Reflections and Frostprints

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So – the blog has advanced to the final couple of days of last year. These photos are from a beautiful, still day when TBH and I took one of our favourite wanders around the coast to Arnside.

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As you can see, with no wind, both the sea and the River Kent were mirror calm and reflecting the lovely blue skies.

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Frozen footprint.
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The retreating tide had left a line of ice in its wake. It must have been pretty cold!
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There were a few ‘icebergs’ in the Kent – presumably they’d survived the trip down the river from where there was snow in the hills.
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Arnside Viaduct, snowy Eastern Fells behind.
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Although it’s slightly hazy on the left, this is my favourite photo from the day.
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Lunch, from the Old Bake House, on the prom.
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We took a fairly direct route back, not climbing the Knott. You can see that the field edge below the woods, having been in the shade, has retained its frost all day.
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Late light on Arnside Tower.
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Holgates Caravan Park was busy, even the touring section. I hope these caravans had good heaters!
Reflections and Frostprints

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

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.

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

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

Bad Pint

Flowers seen on a circuit of Middlebarrow and Eaves Wood and a cautionary tale.

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A great display of wood anemone in Holgates Caravan Park.

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The path around Holgates.

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Pellitory-of-the-wall on Arnside Tower.

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Green Hellebore….

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…with more flowers than the last time I’d visited.

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Herb paris in Middlebarrow Wood. The first I’d seen which were flowering.

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Ground ivy in Eaves Wood.

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Cuckoo Pint.

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Jack-by-the-hedge….

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…or hedge garlic or garlic mustard.

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Quince.

The cautionary tale regards Cuckoo Pint a very common plant in this area and elsewhere too I suspect. We may not have the venomous snakes and spiders of somewhere like Australia, but we have plenty of poisonous plants and fungi, Arum maculatum being a case in point. I recently came across a letter to the British Dental Journal regarding two cases from this region.

Cuckoo pint (Arum maculatum) is highly irritating to oral/oesophageal mucosa and, if ingested, can cause swelling of the tongue and throat, leading to difficulty swallowing and breathing.

The first case involved a 54-year-old male who, whilst out walking in the countryside in early January, sampled what he thought was ‘wild garlic’. Intense burning pain forced him to spit out the stalk immediately and blisters formed on his lips which lasted for some two weeks.

The second patient presented for emergency treatment at Furness General Hospital having eaten a curry made from ‘wild garlic’. In this case, severe burning pain in the oesophagus was experienced.

As the letter goes on to point out, by April the leaves do not really look alike, but in January and February they are two of the earliest new leaves to appear on the woodland floor, the tips are pointy, the leaves a similar green and both glossy – it is quite easy to see how a mistake could be made.

(In case you were wondering, I wasn’t the 54 year old male in question – entirely coincidence. And also – the British Dental Journal is not my regular bedtime reading.)

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I occasionally still tease my brother about the time he asked me if I’d heard the Buzzcocks cover of Fine Young Cannibals ‘Ever Fallen In Love’.

But, to be fair, it’s often not obvious that any particular song is a cover. I first heard the song ‘Domino’ when I bought the Cramps LP ‘Off The Bone’, which, at the time, I didn’t even realise was a compilation album. It’s great stuff. Musical weekly Sounds described it as “…a hell-fire cocktail of gutter riffing and chattering Rockabilly voodoo strum into which is dropped an electric sugar cube of psychedelic power”. Not that I would have read that at the time – I was always an NME man myself.

My mum likes Roy Orbison, but maybe more the ballads of the sixties rather than the rockabilly which he recorded when he was at Sun.

Depending on who you believe the song was either cowritten by Orbison and Norman Petty, better known for working with Buddy Holly and the Crickets, or was the work of Sun Records supremo Sam Philips.

Personally, much as I love The Cramps, I think the original is the best in this case.

It’s only now that I’ve finished the post, that I’ve realised that I’ve written about a poisonous plant and included a song from a band whose bassist was called Poison Ivy  (wife of lead singer Lux Interior). Maybe my subconscious at work?

