Loopy

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Eaves Wood

The first of May, the Saturday of the Bank Holiday weekend. The weather was obviously a bit changeable with some sunshine, but some very dark clouds and showers about too. I managed to eke out 5 miles by walking small loops, returning to the house each time; one through Eaves Wood, one via the Cove and the Lots, and finally which took me to Woodwell.

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Morecambe Bay from the Cove
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Green-winged Orchid on the Lots.
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I think this might be an Acer, but I’m not good at garden plants. I liked the cheerful colours though.
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Coralroot.

I’m always happy to spot the mauve flowers of Coralroot. I knew that it probably wasn’t native to this area, but didn’t realise just how rare it is in the UK.

Coralroot distribution map. Blue dots show native populations.
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Bottoms Wood, decked out with Wild Garlic.
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New Beech leaves
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Ominous clouds and the distant Howgill Fells.

This last photo was the last of several failed attempts to catch the drama of these dark clouds with one tiny cloud on the right really catching the sun and shining quite brightly. It was quite a sight.

I would be heading out in the direction of the Howgills the following day.

Loopy

Birds, birds, birds…and Primroses

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Early April, when the branches are mostly bare and the birds are busy mating and nesting is a great time to spot and take photos of birds. This Bullfinch photo is a bit of a cheat, since it wasn’t taken on a walk, but through our window, by where I was sitting on a Thursday evening.

On the Friday, when I got home from work, having finished for the Easter break, I headed out for a wander round Heald Brow, to the south of the village.

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View of The Howgills.
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Forsythia catching the sun.
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Hazelwood Hall.

I think someone had been doing some major pruning, because a better view of Hazelwood Hall had opened up from the adjoining Hollins Lane. My interest in the hall is due to the gardens, which I believed to be designed by Lancaster architect Thomas Mawson, although the current Wikipedia entry is slightly confusing on that score and seems to imply, in one section, that in fact Mawson’s son Prentice was responsible, only, later on, to state that it was Mawson himself who designed the garden working with another son Edward.

Hazelwood Hall 1926

Certainly the tiered terraces, the loggia and the use of stone pergolas are very similar to other Mawson gardens I’ve visited.

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On Heald Brow, I noticed a Great-spotted Woodpecker in a very distant tree. I’ve included the photo, rubbish though it is, just to remind myself that I saw it, because, quite frankly, I was chuffed that I could pick it out in the tree-tops.

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Likewise this Bullfinch. I know that it’s the second of this post, but I don’t seem to have seen many this year.

The Saturday was a glorious day, a great start to our holidays, so I set-off for Gait Barrows in search of birds and butterflies.

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Violets

I did take no end of photos of butterflies and other insects and even more of birds, but above all else I took pictures of Primroses which seem to have proliferated all around the reserve.

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Primroses with Bee-fly.
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Blue moor grass – typical of limestone grassland.
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Hazel catkins catching the sun
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All that’s left of one of the former hedgerows. Still need to have a proper look at what’s grown back.
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A Drone Fly, I think, but it’s the texture of the wood which I really like.

There were Drone flies everywhere and I took lots of, I suppose, quite pointless photographs of them, but then occasionally what I took to be another Drone Fly would instead transpire to be something more interesting, like this Bee-fly…

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I was quite surprised to see this machinery in the woods by Hawes Water, but the path from Challan Hall around to Moss Lane, which is supposed to be wheelchair friendly, had been getting increasingly muddy and Natural England were having it widened and resurfaced, so bully for them.

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Cherry blossom?
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I can’t really identify lichens and, I think because I can’t, I don’t always pay them the attention they merit. I think this is Ramalina farinacea, but I wouldn’t take my word for it, and, looking again, I think there are probably at least three different lichens in the photo above.

