The Weather is Variable

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TBH by the Pepper Pot.

Photos from a week’s worth of walks from back in January. This first is from the Sunday, the day after the glorious Saturday which featured in my previous post. As you can see, the snow was gone and so too the blue skies and sunshine.

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The lights of Grange from the Cove.

Monday must have been another drear day, because I had a reasonably substantial stroll after work, but only took photos from The Cove when it was almost dark.

On the Tuesday, I didn’t start teaching until after 11 and so took the opportunity to have a wander around Jenny Brown’s Point.

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The path down from Fleagarth Wood

The weather was a complete contrast from the day before. I think it was even quite mild.

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Farleton Fell in the distance.
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Quicksand Pool.

The tide was well in.

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Smelting works chimney.
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Mergansers. I think.
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Jack Scout coast. Coniston Fells on the horizon.
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The drab, dingy weather returned on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Wednesday – Elmaslack Lane.

Around the village, people had put their Christmas lights up early and now left them up late.

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Thursday – The Green, another late afternoon walk.

Using MapMyWalk usually persuades me to take at least one photo on each walk, so that I can attach it the file for that walk. I quite like having a visual record even of the gloomy days.

Friday brought a hard frost in the morning.

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Frosty windscreen.

And the longest walk of the week in the afternoon (only about six and a half miles).

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Wigeon (male).

I actually took lots of bird photos, particularly of a Little Egret which was close in shore, but the light was a bit weird…

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Lovely, but weird.

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Rounding Arnside Point into the Kent I was surprised to see that Hampsfell and the other hills across the river had a covering of snow.

And then, when I climbed to Heathwaite, I discovered that we had some too…

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In fact, on the Knott, there was quite a bit…

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It was getting late, and I had the top to myself. I was disproportionately chuffed to have found some snow to crunch, and had a good wander around the highest part of the Knott.

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Obligatory winter photo of flooded Lambert’s Meadow.

The weekend brought more cloud and damp.

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On the Sunday, I walked our now habitual Sunday circuit around Jenny Brown’s Point not once but twice, in the morning with our neighbour BB…

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And in the afternoon, with TBH.

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The tide well in at Quicksand Pool again.

Over the eight days represented here, I walked around thirty miles. Hardly earth-shattering, but not bad for a week when I was working and when daylight was at a premium. Working form home is a completely useless way to teach, but, from a completely selfish point of view, I was all in favour.

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So, pop-picker’s, the post’s title is from a song which, I’m pretty sure, I’ve shared here before.

The weather’s variable – so are you
But I can’t do a thing – about the weather

Here’s another couplet:

You dislike the climate but you like the place
I hope you learn to live with what you choose

Anybody know it? It’s from an album called ‘Magic, Murder and The Weather’ if that helps?

The Weather is Variable

Early Frost and Mist, Late Winter Light

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TBH approaching Hawes Water

The day after my walk with X-Ray. Another two walk day, a circuit around Hawes Water mid-morning with TBH when the frost and mist was still clinging-on.

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A misty Hawes Water

And then an ascent of Arnside Knott.

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Flooding by Black Dike.
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Arnside Tower
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Arnside Tower staircase.
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Arnside Tower doorways, windows and fireplaces.
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Low light in the woods on Arnside Knott.
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Kent Estuary, Hamps Fell and Grange.
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Snowy Lakeland Peaks.
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Whitbarrow catching the sun.
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The Bay from the Knott.
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Arnside Tower Farm, Eaves Wood, Warton Crag and Clougha Pike on the horizon.
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That flooding again.
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Two more views of the Cumbrian Fells, a little later in the afternoon.
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I looped around the top, so that I could return to the viewpoint by the toposcope for the sunset.

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Morecambe Bay sunset.
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Hardly spectacular, but any day which finishes with a sunset from the top of the Knott has something going for it!

Early Frost and Mist, Late Winter Light

Christmas Floral Survey

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A few photos from the week leading up to Christmas. Since I had MapMyWalk working again, I can say that I got out almost every day over the Christmas break, often more than once, almost exclusively for local wanders.

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One day, TBH and went up Arnside Knott. The weather was really odd: looking south it was hazy, with the Bowland skyline obscured by low cloud and a bit of low-lying mist. The effect, I thought, was to make Warton Crag look bigger than it usually does.

On the other hand, looking north…

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…although many of the hills were obscured by cloud, there was a good deal more clarity and a healthy helping of blue sky.

