Derring Do of the DBs

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I rashly agreed to rendezvous with the boys on one of their bike outings, to take some photos. No surprises that, shortly after this trip, we had to replace the back wheel on B’s bike, which was buckled beyond repair.

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Salad Burnett.

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Wild strawberry.

We were drawn to a bit of a commotion overhead. A buzzard and another bird of prey were apparently being harried by a group of jackdaws.

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Actually, it soon became clear that the jackdaws weren’t at all interested in the buzzard, but were all in pursuit of the other raptor…a peregrine!

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I’ve seen peregrines before, but whilst I’ve been aware that they nest locally, I’ve never actually seen one close to home.

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Solomon’s seal.

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Stitchwort.

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Herb robert.


Racking my brains for a song for this post, it occurred to me that ‘The Vision of Peregrine Worsthorne’ by McCarthy, from their brilliant debut album ‘I am a Wallet’, would be at least superficially appropriate. But then I remembered ‘Governing Takes Brains’, by the same band, the arrogant lyrics of which seem entirely apposite at the moment…

From there it seemed like an obvious step to ‘Follow the Leader’ by Eric B and Rakim. I can well remember the first time I heard this, in Eastern Bloc records in Manchester, sifting through their extensive collection of imported American hardcore punk and being stunned by the sheer menace of this sound.

Whilst I was searching for that track, I fortuitously stumbled upon ‘Follow the Leader’ by George the Poet, Maverick Sabre and Jorja Smith.

“That’s the kind of music we listen to,” the DBs tell me.

What’s more Little S has been studying George the Poet for his English classes:

 

Derring Do of the DBs

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

The Weeds Are Rising!

Spoiler: Dad (and anybody else who doesn’t like rodents) mouse pictures imminent later in this post.

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Peacock butterfly.

There’s a section of Inman’s Road where the sun gets through the canopy and warms the stones of the track. It seems to be a popular spot with butterflies. Strangely, despite their flashy colours, I often don’t see them until I’ve got too close and one of them takes to the wing. And once one lifts off, they all go.

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Another peacock.

There then ensues one of those, for want of a better phrase, butterfly dances, in which the assembled Lepidoptera swirl around each other in a merry waltz. Or is it merry? I can never decide whether the dance is an expression of aggression, curiosity, amour, or sheer joy, perhaps, at the end of lockdown hibernation.

“Where do I live? If I had no address, as many people
do not, I could nevertheless say that I lived in the
same town as the lilies of the field, and the still
waters.”

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“I ask again: if you have not been enchanted by this adventure – your life – what would do for you?”

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There was some doubt, I believe, about the future of these Exmoor ponies who, for years, have been used for conservation grazing at Gait Barrows. Apparently their services are no longer needed, but fortunately a new home has been found for them. You could say that they’ve been put out to grass.

No?

So – what about my so called lockdown aspirations? Lets deal with an easy one – have I caught up with my blog? Well, yes and no: at the outset, I was still writing about last summer’s holiday, so things have definitely moved on.

But since I’m out walking and taking photos just about every day, new material is accruing at much the same rate as I’m posting it. I suppose one way to look at it is that  I’m close to reaching an equilibrium, which doesn’t sound like a bad place to be.

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The Bay post sunset.

“And consider, always, every day, the determination of the grass to grow despite the unending obstacles.”

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Wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), also know as a Field Mouse. The white belly, large back feet (for jumping) and general cuteness differentiate this from a House Mouse.

The wood mouse is the most common species of mouse in Britain. Very common in our garden judging by the number the cats leave lying around in the house. This one had a lucky escape, I rescued it from the cats and persuaded it to shelter in a cereal packet, before releasing it onto our patio. Understandably, it was terrified and I was able to take some photos before it ran off.

All winter, it’s been evident that something or other was burrowing in our compost heap. The size of the holes had me convinced that it must be rats, but subsequently I’ve found a few bedraggled wood mice corpses near the compost, so maybe they were the culprits.

