Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wadenhoe and Aldwincle walk

Wadenhoe Church
Orla the Harris hawk in Aldwincle
Gargoyles on All Saints Church, Aldwincle.
John Dryden's birthplace (1631) in Aldwincle.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Country walk.

Keep back, lads, she's wearing a headcam.
A fine specimen of chickenhood in Slipton.
Drayton House - not open to the public but there is a footpath which passes through the estate. Forelock touched, and envy nerve jangled.

Friday, September 12, 2008

3 weeks

Three weeks of what, wandering round the country - Southampton and Bristol in particular. Taking advantage of whatever summer we have, lots more short walks - Blaise Castle, Snuff Mills in Bristol, and some heath and woodland walks in the New Forest.
Swimming a little once I'd got rid of a 'summer cold'. Trying to improve my crawl style with tips from the Esther expert.
Walking with a group from the village and around. Visiting the bird-hide at Fineshade

We walked
and practised mud skating
on paths where sun sliced through trees,
at the hide
for a grandstand view
of clouds,
and birch trunks
hung with bird feeders.

At first, the movement of butterflies.

Dragonflies, big as birds,
skim over the pond,
with sun-glimmered wings.

Skittish coal tits flitter
from tree to feeder.
A bolder great tit
turning its head
with a weather eye on the world.

We think that’s all,

when a white-face clown
bounces in with red cap and cummerbund,
cream shirt and pied tail-coat.
He alights and perches upright,
tail against the trunk,
beak probing.

Now and then
he hops
to easier pickings
at the food cage.
A moment,
then the purposeful pierrot
to dig deeper

until two lithe and speedy squirrels
chase each other
up the pole
and he’s off!

And so are we.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Football v swimming

Having said all of that yesterday, Rebecca Adlington has been receiving £12 000 per annum as a full-time athlete. Compared to footballers' salaries that's not a lot. In fact, as payment for swimming 350 lengths of her local pool twice a day, it's not a lot. And, yes, she'll make rather more now she's got a gold medal, but even so.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sport or politics?

Editorial from today's New York Times - I found it refreshing.

'So be it. We like to root for the home team as much as anyone. But with the federal budget deep in the red, the economy in the doldrums, a broken military in need of repair, and enormous unmet domestic needs, we can think of a lot better places to invest federal resources than in building a sports machine. Let some rich benefactors augment the $130-million-a-year budget of the United States Olympic Committee.

And if international respect is the goal, a collaborative, less arrogant diplomacy would help a lot more than winning medals.

If we are looking to invest in sports, we would be wiser to spend money on daily gym classes and after-school athletic programs. That would not produce a large crop of Olympians, but it would help combat the growing obesity epidemic among American youngsters and yield health benefits worth more than Olympic gold.'

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Foxton Locks and Canal

7th August 2008

Marta and I walked along the canal from Debdale Wharf to Foxton Locks, had lunch and walked back. Then we drove to Saddington Reservoir.

Saddington Reservoir - small, out of the way.

An earlier walk.

6th August

Ingarsby - Quenby - Botany Bay

These gates show that the land belongs to Quenby Hall.
They have a fine herd of organic English long-horns - cows with downward-sloping horns, which can end up almost circular, and markings that give their faces a rather surprised expression.
Under the main drive to Quenby Hall - dated 1777
The Hall itself, high on a hill, monarch of all it surveys. They claim that Stilton Cheese originates here. It is also the site of a lost mediaeval village.
A ha-ha. Can't have a wall spoiling the view from the big house.
Through the cornfield
The farm at Cold Newton Lodge

The railway bridge in Ingarsby.

Head for the hills?

Another Leicestershire walk and its wildife.

Church with open bell-tower at Stonton Wyville.
A useful signpost.

Heading for the hills The trig point - the mighty peak is conquered.

The trees have looked like this nearly all summer.

Never go out without a forage bag. Not where I expected to see New Forest Ponies.From the bridge we saw these plants, and masses of blackberries - nowhere near ripe yet
Private fishing lake, with water-lilies, dragonflies, and moorhens walking on the lily pads.

Bullocks on the approach to Thorpe Langton.
Over the footbridge and on to the field road to Stonton Wyville.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Gone swimming

The dive into the water,
arms poised against the ears,
enticed by it, slice into it,
this alien element
where we breathe out the bubbles below,
where we draw in the air above .
The glide of it, the slide of it,
the sensation of flying through water
The trust of it, the thrust of it,
the feeling of floating through space.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Happy new August

...and the garlic water is not a lot of good on its own. Snails eat beans as fast as they grow. No sloth in their breeding or eating habits. Beanstalk Jack, what was your secret?
Come on out Mr Pigog, and bring back the thrushes too.
Or perhaps we could dress Shelby cat in a smock and hat, give her a crook, and employ her as a snailherd, to lead them away.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Burrough Hill and Somerby

On Burrough Hill - the 'toposcope'.

