Sunday, 4 December 2022

Thief on a Cross Next to Yours

 Enigmatic title, just one I've been toying with in countless started, then abandoned mish-mashes of "Creative writing(s)" recently. My mojo comes back, but only for short visits........she doesn't stay long enough to really get me through to the finish line.

Wonder if anyone's used "The Finnish Line" in a Scandinavian poem? Hmm.....

Anyway. It's been dark, gloomy, wet, drizzly, mizzly, foggy, and that makes photography more of a challenge than ever.

Turned my thoughts to "outside your comfort zone" as I was kind of forced to, and invested in a Canon 90D early in September, so the subsequent crappy light has been little short of utterly disappointing. Especially after joining a User group on FB, where international amateurs post their (mostly) best shots, and ask for friendly advice, which is usually forthcoming, and absolutely no sarcasm, or bitchiness, which I am relieved to report, following many sour experiences in some photography, and wildlife groups over the years.....

It got me thinking more about a post I have thought about for ages, so here we go:

What makes a good photo?

Enormous question, and wholly a subjective one, maybe with objective elements......

Light/Weather..... Time of Day etc.
Subject Matter (And knowledge of it if appropriate)
Composition/Eye for "Art" or something along those lines.......
Focus/Selective/Broad and therefore Depth of Field in the interpretation of a scene.
Some basic knowledge of ISO/Aperture/Shutter Speed and how they interact......
Luck/Timing/Preparedness/Dedication/Experience (Maybe a separate heading.....)
Camera, but especially the lenses attached to it...........on a broader level, "Equipment" perhaps.
Post-Production Software, yes, I do have to include this, even with my very limited knowledge of anything beyond LightRoom 5.5, as I refuse to subscribe to a forever commitment to keep throwing more and more money at it all...... For the record I still have a very old version of a now unsupported ArcSoft Program called PhotoStudio, which I very occasionally use for one thing or another, not that often to be fair, but still........

If I think of any more, I may well edit this list, but it's a reasonable place to start. I am only a very keen, and often frustrated amateur after all........This post is for my benefit really, whilst I try to figure it all out.........

There probably ought to be a "Special Mention" for your cataloguing system, the way you can relatively easily find something from way back, when/ if the need arises....... I imagine there are loads of ways of categorising my/your photos, but mine has just self-evolved over the 15+ years since I got my first DSLR, a Canon 400D, which I instantly fell in love with....... 

One very good way of judging your own shots, and those you see on-line, as we're bombarded with awesome, and not-so, constantly, is to filter them through what I like to think of as:

"Yes, but would YOU print it?" 

It soon sorts the "Meh" out from the "Ooooh" but, of course, is utterly subjective, and even your own tastes might change over time, mine certainly have. "Would I like it in a frame, on my wall?" works for me, and rules out pretty much the entire world of fantasy Photo-Shop creations of imaginary scenes that simply couldn't be remotely real, even  if they can look "Wow" when you see them......that's just personal taste though, and I'd love to master PS to have the ability to even try them...... Art is Art after all.

There are hundreds of YouTube videos, from hundreds of Pro, and Amateur Photographers, on countless aspects, some well worth a watch, some a bit "WTF?" and occasionally a proper gem, even if, at times you might, like me, choose to up the speed on the playback to cut through the chit-chat.......What a time-killer!

I think I'll have to try to tackle these in individual posts. I've set myself too big a challenge for a Sunday night......!

"Digley Brook" just below the reservoir itself.......Holmbridge, West Yorkshire, UK

Is an ISO of 256000 ever acceptable? I think it can be......depends on a whole raft of things.......

Hamlet at Cartworth Moor, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire 

"Cook's Study" a hill above Cartworth Moor, Holmfirth.

Cartworth Moor Road. 
Getting a lot of quarry wagons on it for the last couple of years.......

"Lane" a hamlet by Holme Village, on the fringe of the Peak District....

It's not been the easiest few years, but here we are, batting on, and keeping going. I will get pen to paper when I can, and will carry this on too, as it's past of avoidance strategy, as my books are due..... so, anything to get me away from typing hundreds of numbers into a spreadsheet for my accountant....... 

Feel free to comment, not that anyone ever does these days. 

