal if ingested.

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And yet they look so innocent!

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The Forest of Bowland and the Bay from Heathwaite.

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Lakeland Fells from the Knott.

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Kent Estuary pano.

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Female Green-veined White butterfly on an Oxeye Daisy.

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And on an actual Daisy. (It hadn’t suddenly grown!)


With A back at school for the first time today and B returning later in the week, this old favourite seemed appropriate…

I’ve only discovered this week that a good part of my enjoyment of that tune comes from the sample from this Ike Turner instrumental…

Heathwaite with A

Who’ll Stop The Rain?

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Male house sparrow – with nesting material? – on the wall by the ginnel to Townsfield. 

The photos in this post are drawn from walks on several consecutive days, which were obviously a bit gloomy, judging by the photos.

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Oxeye daisy.

Never mind, there always plenty to see none-the-less.

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Speckled wood butterfly.

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Germander speedwell.

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I thought this might be creeping jenny, but it’s not, it’s the very similar, and related, yellow pimpernel.

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Which I found flowering on the margin between woods and grassland on Heathwaite. I was on my way up the Knott.

I’ve walked past this gateway many times recently and thought that maybe I’d never been through it.

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This time I tried it and discovered a path which I don’t think I’ve walked before. It runs parallel to other paths I have walked and wasn’t really significantly different to those, but I was still pleased to find a route which was new to me.

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The views were a bit limited, the lakeland hills being shrouded in low cloud, but Cartmel Fell, running up to Gummer How was clear, as was Whitbarrow Scar.

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And there’s always the Bay to admire.

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Lady’s mantle displaying the recent rain.

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The Bay from the Cove.

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Sea radish.

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Blackbird – sometimes blackbirds can be quite bold, this one didn’t seem at all bothered by my interest.

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Surprised by movement in a puddle on a path, I looked down to see this fairly large black beetle. It was swimming quite proficiently, but I couldn’t work out why any kind of water beetle would be in a puddle quite a way from any open water on the one hand, or what any other kind of beetle would be doing swimming at all on the other. I suppose I should have fished it out to have a closer look.

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Salad burnet. 

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Lady’s mantle again.

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Bird’s-eye primrose by Hawes Water.

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Gloucester Old Spot pig.

Sadly, the farm at Hawes Villa is going to close. Apparently they’ve lost the battle for planning permission for the yurts on their campsite and without the extra income that brings in the farm is not profitable. A great shame for the family and the village and that the conservation breeding programme has come to an end. On a personal note, we filled a freezer with pork from the farm and it was great to be able to buy local produce from a source that we could see with our own eyes was genuinely free range with excellent welfare.

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Just missed the sunset from Jack Scout. Again.

Oxeye daisy, germander speedwell, creeping jenny, yellow pimpernel, lady’s mantle, bird’s-eye primrose, sea radish – don’t our wildflowers have great names? The lady’s mantles pictured above are, I suspect, one of the garden varieties, which self seed freely and so have become naturalised. The latin name is Alchemilla mollis which I think also has something of a ring to it; Alchemilla from alchemy, because of the supposed herbal benefits of the plant.


After yesterday’s post with four songs all covered by one singer, todays I’ve gone for almost the opposite: covers of songs all originally performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

‘As Long As I Can See The Light’ by the incomparable Ted Hawkins

‘Proud Mary’ by Solomon Burke. I think the version by Ike and Tina Turner is better known; I believe it was Solomon Burke who suggested they should cover the song.

‘Born on the Bayou’ by Trampled Underfoot.

‘Lodi’ Dan Penn

‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’ Dwight Yoakam

‘Wrote A Song for Everyone’ Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy (if the name sounds familiar, he’s from the great band ‘Wilco’).

Hmmm. Got a bit carried away there. If you’re a big fan of Creedence, and I am, you might argue that none of them are a patch on the originals. I’m not sure, but I think there’s some good stuff here. Do you have a favourite – I’m struggling?

Who’ll Stop The Rain?

Different Perspectives

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Morecambe Bay, with lots of horseshoe vetch rather imperfectly captured in the foreground.

When I was at secondary school, in my mid-teens, I spent my lunchtimes playing cards, or football; listening to, or later, a sixth-form privilege, playing records in the music club, which is the only time I remember ever being in the school’s one and only lecture theatre; bunking off into town to borrow books or records from the library, or occasionally buying records; even more infrequently going to the pub with friends for a sneaky beer (way under-age and in uniform, how times have changed); but sometimes, quite frequently to be honest, I would slope off to the school’s library for a quiet half-hour. I’ve always been a bookworm. Back then, I liked to read New Scientist each week, and sometimes leaf through the English edition of Pravda, because it tickled me that the school bought it, and then I had an assortment of favourite books, which I would revisit. There was a dictionary of quotations of which I was very fond; I also remember reading about Russell’s paradox and the paradoxes of Zeno, which could have been in a maths text, but I suspect I more likely discovered them in an encyclopaedia; and there was a coffee-table style book of the photographs of Ansel Adams.

