Mostly Flowers and Mother Shipton

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Solomon’s-seal in Eaves Wood.

A very elegant plant, Solomon’s-seal, even if the flowers are hardly spectacular. We have some in our garden. There is a garden variety, a hybrid of Solomon’s-seal and angular Solomon’s-seal. Apparently, the hybrid is more vigorous than either of the parent plants, which makes me think that what’s growing in both Eaves Wood and our garden is probably not the garden variety, since neither show much inclination to spread.

Just after I took this photo, I spotted a pair of roe deer, I even managed to take a couple of blurred photos, one of which, rather comically, only shows the hind quarters of one of the deer. I think I photographed the same pair on another walk a few days later; they were memorable because one was still in the dull grey-brown of it’s winter coat whereas the other had upgraded to the golden-brown summer coat.

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Every year a solitary sweet woodruff plant appears in the hedge bottom along the lane from home and I welcome it like the returning friend it is and wonder why I don’t see sweet woodruff elsewhere. This year I have found it in a couple of other places, most noticeably in Eaves Wood, where some trees have been cleared it has already spread over quite an area.

It was close to where the herb paris was now flowering…

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Silverweed.

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Crosswort.

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Mayflower – the hawthorns had come into bloom.

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Challan Hall.

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Bird’s-foot trefoil and germander speedwell complementing each other very nicely.

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Early forget-me-not. Perhaps. Minuscule flowers.

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Salad burnet.

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Mouse-ear-hawkweed.

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I’m very fond of mouse-ear-hawkweed, principally, I think, because it’s just about the only yellow-flowered member of the daisy family which is easily identified, due to it’s downy leaves which have silvery undersides. The flowers are also noticeably paler than some of the hawkbits which it might otherwise resemble.

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In the meadow by Challan Hall, I was very taken by the splash of blue provided by these germander speedwells. Not quite as breath-taking as the spring gentians I might have been visiting in Teesdale, if I’d felt a long drive to Teesdale was appropriate during lockdown, but not a bad substitute.

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Wild strawberry flowers.

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I wish I’d taken more care and had a few attempts to photograph this tiny-flowered plant in the woods by Hawes Water. I now think that it’s kidney saxifrage, a plant which is only native to Kerry and West Cork in Ireland, but which has been introduced in Britain.

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I think I dismissed it as a garden escapee and moved on too quickly to look at more familiar plants!

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Common gromwell – an architectural plant much more striking for its leaves than for its unremarkable flowers.

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It took a while to track this down, but I now think that it’s winter cress. It’s bitter and peppery apparently and the leaves appear in December – hence the name.

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This stream, unnamed on the OS map, flows through Little Hawes Water and into Hawes Water, then from Hawes Water through Hawes Water Moss, across the golf course and into Leighton Moss, so I suppose that ultimately it’s one of the sources of Quicksand Pool. The water was particularly clear so that I could see the three-spined stickleback.

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Silvery for most of the year but, in breeding season, male acquires red belly and bluish dorsal sheen.

Collins Complete British Wildlife.

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Tadpoles.

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Brooklime.

A plant generally of streams, although these weren’t growing in an obviously wet spot. The flowers are instantly recognisable as speedwell flowers, and brooklime belongs to the Veronica genus with the speedwells. The fleshy leaves are obviously different however. The full latin name is Veronica beccabunga with the species name beccabunga deriving from the German word ‘beck’ I read, but surely, that’s an English word too?

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Bird’s-eye primrose – a Hawes Water speciality, growing at the southern limit of its range.

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I read online (at a source which I found whilst looking for something else entirely, and which, annoyingly, I can’t currently find) that Hawes Water is a polje, a kind of deep lake particular to karst limestone areas. I know that it is deep and doesn’t freeze over in the winter, which means that, on the rare occasions that it gets very cold here, the surface of the lake can be thronged with waterfowl.

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One of a clump of cowslips all of which had many flowers.

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A newish bench.

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Jackdaws are generally gregarious birds, but when the rest of the clattering took to the wing, spooked by the interloper with the camera, this one decided to remain alone. In fact, coming towards me to pick out a titbit from the grass…

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And yes, clattering is the collective noun for jackdaws apparently. Or train.

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Bugle.

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Peacock butterfly.

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New oak leaves.

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Male large white butterfly on bluebells.

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Lily-of-the-valley leaves.

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Lily-of-the-valley flowers.