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A few days after I rescued this little chap, I found another one in the house. (Or perhaps the same one?) B and I tried and failed to catch it. In the end, the whole family were enlisted. It got behind some bookcases – we had to unladen three large bookcases, and move them. The mouse was still too quick for us, but we had it surrounded, and staked out the desk it had nipped behind. B, armed with a feather duster, flushed it out and S dropped an ice-cream tub over it. We re-wilded the perisher and then all we had to do was move all of the furniture back into place and try to work out how to get the contents of the shelves back into place, although it was evident to all that we somehow now had at least four bookcases worth of books, maps, craft items, correspondence, shoe boxes full of who knows what etc to ram back in.

A Sunday evening to remember!

I realise, a little belatedly, that I’ve posted about my birthday, and mentioned my birthday presents, without having said anything about the gifts I received at Christmas. Principally, I got to spend time with family, which now seems even more important than it did at the time. But I also asked for a couple of things. And just to make sure that the message didn’t get garbled, having asked, I ordered them online for good measure. If a thing is worth doing….

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There were just two items: a CD, ‘Doggerel’ by Fontaines DC, of which more at some point I’m sure, and a book, ‘Devotions’ the selected poems of Mary Oliver.

It was a comment on this blog which first alerted me to the poetry of Mary Oliver. It took me a while to track that comment down, but it was on this post. And Moira, I don’t know if you are still reading, but I hope that you are well and coping with the vicissitudes of lockdown, and you should know that I am extremely grateful for the nudge you gave me.

For the purposes of this post, wanting something suitable to quote, I opened a page at random in the book and found the poem ‘Evidence’. All of the quotes, and the title, come from that.

“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in
singing, especially when singing is not necessarily
prescribed.”

Which brings me to:

Back in March, I was involved in a marvellous project, ‘These Hills Are Ours’, which involved climbing Clougha Pike from Morecambe seafront, as part of a volunteer choir and singing a specially composed song. I expected today’s blogpost to be about that walking and singing, but the film of the event is still under wraps, so I’m biding my time.

However, the week before, a group from Stockton had done much the same thing, climbing Roseberry Topping and that’s them in the film.

Two more walks, in London and Devon, were envisaged, but I suspect the coronavirus may have put a stop to those.

Some links to the creatives…

Daniel Bye who wrote the words.

Boff Whalley who wrote the music.

and Bevis Bowden who made the film.

It’s only now that I’ve realised that Boff was lead guitarist in Chumbawumba, which for most people, I know, means the one-hit wonder Tub-thumping, but I was more than a bit obsessed, for quite some time, with their first album, the snappy title of which should appear below in the video. The phrase “it’s a nice sound, it’s a happy sound and it’s not doing anybody any harm” became a bit of standing joke for me, my brother and our flat mate S.

They did make other records, but there was a long hiatus before the second, and by then I had literally moved on, started teaching and somehow it passed me by. Maybe I’ll delve into their archive now.

Oh, and I almost forgot about yesterday’s quiz question. It was, of course, Rockafeller Skank, by Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim:

It’s a nice sound, it’s a happy sound…..

The Weeds Are Rising!

The Unattended Moment

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The Bay from Castlebarrow, late evening.

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Millennium Bridge over The Lune, Lancaster.

I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.

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Daffodils at Far Arnside.

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High water in the bay again.

The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale’s backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
Many gods and many voices.

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The view from Park Point. With added whitecaps.

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Looking to Grange-Over-Sands.

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Looking south along the coast.

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River Kent from Arnside Knott. Lake district hills lost in cloud.

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River Lune. Ruskin’s view.

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St. Mary’s Kirkby Lonsdale.

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The Bay from Castlebarrow.

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Arnside Tower.

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Whitbarrow from Arnside Knott.

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The River Kent from Arnside Knott again.

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The bay and Humphrey Head from Arnside Knott.

For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.

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Looking south along the coast.

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Sunset from Emesgate Lane.

