Bread Making at Heron Corn Mill

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For my Birthday present TBH booked me onto a bread-making course. That’s some of my bread in the foreground of the photo above. My rolls were misshapen and looked a bit ‘rustic’ compared to everybody else’s – insufficient kneading was to blame apparently – but they tasted great anyway.

The course was held in a ‘Shepherd’s Hut’…

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These things seem to be all the rage these days, but were they ever actually used by genuine shepherds? They seem a bit cumbersome and impractical. I’ve just been reading about the annual transhumance which was traditional in the hillier parts of these isles, but the women involved – and apparently it was mostly women – lived in Shielings which were temporary structures made of wood and sticks not fancy-Dan cottages on wheels. The women were with the dairy herd and making butter and cheese, the shepherds meanwhile, out with their flocks, surely didn’t have anything like this.

Anyway, the ‘shepherd’s hut’ is situated by Heron Corn Mill near Beetham…

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…where some of the flours we were using were stoneground. I bought Wholemeal, Spelt and Rye flour whilst I was there so that I could practice at home.

The corn mill has a state-of-the-art hydroelectricity generator which usually provides all of their power and also much of their income since any excess power is sold to the paper mill which you can see across the river here…

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You can also see that the water levels are exceptionally low – so low in fact that the generator isn’t working at all. (You can see more usual summer levels over the weir in this post from June last year.)

Anyway, the course was huge fun. I’ve posted in the past about making bread, but whilst my previous bread making attempts have generally produced something tasty, the bread has always been a bit brick like in texture. This time the bread was delicious and well….bread like – light and not too chewy.

The course was on the same weekend as Silverdale’s annual Art Trail weekend. When I got home it was to find that TBH and our guest J were still out and about so I decided to stretch my legs and get some fresh air with a wander through Eaves Wood to Castlebarrow…

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…and the Pepper Pot and then a walk down to the Cove, across the Lots and back through the village (of which more later).

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Rather predictably, I managed to leave the recipes we were given behind at the end of the course, but my subsequent attempts to make bread have still managed to be less dense than your average blackhole.

This was Sunday’s family lunch, open-sandwiches on homemade bread…

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Bread Making at Heron Corn Mill

Let’s Get Lost

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The Bay, Grange and Arnside Knott from Middlebarrow Plain.

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The low, wooded, limestone lump which lies just north of the village has a whole host of names attached to it, not all of them on the map: The Pepper Pot, Castlebarrow, King William’s Hill, Jubilee Wood, The Ring O’Beeches, Middlebarrow Wood, Middlebarrow Plain, Middlebarrow Hill (surely a tautology?), Eaves Wood, The Coronation Path and Inman’s Road. These are the public titles; we have our own landmarks too – The Climbing Tree, The Witches Steps, The Balcony Path, Forest School. In its entirety, it makes sense to call it Middlebarrow, since it lies between the two larger hills of Arnside Knott and Warton Crag.

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It’s criss-crossed by paths, most of them not on the map, and is a fascinating area to explore, which, long-suffering readers will know, I often do.

The wall which runs roughly east-west across the hill is the boundary between Lancashire and Cumbria and more often than not I tend to stick to the Lancashire side of the divide when I’m in the woods.

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But Middlebarrow Plain is managed for butterfly conservation, and has permission paths running through it. I ought to visit more often. It gives new views and has an area of limestone pavement…

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The first time I stumbled across this feature it was entirely by accident, but these days I know where to find it.

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I suspect that this is a Yew, kept in this Bonsai form by the attention of Roe Deer who seem to love Yew.

Back on the Eaves Wood side of the wall, I decided to try getting a little lost again. I took a faint path past a fallen Beech…

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This tree must have been coppiced years ago and until relatively recently had five huge trunks, now, sadly, all fallen.

I knew that the path would eventually peter out, but rather than turning back, continued downhill, safe in the knowledge that eventually I would have to hit one of the paths below.

En route I discovered a huge Wood Ants’ nest and a large birds’-nest, maybe Ravens’ or Buzzards’.

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Hardly a major adventure.

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But it kept me entertained.

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I’m a bit stunned that I haven’t used this title before, given how much I like the song. Apparently it predates the Chet Baker version, but that’s the one I know…

Let’s Get Lost

Henry’s Pebble Art

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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…

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…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…

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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.

