Archive for the ‘walks’ Category

Imaginary Dogs

April 29, 2015

My dogs are away from home at the moment – they are in France with Andrew and Bella.

triangulated dogs
Le chezeau – newly mown grass and three dogs,

dogs with a plan
where they make their doggy plans,

red oak in spring 2
– and enjoy the spring.

Here in Leamington, meanwhile, I knock on busy people’s doors and interrupt their daily lives to ask them to think about politics.  They are remarkably polite (on the whole) considering we catch them when they’ve just got in tired from work; or they’re trying to cook a meal; or get the kids’ homework done.

I still join my dog-walk in the mornings though: wouldn’t be without the lively conversations and the fresh air on the Eagle.  “Where’s your dogs?” they say.
“Oh, I’m walking imaginary dogs,” – I’m bored with truths.  I have to walk imaginary dogs.  This morning we were talking about a bloke we have all met on the canal path at some time or other.  Big bloke. Tattoos. Scary-looking mastiff-type dog, with a blank white face, always held tight on a short chain lead.  They’re OK though – the bloke is friendly and chatty.  He’s worked in ‘security’ (meaning he’s a bouncer) and he’s a medium, and a ghost-hunter.  He does tours of haunted houses for the public, and he can ask ghosts to leave with a quick prayer.  (Sounds a bit like his day job, only gentler.)  He is utterly, utterly sincere.

I find that I might be walking ghost dogs.
“Yesterday,” I tell my friends, “I was actually walking Morgan.”
“But she ran off, ” says Tim.
Morgan the rescue greyhound, was always in search of a bin-related snack, and had to be chased through the back alleys over and over again.  She could rip open a black bag in no time flat – you’d be amazed how many people throw out chicken carcasses still with loads of meat on them!  She went back to it day after day.  It wasn’t a great thing to do – she had to spread the rubbish fairly widely sometimes, to get to the best bits.  And she knew those little back alleys so well – she could scoot round a corner and be gone in a flash.  She was a younger person’s dog, and excellent exercise – I doubt I could sustain the pace these days.

CNV00020– a slightly skulking manner –

Of course, she too grew old, and didn’t sustain the pace either.

06-04-09_Jill_Morganophora_2

So often when we talk about dogs, the conversation veers towards death.  I am grateful to them for that.

Tomorrow I think I’ll walk Patch.

December was a blank

December 31, 2014

Sorry for the absence, friends.  I’ve been ill through much of December and just starting to feel like myself again.  Actually, I didn’t feel like anyone else either.  Just a washed out version of a human being.

Still, we made it up to Scotland for Christmas, for our wonderful four days at the Four Seasons Hotel on Loch Earn.  Marvellous walks.  So good to be waited on, to come back from the morning walk to find the chalet hoovered through and all doggy traces removed.  Then we started all over again, messing it up.  It’s not deliberate, it just happens all around us, as we live.  Chaos spreads.

First day's walk - looking down on Loch Earn from the North.

First day’s walk – looking down on Loch Earn from the North.

We climbed the hill through a sheep farm – chatted to the farmer and his dogs.  He mellowed when he realised we knew what we were doing.  The weather started to close in, and the hill felt a bit steep.  We were both coughing, anyway, so anything would have felt steep to us.

tweedy hillside colours under a lowering sky

tweedy hillside colours under a lowering sky

 

On Xmas Day we walked on Ben Vorlich – and saw the high tops covered in snow, rising up across the valley to the North as we climbed. Bright skies above and a brisk frost underfoot.

 

Just a glimpse of Loch Earn, and the mountains beyond, at the same time.

Just a glimpse of Loch Earn, and the mountains beyond, at the same time.

 

A few other walkers were moving up the mountain – including a young couple who loved our dogs.  We’re staying in touch in case they want a puppy from Shadow next year.

Front to back: Bella, Bandit, Shadow.

Front to back: Bella, Bandit, Shadow.

Four legs better than two on the skiddy frosty rocks.

