Little Fluffy Clouds

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Another day, another loaf. Or two.

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Aquilegia or columbine. It’s in our garden here – but it is a British wildflower.

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Song thrush.

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The beech circle.

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Middlebarrow Quarry – or The Lost World. ‘Every time I see it, I expect to see dinosaurs’, B tells me. I know what he means.

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Middlebarrow aerial shelduck display team.

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“Keep the formation tight as we come in to land.”

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“Quick breather, squadron, and we’re off again.”

Of course, having seen a peregrine once, I now keep going back to peer over the lip into the vast quarry at Middlebarrow expecting lightening to strike twice. It hasn’t. I do keep seeing the close formation aerial skills of the shelducks though. Lord knows why they feel compelled to circuit the quarry so obsessively.

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This small plaque is on a house near home. I’m sure I’ve posted a picture of it before. But now I’ve learned that it’s a fire insurance sign – showing which insurance company the house was registered with. It seems more like something you might expect to see in a more urban location, but maybe this is an antique which has been added since the signs were rendered obsolete by the inception of a national fire service? The house is very close to our small fire station, which is manned by retained fire fighters, so they should be okay if the worst happens.

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The Bay from The Cove.

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Ransoms flowering in the small copse above the Cove. 

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Orchids on the Lots.

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Green-winged orchid.

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Early purple orchid.

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Water avens.

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Bugle.

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Orange-tip butterfly on cuckoo-flower.

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A bedraggled peacock butterfly.

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Gooseberry flowers. I think.

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Lambert’s meadow.

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The skies above Eaves Wood.

It annoys me, more than it should, that I can never remember the names given to the various types of clouds. All sorts of stupid trivia is securely lodged in my brain, but even though I’ve read a couple of books on the subject, clouds just don’t seem to want to stick. I thought that if I tried to label the clouds in my photos, maybe I would start to remember a few at least. The fluffy white ones above Eaves Wood here are cumulus, right? Although, maybe some stratocumulus behind.

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And I assume these wispy ones are cirrus.

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And this is maybe cirrocumulus.

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But then….? Altocumulus and cirrus?

Hmmm. More effort required, I think.

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Oak tree in full summer garb.

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Full-throated robin.


Bit obvious I know. But good.

And, completely unrelated, as far as I know…

…the opening track from one of my favourite albums, which I was introduced to by THO, who often comments here, and which I shall always associate with a superb holiday which was split, quixotically, between the French Alps and the Brittany coast.

Little Fluffy Clouds

Roanoke

Clark’s and Sharp’s Lots – Burtonwell Wood – Lambert’s Meadow – Hagg Wood

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Early purple orchids.

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Mouse-ear-hawkweed.

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Apple blossom.

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Cherry tree.

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Speckled wood butterfly.

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Another speckled wood butterfly.

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Ramsons flowering in Burtonwell Wood.

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Cuckoo flower.

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Red-tailed bumblebee.

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Red-tailed bumblebee with photo-bombing seven-spot ladybird.

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Oak catkins.

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Welsh poppies.

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A speedwell. Probably germander.

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Lunch on the patio – homemade bread, home-roasted ham in the sandwich, homemade coleslaw.


Roanoke

Ricochet

Hagg Wood – Bottom’s Lane – Burtonwell Wood – Lambert’s Meadow – Bank Well – The Row – The Golf Course – The Station – Storr’s Lane – Leighton Moss – Leighton Hall – Summer House Hill – Peter Lane Limekiln – Hyning Scout Wood – Warton – Warton Crag – Quaker’s Stang – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – The Lots – The Cove

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Lambert’s Meadow.

A long walk which didn’t go even remotely to plan. I had intended to climb Arnside Knott, but instead went in almost entirely the opposite direction.

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Ribwort plantain.

I began by heading for Bottom’s Lane, in the ‘wrong’ direction, to drop some bread flour off with some friends of ours who were having to self-isolate after a positive test for the virus and for whom TBH had done a shop, but come up short on numerous predictable items like tinned tomatoes, yeast, toilet paper, bread flour etc.

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Crane fly – possibly Tipula luna. Male – the females have a pointy tip to their abdomen for pushing eggs into the ground.

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Hmmm. Marsh valerian? Why I didn’t photograph the leaves too I don’t know.

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Orange-tip butterfly.