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Honeysuckle leaves, some of the earliest to appear, catching the light.
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Although it was months ago, I remember my encounter with this Comma butterfly very vividly. It was sunning itself on some limestone, as you can see, and I slowly edged toward it, taking a new photo after each stride. Eventually, I upset it and it moved, finally settling on a nearby tree-trunk, at which point I started edging forward again.

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What struck me was that, if I hadn’t seen the Comma land, I don’t think I would have picked it out. Whilst the underside of its wings are drab in comparison to the patterned orange of the upper wings, the underwings are beautifully adapted to conceal the butterfly in a superb imitation of a tatty dead leaf.

This…

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…is a warbler. I don’t think it’s a Chiff-chaff, they have a very distinctive song which I can actually recognise, so I can recall getting excited because this had a different song. Sadly, I can’t remember the song at all, and can’t identify which warbler this is without that additional clue.

No such confusion here…

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…this is a make Kestrel. I wish I’d managed to capture it in flight when it’s colours looked stunning.

And I suspect that this is a Chiff-chaff…

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Though I couldn’t swear to it.

Another mystery here…

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…with a bone suspended in a Blackthorn bush. I know that Shrikes impale their prey on the thorns of this tree, but Shrikes are quite small and I think that this bone is probably a bit too big for that. Also, Shrikes are very rare in the UK these days and are not generally seen this far West (although I know that they have occasionally been spotted at Leighton Moss).

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Ash flowers beginning to emerge.
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More Hazel catkins.
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And again!
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White violets.

I was back at Gait Barrows the following day, but the skies were dull and I didn’t take many photos. On the Monday, I had another local wander, including a visit to The Cove…

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The Tuesday was a bit special, so I shall save that for my next post…

Birds, birds, birds…and Primroses

October 2020: More Showers, Rainbows, and Big Clouds.

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The view from Castlebarrow.

The title pretty much sums it up. Photos from lots of different local walks, taken during the second half of October. I was aware that some people were beginning to travel a little further afield for their exercise, but somehow my own radius of activity seemed to shrink to local favourite spots not too far from the village.

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Crepuscular rays on the Bay.
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Rainbow over The Lots

This is my mate D and his pug. I often meet him when I’m out for a local walk. I think I’ve mentioned before how much bumping into neighbours whilst out and about has helped during the lockdown in all of it guises.

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The sun dips towards the sea, from Castle Barrow.

I can’t remember exactly when this happened – let’s assume it was October: I bumped into a chap carrying a fair bit of camera gear in Eaves Wood. He asked if he was going the right way to the Pepper Pot. He was. I saw him again on the top. It turned out he’s working on a book, one in a series, about where to take photos from in the North-West. Based in Lancaster, he’d never been to the Pepper Pot before. Funny how that can happen. Cloud had rolled in and the chances of a decent sunset looked a bit poor. I saw him again, a few weeks later, this time he’d set up his camera and tripod a little further West, in a spot I’d suggested. I hope he got his sunset.

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A paper round rainbow. Just prior to a proper drenching.
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TBH in Eaves Wood.
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Among all the changes which Natural England have been carrying out at Gait Barrows – raising the water level, felling trees, removing fences, putting up new fences in other places etc, they’ve also renovated this old summer house by Hawes Water. Presently, it’s still locked, but eventually it will be an information centre and a vantage point to look out over the lake.
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Around this time, TBH started to take a regular weekend walk together around Jenny Brown’s Point. It was interesting to watch the channel from Quicksand Pool change each week and to contrast the weather and the tides each week.
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Traveller’s Joy by Jenny Brown’s Point.
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From Castlebarrow, heavy showers tracking in from The Bay.
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Late sun from Castlebarrow again.
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The lights of Grange from The Cove.
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Sunrise from our garden.
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TBH by the Pepper Pot on Castlebarrow.
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Post sunset from Castlebarrow.
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The last of the light from The Cove.
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Silverdale Moss from the rim of Middlebarrow Quarry. It had just finished raining, or was just about to rain, or probably both.
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Autumnal birches with a rainbow behind.
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The Shelter Stone Trowbarrow Quarry.
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Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.
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The Copper Smelting Works Chimney near Jenny Brown’s and more heavy showers.
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Jenny Brown’s Cottages.
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The Bay from The Cove on a very grey day!
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Cows in the rain.