A little further up, and the snowy high tops look huge.

across the loch - a wonder

across the loch – a wonder

We plodded and slipped onwards, bent over and looking at the ground.  Curious looking growths become small works of natural art when you look closely.

Some kind of lichen?

Some kind of lichen? Frilled like a ball gown.

On Boxing Day we walked a flatter circuit through Tarken Wood, along a disused railway line that crosses a fabulous series of waterfalls, where the streams tip themselves down steep granite slopes into the loch.  Deer spoor and dog footprints; a chatty farmer walking her dogs; and a field of cattle this time.  The track led us to the derelict village of Morillo (?) – piles of stone, lines of mossy stone banks. It was a day for looking at small things, and things close to us.

 

And so on the next day it was just a quick walk up the hill behind the hotel to stretch our legs before a day in the car.  Birch woods and pine woods.  Just one more day!  Just this one more walk!

silver birch - 'the weed of the forests' they say

silver birch – ‘the weed of the forests’ they say

We turned and came back past bird life – so many small birds – goldfinches, coal tits, – so many.

And packed Bella into the car –

I think she likes this.

I think she likes this.

 

– and drove away.  Fabulous views on the road across from Comrie to the main Stirling road, and eventually onto the M6 (jam-packed) and finally home.

 

a bit more of Canberra

May 8, 2014

Some random images, but not much text.  Go for it!!

I couldn’t upload pictures earlier, but now I can (via Dropbox – thank you Val).  Here is the photo to go with the ‘MyCafe in Manuka’ comments.

Towards the end of the afternoon – this counts as ‘not many’ cakes.

The remains of the fabulous cheesecake are up there, second from the right.  It was the classic plain baked cheesecake.  After I had mine I think a few other people had some too, and all that was left looked lonely on its plate, so they wedged it in with something marginally less popular – perhaps the white chocolate cheesecake.

Here is a cat in a cage.  It’s not a proper cage, as the cat goes in and out, freely making its own choices.

Mayhem in his cage.

At least I think it’s Mayhem, and not his brother, Mischief.  I think the cage was originally a bird-protecting device, with a cage-tunnel access from the house, but circumstances changed all that.  Even so, I’ve never seen a dead bird in the cage, so maybe it works.

 

2014-04-27 04.27.31

The cat has noticed the photographer.

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On another day, in another part of the city . . . .

the bridge over Sullivan's Creek

the bridge over Sullivan’s Creek

There are so very many beautiful photos of Canberra.  This is a picture of one of Canberra’s major defects: the huge wide roads that whizz the inhabitants (efficiently enough) from one outlying suburb to another.  It feels slightly sci-fi and futuristic, in a fifties sci-fi kind of way.  I remember Sullivan’s Creek as a little brook through the University grounds, that one could jump over on the way to classes.

For people who walk rather than driving, the bridge is in between lovely stretches of the lake.  I walked down to the lake path from the Botanical Gardens, then to Black Mountain Peninsula and back around to the Museum.

Looking across Lake Burley Griffin from the footpath to the mountains beyond

Looking across Lake Burley Griffin from the footpath to the mountains beyond

It was one of those moments when your heart rises and dilates in pure delight, and your mind is filled with wordless joy.  I wondered if the Burley Griffins could possibly have anticipated that their design might create such overwhelming pleasure.

Poplars do very well in Canberra and this year the colours were pure and intense.

Poplars do very well in Canberra and this year the colours are pure and intense.

late summer was unusually rainy - perhaps that explains it?

Late summer was unusually rainy – perhaps that explains it?

I was walking across the Sullivan’s Creek bridge to get to the Museum, and see their fabulous display of aboriginal bark paintings (‘Old Masters’), with its detailed and erudite commentary.

250px-NatMusAus_Main_Entrance_Strip

The sculpture above the museum: visible from miles around.  I would love to see the kite-flying that goes on there sometimes.  There is a glass-walled coffee shop with the most stunning view – straight onto the lake, and over to the fine white fluted lines of the National Library.

