A Raft of Apples

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


There was a lot of rather cute squeaking going on near the gate to the otter pool at the Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre.  Why?  The otters are fed at designated times through the day and this fence faces the direction where the purveyor of tasty nibbles will walk.
At last the fish have arrived.  Should I eat it this way?
 Or sideways?
I'm eating mine down here in the cooling stream. 

 These are Asian Short Clawed Otters (the smallest otter in the world) and the photo above shows its small claws with incomplete webbing between the digits.  This enhances their manual dexterity, useful when feeding on molluscs and crabs.  These adorable creatures also have a crowd pleasing trick of juggling stones on their hands, it is a very social species which likes to play.   Unfortunately I did not capture one of them doing their party trick as the stone was dropped immediately the fish arrived. 
and they got to grips with their silver slipperiness.
The Asian Short Clawed Otters here are a family, Robbie, Daisy and their offspring Dili. The species are on the Red List meaning they are vulnerable to extinction due to habitat loss and also hunting for their skins and also their organs which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. In the wild they live in mangrove swamps and fresh water wetlands with a range from India to South East Asia as shown on the map below.
Oriental Small-clawed Otter area.png
This little family were more local and relocated to Cotebrook from Chester Zoo who are running a breeding program to increase their numbers and create new breeding lines.

I hope this helps their numbers increase.  Our own indigenous European Otters had a catastrophic decline in the 1950s and 60s due to pollution, habitat destruction and drainage of wetlands and almost completely disappeared from England (a Scottish population remained).  With positive action, the banning of organo-chloride pesticides and the improvement of river quality, over the years our otters have returned, so maybe there is hope for the Asian Short Clawed Otter.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at O here 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Newfield Inn

A grouping of different communication systems in the Duddon Valley, post box, phone box and electricity substation. The notice directs the visitor to extra parking for the Newfield Inn but as it is mid afternoon on a Monday
parking won't be a problem. The Newfield Inn squeezes itself in a corner between a house and a bank barn in the hamlet of Seathwaite.  I don't know the inn's age, and neither does anyone else, sources put it at 16th, 17th or 18th century, take your pick, could be all three.  It is possible the poet William Wordsworth stopped here when visiting Seathwaite and perhaps he penned some of his Duddon sonnets in one of the rooms, although more poetically when he wrote 'To The River Duddon' one of the lines said he "left his verses gummed to your rocks like lichen"
The shape of a 1950s Morris Minor cabriolet outside is instantly recognisable, and its owner is taking advantage of the warm sunny day with the top down and although there are clouds there are none of the nimbus ones which bring rain.  If not for the modern blue car I could masquerade this photo as being taken half a century ago.
The occupants of the cottage opposite the Newfield Inn don't have far to walk for a meal, drinks or good company.  There is a blue for sale notice up at the front, which is round the corner.  If you have £550,000 to spare (five bedrooms, detached barn (out of view) and garden) its yours.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at N here 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Sping into Autumn

 Cherry Blossom in May
its berries in October, both bring delight under sparkling blue skies.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016


Perhaps one could imagine this mushroom bird feeder as a gnome or fairies high rise house.  It is peaceful surrounds, one of the trees among the ruins
of Kirkstall Abbey, once a Cistercian monastery now part of a public park by the north bank of the River Aire.  Everything was still green when this picture was taken in September however move on a month and the autumn colours are advancing with
mushrooms springing up in the woods, non more profuse than these Brittle Caps.  I'll stick to the common name so don't ask me what type they are but they all like the damp and growing on old tree stumps. One variety of brittle cap whose name I like, and perhaps it could be the one I show, is called Psathyrella multipedata, the Latin multipedata means 'many feet' because each grow on top the other 'feet' in clusters.  Little mushroom posies.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at M here

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Leeds Link

Navigable water once determined the location and growth of towns and cities. The city of Leeds was no exception for it grew from a small market town on the Rive Aire trading wool in the West Riding of Yorkshire to expanding in the boom times of the mills of the Industrial Revolution and trading with the world. Today it is the UK's fourth largest urban economy.  Here at Granary Wharf near the city centre the whole area has undergone a massive regeneration since 2009 with residential building, restaurants, hotels, bars etc. The photograph above shows on the left the copper cladding and cedar panels of Waterman's Place apartments. The dome in the middle is the recently completed southern entrance to Leeds Railway station consisting of 2000 pieces of steel which sit on top of the Victorian viaduct of 1869. When you take the path towards the station entrance with its escalators before you get to it the first amazing sight is of the rushing waters of the River Aire cascade down to the left under the viaduct, or what is called locally the 'dark arches'.