This…

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..is Ursula Southeil, better known as Mother Shipton, sixteenth century prophetess. She lives on today as a statue  and a visitor attraction in Knaresborough: you can visit the cave in which she was reputedly born.

She also lends her name to…

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…the Mother Shipton moth. I think you’ll see why.

It’s maybe a bit of a shame that this engagingly patterned moth is named after an unfortunate woman whose neighbours apparently called her hagface.

Initially, when this moth bounced past me, I got all a-flutter because I was looking for Duke of Burgundy butterflies. It was actually too early, I think, for them to be flying, and the Mother Shipton is completely the wrong colours, but I still got in a flap. Once I had my camera steady and pointed in the right direction I recognised the moth, because I’ve seen one once before, in the hills above Whinlatter.

I’ve been back to look for Duke of Burgundies since. Repeatedly. No luck. Again. But I have seen all sorts other interesting things, so not to worry. Next year!

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Gait Barrows limestone pavement.

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Song Thrush. I love the way they have to have absolutely the most prominent perch on offer to sing, like a real diva.

Since some of the trees were cleared from around Hawes Water you get tantalising views of the lake from the higher parts of Gait Barrows. I climbed this small edge..

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…to see if the lake was visible from there. It was, but it’s hard to pick it out in the photo…

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The slight gain in height gave an interesting new perspective on the limestone pavement though…

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Blackbird.

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I think that this might be a sedge warbler. I watched a pair of them seemingly endlessly circuiting between a dense bush and this ash tree, singing constantly. I can say, with some confidence that it is a warbler but not a chiff-chaff, because the song was wrong, but that’s as far as my confidence extends.

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Lots of bugle! This was by the stream again, but this time upstream of Little Hawes Water.

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Common carder bee, perhaps, on bugle.

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The reason photos of Little Hawes Water have never appeared on the blog is that it’s in there somewhere, or perhaps I should say that those trees are in Little Hawes Water, some of them at least, since trees grow in the pond.

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Dandelion clocks.


One of the first blues records I bought was a Howling Wolf compilation. What a choice: Smokestack Lightning, Back Door Man, Moaning at Midnight, Little Red Rooster, Killing Floor, 300 Pounds of Heavenly Joy and this…

It wasn’t until many years later that I heard this much, much older version by the Mississippi Sheiks…

And only last week that I stumbled upon Doc Watson’s rendition…

There are, of course, lots of other covers, by the Grateful Dead, Cream and Jack White for example.

But here’s a bluegrass version…

Mostly Flowers and Mother Shipton

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

Rusland Pool and the River Leven

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A grey day in November. Loyal readers may recognise this view, as I opened a post with it once before. It’s taken from a footbridge over Rusland Pool. On that occasion the view was obscured by mist, I was heading up onto the hill on the right, and I would later get a proper drubbing in an absolute downpour. The best that can be said for the weather this day is that at least it was better than it had been for that previous visit. In fact, although it looked ready to rain all day, I only had to endure a little drizzle.

By the time I’d taken the photo above, I’d already come up and over the wooded ridge between the Rusland Valley and Newby Bridge, where I was parked.

When does a stream become a river? I followed the Rusland downstream, eventually reaching it’s confluence with the River Leven. Rusland Pool is so small it seems appropriate to call it a stream, but on the other hand it does drain an entire valley.

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The confluence of Rusland Pool and the River Leven.

This used to be a favourite spot of mine, it’s so quiet and peaceful. It’s odd that I haven’t visited for many years.

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This was a quiet walk, though I did meet other walkers from time to time. I also had to put up with the continual popping of shotguns from the ‘sportsmen’ who were hunting alarmingly close to where I was walking.

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River Leven.

This was mid-November, and there was actually quite a bit of autumn colour in the trees still, but in the gloom, it hasn’t come out well in photos. The berries have fared better…

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…I think that these are Spindle berries.

I’ve long wanted to have a proper gander at Roudsea Wood. The sign says that you need a permit. There’s a building on the reserve, and I could hear someone inside, so I knocked on the door to ask for a permit, but they didn’t respond. So I took that as tacit permission.

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In the background of this photo…

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…is the Ellerside Ridge, where I’d walked the autumn before.

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Haws.

This Holly seemed unusually endowed with berries…

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Bryony.

I’m always on the lookout for likely looking swimming spots; here on the banks of the Leven someone has constructed their own little diving board …

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There’s a small ladder leaning against a likely looking overhanging branch on the far bank too.