Bad Pint

I Heard The News

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Since we have been tidying the garden (Lockdown Aspiration number 1), and yes, like many gardens I suspect, ours probably doesn’t know what has hit it: the lawn has been scarified; the path has been cleared; the patio has been pressure-washed; old tree roots, nettles, bracken, and saplings have been dug out; pot-holes in the drive have been (sort-of) repaired, the shed has been painted – I shan’t claim that it’s now tidy, but it is tidier. Anyway, since we’ve been in the garden a lot, I’ve noticed that we have sparrows in our beech hedge much more often than I have previously imagined.

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Sparrows are gregarious birds and seem to like hedgerows and be very faithful to particular spots – I can think of a couple of places in the village where I can pretty much guarantee I will see sparrows when I walk past. TBH and I walked along the Townsfield path back in early April (when these photos were taken) and saw at least half a dozen sparrows having a dust bath on the path – I didn’t have my camera with me sadly.

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We only seem to have a couple of pairs at most, but the thought that they might have moved in and even that the colony might grow is exceedingly cheery. For the garden to be filled, in future years, with the constant chatter and activity of a crew of sparrows would be fantastic.

Crew is, according to some lazy internet research, one of the collective nouns for sparrows, the others being flutter, host, meinie, quarrel, tribe, and ubiquity, all of which seem to fit rather well apart from meinie, what’s a meinie?

We have other birds in the garden, but they aren’t so bold and therefore are a bit harder to photograph. I think that this…

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…is a coal tit, it doesn’t seem yellow enough to be a female great tit which was my other thought. Coal tits seem to like the silver birch in our garden.

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Blue tit.

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White Bloomer.

Ah – another item from the list – to whit, ‘bake bread more often’. I don’t normally manage to fit bread-making around commuting, so, whilst working from home, I have been able to bake more often, although at times, especially early on when bread flour and yeast were akin to gold dust, not as often as I would like. I’ve been branching out and trying various types of flour, by necessity really, since I’ve had to take what I could get, and also different types of loaf, as you’ll see in forthcoming posts!

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Limestone Pavement in Eaves Wood.

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There was a fortnight in April when I decided that a walk which criss-crossed Eaves Wood and Middlebarrow, zig-zagging furiously was an ideal lockdown workout.

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A Middlebarrow path.

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Blackthorn blossoms.

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I can’t say if really made much progress with ‘getting to grips with birdsong’, but I have been able to listen to more of it! I think I’ve mentioned it before, but getting out every day this spring has really alerted me to the ubiquity of nuthatches locally. A collective noun for nuthatches is a bit superfluous, since they seem to be mostly solitary birds, but it’s a jar of nuthatches apparently.

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They are everywhere, but I hear them much more often than I see them, so photographs have been a bit of a rarity. Less than a jarful.

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Arnside Tower.

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Looking towards Silverdale Moss from beside Arnside Tower.

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Peacock butterfly.

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More willow catkins.

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Coltsfoot.

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Peacock butterfly.

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Pepper Pot.

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Cuckoo pint leaves in the shade of mature beech tree, where not much else will grow.

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The ruined cottage in Eaves Wood

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A late finish.

I love Elvis’ early recordings from his days at Sun Records.

When I heard this…

…song by Sister Wynona Carr, I thought that maybe Elvis had borrowed from an old gospel tune. I’ve been smugly self-congratulating myself for years for spotting the connection. Sadly, for my puffed up self-esteem, it turns out that they are both covers of this original…

… by Roy Brown. All sorts of people have covered this song, but I really like this version…

…which is unmistakably by Elvis’ Sun Records stablemate Jerry Lee Lewis.

 

I Heard The News

Two for Joy

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Arnside Tower.

What a tonic blue sky is, and the light that comes with it…

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Beech leaves.

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Green Hellebore.

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Middlebarrow Quarry.

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Shelduck

This was the first of several occasions when I’ve watched Shelduck in groups of half a dozen or so, flying around and around Middlebarrow Quarry, honking loudly. Occasionally they will settle on a ledge, but then off they go again. I can’t imagine what the purpose of this display is.

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Common Carder Bee (perhaps) on Toothwort.

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Hawes Water.

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Sunset.

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Magpies.