This photo of the cup of tea was taken in honour of Val – a Canberran whose Koala Tea Blog  is a source of endless interest.

a cup of tea at the NMA (National Museum of Australia)

a cup of tea at the NMA (National Museum of Australia)

 

In the evening, another extraordinary sight: the thin new moon, holding the ghost of the old moon, was setting over Black Mountain, with the red lights of the Tower next to it.  – Such complexity would be a challenge to any photographer, I think, and I and my phone were not really up to it.  You have to imagine that all the fuzziness around the lights is focussed down  tightly, and clearly defined.  The line of the moon was actually thin, thin, tiny and incandescent as a bright gold thread.

2014-05-01 09.03.05

 

 

In the foreground, University House decorates its frontage with rich bright blue

In the foreground, University House decorates its frontage with rich bright blue

If you look, you can see  Black Mountain Tower, and the moon glowing, just above the roof line

Why was I there?  I was off to enjoy Pie Night at University House with Annabel, followed by a hearty sing of the Brahms Requiem.

And thus the day closed . . . .

March 3, 2014

Thank you Val for breaking the drought – all the long time since I last wrote a blog.

Yesterday we thought it would be good to take the dogs and have a walk on a wold, instead of our usual urban and semi-urban dogwalks. By the time we had had lunch and a cup of tea at home, and driven (slowly) to Chipping Camden, it was pouring with a nasty kind of wind-driven sleety rain. Some of it was very heavy and pelting from the South. So we left the dogs in the car and went to find a cream tea. First we had to look in on an antiques fair – managed to escape without purchase. The Bantam Tea Rooms had luscious cakes in the window and a wood fire burning: they served a lavish version of the cream tea. Two slender young women next to us were eating scones and cake on the same plate – we were impressed and ordered up the same thing. The scone came with the absolutely best cream and jam I have had in a long time; the cake (chocolate for me, lemon for Andrew) was marvellous – light and fresh. It was Sunday afternoon, and the cakes were fresh! How often does that happen?

I chose Darjeeling tea – full metal pot, with teabag in, plus matching pot of hot water. China teacup and saucer reminded me of my Grandma. That cup of tea went on and on and on.

I can’t speak too highly of the Bantam Tea Rooms – and so I bought a teatowel for my mother. Anything that says ‘Chipping Camden’ will tickle an Australian’s sense of humour. We drove our baffled dogs home, slowly, through Cotswold lanes in the grey rain and the gathering dusk. We did have a walk with them in the end, on our usual park in Warwick.

Silences

September 25, 2013

Saturday morning and the air has stilled.  September sunshine brushes the market square and the warm stone houses in the hilly village of Ste Sévère.  No movement in the little streets, except for mine – and I a stranger.  In the Post Office – nearly midday, nearly closing time – I am the only customer.  A peaceful woman weighs the card I want to send – it rests, light on the scales, while she tickles my cheeky dog.  Those huge ears.  The local bar is sleek with the smell of leeks cooking. I drink excellent coffee alone, and chat quietly with the chef about black pepper and circuses, and leek fondue.  (Did he really mean ‘leek fondue’?)

 The ancient square is still empty, but the church bell strikes its rich tone, calm and precise.  It hardly resonates in the dry air, so limpid, and for once I don’t bother to count the strokes.  I slide the car gently out of town.

 Not a soul in the fields – no sound of machinery, no movement of beasts or men.  The great black and white donkeys stand at angles, close together but detached.  Wheat stubble rests; sunflowers and maize are drying – so slowly – imperceptibly small changes darken the grains a fraction more.  Across an empty field, the brook’s rush-rustling tumble runs below the silence.  For a few steps my boots crunch gently across a sprinkle of last year’s acorns.  Some small cautious creature briefly disturbs the dry grasses by the path; a tiny grasshopper lands on a papery dead leaf with the lightest of sounds: flick.  A pale, grey-brown sound.  Down the hill, across the little iron and concrete bridge and past silent well-kempt farmsteads, the dogs romp and I walk quietly, into the shade of the woods on our left.  On the other side, expanses of tall-growing flowering balsam run wild, all the way down damp margins to the stream. 

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They say a blog is better with pictures – I’m not sure that I want to chop this one up. 

