Feet Keep Moving

…which is more than can be said for the poor old blog!

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So..this is the second-half of a snowy January Saturday. Near the end of my morning walk with TBH and A the sun finally made an appearance. After lunch, when I set out again, this time alone, there was still some blue sky in evidence, enough to patch a sailor’s trousers, as my mum puts it. On south facing slopes the snow soon melted, leaving an odd patchwork of green and white.

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Eaves Wood.
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Stinking Hellebore, one of the first flowers of the year.

I was heading, initially, for Gait Barrows. This…

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…is usually a tiny little spring which creates a small pool before disappearing back underground. On this occasion, as you can see, it was creating a stream which had flooded the gateway and was flowing across the adjacent field.

From Gait Barrows, I crossed Coldwell Meadow, heading for the ruin of Coldwell Limeworks in Back Wood, but was distracted by the sound of this cascade on Leighton Beck..

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It’s not very big, but a bit of a rarity in limestone country where the water is often below the surface. No name is given on the OS map, but it’s close to the wonderfully named Creep-i’-th’-call Bridge, so maybe Creep-i’-th’-call Falls, which has a nice ring to it?

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Coldwell Limeworks
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Middlebarrow Quarry, partly obscured by very low clouds.
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Arnside Knott, also hidden in clouds.
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Near Arnside, by Black Dyke, I was fortunate to find a way around this flooded section of path.

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I climbed Arnside Knott, soon entering the cloud to find that the snow had clung on under the cover of the cloud.

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Arnside Tower Farm and a hint of Middlebarrow Wood.
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Whilst I generally enjoy the views from the Knott, it was quite exhilarating to be in the clouds and the monotone woods and apparently cut-off from the surroundings.

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The last of the light from ‘The Dip’, between Far Arnside and Silverdale.

Feet Keep Moving

Home from Carnforth

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Warton and Warton Crag behind.

Long-suffering readers of this blog may remember that there was a time when I worked one afternoon a week in Carnforth and a walk home from there was a weekly part of my commute. These days it’s not something I do very often, which is a shame because it’s a great walk, with numerous route options, all of them enjoyable.

On this occasion, one of the boys bikes need dropping off at the cycle shop for repairs; I can’t remember if this was when B had so completely buckled one of his wheels that it was beyond repair, or when the derailleur on S’s bike broke and his chain fell off.

“I put my chain by the path and somebody stole it!”

Later, when the whole family went to Trowbarrow to look for the ‘stolen’ chain, I asked, “Where exactly did you leave it?”

He pointed. Directly at a broken, black bike chain, which he apparently couldn’t see.

“Did you leave it beside this chain? Or could this be yours?”

“It wasn’t there earlier!”, he was adamant.

Anyway, I saw the opportunity to accompany TBH to the bike shop, and then to walk home afterwards.

After TBH dropped me off, I’d walked across the fields from Millhead to Warton and then climbed up to the Crag Road, where a stile gives access to the top of a lime kiln. The slight elevation of this spot gives some nice views…

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Warton and a distant Ingleborough on the left.

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Warton again and the Bowland Hills on the horizon.

A set of steps lead down beside the lime kiln…

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So I had a wander down…

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…to peer inside.

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Another distant view of Ingleborough.

I followed the limestone edge up to the back of the large quarry car park and then headed on up to the top.

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The Bay from near the top of Warton Crag.

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It was a hot day and I dropped down from the top to my new favourite view point, where tree-clearance has exposed a small crag and some expansive views.

I sat for some time, drinking in the views as well as the contents of my water bottle. A buzzard coasted past. I’d already watched another hovering above the fields near Millhead.

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Foxgloves.

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Male Scorpion Fly. Is it holding a morsel of food?

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Red Admiral.

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A hoverfly – Platycheirus fulviventris – possibly?

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Greenbottles.

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I think that this striking fungi is a very dark specimen of Many-zoned Polypore or Turkeytail fungus. 

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This fungus varies enormously in colour. It generally grows on dead wood and is here devouring a tree stump.

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Dog Rose.

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Honeysuckle.

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Hoverfly – Episyrphus Balteatus.

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I was happily photographing roses and honeysuckle when an orange butterfly flew across the path, almost brushing my face as it passed. I tried to follow its flight, but soon lost it. I assumed it was a fritillary of some kind; I’m always disappointed if they pass without giving me a chance to identify them. Fortunately, a little further down the path, I came across another fritillary feeding on a red clover flower…

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It’s a Dark Green Fritillary, exciting for me because I’ve only seen this species once before.