Magpies are another surprisingly elusive bird. They’re so common and yet all the photographs I have of them are taken from huge distances, so I was chuffed when this pair sat and posed for several portraits. Their cousins, Jays, are even more flighty and although I’ve spotted them quite a few times over the last few weeks, I don’t have a single photo to show for it.

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Goldfinches.

Around this time it was evident that many birds were building nests. I watched a Crow struggling to break a twig from a tree, then, apparently dissatisfied, throw the twig to the ground and laboriously snap off another. The second twig must have been deemed much better building material, because it flew off with that one in its beak. I also spotted these Goldfinches which were ripping Dandelion petals from unopened flowers, presumably to line a nest?

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Dunnock – I think.

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Grange from the Cove.

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The ‘salt desert’ of the Bay.

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Song Thrush.

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Curious lambs. Despite the sunshine, frost was hanging on in the shade of a drystone wall well into the afternoon.

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A new gateway at an entrance to Clark’s and Sharp’s Lots.

One of the joys of being out almost every day has been the opportunity to observe changes unfold. Not just a neat new bit of wall on a National Trust property, but new flowers appearing, leaves shooting up from the woodland floor and the changing chorus of birds in the woods too.

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Nuthatch.

As soon as the lockdown started, I realised that the Chiff-chaffs were already back with us. In the woods, I was surprised how much the birdsong was dominated by Chiff-chaffs, Robins and Nuthatches. Then the Song Thrushes swelled the ranks a little, with Blackbirds coming in a little later. Now there are too many voices for an amateur like me and I’m much more easily confused.

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Small Tortoiseshell.

Butterflies too were abundant from fairly early on. Brimstones first – although they don’t seem to like to stop to be photographed. Then Commas, Small Tortoiseshells, and Peacocks, with Orange Tips hard on their heels. I think those must all be species which overwinter in their adult forms. Certainly many of the butterflies I saw looked quite tatty.

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A near Jenny Brown’s Cottages.

It’s a shame really that I was behind with the blog – it would have given me great pleasure, as well as being a lot easier, to record the changes as they happened. Imagine that – a daily walk with my camera and no work to get in the way. How can I engineer that, do you think?

Can’t really think how to shoehorn this track in, apart from it’s fantastic. Solomon Burke with the Blind Boys of Alabama on backing vocals. Brilliant.

Two for Joy

Sauvages de ma rue*

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White Violets in a large roadside patch by Jack Scout.

“In a recent YouGov poll, just 6% of 16- to 24-year-olds were able to correctly name a picture of a wild violet. The same poll showed nearly 70% of respondents would like to be able to identify more wild flowers.”

This is another conglomeration of photos from various walks, still back at the tail-end of March.

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A misty pre-dawn.

Back then, I sometimes managed to get out early, before sitting down at the computer for the day’s work. That has since gone by the by, as I have started to sleep in a little longer, with no need to get up for a daily commute.

Being a creature of habit, I’ve often walked the same route on consecutive days, occasionally branching out to go somewhere different.

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Arnside Tower.

Variations on a walk around Eaves Wood and Middlebarrow were a favourite for a while. For some reason, I seem to be incapable of walking past Arnside Tower without taking a picture of it.

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Mist over Silverdale Moss.

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Arnside Tower again! (On another day)

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Pheasant feather?

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Early sun in Middlebarrow Woods.

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Mist over Hawes Water.

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Toothwort – this is the earliest I’ve seen this flowering. The plants I used to visit every year, which seemed to have survived their host tree being chopped down have now gone. But fortuitously, I found another, larger, patch nearby.

We talk a lot about plant blindness – what if putting names on plants could make people look at them in a different way?

The quotes in this post are all taken from a Guardian article ‘Not Just Weeds‘, about the growing phenomena of pavement chalking to identify wildflowers in urban areas. I knew I would enjoy the piece, when it started with the somewhat unexpected phrase “a rising international force of rebel botanists”, which is not a combination of words I ever thought I would encounter – it conjures up images of an orange clad Stars Wars force armed with hand lenses and wild flower keys.

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Hawes Water.

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Goldfinch.

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Silverdale from Castlebarrow.

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Green Hellebore.