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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.

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

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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

Middlebarrow in Every Kind of Weather.

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“The forecast for tomorrow shows every kind of weather, what a cop out.”

This was A, on Saturday evening; she knows how much this symbol winds me up on a long range forecast, suggesting, as it does, some straddling of the fence from the meteorologists. Of course, it could also imply that the weather is destined to be very mixed. That’s exactly how Sunday turned out.

No ‘Listed Lancaster’ posts from last week, not because I didn’t get out for any lunchtime strolls – although I was restricted a little, it was a busy week – but because when I did get out the weather was always gloomy and not really ideal for photographs. I particularly enjoyed my walk on Wednesday, when we had snow, but even the photos I took then are  rather grim and monotone.

Saturday too was very wet, but it did finally brighten a little late on, and I abandoned the second half of Ireland’s cakewalk against Italy to make the most of it. Not much to show for it in terms of photos of views or leaves or sunsets etc, but every walk seems to throw up something, in this case a wet poster…

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Long-suffering readers will know that I have become quite interested in Thomas Mawson and his gardens, which have featured on this blog a number of times. I’m hoping that I will be free on the evening of this lecture. If not, there were plenty of other things to choose from: a talk on ‘Bees in Your Garden’, another on ‘Sweet Peas’ and a third on ‘An Underwater Safari in Morecambe Bay’, music at the regular ‘Bits and Pieces’ event at the Silverdale Hotel, the John Verity Band appearing soon at the same venue, and, at The Instititute, Lancaster Band The Meter Men, who play Hammond Organ infused funk and are, in my opinion, superb. And that’s just a small selection of the entertainment on offer, seen through the filter of my own interests. Silverdale it seems, like Stacy’s Mom, ‘has got it going on’.

Anyway, back to Sunday: I set off, as I often do, without a clear idea of where I was going. Initially though, I chose to climb to the Pepper Pot on Castlebarrow, to take a look at the clouds racing past. I went via the Coronation path because I knew that would take me past the Snowdrops which featured at the top of the post.

From time to time, new paths seem to appear in Eaves Wood, a reflection, I suppose, of how many people regularly walk there. Whenever I walk past one, I wonder where it goes and resolve that, next time I’m out, I’ll find out. On Saturday I finally acted on that impulse. The first path I followed cut a corner between two paths which I know well. Even so, I felt very pleased to have taken it and I’ve been back and walked it again since.

From Castlebarrow I followed the path along the northern edge of Eaves Wood, beside the wall which marks the boundary between Lancashire and Cumbria. I met a couple walking their dog, who emerged from the trees at the side of the path. Looking back from where they’d come I thought I could detect the thinnest of thin trods, a hint of a path. Naturally, I followed it and it brought me to a drystone wall, in a spot where an old ants’ nest against the wall made it easy to scramble over. It was evident that people had climbed the wall here. I could see that just beyond the wall was the rim of Middlebarrow Quarry…

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Silverdale Moss, Scout Hill and Farleton Fell from Middlebarrow.

The quarry is huge, but is well concealed from most directions. Again, I thought I could see a path heading along the edge of the quarry. In all the years I’ve been here I’ve never walked around it. It is private land, but it’s not a working quarry anymore and I can’t see what harm could be done by wandering around. So I did.

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Middlebarrow pano. Click on it to see enlarged version.

The path turned out to be a bit sketchy in places. And it was easy to lose where there was limestone pavement…

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Some of the pavements were coated in moss, others had grass growing over them, which made it hard to see the grykes.

True to form, the weather threw everything at me: rain, sleet, hail, but odd moments of sunshine too.

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There’s a ninety metre contour somewhere around the rim of the quarry, making it the highest point on the limestone hill on which Eaves Wood sits. It’s certainly a good view point for Silverdale Moss and I shall be back here again.

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Whitbarrow catching the sun.

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I took this photo in an attempt to show the heavy snow which was falling. You’ll have to take my word for it.

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And this one to show the state of many of the paths after the wet weather we’ve endured.

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By the time I was leaving the woods, the snow had stopped again.

I timed my walk to arrive back to watch England squeak past Wales in the rugby by the finest of margins.

