Tramp

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A bit of a wander from the end of January. Before I left the house I’d been watching a large flock of Curlews in the field behind the house. Here’s a portion of them…

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Snowdrops.

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Pepper Pot.

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Slime mould?

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Goldcrest.

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Jelly Ear fungus.

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Stinking Hellebore.

I’m not sure that Stinking Hellebore is really a local wildflower – it likes alkaline soils so grows well here, but not in may places, so is probably a garden escapee. It’s apparently best seen on the chalk hills of Hampshire.

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Jackdaws.

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Snowdrops.

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More Hellebores, this time from our garden. 

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And the title? Well, it all came from mishearing….

‘The Champ’ by The Mohawks on Radio 6. My mistake is not too surprising, since this is a cover of ‘Tramp’, first recorded by Lowell Fulsom and cowritten by Fulsom and Jimmy McCracklin (who recorded the album ‘High on the Blues’, a favourite of mine) and most famously performed as a duet by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas. The song has had quite an eventful history, with lots of versions recorded, some of which have also been heavily sampled. Salt and Pepa recorded a reworking of the tune, but when the b-side started to get more airtime that was released separately as a single. And the b-side was…Push It, their big hit.

Anyway, enough pop trivia for now. I really like The Mohawks cover, but for me nothing will ever top the moment in the Thomas/Redding version when Otis’s voice soars into the line ‘I’m a lover’.

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Tramp

Dragons etc.

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Casterton Beck. (Actually unnamed on the map, so I made up an appropriate seeming name). Anyway, another Lune tributary!

B’s rugby training was switched to the playing fields at Casterton School. I forgot this was happening – B had some harsh words to say about that – but after we had wandered around cluelessly at Underley Park for a while, I remembered. More cluelessness followed, driving around looking for which part of the school we needed, and B was eventually deposited with his team. Since I’d forgotten about the change of venue, I hadn’t thought to look at a map for a suitable perambulation to wile away my time whilst waiting.

I decided to follow my nose to see where that took me and set off along some minor lanes which brought me round a loop and back to the village. Then I followed a track (I now realise, not a right-of-way. Oh well, never mind.) which brought me to an unusual bridge over the beck seen above and to an actual footpath.

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The Grange.

The path took me through some woods and then, after a right turn, to a rather spick and span looking Casterton Grange. No wonder it looks so neat and tidy: it’s currently up for sale, though I couldn’t find an asking price online; probably one of those cases where if you need to ask, then you can’t afford it! The house was built in 1848 for a vicar, David Barclay-Bevan. You might think a country vicar would struggle to afford such a palatial property, but he was independently wealthy, his father was a partner at Barclay’s Bank (source). The house was designed by Ewan Christian an ecclesiastical architect who restored Southwell Minster and Carlisle Cathedral and later went on to design the National Portrait Gallery.

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I’m not sure what tempted this ladybird out: it was cold and wet.

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Casterton Old Hall.

I think Casterton Old Hall is part of the school. This building dates back to seventeenth century. The Historic England listing makes me want to see the inside, especially the fireplace “with Tudor-arched opening, twisted wood, columns and overmantel with relief panels of busts, dragons, etc., probably of 1530-40 re-used”.

Later, I was out again for a short, local stroll in the fog.

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In Eaves Wood.

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Finally, this…

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…was taken a few days later when, looking out of the staffroom window at work, I realised that the sky was clear and the sun setting and so dashed out for a few moments, climbing the hill to the castle to try to catch the sunset from there.

Since that photo makes this a ‘Sunset Post’ I feel fully justified in appending a song. A Song of the Weather in fact:

I heard this recently on 6 Music. Not quite the stereotypical 6 Music tune perhaps, but then, I’m not sure what is. I remember Flanders and Swann for ‘The Hippopotamus Song’ which along with ‘The Runaway Train’ and a couple of Bernard Cribbins songs, ‘My Brother’ by Terry Scott, Alan Sherman’s ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah’ and, no doubt, numerous others, which will occur to me too late, once I’ve clicked on ‘Publish’, was a regular part of my Saturday morning radio listening when I was a nipper.