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Primroses often appear on a grassy bank along Cove Road in early February, quite a bit earlier than they are found elsewhere. But this winter, they started to flower before Christmas. I’m always intrigued to see what I can find in flower at the turn of the year, since it’s often a much greater variety of plants than you might expect.

Looking at my photos, I found Stinking Hellebore, which is not that surprising, but also garden roses, Welsh Poppies, Geraniums and Ox-eye Daisies, none of which you’d really expect in late December.

Christmas Floral Survey

November: On the Home Patch

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Sunset from The Cove
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Post sunset light from The Lots

People were going further afield for their daily exercise. I knew this. Every day we drove past the Eaves Wood car park and it was full. I could read about it on blogs. People I met on my walks recounted trips to the Dales and the Lakes.

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Post sunset light from The Lots

And I would be doing the same. Soon, very soon.

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Tree trunk near the mouth of the Kent.

But somehow, I didn’t get around to it.

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Flooded fields from Arnside Knott

I wasn’t particularly worried about what might happen, or any potential consequences.

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Late afternoon skies from Castlebarrow…

I’m a creature of habit. I just seemed to be stuck in a rut of sorts.

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And The Cove.
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Fungi.

Still, there are worse ruts to be in!

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I was still getting out a lot. Frequent visits to The Cove, The Pepper Pot, and around Jenny Brown’s Point, usually with TBH.

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The weather was a bit mixed, to say the least.

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“See that storm over yonder, it’s gonna rain all day.”

This was a memorable walk. The tide was exceptionally high. So much so that we had to turn back and couldn’t get around Jenny Brown’s because the the salt marsh was inundated.

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All of this is usually green!

It was also very windy and squally, with very heavy showers.

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We walked across Quaker’s Stang which was completely exposed to the wind off the sea, and made for very bracing walking.

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The RSPB car park for Allan and Morecambe hides was flooded.
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More fungi.
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Waves (of a fashion) at Jack Scout.
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The lights of Heysham and Morecambe from The Cove.
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Another high tide at Jack Scout.
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The salt marsh when it isn’t underwater! Warton Crag behind.
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Warton Crag again, across Quicksand Pool.
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Jack Scout Rainbow.
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Towering cloud catching late light from The Cove.
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Arnside Prom.

So – I’ve dismissed November with a solitary post again.

What would break my out of my routine? I needed an external stimulus, an intervention you might say…


Here’s something I haven’t done for a while – a tune for the end of the post. I absolute love the interplay of voices on this Levon Helm track….

November: On the Home Patch

October 2020: More Showers, Rainbows, and Big Clouds.

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The view from Castlebarrow.

The title pretty much sums it up. Photos from lots of different local walks, taken during the second half of October. I was aware that some people were beginning to travel a little further afield for their exercise, but somehow my own radius of activity seemed to shrink to local favourite spots not too far from the village.

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Crepuscular rays on the Bay.
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Rainbow over The Lots

This is my mate D and his pug. I often meet him when I’m out for a local walk. I think I’ve mentioned before how much bumping into neighbours whilst out and about has helped during the lockdown in all of it guises.

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The sun dips towards the sea, from Castle Barrow.

I can’t remember exactly when this happened – let’s assume it was October: I bumped into a chap carrying a fair bit of camera gear in Eaves Wood. He asked if he was going the right way to the Pepper Pot. He was. I saw him again on the top. It turned out he’s working on a book, one in a series, about where to take photos from in the North-West. Based in Lancaster, he’d never been to the Pepper Pot before. Funny how that can happen. Cloud had rolled in and the chances of a decent sunset looked a bit poor. I saw him again, a few weeks later, this time he’d set up his camera and tripod a little further West, in a spot I’d suggested. I hope he got his sunset.

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A paper round rainbow. Just prior to a proper drenching.
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TBH in Eaves Wood.
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Among all the changes which Natural England have been carrying out at Gait Barrows – raising the water level, felling trees, removing fences, putting up new fences in other places etc, they’ve also renovated this old summer house by Hawes Water. Presently, it’s still locked, but eventually it will be an information centre and a vantage point to look out over the lake.
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Around this time, TBH started to take a regular weekend walk together around Jenny Brown’s Point. It was interesting to watch the channel from Quicksand Pool change each week and to contrast the weather and the tides each week.
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Traveller’s Joy by Jenny Brown’s Point.
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From Castlebarrow, heavy showers tracking in from The Bay.
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Late sun from Castlebarrow again.
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The lights of Grange from The Cove.
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Sunrise from our garden.
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TBH by the Pepper Pot on Castlebarrow.
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Post sunset from Castlebarrow.
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The last of the light from The Cove.
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Silverdale Moss from the rim of Middlebarrow Quarry. It had just finished raining, or was just about to rain, or probably both.
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Autumnal birches with a rainbow behind.
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The Shelter Stone Trowbarrow Quarry.
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Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.
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The Copper Smelting Works Chimney near Jenny Brown’s and more heavy showers.
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Jenny Brown’s Cottages.
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The Bay from The Cove on a very grey day!
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Cows in the rain.

