A Victim of Geography

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I’ll confess, this may not be an entirely appropriate title, so let me explain. I was racking my brains, trying to dredge up the circumstances of my taking these sunset photos at the Cove. I remembered that the occasion was the Friday night at the beginning of half-term, and that I’d raced home to squeeze in a post-work walk before the clocks went back. Anyone that knows me, my long-suffering children in particular, will tell you that any event, or phrase, or even a single word, can put me in mind of a song, and once I have an earworm in my head I struggle to be rid of it. Although, in fairness, I don’t always struggle with much conviction; often I just sing instead. Any mention of the beginning or end of British Summer Time is a case in point, and the song which always springs to mind is ‘The Only One‘ by Billy Bragg, which contains the lines:

I long to let our love run free
Yet here I am a victim of geography

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This weekend I’ve been trawling through the thousands of photographs I’ve taken this year, an annual chore, necessary at around this time when we put together our calendars for the coming year, and, of course, not really a chore at all. TBH is firmly of the opinion that the photographs we use should have people in them, so I select all the photos of friends and family which I think might be suitable and then we whittle them down from there.

Several things struck me as I worked my way through my flickr albums. It’s still the case that most of my photos are of sunsets, or newts, or deer, or birds, or leaves, or butterflies etc, but I’ve picked out 162 pictures for my long-list this year and that’s many more than usual. I think that reflects both the many enjoyable days we’ve packed in this year, but also how many of those were spent together as a family and also often shared with friends. Another thing I noticed, which won’t surprise long-suffering readers of this blog, is just how many times this year I’ve been at the Cove to witness the sunset. In fact, I was there again this afternoon. And yesterday afternoon. And whilst the Bay is essentially a vast expanse of mud, it does provide an excellent foreground for a sunset, and so, far from being a victim, I think I must be a beneficiary of geography.

 

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A Victim of Geography

Yummy Apple Pie

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Our friends J, E and C came to visit for a weekend. It rained. That can happen of course, especially here in the North Wet of England. We decided to enjoy ourselves anyway. On the Saturday we walked over to the pie shop in Arnside for a late lunch. I’m not sure that anybody actually sampled the yummy apple pie, but I think everybody enjoyed what they did have. The apparent small hedgehog in the front of the photo above is, in fact, a large Scotch Egg. I had one of those for my lunch, with some salad. It was both the biggest and the tastiest Scotch Egg I’ve ever had.

TBH had managed to double book herself that day and was also supposed to be out for her monthly walk with another friend, Dr R. That was a problem easily solved though: we killed two birds with one stone and Dr R joined us for our pie shop outing.

The weather was, as I say, hardly optimal…

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And the views from the Knott were less extensive than usual….

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There was a deal of mud to contend with…

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But everyone seemed to be happy…

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B meanwhile, couldn’t wait for his pie and decided to investigate the flavour of Sloes, despite my warnings…

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Trepidation.

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Consternation.

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Tribulation. “It’s not Fry’s”.

If you’ve never tried a Sloe, well, to say that they are tart is something of an understatement. They’re also packed with tannic acid and do something strange to your tongue and the roof of your mouth – imagine taking the most over-brewed tea you’ve ever tasted, and then boiling off some of the liquid to make a more concentrated liquor, that just might have a similar effect.

If you haven’t tried Fry’s Chocolate Cream, or the ‘Five Boys’ bar, well you’re probably a bit late. Fry’s was bought by Cadbury’s, which got swallowed in turn, and now they’re produced in Poland apparently, and I imagine they aren’t quite what they once were. It was the first mass produced chocolate bar, according to Wikipedia at least.

This must have been a very successful advertising campaign. The image has certainly always stuck with me. The Harris family, who lived across the road from us when I was a boy, had this on the wall in their hall. I wonder if it was a print, or if, as I suspect, an original enamel advert. Dave Harris, the pater-familias, loved antiques. He collected earthenware jars and Codd bottles, which I think he unearthed himself, digging in likely spots with another neighbour, Charlie Tear.

TBH, incidentally, loves Fry’s Turkish delight, and usually gets some at Christmas, but since it doesn’t fit in with her new vegan regime, will have to make do with something else this year. Which gives me a great idea for a present – it’s a good job she rarely reads my witterings!

Anyway, I digress. I can’t recall what we did on the Sunday, but I didn’t take any photos, so I imagine that the weather was even less conducive to walking and that we mainly relaxed in our kitchen. It was a very relaxing weekend all round. It’s always good to see J and her daughters.

Yummy Apple Pie

Gurnal Dubs

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Gurnal Dubs.

Something close to a Proper Walk to report on tonight, so I shall attempt a Proper Post to do it justice. This was still, however, another case of making-the-most-of-a-window-of-opportunity provided by Taxi Dad duties; it’s just that this was a slightly longer window than usual, and in a location with lots of potential for a good walk. It was a Sunday in early October, so ordinarily I would have been ferrying one or both of the boys to a rugby practice or match, but B had elected to take part in a charity mountain bike ride with his Scout group instead. Here he is…

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…in Staveley Mill Yard, before the ride. And here again…

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…afterwards. He’s disappointed with this second photo, because, he tells me, it doesn’t show the full extent of the cuts and bruises he picked up. Nor does it convey just how wet and muddy he and his bike had become.

They were raising money for Papyrus, a charity which works to prevent young suicide. Since then, B has also participated in a night hike over our local 3 peaks: Arnside Knott, The Pepper Pot and Warton Crag. There’s a collective JustGiving page here, should you feel inspired to sponsor B.

