Henry’s Pebble Art


The day after our Garburn Pass outing. I had to wait in for a plumber (who embarrassingly, when he eventually turned up, spent about two minutes tightening a nut, or tightening something anyway, barely long enough to drink his cup of tea). But I digress: as I said, I had to be in for the plumber in the early afternoon. In the morning, it rained, but I steeled myself and went for a wander anyway, just around the local lanes. It wasn’t particularly pleasant; one of our friends even took pity on me and stopped his car to offer me a lift, but I enjoyed being out, cocooned in my waterproofs. Eventually, it even slacked off, and then dried up altogether.

Close to the Wolfhouse Gallery, I spotted a Tree-creeper, the first I’ve seen for a while. I even tried to take a photo, but with just the camera phone and the gloomy conditions and a very shy bird, that was always doomed to failure.

These Cyclamen…


…flowering on the verge on Lindeth Road were a little more obliging.

By the time our boiler’s leak was fixed, the weather had changed dramatically. I still had time for a turn around Eaves Wood…


Silverdale from Castlebarrow. Note the snow on the Bowland Fells.

Before heading down to the Cove, for once, timing it right to arrive shortly before the sunset.


Recently, there always seem to have been much the same birds evident on the muddy beaches by the Cove. A group of Shelduck, as many as forty sometimes, but just a couple on this occasion. A large flock of Oystercatchers, sitting in a tight group, in the same spot each time, out along the stream which flows away from the Cove. And some small waders closer in shore, I assume Redshanks.



This pebble art was on one of the benches on the cliff path above the Cove.


I haven’t posted it to FB, because I’ve always hoped that my posts there are private and only accessible to my friends. So I’ve posted it here instead, where perhaps it won’t get the exposure which the obviously talented Henry deserves, but maybe, somehow or other, the images will find their way back to Henry. Feel free to pass them on in any way which you feel is appropriate.


Henry’s Pebble Art

Crook O’Lune and Aughton Woods


B was playing away for his school team in Liverpool, necessitating an early drop off in Lancaster and a lunch time pick-up. I decided to use the time between the two for a little wander along the Lune. The car park at Crook of Lune is pay and display these days, but only a pound for the whole day. Signs at the car park warned me that the path along the north bank of the river was closed due to a landslip, but, being pig-headed, I decided to head that way anyway, to take a look-see. The forecast promised fair weather, but I set-off with atmospheric, early-morning mist. The fields along the Lune here were very soggy, as if the river might recently have been above its banks.


What could be the purpose of this building on the far bank? Surely, the weir doesn’t need to be watched?


I was surprised to find Campion flowering on Armistice Day.



Waterworks Bridge – actually an aqueduct carrying two pipelines which supply water from Thirlmere to Manchester.


Just beyond the bridge, the path enters Aughton Woods.


I took the higher, permission path hoping it might perhaps take me around the damaged section of path by the river.

It didn’t, but it did take me to this view point in Lawson’s Meadow…


This would be an easy spot to get to after work. I can see myself returning as soon as the evenings are light enough.

The path down from there proved to be treacherous. Wet leaves, tree roots and the kind of muddy surface which slips, taking you with it. I fell over a couple of times, the second landing, unfortunately, very heavily on my camera. The fact that the camera doesn’t seem to be damaged is testament to the Camera Care Systems bag which I scrounged off my Dad. My back seems to have recovered too, although it was a bit sore at the time.

The landslip proved to be substantial. Several large trees had come down and it didn’t look at all easy to get around the various blockages. It’s a while now since this happened and hopefully there are plans to restore the right-of-way.


Although it’s not shown on the OS map, I now knew that I could cross Waterworks Bridge, so turned back through the woods along the lower path.


Aughton Woods and Ingleborough.


Anybody know the purpose of this? There were a couple of them, set well back from the river bank. You can see one, in fact, in the photo above of Ingleborough.


Waterworks Bridge again.


Aughton Woods and the Lune again.

Whilst I was in the woods, the cloud had substantially cleared and the sun was shining. The river turns through a huge loop here, doubling back toward Caton. It was really enjoyable to walk: the sun was shining, there were Cormorants and Goosanders in the river and Ingleborough looked fantastic…


I took far too many photos of Aughton Woods, the river and the mountain which dominates the valley.


I liked this tree and the small hut beneath it too.


It wasn’t the only one of its type I saw that day. There’s something by the door for holding…I’m not sure what?


Could be for fishermen? Or wildfowlers?


Eventually, I left the riverbank near Caton and headed back towards Crook O’Lune on the former railway line which is now a footpath and cycleway.

