How Barrow and Ellerside from Cartmel

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Looking to Morecambe Bay and the mouth of the Leven from How Barrow trig pillar.

The first weekend after my return to work. B’s rugby team had an early season training camp, staying in the scout hut in Cartmel.  They’ve had weekends there before and seem to always have a good time. I’ve stayed there myself – it was the salubrious venue for my stag do, back in 2001. But that’s a different story.

Since B had to be dropped off at around lunch time, I decided to make the most of the opportunity and, after I’d helped to prep the veg for the boys evening meal, set out for an afternoon walk in the Cartmel area. Unusually, the scout hut is in the grounds of Cartmel’s racecourse and I first walked through the grounds and then beside the diminutive River Eea and into a conifer plantation, before skirting around the western flank of Mount Barnard.

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The Leven estuary, Roudsea Mosses and the Coniston Fells from How Barrow.

The right-of-way slightly misses the summit of How Barrow (170m trig point on the map below), but a little discrete trespass is definitely called for here, because, even on a damp and overcast day, this top provides a great view for such a modest height.

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How Barrow pano (click on this, or any other, picture to see a larger version on flickr)

The view takes in the Leven estuary, the Coniston Fells and the extensive wetlands of the Roudsea Wood and Mosses National Nature Reserve – which is high on my list of places due for a revisit.

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Mistle Thrushes.

Walking along the Ellerside ridge I seemed to be continually following small flocks of Mistle Thrushes.

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The Coniston Fells again – now clear of cloud.

Further along the ridge, just before I turned eastward away from the views, I watched two large raptors flying above the wetlands below. They were flying high, at quite some distance, and looked very dark against the sky, but they had a highly distinctive silhouette with their wings bowed, giving an obvious ‘elbow’ and then a second curve near the tips. Although my photos are pretty useless, they show enough to confirm the suspicion I had at the time that I was watching Ospreys. Ospreys have returned to this area of the lakes, nesting at Foulshaw Moss, but I suppose that these may also have been migrating birds on their return journey from Scotland to Africa.

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Once again, lots of large toadstools to be seen.

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Collkield Wood.

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Presumably, these are farmed deer, later to be venison. Certainly, a lot of effort and expense had been put into erecting tall, new fencing.

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Guelder Rose hedge.

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Pincushion Gall.

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Green islands with sandy beaches on a turning oak leaf.

My walk finished by crossing the racecourse again. A cricket match was just finishing on a pitch in the middle of the track and, judging by the exuberant cheering, the local team had just won an important victory.

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Cartmel Racecourse.

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Market Cross Cartmel.

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Cartmel Priory.

I’d promised myself that, being in Cartmel, I would take the opportunity to revisit the impressive priory, but it closes to the public at 5pm each day and my walk had lasted too long for me to fit that in on this occasion. Next time.

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How Barrow and Ellerside from Cartmel

All Good Things

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All good things must come to an end, or so they say. And so: to the last weekend of our holiday. Actually, these photos were all taken on the Friday. The Saturday was rather damp. I still got out for a walk and took lots of photos of a hugely varied selection of fungi, but I must have only had my phone with me and the photos are all hopelessly blurred. On the Sunday, I was out so late that the few photos I took were almost completely dark, but for a thin line of light along the western horizon.

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Red Admiral.

On the Friday then, I was out in the garden, drawn out by the butterflies on the Buddleia. A subsequent walk took me past this old postbox on Cove Road…

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To The Cove itself…

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And thence onto The Lots where I hoped to find…

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Autumn Lady’s-tresses flowering.

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These are tiny plants, extremely easy to miss, but once you’ve spotted a couple your eye seems to tune in, and pretty soon you’re realising that there are loads dotted about. In ‘Wild Orchids of Great Britain and Ireland’ David Lang says that Autumn Lady’s-tresses are mainly distributed in the southern half of England, so we must be lucky to have them on The Lots and at Jack Scout.

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The Latin name is Spiranthes spiralis, the second part of which presumably refers to the way that the flowers spiral around the stem.

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Carline Thistle.

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Maybe not the most promising flower – a brown thistle, but I’m very fond of them.

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As you can probably tell.

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Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly.

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An Inman Oak.

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Rosehips.

