In mathematics the letter X denotes an unknown quantity. In nature this X is also a bit unknown as it is in a place that is neither sea or land, the salt marsh. Continually changing it is a rich salt tolerant biology feeds birds, mammals and amphibians.
But what have I noticed here, footsteps in the mud
Sheep crossing? The sheep like to munch on the saltmarsh although this little group with two keeping a wary eye on me are on the embankment. (Their compatriots can just be seen near the horizon). Also just seen in the distance further down the embankment is a place to take your ease.
The seat, now with the tide covering the salt marsh behind it. Unusually for the UK where you can nearly guarantee wherever you stop on the coast there will be someone gazing out to sea whatever the weather, this seat faces in the entirely different direction. Either because of the contrariness of the local settlement of Millom (its name of Norse origin means 'between' as it sits between two rivers and the tide)
or perhaps the view of the hills is thought to be more restful. The Millom Embankment was built to protects both this low lying farmland
and the railway that wends its way up the coast. Northern Rail paint some of their trains with views from the north of England, the area they cover. I'm a bit too far away for this to be very detailed. The embankment where I stand is also part of a long distance walk, the Cumbria Coastal Way. The train is the ideal alternative way to do it in chunks as linear walks (except at its very northern end when the train track bends away).
The perfect journey for sea lovers. The water laps the embankment. If you have noticed the difference in colour of the sea grass, the first three photographs were taken in February, the others last November when rain had nourished the grass. This winter and late spring was one of attrition for the wildlife so on the February walk there were a few remains but this one took my eye:
Did the duck fall from the sky or did it become entangled in the hedge? It was a sad sight but although dead at least in winter there were no flies buzzing around and only the effects of xeransis (the drying of tissues).
An entry to ABC Wednesday - a journeys through the alphabet that has reached X
Flowers line the walls of Blackwell, a house designed in the Art and Crafts style. As it is June the Wisteria is in full bloom, glimpsed here through one of the small stained glass windows. For an expansive view of the surroundings one can walk over
and sit on a window seat to gaze over the lake. This particular day was overcast but with little wind.
Windermere was like glass, the only ripples from the small boats sailing along.
A more rustic view of Wisteria on a country cottage. Patience is required when growing this plant and though it thrives on neglect it does demand regular pruning. Grown from seed it can take 20 years to bloom, from a grafted plants it may only be a couple of year although it took a friends seven years to flower. It was worth the wait seeing it spill over and through their pergola. Perhaps in a 100 years it may end up like this one.
St Bees Head
And lastly a winding coastal path on top of the cliffs of St Bees weaving its way through bluebells which I include because I am amazed they are still with us a month after they have usually long gone, the result of late blooming after the coldest spring for 50 years. I wonder what they think of the June sunshine.
To continue my nautical theme from last weeks ABC entry here is HMS Victory, the oldest naval ship still in commission. Launched in 1765 it is both flagship of the First Sea Lord and a living museum to the Georgian navy. The statue in the foreground is of a sailor carrying part of a field gun. Today this is a competition between teams to transport a field gun over obstacles in the shortest time, dismantling, reassembling and firing. The origins date from the Siege of Ladysmith (1899/1900) when naval guns were taken off ships and transported overland to help relieve the siege. The current record (set in 2010) is 1 minute and 17.78 seconds and the team holding the record, HMS Naval Base Portsmouth, is located not too far away from the Victory. HMS Victory was moved to Portsmouth in 1922 is crewed by a mix of Royal Navy sailors and staff from the National Museum of the Royal Naval.
You will notice that the ship has rather a lot of guns, 104 to be precise, but all is not what it seems. Only one of them is real all the rest are made of fibreglass. If they were the original cast iron cannons the weight would damage the ship without the support of seawater as Victory sits in a dry dock
Although HMS Victory was present at a number of battles it is most famously remembered for the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar in the Napoleonic Wars and the tactical imagination of the commander Admiral Lord Nelson
who was always loosing bits himself in naval battles and in this ship he met his end. There are disputes to whereabouts on board he died but
not as to where his cabin was, here astern. I don't know if the windows were smashed in battle to the extent that is always dramatically shown in nautical and pirate films, but apart from that the cabins always looked the perfect way to travel. With a crew of 850 other accommodation would not be as convivial.
At the moment this and the first photo is not the present view as the topmasts and rigging have been struck, that is taken down. They have been dismantled as part of the ships restoration. Wooden ships need constant repair but this is the first time they have been taken down since 1944.
Time to be piped on board? No this is as far as I got Despite having mooched around Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on numerous occasions over the years I have never gone on any of the vessels. The reason being that we are usually don't have enough time as are about to sail on a more prosaic ferry to continental Europe. This may also be the reason I don't seem to have taken a photo of Victory's bow or figurehead or maybe it was the overcast day.
So this photo of a poster produced for the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar which was on the wall in one of the dockyard buildings will have to do for the moment.
As the bluebells starts to stir early in the year their purpose is to flower before the other woodland plants. Not this year, they weren't for stirring. Here we are in June and there are still some stragglers flowering.
The environmental monitoring Survey Ship 'Norsemaid' under-way on Friday having just left the port of Barrow in Furness.
It journeyed past Piel Island. Its 14th century castle ruins seen in the background were built to protect the deep water harbour from pirates and Scottish raiders. Faintly seen is the Union Jack flag flying outside the Ship Inn. The views on this day were undoubtedly hazy.
The Norsemaid heads out to sea. Curious to see where it was today I discovered it was still heading WSW at 12 knots; this morning it was in Liverpool Bay. I suspect it may be heading home to Holyhead in Wales.