Bloody January again, indeed! Except, I quite like January: the sunsets are getting later, there’s snow, but also snowdrops and spring is on the way.

Dragons etc.

Nevermind

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Over Christmas, as I think I’ve said, we regularly had a number of Roe Deer in our garden. I didn’t often photograph them, but when this buck ventured close to the house it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss him and his lop-sided new antlers.

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I suppose they will even out as they grow?

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The weather was generally dull and damp, with quite a bit of fog, and we took it in turns to suffer from an unpleasant cold, but, on the plus side, my mum and dad came to stay with us and we enjoyed all of the usual treats of the season: over-indulging in food, playing family games, watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ etc.

I know that I’ve also mentioned before the highlight of the Christmas period for me, which was my present from TBH – a night away in Glasgow with tickets for the Craig Charles Funk and Soul show – but that isn’t going to deter me from banging on about it again!

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Here’s TBH in the curry house we went to before the gig, which was just across the road from the hotel. We weren’t up very early the next day, we aren’t really used to 4am finishes, I think we just made check-out at midday. It was the first bright and sunny day we’d seen for a while and, since we’d already paid for parking, we had a walk to a vegan cafe/bar, which TBH had found online, for a Full Scottish Vegan Brunch, which was surprisingly good.

The hotel was right by the Clyde…

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…the building slightly right-of-centre in the picture is BBC Scotland.

This intriguing building…

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…had a twin on the far bank of the river. Apparently these originally covered shafts which led to a tunnel under the Clyde.

This…

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…is, I think, part of the SEC centre.

We walked along St. Vincents’ Crescent…

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I thought this rather elegant terrace might be Georgian, but a bit of lazy internet research reveals that it’s actually a bit later, built from 1850 onward, so definitely Victorian.

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Still very handsome though.

Obviously, having mentioned our dance-athon again, it’s only fitting to finish with another memorable tune from that night. How’s this:

 

I love a cover which is radically different from the original, so Blue Mode’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is right up my street.

Nevermind

Croak and Wither

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Summer grows old, cold-blooded mother.
The insects are scant, skinny.
In these palustral homes we only
Croak and wither.

from Frog Autumn by Sylvia Plath

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Palustral – Pertaining to or living in marshes; marshy.

I do enjoy a new (to me) word.

This frog was sitting smack centre of the path which runs between Emesgate Lane and Cove Road and didn’t move whilst I took several photos or when other people passed, even those with dogs, which makes me think it must have been unwell in some way.

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As you can see, I did get out again, although I must have left it fairly late, the sun was very low in the sky even as I set off. I walked along the coast from Far Arnside…

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Until the sun dipped behind Humphrey Head…

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And then walked back along the beach to Shore Lane.

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The light was gradually fading, but the moon was bright.

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Fisherman’s Cottages.

As usual, a bit of music with a sunset post; I was intending to continue the Soul and Funk theme, but I love the album this is from and it seemed quite appropriate:

Maybe don’t watch the video, it’s made me feel that the song is uncomfortably misogynistic. Perhaps, I shouldn’t be surprised given that it’s from an album called Casanova?

Croak and Wither

Little and Often: Fall Down at Your Door

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In Eaves Wood.

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

I did it! At some point during October half-term I reached the completely arbitrary target I set myself, which was to walk 1000 miles during 2018.

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Silverdale from Castlebarrow.

I was talking to my old school friend JS about the thousand mile challenge when we walked on Whitbarrow back in September. He has subsequently joined the same Faceache community which I joined, in a fit of enthusiasm, last January, but then religiously ignored for the rest of the year – the kids are always highly amused by any engagement on my part with social media since they have decided that I am essentially anti-social – so, anyway, JS has joined the group and committed himself to walk 1000 miles in 2019. All to the good.

