September, it turns out, was a very busy month, with some notable highlights, so I have a few more posts to come. But I thought I would mention the poetry festival first. I didn’t take any photos, unfortunately, so I’ve used the opportunity to throw in some other September odds and ends.
Our comedy show in Brooklyn and the Latin band we saw in Saranac Lake stood out as high-spots in our New York holiday and I resolved to make the most of any cultural opportunities which came my way closer to home. So when I saw posts about a poetry festival in Morecambe I bought tickets for both the Friday and Saturday evenings. Given that the line up included Mike Garry, Lemn Sissay, John Cooper Clarke, Henry Normal and Linton Kwesi Johnson, all of whom I’ve seen live before, mostly many years ago when I lived in Manchester, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make. They were all brilliant, as was Joelle Taylor, who was new to me. This year’s festival is scheduled for the end of September again and the line-up so far includes Carol Ann Duffy, Roger McGough, Brian Bilston, Jackie Kay and Henry Normal again. Very exciting! I need to buy a ticket.
The festival will once again be based at the Winter Gardens, which I see has just secured a substantial grant for more refurbishment. With that and the Eden Project North and a host of cultural events through the year, things seem to be on the up and up for Morecambe. I lived and worked there for many years and am really chuffed to see it has a potentially rosy future.
Not a September thing, but I think I forgot to mention that in June TBH and I saw Daniel Bye and Boff Whalley at the Duke’s Theatre in Lancaster in their show ‘These Hills are Ours’. You may remember that I was involved with them in a project of the same name a while ago. This show doesn’t relate to that, but is about a madcap scheme to run from Lancaster to Kinder Scout to celebrate the Mass Trespass. Highly recommended.
This film is not of the show, but is about a tour in Devon, during which Dan and Boff ran between venues, in mostly foul weather, and is worth a watch.
Almost at the end of my Adirondacks posts now. These photos were actually taken on several different days, but represent the 10th day well, because I didn’t stray from the house and garden that day. In the morning, the others went off somewhere; you’d have to ask them where. In the afternoon we were all back at the house, shooting the bb-gun, gardening, loafing, generally pottering about.
I remembered spotting the discarded exoskeletons of Cicada nymphs last time we were in the States. We didn’t hear Cicadas to the same extent here, but I was aware that they were out there and decided to check out the trees near the house to see what I could find. The first three trees I checked each had a shucked-off Cicada skin clinging to its rough bark.
I think this must be the same kind of spider which featured in an earlier post. This one wasn’t as large, although still quite big. It was sheltering on the underside of one of the paddle-boards.
The morning after the Tigers victory over Saracens, and I was up at the Pepper Pot looking over the village. The weather doesn’t look too promising does it?
But later on, when I noticed a deer on our lawn, it had started to brighten up…
By the time B returned from his shift pot-washing at the local hotel, it was glorious, and hot.
‘Fancy a drive Dad?’, he asked.
This was code for, ”Are you willing to sit in the passenger seat for an hour whilst I drive?”
B has his provisional licence, has passed his theory test, and is very keen to clear the final hurdle and gain the independence which driving would give him.
“We could go to High Dam for a swim.”
Which seemed like a good idea, except I suggested, given the late hour, that we substitute Gurnal Dubs for High Dam, it being closer to home and not surrounded by trees, so that we might have both later sun and a later onset of midge attack.
The walk up to the reservoir was very pleasant, if somewhat warm work.
A work colleague, who lives quite close to Gurnal Dubs, had reported a recent swim there and that the water was ‘quite warm’. I hate to think what would qualify as cold in her estimation. It was pretty bracing. But very refreshing and, after a long period where it never seemed to warm up, a welcome and unusually late start to wild-swimming for the year.
By the time we were out of the water we were already losing the sun.
The views on the way down were even better than they had been on the way up, with the landscape decked in dark shadows and late, golden sunshine.
The following evening, a Monday, Little S had Explorers. He’s transferred from the local unit to the one which meets in Littledale, at the very pleasant Scout camp on the banks of Artle Beck. Usually, after dropping him off, I take B to a boxing gym in Lancaster, but for some reason that was off, so I was at a loose end, which gave me a chance to try a spot down in the Lune Valley which I’d previously picked out as having potential for swimming.
It was a bit of a walk from the carpark at Bull Beck near Caton, so I didn’t have all that much time to swim, but the walk was nice enough in itself.