Then I was out again. Since it was still cloudy, and I knew I was too late for the sunset, I only took my ‘new’ phone with me and not my camera.

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I never learn!

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The colours were subtle, pastel shades, but very pleasant none-the-less.

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Always good to finish a day (and a post) with a colourful sunset, if you can.

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Middlebarrow in Every Kind of Weather.

Sunday Triptych: an Early Outing.

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Saturday was another grey and damp day. I was taken in by the hype and watched the Six Nations opener, Scotland versus Wales, expecting a close match. Then was out for a late walk in the rain and the gloom and eventually dark.

When I woke up early on the Sunday and looked out to see completely clear skies, it was too good to resist and set off for a circuit of Hawes Water before the usual Underley Rugby trip.

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When I set off the moon was still high in the sky, although it wasn’t as dark as this photo suggests, since I’d switched the camera to black and white mode and dialled the exposure down to minimum, which seems to give best results.

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From Eaves Wood I could see mist rising off the land and the sky lightening in the East.

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Near Hawes Water, out of the trees, there had clearly been a sharp frost.

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Roe Deer Buck.

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Cormorants.

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This ruin in the trees by the lake has long been surrounded by a high fence and Rhododendrons. Both have now been removed, although to what end I don’t know.

I was aware that the sun had come up, although I couldn’t see it, or feel its warmth, because it was painting the trees on the slope above me in a golden light.

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Hawes Water.

Back to the house, quick cup of tea, off to rugby.

 

Sunday Triptych: an Early Outing.

Big.

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I wasn’t thinking of the Tom Hanks film. Nor of the outrageously good ‘Big Chief’ by New Orleans maestro Professor Longhair.

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Not even of big children, although they do insist on growing up despite my insistence that they should slow down a bit.

The phrase ‘big kid’ was on my mind a little…

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…usually it’s the children who have to be encouraged to leave the play ground in the caravan park so that we can get on.

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On this occasion, it was the children all piling onto the swing and making it uncomfortable which persuaded TBH that it was time to move.

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This is not a big castle…

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…although I suspect it was once quite an impressive Pele Tower. Nor was our walk particularly huge; we were only going to Arnside and even then, not around the coast, but over the Knott, because we were late setting off (as ever) and wanted to reach Arnside for a late lunch.

The flooding on Silverdale Moss was quite impressive…

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…but that’s not what I had in mind.

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Arnside Tower Farm.

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Panorama from the Knott.

Arnside Knott is certainly not a big hill, although it does boast expansive views.

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Incidentally, this is the boys new favourite tree – The Ladder Tree – which has at least partially supplanted the tree at the top of the post in the boys affections. B actually climbed much higher than this but this photo shows why they call it the ladder tree – because of the handy series of evenly spaced branches which have grown across between the twin trunks.

By the time we reached Arnside it was very late for lunch, but the cafes were all still heaving. We managed to get seats in The Old Bakery (the Pie Shop to us) only to find that they were out of both Sausage Rolls and vegan options. We decamped and ended up in The Big Chip Cafe, adjoining the Fish and Chip Shop. At this point I have to say that I am full of admiration for those people who have the forbearance to photograph their food before they eat it. By rights, there should be a highly appealing photo of a fish supper here, but I’d eaten it before it occurred to me to take a picture. You’ll have to imagine it. Very nice it was too. Ages since I’ve had fish and chips. I can heartily recommend the haddock and chips (and the small portion is quite big enough).

So: The Big Chip Cafe explains the post title. Except….

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…when we left the cafe it was evidently too late to fulfil my design to get a walk around the coast. We took a shorter route which sort of curled up and around the Knott. And the big, late-afternoon, winter skies…

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Were fantastic.

When we reached Eaves Wood, I couldn’t persuade the others to come back up to the Pepper Pot with me.

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Big mistake.

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Even though the sun had long since set, it was a perfect, still evening and the views were superb.

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Bit cold though. I eventually stumbled down through the dark woods and home to listen to the dub version of Black Uhuru’s ‘Right Stuff’, which, due to the curious workings of my grey matter, the Big Chip always puts me in mind of.

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So maybe it was the Big Chip, or perhaps the big skies, or possibly the Black Uhuru song, or probably some combination of them all. Who knows?