The brown cow at the back here is a bull. I’d walked through the fields on Heald Brow where they were grazing a few times and he’d never batted an eyelid. But on this day he and a few of his harem where stationed in a gateway. I was considering my options and wondering whether to turn back, but when I got within about 50 yards the bull suddenly started to run. At quite a canter. Fortunately, it was away from me and not towards – he was obviously even more of a wuss than me!

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A White-lipped Snail – the rain isn’t universally disliked.
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Clougha across the Bay.
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Little Egret.
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The yellow feet are a good distinguishing feature.
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Picnic lunch – apple, mushroom soup and a selection of cheeses.

I decided that the best way to make the most of sometimes limited windows at weekends was to head out in the middle of the day and to eat somewhere on my walk. This bench overlooking the Kent Estuary was a particular favourite. Haven’t been there for a while now – must rectify that.

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The tide had heaped up fallen leaves in a long sinuous line.
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Scot’s Pines on Arnside Knott.
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Birches on Arnside Knott.
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Whitbarrow from Arnside Knott.
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River Kent from Arnside Knott.
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A flooded Silverdale Moss from Arnside Knott. Ingleborough in the background
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Arnside Tower.
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Clouds catching late light.
October 2020: More Showers, Rainbows, and Big Clouds.

Step Right Up!

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Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!

And blow, blow they certainly did. We’re well acquainted with Atlantic storms up here in the North Wet, but we don’t often get really severe winds in the summer when the trees are in their summery finery. TBH warned me not to go down to the beach, so, of course, curiosity got the better of me and I had to go and take a look. And after I’d had a look, I abandoned any thought I’d entertained of heading out onto the sands, turned tail and sort the shelter of the woods. The woodland floor was carpeted with leaves and twigs, but it was still relatively sheltered in there.

Which begs the question, why did I venture out of the woods and across the fields by Black Dyke? I don’t remember, but I do remember that it was more than a bit draughty, was spitting with rain and that dark clouds seemed to be threatening worse to come.

Goldfinches seem to be almost ubiquitous these days; I watched a family of half a dozen flitting back and forth between an ash tree on the edge of the woods and the electric fence. I guess they were impervious because they weren’t earthed?

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Black Dyke.

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The footbridge over Leighton Beck – not much water running under it.

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Middlebarrow and Arnside Tower from the far side of Silverdale Moss.

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I’ve made many visits to Lambert’s Meadow this year. It seems to be a very fruitful spot for insect photos, particularly in the vicinity of this sprawling guelder rose hedge.

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Green-veined white butterfly.

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Marsh thistle. I think.

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The first I’d seen flowering this year.

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I thought they looked rather fine and this early bumblebee liked them too.

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Red campion. Is pink. Why not pink campion?

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Sorrel.

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The Jubilee Wood car-park on the edge of Eaves Wood. Until a day or two before this photo was taken, the car park had been closed and roped off, but here it is open and fairly busy again, reflecting the beginning of the easing of the lockdown restrictions. (This is from about a week before the end of May.)


Tunes – today amusing songs which are also great to listen too in their own right. First up…

‘Here Come the Judge’ by Pigmeat Markham

Allegedly, the first rap record, from 1968.

Then, ‘Werewolves of London’ by Warren Zevon. This one brings back happy memories of howling along with the kids in the car. This was before the boys started laughing at my musical tastes, listening to grime and opening conversations with barely articulated Caribbean slang like, ‘Wagwan fam?’

The next is a song I’ve only recently come across, ‘Sharon’ by David Bromberg.