Here it is again with pictures – tell me what you think!

Silences

Saturday morning and the air has stilled.  September sunshine brushes the market square and the warm stone houses in the hilly village of Ste Sévère.  No movement in the little streets, except for mine – and I a stranger.

empty streets

empty streets

In the Post Office – nearly midday – I am the only customer.

The Post Office - ring to be admitted.

The Post Office – ring to be admitted.

A peaceful woman weighs the card I want to send – it rests, light on the scales, while she tickles my cheeky dog.  Those huge ears.  In the local bar (the Relais du Facteur), sleek with the smell of leeks cooking I drink excellent coffee alone, and chat quietly with the chef about black pepper and circuses, and leek fondue.  (Did he really mean ‘leek fondue’?)

no-one needed behind the bar

no-one needed behind the bar

The ancient square is still empty, but the church bell strikes its rich tone, calm and precise.

Across rooftops, the bell tower of the church.

Across rooftops, the bell tower of the church.

It hardly resonates in the dry air.  For once I don’t bother to count the strokes.  I slide the car gently out of town.

I slide out of town

I slide out of town

Not a soul in the fields – no sound of machinery, no movement of beasts or men.  The great black and white donkeys stand at angles, close together but detached.  Wheat stubble rests; sunflowers and maize are drying – so slowly – imperceptibly small, molecular movement.

maize drying on the cob

maize drying on the cob

Across an empty field, the brook’s rush-rustling tumble runs below the silence.

stream bubbling in the distance

stream bubbling in the distance

For a few steps my boots crunch gently across a sprinkle of last year’s acorns;

acorns scatter, shatter on the path

acorns scatter, shatter on the path

something disturbs the dry grasses by the path; a tiny grasshopper lands on a leaf with the lightest of sounds: flick.  A pale, grey-brown sound.

a grasshopper, still and undetectable on the dried grass

a grasshopper, still and undetectable on the dried grass

Down the hill, across the little iron and concrete bridge

concrete and iron

concrete and iron

and past silent well-kempt farmsteads,

well kept farmsteads: the Moulin Gras

well kept farmsteads: the Moulin Gras

the dogs romp and I walk quietly, into the shade of the woods on one side;

DSCF1293

on the other, expanses of tall-growing flowering balsam run wild, all the way down damp margins to the stream.

flowering balsam on the field running down to the stream

flowering balsam on the field running down to the stream

Visiting Auckland – May 2013

August 11, 2013

I think I must be a sad disappointment to Ann and Colin.

Ann likes to begin the day briskly: “Well! What’s the plan?”  I so wish I could do that too, and be a person who could answer her properly – but I rarely have a plan, especially first thing in the morning.  My suggestions seemed to strike Ann as rather feeble and inadequate – she likes to do three or four different things in a day, and ideally have a fifth idea up her sleeve.

Ann is a powerhouse of energy.

Ann is a powerhouse of energy.

Even so, we did some lovely, if unlikely, things in 2013.

Last time in Auckland, we had visited the Arataki Centre centre hastily and at the end of a long day, so one of my goals was to go back and see it in more detail.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

It was a chancy, wet-and-dry day, but we had a walk – Ann looked doubtfully at my sandals (they are strong sandals) and wouldn’t let me go on the longer walk over muddy terrain.

They came from a sale in Chateauroux, years ago.  Then, they were stylish. Now, just practical and comfy

They came from a sale in Chateauroux, years ago. Then, they were stylish. Now, just practical and comfy

She was probably right.  Our walk led downhill through the dense forest, past ferns and under tall trees – stunning New  Zealand native bushland.

it was a bit like this

it was a bit like this

We stayed dry-shod, and at the bottom of the hill we met some people in a car who were lost and looking for the Arataki centre.  We gave them careful directions, but never saw them again.  I said it was a complicated city.

That weekend, my wonderful English daughter emailed and told me that she would be having a baby in November – so Ann and I dashed out to buy knitting wool and needles, driving (as usual) miles and miles through Auckland.  (It’s a very drive-around sort of city – partly I suppose to do with its layout around two harbours and various mountains.)