But let me take you away from here
 past the yarn bombed boat
and away from modernity and continuing along the waterside.  This is the short canal that was built by the Aire and Calder Navigation Company to link the riverside industries to the Leeds-Liverpool canal. A lock separates the two waterways
but this is Lock Number 2 - Office Lock, so named because the bridge I am taking this photo from is where the Canal Offices are.
and the mile post tells one how far it will be before reaching Liverpool. A local wag saw me taking a photo of this and dryly said "there will be another one in a mile".
Millennium Milepost for Route 66 'The Fossil Tree'
But that is not the only way for we are also on Route 66, unfortunately not the one where one can
"take that California trip", to "get your kicks on Route 66" but a cycle route that crosses England from Manchester on the west side to Hull in the east (Spurn Head) and spends 13 of its 132 miles peddling alongside the canal.
 But I'm walking away from Leeds and looking back at the Italianate chimneys of what was the Tower Works whose Victorian owner was so fascinated by Renaissance Italy he built his chimneys in that style. The white modern building is Bridgewater Place, nicknamed locally 'The Dalek'
The canal towpath is also popular with runners so I could not resist a reflecting bridge and a red topped runner photograph, happily despite being a bit slow I got him in the picture.
St Anne's Ing Lock (Lock 3)
Canal boating in contrast to cycling and running is languid leisure interspersed with great activity when going through the lock systems (a total of 91 of varying flights on the full stretch of canal).
Oddy Two Rise Lock (Locks 4 and 5)
Being an urban area there are splashes of graffiti along the start of the canal, especially where concrete road bridges have been built over it but some are on a different scale altogether
like this funky frog enjoying his canal side view.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at L here 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Knock Knock

Lions are popular holders of door knockers - you could give this one a nice hefty knock and it would echo in the hall beyond.
 at Sizergh Castle.
A smaller knocker with a nautical theme might give a more tip tap noise, or you could choose the bell.  Why an anchor?
 It is on the door of the Ship Inn
I imagine Door Kraft will have a variety of door knockers to choose from behind the green door.

Knock Knock
Who's There
Boo who?
Don't cry. Its only a knock knock joke. 

An entry to ABC Wednesday,  a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at K here

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


From a distance this is a typical canal view complete with a couple of boats and a bridge but lets stroll nearer
to Bridge Number 208 on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, a modern building reflected beyond, but take a different perspective from the other side
as it would have appeared in the 18th Century, although there would have been no trees and the house would not be falling into dereliction.  Both structures were built in 1774 but whereas Junction Bridge is a historically listed and protected, surprisingly Junction House is not.  In its time it has been a warehouse and home to millwrights and engineers and in the 19th Century one half was lodgings for old boatmen and the other half housed a canal toll office.
The bridge is structurally sound but in the 1970s rather than sympathetically restoring the sets they just slapped concrete on it. 
This stretch of water is the reason it gets the name Junction.  I managed to squeeze into a bit of banking to get the bridge into the photograph but the more pristine view without all the metal
would be this.  What at the time was the junction of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal with the Bradford Canal and at the height of the Industrial Revolution mills would have been spinning wool and this little corner would have been throbbing with the activity of industry and transport.  Problems with the water supply to the Bradford Canal closed it in 1867 but despite a stretch reopening it proved unprofitable and closed for good in 1922.  All that is left today is this 30 metres (98ft).  On the plus side there are 127 miles (204K) of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal to enjoy.  Even better with an unintended piece of synchronicity I'm spending a few days by the side of it this week.
An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at J here