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Burnet Rose.

All of which is my long-winded way of introducing the f/64 group and their dedication to pin-sharp photographs, with a huge depth of field, achieved using a very small aperture.

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I’m going to guess that these are pollen beetles of some description, the smaller ones anyway.

I was already a photographer, of sorts, by then. My Grandad gave me an old Agfa camera of his own which he’d replaced. It was 35mm, not SLR, but it was necessary, for each photo, to set the aperture and exposure, for which purpose he also gave me a clunky light-meter which was almost as big as the camera. I don’t think I took any very startling photos, limited as I was by the cost of processing the films, but it did give me a great grounding in the mechanics of operating a camera.

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Bloody crane’s-bill, I think.

When I finally did get an SLR camera, thanks to my parents largesse, it incorporated a light meter and was semi-automatic. And since the switch over to digital cameras, the couple that I’ve owned seem to have become increasingly autonomous and do everything but choose the subject which is to be photographed, and that’s surely only a matter of time.

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Bell heather, I think.

I do switch off the full automatic mode when I’m using the telephoto for nature shots of small or distant things.

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Wood ant. Small, but not all that small compared to other British ant species.

And I’ve recently remembered that the camera has a ‘landscape’ setting and started using that again, but I need to remind myself how that’s set up. The camera generally defaults to f2.8 because the wide aperture lets plenty of light in which means the huge zoom works better than on many equivalent cameras, but that also decreases the depth of field, which is not ideal for landscape pictures

I’ve also remembered that what captivated me in Ansel Adams black and white photographs, all those  years ago, was the sharp detail in the foreground, the distant mountains and even in the clouds. I’ve been trying to remember to include some foreground in the pictures, maybe by kneeling or lying down or by finding something striking to frame in the foreground.

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This picture, for example, of Grange and Hampsfell, could really do with a bit more interest in the foreground. To be fair, the reason I took it was to show the channel, which was no longer right under the cliffs and which seems to be connected to the River Kent, which is how the OS map shows it.

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These two, with a bit thrift for colour, are what I was thinking of, although how successful they are I’m not sure.

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It kept me entertained, thinking about it, anyway.

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Oystercatchers.

The f/64 photographers were based in California and had all of the advantages that offers in terms of scenery and particularly in terms of light. Even in the good spell of weather we’ve had, you can’t always guarantee decent light in the North-Wet of England.

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The pictures, long-suffering readers will almost certainly recognise, were taken on a walk around the coast to Arnside, which was followed with a return over the Knott, creature of habit that I am.

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New Barns and Arnside Knott.

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Close to Arnside, where there’s a small public garden abutting the estuary, there was a real hullabaloo in the tall pines growing in the garden. The noise was emanating from a conspiracy of ravens, some of which were in the trees and some of which were circling above, clearly agitated. This single individual was holding itself aloof from the fuss, coolly going about its business.

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It eventually flew up on to the wall and then proceeded to hop and prance about there, looking, I thought, very pleased with itself, like a mischievous and slightly disreputable uncle enjoying a fag outside, whilst the family party audibly descends into a squabble within.

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Train crossing the Kent viaduct.

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Arnside.

From the end of the promenade, I climbed up through the old Ashmeadow estate where there a small area of allotments. There something very comforting about a well tended allotment, I always think, not that I’d ever have the patience to keep one neat and tidy myself.

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From there I was up onto Redhill Pasture, where, any day now, I should be able to assist with the wildflower monitoring project again; we’ve just had the go ahead from our local National Trust officer.

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Redhill Pasture.

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Lakeland Fells from Redhill Pasture.

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Kent Estuary from Redhill Pasture.

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Kent Estuary from Redhill Pasture, again.

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Forest of Bowland and Arnside Tower from the south side of the top.

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Morecambe Bay from the south side of the top.

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Goldfinch – there were several together on this telephone line.

Through a bit of sleight of hand, I can finish with a sunset, although, in truth, these photographs are from the evening before the rest of the photos. I had a late walk on the sands and then found a sneaky way up on to Know Hill.

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It wasn’t a great sunset, but I like the different perspective the slight gain of height gives and the view of the Coniston Fells beyond the Bay.

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I shall have to try this again sometime.