Back in the garden, the seedheads on the Staghorn Sumach caught my eye…

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Apparently this can be used as a seasoning, and something similar is used in the Middle East – I haven’t plucked up the courage to try it yet.

Earlier in the summer we’d seen a lactating Roe Deer hind on our patio and I wondered if she had hidden a fawn, or fawns, nearby.

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Then we had a few visits from a hind, possibly the same one, with two fawns in tow. That’s the hind at the top of the post.

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The fawns’ white spots were beginning to disappear, but were still visible.

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They came right up under the kitchen windows. I was particularly pleased to catch the mother whilst she was in the sun, because that way you can see the wonderful colour of their summer coats.

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They’ve been back since, or at least a similar family have, but now have duller, winter fur and the fawns have completely lost their spots.

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I took this photo, as I often do, to remind me to go to the advertised talk. Which, a couple of weeks later, I duly did. Very good it was too.

I’ve seen Brian Yorke talk before. He’s very knowledgable and funny to boot. Unless you live locally, you might not have the chance to to catch up with one of his talks on flowers or ferns or bird migration, but he does have an excellent website where you can keep up with his latest finds and quirky drawings.

Anyway, back to the Friday: in the evening, we met with some friends for a beach bonfire, a chinwag and a few convivial drinks…

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I think that it was our good friend G who suggested the event.

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I hope it becomes a regular thing.

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B seemed to enjoy hunting for driftwood logs to sit on and/or burn.

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Sitting around a fire on a beach inevitably has me thinking back nostalgically to happy weekends on the Welsh coast a long time ago, with a different group of friends.

Finally, one last image of a Roe Deer, this time one of the young ones, as it passed through a sunny spot beneath our kitchen window…

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All Good Things

A Fawn, Branched Bur-reed and More Orchids.

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A couple of days before I took these photos, we were seated around the kitchen table, which is right beside our patio windows, when a Roe Deer doe walked rather brazenly across the patio, as if we weren’t even there, just a couple of yards away. I didn’t take any photos, because I didn’t want to move and risk breaking the spell. She clearly was carrying a good supply of milk and when she took exception to one of our cats and chased it off the patio I wondered if she had a fawn hidden away somewhere nearby. Later, I checked, without really expecting to find anything, so wasn’t too disappointed when I didn’t.

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But the idea of finding a Roe Deer fawn was planted in my mind and, when a walk through Eaves Wood and along The Row brought me to Lambert’s Meadow, I was particularly aware of that possibility, perhaps because I’ve often seen Roe Deer in Lambert’s Meadow before.

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So, at the edge of the meadow, I stopped to look about and whilst I didn’t find a hidden fawn, I did see a fawn and it’s mother.

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Admittedly, they were quite far away, but I think these are still the best photos I’ve taken, so far, of a fawn.

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Just before I reached Lambert’s Meadow, I passed Bank Well and paused a moment to look for the Newts B and I had seen on a recent visit. They weren’t rising to the surface like they had been, but I did notice this…

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Branched Bur-reed, which I haven’t knowingly seen before, but was pleased to see it because I recognised it from a Robert Gibbings wood engraving which is on the front-cover of my copy of his second book about the Thames, ‘Till I End My Song’.

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This isn’t my copy, but an image I’ve pilfered off the internet. I’ve written about my affection for Robert Gibbings writing and illustration before, so won’t repeat myself (for once). I still have ‘Coming Down the Seine’ on my monumental ‘to read’ pile, maybe I’ll get around to it this summer.

Branched Bur-reed has separate male and female flowers, the female ones being the larger globes and the males the smaller ones nearer the tops of the stalks.

Once the deer had disappeared from view, I turned my attention  to the many orchids growing along the margins of the field.

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I think that all of the photos below show Common Spotted-orchid, but also show the enormous variability within a single species of orchid.

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“The labellum is three lobed, the lateral lobes rhomboidal and the longer central lobe triangular. The labellum is marked by a prominent symmetrical double loop of broken lines and dots in darker mauve.”

Wild Orchids of Great  Britain and Ireland by David Lang.

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Colour, shape and markings can all differ from specimen to specimen however, by quite some margin.

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The fawn of course, was dappled too, which puts me in mind now, of Manley Hopkins ‘Pied Beauty’. Worth stopping, I thought, to take a closer look at the orchids and notice their fickle, freckled variation.