Mt-Eden-655

Rome has seven hills – Auckland has more!)

Ann is a knitter too, and we went to a staggering kind of warehouse for craft, wool and everything, called Spotlight.  The name suggests stage ambitions; amateur dance competitions; pancake makeup; bring on the clowns – all that.

There are amazing and unimaginable crafts out there, especially in New Zealand and Australia.  (Turns out that Spotlight is also well known in Australia).  I felt as if I had discovered a pirate hoard of joyous colour and vulgar bizarrerie all mingled together – and wanted everything of course.  That’s what pirate hoards do – they bring out the greed in us.

Yarn_Knitting_Needles

But I managed to remember the size and fullness of my suitcase and only bought twice as much wool as I actually needed.  (What to buy?  What to leave?  – It has features in common with those ‘packing dreams’ – in which the house is burning and you have to grab only what you can carry.)

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On a day of heavy downpours I walked up the hill to the slightly hippy, slightly gentrified suburb of Titirangi – a place of coffee shops and alternative small ads where I feel right at home.  There I found a second hand bookshop doing what bookshops do these days: closing down and moving online.  Sadly.

All Books Half Price

(crossed out) followed by

Make me an Offer

followed by

Closed for Lunch.

I came back after lunch, of course.  There ought to be a word for that intense greed that one feels in bookshops – again, I wanted everything, whether I really wanted it or not.  Nothing would fit in the suitcase, but maybe I could stash some around my laptop, in the carry-on bag?  And they wouldn’t be for me exactly – after all, I have been downsizing and throwing out sack upon sack of books – I could give some (lovely presents!) to family in Australia.  I came out with an early edition of The Saint (for my brother); a nice little compact copy of The 39 Steps (valuable once – ‘it’ll only go on the bonfire’ claimed the seller, a witty, somewhat post-prandial man of about my own age, attractive if you are into domineering intellectual booksellers); and The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton by Jane Smiley.

Smiley is a favourite author, and this novel turned out to be clever, informative and funny – a real keeper, even though it was one of those oddly huge, heavy paperbacks that mimic hardback format.  And something else that I’ve now forgotten – more than enough to lug up onto the plane.  Then a peculiarly Antipodean event happened: I paid for the books, and realised that I had no way of getting them home dry.  The bookshop could provide an ecologically sound paper bag.  My borrowed raincoat was already soaked and tight-fitting, and the rain was getting even heavier (hard to believe).  So I left the books with him, to collect tomorrow.  Halfway home I realised that I had given away quite a lot of money (‘make me an offer’ turned out to be an exaggeration) and had neither books nor receipt to show for it.  Oh well – this was New Zealand, and it was all completely OK.  Next morning (he’s not at his best in the mornings) I dropped by and all was well – not exactly a pirate hoard, more of a dragon’s golden lair, but ’twas an honest dragon.

On Sunday kind and perceptive Ann had realised that I’d rather spend a long time in one place than a whole lot of short times in differeent place.  She kindly left me to wander around a fine old house-turned-Art Gallery, Pah Homestead, while she rushed off about her grandmotherly duties.  And came back in time for excellent coffee on the terrace.

Pah Homestead

Pah Homestead

All I had done was browse the house, while she had quartered Auckland by car, zipping to and fro through the weekend traffic. So much more to say about Pah and about the Auckland Art Gallery – I will leave them till a later post.

Next time I go to New Zealand I will have some plans prepared in advance.  So I’ve made a list of things I will take with me.

  1. enough money and time to go for a road trip down the west coast of the South Island and see the fiords;
  2. proper walking shoes so that I can cover distance and interesting ground – even though they are heavy, bulky things to carry;
    good walking shoes

    good walking shoes – don’t talk to me about style!

    These walking shoes are being modelled in Scotland – I wish I had had them with me in New Zealand.

    I said: 'Don't talk to me about style!'

    I said: ‘Don’t talk to me about style!’