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Trying Hard to Wake Up Again

 I ran into Bill Nighy, or at the worst, a very bloody good look alike, even down to the hair and eyes, and mannerisms, on one of my regular local walks as the first main "lock-down" was relaxed. It was a lovely sunny warm Sunday morning. 

I did a "double-take" as I know I'm not 100% reliable on look-alikes, but I was utterly convinced, and still think that it WAS Muriel Gray in the pub in Holmfirth that time..........

I wished him a "Good morning" and he stopped, looked at me, smiled, and said "Hello". 

That was it, and I knew all was ok in the world after all. It just felt a bit seriously shit at the time.

In the mean-time, I am trying to write, and draw, and concentrate on the camera, and my dog.....and well, I'm making a fist of things as usual. Here's my imaginary girlfriend's video from April. Filmed in Kyiv seemingly, must have been before Putin went nuts.

(Aiming for normal service, but bear with.)

Saturday, 10 July 2021

Thoughts and Doubts.

Once in a while I'll set myself a little photography challenge, or at least try to get out of my comfort zone, just to see what I can come up with.

This morning, for no particular reason, I opted to only crop square "in camera", and only in monochrome. (Well, when I got home I changed the camera back to "Faithful", hence the one of Nell.) 

These are some of the results, and overall I'm pretty happy with them, and would probably think about getting one or two printed & mounted.

Camera: Canon 760D. 
Lens: EFS 10-18mm IS
Location: Yateholme Woods, near Holmfirth.
10th July '21

I know there are some obvious clichés here, but if you're walking around the forestry, and reservoirs, they're not easy to avoid, and anyway, sometimes there isn't anything wrong with "cliché" it just depends how it's executed really. If 100 people are drawn to the same view/subject/angle then it must have something about it, which doesn't automatically make it "bad" or "cheap" in my opinion.....   

This was entirely a "chance" shot, as I was driving home, and Robert just appeared around a corner. If it had been 5 minutes earlier, or later, then there wouldn't have been any sort of background worth using, and I think the angles of the buildings really bring this one to life, well, as well as the handsome pairing of man & horse of course. But the adage about "always take your camera" fits here too. No camera, no shot. Better to take it and not use it, rather than not take it and wish.

As models go, Nell is very hit and miss! Every time you think you've got a potentially interesting image, the chances of her looking in to the camera are no better than 50:50.........

Don't suppose it really matters, as un-posed, candid shots often carry more of a story, or interest than posed ones.....

Then the times that you accidentally press the shutter.......!

Even though I have no idea who this couple are, I much prefer this picture to the previous one, which is devoid of life. They chit-chatted happily as they caught me up, and never stopped. They seemed so happy with each other, and were hand in hand, which was lovely to see.  

This only sort of worked with the flash. I took another without, and the Foxglove melded into the background. Here the flash lowers the surrounding shadows, while filling in, and highlighting the flowers. I realise it's not really all that, but it did make me look at things a little differently, which was kind of the point of trying different things, and challenging myself.

 I haven't written much for months now, and want to try to get back into it all again. It's what should have been our local Art Festival, and while there are some "fringe" things going on, two or three of which I managed to go and have a look at. If nothing else, it did make me realise that the only barriers to creativity are your own internal blocks. Just put pen to paper, or whatever your medium might be. What could go wrong?

My problem is that it's been such an awful, soul destroying time, since May last year, that anything I have written has just been pretty nihilistic, and dark, mournful, morose, and even if the process of writing might have helped a little cathartically, the end result(s) were just too bleak to keep. 

Having said that, my most creative times have usually been when I've been in a low place, when it's all going swimmingly, its hard to find the inspiration to be all upbeat and jolly, there must be a happy medium somewhere.

So this is one of my rarer posts which don't have any poetry, or creative prose at all, just photos.

Will try harder!

Stay safe out there.

Monday, 1 March 2021

I Am Still

 Forgive me if I've posted this already, but a quick check.....and I couldn't find it.......

I've neglected the Blog again, and now I feel I ought to give it more Oxygen.


Leaves, broken pieces, salty,
Shards, splinters of hearts, and hopes,
Returns, sorrows, drive North,
Dead loves wasteland, questions.

