Thirty Photos in Search of an Author.

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The Bay and Grange from Middlebarrow W

Unusually, for my recent posts, all of these photos are from a single lazy local walk, a few miles spaced out over several hours, during which I took lots of photos and stopped for several brews.

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Bugle.
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Sun-dappled path through Middlebarrow Wood.
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Mayflowers.
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Arnside Tower doorway.
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The view from Arnside Tower over Silverdale Moss to Beetham Fell.
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Green Hellebore in Middlebarrow Wood.
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I don’t think I’ve noticed the large size of the seeds which develop inside the flowers.
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Sweet Woodruff.
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Herb Paris.
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Reed beds at Silverdale Moss.
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Paddock near Far Waterslack.
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Buttercups.
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Daisies (of the Galaxy?)
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Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill.

Quite clever of this tiny flower to incorporate both the names of two birds and two hyphens in its name.

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Heading towards Hawes Water.
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A swimmer.

I managed quite a bit of swimming this summer, but am still jealous of this solitary bather, since I’ve never swum in Hawes Water. It’s quite hard to see how you could get in through the reeds, although a couple of the houses on Moss Lane have private jetties.

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Bird’s-eye Primroses growing in some of the cleared land. Vindication of Natural England’s tree-felling policy?
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Femal Mallard.
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Tadpoles and fish in the stream between Little Hawes Water and Hawes Water.
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Azure Damselfly (I think).
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Bluebells, Gait Barrows.
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Limestone Pavement, Gait Barrows
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Angular Solomon’s-Seal growing in a grike.
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Looking towards Trowbarrow from a brew stop.
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Eaves Wood.
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Inman Oaks.
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Blue Tit. I watched blue tits going in and out of this fissure last spring. I wonder of it was the same pair nesting this year?
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This Nuthatch was also in-and-out, of a neighbouring tree, presumably bringing food to a nest.
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Male Blackbird on our garden wall.
Thirty Photos in Search of an Author.

Early March

Well, I must have gone back to work. I mean physically back to work, rather than working from home. Until March I’d been out for a walk most days, but then the wheels came off. Working for a living is highly inconvenient. Anyway – here’s most of March:

The 1st

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Spring! I’m sure that the celandines had been flowering for a while at this point, and the Cuckoo Pint leaves hadn’t recently appeared on the floor of Eaves Wood…

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Maybe it was the blue skies and sunshine which made me pay attention to them. And to the wash of yellow catkins on the Hazel trees.

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I do remember showing TBH the tiny red male flowers, like little starfish, on the Hazels, which apparently she hadn’t seen before.

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There’s a garden on The Row which has an amazing display of crocuses every year, which I always make a point of going to see.

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Obligatory photo of The Cove

The 2nd

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A walk around Gait Barrows most memorable for this pair of Buzzards. I’ve become very wary (well frightened, if I’m honest) of these birds, having been attacked a few times by highly aggressive/protective tiercels during the nesting season. On the other hand, they are beautiful birds, and I’m drawn to them, like a moth to the flame perhaps. So here, I was gradually creeping towards the tree they were perched in, hoping that it was too early in the year for them to take umbrage, but also half hiding behind a small hummock, the top of which can be seen in the photo.

The light, unfortunately, was a bit rubbish, which doesn’t really square with these two views of Hawes Water…

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…which can’t have been taken very long afterwards.

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The 5th

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I must have been a bit late leaving the house, since the sun was already setting.

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Post sunset light from Castlebarrow.

The 6th

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To the Pepper Pot and then The Cove with TBH and ‘Little S’.

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One of those days when the a layer of cloud coverage had a very visible edge with clear skies beyond.

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The 7th

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Green Hellebore near Far Arnside.
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A walk around the coast to Arnside for a pie with TBH. No return over the Knott however and not many photos either.

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I’m assuming that there followed a couple of weeks of very iffy weather, because I don’t seem to have got out much until later in the month. Or a couple of weeks of extreme lassitude on my part. Or both.

Early March

January Sunshine and a Knot Sunset

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The view south along the coast from ‘the dip’, looking to Know End Point.

A quick stop at home, long enough to pack-up a sarnie and fill an insulated mug with tea, and I was out again, heading for ‘the dip’ where a large tree-stump looked very inviting. It proved to be a comfortable spot from which to enjoy the views and soak up some sunshine and quaff my picnic lunch.

From there I set of along the sands/mud…

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…regaining the shore just past Far Arnside.

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The insulated mug had been so effective that I hadn’t managed to drink my tea with my sandwich, which gave me the perfect excuse to lay claim to this bench and have another lengthy sun-bathe.

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I’d been sitting so long that I was now conscious of the fact that daylight was getting short, so rather than continuing around the coast towards Arnside, I took a steep, direct route up to Heathwaite.

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Ingleborough from Heathwaite.
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And again, with a bit of zoom.
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The Bay and the Forest of Bowland from Heathwaite.

I wandered up to the toposcope on the Knott, where someone had scattered some birdseed, which this very tame Robin was not going to be deflected from enjoying, despite the presence of several people and a couple of dogs.

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Alpenglow on Whitbarrow and the Eastern Fells.
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The Coniston and Langdale Fells.
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Around the Kent Estuary and the Howgills on the right.

The small groups of people were there, of course, to watch the sunset.

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And why not?

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Arnside Tower and the moon.
January Sunshine and a Knot Sunset

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