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A view to Eaves Wood.

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I noticed, not without some concern, that there was a bull in with the cows, in one of the last fields I needed to cross on my way home.

I needn’t have worried: he was very bashful and much more interested in the longer grass around the perimeter of this recently mown field than he was in me.

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A Fawn, Branched Bur-reed and More Orchids.

A Change is Gonna Come

Eaves Wood – Waterslack – Sixteen Buoys Field – Hawes Water – Thrang Brow – Yealand Allotment – Leighton Moss – Golf Course – The Row – Hagg Wood.

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Hawes Water.

A midweek evening walk from the beginning of the month.

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Dryad’s Saddle.

I’ve haven’t been able to visit Hawes Water for some time: the paths have been closed whilst some tree felling is carried out.

The paths are still closed…

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…but my patience has run out, and besides, I was pretty confident that nobody would be still felling trees well into the evening. Clambering over the fallen trunks was relatively easy, but the bridge over the stream between Little Hawes Water and Hawes Water had been blocked with a huge pile of twiggy branches, which was a bit more tricky to circumvent.

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I think that I understand both why the work is being carried out and why some people are upset by it. I was concerned that the tree by the path which hosts Toothwort would be felled and it has been. But it will presumably send up new shoots and the Toothwort shouldn’t be affected. Time will tell.

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A top-loading washing machine?

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Time will also perhaps heal the huge ruts left by whatever has been used to haul out the timber. In the long run, we shall also see whether the stated aims of improving the water quality in Little Hawes Water and extending the area of grassland by the lake where Bird’s-eye primrose and Grass of Parnassus flower are achieved.

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With these thoughts to mull over, I set off for Thrang Brow, hoping for a view of the Lakeland Hills. The sun was in the wrong spot – although I shouldn’t really complain about being able to see the sun!

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I dropped down to Leighton Moss and before I left the road to gain the path there was pretty sure that I could see a Red Deer moving through the trees. There were Chiff-chaffs singing in the treetops too.

This warbler…

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…I think that it’s a Sedge Warbler.

This part of the reserve is criss-crossed by tracks where the thick black mud is churned by a herd of Red Deer and I was hopeful of spotting some deer again. I didn’t have to wait long…

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Two stags, whose antlers are just beginning to grow, unlike the Roe Deer bucks who have mature antlers at this time of year.

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I dipped into Lower Hide briefly. I once saw an otter here, on a late visit, but this time I had to settle for a low-key sunset.

I realise that the felling of a few trees and the removal of a boardwalk is not the sort of change that the song refers too, but I heard the Sam Cooke version of this tune on the radio the other day and it’s been in my head ever since. I think that I may just prefer this Otis Redding take on the song, but I’m not entirely sure.

A Change is Gonna Come

Seasonal Markers

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It’s that time of year when I’ve generally been rushing around checking off signs of spring here, there and everywhere. This year’s been an odd one though – the Hawthorn is  coming in to leaf, but I can’t recall seeing any Blackthorn blossom. The Violets, Primroses and Wood Anemones are all appearing, but it still feels quite cold. I hear Green Woodpeckers yaffling on almost every walk, but I’ve yet to see any Swallows or hear any Chiff-chaffs.

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Some things remain constant though. Here’s one – at this time of year we often see Roe Deer in the garden. There were four this morning. But these photos were taken a while ago, the day after my birthday. My birthday, incidentally, was a very lazy day. We played some games of Code Names, the picture version, which was one of my presents and was great fun. We also climbed a hill, but only tiny Castle Barrow in Eaves Wood.

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This Roe Deer was quite near the house, seemingly finding both the bluebells and the shrubs equally appetising.

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She’s losing her dark winter coat, which is why she looks a bit tatty. She’ll soon be in her much more fetching, golden-brown, summer raiment.

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The Toothwort by the path along the bottom edge of Eaves Wood has also reappeared. Long-suffering readers will know that I have an ever-expanding list of flowers which I associate with particular locations and make a point of visiting each year, particularly in the spring: first Snowdrops in the woods by Haweswater, then Daffodils at Far Arnside, Green Hellebore along the perimeter of Holgates Caravan Park, Early Purple and Green-winged Orchids on the Lots…the list goes on and on and I’m enjoying mentally running through it.