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Common Blue Damselfly.

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Cinnabar Moth.

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A white-tailed bumblebee species on a Bramble flower.

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Reflexed Stonecrop.

At Barrow Scout Fields, the gulls were making a fuss; it’s often worth a few moments scrutiny to see what’s upsetting them. I’m glad I stopped this time…

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At first I assumed that I’d spotted a Marsh Harrier with a gull chick, but only one gull gave chase, and that half-heartedly, and the gulls are usually extremely energetic when mobbing the resident harriers. Anyway, I could soon make out that the raptor was carrying quite a large fish. It seemed likely that it was an Osprey, which the photo confirms. It made a beeline northwards, presumably heading back to the nest at Foulshaw Moss, on the far side of the River Kent. The nest has webcams stationed above it and I’ve been following the progress of the nesting pair and their two chicks online, so was doubly pleased to see one of the parent birds with what looks to me like a good sized family take-away.

I’m, intrigued by the fish too. Barrow Scout Fields were three agricultural fields until they were bought by the RSPB in 2000 and restored as wetlands. Have the RSPB stocked the meres they created with fish I wonder, or have fish eggs arrived naturally, on the feet of wading birds for example? Whichever is the case, the fishing Osprey and its large prey are surely testament to the charity’s successful creation and management of this habitat.

I hadn’t moved on from watching the disappearing Osprey, before another drama began to unfold in the skies overhead…

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Two raptors this time, with one repeatedly nose-diving the other. The slightly smaller bird, the aggressor, is a Marsh Harrier, a female I think, which is probably defending a nest in the trees at the edge of Leighton Moss.

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The agility of the other bird, a Buzzard, which repeatedly flipped upside-down so that it could face its attacker, was astonishing.

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I have no sympathy with the Buzzard, since I’ve been subjected to similar dive-bombing attacks by Buzzards on several occasions. This went on for quite some time and I took numerous photos; I was royally entertained.

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Looking across towards Leighton Moss.

I peeked over the bridge here to peer into the dike running alongside the Causeway Road and saw a Water Forget-Me-Not flowering in the middle of the dike. Sadly, it was in deep shade and my photo has not come out too well. I shall have to revisit.

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Yellow Flag Iris.

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Unnamed tributary of Quicksand Pool.

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Spear-leaved Orache.

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Sea Beet, with flowers…

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Both sea beet and orache (in its many guises, there are several British species) are prized as spinach substitutes by foragers. I really must get around to trying them both.

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Quicksand Pool.

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A roof finial (I think that’s the right term) at Jenny Brown’s cottages. I’m surprised I haven’t photographed it before. 

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Speckled Wood butterfly.

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This seemed to be the day which just kept on giving: after the dark green fritillary, the osprey, the aerial battle between the harrier and the buzzard, one last gift – a group of Eider Ducks resting on the sands at the edge of Carnforth Salt Marsh. I’ve seen Eiders here before, but not often. It was a shame they were so far away, but when I tried to get closer they swam away.

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Oystercatchers.

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Quicksand Pool and Warton Crag.

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Looking along the coast to the Coniston Fells.

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Another Dog Rose at Jack Scout.

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Large Skipper female.

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Curled Dock (I think).

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Named for its curly leaves.

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If I’m right, then these flowers will turn red then eventually brown.

Curled Dock is yet another spinach substitute apparently, crammed with vitamins.

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Hedge Woundwort.

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The mystery vigorous plant in Woodwell pond is revealed to be Arum Lily or Calla Lily. 

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A non-native relative of our own Cuckoo Pint – the showy white part is a spathe not petals.

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Close to home and a distant view of the Howgills on the horizon.

A lovely walk of a little under eight miles – who’d believe so much interest could be crammed into one short stroll?


Now, if your patience isn’t completely exhausted, some fishing songs. First up, a tune I’ve always liked:

This one, is actually ‘Sufficient Clothes’ but was released as ‘Fishing Clothes’ after a Lightnin’ Hopkins was misheard.

Listening to it again, it turns out there’s not too much fishing in this one either:

But it is by the late, great Tony Joe White. Seems I don’t actually know many songs about fishing after all.