    And a good pair of shoes will take you a long way –

    a long way - - -

    a long way – – –

     

  3. a  map of Auckland; (and a bus map)

    The map I take will be more detailed than this.  But you can see how complicated it is.

    The map I take will be more detailed than this. But you can see how complicated it is.

  4. some more ideas of places to go for day trips in and around Auckland;
  5. a raincoat; (for more about my raincoats, see my post “Kindness in Adelaide“)

 

A busy weekend

June 25, 2013
High summer at Burton Dasset

High summer at Burton Dasset

I’ve been dashing around as usual. Friday afternoon was a picnic in the hayfield that is Burton Dasset hills – one of Marion and John’s several farewell celebrations. Followed by a brass concert in the church. I downed an antihistamine and a couple of glasses of pink fizz – survived fine! The dogs had a lot of fun with the kids who were there, and totally ignored the sheep (good dogs!)

Sheep everywhere

Sheep everywhere

John and Marion may need to re-jig their visit to us in France, to fit with their house move. If so, I can linger here a bit longer and maybe do some more boating – actually staying on board for more than just overnight at last , which would be really good.

Then on Saturday I went out to the boat (very reluctantly – feeling tired and a bit scared after all this time) only to find as usual that it was wonderful on the canal path, fabulous on the boat, and terrific going through Bascote locks.

the ladder locks at Bascote

the ladder locks at Bascote

(Another anti-histamine, and a silk scarf to keep the dusty polleny wind out of my hair. Just about an adequate defence.) As I was walking the boat into the first lock (very slowly and carefully) another boat came up behind me, the Tumbleweed, with a friendly couple on board, boating down from Cheshire. So we went through Bascote locks together, and I could stay on board for the ladder lock. The dogs were impeccable again – the Cheshire boat had two beautiful black collie-cross-German Shepherds on board – very calm dogs.  Ours just noticed that they were there and then politely ignored them. Perfect. Then on to moor at the Cuttle Bridge at Bishop’s Itchington, and a celebratory pint (of Eagle, naturally) at the Two Boats.

the Two Boats pub by the canal at Long Itchington

the Two Boats pub by the canal at Long Itchington

that's not me holding it - but it's a nice picture of a pint  Nobody at the Two Boats was dressed like that!

that’s not me holding it – but it’s a nice picture of a pint.  Nobody at the Two Boats was dressed like that!

So boating woke me up – and I charged off to Heydon that evening to stay over with my stepson and his family. Little Jimmy (their new Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppy) is very cute and ebullient.

Jimmy the Cavalier

Jimmy the Cavalier

They are all well and OK, but quite clearly not coming to France this year. They have heard of tick-borne diseases which really do sound nasty.  Maybe we should get tick collars for our three.

Sunday morning we went up to ‘the forest’ (Jubilee Wood, near Royston) – a perfect place to walk when it is windy and hay-fevery, as it’s so calm under the trees. The kids were rather disappointed to find that the log swings that used to dangle from high branches have all been cut down. 9Vandalism?  Health and Safety?)  The dogs gradually got used to one another – going for a walk together is definitely the way to do that!!

Drove back to Leam on Sunday through absolute downpours of rain – and arrived feeling pretty spaced-out and tired all over again. Aahhh.

Good news  here at home on Monday – the builders’ surveyor came, and said that they will build the gorgeous (well, cheap and cheerful) lean-to conservatory beginning on the 1st July. Exclamation marks hardly suffice to express my amazement and joy at this time scheme.

Today (Tuesday) I was supposed to be lunching at The Leopard, at Bishops Tachbrook, (yet another pub where one of my kids used to work) and catching up with a  friend who writes poetry and has had recent heart operations. At the last moment, my beloved VW Passat wouldn’t start – no sound from the battery but a click.  I speculate: flat battery? (unlikely); stuck starter motor? (do diesels do that?); immobiliser accidentally switched on ? (quite likely).  So we met nearby – a short walk along the canal to the (dog-friendly) pub, The Moorings.  We had a conversation about health, rather than one about poetry. –  and the food was excellent. Right now, therefore, I need to choose between watching Wimbledon on TV, and phoning the AA. 