Not dead, sleeping, smouldering guilt,
Lives collided as quick divided,
Three hundred miles, or yards, inexplicable,
Waves of gravity, spectrums of grief.

Embers flare, refuse extinguishment,
Gordian knots of decisions and hope,
Flame, bringing the dancers,
Unfathomable fire ring survivors.

But no, turns not to be,
Mirage, late night telephone rings, rows,
Thousands of unanswerables, and tears,
Remembered hypocrisies, and loss.

The clearest hindsight everyone "had"
When they wouldn't, or couldn't....
Hear alarmed, veiled misty warning,
Gentle advice from good friends.

Leaves the Trinity diverse,
Irreparable perhaps, as the chapter ends,
Her choices, and change, and his,
And, in living fading memory, mine.

Riddle me this, connection,
Completion, inexplicable destruction,
Part healing, dear, dear feeling,
And yet, more lessons

Dearth of new writing to post, but I do keep occasionally scribbling thoughts, and short essay type things, which are unlikely to ever see the light of day.......

Wish I could recall everyone who came to my 7th Birthday Party picnic here, but now the one person who might havbe helped has left this world, I'll spare you the bits I can remember...........

Will try harder in the next post, I promise..........

There are some positives after all. Possibly New Beginnings........bit soon to say though.

When did it all get so.........oh, you know.

Happy St David's Day whatever. x

Monday, 16 November 2020

Lockdown #2

My Church

Shambling, ambling, doesn't count as stride,
Gloom, holly-bound path, wet, autumn tears,
My dog appears, steaming, panting and bright,

Gone again, mad squirrel pursuit, rain clears.

Enter the oak, sycamore, ash, hazel and birch,
Yellows and browns, reds, dirty greens, bare trees,
Air still, deep, weighty, here is my church,
Stop, stand, inhale my prayer, not on my knees.

Ancient, but ageless, rock-piles, mossy boughs,
Internal settlings, reflections, regret, meditations,
Damp leaf carpet, soft-treading my vows,
Reviewing my promise, in this holy station.

This inner stoic turns, slowly breathing in heaven,

To the east seems a nave, high vaults above,
Glints of holy beams, through branches are woven,
Deeply trailing stoles of ivy, framing this love.

My arboreal cathedral, deliver your peace,
Save this disciple, your communion my dog and I need,
Lichen skinned trunks, deflecting the beast,
Holy broad-leaf sanctum, my soul do you feed.

My prayer, the peace of the deep places,
My woods, my church, lifts weight from my mind,
Escapes with my breathing, the last of our races,
Answered or not, ambling, shambling, my dog walks behind.


Foundation, roots, sanctuary,
Emerging from oppressive valley deep,
to the sunny uplands, shocked,
Rocked by a page in your own history,

Unexpected, unwelcome, and random.

Gone are central certainties, securities,
Too late for apologies, for hugs,
For shared ice-cream moments,
Sunny gardens, terminal memory,
Blue lights, and oxygen deficits.

Echoes of rocked foundations, linger,
A week, a month, tidally random,
Unsaid, untold stories, histories,
Sense of sanctuary remains, altered,
Sunny sometimes, heavy dampness, inundate.

Strive for the higher ground, clear,
Sunlit, breezy, clarity of thought,
Helps not, allowing the cloudy grief,
Tidal waves, cliff side, unwary,
Unwanted, but unstoppable, coin obverse.

An emotionally, forced, adulthood,
From deep valley drifting years, granted,
Clouds revealing golden shafts of love,
Then dark, threatening, glowering drizzle,
Mist, thought-fogs, dark slides into hell.

Small steps around cliff bases,
Overwhelming tasks, much too big “asks”,
No ladders, no lifts, just silent pitons,
Small uphill steps, some clarity,
And threatening, and reality avalanches.

Even when you stumble on a sheep trod,
A route to higher space, clarity,
Storm clouds gather, black dogs bay,
Rooks and ravens, circling your dreams,
Hide some of the dry spells, the cold air.

Searching for joy, free thinking, unbridled,
Impossible cliffs, unreachable uplands,
Brought to earth, and kept by your heart,
A hood, a falconers burqa, rufter,
Keeping me from seeing my way out.

