Little and Often: Ever Decreasing Circles

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Lancaster Canal and Cathedral.

I’ve been trying to get out at lunchtimes, partly to bump up my mileage, partly to get some daylight since it’s generally dark when I leave for work and when I get home again, partly to force myself to take a break, but principally because, once I’m out there, I enjoy it.

These photos were all taken on my phone, but on several different days.

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The Judge’s Lodgings.

Last week, I walked the same loop three times: along the canal, down Moor Lane then up Church Street to the Judge’s Lodgings.

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Then past Lancaster Priory and the Castle.

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View across Lancaster from near the Priory.

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Lancaster Priory.

…from where there’s a view across Morecambe and the Bay to the distant hills of the Lake District…

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It’s a comfortable 3.29km, just right for a lunchtime. Or…well, it was 3.29km the first time I walked it. The second time it had shrunk to 3.14km and by the third circuit it was further reduced to only 2.99km. This week I’ve chosen to walk a different route on the basis that if I continued in this way then Lancaster might disappear altogether by June.

This wasn’t altogether a bad thing, because the new route took me past Penny’s Hospital, the almshouses on King Street.

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And past Windermere House, now flats, but originally a Bluecoat school, first built in 1772, and then the Lancaster Charity School for Girls’, rebuilt in 1849-50.

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And, next door to that, Trinity United Reform Church…

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Or, actually, the former site of Trinity United Reform Church, since the church has recently moved out.

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And across the road from there…

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…this building which has an association with Thomas Mawson, architect and garden designer, who has often been mentioned on the blog before (because I’m very taken with his gardens).

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There: I got through the whole thing without any reference to the Richard Briers sitcom.

Oh. Whoops.

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Little and Often: Ever Decreasing Circles

Little and Often: Kickstarting the New Year

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After a flurry of ‘Little and Often’ posts last spring, eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I’ve been increasingly quiet about my fitness drive. I kept it going through the dark days of winter and it was easy to do in the spring and the early summer, but then….I’m not even really sure when exactly it fizzled out, but it did, as these things are wont to do, at least where I’m concerned anyway.

I’m still feeling the benefits though and the New Year feels like an appropriate time to get cracking again, even though I don’t generally make resolutions.

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Part of the impetus is my ‘new’ phone and the MapMyWalk App (I’m sure lots of similar products are available). Last Spring I flirted with the idea of having a crack at a ‘walk 1000 miles in the year’ challenge, this year I’m going to get on and do it. Judging by the plethora of websites which offer to help and encourage you to do just that, I must be one among many.

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These photos were taken on some of the many local rambles which kick-started my progress whilst I was still off work. The weather was a bit mixed, to say the least, there was no flooding, but paths were about as muddy as I can remember seeing them and walking across the fields involved an uncomfortable amount of slithering, squelching and slipping. One day in Eaves Wood I lost my footing completely and fell rather heavily, fortunately without any lasting consequences.

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I tended not to venture particularly far, heading out several times each day rather than aiming for a single long walk. There were numerous trips to the Cove and Eaves Wood as well as a solitary wander around Hawes Water.

On New Year’s Day, whilst A was out for a Penny Walk with her friend, the rest of the family took part in a South Ribble Orienteering Club event. It was a score event, rather than following a course it was just a case of finding as many controls as possible in an hour. Great fun.

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Later in the week, A and B joined me for an Eaves Wood jaunt.

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An aside – this hole in a limestone pavement has been the source of an ongoing family dispute: until recently the top was blocked off with a number of branches. Little S and I contended that it wasn’t that deep a hole – about B’s height we maintained. B was adamant that it was much deeper. He looks chuffed here because, now that the covering branches are gone, it’s evident that he was right.

One day, our friend X-Ray came over and Little S and I took him out for a stroll around Eaves Wood and across The Lots. S was searching for holocrons using his Stars Wars Force Band, so he was happy. (No, I don’t understand what I just wrote either). It was very windy and a bit grim, but as we reached The Pepper Pot on Castlebarrow we had some brief moments of extraordinary light.