One of the places I visit is a particular tree close to Haweswater which is a host to the parasitic Toothwort. I’ve surprised myself by feeling quite put-out by the fact that I can’t visit this year, what with the paths being closed to accommodate tree-felling work by Natural England. And by my consternation at the possibility that this particular tree might be one of the ones which gets felled. Whatever my political opinions, it seems that, when it comes to change on my home patch, I can still be conservative with a small c.

 

Seasonal Markers

Watch Me Now

Far Arnside – Park Point – White Creek – Blackstone Point – New Barns – Arnside – Arnside Moss – Black Dyke – Far Waterslack – Waterslack – The Row – Hagg Wood

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House Sparrow

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Newly-laid hedge by Townsfield.

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Primroses on the bank on Cove Road.

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Hazel Catkins.

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Marsh Tit.

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Daffodils in the woods near Far Arnside.

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Green hellebore in amongst the daffs.

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Grange and Hampsfell.

The tide was well out, the mud unusually firm, so I did something I don’t often do and walked away from the shore on a beeline for Hampsfell on the far side of the Kent, only turning inland again as the sand started to drop towards the river channel.

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Park Point.

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Redshank.

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Arnside Knott from New Barns.

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I had what I am now beginning to think of as my Birding Camera with me and wasn’t using my phone for once. Along the estuary I had some fun photographing a Cormorant which was fishing, a number of Redshanks, a Corvid, probably a Crow, which was tussling with what looked like a plastic bag half-embedded in the far bank of the river, and nearby another Crow vigorously bathing in the shallow margin of the river.

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I know that birds bathe, we have a birdbath sited just beyond the window I’m currently sat beside and I’ve often watched Blackbirds dipping into it, but this seemed a little more out of the ordinary.

The camera helped me to identify a pair of Goosanders which were fishing in the channel…

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Here, the male, on the right, has caught a small flatfish.

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Whitbarrow Scar, the Kent, the viaduct.

On the wall of a small, abandoned quarry close to Arnside I noticed some heather flowering…

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It’s the wrong time of year for our native heathers, but the heathers in our garden are flowering too so I guess this is an interloper.

I’m still feeling the after-affects of the virus which laid me low last week, so I chose to follow the Kent for a while beyond Arnside, and then by cutting back across Arnside Moss and following the field path beside Black Dyke managed to almost completely avoid the need to struggle uphill.

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In the woods near Middlebarrow Quarry a pigeon-sized bird ghosted past my shoulder, swooped low and then banked steeply to land noiselessly on a branch ahead of me. This was no wood pigeon however, a bird incapable of doing anything silently.

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I think that this is another female Sparrowhawk, although, as ever, I stand ready to be corrected.

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Silverdale Moss.

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Trees near Hagg Wood.

This photo…

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…was taken several days before any of the others in this post. We’ve had Roe Deer in the garden again a few times recently. On this occasion there were, briefly, four of them, despite the fact that Roe Der are often reported to be solitary creatures. All males I think. I wanted to include the picture because it shows how furry this buck’s new antlers are. It looks as if he had spotted me. Certainly, just after I took this photo, he bounded over the hedge into our neighbour’s garden.

I’m reading ‘I Put A Spell On You’ by John Burnside at the moment. It’s a very unusual book, which I think I bought solely because of the title and it’s reference to the Screaming Jay Hawkins song, which I’m more familiar with in the versions by Nina Simone and especially Creedence Clearwater Revival. I don’t know, in honesty, quite what to make of the book, but I couldn’t help but mentally underline this passage…

“…it comes to me that, at moments like this, yes, but also in some far off place at the back of my head, I am, in some modest and ineffable way, supremely happy. Or perhaps not happy so much as given to fleeting moments of good fortune, the god-in-the-details sense of being obliged and permitted to inhabit a persistently surprising and mysterious world.”

So perhaps this post’s title should have come from that passage, but instead, having contrived to find a walk almost without any contours, I chose the purloin the title from The Contours big hit.

“Do you love me?
(I can really move)
Do you love me?
(I’m in the groove)
Ah, do you love?
(Do you love me)
Now that I can dance
(Dance)

Watch me now, oh….”

Watch Me Now