How was it? A lot warmer than Gurnal Dubs, quite pleasant in fact. Fairly fast flowing. Not as deep as I had hoped, but just about deep enough. Due to the strength of the current, I found myself walking upstream on the shingle bank and then floating back down river before repeating the process. Not a bad way to spend a Monday evening.
One more local-ish swim to report, though I’m jumping forward almost to mid-July and another Monday evening. After a hot day at school, B wondered whether I could give him and some friends a lift to Settle to swim. I didn’t have to think too long about that one: too far away. We compromised on Devil’s Bridge at Kirby Lonsdale, as long as they promised not to jump off the bridge.
Whilst they were, I later found out, having a great time, I had a wander down the Lune, enjoying the riverside flowers.
This one is a bit of a cheat, you can perhaps tell by the light; there was plenty of Himalayan Balsam by the Lune, but I’d also photographed some the day before, in better light, when I picked up Little S from another Scout Camp, this one down near Ormskirk.
I had my swimming stuff with me, and found, as I thought I might, that the water under the bridge, on the right hand side anyway, was deep enough for me to have a dip. In honesty, not one of my favourite swims this summer, but it had stiff competition.
Our annual walking weekend in Scotland was back on the menu, after a Covid absence last year. On the Saturday, with a mixed forecast, but with the potential for clearing skies later in the day, most of the party were heading for Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh, opposite our accommodation at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. The Tower Captain and I had ticked those off on a previous visit, and he was keen for fresh ‘bags’, so instead, we parked down by Loch Tulla, intending to climb Stob a’ Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar.
As we were on the bridge over the Abhainn Shira, four Red Deer stags waded across up stream – you can just about see them in the photo.
We started out in a light rain which quickly became a bit of a downpour. Not to worry, the scenery was still pretty spectacular despite the weather. Particularly the waterfalls…
…of the Allt Coire na Muic.
All of the streams seemed to be running pretty high, including the ones we had to cross…
The ascent route has some excellent zig-zags, which took some of the sting out of a steep slope. The rain desisted, but we soon into the cloud and a fairly strong wind.
By the time we reached the top of Stob a’ Choire Odhair it was extremely windy, the sort of wind which has you staggering about, and the wind was driving icy precipitation – either soft hailstones or hard snowflakes – into every nook and cranny of our clothing.
It was pretty fierce, and given that our ascent had taken rather a long time, I wasn’t at all keen on continuing to Stob Ghabhar. I was quite surprised, when I mentioned this, that TC immediately acquiesced.
We decided to drop down the ridge towards Stob Ghabhar, giving us a slightly different descent route. At one point, we dropped down a fairly steep, rocky section of path and suddenly the howling gale was stilled. The absence of the noise and the buffeting felt quite odd. We took advantage of this sheltered haven and stopped for hot drinks and butties.
The respite was short lived however, as soon as we resumed our descent we were back in the powerful hold of the storm and staggering about again.
And then we dropped slightly below the bealach into Coire Toaig and relative peace and calm…
Despite the fact that we had a couple more showers, the descent was delightful.
Our enjoyment was only tempered by the realisation that the others were probably enjoying superb views from their chosen hills, which had cleared and were bathed in sunshine, whilst our own route, or at least the higher part of it, remained stubbornly in the cloud…
What’s the opposite of schadenfreude? Rather than pleasure found in the misfortune of others, pain occasioned by another’s good luck? Of course, the Germans have a word for it – Gluckschmerz, literally luck-pain. You can see that TC is upset by it here…
Actually, I think we were both enjoying this part of the walk, now that it wasn’t raining and the views and scenery were rather good.
The shed behind TC is the Clashgour Hut, a corrugated iron monstrosity which belongs to Glasgow University Mountaineering Club. It’s bookable. Maybe it’s much more comfortable on the inside than the exterior suggested, but, frankly: rather you than me.
We saw a number of Red Deer stags as we neared the end of our walk, including one in the garden of one of the remote houses we passed.
Then, as we sat in the car gently steaming and finishing off the contents of our flasks, one wandered through the car park…
Three days at the beginning of January to finish our Winterval* break. First off, an Arnside Knott walk. As you can see, it was fairly bright, but very cloudy elsewhere, so the views were highly truncated. No Cumbrian Fells on display, and to the south…
…Warton Crag looking a bit hazy, and the Forest of Bowland, usually the horizon, nowhere to be seen.
The next day’s walk, our ‘standard’ Jenny Brown’s Point circuit, is represented by this single photo of high tide in Quicksand Pool. A grey day!
The next day, a Monday, in lieu of our New Year’s Day Bank Holiday, we had four Roe Deer in the garden: a male and three females.