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This is the bridge at Low Wood. It’s a Grade II listed building:

“Bridge. C18 or early C19. Stone rubble. 3 elliptical arches with 2 round cutwaters to each side, which are roughcast, with caps. Parapet has plain coping. Probably associated with Low Wood ironworks, the site later taken over for gunpowder works, of which the Clock Tower works (q.v.) remain.”

from the Historic England website.

Low Wood is a sleepy little hamlet. I sat on a bench and dug out my stove to make a brew. It had warmed up a little, was rather pleasant in fact.

Then suddenly…

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…a host of kayakers appeared, lugging their kayaks back to their cars. I’ve paddled an inflatable canoe down part of the Leven from Windermere, but not the section downstream from Newby Bridge, which I strongly suspect would be a bit too exciting for an inflatable.

I think this…

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…must be the Clock Tower Works referred to above.

“Grade II* A mid-C19 saltpetre refinery associated with Lowwood Gunpowder Works and remains of an earlier C18 ironworks.”

from the Historic England website.

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Backbarrow.

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Another view of Backbarrow. Coniston Old Man, in the background, has a few patches of snow on it.

Back at Newby Bridge, I took some photos of the bridge…

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…hence fulfilling a promise I made here. This is another listed Grade II*:

Bridge over river Leven. Date uncertain, repaired in C17. Stone rubble with limestone coping. Long narrow bridge with 5 segmental arches stepped up to centre, triangular cutwaters between rise to form refuges to both sides.

from the Historic England website.

When I wrote about this bridge before, I said that it had been built in 1651, but Historic England’s ‘repaired in C17’ suggests that it may be even older than that.

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Before I drove home, I sat on a bench overlooking a weir on the Leven and made one final brew.

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A highly enjoyable stroll, despite the grey skies.

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And that, folks, will be my one and only post about last November. What did I do for the rest of the month? Search me!

Rusland Pool and the River Leven

Woolsthorpe Manor House

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During October half-term we visited my parents in Lincolnshire and whilst there had a day out at Woolsthorpe Manor House, the birthplace, in 1642, of Isaac Newton.

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In 1666, Cambridge University closed due to the plague and Newton returned to Woolsthorpe and conducted a number of important experiments on optics. Maybe there’s a modern day Newton, stuck at home right know, about to revolutionise science with an idea germinated in isolation?

Inside the house, a seventeenth century farmhouse, there were fascinating exhibits on optics and also a room dedicated to the Apollo 11 moon landing, with it being the 30 year anniversary.

In the garden, there’s an apple tree…

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…which is not the actual one from which a falling apple reputedly inspired Newton to conceive his theory of gravitation, but which is descended from it. Presumably from a cutting, which would mean that it is genetically identical to the original tree*.

The National Trust had clearly made an effort to make the most of quite a small space and there were exhibits in another building and various other attractions, including garden Jenga…

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A had just demolished the tower here, much to everyone else’s amusement.

And a Lego moon lander…

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There’s also a small cafe at Woolsthorpe, but they didn’t have anything to offer the vegan members of our party, so we drove to another National Trust property nearby, Belton House and had a very late lunch there. We were too late to have a look around the house, but Belton has an impressive playground within its substantial grounds and the boys, and maybe one or two other members of the family, are not too old to appreciate that sort of thing. We looked around Belton House years ago, so long ago, in fact, that it was pre-blog so there are no photos here that I can share. We’ll have to go back.

I didn’t mind the fact that lunch was late, since I’d had a very substantial breakfast….

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…I’m usually too intent on eating to remember to photograph my meals, but I took a picture this time so that I could remind my mum (hello Mum!), not to be so stingy with the tomatoes next time she makes me breakfast (thank you!).

* I’m a bit geeky about apples. They have a fascinating history. Most apple varieties don’t produce seed unless they are cross-pollinated with another kind of apple. The resulting trees have very unpredictable qualities, since apples seem to produce a great deal of mutations. So to retain the properties of the fruit produced by a tree it’s necessary to take a cutting. Which means that all apples of any particular variety are genetically identical. I think!

Woolsthorpe Manor House

Afsluitdijk

More holiday snaps, but these are of a much greater vintage.