It’s not as nice walking as the riverside path, but, ironically, much busier.

Again, I was surprised by what seemed like unseasonal wildlife, this time a Blue Tit feeding a late brood in a pathside nesting box…



The Lune from Crook O’Lune. Quite different from the first photo!

I still had some time in hand, so went seeking out Gray’s Seat, a viewpoint popularised by the poet Thomas Gray in the eighteenth century.


Art on the old railway.



River Lune.


One of the bridges at Crook O’Lune. Last time we were here, in the summer, the boys swam in the river, to get clean….


…after taking part, with some friends, in the Badass Mucker challenge, an assault course. Not everyone got quite so filthy. Our boys sought out the muddiest sections and then swam in them. Again. B’s right arm is in a waterproof plastic cover because his arm was still in a pot at the time, after he broke it



Gray’s Seat was originally by the road. Artists visited and painted the famous view, including Turner. Then the road was moved and Gray’s Seat became a woodland.

This is Turner’s version of the view…

Crook of Lune, Looking towards Hornby Castle c.1816-18 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

…which I think is now in the Tate. I think it’s fair to say that he has taken considerable liberties with the landscape. It’s hard to make a comparison however, since this…


…is what the view looks like now.

Shortly after I arrived at my scheduled rendezvous with B, he texted to say he would be back just after two o’clock, more than an hour later than I expected. I walked into town looking for a cup of tea, whereupon he texted me again to say that he was sorry, but he had meant just after one. I think I’d had a better morning than he had: he’d had a taste of some of the dark arts of the front row and I think his neck was worse than my back. I shan’t repeat the uncharitable things he had to say about his opponents, or Mr Magoo their teacher, who refereed.

Crook O’Lune and Aughton Woods

Light Up Lancaster


Lancaster has long had an impressive annual firework display. Having said that, it’s a long time since I witnessed it myself, so I’m assuming that it’s still at least as good as it used to be. Recently, the show has been preceded by Light Up Lancaster which brings various light related street performances and artworks to the city centre. We chose to watch the fireworks in Arnside again this year, but Light up Lancaster was on for two nights, so had a chance to see that too.


The lights on these structures, which had come from China apparently, were constantly changing.


At the Castle there was a show projected onto a large wall, featuring recorded music and a live choir.

And at the Judge’s Lodgings…


…something similar but projected only on to the windows.


This may have been my favourite.

There were a number of things to see at the Library, mostly with a science theme. Here, A and Little S have made models of dynamite molecules…


Vying with the Judge’s Lodges, in my opinion, for top spot in the show were the two huge lighted kites flying above Dalton Square…


…which changed colour as they moved.

An unusual evening’s entertainment!

Light Up Lancaster

Must I Paint You a Picture?


‘What!’ I hear you cry. ‘More sunset photos from the Cove?’


Well, like buses and bad fortune, it seems that my dusk trips to the Cove sometimes come in threes. This was back in half-term, I’d had a lengthy rugby watching engagement earlier in the day. TBH and A had been out for a walk, which had taken in the Cove. Or was it a run? It depends on whether they were needing to hit their targets for intense exertion for the day, or simply the mandatory step-count. They both have these new-fangled watches which seem to do everything but tell the time and they’re very competitive with each other in reaching their goals for the day. Anyway, they’d been past the Cove, probably chiming simultaneously as their watches celebrated them hitting their vitamin D targets, or somesuch, and they recommended that I follow suit to see the art work on the beach.

So I did.


It was actually after the sunset, and quite dark, by the time I reached the Cove. My camera did pretty well capturing reasonably clear images I thought.


I don’t know who made this pattern, or why. But I like it.


The first tide will have washed it away.


Must I Paint You a Picture?

A Different World.


Peacock Butterfly on Hemp Agrimony.

When I finished my last post by musing about the origins of the name of the Scotch Argus butterfly and a possible link to the mythical giant Argus, I didn’t anticipate that the first photo in the subsequent post would be of a Peacock, whose Latin name recalls the same story. The Peacock was known at one time as the Peacock’s Tail. It’s Latin name is Inachus Io, recalling the Greek nymph Io and her father (variously a King, a Giant or a River God depending on which version you read). I’ve referred to this myth before, but here’s a slightly different version taken from Robert Graves ‘The Greek Myths, Volume One’:

“Io, daughter of the River-god Inachus, was a priestess of Argive Hera. Zeus, over whom Iynx, daughter of Pan and Echo, had cast a spell, fell in love with Io, and when Hera charged him with infidelity and turned Iynx into a wryneck as punishment, lied: ‘I have never touched Io.’ He then turned her into a white cow, which Hera claimed as hers and handed over for safe keeping to Argus Panoptes, ordering him: ‘Tether this beast secretly to an olive-tree at Nemea.’ But Zeus sent Hermes to fetch her back, and himself led the way to Nemea – or, some say, to Mycenae – dressed in woodpecker disguise. Hermes, though the cleverest of thieves, knew he could not steal Io without being detected by one of Argus’s hundred eyes; he therefore charmed him asleep by playing the flute, crushed him with a boulder, cut off his head and released Io. Hera, having placed Argus’s eyes in the tail of a peacock, as a constant reminder of his foul murder, set a gadfly to sting Io and chase her all over the world.”

Trickery, lust, infidelity, duplicity, jealousy, deceit, murder, revenge – the Greek Gods seem all too human in this tale, as in many others.

Here’s Hermes slaying Argus, from an Athenian vase now held in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Argus seems quite awake in this pictorial version of the story. In some tellings, Io is irresistible even after her metamorphosis into bovine form, which is hard to imagine; her portrayal on this ancient pot doesn’t really help in that regard.

Panoptes, incidentally, means ‘all-seeing’, an attribute to which I can definitely not lay claim…



Skullcap is apparently a very common plant, but this is the first time I can recall spying it in flower. I found it in the increasingly wet meadow at the end of Hawes Water.

“Skullcap, Scutelleria galericulata, is a delicate species of fens and banks of ponds, canals and slow rivers, locally common throughout much of Britain. The plant’s English and Latin names both derive from the shape of the blue flowers, which reminded early botanists of the leather helmet or galerum worn by Roman soldiers.”

from Flora Britannica by Richard Mabey.

“Sufferers from nervous disorders might be advised to take skullcap in tablet form, for the plant produces a volatile oil, called scutellarin, which is one of the best treatments for such afflictions ever discovered. The plant is dried, powdered and infused in boiling water to make a strong tonic, which calms spasms and hysteria, and relieves epilepsy and St Vitus’s dance. However, care must be taken: it is a powerful drug, and an overdose might induce the very symptoms which, at correct dosages, it alleviates.”

from Reader’s Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain.


I wondered whether the colours of Hemp Agrimony, often somewhat washed out and insipid in my photos, might show to better effect in shade: I think it worked?

I’ve certainly had a bumper year for spotting Common Lizards. The two I met basking in their usual spot, on the edging along the boardwalk by Hawes Water, were, once again, quite different from each other in their markings and colour…


I particularly admired the go faster stripes on this specimen…


I wondered whether the variation in colouring might reflect the gender of the lizards and have since discovered that you can sex lizards this way, but need to see their undersides in order to do so. I suspect that I’m never going to be quick enough to get my mitts on them to find out. Never mind, I’m happy just to see them.


Hawes Water.

I presume that these alien monstrosities…


…are the early stages, or small examples, of Robin’s Pincushion Gall, or are something similar. They’re nothing like as hairy as Pincushion Galls usually are though, and those generally develop on the stems. You can perhaps tell from the picture that each outlandish, starfish-like protuberance is mirrored on the reverse of the leaf. Quite astonishing, even before you know about the asexual lifestyle of the wasps which develop within.


A male Small White, I think.


Another Bull in a field with a footpath, in fact he was walking along the path, but I was turning off in another direction and, anyway, he didn’t seem remotely interested in me.

This walk was memorable for quite an abundance and variety of butterflies. Later on, I met a number of Lepidopterists, one of whom asked me if I’d seen any Brown Hairstreaks, which is what they were on the look-out for. I hadn’t. Not that I would have recognised one if I had. I did see lots of Brimstones though…


Brimstone on Betony.

They seemed to be patronising the purple flowers by preference, which shows off their yellow to good effect. Is it vanity, do you think?


Bumblebee on Knapweed.


Painted Lady.


Red Admiral.


Another Peacock’s-tail.




Scarlet Pimpernel.

Scarlet Pimpernel is tiny, but not really elusive at all, unlike the character named after the flower, scourge of the French Revolutionaries. Local names for the flower included ‘change-of-the-weather’, ‘poor man’s weatherglass’ and ‘shepherd’s sundial’, due to its habit of closing whenever the skies are dull and for large parts of the day, a property, it must be said, which it shares with many other flowers.


The mystery plant – looking increasingly like some sort of Scabious, as Simon suggested.




I think this might be Orpine, or Sedum telephium, the same Sedum, or Ice Plant which we grow in our gardens.


Speckled Wood.