After that I kept spotting people on the paths ahead and changing course to evade them, and before I knew where I was, I was heading across Leighton Moss on the causeway path – the only part of the reserve which has remained open.

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Canada goose and coot.

From that point, I just did what I normally do and made it up as I went along.

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Leighton Moss.

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The view from Summer House Hill.

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Bluebells on Summer House Hill.

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Peter Lane Limekiln.

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Tree felling on Warton Crag has exposed a crag I didn’t even know was there. And expansive views from the top of that cliff.

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Warton and a distant Ingleborough.

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The Forest of Bowland and Carnforth.

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Crosswort.

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From the top of the Crag a path which seems like a new one to me seemed to promise more views, to the distant Lake District…

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Why the fences either side and on the ground?

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Because the path crosses one of the three Bronze Age walls which ring the summit of the Crag. Admittedly, it doesn’t look like an ancient monument in the photo, but it did seem quite obvious ‘in the flesh’.

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The tree felling seems to have been successful, in as much as it has produced masses of primroses, a key food plant for certain butterflies.

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Early purple orchid.

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In amongst the cowslips at Jack Scout, these primulas stood out. If that’s what they are? Or are they a naturally occurring variation of cowslips? Or a hybrid?

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Post sunset from above the Cove.

I bumped into a neighbour on The Lots, she was walking her dog, and she told me that she has stopped taking photographs of ‘the best sunsets in the world’, because she has thousands already. I have thousands too, probably. And no end of photos of early purple orchids and clouds and primroses, of Leighton Moss and of the views from Summer House Hill and Warton Crag. Fortunately, none of those things ever seem to get old, or lose their fascination and I fully intend to take thousands more.

Lucky me.

Note to self: this was too long a walk without carrying a drink – I keep doing that to myself. Did it again yesterday and have given myself a headache – golly it was hot.


Tunes. Back to Elvis in his Sun days, probably my favourite of his songs, ‘Mystery Train’:

Like most of Presley’s output, it’s a cover, and the laidback original by Little Junior and his Blue Flames is well worth seeking out.

And, while I’m making recommendations, the weird and wonderful 1989 film ‘Mystery Train’, directed by Jim Jarmusch, and starring, amongst others, both Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and  Joe Strummer, is also worth seeking out. Oddly, the song which recurs through the film is ‘Blue Moon’.

This next song, dating back to 1940, so older than Junior parker’s 1953 song, also contains the line ‘Train I ride, sixteen coaches long’.

When I was a nipper, my Dad bought a Reader’s Digest box set of Country records.

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Photo credit: my mum or my dad? Ta.

He mostly listened to the Johnny Cash album, but somehow I cottoned on to the bluegrass of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, both alumni of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. This is one of their better know tunes, Foggy Mountain Breakdown:

They also recorded the first version of ‘The Ballad of Jed Clampett’ theme tune to ‘The Beverley Hillbillies’.

Ricochet

The Bay and the Kent.

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Gratuitous picture of homemade bread. Made with malted bread flour because that was all I managed to buy, and lucky to get that I think. I’ve decided that I prefer bread with at least some malted flour in it.

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Looking back to Silverdale.

A sunny but windy day: on the sands it was cool; in the trees, with a little shelter, quite warm.

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The long ridge of Heathwaite and Arnside Knott.

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Know point and Clougha Pike beyond. I was following the tide line, but in the opposite direction.

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The channel and Humphrey Head beyond.

I felt sure that, the water levels having dropped due to the prolonged dry weather, I would be able to find a place to cross the stream, but it was always a little bit too wide and a bit too deep for me to even contemplate trying.

So I followed it back towards the shore and Arnside Knott…

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When I reached the shore I discovered the source of the water, a deceptively small spring…

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…carving its way through the sand. Not sure how I missed it before.

I noticed the where the sands had been dry for the longest, on the highest ground, it had begun to acquire a greyish crust…

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I followed the thin strip of sand between the cliffs and the channel again, heading for Park Point. The dropping water level had exposed a muddy island in the channel which was popular with red shanks…

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Rounding Park Point.

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A dog whelk shell?

On my previous wander this way I had watched a runner make a beeline for Grange. At the moment, the River Kent swings away from the Arnside shore and curves seemingly almost to Grange. I didn’t want to go quite that far, but I set off from Park Point towards the river, weaving a little to check out any obvious shapes on the sand, which usually turned out to be driftwood…

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Looking back to Park Point.