The day after our failed island-hopping exploits we drove across northern Germany and then crossed the Afsluitdijk the dam/causeway which turned the Zuiderzee, a huge bay, into the freshwater Ijsselmeer. It was an extremely windy day and one carriageway of the road was closed, with the wind whipping the Ijsselmeer into impressive waves. The Afsluitdijk is 20 miles long and it was quite odd driving along it, knowing that we were on a narrow strip of land with large expanses of apparently angry water on either side of us. It would have been nice to stop to have a look, but it really wasn’t the day for it.

I’ve been across the Afsluitdijk before. In the summer of 1968. When my parents heard that we were heading that way last summer, they sent me some photos from my previous crossing.

We were in a mini, my parents and my grandparents and me. I’m told it was a hot summer – it must have been fun with 5 of us in a such a tiny car; three smokers and one very car-sick toddler. Here’s a photo of the Afsluitdijk in 1968…

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…which I presume my dad took. The pale blue car with cases on the roof may well be our mini.

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And here are my grandparents, Sid and Flo, younger then than I am now, which seems quite odd, and my mum and me. I’m in the fetching baby-blue hoodie. I was almost as cute then as I am now.

Afsluitdijk

Sunderland Point

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Looking across the Lune.

Oh, I haven’t done that for a while: this post ought to have preceded my last one. Not to worry.

This was another, short, half-term wander. One of our cars was booked in for a warranty service at a garage on the White Lund industrial estate between Lancaster and Morecambe. At the last minute, the offer of a courtesy car was withdrawn. Since we had other things to do later in the day, that left us with some logistical difficulties. We decided to try to make something of the morning, so TBH followed me to the garage and then we continued south to the small village of Sunderland Point.

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The causeway road which is the only one in and out of Sunderland Point.

It’s a crazy thing that I’ve never been to Sunderland Point before, even though I’ve lived in the area for nearly 30 years. Twice a day, the tide rises over the access road and the village is cut off from its neighbours.

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Sea Beet.

It was an overcast and windy day and we were pushed for time, so we kept our walk short and I didn’t take as many photos as I might have done. I noticed a lot of seashore plants – these Sea-beet, some Horned Poppies, Sea Campion for example – and was thinking that I must return some time to have a more leisurely look around.

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Dryad’s Saddle.

I was keen to see this…

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Horizon Line Chamber by artist Chris Drury.

Which is just a little way around the coast from the village. It’s a camera obscura, with a small lens in the wall which projects an inverted image onto the opposite wall.

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Image inside the chamber.

There’s more about the project on the artist’s website here. Including this delightful film…

Visiting on a gloomy day probably wasn’t a great choice, so I intend to come to have another look when the sun is shining.

The chamber is close to…

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Sambo’s grave.

A relic of Lancaster’s history as one of the ports engaged in the transatlantic slave trade. Sambo was a former cabin boy who came to Sunderland Point in 1736 and, having died of a fever, was not buried in consecrated ground. This plaque…

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…dated 1796, features a poem written by Reverend James Watson.

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Sculpture by Ray Schofield, who lived in the house opposite where the sculpture is now sited.

Sunderland Point

Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens

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Many moons ago, we toured Doddington Hall with my Mum and Dad. It’s not too far from where they live. On the second day of our trip to Lincolnshire this summer, TBH and I were eager to go again. For some reason, Dad wasn’t so keen, and kept turning up alternatives which he thought might appeal to the kids. He balked however, at the idea of accompanying them on a treetop trek, so in the end Doddington Hall won out.

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There was a wedding in the hall that day, so we were restricted to the gardens, but that kept us well occupied beyond the advertised closing time, so it wasn’t really a problem.

Be warned, if you’re planning a visit: there are signs near the entrance forbidding picnics in the gardens. There’s a lot of green space at the back of the carpark though, which was a halfway decent alternative, but a bit rough on my Mum and Dad who prefer not to sit on the ground these days (or prefer not to have to get up again, anyway).

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There is a cafe in one of the many estate buildings, which looked to be doing a roaring trade. I’m told that the cakes that some of the party sampled there later in the day were very good. The wasps certainly liked them.

Just by where we picnicked, there was a small pond…

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And so some potential for flora and fauna…

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Common Darter (I think).

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Tachina Fera on Mayweed – both very tentative identifications.

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Tachina Fera again.

This photo shows the strong black stripe on an orange abdomen which makes me think that this fly is Tachina Fera. The larvae of this fly parasitise caterpillars.