Sydenham Brook

June 20, 2013

The quick stream was bustling clean and clear.
Blue sky, frozen lumpy ground
rigid underfoot
but the steep track was deep mud
slurped heavily along the brook’s bank

In the hurrying stillness
a woodpecker rattled – and again.

 

13th January, 2013

 

April 5th and February 24th 2010

March 1, 2013

 Left over from 2010 – a fragment

I gave up the project of trying to catch up with the Australia trip, and now I think I will interweave that transcribing project with diarising where and how I am right now (or at least those few minutes ago when I was out with the dogs) so this is becoming a kind of palimpsest.

Total transformation.  Sunny, warm and still today – just what the Berry should be about.  (yes – I know – it’s also about the deep winters and the veillées that we know from Célestine – which sound like great fun, but also point up how appallingly awful those winters must have been back in the nineteenth century).  But today feels like less effort – truly Spring.

April 2010

April 2010

And the ordinary seems extraordinary: here and there, peacock butterflies have freshly emerged, two large crows rise up glossy out of a huge old chestnut tree, banking and turning into the wood; a huge buzzard, glowing russet in the sunshine, wheels slowly through the mid-point of the sky.  I think of the crow skeleton and two feathers that lie by our vegetable patch.  I like it that it’s there – would it be gruesome to take a photo? Should I care if it is? The three ponies are in their field, keen for the carrots we have brought them (we: that is, the two dogs and me).  Bella as always tries to warn me of the great danger I am in near horses, by clustering close. Bandit is cool with it, waiting patiently for the walk to go forward.

21-04-10 Bandit

Later he stands stock still and looks with great attention across the field : three deer are crossing the winter wheat. We can see them as they move across the fields, almost invisible on the ploughed land except for the white tail-scuts, then they skirt the tiny village of le chézeau, and move carefully across a little track.  Two young fallow deer and their mother.

Pubs in Whitby

February 25, 2013

I’m still playing catch-up with this blog.  Wonder why I am so determined?

– Back in the UK – late spring of 2011:  Will finished at uni in Hull, and I collected him and all his belongings for the last time.  Rancid sheets and greyish towels loosely rolled together; black binliners of odd socks and much-worn pants; the unwieldy black metal skeleton of a partly disassembled drumkit; the only slightly broken laptop; boxes of books the easiest to pack.  We went for a weekend out in Whitby on our way home – I suppose it was a celebration, and an exploration, and a pilgrimage to the tiny harbour that Captain Cook set off from to sail the vast and unmapped seas of the world.  This wasn’t a particularly attractive project for my twenty-two year-old son, but the Abbey, the Goths and the Bram Stokeriana had their own magnetism.  And Will was, as ever, open to new experiences, to landscape and to beauty.  He is perennially surprised by this aspect of himself – I guess he forgets about it inbetween times.

We stayed at The Resolution Hotel (very cheaply) in long-decayed grandeur, more recently slapped up in squared-off concrete as a beery local.  The dusty stair carpets smelt of stag nights.  Even so, a pub named after Cook’s ship was the place to be, and the real Resolution had ventured into the Antarctic, in search of a Great South Land.

Most of the pubs were shut or decaying, or seedy, unambitiously offering cheap beer.  Their no-frills atmosphere skulked through the streets.  But their names soared with ambition:

The Endeavour (of course – Cook’s ship: the real Endeavour had, after all, been a cheap compromise: a tub of a vessel, allocated by a stingy bureaucracy, only to achieve some of the most imaginative feats of the century: )

The Wellington

The Dolphin “Rebuilt 1912”

The Golden Lion

The Buck Inn (Julie Widdowfield, licensee)

The Jolly Sailors

The Rock Inn

Lucky Ducks

White Horse and Griffin

Black Horse

The Board Inn (“Downstairs restaurant with harbour views.  Booking required.”)

The Duke of York

The Granby

The Elsinore

The Little Angel

 

and (leaving town) – The Cross Butts touchingly offers: “Whitby wishes you a safe journey home


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