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These last two images are actually videos. I don’t think they’ll work, because I’m too tight to fork out for a premium account. But click on the pictures and that should take you to the relevant flickr page where you can hear the sound of the wind and the breaking waves, some of the many voices of the sea, should you wish.

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The photos here are mostly from the ‘leap day’ weekend at the end of February and the start of March, except for the first which is from earlier that week.

The quotations are all from ‘The Dry Salvages’, which is the third of T.S.Elliot’s Four Quartets. To be honest, I stumbled across it when looking for something about the sea – or so I thought. It turns out, what I was really looking for was that passage about ‘the distraction fit’, ‘the unattended moment’. I’m sure I’ve read the poem before, but I’ve never been struck so forcibly by this section as I was on this occasion.

I remember trying to capture something like this idea in a post way back in the early days of the blog. Perhaps, in some ways, it’s always the ‘unattended moment’ I’m writing about, or seeking when I go out for yet another walk, or crawl around taking yet more photographs of orchids, or of leaves, waves, clouds etc when I have thousands of images of exactly those things already.

It seems entirely appropriate to me that Elliot’s examples of ‘distractions’ should end with music – anyone who’s been to a gig, or clubbing, with me and watched me throwing my ample, uncoordinated frame around, grinning like a loon, might have caught me in one of those moments, if they weren’t too lost in the music and the moment themselves. But equally, they might have shared a moment like that during a wild day in the hills, when, despite, or perhaps because of, adverse conditions, our enthusiasm bubbled over into unexplained laughter and broad smiles; equally I think of a few ‘wild’ swims which sparked the same kind of happy absorption, or quiet moments around a beach bonfire. I’m heaping up examples because I can’t really put my finger on what I’m driving at, but I know it when I feel it.

Usually happens when the horns come in during this tune, for example.

The Unattended Moment

Culture

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At times over the winter, whilst I felt a little disgruntled that I wasn’t getting as much walking done as I would have liked, I also felt very lucky that I was getting out frequently in the evenings for some culture. The kids are old enough to be trusted on their own these days and so TBH and I were even able to go out together occasionally.

It’s not like me to take photos when I’m out, so these two are rarities. They’re both from a Sunday evening at the Winter Gardens in Morecambe, where we went to see Craig Charles. We knew that several friends from the village had tickets, and I met and chatted to quite a few other friends and acquaintances in the audience. I strongly suspect that I also spotted a few former pupils amongst the crowd too. Anyway, I think it’s fair to say that a damn good time was had by all.

The Winter Gardens is a very strange venue – the floor slopes towards the stage, a consequence of its past as a theatre, but which makes dancing difficult; the toilets were outside in a portacabin and the fabric of the building is visibly still much in need of restoration, but it was good to see the place being used, after years of being closed and neglected.

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TBH and I had also seen Craig Charles at the Brewery Arts in Kendal, supported by the magnificent Haggis Horns. That was a slightly strange affair because Mr Charles seemed a bit subdued and didn’t interact with the audience in the way that he has on the other occasions that we’ve seen him. The music was superb however. A remix of Sarah Vaughan’s rendition of Peter Gunn stands out in my memory.

Another strange gig at the Brewery which TBH and I attended was Lee Scratch Perry. The three piece band – drums, bass, guitar – were very good, but where were the keyboard player, horn section and female backing vocalists we could hear? The band would launch into one of the many of the familiar tunes which Perry produced – Police and Thieves, War Ina Babylon, Roast Fish and Cornbread – and Perry would start with a line from the song, or some approximation to a line, but then continue by half singing an apparent stream of consciousness, principally about the audience – how much we liked him, how he much liked us etc ad infinitum. Weird. The concert ended, for us anyway, with a contretemps between Lee Scratch Perry and the security after a bouncer intervened when an audience member offered Perry a spliff. It was all a bit sad, particularly, from my point of view, since I’ve been wanting to see Lee Scratch Parry live for a long time.