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Today’s tunes all can only really be things I can remember playing when it was my turn on the decks during the rather subdued disco with nowhere to dance, in the lecture theatre, which I think was a weekly affair. To set the scene, most of my contemporaries would play tunes from Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ album with an admixture of The Thompson Twins and, bizarrely, Thomas Dolby. As we progressed through the sixth-form I guess you could add The Smiths and U2 to that list.

There was a very vocal and fairly large minority of headbangers, or grebs, as we called them, who felt that music began and ended with Status Quo, Iron Maiden, Whitesnake and the like.

And then there was me and my mate A.S. It’s not that I didn’t like what my other friends played; mostly I did, but they all played the same things. The sixth-form committee had a pretty vast and reasonably varied collection of 45s, why not dip into it?

‘Babylon’s Burning’ The Ruts

‘Echo Beach’ Martha and the Muffins

‘Nut Rock’ Bumble Bee and the Stingers

‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ The Drifters

Also, always the Tommy Opposite, I knew full well that some of my choices really got up peoples noses. We did sixth-form parties too, and rented ourselves out, mostly for eighteenth birthday parties. We were very cheap, but you might find as many as 10 thirsty DJs arriving with the PA and the lights. Happy times.

Different Perspectives

Distractions and Digressions

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Early light on Grange.

In the first few weeks of working from home I was often out early for a pre-work jaunt. Sadly, I think these photos come from the last of those. I seem to have fallen into the habit of stumbling out of bed and downstairs to the computer just in time to start working. Once I’m on the computer, I enter that curious world where time seems to operate differently and what seems like five minutes of reading and composing emails can turn out to be a lot longer. On occasion, it’s been two hours later before I’ve surfaced and properly kick-started my day with a cup of tea.

An earlier start on a sunny, pin-sharp morning is a much better way to start the day, obviously. Must Try Harder!

It’s less than two miles to the toposcope on the Knott, even by the slightly longer route I’ve been using to avoid going through the yard at Arnside Tower Farm, which seems like an insensitive thing to do in present circumstances, so it’s isn’t like the walk need take too long.

Anyway, back to this particular walk…

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It looked like it would have been a very fine morning to be out in the Coniston Fells.

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And although there was a little cloud clinging to the tops, non-too-shabby in the Eastern Fells as well.

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Mid-level clouds, I’d say – altocumulus?

The later starts are not the only change since lockdown began. During the latter part of April, I really pushed myself to ‘beat’ my total mileage for January. I did it, just, but towards the end it began to feel a bit like hard work. So once we’d slipped into May, I took a little rest for a couple of days. It was hot and I think I may have even lazed in the garden one day, rather than go out for a walk.

I know, shocking decadence! Lying down on the job…

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Then my little rest was extended by a couple more days: I had a bit of a scare – high temperature, stiff and sore all over, but nothing too drastic, the kind of thing that might have kept you off work for a day or two in normal circumstances. Briefly though, it was a bit worrying. I even had a test, arranged online and very efficiently carried out by squaddies in a car park in Lancaster, well, in fact, self-administered, but with socially-distanced assistance from the young soldiers. I have to say, I’m full of admiration for all those people who have put themselves in harm’s way during this crisis to keep the rest of us safe and well-fed. Anyway, by the time the text arrived giving me the all clear, I was feeling fine and straining-at-the-leash to get out again, having self-isolated whilst waiting for the test result.

None of that, though, is the main reason that my mileage for May fell well short of my total for April. June is not likely to be any different either. Perhaps I should say ‘main reasons’, plural, the reasons being Unfortunate Distractions and my inability to resist them. Distractions like…

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A common carder bumblebee busy collecting pollen from bush vetch flowers.

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I took a lot of photos because both the bee and the flowers were marvellous colours, perfectly complementing each other and the light was ideal.

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There are three all-ginger bumblebee species in the UK, but the common carder is prevalent and I’m not sure that the other two, the moss carder and the brown-banded carder, are found in this neck of the woods.

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Is this too many photos of one bee for one blog post? I took a lot more!

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Bush vetch is a leguminous plant, i.e. of the pea family. The flowers are small and, I suppose, easily overlooked, but well worth closer examination.

This wasn’t helping me get home in time for a pot of tea and some breakfast and to make some dough before starting work.

Fortunately, I was nearly home and just needed to walk along Townsfield to finish my walk. Confusingly, Townsfield is both a road, a cul-de-sac, and a field. As I turned into the road, a pair of roe deer crossed the road ahead of me and leapt gracefully over the drystone wall with striking ease.

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Another Unfortunate Distraction. Oh no!

The Unfortunate Distractions ran across the field and then wandered along the hedgerow opposite.