The brown cow at the back here is a bull. I’d walked through the fields on Heald Brow where they were grazing a few times and he’d never batted an eyelid. But on this day he and a few of his harem where stationed in a gateway. I was considering my options and wondering whether to turn back, but when I got within about 50 yards the bull suddenly started to run. At quite a canter. Fortunately, it was away from me and not towards – he was obviously even more of a wuss than me!

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A White-lipped Snail – the rain isn’t universally disliked.
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Clougha across the Bay.
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Little Egret.
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The yellow feet are a good distinguishing feature.
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Picnic lunch – apple, mushroom soup and a selection of cheeses.

I decided that the best way to make the most of sometimes limited windows at weekends was to head out in the middle of the day and to eat somewhere on my walk. This bench overlooking the Kent Estuary was a particular favourite. Haven’t been there for a while now – must rectify that.

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The tide had heaped up fallen leaves in a long sinuous line.
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Scot’s Pines on Arnside Knott.
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Birches on Arnside Knott.
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Whitbarrow from Arnside Knott.
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River Kent from Arnside Knott.
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A flooded Silverdale Moss from Arnside Knott. Ingleborough in the background
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Arnside Tower.
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Clouds catching late light.
October 2020: More Showers, Rainbows, and Big Clouds.

Getting About

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These photos are from another end of September autumnal walk. It was the Sunday after my longish walk in the Bowland Hills, but the weather was much nicer and I was joined, at least initially, by TBH and Little S. (Who is, of course, now much taller than me).

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We took our usual preferred route around the coast to Arnside. I think this might have been the weekend when this usually quiet route was thronged with people, presumably all enjoying the slight relaxation in the lockdown restrictions.

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I have to confess to being a little jealous of the three people sailing small dinghies on the Kent estuary. It looked like great fun. I’ve done a bit of dinghy sailing over the years and have always enjoyed it. TBH and I are contemplating joining Arnside Sailing Club, although I suspect she is most enthused by the fact that they own a few stand-up paddle-boards.

After an alfresco lunch in Arnside, TBH and Little S left me for a direct route home, but, it being a beautiful afternoon, I was keen to prolong the walk.

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A distant Ingleborough from the south side of the Knott.
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Looking South, Eaves Wood, Warton Crag and Ward’s Stone, where I’d been the day before.
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Looking out to The Bay.
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The Fells of the Lake District from near the Toposcope.
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Looking South down the coast from Heathwaite – notice the edge of the firm sand and the channel beside it.
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Pano Looking South.
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Red Admiral on Buddleia.

The hedge on the coastal side of the caravan park at Far Arnside was full of Buddleia and Bindweed and they, in turn, were festooned with bees and butterflies, which kept me distracted for quite a while. Since I was on my own, there was nobody to moan about my entering ‘Butterfly Mode’.

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Burdock I think.
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The sands had looked so attractive from the Knott that I decided to drop down that way and follow the edge of the firm sand to Knowe Point.

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Overhead, two people were flying powered paragliders. Apparently, this arrangement is called a paramotor. Makes sense I suppose. It certainly looked exhilarating.

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I was intrigued by the potential of this mode of transport and, as is often the case, found myself lost down a rabbit-hole of Youtube videos. I have to say that low-level flying looked like terrific fun. I’m not much good with heights though, and this feat of daring gives me sweaty palms even when I think about it.

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Looking back to Arnside Knott and Heathwaite.

Meanwhile, at work, a new colleague has been talking about her husband’s love of land yachting, which looks more up my street and which these great expanses would no doubt be ideal for. The problem, of course, with paramotors, land yachts and sailing dinghies, is that they all require kit and cost money. With Shanks’ Pony you can get away with a cheap cag and a pair of shoes which is why I think it’s always destined to be my favourite way of getting about (although, of course, some people do seem to rather obsess over their endless gallimaufry of expensive gear).

Getting About

Where’s You Bin?

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Snails galore!