A Harvestman. Definitely not a spider or a daddy-longlegs.


I was a bit surprised to see the orange berries on the Lily-of-the-valley; I’ve never seen them before. Apparently, they rarely develop, with the plant usually spreading by sending up new shoots.


Female Common Darter.


Another Brimstone.


Male Common Darter.

A Different World.

Tony Cragg (and others) at the YSP


We went to a family wedding near Sleaford. Splendid affair, lots of catching up, lovely grub, a bit of a dance, oh….and a wedding. Marvellous.

On our way home on the Sunday we stopped off at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. We might have done this anyway, the YSP is a favourite day out for us, but this post over on Down by the Dougie definitely swung the decision: the latest Tony Cragg exhibition was something we wanted to see.


First off, however, we wandered over to the old Chapel…



Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei


There were several art works on display in the Chapel, but two particularly caught our attention. This large ‘wall’, ostensibly made of bricks, which are actually wax and have been partially melted….


And Neither From nor Towards by Cornelia Parker….


….made from bricks from a row of houses which have slipped over a cliff onto a beach.



…is an Andy Goldsworthy sheepfold which B fell off during a previous visit.


71 Steps by David Nash.


On the way home in the car we each went through our top 5 ‘things’ of the day – the bluebells in the woods featured on everybody’s list.


One of three Andy Goldsworthy Hanging Tree.

Although we’ve visited the YSP several times before, we’ve never been over to the Longside gallery. Sometimes it has been closed, or we haven’t had time, or it has been too far to walk with the kids. Anyway, this time we put that right. It’s a very pleasant walk over.


There was an exhibition there of 1960’s British Art. I can’t remember who this was by, but I liked it.


This, I’m pretty sure, is by Bridget Riley, I think I might have seen it somewhere before. I always enjoy her very geometric paintings, maybe it’s my mathematical brain.


We walked back over for a very late and enjoyable lunch in the cafe and then finally made it to the Underground Gallery to see some more Tony Cragg sculpture.


I wish I could articulate what it is I like so much about these sculptures, but I don’t know even where to begin.



A and I took a lot of photos. Choosing a selection for this post has been difficult.


I watched an absorbing documentary about both the creative process and then the fairly industrialised realisation of the sculptures. You can see part of it here – it’s in German, although Tony Cragg is English he has lived in Germany for a long time.






It’s apparent from the film that many of these ostensively abstract sculptures are inspired by shapes from nature or elsewhere. You can see that here: this small piece, clearly the viscera of some alien species…


Is, in point of fact…


….a Church!


Outside, there were several bigger sculptures.

The boys weren’t very impressed by all of this, but this…


…was a hit. They loved the distorted reflections it gave.


Our time was almost up. In our whirlwind tour we hadn’t found time to see any of the sculptures by Anthony Caro, or Barbara Hepworth, or Anthony Gormley, or any of the many Henry Moore’s dotted around the park…


Well, not properly anyway.

The kids insisted on one final visit: to James Turrell’s Deer Shelter Skyspace…


I like every bit as much as they do, and I certainly enjoy staring at the sky, but maybe we should come again when the sky is a bit less monotone…


Tony Cragg (and others) at the YSP

Barrow Dock Museum


We’ve been intending to check out the Dock Museum in Barrow for quite some time and, last week, finally got around to it.


It’s a small museum, but it has model boats, which are pretty irresistible,


…and The Furness Hoard, found locally in 2011 and including Viking, Saxon and Arab coins plus fragments of arm-rings and bracelets, not dissimilar in fact from The Silverdale Hoard.


Having examined the area’s Viking treasures, you may want to dress the part…


There are also axe-heads and arrowheads of Langdale stone which were apparently brought to the Barrow area for finishing and polishing.


A big surprise for me, and a great discovery, was this furniture by the late Tim Stead.


I’ve not been aware of his work before, but shall be looking out for it in the future. He was one of the artists who built the Millennium Clock, now housed by the National Museum of Scotland, and definitely added to my ‘too see’ list.

Whilst the boys hared around the playground in the museum grounds, I took a quick look at the docks themselves.


Our trip to the museum was intended to be a precursor to a trip to the Wildlife Trust reserve at the southern end of Walney Island, somewhere I’ve long wanted to visit, much like Foulney Island in fact. But, having had my sutures removed early that morning, I now discovered that everything was not quite going to plan, and we spent the next three hours, or thereabouts, sitting around in A&E at Barrow Infirmary waiting to see what was to be done. Not much, it eventually transpired. Patience is the order of the day apparently. Ho-hum.

Barrow Dock Museum