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I think this was the same pair I’d surprised in Eaves Wood a few days before. He had almost entirely changed into his summer coat with just a few scraps of the older, duller winter fur still evident; she, on the other hand, had hardly begun to shed her warmer winter garb. Not too dissimilar from most human couples I would think, like me and TBH in shorts year round and still wrapped up well into the summer respectively. Or rehashing the same old arguments about the settings on the thermostat. Our thermostat is remote from the boiler and seems to move mysteriously around the house. I can never find it, when I want to turn it down anyway. Takes an age touring all the rooms turning all the radiators down individually! (Oops! Shhhh. Don’t tell.)

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Not that these are really a couple as such. For a while I’ve almost always seen roe deer in pairs, but roe deer, of either sex, are not monogamous. The rut is not until later in the year, but I assume that the large number of mixed gender pairs I’ve been seeing is in some way part of the wooing process.

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He looked smaller than her, but I don’t think he was immature, his antlers have three tines, although his brow tines are very small. Three is as many as they get, at age three.

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He’s also definitely got a coronet and maybe some pearling, which is what develops as they age. They aren’t particularly long-lived creatures, with various sources giving something like six or seven years as an average and anything between ten and sixteen as a maximum in the wild.

Again, I took many more photos than the, perhaps too many, I’ve shared here. Whilst I was watching the deer, half-hiding behind a telegraph pole – me, not the deer – I was in turn being watched, by a house sparrow, on the next telegraph pole…

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Probably thought I was bonkers, since any thought of a shower, breakfast or bread-making before work were now definitely out of the question.

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Stratocumulus or cumulus?

At lunch time that day I had to pop to the shops, which is a legitimate reason to be out, obviously. Can I ‘pop’ via the Cove and the Lots do you think? Well, I did, and no harm done.

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I’ve bunged this one on the end because I like to finish with a sunset photo. B wanted to go to Jack Scout one evening to catch the sunset. We contrived to just miss it, after putting too much faith in the BBC weather website. I took lots of photos, but all essentially the same. Lovely walk all the same.


Tunes. Today, two very full-on songs and then, in each case, a deliciously different cover version.

Back to my punk roots to kick off, with Black Flags ‘Wasted’ all 51 raging seconds of it…

…and then Camper Van Beethoven’s brilliant cover…

…it’s from their ‘Telephone Free Landslide Victory’ album, which, if you haven’t heard it already, you should definitely seek out.

Next up, ‘Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos’ from Public Enemy’s ‘It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’

Which was totally transformed by Tricky on his ‘Maxinquaye’ album…

Finally, not music, but a movie trailer, for Alex Cox’s weird and wonderful 1984 comedy science-fiction b-movie strangeness ‘Repo Man’.

Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton star, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies and Iggy Pop feature on the soundtrack. Great film.

Distractions and Digressions

A Jay and A Haircut

Heathwaite and Arnside Knott.

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In the Heathwaite meadow near Hollins Farm, I was struck by the fact that flowers I’d seen in one and twos on Heald Brow a couple of day before were now apparently ubiquitous.

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Rock Rose.

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Mouse-ear-hawkweed.

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Lakeland Fells from near the toposcope Arnside Knott.

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Kent Estuary from Arnside Knott.

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Arnside Knott pano.

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Looking south along the coast.

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The estuary again from near the bench close to the trig point.

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Another pano.

I had to go and check on the large patch of Herb Paris in Redhill Woods. I don’t entirely understand the compunction, but there it is.

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It looked, strangely enough, mostly the same as it had the last time I’d visited, except many more of the plants were flowering.

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I doubled back across Heathwaite to take a path from the open meadow on the top back down to Hollins farm – it’s a path I like because it’s generally quiet and it has great views.

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On this occasion, the best view was of this jay. One of the collective nouns for jays is a scold, which is entirely appropriate when you bear in mind the cacophony which jays usually seem to create. A few weeks before a jay had stuck its head out of a tree on Holgates Caravan Park and poured forth what seemed like the avian equivalent of a stream of invective, which abuse seemed to be hurled in my direction.

But corvids all seem to be highly intelligent birds and I’ve noticed over the years that they have quite a broad range of vocalisations to call upon. This jay was making most un-jay like sounds, soft and rather plaintive. And it sat still long enough for me take three photos which is also fairly uncommon behaviour for a jay. Maybe it was a juvenile? Whatever was the case, it was nice to get more than my usual fleeting glimpse – jays are such stunning birds.

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The views from my descent path.

