The Kent Channel, A Farl, House Sparrows.

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Collared Dove on Cove Road.

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Back on the sands – you can see the grey ‘skin’ which starts to develop on the sand after several hot days with low tides.

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There were people paddling in the channel. Since then B and his friends have started visiting this part of the Bay on hot days for a swim – the water is barely deep enough I gather, but they are still very glad of it.

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In the distance – quite hard to pick out – a group spanning at least three generations had a number of long fishing poles propped up on tripods. B and his mates have also tried fishing here. They caught nothing. Fishing with good friends and catching nothing sounds like the best kind of fishing to me, but I never really caught the fishing bug. We’ve since heard that there are Sea Bass to be had down near Jenny Brown’s at high tide. B assures me that he’s not after Sea Bass, he’s holding out for shark apparently!

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Morecambe Bay may be the most beautiful bay in Britain. Thanks to the tides, it drains more or less completely twice a day. You can be standing on sand that a short while before was under thirty feet of water and vice versa. It’s the vice versa that you have to worry about because the tide comes back in very quickly, not in a line like an advancing army, but in fingerlets and channels that can easily surround you and catch you by surprise. People sometimes go for walks, then belatedly notice that they are on a giant, but steadily shrinking sandbar.

Bill Bryson again. He doesn’t really do lukewarm – he either loves it or hates it. Most beautiful? That’s a bit of a stretch. Sandwood Bay springs to mind as a contender, but I am very fond of Morecambe Bay obviously.

I’ve finished ‘The Road to Little Dribbling’ and enjoyed as I always seem to with his books.

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The channel had connected with the Kent and was now much further out from the shore.  Above you can see the now dry channel where it formerly ran.

After a couple of very thirsty walks, I’ve taken to carrying a rucksack on my longer local walks, so I can carry a drink. It’s also convenient to stow my camera away there too, which is all very well, until I want to capture a moment quickly. So these Brimstone butterflies…

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…which were disporting themselves on some Dame’s-violet had to be photographed with my phone. Not entirely satisfactory, but you can see the strong contrast between the buttery yellow male and the much paler female.

When I was wondering about whether or not the House Sparrows in our hedge would nest or not, I was completely forgetting the early morning racket we hear in our bedroom every summer. I’m not quite sure how I managed to forget that cacophony. Even though our house is pretty modern, in each corner of the roof there’s a tiny hole up under the eaves. At least two of them were occupied this year. This male…

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…is just pausing during a prolonged concerto of chirruping.

I’ve continued to make bread every couple of days, but not to take photographs. I made an exception for this one, because I hadn’t made a loaf like this before, a farl apparently…

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Turned out rather well and has become a bit of a favourite.

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TBH admiring the Ox-eye daisies on Cove Road.

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Another wander on the sands. This is the day after the previous walk.

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More sun-seekers. Our neighbour told me that many had driven up from Liverpool.

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Red Valerian outside the Silverdale Hotel.

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More amorous butterflies, once again photographed using my phone, this time Small Tortoiseshells.

The Kent Channel, A Farl, House Sparrows.

The Beast In Me

Eaves Wood – Lambert’s Meadow – Woodwell

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Focaccia again.

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Nature’s flower arranging: cow parsley, green alkanet and dame’s violet and the odd buttercup.

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Dame’s violet, white flowers, or pink…

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…but can be purple. Much commoner locally than I previously realised.

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Water Avens

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Watercress.

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Valerian.

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Bugle.

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At Woodwell there was a real commotion in the sycamore at the back of this photo. The dispute involved a pair of jays and a crow, all of which had a great deal to say about whatever neighbourly dispute they’d entered into. At first I thought that a nest had been disturbed, but eventually all three birds left, so that seems unlikely.

Initially though the crow and the jays withdrew to neutral trees; the crow affected indifference, but the jays were still keeping a beady eye on the crow.

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I climbed the path which ascends the cliff behind the tree – at this point the jays were still hanging about – but still couldn’t see what it might be that they had so noisily fallen out over.

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I was intrigued by this very vigorous plant, growing in the mud of the pond at Woodwell, since I didn’t recognise it – it’s flowering now, almost a month later, so hopefully I should be able to identify it, when I get around to it.

The pond had very nearly dried out; subsequently it did dry out, so I guess that the minnows, which had recently reappeared having been wiped out by the last long dry spell, will be gone again.


If you like a good cover, and you don’t already know them, then try Johnny Cash’s American Recordings albums. I have four of them, although more material from the recordings was released posthumously. There are so many good songs on the albums that it was hard to choose, but here are songs by Depeche Mode, U2, Nick Lowe and Nine Inch Nails, given the unique Johnny Cash sound:

Strictly speaking, ‘The Beast In Me’ isn’t a cover because it was written specifically for Cash. Nick Lowe has recorded the song himself and his version is also great.