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I think this must be the spring, bizarrely quite high on the hill on which Eaves Wood stands, which feeds the large water-tanks by the edge of the wood which once supplied Hill House, now the Woodies pub.

JS asked me, during our walk, whether I would be repeating the challenge in 2019? I told him that I was undecided, in fact, that I was struggling to make my mind up. Now, since I finished in 2018 with room to spare and have really enjoyed getting out regularly, that equivocation probably requires a little unpicking.

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In Eaves Wood.

It doesn’t require a maths teacher to work out that, in order to reach a thousand miles in a year, you need to walk roughly 20 miles a week, or an average of 3 miles per day; actually, slightly less in both cases. Bizarrely, my highest mileage months in 2018 were January and February, in that order. I did just about make the required total in most other months, aside from November, when the wheels came off a bit.

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Eaves Wood.

January and February went so well, despite the lack of daylight and the miserable weather, because, in the first flush of enthusiasm, I really took the ‘little and often’ idea to heart and tried to get out as often as possible, including regular lunch time walks from work, which prompted, incidentally, the Listed Lancaster posts, some of which have become almost the most popular posts in the ten year lifetime of the blog, rather annoyingly.

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But when I was talking to JS in September, I had already realised that, because our circumstances have changed somewhat, the lunchtime walks are not really feasible any longer and I anticipated that I was going to find it very difficult to maintain the kind of mileage I had hitherto achieved.

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Ironically, September turned out to be one of my better months, and I did well in October too, but December and particularly November have gone on to confirm some of my worries.

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By the end of November, I was finding my relative inactivity that month exasperating. When I chatted to JS, I had been anticipating that, should that happen, then tracking my mileage each month and watching myself fall behind schedule would only exacerbate the frustration.

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Sunset from the Cove. The photos here were all taken on either the Saturday or the Sunday at the end of our October half-term.

That still is a bit of a concern, but I’ve decided that I am going to aim for a thousand miles again, and continue to track my progress on Mapmywalk. The reason, simply, is that I’m feeling pretty fit, by my own lax standards. Towards the end of our night in Glasgow, when TBH took me to the Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show, a guy in a donkey jacket (how the heat in the room didn’t melt him I don’t know) came over and shook my hand, congratulating me on dancing through the entire show. At that point we’d been dancing for something like four and a half hours, fuelled, in case you were wondering, only by curry, tap water and euphoria.  What’s more, I was full of cold, but would have happily carried on dancing for at least a while longer.

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In retrospect, I’m quite chuffed with that: I don’t think I would have managed it a year ago. And since walking is pretty much the only exercise I get, the little and often approach has to be working. It’s going to be more difficult this year, I’m going to have to box clever and be creative in finding opportunities to get out, but hopefully the target will spur me on, as it did at times in the rain and the dark last year.

Onward and upward.

Having begun with a quote from a Proclaimers lyric I really ought to end with one of their songs, but then I was intending to work in some more of the tunes from our night at the Glasgow Academy. So, two for the price of one:

Not, 500 miles, but the boys from Leith at their witty best.

And, hard to dance to, and played by one of the DJ’s who preceded Mr Charles…

When I saw them at the Lancaster Music Festival, the Hackney Colliery Band finished with this, leaving the stage and wandering around mingling with the audience. Bizarrely, Weezer have also recently covered this song, after a concerted campaign by some of their fans. Their cover is very faithful to the original, which is not a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

Little and Often: Fall Down at Your Door

Mending Wall

Eaves Wood – Ring O’Beeches – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – Trowbarrow Quarry – Storrs Lane – Red Bridge Lane – Golf Course – Bank Well – Lambert’s Meadow – Burtonwell Wood – Hagg Wood.

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A half-term Monday, no work, not a cloud in the sky: better get out for a local walk!

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In Eaves Wood.

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The circle of beeches.

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Waterslack.

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Woods near Challan Hall.

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Exmoor ponies, used for conservation grazing.