Back in October (I think), the Lancaster Music Festival was, as always, a brilliant affair. I caught up with some old friends and saw lots of acts, many of the great fun. In particular, I managed to see The Uptown Monotones several times. They’re from Graz in Austria and if you ever get a chance to see them live, I can promise that you won’t regret it.

Many, many moons ago, I saw John Cooper Clarke open for The Fall in Manchester. I’d been a fan since a school friend had played me live recordings on his Walkman, which at that time was an exciting and expensive novelty. On his ‘Luckiest Man Alive’ tour this winter, he played in the Ashton Hall, which is within Lancaster Town Hall. I went with friends D, M and C from the village. (At no point did we Run – although we did ‘walk this way’). There were two support acts, including Mike Garry, who was excellent, and who, it turned out, had been working with D’s son J in a school poetry workshop earlier that day. The year before, he did a workshop at our kids’ school, which A attended and raved about – it’s the only time I can remember her having anything positive to say about poetry. Anyway, JCC was hilarious. Afterwards, we dropped into the Penny Bank for a pint and D and M were soon dancing and singing along to an excellent Jam tribute band.

Somewhere in amongst all this lot, old friend Uncle Fester drove up from Manchester and we went to see Martin Simpson at the Platform in Morecambe. What a revelation. I was there mainly on the strength of his most famous song ‘Never Any Good with Money’ which is about his father. He played pretty much the entirety of his latest album and much more besides and I loved it. I shall definitely be getting tickets to see him again.

Finally, our friend L asked me if I wanted to see John Shuttleworth at the Grand in Lancaster. I’ve seen him before a couple of times, but not for many years. His act is, I suppose, entirely predictable, but he had me in stitches. It’s the gentlest of humour, very clever and very, very funny.

Rather than try to include samples of all the music I’ve mentioned here, I think I’ll maybe spread them out over several posts. Here’s a start:

Culture

Doorstepped.

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An unusual start to the daily grind, just as we were setting off on our commute, right on out doorstep, nature red in tooth and claw, a Sparrow-hawk and a Pigeon locked in a life and death struggle. Is that enough cliches for now?

As we opened the door, the Pigeon was still very much alive and putting up a mighty struggle. The hawk, considerably smaller than its prey, seemed to me to be playing the larger bird, like a fisherman with a wily opponent. The Pigeon flapped frantically and both birds took off repeatedly, the hawk holding its position and awaiting the inevitable.

Having made the kill, the hawk was reluctant to abandon it, even though it was still right by our front door. I was able to take several photos, of which this is the best. Unusually, for a wildlife photo, I haven’t cropped this image at all, we were that close. When I left with the kids for Lancaster the hawk was still there, defiantly plucking feathers from the unfortunate Pigeon, although TBH reported that when she came out again to leave for her own commute, a few moments later, the raptor was finally spooked and flew off.

I presume that this is a female Sparrow-hawk, since males are reputedly too small to take Pigeons. We’ve never seen Sparrow-hawks snatch small birds from our garden, but this is the third time we’ve witnessed a Pigeon being hunted down.

Of course, there’s a Ted Hughes poem…

A Sparrow-Hawk

Slips from the eye-corner – overtaking
Your first thought.

Through your mulling gaze over haphazard earth
The sun’s cooled carbon wing
Whets the eyebeam.

Those eyes in their helmet
Still wired direct
To the nuclear core – they alone

Laser the lark-shaped hole
In the lark’s song.

We find the earth-tied spurs, among soft ashes.
And maybe we find him

Materialised by twilight and dew,
Still as a listener 

The warrior

Blue shoulder-cloak wrapped about him,
Leaning, hunched,
Among the oaks of the harp.

A male Sparrow-hawk in the poem, our female doesn’t have a ‘blue shoulder-cloak’.

As is often the case with Ted Hughes, I’m not sure I ‘get’ all of this, but I’ve stopped worrying about that: there’s enough here that I like not to feel put out by that fact.