If you have 10 minutes, this video…

…has interviews with both Cash and Lowe about the writing of the song, Lowe’s version is quite amusing, and a live performance by Cash in Montreux in 1994.

‘Hurt’ is from the last album released before Johnny Cash died and I think he sounds a little frail on it. It’s a bleak song, and the official video (not the one I’ve posted), taken together with the song, is extremely poignant. I’d recommend it, but only if you’re feeling buoyant.

The Beast In Me

Showers and Flours

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The final two days of April, as clearly as I can remember, and judging from my photos, brought the kind of changeable weather which is more what we expect in these parts. Often sunny, but with plenty of clouds and showers evident, although I remember more smugly watching showers in the distance rather than being caught in them.

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Farleton Fell – so near and yet so far.

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Stratocumulus (?) clouds over the Bay.

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Dark skies behind Hagg Wood.

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Even though the sun was still shining on the crab apple blossom.

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After many attempts, I managed to track down some bread flour in the form of a Doves farm ‘lucky dip’ with a selection of organic flours, some yeast and a recipe booklet. Result!

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Showers over the Bay seen from Castlebarrow.

Have bread flour, will bake…

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My attempts to bring a taste of the warm south to Lancashire.

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Focaccia. (Surprisingly easy to make)

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And pain de campagne.

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More versions of ‘Watermelon Man’ to follow.

Showers and Flours

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

I’ll Fly Away

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Bluebells in Holgates caravan park.

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Arnside Tower.

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Lord and Lady pigeon – the current residents. I briefly got a bit excited about this pair – the double wing bar, one of my books tells me, is characteristic of the Rock Dove, which is very limited in range in the UK. But the RSPB website says that feral pigeons can look exactly like their ancestors Rock Doves. So, these are nouveau riche residents of the stately pile then.

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Herb Paris – flowering right by the main path in Eaves Wood. How have I missed it before?

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Gean.

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Blackbird by The Cove.

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Grange catching the sun again!

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Welsh poppies and bluebells – nice colour combination, I thought.

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The seventh cavalry arrive, in the nick of time, with bread flour. More prosaically, we club together with friends, an ongoing arrangement, to order wholesale from an organic supplier of pulses, grains, tinned goods etc. And that’s how we got flour.


Two very different versions of a gospel standard today. First, perhaps the familiar version by Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch from the soundtrack of ‘O Brother Where Art Though’. (Great film by the way)

And then, continuing the brass band theme, not that the brass band I played in ever sounded even remotely like this, worst luck, here’s a New Orleans version from The Dirty Dozen Brass Band…

I’ll Fly Away

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.

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

I Heard The News

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Since we have been tidying the garden (Lockdown Aspiration number 1), and yes, like many gardens I suspect, ours probably doesn’t know what has hit it: the lawn has been scarified; the path has been cleared; the patio has been pressure-washed; old tree roots, nettles, bracken, and saplings have been dug out; pot-holes in the drive have been (sort-of) repaired, the shed has been painted – I shan’t claim that it’s now tidy, but it is tidier. Anyway, since we’ve been in the garden a lot, I’ve noticed that we have sparrows in our beech hedge much more often than I have previously imagined.

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Sparrows are gregarious birds and seem to like hedgerows and be very faithful to particular spots – I can think of a couple of places in the village where I can pretty much guarantee I will see sparrows when I walk past. TBH and I walked along the Townsfield path back in early April (when these photos were taken) and saw at least half a dozen sparrows having a dust bath on the path – I didn’t have my camera with me sadly.

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We only seem to have a couple of pairs at most, but the thought that they might have moved in and even that the colony might grow is exceedingly cheery. For the garden to be filled, in future years, with the constant chatter and activity of a crew of sparrows would be fantastic.

Crew is, according to some lazy internet research, one of the collective nouns for sparrows, the others being flutter, host, meinie, quarrel, tribe, and ubiquity, all of which seem to fit rather well apart from meinie, what’s a meinie?

We have other birds in the garden, but they aren’t so bold and therefore are a bit harder to photograph. I think that this…

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…is a coal tit, it doesn’t seem yellow enough to be a female great tit which was my other thought. Coal tits seem to like the silver birch in our garden.

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Blue tit.

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White Bloomer.

Ah – another item from the list – to whit, ‘bake bread more often’. I don’t normally manage to fit bread-making around commuting, so, whilst working from home, I have been able to bake more often, although at times, especially early on when bread flour and yeast were akin to gold dust, not as often as I would like. I’ve been branching out and trying various types of flour, by necessity really, since I’ve had to take what I could get, and also different types of loaf, as you’ll see in forthcoming posts!

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Limestone Pavement in Eaves Wood.

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There was a fortnight in April when I decided that a walk which criss-crossed Eaves Wood and Middlebarrow, zig-zagging furiously was an ideal lockdown workout.

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A Middlebarrow path.

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Blackthorn blossoms.