Home from Carnforth

Ricochet

Hagg Wood – Bottom’s Lane – Burtonwell Wood – Lambert’s Meadow – Bank Well – The Row – The Golf Course – The Station – Storr’s Lane – Leighton Moss – Leighton Hall – Summer House Hill – Peter Lane Limekiln – Hyning Scout Wood – Warton – Warton Crag – Quaker’s Stang – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – The Lots – The Cove

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Lambert’s Meadow.

A long walk which didn’t go even remotely to plan. I had intended to climb Arnside Knott, but instead went in almost entirely the opposite direction.

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Ribwort plantain.

I began by heading for Bottom’s Lane, in the ‘wrong’ direction, to drop some bread flour off with some friends of ours who were having to self-isolate after a positive test for the virus and for whom TBH had done a shop, but come up short on numerous predictable items like tinned tomatoes, yeast, toilet paper, bread flour etc.

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Crane fly – possibly Tipula luna. Male – the females have a pointy tip to their abdomen for pushing eggs into the ground.

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Hmmm. Marsh valerian? Why I didn’t photograph the leaves too I don’t know.

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Orange-tip butterfly.

After that I kept spotting people on the paths ahead and changing course to evade them, and before I knew where I was, I was heading across Leighton Moss on the causeway path – the only part of the reserve which has remained open.

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Canada goose and coot.

From that point, I just did what I normally do and made it up as I went along.

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Leighton Moss.

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The view from Summer House Hill.

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Bluebells on Summer House Hill.

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Peter Lane Limekiln.

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Tree felling on Warton Crag has exposed a crag I didn’t even know was there. And expansive views from the top of that cliff.

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Warton and a distant Ingleborough.

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The Forest of Bowland and Carnforth.

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Crosswort.

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From the top of the Crag a path which seems like a new one to me seemed to promise more views, to the distant Lake District…

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Why the fences either side and on the ground?

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Because the path crosses one of the three Bronze Age walls which ring the summit of the Crag. Admittedly, it doesn’t look like an ancient monument in the photo, but it did seem quite obvious ‘in the flesh’.

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The tree felling seems to have been successful, in as much as it has produced masses of primroses, a key food plant for certain butterflies.

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Early purple orchid.

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In amongst the cowslips at Jack Scout, these primulas stood out. If that’s what they are? Or are they a naturally occurring variation of cowslips? Or a hybrid?

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Post sunset from above the Cove.

I bumped into a neighbour on The Lots, she was walking her dog, and she told me that she has stopped taking photographs of ‘the best sunsets in the world’, because she has thousands already. I have thousands too, probably. And no end of photos of early purple orchids and clouds and primroses, of Leighton Moss and of the views from Summer House Hill and Warton Crag. Fortunately, none of those things ever seem to get old, or lose their fascination and I fully intend to take thousands more.

Lucky me.

Note to self: this was too long a walk without carrying a drink – I keep doing that to myself. Did it again yesterday and have given myself a headache – golly it was hot.


Tunes. Back to Elvis in his Sun days, probably my favourite of his songs, ‘Mystery Train’:

Like most of Presley’s output, it’s a cover, and the laidback original by Little Junior and his Blue Flames is well worth seeking out.

And, while I’m making recommendations, the weird and wonderful 1989 film ‘Mystery Train’, directed by Jim Jarmusch, and starring, amongst others, both Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and  Joe Strummer, is also worth seeking out. Oddly, the song which recurs through the film is ‘Blue Moon’.

This next song, dating back to 1940, so older than Junior parker’s 1953 song, also contains the line ‘Train I ride, sixteen coaches long’.

When I was a nipper, my Dad bought a Reader’s Digest box set of Country records.

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Photo credit: my mum or my dad? Ta.

He mostly listened to the Johnny Cash album, but somehow I cottoned on to the bluegrass of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, both alumni of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. This is one of their better know tunes, Foggy Mountain Breakdown:

They also recorded the first version of ‘The Ballad of Jed Clampett’ theme tune to ‘The Beverley Hillbillies’.

Ricochet

Seismic Noise and Mast Years

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Early light on St. John’s Silverdale.

One consequence, apparently, of the current situation, has been the reduction of seismic noise; that is seismic readings caused by human activity. The journal Nature reports a drop by one third in Belgium, and I read somewhere, sorry, I can’t remember where, that in London it’s down by about a half.

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Heading towards Hawes Water. A fence on the left has been partially removed. Similar fences, between woodland and pasture, have been removed across the Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve. Will they be replaced or is this part of a new management plan?