We brought a map.
An ash tree regenerates.

Worth the effort for the flowers in the boggy meadow?An unusually coloured calf.

Slugs and snails

Eating in the garden
Is a sign of summer fun
A day of warmth and laughter
Not meals grabbed on the run.

I sit and nurse a wine-glass
And let silence bathe my skin
The evening air’s delicious
I don’t want to go back in.

And then I hear the chomping
As the gastropods attack
Bring out the garlic water
Those snails keep coming back!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Walking without the map

A walk through the 'highlands' of Northeast Leicestershire turned out slightly longer than we intended. it was one of those times when we were following a twenty-year-old guidebook, and had no map. Once you're off-track it seems almost impossible to get back on again, so we made an unintentional couples of miles detour. The local map is now on my shopping list, since the one we used to have has disappeared. Ex-railway station
I liked this tree
Lowesby Church
Lowesby Hall

One for the birdhouse collection.
Pause for a drink in the churchyard at Twyford
Through the jungle.
Off-track - we should not have gone under the viaduct.

I'm convinced that the trees must have grown since she wrote the book, or she must have been ten feet tall, as she constantly told us that Tilton church spire should be in view, but we couldn't see it until close to the end of the walk. Oh, maybe that was because we'd strayed from the path.

Free verse etc

Postings on WD have led me to look back at some of the poets I studied long ago, for 'A' Level, and at uni. Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud. This could keep me busy for some time.
I don't have any flag to fly for free verse as opposed to formal and when I write I flit from one to another. But maybe this could make me become more conscious of what I'm doing and why.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

And I really believed it.

St Swithin's Day - I thought the deal was - rain on July 15th - rain for forty days; fine on July 15th - fine for forty days. Apparently not. One of those lose/lose superstitions.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Speed cameras

While I'm in my safe motoring, and 'the motorist is not a victim' rant mode, I'll post a copy of the summary of an Independent article today. The black type below is reprinted from the article. My comments appear in blue.

So are speed cameras the answer?

* Studies have shown that a reduction in the speed limit to 20mph in built-up areas causes a 60 per cent fall in accidents
* Evidence from Swindon showed a 30 per cent reduction in the numbers of people killed or injured since cameras were installed
* At 10 of the sites in Swindon where cameras were introduced, no road accident deaths have been recorded

All three look like factual evidence to me. The most relevant is the second one.

* Critics say it's not speed that kills but tiredness and careless driving. It's this that should be targeted with safer driving campaigns - yes, I can see that working. Not. Do I hear cries of 'Nanny State'? Don't individuals always know best? Especially when travelling in a metal box.
* Speed cameras are being used as an easy way for the authorities to bump up their revenues, antagonising the public - as several people have said, you pay the voluntary tax if you decide to speed. Commit a crime, pay the fine. Your choice.
* Cameras are counter-productive in creating a tendency for drivers to break the speed limit when they are not around - surely only those who believe they have a divine right to speed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Motoring costs have dropped 18% since 1988

A report by the motorists' organisation, the RAC, shows that in real terms motoring costs have fallen by 18% since 1988. Read the full report here . (I haven't yet.)

Cars cost less to buy, and less to maintain, and often do more miles per gallon, though the price of fuel has risen by 210%.

A third of motorists said they went on shorter journeys than they did 20 years ago, but 9% of drivers said they never walked anywhere.

So, why not stop whinging, folks? Well, 60% of those interviewed (a sample of 1,116 people) said they thought the biggest change over the last 20 years was a RISE in costs. It seems that the costs apart from petrol and road tax are not as clearly seen by drivers, and of course these vary according to the individual car.

A little later in the day, this article has vanished from the front page - no link to it from 2p fuel duty dropped.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The big and the small Harringwrth Lodge & back by road

A walk across fields and tracks above the Welland Valley - around an old ironstone quarry, where the flowers and plants are miniature versions of those you find in more fertile soils, spotted orchids again, lots of them, birds'foot trefoil (eggs-and-bacon, when I was young), and brambles promising a rich harvest this autumn.

Masses of butterflies - gatekeepers or ringlets, I think, and moths such as the one in the picture. A gall on a wild rose bush - memo to self. Look this up. Then we were faced with some ferocious looking cattle with horns like highland cattle. They were so interested in us that we climbed the fence, only to discover that there was an open gate. Slowly does it, and they soon lost interest. My one regret - this picture was as good as I could get. So the beasts didn't get very near. Even when I zoom in it looks like a sub-impressionist pastel drawing. Shall I risk the same walk again for a better picture?
I'm afraid on the way back we decided it could be easier to brave the traffic on the country roads. Hmm. Well it was a shorter route, though probably more dangerous.

No kingfisher today, no visible fish in the river, but two fine swans.

some textured birch bark

and a picture which needs taking again, with white balance adjusting? It's a bird table with a roof like a gothic church.