The plant is Gipsywort…

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“Rogues masquerading as itinerant fortune-tellers and magicians used in past centuries to daub their bodies with a strong black dye produced from gipsywort, in order to pass themselves off as Egyptians and Africans. Swarthy looks were supposed to lend greater credibility to these vagabonds when they told fortunes; it was this use that gave the plant its names of gipsywort and Egyptian’s herb.”

Reader’s Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain

Moving into the gardens…

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Little S was particularly impressed with the huge…

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…squashes, pumpkins? I’m not sure which.

He won’t really remember our last visit, since he was barely a year old at the time.

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Small Tortoiseshell.

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Large White.

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Moorhen.

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Another Tortoiseshell.

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This bee was absolutely coated in golden pollen, having just emerged…

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…from a courgette flower.

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Something that really stuck in my memory from our previous visit were these gnarly old Sweet Chestnut Trees.

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They predate the hall, making them very, very old indeed.

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One more Tortoiseshell.

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The gatehouse.

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Unicorn topiary.

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The Hall is Elizabethan and was built, between 1595 and 1600, by Robert Smythson, who was the master stonemason when Longleat was built and who also designed the highly impressive Hardwick Hall, among others. Apparently, it has never been sold, which must be highly unusual. These days it seems to be the centre of a thriving industry, with several shops in the grounds, as well as the cafe and weddings. Not to mention the biennial sculpture exhibition in the gardens….of which, more to follow…

Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens

Terracotta Warriors.

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A few less photos in this post compared to the last (mammoth) one. Not that there wasn’t just as much of interest to see at the World Museum in Liverpool, in particular in their Terracotta Warriors exhibition, but it was quite dark in the exhibition, and extremely busy, so I didn’t take many photos and of those I took most are quite blurred.

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The exhibition, which covered a substantial period of Chinese history and several generations of royal tomb burials, was absolutely fascinating. I was particularly struck by this huge bronze bowl, which weighs 212kg and was buried on top of a pit filled with terracotta strongmen and acrobats – apparently the bowl would have been lifted by strongmen as part of a performance.

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We’ve been to the World Museum before, in fact this was Little S’s fourth visit, since we recommended the Egyptology section of the museum to the local primary school. On this occasion, we were joined by family fried X-Ray who’d expressed an interest in seeing the exhibition way back at the start of the year when we booked the tickets. The World Museum is always a great place to visit and we did the full tour again, including a planetarium show. We were hoping to have time to visit Liverpool’s Central Library again too, and/or the Walker Art Museum, but didn’t, partly due to the all too familiar incompetence of Northern Rail (I’ll spare you the details).

 

Terracotta Warriors.

Chateau de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

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With the chateau dominating the view from the campsite, it was almost inevitable that we would want to look around it during our stay, especially since many of the party are big fans of castles. Also, we had to settle an argument between TJS and his Dad about whether or not they had ever toured the chateau before. (They had. TJS had already been backtracking on his original vehement denials of that fact.)

We walked from the campsite and then up the hill, avoiding the route signposted as steep and unsuitable for pushchairs – not that we had any pushchairs, but it was extremely hot and so we wanted to take the easiest possible route.

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The castle was superb, with the added bonus of fantastic views of the Dordogne valley.

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And also of the Céou valley where we were camped…

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Much as we enjoyed our outing, we sought every opportunity to find some shade and take a rest. C, as you can tell, was very absorbed in her book….

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Inside. I told TJS I would take a photograph of him and the armoured rider. He obliged by looking away from the camera…

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…several times!

The castle had winding staircases, battlements, and quite a display of armour and armaments…

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I loved this sort of thing when I was a kid, and, well, in honesty, I still do.

TBH, J and I watched a sort of animated tableau telling the story of the siege of Castelnaud. We watched three times in fact, the first two with a commentary in french. It was clear that ‘les Anglaise’ were the villains of the piece and I assumed that they were the besiegers, but in fact, the third repeat and it’s english translation of the tale revealed that the castle at that time, 1442, was held by forces loyal to England. The castle was substantially rebuilt in 1214 by Simon de Montfort, who I associate with Leicester where I grew up, but, whilst he was Earl of Leicester, he also held lands in France and seems to have lived in France (it was his son, the VIth Simon de Montfort who had a greater role in English history).

We also watched a film about siege engines and there were a number of trebuchet on display on the ramparts.

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The chateau along the Dordogne here…

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…is Beynac, which will have to wait for or next visit before we look around it…

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It certainly looks promising.

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Dordogne panorama.