What those three all have in common, is that they are the only songs I know by each of the artists. To finish, here’s a song by someone who, by contrast, I’ve followed since discovering great songs like this when I was at school, way back when…

That’s so clever.

Can’t help thinking I’m spoiling you here! What else should I have included? ‘Funky Gibbon’? ‘The Streak’? ‘Shut Up’ by Madness? These are all pretty old songs, I’m obviously missing some more recent possibilities.

Step Right Up!

The Lazy Trumpeter

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Early light on the new leaves at the circle of beeches.

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Squirrel.

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Pano from Castlebarrow. (Click on this, or any other, picture to see a larger image on flickr)

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Orchids on the Lots.

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Early purple orchid.

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Welsh poppies.

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Bottoms Farm.

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Post sunset at The Cove.

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The entire beach has acquired a silver-grey crust. Not the best light to show it, I know.

So, back to my wish list of lockdown activities. Have I ‘practiced my trumpet playing’?. Have I heck. It sits in its case under my desk, just as it has for years. Perhaps I should explain – in my teens I was in a brass band. It was great fun, but I was a lousy musician: I didn’t practice enough. I didn’t play the trumpet. I started at second baritone horn and slowly progressed to first euphonium, not because of any progress on my part, but because it was a junior band and the other players grew up and left for pastures new. Mostly the senior band which practised in the same hall. I don’t remember anybody playing the trumpet, the closest we had was a solitary flugelhorn and a host of cornets. In good time, I moved away myself, and for many years didn’t play an instrument.

Anyway, some years ago, when all our kids were learning to play various instruments,  I decided that it was a shame that I’d ditched mine and decided to buy a trumpet – that being smaller and cheaper than what I’d played before. I did practice for a while, but my enthusiasm didn’t last all that long. I thought while we were off that I would have loads of time on my hands and would get started again, but it hasn’t really played out that way. Tomorrow though….I’m bound to pick it up again. There’s always tomorrow!


This…

…as well as providing the title for the post, is the piece which I remember most affectionately from my brass band days.

This is obviously very different. I saw Kid Koala live down in London many years ago with my brother. I think he was the support act, but I can’t remember who it was he was supporting. I do remember being spellbound when he performed this.

And from ‘Drunk Trumpet to ‘The Piano Has Been Drinking’:

The Lazy Trumpeter

The Sands and The Knott

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The Cove.

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Looking back to the Cove.

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Heathwaite and Arnside Knott.

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Aiming for Humphrey Head.

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Following an old tide-line.

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Cockle shell.

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Common otter shells.

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Tellin.

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In a variety of hues.

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There was plenty of evidence of shelduck. Not only footprints!

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I followed the edge of the channel in again, but this time, hitting land, I took the steep path up to Heathwaite.

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Spring cinquefoil – I assumed I was seeing good old ubiquitous tormentil, but when I looked at the photo I realised that the flower has five petals not four. And then I discovered that tormentil doesn’t flower till June. So – not a rare flower, but new to me, so I’m chuffed.

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New oak leaves.

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I’ve been giving a lot of thought, since a comment from Conrad, about where the best viewpoints in the area are located, which is a very pleasant thing to ponder whilst out aimlessly wandering. The spot this photo was taken from, at the top of the shilla slope on Arnside Knott, would rank high on my list.

It was very hazy on this day, but there’s a good view of the Bay, of the Forest of Bowland, and over Silverdale Moss…

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…to Ingleborough, which you’ll be able to pick out if you are using a large screen. (You can click on the photo to see a zoomable version on flickr)

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Wood sorrel.

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Chaffinch.

I took lots of bird photos on this walk, but they were almost all of them blurred, or photos of where a bird had just been perched. A couple of nuthatches were particular offenders in that regard.

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A very hazy view towards the Lakes.

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Song thrush.

This thrush, unlike most of the birds I’d seen, was very comfortable with my presence and happily hopped about catching small wriggling mouthfuls in the grass.  Absolutely charming to watch.