The first two lines, in particular, summarise beautifully a previous encounter with a Sparrow-hawk in the woods near Middlebarrow Quarry.

Doorstepped.

One Summer Evening

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There were lots of climbers enjoying the evening sunshine at Trowbarrow. Sadly, down in the base of the quarry it was already shady. I had come in search of Bee Orchids…

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And found that there were lots flowering, more than last year I think.

Almost as an afterthought, on the way home I called in at Leighton Moss to take in the view from the skytower…

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I thought I might see some Red Deer out amongst the reeds and meres, and sure enough, there they were…

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What I hadn’t anticipated was the commotion caused by a Marsh Harrier making regular raids on a group of nesting Black-headed Gulls.

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The photos didn’t come out very well, but watching the acrobatics of the harrier and the organised and vociferous defence of the gulls was breathtaking.

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When the harrier stayed away for a while, some of the gulls turned their attentions to the deer and attempted to drive them away too. The deer looked more bemused than worried.

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The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver

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One Summer Evening

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

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.

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A Fawn, Branched Bur-reed and More Orchids.

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A couple of days before I took these photos, we were seated around the kitchen table, which is right beside our patio windows, when a Roe Deer doe walked rather brazenly across the patio, as if we weren’t even there, just a couple of yards away. I didn’t take any photos, because I didn’t want to move and risk breaking the spell. She clearly was carrying a good supply of milk and when she took exception to one of our cats and chased it off the patio I wondered if she had a fawn hidden away somewhere nearby. Later, I checked, without really expecting to find anything, so wasn’t too disappointed when I didn’t.

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But the idea of finding a Roe Deer fawn was planted in my mind and, when a walk through Eaves Wood and along The Row brought me to Lambert’s Meadow, I was particularly aware of that possibility, perhaps because I’ve often seen Roe Deer in Lambert’s Meadow before.

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So, at the edge of the meadow, I stopped to look about and whilst I didn’t find a hidden fawn, I did see a fawn and it’s mother.

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Admittedly, they were quite far away, but I think these are still the best photos I’ve taken, so far, of a fawn.

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Just before I reached Lambert’s Meadow, I passed Bank Well and paused a moment to look for the Newts B and I had seen on a recent visit. They weren’t rising to the surface like they had been, but I did notice this…

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Branched Bur-reed, which I haven’t knowingly seen before, but was pleased to see it because I recognised it from a Robert Gibbings wood engraving which is on the front-cover of my copy of his second book about the Thames, ‘Till I End My Song’.

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This isn’t my copy, but an image I’ve pilfered off the internet. I’ve written about my affection for Robert Gibbings writing and illustration before, so won’t repeat myself (for once). I still have ‘Coming Down the Seine’ on my monumental ‘to read’ pile, maybe I’ll get around to it this summer.

Branched Bur-reed has separate male and female flowers, the female ones being the larger globes and the males the smaller ones nearer the tops of the stalks.

Once the deer had disappeared from view, I turned my attention  to the many orchids growing along the margins of the field.

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I think that all of the photos below show Common Spotted-orchid, but also show the enormous variability within a single species of orchid.

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“The labellum is three lobed, the lateral lobes rhomboidal and the longer central lobe triangular. The labellum is marked by a prominent symmetrical double loop of broken lines and dots in darker mauve.”

Wild Orchids of Great  Britain and Ireland by David Lang.

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Colour, shape and markings can all differ from specimen to specimen however, by quite some margin.

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The fawn of course, was dappled too, which puts me in mind now, of Manley Hopkins ‘Pied Beauty’. Worth stopping, I thought, to take a closer look at the orchids and notice their fickle, freckled variation.

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A view to Eaves Wood.

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I noticed, not without some concern, that there was a bull in with the cows, in one of the last fields I needed to cross on my way home.

I needn’t have worried: he was very bashful and much more interested in the longer grass around the perimeter of this recently mown field than he was in me.

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A Fawn, Branched Bur-reed and More Orchids.