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Today’s tunes are linked in my mind because both were released in 1994 and I think they were both the first songs I heard by the bands concerned. Although, in the case of Weezer it might have been ‘Buddy Holly’ which is equally superb and has a great video featuring the band playing at Arnold’s in a recreated episode of ‘Happy Days’. Anyway, I digress, both songs also seem to flirt with being ‘novelty’ tunes, but manage to avoid the cringe-inducing awfulness that might imply. I also think it’s at least likely that I first heard both tunes on one of Mark and Lard’s shows. (Mark Radcliffe and Mark Riley, often joined by Mark Lamar and Mark Kermode just to add to the lack of christian names – I guess they must all be around my age; boys called Mark were ten-a-penny when I was a nipper).

Pavement ‘Cut Your Hair’.

Weezer “Undone – The Sweater Song’.

Talking of haircuts: A has taken over the barbering duties chez beatingthebounds…

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Here’s S getting a short back and sides. After she’d practised a couple of times on the DBs I even let her loose on my own hair and, I have to say, given her lack of training or experience, she didn’t do too bad a job at all.

I guess everybody has had to resort to something similar or settle for looking like Cousin It?

A Jay and A Haircut

Perfect?

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Swallow.

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A speedwell. I don’t think it’s germander,  the leaves were wrong. But I’m not sure what it is. It was tiny.

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This footpath sign is looking decidedly worse for wear.

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A magnificent copper beech near Hollins Lane.

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Hart’s-tongue fern.

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I thought these looked a bit exuberant for cowslips. I now realise but they are false oxlips, a hybrid of primrose’s and cowslips. There is a separate plant, the oxlip, but that isn’t found in the northwest.

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The plants are tall like cowslips, but the flowers look more like primroses and radiate around the top of the stem rather than drooping all on one side as cowslips usually do.

For comparison…

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…here are some shy and retiring cowslips.

These cowslips…

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…which I saw a little further into the walk, are a bit more vivacious but still not as boisterous as the false oxlips.

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Early Purple Orchid.

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Carnforth saltmarsh and the Forest of Bowland from Heald Brown.

I was heading for Jenny Browns Point, with the aim of crossing the sands of the miniature bay between Know Point and Park Point.

On Heald Brow many of the grassland flowers had appeared.

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Although the wildflower key tells me that tormentil flowers from June to September, I’m pretty sure that  this is tormentil flowering in early May.

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Bird’s-foot trefoil.

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A buttercup, I don’t know which kind.

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Pignut.

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Speckled wood butterfly.

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Warton Crag and Quicksand Pool.

A small group of greylag geese were sunning themselves on the far bank of quicksand pool. Most moved as I approached, but this one…

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…gave me a steady stare…

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…then had a leisurely stretch as if to say, “Don’t flatter yourself that I’m moving on your account. ”

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Before strolling away nonchalantly.

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You can see where I was heading almost dead centre in the photo above. I weaved a bit to investigate any foreign looking objects. Lord knows what this was or where it had come from.

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Cirrostratus?

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Herring gulls.

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On Heathwaite, I tried a slender path which I haven’t followed before. It gave tantalising views of the sands I had recently crossed.

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Eventually I reached the more familiar viewpoint by the bench. That’s Know Point right of centre, so you can see part of my route across the sands.

Nothing – and I mean, really, absolutely nothing – is more extraordinary in Britain than the beauty of the countryside. Nowhere in the world is there a landscape that has been more intensively utilised – more mined, farmed, quarried, covered with cities and clanging factories, threaded with motorways and railway lines – and yet remains so comprehensively and reliably lovely over most of its extent. It is the happiest accident in history. In terms of natural wonders, you know, Britain is a pretty unspectacular place. It has no alpine peaks or broad rift valleys, no mighty gorges or thundering cataracts. It is built to really quite a modest scale. And yet with a few unassuming natural endowments, a great deal of time and an unfailing instinct for improvement, the makers of Britain created the most superlatively park-like landscapes, the most orderly cities, the handsomest provincial towns , the jauntiest seaside resorts, the stateliest homes, the most dreamily spired, cathedral-rich, castle-strewn, abbey-bedecked, folly-scattered, green-wooded, winding-laned, sheep-dotted, plumply-hedgerowed, well-tended, sublimely decorated 50,318 square miles the world has ever known – almost none of it undertaken with aesthetics in mind, but all of it adding up to something that is, quite often, perfect. What an achievement that is.

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Bugle.

I have three books on the go at the moment: I’m still reading ‘The Age of Absurdity’ by Michael Foley, I’m well into ‘The Road to Little Dribbling’ by Bill Bryson and I’ve recently started ‘Damned’ by Chuck Palahniuk, of ‘Fight Club’ fame. No prizes for guessing which of the three the quote comes from. I’m a big fan of Mr Bryson – Little Dribbling has a mixture of curious facts, lyrical description and curmudgeonly comedy which I’m finding very absorbing. He does repeat himself a little – he often expresses a fondness for our path network for example, but I’m ready to forgive him that.