Now, why would you cover an Otis Redding song? Seems to me you are on a hiding to nothing. But, it happens. A lot. So what do I know?

And having said that, I think Toots and the Maytals do a pretty fair job…

..I am a big fan of the Maytals though. Their version of ‘Country Roads’ is superb. And their own ‘Funky Kingston’ is one of my favourite tunes. There are lots of other covers, by the Grateful Dead, the Black Crowes, Tom Jones for example.

This is not a cover…

…apparently? It has different words and a new title, but I can’t help feeling that it sounds a little familiar?

The Sands and The Knott

The Other Kingdoms

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Cheery cherry blossom on Cove Road.

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Grange-Over-Sands from the Cove.

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The Bay and Humphrey Head from the Cove.

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Eaves Wood – the path to the beech circle.

The Other Kingdoms

Consider the other kingdoms.  The
trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.
Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
different arrivals.  Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze.  Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be.  Thus the world
grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.

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Squirrel.

Another item from my list was ‘read more poetry’ a goal which I have singularly failed to meet.

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New beech leaves.

It’s usually at this time of year that I become most enthusiastic about poetry, habitually scanning through my e.e.cummings collection, looking for something new about spring to furnish a post full of photographs of the usual collection of my favourite springtime images. Newly emerged beech leaves, for example.

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This year cummings should have had a run for his money because I’ve acquired large collections by Frost, MacCaig and Oliver all of which I was very keen to dip in to.

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Caledonian pines.

However, I have been reading ‘War and Peace’, another item from my list, which has turned out to be pretty all-consuming. Fortunately, I’d already read quite a chunk of the Mary Oliver collection before I completely submerged in Tolstoy.

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My first speckled wood butterfly of the year.

I’ve finished now. Well, I say I’ve finished; in fact I have a handful of pages of the epilogue left still to read. Which probably seems a bit odd, but in the last 50 or so pages Tolstoy abandons his characters (again) and turns back to tub-thumping. Historians have all got it wrong and he is just the man to set them straight.

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Speckled wood butterfly – my first of the year, looking newly minted.

Don’t get me wrong: although it took a while, I was completely hooked by the book and really enjoyed the various intertwined stories of the characters. But there are many lengthy historical sections about the stupidity, vanity and in-fighting of generals which are not so interesting. In particular, Tolstoy is at pains to dismiss any notion that Napoleon was is any way a military genius and spends many pages making his point. There are also several philosophical digressions about history and what drives the actions of nations and peoples. Whenever I was reading these sections I was reminded of the Gang of Four song ‘It’s Not Made by Great Men’, which makes the same point but way more succinctly.

Whilst these digression are often interesting in themselves, I did find they were often a frustrating distraction from the story. Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’ has sections of polemic laced through the story which, it seemed to me, are entirely redundant. And I’ve heard it said of Moby Dick that it’s best to skip the chapters which are solely Melville’s detailed descriptions of Atlantic whaling. Having said that, Tolstoy’s character assassination of Napoleon is hilarious, and I’ve just found a guide to the book which says, ‘Anyone who tells you that you can skip the “War” parts and only read the “Peace” parts is an idiot.’ It also says that the book will take 10 days at most to read and I’ve been reading it for more than a month. So, doubly an idiot, obviously.

The journey of the central characters is totally absorbing though, so I would definitely recommend it.

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Untidy nest.

Anyway, back to the walk: when I first spotted this nest, it had two crows in it and I got inordinately excited, as I always do when I find an occupied nest. However, they soon left the nest and on subsequent visits the nest has always looked empty. Now the leaves on the surrounding trees are so dense that I can’t even see the nest.

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Crow.

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On our walks together TBH and I have frequently found ourselves passing comment on the fact that livestock seem to be being regularly moved about. I don’t know whether that’s standard husbandry or perhaps because of the prolonged dry spell we’ve had.