A bloody double rainbow, after hellish,
Tiring nightmarish, and sleepless wallowings,
The prayer to a god you don't know,
His/her answer, and a pre-dawn walk,
Pilgrimage to grief, loss, and deep love.

Months after brain categorised healing,
Perhaps editing, portraying, remembering,
Changes, but can't stop odd waves,
Or avalanches, or dark moment tears,
But strangely can also carry love and smiles.

Did my eulogy, this isn't it,
It's my catharsis, attempt at, is all,
Rationalising the already rational,
Squaring the circle, or vice versa,
Tyring to get it together, and acceptance.

Can't rail against the clock, the diary,
The night, loss, circles, nature,
Nor the unsaid, over-sights,
Taking a lovely sanctuary for granted,
Before personal earthquake armageddon.

I haven't written about my grief, not directly, but one of these clearly isn't even meant as a poem, as such, but it does relate to the avalanches of sadness, and unbridled grieving moments that occasionally threaten to overwhelm me.

The clock is one from St David's church, near where I live, and the time portrayed is AM, not PM.

At present, that is pretty much all I think I'm ready to say about it.

Lockdown #1 started off in a surprisingly wonderful and surreal way, empty roads, empty hills, peace, unseasonably warm and sunny weather, and good grief, the outstanding thing was the birdsong, not that we're ever really short of it hereabouts, but it was just out of this world.

Lockdown eventually palled though, and then the world tilted on it's axis, and my life will never be the same again.

Lockdown #2 is just a mish-mash of seeing your neighbours ignore the rules, and people start to lose their patience with one another. It's like they're reverting to type for some sad reason. The hills are fuller than ever, and the roads are only marginally less busy than pre-Covid-19.

I have turned back to trying to write, to improve my photography, difficult though that is seeing as how it's raining or misty all the time, more or less, and the days are so short now that evening walks can't really involve a camera much anyway.

Loss upon loss, my entire photography archive: gone, poetry? Gone, and countless other creative projects, my business accounts for the last 20 years......all gone. Don't rely on a single external hard-drive for "back-up" use two..... lesson badly sadly learned........

Life as we knew it, gone, but that's nothing to do with the computer.

2020? Can I have my money back please?

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Sunday Walk.

It was closer to 11 than 10.30am when we, me & Gwyn, set out, Sunday 3rd May, under a cool grey, aloof sky. It didn't threaten, but nor did it show promise, or friendliness, just disinterest, ennui maybe. Along the road from home, said sky dropped some large drops of rain, , then nothing, then a slowly rising drizzle, for the next half hour or so, this built into a full on shower, all the way through Digley Wood.

There were few if any other walkers, so the simple but beautiful cacophany of Spring bird-song went pretty much undisturbed, and without challenge.

All manner of “Tits”, and Sparrows, House & Hedge, Robins, Blackbirds, Nuthatches, Tree-creepers, Pigeons and allsorts accompanied us to the reservoir.....

High-singing, piping Curlews, slightly more aggresively acrobatic Lapwings, with their distinctive voices, and the jarring occasional Pheasant joined in and took a more open-aired prominence, as we approached the reservoir. They too were then accompanied by the Larks and Pipits, Fieldfares, and crows.......An occasional Jay patrolled, looking for nests no doubt......

I noticed the ragged state of the fence at the top of the steps, up from the old Digley Road, in the wood, a section had vanished, not that it was all that brilliant to start with, and if there were any sheep in that field, they would have no barrier to going for a wander.....I made a mental note to mention it to Anne if I saw her.

Rounding the corner onto the reservoir embankment road, Anne randomly appeared, in the truck, and drove straight past me, though I got a wave, she didn't stop, even when I shouted, and waved like a loon trying to attract her attention......