He was easiest to photograph, since he didn’t move about too much, often sitting quite still…
…also giving himself a thorough grooming…
…occasionally shaking himself in much the same way a dog would, and every now and then having a bit of a snack…
The females were much more intent on feeding themselves. They have a long gestation period and so maybe they were all pregnant and that was the reason for their greater appetite?
I took hundreds of photos, many of them very poor, but it was interesting to be watching them. I was surprised by how catholic their tastes were. We are all too aware that in the spring and summer the deer will come into our garden and eat lots of flowers, but in the middle of winter they seemed keen on just about anything green.
Even the rather leathery looking leaves of our large Fatsia japonica didn’t escape unscathed.
Brambles and Ivy too were firmly on the menu…
Through my zoom lens I could see the deers’ long tongues, seemingly well adapted for grasping leaves and tearing them from the plants.
Two of the does roamed the garden together, never straying from each others’ sides.
The other female occasionally joined them, but mostly plowed her own furrow. Then she joined the buck on our lawn…
And they sat, companionably ignoring one another…
I’m not sure how long I would have sat watching the deer, but then I got an offer of a lift to Arnside from A, who is working in a Care Home there. It was raining a little, but the forecast was for better to come, so this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.
I walked around the coast, as far as the Coastguard station, from where I had to turn inland since the path was underwater.
I followed the road to New Barns. The tide had receded somewhat, although the salt marsh was still inundated…
The remainder of the walk was enlivened by my attempts to capture the crepuscular rays illuminating Morecambe Bay.
Today is one of those excellent January partly cloudies in which light chooses an unexpected part of the landscape to trick out in gilt, and then shadow sweeps it away. You know you are alive. You take huge steps, trying to feel the planet’s roundness arc between your feet.
Anne Dillard from ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’
I’ve quoted this before, but, somewhat to my surprise, it was ten years ago, so I think that’s okay. I’ve been slowing rereading ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’, which put it in mind, but anyway I’ve come to think of days like this as Partly Cloudies.
When I eventually got home, the three does had disappeared, but the buck was still stationed on our lawn, bold as brass. Nowhere else to be, no calls on his time. Nice work if you can get it!
*Winterval – not a term I ever normally use, but I thought I’d put it out there and see if anyone would bite!
Some plants in the garden are fantastic value, not just in themselves, but for the wildlife they attract.
I think these tall yellow daisies are Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’. Related to sunflowers, they’ve spread like mad in our garden, giving a long-lasting bright splash of colour in mid to late summer.
This is what the BBC Gardener’s World website has to say about them…
Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects, birds, butterflies/moths and other pollinators. It nectar-pollen-rich-flowers and has seeds for birds.
The long stems seem to be good places for dragonflies to rest. And they are certainly attractive to pollinators.
Marjoram also seeds itself quite freely around the garden and seems to be particularly attractive to bees. I hope this is a Garden Bumblebee, seems appropriate, but the white-tailed bumblebees are difficult to distinguish between.
And, completely unrelated, TBH booked us all in for a family session of Foot Golf at Casterton golf course. As you can see, the views there aren’t bad at all.
We were all a bit rubbish at the golf, but we had a good giggle.
As if to prove my point that working for a living, or at least commuting to work, really gets in the way of enjoying life, my MapMyWalk account shows almost daily walks through January, February and up to the 7th of March. Schools reopened on the 8th and for the next fortnight I don’t seem to have walked very far or very often at all.
Anyway, eventually I started to get out and about again:
Whilst chaffinches seem to be flourishing, I feel like I don’t see nearly as many Greenfinches now as I did even five years ago. Hardly scientific, I know, but worrying none the less.
This one was having a good old spring sing-song. It was one of many birds in evidence in the hedges and trees in the caravan park at Far Arnside, but the only one content to pose for a portrait.
I think this was the walk when I bumped into an old friend and colleague who I hadn’t seen for years. We sat at opposite ends of a bench and had a very long chat. Some of her news was sad, but it was still good to catch up.
As so often on a walk round the coast, it was the sky and the light on the bay which were the stars of the show.
For once I didn’t go all the way around to Arnside, or climb the Knott, but at White Creek doubled back on the higher path which parallels the coastal one and returns to Far Arnside.
In the morning, TBH and I completed our usual Sunday trip around Jenny Brown’s Point.
And the afternoon brought a trip to The Lots.
A Roe Deer buck in the garden. There’s still some fur on his antlers. And his winter coat is looking extremely shabby.