Now: Fish supper with – mushy peas, curry sauce, gravy, tartar sauce, ketchup or none of the above?

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Big.

Little and Often: Kickstarting the New Year

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After a flurry of ‘Little and Often’ posts last spring, eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I’ve been increasingly quiet about my fitness drive. I kept it going through the dark days of winter and it was easy to do in the spring and the early summer, but then….I’m not even really sure when exactly it fizzled out, but it did, as these things are wont to do, at least where I’m concerned anyway.

I’m still feeling the benefits though and the New Year feels like an appropriate time to get cracking again, even though I don’t generally make resolutions.

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Part of the impetus is my ‘new’ phone and the MapMyWalk App (I’m sure lots of similar products are available). Last Spring I flirted with the idea of having a crack at a ‘walk 1000 miles in the year’ challenge, this year I’m going to get on and do it. Judging by the plethora of websites which offer to help and encourage you to do just that, I must be one among many.

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These photos were taken on some of the many local rambles which kick-started my progress whilst I was still off work. The weather was a bit mixed, to say the least, there was no flooding, but paths were about as muddy as I can remember seeing them and walking across the fields involved an uncomfortable amount of slithering, squelching and slipping. One day in Eaves Wood I lost my footing completely and fell rather heavily, fortunately without any lasting consequences.

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I tended not to venture particularly far, heading out several times each day rather than aiming for a single long walk. There were numerous trips to the Cove and Eaves Wood as well as a solitary wander around Hawes Water.

On New Year’s Day, whilst A was out for a Penny Walk with her friend, the rest of the family took part in a South Ribble Orienteering Club event. It was a score event, rather than following a course it was just a case of finding as many controls as possible in an hour. Great fun.

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Later in the week, A and B joined me for an Eaves Wood jaunt.

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An aside – this hole in a limestone pavement has been the source of an ongoing family dispute: until recently the top was blocked off with a number of branches. Little S and I contended that it wasn’t that deep a hole – about B’s height we maintained. B was adamant that it was much deeper. He looks chuffed here because, now that the covering branches are gone, it’s evident that he was right.

One day, our friend X-Ray came over and Little S and I took him out for a stroll around Eaves Wood and across The Lots. S was searching for holocrons using his Stars Wars Force Band, so he was happy. (No, I don’t understand what I just wrote either). It was very windy and a bit grim, but as we reached The Pepper Pot on Castlebarrow we had some brief moments of extraordinary light.

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After his walk, X-Ray stopped on for a vegan curry and a few games, including Camel Cup and King Domino. Hopefully, we’ll do something similar again soon.

The tides were high all week. I think that the water was already receding here…

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…and that the sea had actually been into the smelly cave at the Cove.

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These photos were all taken with my phone. It’s not that I’ve abandoned my camera, but with unpredictability of the weather, it was easy just to stick the phone in my back pocket, where I wanted it anyway to clock my mileage, and use it for photos when opportunities arose.

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It’s much less faff uploading the photos too.

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A thousand miles is a fairly arbitrary target, I know, but it gives me something to aim for. To be honest, at the moment I’m just enjoying watching the distance steadily accumulating.

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Some rules: I’m on my feet most of the day at work, but that’s walking I would do anyway. None of that counts. Nor pottering about the house or garden. Walking to the Co-op however, rather than taking the car, is fair game.

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I haven’t decided yet whether any ‘travel’ done under my own steam counts, so that swimming, cycling, skateboarding, canoeing etcetera would add to the total or not.

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Somewhere during the week, we squeezed in visits to the climbing wall in Lancaster and also to see Aladdin at the Dukes with some of our friends from the village (hello Dr R!).

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Another aside: I noticed, down at The Cove, that the seasonal springs, which rise amongst the rocks on the bottom left of the picture below…

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…are now supplemented by, or perhaps have partially moved to, those two large greenish hollows on the bottom right of the photo. You can see that a fairly substantial stream out across the mud has been established. It’s been there a while, I’ve been enjoying the foreground it provides for my sunset photos…

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A low key sunset on a very still evening, which was very restful, but I think I may have said much the same thing only a few posts ago.

Little and Often: Kickstarting the New Year