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Kent Estuary from The Knott.

I’m enjoying ‘Damned’, but probably shouldn’t have read another humorous book so hard on the heels of ‘A Pelican at Blandings’ and ‘Service with a Smile’. Palahniuk is witty, but he’s not Wodehouse.

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Lakeland Fells from the Knott.

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Whitbarrow Scar. The tree on the right is a Lancashire Whitebeam…

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…with silvery leaves.

Later, I defied the lockdown to go out a second time and walk  to the end of the lane, about 260 yards perhaps…

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….the evening light was lighting the church and the stratus (?)…

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I think my eyes were functioning okay.

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Two unlikely covers today. First up, Baby Charles’ cover of The Arctic Monkey’s ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’.

And then World Domination Enterprises’ decidedly lo-fi, noise-fest cover of Lipps Inc’s ‘Funkytown’

It was either this or their classic ‘Asbestos Lead Asbestos’. Terrific live band. (In the 80s: I have no idea what they are up to now!)

Perfect?

I’ll Fly Away

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Bluebells in Holgates caravan park.

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Arnside Tower.

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Lord and Lady pigeon – the current residents. I briefly got a bit excited about this pair – the double wing bar, one of my books tells me, is characteristic of the Rock Dove, which is very limited in range in the UK. But the RSPB website says that feral pigeons can look exactly like their ancestors Rock Doves. So, these are nouveau riche residents of the stately pile then.

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Herb Paris – flowering right by the main path in Eaves Wood. How have I missed it before?

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Gean.

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Blackbird by The Cove.

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Grange catching the sun again!

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Welsh poppies and bluebells – nice colour combination, I thought.

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The seventh cavalry arrive, in the nick of time, with bread flour. More prosaically, we club together with friends, an ongoing arrangement, to order wholesale from an organic supplier of pulses, grains, tinned goods etc. And that’s how we got flour.


Two very different versions of a gospel standard today. First, perhaps the familiar version by Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch from the soundtrack of ‘O Brother Where Art Though’. (Great film by the way)

And then, continuing the brass band theme, not that the brass band I played in ever sounded even remotely like this, worst luck, here’s a New Orleans version from The Dirty Dozen Brass Band…

I’ll Fly Away

The Sands and The Knott

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The Cove.

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Looking back to the Cove.

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Heathwaite and Arnside Knott.

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Aiming for Humphrey Head.

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Following an old tide-line.

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Cockle shell.

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Common otter shells.

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Tellin.

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In a variety of hues.

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There was plenty of evidence of shelduck. Not only footprints!

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I followed the edge of the channel in again, but this time, hitting land, I took the steep path up to Heathwaite.

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Spring cinquefoil – I assumed I was seeing good old ubiquitous tormentil, but when I looked at the photo I realised that the flower has five petals not four. And then I discovered that tormentil doesn’t flower till June. So – not a rare flower, but new to me, so I’m chuffed.

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New oak leaves.

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I’ve been giving a lot of thought, since a comment from Conrad, about where the best viewpoints in the area are located, which is a very pleasant thing to ponder whilst out aimlessly wandering. The spot this photo was taken from, at the top of the shilla slope on Arnside Knott, would rank high on my list.

It was very hazy on this day, but there’s a good view of the Bay, of the Forest of Bowland, and over Silverdale Moss…

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…to Ingleborough, which you’ll be able to pick out if you are using a large screen. (You can click on the photo to see a zoomable version on flickr)

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Wood sorrel.

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Chaffinch.

I took lots of bird photos on this walk, but they were almost all of them blurred, or photos of where a bird had just been perched. A couple of nuthatches were particular offenders in that regard.

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A very hazy view towards the Lakes.

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Song thrush.

This thrush, unlike most of the birds I’d seen, was very comfortable with my presence and happily hopped about catching small wriggling mouthfuls in the grass.  Absolutely charming to watch.


Now, why would you cover an Otis Redding song? Seems to me you are on a hiding to nothing. But, it happens. A lot. So what do I know?

And having said that, I think Toots and the Maytals do a pretty fair job…

..I am a big fan of the Maytals though. Their version of ‘Country Roads’ is superb. And their own ‘Funky Kingston’ is one of my favourite tunes. There are lots of other covers, by the Grateful Dead, the Black Crowes, Tom Jones for example.

This is not a cover…

…apparently? It has different words and a new title, but I can’t help feeling that it sounds a little familiar?

The Sands and The Knott

The Other Kingdoms

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Cheery cherry blossom on Cove Road.