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After his walk, X-Ray stopped on for a vegan curry and a few games, including Camel Cup and King Domino. Hopefully, we’ll do something similar again soon.

The tides were high all week. I think that the water was already receding here…

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…and that the sea had actually been into the smelly cave at the Cove.

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These photos were all taken with my phone. It’s not that I’ve abandoned my camera, but with unpredictability of the weather, it was easy just to stick the phone in my back pocket, where I wanted it anyway to clock my mileage, and use it for photos when opportunities arose.

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It’s much less faff uploading the photos too.

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A thousand miles is a fairly arbitrary target, I know, but it gives me something to aim for. To be honest, at the moment I’m just enjoying watching the distance steadily accumulating.

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Some rules: I’m on my feet most of the day at work, but that’s walking I would do anyway. None of that counts. Nor pottering about the house or garden. Walking to the Co-op however, rather than taking the car, is fair game.

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I haven’t decided yet whether any ‘travel’ done under my own steam counts, so that swimming, cycling, skateboarding, canoeing etcetera would add to the total or not.

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Somewhere during the week, we squeezed in visits to the climbing wall in Lancaster and also to see Aladdin at the Dukes with some of our friends from the village (hello Dr R!).

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Another aside: I noticed, down at The Cove, that the seasonal springs, which rise amongst the rocks on the bottom left of the picture below…

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…are now supplemented by, or perhaps have partially moved to, those two large greenish hollows on the bottom right of the photo. You can see that a fairly substantial stream out across the mud has been established. It’s been there a while, I’ve been enjoying the foreground it provides for my sunset photos…

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A low key sunset on a very still evening, which was very restful, but I think I may have said much the same thing only a few posts ago.

Little and Often: Kickstarting the New Year

Little and Often – Three is the Magic Number

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As if to underline my point about the ubiquity of Nuthatches, I spotted this one, well heard it first, but then found it, when I was hardly out of our front door.

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An early start this one, you can tell from the long shadows.

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Female Blackbird.

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Looking back at the village and Eaves Wood from near the Green.

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Song Thrush…

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…singing.

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On Stankelt Road many of the roofs and chimney pots had one or two Jackdaws.

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I suppose, like Arnside Tower and Trowbarrow quarry where I often see them, this environment is sufficiently like the rocky cliffs they prefer to feel like home.

Like Nuthatches, Blue Tits are ubiquitous, but perhaps even more fidgety and difficult to see clearly long enough to photograph.

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Today, at various points around the walk, they were more amenable.

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This prominent perching spot…

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…was occupied by a Crow the last two times I went past it, but today the Crow had seemingly been usurped by a very strident Nuthatch.

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A hazy view of Grange.

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Shelducks and Oyster-catcher

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Another female Blackbird, with….? Doesn’t look particularly like food or nesting material.

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Male Blackbird looking on. With a broken wing? I feel a song coming on.

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Like I said, the Ramsons on the verge on Cove Road are flowering already.

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So are the Bluebells.

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Move gave this walk as 3.9km, but when I’ve walked a slightly longer variation on this subsequently, it gave it as 3.8km. I shall have to assume that it’s only approximate. I’ve tried measuring the longer version on a map using WalkJogRun (thanks for the tip Jackie) which came up with 2.34 miles, which, by my calculation, is a little bit less than the 3.8km, but then, measuring on the ground really ought to give a slightly greater value so that’s okay.

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I think that this is probably another Raven, simply because it seemed so large. It was in the field by Cove Road and hopped onto the fence in front of me. Unfortunately, the camera’s auto-focus wasn’t playing so I didn’t get what should have been an excellent photo. When the bird regally hopped down onto the road, it managed to give the distinct impression that it wasn’t the least bit afraid of me, but was moving because it genuinely wanted to.

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Green Alkanet.

Apparently, according to a study conducted in New Zealand last year, people who have Type 2 diabetes should exercise three times a day, preferably after eating. Frankly, I’ve rarely managed three walks a day, but I’m quite often out twice. And, yes, I have T2D, something I’ve only obliquely referred to on the blog before. I feel more comfortable about mentioning it now, since my blood test last week showed my HbA1c to be down from 9.7 (pretty bad) in January to 6.7 (almost acceptable) last week.