Originally I had thought I would start the next section of the walk, by starting on the old Digley circuit, from the Holme end, and then turning off up to Issues & the school, and then on to Yateholme......but I noticed that I had a follower, another man on his own, with a dog, about a hundred yards behind, though thought not much of it. But, as I approached the now blocked-off car-park, I heard the sound of an approaching quad. The fields above the car-park are Anne & her family's, with sheep, and cattle, a large rickety looking, if serviceable barn, with an old red Massey, or something, along with all manner of accumulated and mostly farming-related “stuff”. The quad came around the bend above the car-park, and I flagged it down. I don't know the lad's name, though I know that I really should, as I've known him to say hello to, as they say, for years, but I'm pretty sure he's her son. I asked if they had any sheep on Digley banking, and told him about the fence.

We parted company, but in the meantime, the dog-walking pursuer had caught me up, and taken the Digley circuit path, through the closed car-park, so I casually changed my mind, and continued along the road to Holme Village.......

I could hear a Cuckoo in the woods by the old Water-Board cottages by Brownhill Res, and came to “Holme Castle.” Which is nothing of the sort, but a large house, latterly Hotel, then a private house again, which has castellated features....... but is as close to a castle as I am to a brain surgeon. Since reverting to being a house, it has acquired a mill-stone as a name plate, declaring “Holme Castle Number One” but why it's that I have absolutely no idea, it's hardly as if there might randomly be a “Holme Castle Number Two” (or Three....etc) anywhere....but it wears it well I suppose, posey nonsense nevertheless.

Here Gwyn & I turned left to “Uncle Arthur's” old home “Underhill”. Famous for a while in the 70s, with various broad-sheets and TV appearances, even a spot on Blue Peter if memory serves, and the winner of various accolades from erstwhile Architectural organisations, for it's unconventional design. “Underhill” was effectively a shot at a contemporary “Hobbit House” being built more or less underground. Alas the only time I ever managed to cross the threshold was prior to it's completion, and so I never saw it first hand in it's full glory, complete with a central swimming-pool.......I kid you not.

I recall a rectangular “box” void underneath the place you'd expect to find a normal internal door-mat, if you had one, which I was told was going to house the house “safe”, though how true that was in the end I have no idea, but if it was a man-trap instead, then an intruder might well have a broken ankle to show for it......I climbed down the stainless steel ladder into the empty pool, bare concrete, prior to being tiled, which was under a glass dome, could have been perspex I suppose, which was explained as being a very good way of “drawing light in” which didn't make a lot of sense back in those days, but maybe does a bit more now.

Arthur sadly passed away not all that long ago, but pre-virus and he had sold “Underhill” a few years ago, though not for the £ million he'd initially asked can't take it with you after all.

Gwyn & I took the footpath down the side of the property, the lower, Holmbridge side, and the volume of bird-song began to rise again, to my pleasure, if Gwyn didn't seem all that “plussed” about it. The nearest Cuckoo obliged, several times, but visually remained elusive.

We dropped down along the blue-bell banks through the woods to the little foot-bridge across the stream, and water-fall, as so many times before, and as a few brief interludes previously, stopped for a breather, but more to bathe in the atmosphere, and feel the beauty.


The heavenly moment, the song of the brook, the steady rush of the falling silvery curtain of a million, million wet couldn't last, though was hardly changed since my earliest childhood decades ago. The first of many later mountain bikers bounced down the path opposite, a steepish, very rocky and rough course, and slightly squeaky brakes into the mix..... and an ocasional swear word, collectively shattering the tranquility, which simply slid away down the valley with the stream, and away from my thoughts........

We made our way steadily, no real reason to rush after all, up the same path, with its exposed rocky under-layers, stepping as far out of the way as we sensibly could, when necessary. for a couple of pairs of walking couple, and another couple of bikers.

Turning the corner, there's a choice, a continuation of the directional path, down through the res woods to the banking between Brownhill and Ramsden Reservoirs, and a right turn towards the West, and subsequential further decisions..... we took this, onto the side of the grassy moor known as Netherley. My (not “our”, Gwyn doesn't yet have a direct say in these things) unofficial goal was to navigate to Yateholme Res, from where William had alerted me only yesterday, when I was on a related but different route, to the presence of an Osprey.