I haven’t been out into this part of the estuary before and, although more enclosed than the bay itself, I was surprised by how vast it felt…

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Eventually, I reached a slight dip, beyond which the going looked very wet and muddy…

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River Kent and Meathop Fell.

I turned and followed the edge towards Arnside…

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A skeletal flounder perhaps – know locally as fluke?

I’d originally intended to return home via the Knott, but I’d spent so long on the sands that it was now getting on in the afternoon and I wanted to get home to cook tea. I thought I knew a spot where I could access the cliff-top path and was very chuffed to hit the right place, where a break in the cliffs gives access, at the first attempt.

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The shingle beach at White Creek, much like the one at the Cove, is still liberally covered with the flotsam washed up by this winter’s Atlantic storms.

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Peacock butterfly.

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Pied wagtail.

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White Creek.

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I think that these are emerging leaves of lily-of-the-valley.

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Having followed the cliffs for a while, I dropped back down to the beach and returned to the village on the sands again.

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Another dead flatfish. I’ve often wondered how they cope with the huge tidal range in the bay. I know that a lot of them end up in the river channel, because I’ve watched people fishing for them barefoot at Arnside. There are some many fish that it’s efficient to plodge about until you stand on a fish, then you simply bend over and grab them and chuck them to an accomplice on the river bank.

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Approaching the Cove.


The Bay and the Kent.

Exhale.

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I think that this is a female orang-tip, but white butterflies are almost as tricky little brown birds. (Not as awkward as yellow dandelion like flowers however!)

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White tail, three bands of yellow – I think that this might be a garden bumblebee (bombus hortorum) which would be entirely appropriate because it was in our garden when I photographed it.

A and I walked around Know Point on the sands.

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We spotted a spring issuing from the base of the cliff…

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…I’ve realised that all of the channels on the Bay close to the shore, some of them quite wide and deep in places, are fed by deceptively small springs like this.

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We ran out of sand and had to clamber up the rocks…

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..and down again to Cow’s Mouth…

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I’d quite forgotten about the little cave there…

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As we rounded the corner towards Jack Scout, the tide came racing in…

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Fortunately for us it’s an easy scramble up the rocks and into Jack Scout.

I spotted this in Fleagarth Wood….

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These little painted stones seem to be everywhere. I know this idea predated the lockdown, but present circumstances  seem to have given the craze new impetus. I thoroughly approve. Especially when they are as skilfully rendered as this.

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Ramsons in Fleagarth Wood – almost in flower.

Now that I have ‘finished’ ‘War and Peace’, I wanted to read something completely different. I’ve actually started several books, but some have fallen by the wayside and two have emerged as joint ‘winners’. The first is ‘A Pelican at Blandings’, which, now I’m well into it, I realise I have read before. It doesn’t matter. I love P.G.Wodehouse and particularly the Blandings novels. I haven’t read them all, but I have read several, some of them repeatedly. The plots are much the same every time, it’s the manner of the telling  which is important and, as ever, this one is making me smile (again).

The other book is ‘The Age of Absurdity’ by Michael Foley. Its superbly written and so densely packed with ideas that I’m beginning to feel like I should be reading it very slowly with pencil in hand to underline passages and scribble notes in the margins. I was feeling very smug, reading a chapter about the elevation of shopping to an end in itself rather than a means to an end, when I came across…

My own compulsion is buying books…in the hope of acquiring secret esoteric knowledge….I have increasing numbers of unread purchases. A new book retains its lustre of potential for about six weeks and then changes from being a possible bearer of secret lore into a liability, a reproach, a source of embarrassment and shame.

Oh dear. That’s me. We’re surrounded by tottering heaps of my compulsively purchased secondhand tombs.

Still, both ‘War and Peace’ and ‘The Age of Absurdity’ have been rescued from those stacks, so there’s hope for the other neglected volumes yet.

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Tunes. First, ‘Grandma’s Hands’ a great Bill Withers song you may not know:

Then Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’, built around a sample from Mr Withers

Finally, the marvellous Hackney Colliery Band’s cover of same:

 

All very different. All brilliant.

Exhale.