In my experience, the effort required to try to put names to plants has made me look at them in a different way. And treasure them too. I’ve been really thrilled, for example, to have found this large clump of Green Hellebore, which I must have walked past hundreds of times before and missed, in Middlebarrow Woods.

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One anonymous London tree name chalker said: “I’ll keep labelling as I go on my daily walks. I think it’s really tapped into where people are right now.

“Botanical chalking gives a quick blast of nature connection, as the words encourage you to look up and notice the tree above you, the leaves, the bark, the insects, the sky. And that’s all good for mental health. None of us can manage that much – living through a global pandemic is quite enough to be getting on with. But it’s brought me a great amount of joy.”

And so, on the subject of joy, to today’s musical choice. I realised, when it was too late, that a post about vitamin D ought to have been accompanied by a sunshine song. So, here it is a day late:

Once, I’d settled on ‘Sunshine of Your Love’, it was quite difficult to decide which version to use. If I’d managed to find a video of Jimi Hendrix, during the Lulu show, dismissing ‘Hey Joe’ as ‘rubbish’ and breaking into ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ as a tribute to Cream, who had announced that they had split that day, then it would have been that version hands down. I like the original. There’s a great version by Ella Fitzgerald again. But, in a serendipitous moment, whilst I was pondering those three, I stumbled across this version by Spanky Wilson, which I’d never heard before. To be honest, I’m not sure that I’ve heard of Spanky Wilson before. Enjoy.

*Sauvages de ma rue – wild things of my street. An underground guerrilla movement of rebel botanists. Maybe.

 

Sauvages de ma rue*

The Unattended Moment

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The Bay from Castlebarrow, late evening.

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Millennium Bridge over The Lune, Lancaster.

I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.

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Daffodils at Far Arnside.

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High water in the bay again.

The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale’s backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
Many gods and many voices.

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The view from Park Point. With added whitecaps.

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Looking to Grange-Over-Sands.

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Looking south along the coast.

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River Kent from Arnside Knott. Lake district hills lost in cloud.

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River Lune. Ruskin’s view.

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St. Mary’s Kirkby Lonsdale.

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The Bay from Castlebarrow.

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Arnside Tower.

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Whitbarrow from Arnside Knott.

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The River Kent from Arnside Knott again.

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The bay and Humphrey Head from Arnside Knott.

For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.

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Looking south along the coast.

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Sunset from Emesgate Lane.

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These last two images are actually videos. I don’t think they’ll work, because I’m too tight to fork out for a premium account. But click on the pictures and that should take you to the relevant flickr page where you can hear the sound of the wind and the breaking waves, some of the many voices of the sea, should you wish.

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The photos here are mostly from the ‘leap day’ weekend at the end of February and the start of March, except for the first which is from earlier that week.

The quotations are all from ‘The Dry Salvages’, which is the third of T.S.Elliot’s Four Quartets. To be honest, I stumbled across it when looking for something about the sea – or so I thought. It turns out, what I was really looking for was that passage about ‘the distraction fit’, ‘the unattended moment’. I’m sure I’ve read the poem before, but I’ve never been struck so forcibly by this section as I was on this occasion.

I remember trying to capture something like this idea in a post way back in the early days of the blog. Perhaps, in some ways, it’s always the ‘unattended moment’ I’m writing about, or seeking when I go out for yet another walk, or crawl around taking yet more photographs of orchids, or of leaves, waves, clouds etc when I have thousands of images of exactly those things already.

It seems entirely appropriate to me that Elliot’s examples of ‘distractions’ should end with music – anyone who’s been to a gig, or clubbing, with me and watched me throwing my ample, uncoordinated frame around, grinning like a loon, might have caught me in one of those moments, if they weren’t too lost in the music and the moment themselves. But equally, they might have shared a moment like that during a wild day in the hills, when, despite, or perhaps because of, adverse conditions, our enthusiasm bubbled over into unexplained laughter and broad smiles; equally I think of a few ‘wild’ swims which sparked the same kind of happy absorption, or quiet moments around a beach bonfire. I’m heaping up examples because I can’t really put my finger on what I’m driving at, but I know it when I feel it.

Usually happens when the horns come in during this tune, for example.

The Unattended Moment