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Grange-Over-Sands from the Cove.

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The Bay and Humphrey Head from the Cove.

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Eaves Wood – the path to the beech circle.

The Other Kingdoms

Consider the other kingdoms.  The
trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.
Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
different arrivals.  Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze.  Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be.  Thus the world
grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.

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Squirrel.

Another item from my list was ‘read more poetry’ a goal which I have singularly failed to meet.

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New beech leaves.

It’s usually at this time of year that I become most enthusiastic about poetry, habitually scanning through my e.e.cummings collection, looking for something new about spring to furnish a post full of photographs of the usual collection of my favourite springtime images. Newly emerged beech leaves, for example.

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This year cummings should have had a run for his money because I’ve acquired large collections by Frost, MacCaig and Oliver all of which I was very keen to dip in to.

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Caledonian pines.

However, I have been reading ‘War and Peace’, another item from my list, which has turned out to be pretty all-consuming. Fortunately, I’d already read quite a chunk of the Mary Oliver collection before I completely submerged in Tolstoy.

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My first speckled wood butterfly of the year.

I’ve finished now. Well, I say I’ve finished; in fact I have a handful of pages of the epilogue left still to read. Which probably seems a bit odd, but in the last 50 or so pages Tolstoy abandons his characters (again) and turns back to tub-thumping. Historians have all got it wrong and he is just the man to set them straight.

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Speckled wood butterfly – my first of the year, looking newly minted.

Don’t get me wrong: although it took a while, I was completely hooked by the book and really enjoyed the various intertwined stories of the characters. But there are many lengthy historical sections about the stupidity, vanity and in-fighting of generals which are not so interesting. In particular, Tolstoy is at pains to dismiss any notion that Napoleon was is any way a military genius and spends many pages making his point. There are also several philosophical digressions about history and what drives the actions of nations and peoples. Whenever I was reading these sections I was reminded of the Gang of Four song ‘It’s Not Made by Great Men’, which makes the same point but way more succinctly.

Whilst these digression are often interesting in themselves, I did find they were often a frustrating distraction from the story. Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’ has sections of polemic laced through the story which, it seemed to me, are entirely redundant. And I’ve heard it said of Moby Dick that it’s best to skip the chapters which are solely Melville’s detailed descriptions of Atlantic whaling. Having said that, Tolstoy’s character assassination of Napoleon is hilarious, and I’ve just found a guide to the book which says, ‘Anyone who tells you that you can skip the “War” parts and only read the “Peace” parts is an idiot.’ It also says that the book will take 10 days at most to read and I’ve been reading it for more than a month. So, doubly an idiot, obviously.

The journey of the central characters is totally absorbing though, so I would definitely recommend it.

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Untidy nest.

Anyway, back to the walk: when I first spotted this nest, it had two crows in it and I got inordinately excited, as I always do when I find an occupied nest. However, they soon left the nest and on subsequent visits the nest has always looked empty. Now the leaves on the surrounding trees are so dense that I can’t even see the nest.

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Crow.

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On our walks together TBH and I have frequently found ourselves passing comment on the fact that livestock seem to be being regularly moved about. I don’t know whether that’s standard husbandry or perhaps because of the prolonged dry spell we’ve had.

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There’s a herd of young calves, for instance, on the fields between Holgates and Far Arnside which seem to have been moved into just about every available field at some point.

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I was examining these trees, trying to work out which was coming into leaf first, and only then noticed all the splendid dandelions.

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Dandelions.

Of course, once you stop to look at the flowers, then you notice other things of interest too…

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Red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius))

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Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum).

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Daisies (of the Galaxy)

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Ash flowers.

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Silver birches line a path on the Knott.

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And have come into leave.

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Beech buds.

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Partially opened.

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Opened.

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Hazy views from the Knott.

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Herb Paris…

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…flowering this time.

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Bramble leaf.

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Linnets. (?)

I got very excited about this pair, purely because I didn’t know what they were. I’ve subsequently decided that they are linnets, but I have a poor record when it comes to identifying this species, having previously incorrectly identified red poll as linnets on more than one occasion. If they are linnets, then they’re missing the striking red breast and throat of a male linnet in its breeding plumage.

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There were several small groups of birds flitting overhead, including, I think, more linnets and, without any doubt, a small charm of goldfinches.

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Goldfinches.

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I also caught a fleeting glimpse of what I think was a redstart – I’ve only seen them in the hills before and was doubting my own eyes to a certain extent, but they do arrive in the UK in April and the RSPB distribution map does show them as present in this area, and mentions that they favour coastal scrub when in passage, so maybe I was right after all.