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There’s a herd of young calves, for instance, on the fields between Holgates and Far Arnside which seem to have been moved into just about every available field at some point.

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I was examining these trees, trying to work out which was coming into leaf first, and only then noticed all the splendid dandelions.

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Dandelions.

Of course, once you stop to look at the flowers, then you notice other things of interest too…

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Red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius))

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Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum).

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Daisies (of the Galaxy)

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Ash flowers.

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Silver birches line a path on the Knott.

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And have come into leave.

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Beech buds.

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Partially opened.

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Opened.

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Hazy views from the Knott.

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Herb Paris…

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…flowering this time.

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Bramble leaf.

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Linnets. (?)

I got very excited about this pair, purely because I didn’t know what they were. I’ve subsequently decided that they are linnets, but I have a poor record when it comes to identifying this species, having previously incorrectly identified red poll as linnets on more than one occasion. If they are linnets, then they’re missing the striking red breast and throat of a male linnet in its breeding plumage.

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There were several small groups of birds flitting overhead, including, I think, more linnets and, without any doubt, a small charm of goldfinches.

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Goldfinches.

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I also caught a fleeting glimpse of what I think was a redstart – I’ve only seen them in the hills before and was doubting my own eyes to a certain extent, but they do arrive in the UK in April and the RSPB distribution map does show them as present in this area, and mentions that they favour coastal scrub when in passage, so maybe I was right after all.


One of my favourite Clash songs…

“You see, he feels like Ivan
Born under the Brixton sun
His game is called survivin’
At the end of The Harder They Come”

Ivan is the character played by Jimmy Cliff in the film ‘Harder They Come’, so it’s entirely appropriate that Jimmy Cliff eventually covered the song…

I always enjoy Nouvelle Vague’s unique take on punk and post-punk songs, it’s well worth a trawl through their repertoire..

And of course, the Paul Simenon’s, bass line was sampled by Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, for Beats International’s ‘Dub Be Good to Me’…

It’s been covered by German band Die Toten Hosen and live by the Red Hit Chilli Peppers, and Arcade Fire, and probably lots of others. There’s a nice dub version out there and Cypress Hill didn’t so much sample it as rewrite the lyrics for their ‘What’s Your Number?’.

The Other Kingdoms

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

Third Stone From The Sun

Hagg Wood – Burtonwell Wood – Lambert’s Meadow – Bank Well – Myer’s Allotment – Trowbarrow Quarry – Eaves Wood – Elmslack.

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I watched this blue tit going in and out of a narrow crevice in an oak tree close to home. I took several photos, all blurred, except for the ones where the bird was too quick, or I was too slow and all the pictures show is a tree trunk. These two are the least bad. I assumed that there must be a nest here, but on subsequent visits I haven’t noticed any further activity.

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Marsh Marigolds at Lambert’s Meadow.

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Female Chaffinch with nesting material.

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New sycamore leaves.

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Dog Mercury – virtually ubiquitous in our woods, with nondescript flower so easily overlooked.

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Buzzard.

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Myer’s Allotment.

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Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.

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Silverdale Station with train – any passengers?

I’ve been intrigued by our local bus and train services. Both the buses and the trains seem to be travelling without passengers, at least most of the time. There’s something very poignant about the apparently futile, but quietly heroic effort to keep these services running in the present circumstances.

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Trowbarrow Quarry.

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Dandelions?

Yellow dandelion-like flowers are often still a bit of a mystery to me. With tiny leaves and very-short stems, these didn’t look like very typical dandelions, but I think that may just be down to the impoverished soil of the quarry floor.

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Comma on willow catkins.

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Peacock.

This was an excellent walk for butterflies. There were brimstones about too, but they wouldn’t pose for photos.

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Bee fly.

Three years ago I didn’t know what a bee fly was; now I realise that, in early April, they are everywhere. Another indication of the value of putting a name to the things that you notice whilst out and about.