I am fairly certain in hindsight that we had both had a fleeting glimpse of it, prior to parting company on the road between Riding-Wood and Ramsden, but too far away to be totally sure, but it definitely didn't look like a Buzzard, and was way too big for a Peregrine. It was also too far away for my 250mm lens..... After I had walked back towards home at the time, nearly as far as Moss Edge, William texted to say that he could see the Osprey over Yateholme....bum! Gwyn, and Bonny the Beagle (Mum & Dad's) who I have been walking since not long after “lock-down” had to about-turn with me, when I made the decision to chance a walk up Ramsden Clough, (Monkey Nick), to chance a view.....I couldn't resist..... We didn't see it, but I digress.........I never need an excuse to go that way.

Returning to the narrative of Sunday, we're on the path along and across Netherley. It's a funny one, as it's mostly obviously actually a constructed “path”, being raised for the most-part in a stone structure, above what may well be somewhat and sometimes swampy and boggy reed-beds, though they were relatively dry when we passed.. An echo down from past generations, and situations.

I thought I knew the moor well, but, as most of the times I have crossed it before, I had no reason to stick to paths, following hounds, I wasn't familiar with the route, and found it turning away from my goal......towards the Holme Moss road, I had so miscalculated........

The path delivered us to the track, rather than the actual tarmacced road, so we took the left and set our course for the South, and Yateholme Res.

Here the level of Mountain bikers intensified. Strange days indeed. But how can I complain whilst being “out” too....? I counted over forty in the next half hour alone..... How the lock-down has persuaded so many to dig their bikes out of the backs of their garages and sheds, is probably a “good thing”, but I have noticed that about roughly ten percent of them didn't dig out their courtesty at the same time. They, the ten percent, can't manage a “hello” or “Hi” or something to save their lives. It really saddens me when people are defiicient in “common courtesy”. Perhaps they are just shy, but I see it as simply “rude”.

The track has deteriorated too, as well as manners, quite significantly since I used to use it regularly while riding. The old bits you used to be able to “give your horse it's head” and have a proper full-on gallop, aren't even safe or suitable these days. Time doesn't always heal some things, but entropy always increases.

More walkers, more Cuckoos, that must be seven at least I've heard on this one walk alone.....invisible buggers.....! At one point I could hear three in different parts of the woods, all competing, or flirting, I have no idea which, with each other.......

Then the throaty sound of an engine, or two as it turned out, approached from the front. Two enormous road-bikes, not sure what they both were, but the first was definitely a BMW. The rider ignored me and Gwyn. At least the second one nodded to acknowledge my standing to one side for them. About five minutes later, they must have reached the main road, and the subsequent roar of their engines as they opened up to race to the summit of the Moss was enough to drown out every scintilla of bird-song completely, even from such a distance....... My soul sank.

In the moments before, we had “pulled-over”, as it were, to let some hard-walking, speedier types to march past “safely”..... (The “marchers” dismay me, as I am one who likes to look, smell, listen, and live the moment, and place......but each to their own.) When they passed we rounded the corneer onto the wooden planked section, over the bridge. I could see how much distance our break had alllowed the speed-walkers to make up.....over a hundred yards, at least....

Coming to another gate nearby, the avian music picked up again, accompanied by numerous pheasants, harsh and random, and an occasional, more distant, cackling Grouse.....Curlews, a distant owl, baa-ing sheep, neaer to the village somewhere out of view, and then, something hard to describe....

I saw two birds further up the hill, on the more open bit of the banking, grassy, not heathered, but white-grass, and bracken. I couldn't tell what they were, but at the time thought “Cuckoos”....but given where they were, and how they flew, very low, and straight, I could rule several other contenders out whatever. I didn't think they were Cuckoos, as, scant though my experience of them might be, they didn't feel “right”, I'd like to think they were Nightjars.....and aim to go back to see again as soon as I get chance, but it's a long walk from here!

I waited, and waited, but the characteristic repetitive, almost digital, trill was not forthcoming, instead, from seeper in the woods, several sounds that I can only describe as like “someone blowing (not 'playing') an individual organ pipe”....I know that probably doesn't conjure up the right thought, but if you strain to imagine it, then add the sound of someone blowing actross a glass bottle with liquid in might half get the mental structure/sound...!I haqve never heard it before, but it wasn't a Pheasant, of that I am dead certain, even if it was in a similar key/tone. It was so distinct, and the pheasants were giving their own versions on and off at the same time, so it stood out.....It sounded sort of ethereal, but natural, not animal, or humans messing around.