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I can’t say if really made much progress with ‘getting to grips with birdsong’, but I have been able to listen to more of it! I think I’ve mentioned it before, but getting out every day this spring has really alerted me to the ubiquity of nuthatches locally. A collective noun for nuthatches is a bit superfluous, since they seem to be mostly solitary birds, but it’s a jar of nuthatches apparently.

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They are everywhere, but I hear them much more often than I see them, so photographs have been a bit of a rarity. Less than a jarful.

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Arnside Tower.

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Looking towards Silverdale Moss from beside Arnside Tower.

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Peacock butterfly.

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More willow catkins.

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Coltsfoot.

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Peacock butterfly.

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Pepper Pot.

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Cuckoo pint leaves in the shade of mature beech tree, where not much else will grow.

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The ruined cottage in Eaves Wood

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A late finish.

I love Elvis’ early recordings from his days at Sun Records.

When I heard this…

…song by Sister Wynona Carr, I thought that maybe Elvis had borrowed from an old gospel tune. I’ve been smugly self-congratulating myself for years for spotting the connection. Sadly, for my puffed up self-esteem, it turns out that they are both covers of this original…

… by Roy Brown. All sorts of people have covered this song, but I really like this version…

…which is unmistakably by Elvis’ Sun Records stablemate Jerry Lee Lewis.

 

I Heard The News

Walk, Eat, Sleep Repeat.

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Daffodils on the bank on Cove Road.

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Primroses in the same spot.

February half-term brought lots more rain. I know it did, because I remember the flooding…

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View from by Arnside Tower of the flooding by Black Dyke.

…and how it steadily got worse. But I have lots of photos showing blue skies and sunshine.

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Arnside Knott.

The explanation for that apparent contradiction is simple: because the weather was poor it seemed a bit pointless to drive anywhere to walk, but there were pleasant interludes between the storms and, being at home, I was poised to take advantage of them.

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The flooding extends into the woods.

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Scarlet Elf Cup.

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Eaves Wood.

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Because of the extensive flooding of Silverdale Moss and the adjoining fields between the railway line and Arnside Tower Farm, the circuit around Middlebarrow and Eaves Wood became a bit of a favourite – and has remained so actually.

Not that I neglected my other favourite local wanders…

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Sunset from the Cove.

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Chickens!

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Woodwell.

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The path near Woodwell, flowing well.

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Lambert’s Meadow. You can just about make out the new bridge in the foreground – it was thoroughly submerged.

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Arnside Tower.

But I kept coming back past the tower to see the expanding lake below its slightly elevated position.

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The flooding again – it was getting wider every day.

Until, this day, when I met a former colleague who was out walking her dog and chuckling to herself as I approached.

“You’ll need wellies”, she explained, glancing at my shoes.

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Flooded woodland.

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Including over the path.

I managed to get dry-shod past the flooded section of path, but it was surprisingly difficult to do so.

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Flotsam at the Cove.

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Eaves Wood.

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My first attempt at Pain de Campagne. Sadly, it didn’t taste like the wonderful bread we bought in France, but it was still very palatable.

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Daffodil at Far Arnside.

I had a stroll over to Far Arnside to check on the wild daffodils there, but only a few were  open.

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Green Hellebore at Far Arnside.

The Green Hellebore was all flowering though, in several patches on both sides of the path – I can’t decide if it has spread or if I just missed all but the largest patch on previous visits.

I’ve been racking my brains trying to remember what else we did during half-term, aside from me making bread and getting out for local walks. I’m sure we did do other things, but if I didn’t photograph it…..Oh – we decorated B’s room, that occupied a fair deal of time. In the process, I discovered the Radiolab podcast which does science, history, human nature, all of it in a very engaging way. Perfect for when we have time on our hands, you’d think, which makes it all the more inexplicable that I haven’t listened to any episodes for a few weeks. Actually, I think that’s because I got into the habit of listening to it when I was doing boring quotidian tasks – ironing, painting, etc none of which I’ve been doing much of over the last few weeks.

This pattern of frequent local walks over ground which is very familiar, to both myself and regular visitors to this blog, has continued after half-term, particularly since schools were closed and I have been working from home. Which gives me a bit of a dilemma as to how to organise forthcoming posts. I can’t write a post per walk, since then I will never catch up. I don’t think I have the mental capacity to organise the posts thematically, so I shall probably just amalgamate several walks into a single post as I have done here. Anyway, I’ve taken an awful lot of photos, so there will have be some sort of selection process. Gird yourselves.

Lady Love, Robin Trower. The British Jimi Hendrix apparently. I thought we’d adopted Hendrix anyway. Great tune regardless – dig that Cow Bell!

One upside of working from home is that I can listen to music whilst I’m working. I’ve been listening to things I only have on vinyl and haven’t played for years. This one dates back to a compilation album my parents bought me for Christmas when I was a nipper. I remembered how much I liked the compilation, but had forgotten how magnificent this song is.

Walk, Eat, Sleep Repeat.