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The only fly in the ointment that day was the new fencing and padlocked gate near Hawes Water. It looked as though the intention will be to keep the public off the grassland which borders the lake which the old boardwalk used to cross. That will protect the habitat of the plants which grow there – Bird’s-eye Primrose at the southern end of its range and Grass of Parnassus for example – but will also mean that people like me who enjoy seeing those plants will no longer enjoy that simple pleasure. I could be wrong of course, I hope I am: the fencing was far from finished and I haven’t yet been back to check.

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,”
from ‘Mending Wall’ by Robert Frost

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The bright sunshine went some way to alleviate my concern about the number of poor photographs of fungi I’ve taken this autumn; with better light the camera coped admirably.

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Birch polyps.

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Hawes Water.

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Trowbarrow Quarry.

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This female pheasant seemed unusually sanguine about my close proximity. I couldn’t decide whether or not she might be sitting on a very late clutch of eggs.

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I rather liked this new (to me) carving on a dead tree by the visitor centre at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve.

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By contrast, the following day the whole family went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach in bitterly cold weather. We’d bought tickets from a charity auction.

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Poor Little S wanted somebody to accompany him on all of the white knuckle attractions, but the rest of us were relatively cowardly. TBH did eventually agree to join him on the ‘Ice Blast’.

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Here they are, both looking very nervous, shortly before being sent hurtling skyward…

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I was up for taking him on ‘The Big One’ – I like rollercoasters, but it was shut due to the high winds. We had to settle for the old rickety wooden ones, which left me feeling pummelled and slightly nauseous. I must be getting old.

Here’s the rest of the family on something much tamer, but wet, which is why I refused to join them.

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To finish, another snippet of my diverse musical taste, in contrast with the previous post, this harks back to the late eighties when I waited eagerly for each addition of Maximumrocknroll where I could discover obscure punk bands, like, for example, Angst.

This song is the opener from their album “Mending Wall’. The fact that the album was named after the Frost poem was what put it into my mind, but I suppose that the song is also tangentially relevant, since it seems to be, in some way, about an inability to adapt to change (although I don’t think padlocked gates at nature reserves are explicitly mentioned). Angst were on SST records, run by Black Flag’s Greg Ginn and home not only of Black Flag, but also of Husker Du (at least for a while), Sonic Youth (for one album I think), the Meat Puppets, Saccharine Trust and a host of others including, best of all in my opinion, the Minutemen. Simply being on the label was recommendation enough for me and most of the records I bought on spec turned out to have been worth a punt.

Do people still become single-mindedly obsessed by the output of a favourite record label? I hope so. I was quietly pleased to see that Maximumrocknroll is still going strong.

Mending Wall

Phaethon

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Sunset photos from the Lots and the Cove, from the Monday evening the day after my Heathwaite stroll in the previous post.

I’m just reading Ted Hughes’ ‘Tales from Ovid’ and so have recently discovered that Phaethon was the son of the god Phoebus who drives the chariot of the sun through the sky. Phoebus grants Phaethon one wish and the son rashly chooses to take his father’s place for one day to drive the chariot, which all ends rather messily. That tale of reckless aviating seemed appropriate for this post because, earlier in the evening, before my walk, I’d dropped A off in Milnthorpe and watched this hot air balloon flying at an altitude which, it seemed to me at least, was dangerously close to the roofs of the town’s taller buildings.

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The photo, incidentally, was taken with my phone without the benefit of any zoom and has not been cropped; the balloon was much lower than it might appear in the photo.

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Whilst it’s still mid-October here on the blog, obviously in reality we’re between Christmas and New Year. For my present, TBH took me, this weekend, for a mini-break in Glasgow. She had tickets for the Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show, which was an inspired choice. If you can access the BBC Sounds app and listen to his Radio 6 New Year’s Eve, Eve, Eve Show , you’ll get to hear many of the tunes he played that night. Here’s one to be going on with: a remix of The O’Jays ‘For the Love of Money’ which mashes in ‘The Message’ by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Fabulous.

Phaethon