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Reston Scar and part of Staveley from Spy Crag.

I had a few hours, then, whilst I waited for his return, and set off on a beeline for Potter Fell and its tarns.

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Kendal.

The initial blue skies and and strong sunshine slowly disappeared behind a layer of cloud, but, fortuitously, the cloud cleared again just after I’d arrived at Gurnal Dubs, where I intended to break for lunch and a brew.

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The very tidy boat house on Gurnal Dubs.

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The tarns here were dammed and enlarged to supply water to the paper-mill at Burneside. The mill belongs to James Cropper PLC, set-up in 1845 by a man of that name and still managed by the Cropper family. I wondered whether J.A.C. might be the James  Cropper who managed the company relatively recently, a descendent presumably of the original James. Whoever owns it, I imagine it’s a lovely spot for boating; it was certainly a very pleasant place for lunch.

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I had leftovers from the evening before: humus, guacamole, roasted carrot dip (very peanutty, nobody but me liked it), crudities, and a little bit of fried chorizo. TBH and A had recently embarked on a Vegan October. A Vegan October, I might add, which has now lasted right through November too, and which shows no sign of coming to an end any time soon. The Dangerous Brothers are beginning to adjust, but, back then, were not very supportive of the idea, and the fried chorizo was one of my attempts to placate them.

Whilst I tucked into my lunch and made a brew, a family of three arrived, changed into wetsuits and swam in the tarn. I’ve visited Gurnal Dubs many times, but it’s never really occurred to me to consider it as a place to swim. Next time, however…

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Potter Tarn with the Coniston Fells behind..

Eventually, I headed back to Potter Tarn and then turned south past Ghyll Pool.

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It was noticeably Waxcap season, with small fungi half-hidden in the grass in many places along my walk.

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Crimson Waxcaps.

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Meadow Waxcaps.

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Apparently, these are quite nice to eat, although they are also under threat and so perhaps best left alone..

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The striking green of the grass growing in this old nest really stood out against the bracken covered hillsides and red haws on the small thorn tree.

 

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I liked the cheery request on this gate. That’s Cunswick Scar above Kendal behind.

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I’m guessing this is a Common Darter, an older female perhaps. It also liked the gate.

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Big barn at Hundhowe.

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I anticipated having a choice of which bank of the Kent to follow back into Staveley, but the bridge at Hagg Foot was washed away by the floods of Storm Desmond and hasn’t been repaired, so I stuck to the north bank and the woods of Beckmickle Ing.

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River Kent.

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A posh stile with handrails.

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A handsome tree (and house) on the outskirts of Staveley.

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Gurnal Dubs

Only the Wanderer

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A late wander, along the road bordering the Kent. Dark skies and squally showers, but patches of blue too; gulls and cormorants out on the mud and skeins of geese following the estuary towards the Bay.

“Only the wanderer
   Knows England’s graces,
Or can anew see clear
   Familiar faces.
And who loves joy as he
   That dwells in shadows?
Do not forget me quite,
   O Severn meadows.”
Ivor Gurney.
Only the Wanderer

Like a Dull Knife

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These sunset photos were gleaned from a late wander down to the Cove and across the Lots with the boys and were taken the day after the shots in the previous post, that is at the tail end of September, but have had to wait a lot longer to make it the the blog.

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Just so you know I’m still here, bumbling along, snapping away.

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Like a Dull Knife

Bright Skies and Big Clouds

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Bright skies and big clouds tempted my out into bracing winds on a Friday night after work.

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Horse Chestnut by Pointer Wood.

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Traveller’s Joy, Sharp’s Lot.

The path down through Fleagarth Wood to the end of Quaker’s Stang was extremely muddy even then, heaven knows what it will be like now, given all of the rain we have endured since. When I reached the saltmarsh, I was exposed to the full force of the wind for the first time, and was surprised by how brisk it was.

The tide was coming up Quicksand Pool…

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But the muddy banks were unusually firm, so I continued along them, rather than seeking the road nearby, because that way I kept my view of the retreating sun.

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From Jenny Brown’s Point.

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Sunset from Jack Scout.

 

Bright Skies and Big Clouds

Find Your Hope.

“Find your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.”

Wendell Berry  from A Poem on Hope.

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A third unexpected bonus in as many days – this visit to Foulshaw Moss came hard on the heels of the tiny lizards by Hawes Water and the heron at Bank Well, even though the respective blog posts have been more temporally spaced. The day had started wet, but then brightened enough, whilst I was at work, to kindle some optimism about the prospects for an evening walk. By the time I dropped off our budding ballerina for her classes in Milnthorpe, however, it was already raining again. Clutching at straws, I drove to Foulshaw anyway. In the wind and the rain, Foulshaw was a bit bleak, to say the least.

But then, and only for a moment, the sun dropped low enough in the western sky to suffuse the cloudscape with a hint of colour…

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And I was pleased that I had made the effort.

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By the car park at Foulshaw, as is the case at many nature reserves, there is a chalk board for recording sightings, to which somebody had added: ’93 Common Lizards’, which is exactly the kind of precise one-upmanship that these boards seem to invite. The one at Leighton Moss often makes me chuckle, when the numbers of common birds like Starlings, or some of the overwintering ducks, are numbered in huge round numbers into the tens of thousands, as if anyone can count those huge flocks even remotely accurately.

Find Your Hope.