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

Mölkky

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Back to my lockdown list:

Play cards and board games with the kids.

Hasn’t happened at all. I envisaged grey, damp days, the family gathered around the table, a few salty snacks, and a game of Catan or Ticket to Ride underway. But we haven’t had grey days hardly at all. And all of us have been rather busier with school work than I realised we would be.

That being said, we have played a great deal of Mölkky, especially the DBs and I. Essentially, you take it in turns to throw a stick, demonstrated here by S…

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And by A…

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…who somewhat heatedly claimed that me taking photos was putting her off, or to quote “stressing her out”. I think she may even have accused me of cheating. Perish the thought. Gamesmanship, however…

Anyway, you chuck said stick at some smaller numbered sticks…

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If you knock down just one, you score the number it has written on it, if you knock down several you score the number that have fallen and are lying flat on the ground.

The sticks are stood back up in the places they have landed. They can get quite dispersed.

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You win by scoring exactly 50. If you score too many, then your score goes back to 25. Each turn is a single throw, so the minimum number of turns before you win is five. Gallingly, only B has won in five throws.

Unlike at Christmas, for my birthday I didn’t buy my own presents; I sent TBH a list of suggestions. Since she bought them all, and the boys bought me socks too, this is clearly the way to go in the future. Mölkky was one of my suggestions. The game is Finnish apparently. We like it! We first played this with a homemade set in my aunt’s garden in Germany last summer. You could probably turn out your own set from a couple of broom handles, but I have a strong feeling that if I attempted that I’d find myself with a wonky set which was one piece short.

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Granary Bread – I’ve decided that I prefer loaves which are at least partly made from malted flour.

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Peacock butterfly.

After our game, I wandered over to Gait Barrows.

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A pair of Goldfinches.

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Bluebells had appeared!

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Gait Barrows has a lot of primroses. 

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The drifts of primroses at Gait Barrows probably constitute successful management, since, I believe, primroses are an important food source for the caterpillars of Duke of Burgundy butterfly which is in decline nationally but is present at Gait Barrows. Not that I’ve ever seen one, sadly.

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A mass of Herb Paris right beside the main track. I can only conclude that I’ve been blinkered for the last twenty odd years.

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Robin.

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Spreading oak.

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Just coming into leaf.

I cut across Coldwell Parrock, through the ‘new’ meadows the Landscape Trust have bought and through a little gate at the back of those meadows which brings you down a small path to the RSPB owned land around Silverdale Moss.

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Somebody has done a lot of tidying up at Coldwell Limeworks.

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Robin.

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Middlebarrow, Silverdale Moss and Arnside Knott.

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The remnants of the Cloven Ash.

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I think that this is cherry blossom.

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Whatever it is, this honeybee appreciated it.

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As did this bee fly.

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These small flowers had me confused. It’s coralroot – the bulbils on the stems helped me to identify it. It’s not something I see very often and it has only appeared on the blog once before in fact. It only flowers briefly apparently, so there’s not much point in my going back to have another look a month on, but it grows from a rhizome so I will go and take a peek at the other place where I’ve seen it which is closer to home.

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Lower leaves pinnate, upper leaves three lobed or simple.

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Toothwort again, this time in Eaves Wood by Inman’s Road. There was quite an extensive patch. I like the way it has pushed its way through the moss. 

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‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower’.

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More bluebells.


Yes We Can

Another Allen Toussaint song, originally recorded by Lee Dorsey in 1970. Again, there are loads of versions, but probably the best known is the Pointer Sisters 1973 version…

…which is pretty faithful to the original, but with a complex vocal arrangement and a new title ‘Yes We Can Can”.

My first encounter with this song was on Sly and Robbie’s album ‘Rhythm Killers’, an album which I really love. I’m not going to include that version because from that album I prefer their own song ‘Boops’ and their cover of the Ohio Players ‘Fire’.

I did come across this rap version by the Treacherous Three from 1982 which I rather like:

And, I was reading about Allen Toussaint and noticed that his first band included a guitar player called Roy Montrell which reminded me about this brilliant tune:

And now that I’ve remembered, I can’t think how I let this slip my mind! I also can’t remember how I know it. I must have it on a compilation somewhere I think. Apparently Roy Montrell and his band only released one other single. I wonder if it’s as good as this?

Enjoy!

Mölkky