So, I was out again after tea, without my camera, since it was cloudy and wet, for a tour around Eaves Wood, including around the northern side, Middlebarrow, which I don’t visit all that often. That came out as 6.0km. This three miles business is easy. When I’m not at work, anyway.

Little and Often – Three is the Magic Number

Little and Often – Lao Tzu

Hagg Wood – The Green – Stankelt Road – The Lots – The Cove – Townsfield

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I frequently walk past this border of Hagg Wood and it’s been interesting to watch the Blackthorn flowers transform from constellations of tight white balls into fully fledged blossom.

Ecotones are always busy with life and this one, between the woods and the open field, is no exception, being always thronged with birds. Usually I hear them more than see them, but this warbler…

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…was both silent, but also unusually easy to track with my camera.

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Warbler’s are easiest to distinguish by their songs, so I’m not sure whether this is a Chiff-Chaff or something else. And, to be honest, if it isn’t a Chiff-Chaff, then the song wouldn’t have helped me much either.

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The mystery tree is still playing its cards close to its chest, with no leaves unfurling yet, which probably means that it isn’t a Sycamore.

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Hebridean Sheep. I think.

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Chaffinch.

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I stepped into Pointer Wood, saw how deep the shadows were there and decided not to go that way. But I lingered long enough to take lots of backlit photos…

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Gooseberry flowers.

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Hazel leaves?

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Sycamore leaves.

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Ivy.

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The Lots.

The couple ahead of me in the photo are friends from the village whom I often meet when I’m walking locally, particularly of an evening. It amuses them that at the moment I wear shorts, but also a hat and gloves. Seems perfectly sensible to me.

As I approached the small copse which stands either side of the path above the cliff by The Cove, I watched a pair of Buzzards circling above it.

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There were several Starlings foraging in the second, northern-most of The Lots fields. A few years ago I spotted a Starling nest in the woods here and watched for some time as the two parent birds flew back and forth whilst their hungry brood noisily pleaded for more.

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Crow.

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“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, this oft-quoted proverb is apparently from the 64th chapter of the Tao Te Ching which is attributed to Lao Tzu. A more accurate translation, I’ve read, would be: “A journey of a thousand li starts beneath ones feet.”

But, returning to Mr Sloman and his daily target of 3 miles; that average mileage per day would yield over 1000 miles in a year. Which would no doubt feel like something of an achievement. I notice that Country Walking magazine have a 1000 mile challenge. And some bloggers are already well underway with said challenge.

So: could I manage it? Well, this modest walk is two and a half miles. I know this since TBH has loaded an App called Move onto her phone and I’ve been borrowing the phone. The app provides a step-count, a distance, time and average speed for your walk. I must confess that I love both the data and the maps and am almost tempted to get my own smart phone so that I can use it more regularly. Almost. Even with all of the gawking I did, I still managed this in just over an hour, so yes, I could probably manage this most days and then make up any shortfall at the weekends. Of course, a good time to come to this particular realisation would have been just before New Year, rather than part way through April. Still, it’s something to think of for next year. In the meantime I’ll keep practising.

This gate…

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…gives me some measure of my progress to date. In recent years it has been a bit of a squeeze for me to get through it, but now I can pass through with ease. A fact which never fails to make me smile. Sometimes I go back and forth through it a couple of times, just because I can.

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The pair of Buzzards swooped low over the wood then gracefully arced over and back to come to land on branches high at the back of the wood. I could half see them, but not well enough to get a photo.

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Behind me, a Blackbird was regaling the sinking sun with gusto.

And why not?

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Blackthorn Blossom in late evening light.

 

Little and Often – Lao Tzu

Bring me the Sunset in a Cup

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Whether it’s three miles a day, or six, or twenty-seven, a daily mileage target would be unrealistic for me. Some days I just don’t manage to get out at all. On the other hand, sometimes I manage a lunchtime wander along the canal from work and on occasion I’ve been out before work too.