A mystery.

It didn't happen more than a few times, and my vain efforts to attempt to capture it on my phone's “Voice Recorder”amounted to nothing. Eventually I gave up and set off again....

More rumblings, loads of Mountain bikes, more walkers, social-distance aware, and then a couple who clearly weren't remotely bothered about either jmy personal health security or theirs. I couldn't step further back than the dry-stone wall, but under the circumstances found myself holding my breath just in case.......mad world. Then, there was peace.

A non-speaking family, dumpy children, one of each, both very well-fed, roughly pre-teen, and a grumpy dark-curly-haired, and bearded, short but quite round man, maybe forty or so, appeared. I was apparently totally invisible to them, The younger ones didn't even look at me, and the man ignored my “Hello” altogether, though I deliberately caught his eye and slightly increased my persoanl volume, as I could see he was going to be not someone I would want to get stuck in a lift with, as they say....and wanted to make a point.

The thing that really struck me about the whole scene was that the frizzy, short round man, rumbling along on a bike that didn't like him, and probably vice versa, had a smartish looking Cocker Spaniel.....on a lead. I kid you not. While he was bouncing around, on a bike he was clearly unaccustomed to, on a rough, fairly decently sloped old track.

Every now and then he very harshly tugged at the far too short lead, causing the dog to tumble backwards, or, more than once to fall on it's side, or roly-poly, while he bounced along on the bike..... I watched as the front wheel nearly crunched the dog's chest, but just missed. I watched as the wheel nearly hit the dog's neck, it's back get the picture. Make that picture worse.

I could barely watch, but like the accident on the other carriage-way that you know you shouldn't look at, your curiosity gets the better of you...... The lead-jerks were accompanied at times by a “bark” from the man, not the poor dog, and a lot of swearing, again, from the man.

The two chubby kids, and bouncing father passed by, thankfully without any dogs dying,

At a modest distance behind, at a much slower, careful and cautious pace, followed a mousy, slender, very drawn looking, and grey woman, also on a bike that she was clearly unfamiliar with...... Tiny and hollow eyed, tired, pale, frizzy “strawberry blonde” hair. But at least she smiled and did say “Hello”.....Her eyes told me everything I didn't want to know. She looked so sad.

Gwyn and I sat again, and I got my phone out to look up “Nightjars” and I convinced myself that they definitely were not what I'd heard, but I was now sure that they were almost certainly what I'd seen! I was surprised by how happy this made me, I think sometimes that I don't actually know myself..... I love the natural world, but my curiosity is driving me these days more than ever before, and it was always healthy......

Another Cuckoo echoed in the wood below me. I heard my first a couple of weeks ago, and its May 3rd as I write this. It's not important, really but I do remember newspapers printing letters from various like-wise weirdos claiming their own “first cuckoos” back in the halcyon days of yester......

I stood, and the very tired Gwyn did too, and so on we went. There were four Buzzards, slowly and very high up, circling, crying their instantly recognisable calls, and coasting the thermals from the slopes of Twizzlehead, and then they drifted away over the tops and out of sight. Frustrating, but lovely to see.....

The whistles, cheeps, trill, of the mass birdong came back to prominence in my awareness again, and the lovely “safe” feeling of peace and what I think of as a “Pagan” love flowed in my thoughts, and veins again. Peace. Understanding, and experience.

A few breaks in the clouds started to come through, a touch of the clear blue we've been so spoiled with here and there. It's hard to carry negative when bathing in beauty.

A solitary man, in (very) orange lycra, immaculate, probably brand-new, and wearing a black shiny cycling helmet, bright red face, glistening with his own heat moisture.....puffed, sweated, and panted up the gentle slope as we were descending. I sympathised a little.... momentarily.

Again, he didn't reply to my genuine convivial greeting, and I wasn't sure I had actually expected him to, if I'm honest, as oxygen is less than twenty one percent these days, apparently, and he needed every bit he could get.

There were two Cuckoos further up Ramsden Clough,(Monkey Nick) as we approached Riding Wood Res, calling and replying to each other. Nice, I thought.

