Many years ago I had the pleasure of a brief meeting with Yorkshire woman Hannah Hauxwell, just long enough to realise what a genuinely lovely, down-to-earth lady she is. I also remember having tea and biscuits with former Dalesman Bill Mitchell and his wife Freda at their home in Giggleswick while they chatted enthusiastically about their trips to Baldersdale to visit Hannah at her home, Low Birk Hatt Farm.
I see this week that the farm, bought from Hannah in 1988, is now up for sale again. In Hannah’s day the house was cold and damp with no running water. Her comfortless existence had millions of viewers engrossed through a series of Yorkshire TV documentaries.
While editing Dalesman I wrote a piece about the Durham Wildlife Trust creating Hannah’s Meadow nature reserve (http://www.durhamwt.com/reserves/dwt-reserves-list/hannahs-meadow-nature-reserve/) on part of the land she farmed. I visited the meadow and walked around Baldersdale – and yes, it is in Yorkshire, just on our side of the Tees. In reality, Hannah wasn’t as isolated as the documentaries made out – but hey, we’re talking TV here – with a few scattered farms just a short walk from her house, but I can still imagine how lonely and desolate it must have felt during harsh winters. At the top of the page is a photo I took at the time, looking over the reservoir – Hannah’s smallholding – which will cost £590k if you’re interested – is on the left. www.robinjessop.co.uk
One for the family album – I saw this couple on my short walk on Monday. I’ve not got out much this week due to a back problem. Goodness knows how I strained it – vacuuming is about the most strenuous thing I do nowadays (so, obviously, I’ve stopped doing that particular chore for the moment and even the cat is complaining about all the pet hairs).
There are some very nice blog-readers and other people who follow my facebook and twitter posts who say how much they enjoy my photos and suggest I should put them in a calendar. Having spent more years than I care to remember during my working life sifting through thousands of photos and producing calendars I can say with certainty this is not something I will be rushing into. There is very little, if any, financial reward in producing or contributing to calendars. And considering the time photographers have to spend waiting for the right conditions, traveling to the best spots after buying very expensive equipment, most of them will barely meet ‘living wage’ standards.
I’ve heard about several companies and organisations who ask the public to send in their photos for inclusion in calendars, some of which are intended to raise money for charity – and good luck to them. Most amateur photographers won’t worry about there not being any payment, and will be happy just to see their snaps and name in print. However, I do urge folk to look at the small print before submitting anything. You may well find that you are agreeing to the use of your work by these organisations (and any parent companies) whenever, wherever and for as long as they want without it costing them a penny. You may happy for your local church or a charity you care about to do this, but will you feel the same if a large corporation takes advantage of your precious work to further their own profit-making enterprises? If that also doesn’t bother you, then think about all those professional photographers struggling to earn a living because companies are getting all those photos for nowt!
Countless times I’ve seen on maps and driven by – and even walked close to – an ancient Yorkshire settlement which once existed on a limestone plateau on the eastern side of Chapel-le-Dale between Ribblehead Viaduct and Ingleborough. So this week I veered off the main path to take a look. You can’t see much of the settlement itself, and the interesting bits are fenced off and overgrown, the evidence of ancients lying tantalisingly under the soil. But you can certainly get a feel for the place. It’s protected by Nature to the east and has the advantage of good views in all other directions so that any invaders could be quickly detected. All kinds of trees have sprung up in unlikely places amongst the limestone, and oddly-shaped boulders add to the sense ofother-wordlyness – and provide some great foregrounds for photos of Whernside, Ingleborough, Twisleton and Ribblehead.
On a short drive one day, the Yorkshire Dales National Park sign caught my eye near Austwick – pure gold, you could say. Further down the Lawkland road I thought this ivy-clad tree would make an interesting black-and-white shot.
Settle is currently being trimmed up in preparation for the big Tour de Yorkshire bike event which comes to town on the 29th (http://www.visitsettle.co.uk). Even some of our roads have been resurfaced – is that just a coincidence?