One of the great pleasures about having kids AND a camera is that you can store up a great deal of ammunition to be used at a later date for embarrassing or threatening them. Instant access to their friends and family through Facebook means you have everything a parent with an evil streak needs to pass away rainy days. This week I was accused of being cruel to my son for posting a photo of him when he was in a brief punk phase, so I’d like to apologise to him via this week’s blog and promise not to do it again … this week.
Early doors on Monday this horse and I were up enjoying the summer flowers in a field between Langcliffe and Settle, while on Tuesday I had more of a mission. I’d come across an old Victorian drawing of Thorpe, near Burnsall in Wharfedale, and wondered how much it had changed over the years. I called in at Linton on the way and just managed to get a photo of the bridge without any cars in the shot.My last visit to Thorpe was a few years back when I interviewed an artist there for Dalesman. Little has changed since then but that earlier Victorian artist would have noticed several differences. It looks like one of the buildings in his drawing has disappeared now, many houses are now second homes, and large 4-wheel-drive machines cruise the narrow roads in and out of the village as I found to my cost – how come it’s always the smaller car who has to do all the reversing? Bullies.
I walked by the river in Burnsall, a place like Bolton Abbey which I normally steer clear of during the height of summer (I’m a miserable old bugger who doesn’t like crowds). A fly fisherman seemed oblivious to the constant foot traffic along the riverside path, in his own little world, pitting his wits against a fish which more than likely didn’t realise it was taking part in a game. I hope the chap isn’t recognisable as I’d hate him to have told the boss he was at his grandma’s funeral, or his wife that he’ll be late home from work because of an important meeting.
I don’t like grey squirrels – tree rats, taking over our parks and countryside at the expense of the reds – but I admit they can look cute and I spotted this one by the Wharfe, no doubt full from tit-bits fed to it by pub-lunchers at the Red Lion.
The cloud which tends to hang around the Dales had completely broken up by the evening so I drove up Ribblesdale for some stock shots of Penyghent from Horton. Cliches perhaps but they always attract a lot of comment on Facebook and Twitter so people must like them.
On Wednesday the Fellsman train was hauled by Galatea and I watched it trundle across Ribblehead viaduct on its way back to Lancashire. I find it so annoying that these special steam trains can use the line from Blackburn and Clitheroe via Hellifield and Settle but there’s no direct passenger route which would easily link this part of the Dales with Manchester and all points west. With more rail finance cutbacks announced this week no doubt the route will never open in my lifetime, yet the multi-billion HS2 link for the wealthy and London commuters, which will chew up millions of acres of our countryside when built, will no doubt somehow be found the brass.
I paused during Thursday evening’s stroll by the Ribble to look at the ducks. Yeah, big wildlife guru admiring common ducks … but really, when you observe them closely they really are beautiful, colourful birds – especially the mallard (can’t seem to get trains out of my mind at the moment).
When I was buying my cottage, the conveyancing solicitor (an internet company from down south) told me they’d have to state a minor flood risk for insurance purposes because I was within a certain distance from the river. I called him to ask if anyone in the office could read an OS map because if they could they would see that the cottage is actually more than 100 feet higher than the river – ‘brown contour things on the map’ I said sarcastically – and that if the river flooded to this depth then it’s also likely that all of the York Plain, Norfolk and London would also be totally submerged. ‘We have hills in Yorkshire’ I reminded him. I heard nothing else on the matter. Anyway, the point of this rambling is that there is a path from the village down the hill which leads to a mill pond alongside the river. It’s a lovely little spot, full of wildlife and plants. I risked being attacked by biting insects to take a couple of photos on Friday evening. The pond is being gradually taken over by iris pseudacorus which are flowering now. The overflow which heads to the river has little bridge over which the sheep play Billy Goats Gruff to annoy the troll.