One of my favourite Clash songs…

“You see, he feels like Ivan
Born under the Brixton sun
His game is called survivin’
At the end of The Harder They Come”

Ivan is the character played by Jimmy Cliff in the film ‘Harder They Come’, so it’s entirely appropriate that Jimmy Cliff eventually covered the song…

I always enjoy Nouvelle Vague’s unique take on punk and post-punk songs, it’s well worth a trawl through their repertoire..

And of course, the Paul Simenon’s, bass line was sampled by Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, for Beats International’s ‘Dub Be Good to Me’…

It’s been covered by German band Die Toten Hosen and live by the Red Hit Chilli Peppers, and Arcade Fire, and probably lots of others. There’s a nice dub version out there and Cypress Hill didn’t so much sample it as rewrite the lyrics for their ‘What’s Your Number?’.

The Other Kingdoms

Lockdown Birthday

Townsfield – Holgates – Hollins Farm – Arnside Knott – Redhill Woods – Black Dyke – Middlebarrow Quarry – Eaves Wood.

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April is not the time for garden tiger caterpillars, which this at least resembles, so I’m not sure what it is.

On my birthday, I climb a hill. I’m not sure when this became a routine, but probably in my twenties, when I usually spent Easter in the Highlands with friends, my birthday conveniently often falling into the Easter break. I can remember climbing Liathach on my 27th, half a lifetime ago, and by then it was definitely already a confirmed idea. I’m not precious about it; sometimes it’s the day before, sometimes a few days after, but at some point I climb a hill to celebrate another passing year. It’s as good an excuse as any other.

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There have been some cracking excursions in recent years, shared with the family, and it has become as much a fixed idea with the kids as it has with me: dad, predictable in every way, wants to climb a hill on his birthday. They fall in with this ritual, so when it came to this year’s big day, we didn’t need a three line whip, as I had feared; everyone knew that we would be going for a walk and nobody complained. They may even have enjoyed themselves.

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Options, obviously, were a bit limited. Should we go back to Coniston Old Man? Helvellyn? Pen-y-ghent? Or should we move on, try pastures new?

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Another Old Post Box, opposite Hollins Farm

Unsurprisingly, we eventually settled on Arnside Knott.

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Common lizard. Well, the tail of a common lizard. Apparently, it was sunning itself on the path and, according to B, I almost stood on it, poor thing.

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Crow with nesting material.

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Arnside Knott view. A bit hazy, but still pretty special.

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Chiff-chaff.

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Wood ants nest.

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Marsh tit on ash flowers.

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‘Little’ S on the trig pillar.

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Blackbird with lunch!

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Herb Paris.

I’ve know for years that herb paris grows in this area, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I actually saw any. I didn’t know whether to be pleased or dismayed by my poor of powers of observation, when I spotted this large patch of it, growing right alongside the main path which climbs the Knott from Silverdale Road in Arnside, and which I must have walked past hundreds of times.

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It’s an odd plant with four broad leaves symmetrically spaced at the top of a single stem. The flower is also odd, but none of them were flowering, so you’ll have to wait for that pleasure. Since then, I’ve found it in several more places, including right by the principal path into Gait Barrows and by Inman’s Road in Eaves Wood. There’s undoubtedly a moral to this story, but I’m not sure that I can see what it is yet!

We dropped down the path which runs along the boundary of Hagg Wood (this is a different Hagg Wood to the one I often refer to, which is beside Bottoms Lane in Silverdale).

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As we started along Black Dyke, we saw lots of butterflies, chiefly small tortoiseshell, and our first swallows of the year. Later, I saw that Cumbria Wildlife Trust were reporting the first sightings of Swallows, in Cumbria, this year, on that day. I’m not sure why I was chuffed to be amongst the first to see the returning swallows, but I was. Maybe it’s my competitive streak.

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Small tortoiseshells.

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Willow catkins at Middlebarrow Quarry again.

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Honesty on the Coronation Path. Still flowering in April, even though the first flowers appeared at Christmas.

Most of my presents didn’t arrive until later in the week, so I won’t mention them for now, but I did get several pairs of socks, a newish custom of which I thoroughly approve.

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It being my birthday, I’m going for two tunes. Firstly, for obvious reasons:

And then, my all time favourite tune, of all time, which, for some reason, I don’t think I’ve posted before:

Hercules by Aaron Neville, written by the amazing Allen Toussaint.

Actually, I’m going to be greedy. Here’s a third video. Same song, same singer, but this time live on Daryl’s House. Daryl being Daryl Hall, of Hall and Oates fame. If you haven’t watched Live from Daryl’s House, I strongly recommend it.

Lockdown Birthday