It’s difficult to gauge whether paths around Silverdale are quieter now than they usually are, because I’m not normally out myself mid-week in the daytime. I think that they have got busier, though, since the extra clarification which has made it clear that it’s okay to drive a short distance for your daily exercise.

I didn’t drive for this walk, in fact I haven’t driven anywhere for weeks, but I did walk a little further than usual, as I have done from time to time.

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The cairn at Gait Barrows.

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Ash flower buds.

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Beech mast.

TBH and I have both been noticing on our walks (and runs in TBH’s case) that, when we are beneath Beech trees this spring, every step brings a satisfying crunch. The local Beeches seem to have produced a bumper crop of mast last year. That’s not unusual: every three to five years Oaks and Beeches produce a huge crop and those years when that happens are know as mast years.

It seems that the reasons why this occurs are not completely understood. A Guardian piece on mast years hypothesises that it’s the spring weather which dictates: Oaks and Beeches are wind pollinated, so a warm and windy spring produces a lot of flowers which are successfully pollinated. If that theory is correct then this year ought to be a mast year.

On the other hand, this article, on the Woodland Trust website, posits that the lean years control the population of frugivores*, like Jays and Squirrels and then, in the bumper years, the remaining populations of these creatures can’t possibly eat all of the seeds so that some are bound to get a chance to germinate and grow.

This second theory would seem to require some element of coordination between trees, which in turn would imply that trees must communicate in some way. That might seem unlikely, but that’s exactly the thesis advanced by Peter Wohlleben in his book ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’, which I read last summer while we were in Germany and found absolutely fascinating.

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Anyway, back to my walk: I’d left Gait Barrows via the small hill Thrang Brow which is enough of a rise to give partial views of the Lake District hills, but that view never seems to translate well in photographs. From Thrang Brow a slender path heads of through the woods of Yealand Allotment. I don’t often come this way, but always enjoy it when I do.

A bright yellow sign on the far side of a wall attracted my attention…

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And I’m glad that it did, because just over the wall was a small group of Fallow Deer…

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Fallow Deer.

Sadly, most of the group were almost hidden by trees so I only got a chance of a clear photo of this one individual.

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Limekiln in Yealand Allotments.

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Peter Lane Limekiln.

I’d been thinking of incorporating Warton Crag into my walk, but I was thirsty and the weather was deteriorating, so took the path which cuts across the lower slopes to the north of the crag. Just as I took this photo…

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View of Leighton Moss.

…it began to rain. TBH, bless her, rang me and asked if I wanted her drive over to pick me up, but the rain wasn’t heavy so I decided to carry on.

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Tide line on Quaker’s Stang.

On Quaker’s Stang, an old sea defence, previous high tides had left a line of driftwood and dried vegetation right on the top of the wall, and, further along, well beyond the wall on the landward side. I’ve often wondered about the name – apparently ‘stang’ is a measurement of land equivalent to a pole, rod or perch. That sounds like it might offer an explanation, except a pole, or a rod, or a perch, is five and a half yards and Quaker’s Stang is a lot longer than that.

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This tree is very close to home. I spent the last part of my ‘walk’ watching and photographing the antics of another Treecreeper in its branches.

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Treecreeper.

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I suppose a treecreeper qualifies as an LBJ, a Little Brown Job, except that sounds derogatory and, in my opinion, Treecreeper’s are stunning, in their own muted way.

*Frugivore was a new word to me, and I’m always happy to meet one of those. Apparently, it’s an animal which lives wholly or mostly on fruit.

The idea of compiling a kind of day-y-day playlist originated when Andy and I were discussing a mixtape I made, many moons ago, for our long drives up to Scotland for walking holidays. One of the songs on the tape was The Band’s ‘The Weight’. It’s still a song I adore. As well as the original, there’s a great version by Aretha Franklin, but here (subject to it not getting blocked) is Mavis Staples singing it with Jools Holland’s orchestra from one of his hootenannies:

I’ve seen Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra a couple of times live and can definitely recommend them. Last time I saw them, at Cartmel Racetrack, we went with friends and took the kids with us. There was a fair there too, and several support acts, including the Uptown Monotones who have become a firm favourite. Anyway, the kids were mortified when the adults all had the temerity to dance. In public! One of my sandals fell apart whilst I was dancing, I’m not sure whether that was a consequence of my vigorous enthusiasm or my inept clumsiness. Or both.

Seismic Noise and Mast Years