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I could almost certainly manage to average three miles a day, however.

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On this occasion, I arrived home from work, after a fairly sunny day I think, and headed off to Jack Scout hoping for a spectacular sunset. What I got was cloud spreading in and something more muted, but much appreciated anyway.

Having watched the sun set, I decided to head around Jenny Brown’s Point, away from home, and therefore finished by stumbling home in almost total darkness, having neglected to take my headtorch.

I’m feeling the benefits of my regular excursions – whether they’re three miles, six, more or less. Some of those benefits are obvious and tangible – the improved fitness I felt when I was in Scotland at the start of the month, for example – and some are more elusive and difficult to quantify.

Bring me the sunset in a cup,
Reckon the morning’s flagons up
And say how many Dew,
Tell me how far the morning leaps
Tell me what time the weaver sleeps
Who spun the breadth of blue!

Write me how many notes there be
In the new Robin’s ecstasy
Among astonished boughs.
How many trips the Tortoise makes
How many cups the Bee partakes,
The Debauchee of Dews!

Also, who laid the Rainbow’s piers,
Also, who leads the docile spheres
By withes of supple blue?
Whose fingers string the stalactite
Who counts the wampum of the night
To see that none is due?

Who built this little Alban House
And shut the windows down so close
My spirit cannot see?
Who’ll let me out some gala day
With implements to fly away,
Passing Pomposity?

– Emily Dickinson.

 

 

 

 

 

Bring me the Sunset in a Cup

Little and Often

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Anyone who follows, or even just occasionally dips into this blog, will know that I like to get out for an evening walk. Or a morning walk. Or, pretty much an any time of day walk.

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To a certain extent, since I started the blog, I’ve become guilty of seeing the aim of these walks as being to provide fodder, and particularly photographs, for the blog. So that, for example, there would be little point of rousing myself for a late walk on a gloomy day in early March to see whether the daffs were flowering in the woods near Far Arnside, if the low light was going to hamper my photography.

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Green Hellebore.

Since the New Year, however, I’ve bucked my ideas up, turned over a new leaf, rung the changes,….(insert similar cliches to taste) and have been trying to get out every day, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. Many of these walks have been in the dark. Or the rain. Or both. And often my camera has been left at home.

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But now the evenings are getting lighter and even when the light is low and the sun has sunk behind a bank of cloud to the west, there’s still always something to see or hear.

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I see that Mr Sloman has a daily target of 3 miles. And I know that Bertrand Russell once advocated a regular 6 mile walk. Maybe I need a GPS enabled device so that I can track my own milage.

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In the meantime, I shall just keep on keeping on.

Little and Often

Residual Light

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A new month. Which started for me with one of those late night conversations in which the world is put thoroughly to rights. I’ve had plenty of those conversations in the past. This one was substantially different than any I’ve been involved in before, because I really felt that two of the three people involved really might change the world in significant ways. I mostly listened, excited and dizzied in equal measure. I realise that this is all rather cryptic and probably seems like hyperbole, but I shall keep my counsel until events have either confirmed or balked my suspicions.

Later that day, I was up unusually early to get into Lancaster for a pre-operative assessment. Nothing major, in fact a procedure I’ve had before, although unfortunately that means that I am well aware of the uncomfortable aftermath of the surgery. Ho-hum.

At lunchtime, I picked up new glasses. My first vari-focals: I am officially old. Suddenly the world has swum back into focus and has unexpected textures and details. Happily, I managed to resist the temptation to tell the lady who sold me my the specs that she was much more wrinkled than I had hitherto realised.

What kind of idiot wears 10 year old specs with a scratched lenses and an out-of-date prescription? This kind of idiot, that’s who! Well, not any more. (Not for another 10 years anyway).

What a good day then to get home early enough to get out whilst the sun was still shining. There are primroses flowering on the bank on Cove Road where they always appear early. Even earlier this year than is usual I think. The sun had sunk behind a bank of western cloud before I reached the Cove, but the residual light was still showing the Bay to pleasing effect.

Inevitably, things change, for good or evil. But the primroses and the sunsets are a reliable constant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Residual Light