These first two photos represent our first fortnight of September – stuck at home quarantining and, like these snails, inseparable from our home. I walked around our garden a lot, listening to podcasts as I stomped. The snails (and there were quite a few more than those in the photograph) had all been resident inside the lid of one of our garden waste wheely bins. Since the bins were empty, I’d decided to remove the snails and put them into the flowerbeds where they might find something to eat (don’t tell the gardener!) I’m not sure what the diddy one is, but the rest are (I think): Copse Snail, White-lipped Snail, Garden Snail, another White-lipped and finally a Brown-lipped Snail. Not bad variety for a garden safari.

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The hills of home from Farleton Fell.

When we were eventually permitted to venture a bit further, I had a post-work wander up Farleton Fell, while A was at a dance class. It was gloomy, cold and a bit damp, but I was happy since I found some Autumn Gentians…

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I couldn’t decide whether the flowers were closed because of the lack of sun, or because they hadn’t yet opened, or because I was too late and had missed them at their best. But I’ve not seen them before, so was happy to know where to look on another visit.

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The Dale from by the Pepper Pot.

The following weekend brought some glorious weather and, for me, a wander around the coast to New Barns and an ascent of Arnside Knott.

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Rosehips
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The view from Arnside Point.
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Bryony.
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A Hawkweed?

I spent quite some time taking photos of spectacular webs and large diadem spiders on these weeds and am disappointed that none of the photos have come out at all sharp.

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River Kent.
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The view from the Knott.

Springing forward to the present, it’s the start of ‘British Summer Time’ and it’s throwing it down, cold and windy. Yesterday was brighter, and we had both Roe Deer and a Sparrowhawk in the garden. The gardener (TBH) is miffed though since the deer have eaten all of her new, purple tulips.

I think we’re all braced, locally, for a very busy Easter period, with lots of extra parking organised in anticipation of the invading hordes. I note that the Times has listed Arnside and Silverdale as one of ‘Other best places to live in the Northwest’ behind regional winner Altrincham (I know where I would choose!) and that a Guardian article listing ‘Seven extraordinary villages to visit in England and Wales’ is headed by Arnside. Neither of which will help. Batten down the hatches!

Where’s You Bin?

Small Wonders

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The view from Castlebarrow – Warton Crag, Clougha Pike and the shorn fields around home.

Unlike my last post, this one features photos taken on numerous different walks, over a week.

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I climbed Arnside Knott to watch the sunset. By the time I reached the top, it had clouded up, so these shots from beside the Kent Estuary earlier in the walk were better than those taken later.

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In my many visits to Gait Barrows I’d noticed a few low sprawling shrubs with pointed glossy leaves. I kept checking on them to see what the flowers looked like.

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I’m very pleased to report that this is Wild Privet, especially since I have been misidentifying Geans as Wild Privet until this year.

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Wild Thyme.

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Biting Stonecrop.

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Heath Speedwell.

“What I did not fully realise when I set out was the unexpected reward that comes from searching for wild flowers. Flower finding is not just a treasure-hunt. Walking with your head down, searching the ground, feeling close to nature, takes you away from a world of trouble and cares. For the time being, it is just you and the flower, locked in a kind of contest. It is strangely soothing, even restorative. It makes life that bit more intense; more than most days you fairly leap out of bed. In Keble Martin’s words, botanising takes you to the peaceful, beautiful places of the earth.”

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Scorpion Fly, female.

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“Meanwhile Brett was diverted by the insects visiting the flowers…I felt an unexpected twinge of envy. How exciting life must be, when you can take a short walk down to the river bank and find small wonders in every bush or basking on a flower head, or making themselves comfortable under a pebble. Why don’t more of us look for Lesne’s Earwigs instead of playing golf or washing the BMW?”

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Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

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Ringlet.

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Large Skipper, female.

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Possibly a Gypsy Cuckoo Bumblebee.

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A Calla Lily at Woodwell again.

Both quotes are from ‘Chasing the Ghost’ by Peter Marren.


Songs about flies?

‘Human Fly’ by The Cramps.

‘I am the Fly’ Wire.

Other songs which spring to mind: ‘Anthrax’ by The Gang of Four for its line ‘I feel like a beetle on its back’, or, similarly ‘Song from Under the Floorboards’ which has Howard Devoto declaring ‘I am an insect’. But I’ve shared both of those before, I think. Californian punk band Flipper also recorded a version of ‘There Was An Old Woman who Swallowed a Fly’, but, to be frank, I never really liked it. It’s altogether a very punky collection of songs. I’m not sure whether that reflects a squeamishness about insects in mainstream music, or just the fact that it’s with punk that I am best acquainted? There must be some good butterfly songs, but aside from ‘Caterpillar’ by The Cure, which, again, I’ve shared before, I can’t think of any at present.