A very grey day, I think. This photo from the Cove is a bit shy of any colour.
He’s back! It looks like he has some bits of moss on his antlers. My guess is that he’s been rubbing them on any available surface in an attempt to remove the itchy bits of skin.
I’m quite surprised by the very red tinge of his antlers. I suppose that’s because they still have a blood supply, although mature antlers, once the covering skin has been shed are dead bone, I think.
Another grey day. Another trip to The Cove…
Blue skies at last! And a high tide in Quicksand Pool.
The Bay is well-known for its rapid tides. On this occasion we watched what looked like some very powerful cross-currents at Jenny Brown’s Point.
The Euros have been playing havoc with my resolve to catch up with the blog, so here’s another week-to-view post covering a walking/working-from-home week back in mid-January.
On a few occasions when my timetable allowed, I wandered over to Myer’s allotment for lunch with a view. On this occasion, I remember, it started to drizzle as I sat down with my flask of soup, and stopped just as I packed up to leave.
My mum and dad spent a week at Thurnham Hall, on the other side of Lancaster. Very generously, they booked us a few nights there too. Little did we realise then that it would be the last time we would see them this year.
How nice then, to get to spend some time together. Most days we managed a bit of a walk, aiming for somewhere without contours, by the Lune Estuary near Glasson, across the Lots at home, or along the prom at Morecambe for example.
We did embark on one overly ambitious walk, from Thurnham Hall to Wallings Ice-Cream Parlour on the other side of Cockerham. The long-grass in the fields and the surprisingly sodden tracks which followed were energy sapping for all concerned. Fortunately, once we’d sampled the ice-creams, we arranged a taxi for a couple of drivers to collect our cars and then return for the rest of the party.
We played ‘Ticket to Ride’ and no doubt other games, and ate out a few times, now that ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ was in full swing. After a curry in Lancaster I had a brainwave about walking back to Thurnham Hall, basing my intended route on a hazy memory of the map. It was much further than I had thought, and it was pitch black by the time I reached Galgate. Fortunately, TBH was happy to come out and pick me up.
Now, though we won’t see them over Christmas as we usually would, with the vaccines being rolled out, we have the real prospect of safely meeting with my mum and dad again to look forward to. Bring it on!
In an effort to start catching-up, I’ve shoved photos from at least three different walks into this post.
If you click on the photo and zoom in to enlarge on flickr, you will see that, unbeknown to me when I took the photo, two of the flower heads are home to ladybird larvae, of which more later in this post.
I was very chuffed to spot this rather small, straggly Helleborine – at least, that’s what I think it is – by the path into Eaves Wood from the Jubilee Wood car-park, because although I know of a spot where Broad-leaved Helleborines grow every year, by the track into Trowbarrow Quarry, I’ve never seen one growing in Eaves Wood before.
Dewberries are fantastic, smaller, juicier and generally earlier than blackberries, every walk at this time offered an opportunity at some point to sample a few.
These are some of the afore-mentioned Helleborines, not quite in flower at this point, in fact I missed them this summer altogether.
I missed the Lady’s-slipper Orchids too. Some leaves appeared belatedly, after the rains returned, long after they would usually have flowered. I don’t know whether they did eventually flower or not.
And I kept checking on the few suspected Dark Red Helleborines I’d found at Gait Barrows, but they seemed reluctant to flower too.
As well as the Dewberries, I continued to enjoy the odd savoury mushroom snack.
I thought that this might be Yellow Slime Mold, otherwise know as Scrambled Egg Slime or, rather unpleasantly, Dog Vomit Slime, but I’m not really sure.
Spying this Honey-bee on Ragwort flowers, I was wondering whether honey containing pollen from a highly poisonous plant might, in turn, be toxic. Then I began to wonder about the many insects, especially bees, which were feeding on the Ragwort: are they, like the Cinnabar Caterpillars, impervious to the alkaloids in the Ragwort.
It seemed perhaps not; although there were many apparently healthy insects on the flowers, now that I started to look, I could also many more which had sunk down between the blooms. Some were evidently dead…
Whilst others were still moving, but only slowly and in an apparently drugged, drowsy way.
If the Ragwort is dangerous to insects it seems surprising that they haven’t evolved an instinct to stay away from it.
The leaves of single sapling by the roadside were home to several Harlequin Ladybirds in various stages of their lifecycle. Unfortunately, the leaves were swaying in a fairly heavy breeze, so I struggled to get sharp images.
Fascinating to see, but the Harlequin is an invasive species from Asia, so worrying for the health of our native ladybirds.