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I always like to find images of St. George. This carved example would have originally held a lance in those upraised arms, but now that his spear has gone missing it looks like George has thrown his hands up in surrender, or that he’s trying to lead the dragon in some sort of dance – YMCA perhaps?

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B was happy. C still wrapped up in her reading!

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J and TBH, in the stocks?

When we’ finished our tour of the castle we still had a wander back down through the village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle to enjoy.

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We popped into the church…

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Well, most of us did…

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C was more intent on finishing her obviously very gripping book.

And, as ever, I was interested in the stained-glass windows. This…

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…is St. Denis, patron saint of France, apparently. How did I not know that until now? A third century martyr and Bishop of Paris. So he was actually French, unlike George, our own patron saint, the Village People fan, who was Greek.

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There seem to have been two St. Henry’s: one Holy Roman Emperor and latterly King of Germany and the other an english clergyman who became a bishop in Sweden. Perhaps the crown here is a clue and this is the first of them?

One final view…

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…this is the ridge of Les Jardins de Marqueyssac, where TBH and I had spent the previous day.

Another fabulous day in the Dordogne region, but it was almost time to move on…

Chateau de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Lancaster: Lune, Freeman’s Pools, St. George’s Quay.

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Comma.

A Friday evening and we’re saying farewell to colleagues who are moving on to pastures new. The plan is to go straight from work: pub, pizzeria, pub. Since I’ve been avoiding both alcohol and pizza this year, this presents something of a challenge. We have to preorder our meal, which significantly reduces temptation, so I decide to skip the ale and just go for a tomato salad and small Quattro Stagioni. So, whilst my friends are collecting in a convivial hostelry, I squeeze in a short walk around Lancaster.

I park down on St. Georges Quay which is reasonably convenient for the restaurant and for a walk along the Lune and has some of the only unrestricted street-parking in the centre of town to boot. I set-off along the banks of the river. The bank here has a substantial area of waste ground, now given over to Buddleia, on which I’m disappointed not to spot a single butterfly. On the far side of the road a former factory site has been built upon; I haven’t been this way for quite some time and I’m surprised by the number of new houses which have appeared.

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Lune.

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Tall (or Golden) Melilot. I think, apparently very difficult to distinguish from Ribbed Melilot. Especially since both are equally tall, golden and ribbed.

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Evening Primrose. Another species, like the Melilot, which is both introduced and confusing: there are four species of Evening Primrose found in Britain, but they are hard to distinguish and hybridise anyway.

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Marsh Woundwort.

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Freeman’s Pools.

Although I know for a fact that I have been along this path before, more than once, I don’t remember the Wildlife Trust Reserve Freeman’s Pools. It’s one of several reserves near to the mouth of the Lune which I intend to explore at some point. I’d originally planned to continue along the river here, but time is tight, so I turn inland on the path which runs through the thin strip of trees which is Freeman’s Wood. In the wood I’m quite surprised to encounter a Jay.

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One of the many Loosestrifes. We have something similar in our garden, but the flowers are distributed up the entire length of the stem – I think ours might be Dotted Loosestrife. These look most like straightforward Yellow Loosestrife, except for the orange centre to the flowers, which is characteristic of other Loosestrifes. Ho-hum.

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The Comma again.

Back in town, I walk though Abraham Heights on Westbourne Road, before turning past the railway station to the castle and…

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Lancaster Priory.

Ordinarily, I would pop inside to have a gander, but our booking is fairly soon (and I’ve been in many, many times before). I also don’t divert to take in the foundations of a Roman Bathhouse, but do pause to photograph…

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…the view from by The Priory, across the Bay towards the lake District. The hills of Cumbria look a bit indistinct and unimpressive in my photo, but this view is actually excellent and during the winter I often came here at lunchtimes to take it in.

I head downhill, back to the quay.

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Maritime Museum.

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Richard Gillow was the son of Robert Gillow the founder of a Lancaster furniture company, thought to be the first to import mahogany to Britain. As well as importing exotic timber and exporting Gillows’ furniture, his ships also traded in sugar and rum from the Caribbean, wine from the Canary Islands, and were probably involved in the slave trade.

The old warehouses along the quay have been converted into homes and offices.

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Former Warehouses.

The pub with all of the hanging baskets outside is the Waggon and Horses where I’ve been a member of the Quiz team for many years.

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Lune and St. George’s Quay.

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Lancaster: Lune, Freeman’s Pools, St. George’s Quay.