I heard the steady random rumble of a bike, the orange man had returned. I noticed he was wearing two Go-Pro's (other brands are available, but I have no idea what) both front and back of his shiny brand new helmet.......excuse apostrophes, I think I'm right as it's an “unusual” word thing. Maybe there's an exception....

I didn't give him the generally accepted “One-fingered hand-signal” I had internally thought about. Just as well, as he stopped on te the road across the res wall a hundred yards in front of me.

Orange Man then took a long slug from a matching plastic orange water-bottle, and started on his phone. It's not like I was concentrating on him, my senses were still full of light, beauty, huge three-dimensional woodland scenes, bird-song, and the lovely piney smell of the woods, and the slightly irritating, to my sinuses right now, pollen/dust that worries me so much in and of our current times.......but he was getting my attention, as they were all efectively stable....I must be a bit trivial in my attention to detail at times......jsut not when it matters, maybe.

So, he's in one of the most beautiful parts of the district, and he is fiddling with his phone. I don't know if he couldn't get a signal, or had just read a heart-breaking message, or something banal, fingers crossed for something good.... After a few minutes of standing and looking like an orange obscenity, banal or not, his phone went back into his pocket.

Gwyn had slowed down a bit by the time I'm describing. She's knocking on the door of twelve, and has arthritic moments and gets a bit foot-sore at times, and it's a rough track at that point, but she is getting some slighty challenging walks, with, when it's needed, some Rimadyl help, but she's happy. She was “loitering” and so I waited a bit. You might say we were dawdling a bit …..

The Orange Man was clearly going nowhere though, so I took the opportunity to comment on just how f-ing beautiful it all truly was.

To my slight relief, he agreed, maybe his oxygen levels had caught up a bit, I don't know. He couldn't manage to use any of it the lst time I'd said “Hello..”

A random Sand-Piper obliged by doing a quick fly-past on the res wall. We both saw it, and I said “Sand-Piper”. He mentioned “Yellow Wagtails” which lead into a small correction, but I thought about dodging it, then decided to “do the right thing”........More Cuckoos obliged us both, further up the valley.......Was one of “those moments”.

Then the pheasants called their replies, so harsh, and warning. A pair of white birds, I have no idea what, not doves, or gulls, flew into the woods, and vanished.

We passed the time, not much, just a bit, and I left him there, as his red face started to return to a more human sort-of colour......

Chaffinches, Nuthatches, Sparrows, Robins, various Tits and so on, accompanied us onwards, as so often. We came to the old trough, then the Yateholme car-park, and the man who carries his nearly-but-not-quite-dead-cat everywhere, to various places aound the area....sits with it, in the open air, then takes it home to whatever hell they share. The man and his cat were at the picnic table by the car park, he fiddled with his phone, while the cat tried hard not to die. As we've crossed paths, in very similar circumstances, I acknowledged him, and got a response, limited, but it never relly ever turned into a conversation, so I wasn't expecting much, if anything. His own personal hell.

Then, what I am sure was a Peregrine shot past and upwards, fantastic! I know there's a pair of them close by, but can't find them when I try, hey ho.

We wandered closer to home, and occasionally checked over the wall, as I've seen all sorts down there over the years I've been here, but nothing but little tiny flits of feathered things at high speed, and sunny lit shadows of forgotten and hidden places, No Roe, or foxes, or hippies, or anything really.

We approached the water-works, and two wrens were going at it, like really, not “hand-bags at dawn”, but a proper full-on scrap! What a racket two tiny little birds can make in full combat mode....... Another moment when you bring the camera up to bear as quick as possible, and then they're wasn't a gentleman's scrap. It was proper “full-on”......

No sign of the Black-Caps I saw last week, but missed with the camera, which is being a pain at the current time, that's another story. Never mind, they might still be there in the next few weeks, after all, they've come all this way to migrate here, to breed, and the weather's good......

They're not terribly dramatic in form, just Tits, with a distinct and literal “Black cap”.

But hey, you've got to follow the things that you're interested in.

Down the road, past St David's Church, and homewards, slowly, steadily. Gwyn is now dictating the pace, as she really is foot-sore.

Home for bacon and a strong tea.

Perfect Sunday walk. Nicer with company, but these are the days we're in.