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Coltsfoot.

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Forget-me-nots.

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Violets and celandines.

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Primroses.

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Grey squirrel.

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Wren.

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Woodrush.

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Elmslack.

This roadside verge is one of the most cheering sights when the sun is shining and the celandines are flowering.

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Celandines.

The flowers close when the sun isn’t shining, but the way they strain towards the sun when it is on show is almost comical: like a class full of primary school kids with their hands up, all earnestly entreating their teacher, “Pick me, pick me”.

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Quince.

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Definitely dandelions.

The tune was supposed to be ‘Third Stone from The Sun’ by Jimi Hendrix, but I can’t find an original version. Nor can I find either BBC session version of his ‘Driving South’ one of which was on the original ‘Jock Hols’ tape.

(“But who is Jock Hols?”, asked TBF)

So, here’s a highly enjoyable alternative, ‘Back Off Boogaloo’ by Ringo Starr:

Third Stone From The Sun

Two for Joy

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Arnside Tower.

What a tonic blue sky is, and the light that comes with it…

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Beech leaves.

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Green Hellebore.

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Middlebarrow Quarry.

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Shelduck

This was the first of several occasions when I’ve watched Shelduck in groups of half a dozen or so, flying around and around Middlebarrow Quarry, honking loudly. Occasionally they will settle on a ledge, but then off they go again. I can’t imagine what the purpose of this display is.

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Common Carder Bee (perhaps) on Toothwort.

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Hawes Water.

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Sunset.

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Magpies.

Magpies are another surprisingly elusive bird. They’re so common and yet all the photographs I have of them are taken from huge distances, so I was chuffed when this pair sat and posed for several portraits. Their cousins, Jays, are even more flighty and although I’ve spotted them quite a few times over the last few weeks, I don’t have a single photo to show for it.

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Goldfinches.

Around this time it was evident that many birds were building nests. I watched a Crow struggling to break a twig from a tree, then, apparently dissatisfied, throw the twig to the ground and laboriously snap off another. The second twig must have been deemed much better building material, because it flew off with that one in its beak. I also spotted these Goldfinches which were ripping Dandelion petals from unopened flowers, presumably to line a nest?

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Dunnock – I think.

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Grange from the Cove.

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The ‘salt desert’ of the Bay.

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Song Thrush.

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Curious lambs. Despite the sunshine, frost was hanging on in the shade of a drystone wall well into the afternoon.

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A new gateway at an entrance to Clark’s and Sharp’s Lots.

One of the joys of being out almost every day has been the opportunity to observe changes unfold. Not just a neat new bit of wall on a National Trust property, but new flowers appearing, leaves shooting up from the woodland floor and the changing chorus of birds in the woods too.

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Nuthatch.

As soon as the lockdown started, I realised that the Chiff-chaffs were already back with us. In the woods, I was surprised how much the birdsong was dominated by Chiff-chaffs, Robins and Nuthatches. Then the Song Thrushes swelled the ranks a little, with Blackbirds coming in a little later. Now there are too many voices for an amateur like me and I’m much more easily confused.

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Small Tortoiseshell.

Butterflies too were abundant from fairly early on. Brimstones first – although they don’t seem to like to stop to be photographed. Then Commas, Small Tortoiseshells, and Peacocks, with Orange Tips hard on their heels. I think those must all be species which overwinter in their adult forms. Certainly many of the butterflies I saw looked quite tatty.

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A near Jenny Brown’s Cottages.

It’s a shame really that I was behind with the blog – it would have given me great pleasure, as well as being a lot easier, to record the changes as they happened. Imagine that – a daily walk with my camera and no work to get in the way. How can I engineer that, do you think?

Can’t really think how to shoehorn this track in, apart from it’s fantastic. Solomon Burke with the Blind Boys of Alabama on backing vocals. Brilliant.

Two for Joy