Small Wonders

Hare Today

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During my post-work summer evening walks, especially in the Lune valley and the Bowland hills, I often see hares. Usually, however, they are so well hidden in their forms that I only spot them as they shoot off and am way too slow to get any photographs, my walk from Hornby last summer being the one exception. On my walks around home, though, a sight of a hare is much more of a rarity. I know that they are present, because I once spotted a pair, briefly, in Eaves Wood and also a lone hare in a field by The Row, when we lived over there, but both of those sightings were a long while ago.

Which perhaps explains why, when I saw this pair in a field by Hollins Farm, calmly stooping under a gate, I tried to convince myself that they were some sort of large, escaped domestic rabbits. I should have known better: their size, their long black-tipped ears, their long legs, their colour, their movement and speed, their black and white tails – all mark them out as hares and not rabbits.

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During the mating season a female hare will apparently lead a male on a very lengthy chase before she deems him a fit partner. Here, she ducked back under the gate and then walked along the edge of the field with the gullible male following on the wrong side of the field. Halfway across the field, she, rather gleefully I thought, cut across the field, leaving the duped male sitting forlornly by the fence watching.

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Shortly, a second male appeared and began to race after the female. Hares can apparently manage 45mph and their velocity around the field was certainly something to behold.

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Meanwhile, the first male had worked out that he needed to retrace his steps and was crossing the field in pursuit of the other two.

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Of course, my interpretation of the events may be wide of the mark, but this little local drama certainly enlivened a fairly dull, overcast day.

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I was wandering around Heathwaite on my way up Arnside Knott. There were lots of butterflies about, mostly, but not exclusively, Meadow Browns. Lots of other insects too.

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Although the light wasn’t great, I was very happy taking photos, both of the insects and of  the flowers which I’ve learned from Peter Marren are collectively called ‘yellow composites’ – dandelion like flowers in seemingly endless subtle varieties: hawkweeds, hawkbits, hawk’s-beards and  cat’s-ears. I was noticing how, on closer inspection, there were actually obvious differences between the flowers, although I’m still not sure that I could link those differences to pictures in a flower-key and actually manage to identify any of the awkward so-and-sos.

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I was quite taken with this view along the coast, which I usually photograph from much higher up the hillside. It may have been the presence of an elder in flower in the foreground which inspired my appreciation.

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I’d hoped to find Northern Marsh Orchid and Fragrant Orchid in flower, I’ve certainly seen them here before, but no sign. The profusion of Oxeye daisies was some compensation.

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A hoverfly doing a passable impersonation of a honeybee, possibly a Drone Fly.

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This little pink flower has me stumped. It looks a little like Betony or Self-heal, but isn’t either of those two.

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The tiny flower of Salad Burnet.

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Common Green Grasshopper, possibly.

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A Snout Moth, possibly?

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The view along the coast from ‘higher up the hillside’.

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A St. John’s Wort?

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Wood Ants.

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Heath Spotted-orchid.

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Dropwort.

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That view again, but from higher still.

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I dropped down onto the northern side of the Knott and the telephoto on my camera confirmed my suspicion that, in an inversion of the normal run of things, the Cumbrian Fells were experiencing better weather than we were on the margins of the bay.

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Longhorn beetles – Strangalia melanura.

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Dog Rose.

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Thyme-leaved Speedwell. Possibly.

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Lesser Butterfly Orchid. 

The butterfly orchids were tiny – much smaller than than when I’d seen them in this same spot in Redhill Pasture last year, surely a consequence of the prolonged dry weather.

Sod’s law was in operation, and I arrived home just as the weather improved considerably. This large vigorous daisy…

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…had appeared in the flowerbed by our garage. It’s Feverfew, a non-native herbal plant which has become a naturalised weed.

Take of Feverfew one handful, warm it in a Frying-pan, apply it twice or thrice hot; this cures an Hemicrania: And the crude Herb applied to the Top of the Head cures the Head-ach.

This is from ‘The Compleat Herbal of Physical Plants’ written by John Pechey in 1694. The curious thing is that clinical trials have shown that Feverfew is effective in the treatment of ‘Hemicrania’ – halfhead, or migraine as we know it today.

TBH didn’t much like it in our border though and I have subsequently hoicked it out. I have spotted it growing in several other places around the village I’m pleased to report.


Had to be Peggy Lee ‘Fever’ and The Cramps cover of same…

There seem to be hundreds of versions of this song, but this is the original, by Little Willie John…

Hare Today

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