Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Take A Break

The sign is a bit faded by the sun but it is in an ideal position, at the midpoint of the rows and rows of the 3,000 Neolithic megaliths at Carnac in northern France.  Just about the time one may be flagging  and ready for pancakes, drinks and ice cream. Chez CĂ©line was a small hut with outdoor seating. Order at the window, the staff were a full pelt over hot stoves. We had ice cream. Delicious, definitely home made by an artisan.

The drawing recreates the old pictures of the 19th century when the locals liked to have their photograph taken sat on top of the larger stones.

An entry for the meme Signs, Signs

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

ABC Wednesday - Forests

Today I am celebrating forests for two reasons. One, obviously, because it is ABC Wednesday but the other is that the government have done a U turn and backed off from selling off the  forests in public ownership.  The 'consultation' of selling the forest was announced quietly but a growing vocal opposition to the plan, pointed out the financial figures did not add up and the government would probably end up making nothing.  Forestry consultants also thought it was a woolly plan and were suspicious of the motives. Prices of timber are at a high, perhaps the government had interested parties who thought they could make a killing.  With the present economic cuts yet to bite and also cross party opposition Prime Minister Cameron must have decided this may be one future fight too many and announced the scrapping of the idea.

But of course opposition to the plan was not really about money, it was about access.  The area I live is full of woods and if it had not been grey and raining for a week I would have gone out and taken some photographs, but as I am a wimp I'm using photos from my archive, so the seasons following will change in a random manner
A field of sheep munching contently by the small hamlet surrounded by a mixed wood forest. Some well worn paths take routes through the forest, others in the growing season may
not be as easy to find. The map person is not too keen on forests when paths disappear in undergrowth and all direction is lost.  The ones in the background are not heavily used but other areas such as
around Yew Tree Tarn are one of the areas favoured by walkers being in the Lake District proper. In places like Grizedale Forest it has wonderful paths for mountain bikers and is famous for its pieces of art scattered around the forest which one can come on unexpectedly
Photo courtesy of Anne Bowker
This would have been one of the forests under threat as it is owned by the Forestry Commission. The main Cumbrian "Save Our Forests" demonstration was held here.  I would guess it is the most used forest in the county, while still also  a working forest.  I am not uncritical of the Forestry Commission for in the past they have tended to plant nothing but rows of firs
but in recent more enlightened times there are a mix of firs and deciduous trees.  Which are better for the forest plants and birds
It would be wrong to condemn all privately owned forests, some are well managed but perfectly accessible
to walkers and cyclists like the ones owned by the Holker estate.  At bluebell time this metalled track leads to a gate into the wood where it will be a perfumed blue heaven.  But when a piece of forest was sold recently

on the east side of Coniston Water the new owner installed a gate, lock and chain.  The stile access is still available into the mixed forest of sessile oaks, beech and birch but you have to get to the stile first. This side of the lake is used by people just wanting to sit by the side of the lake, mess about in boat, or walk and cycle in the forest.  The east side of the lake has a narrow road
mostly one car width, (stop tuck in and pass), so limited parking on the road (no public transport).  There a small rough car parks of various sizes every couple of miles, the one that has been closed off is one of the larger ones holding about 18 cars (with or without boats).  Hopefully the public mood will mean that no further pieces of forest will be sold off (in this case for what seemed a rather low price) and they will be managed for future generations to enjoy.

Follow the link to ABC Wednesday where there will be more words starting with  

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Sign Heaven

A visit to the Lakeland Motor Museum who appear to have a cornucopia of old signs, alongside their bikes and motors. Some of the iconic brands are here.  But the one that caught my attention was the Fry's Five Boys Chocolate, each piece with a boy's different expression, from joy to anguish. Produced from 1902-1976 it also appeared in wall dispensing machines on Railway Station, often the only thing available if you were hungry.  Sometimes you stopped hungry if the machine jammed.  It was the sort of chocolate bar always remembered, unique.

An entry for the Sign, Signs meme

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

ABC Wednesday - Eskdale

This old advertisement was in the little history centre which tells the story of the Ravenglass and Eskale Railway, from its 1875 beginning in industry when it took iron ore down the valley to the port of Ravenglass, and  its history of  carrying passengers and eventually holidaymakers, on this miniature railway track.
 River Mite (2-8-2) Steam Engine
It is still a popular tourist ride down, what this poster calls "the most beautiful valley in Lakeland", now there may be some dispute and other contenders for that title, but it is a very pretty ride on the train.

Eskdale is one of the starting routes to climb England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike, part of  the group of mountains know as the Scafell range.  The reason I took a photo of this poster is the marketing of the area  as 'The English Alps' which I found quite amusing, it should have added, 'in miniature', for the highest point is only 3,209 feet.
An annotated view of the Scafell group (where would we be without Wikipedia info) the photo is taken from Crinkle Crags which is part of another valley, Langdale, this also could be another good contender for "most beautiful valley" .  Here is Eskdale's upper end,
verdant valley and small fells which eventually lead out and up to the higher reaches. Being lakeland of course I have to include the
local  hill sheep of the valley.  
The River Esk flows down the valley
on its way to the coast where it will join two other rivers to flow into the Irish Sea.  Many streams run down from the tops to fill the river, the most well know of which is the

one mentioned on the poster, Stanley Ghyll, which always has a steady stream (don't groan), of people strolling up and down, in various stages of fitness to look at the run of many  little

Time to take the train home? 
 Climb Aboard. Perhaps don your anorak, I've got mine on;  and watch the trains

Entertain yourself with a visit to ABC Wednesday where there will be lots more words starting with E

Monday, 14 February 2011

River Leven

Clear and cool, clear and cool,
By laughing shallow, and dreaming pool;
Cool and clear, cool and clear,
By shining shingle, and foaming weir
Under the crag where the ouzel sings...
(from 'The River' by Charles Kingsley)
 A river full of rain and more to come. The River Leven at one of the Backbarrow weirs, Cumbria.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Look Out

Looking for eagle-eyed people to spot the introduced grey squirrel. Protecting the endangered small native red in Northern England.  And don't mess with the cat.

Posted for Signs, Signs

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

ABC Wednesday - Derelict

The Furness Railway Locomotive Sheds mid demolition to make way for the Waterfront Project and marina which now will be disrupted and put on hold because of government cuts.  I meant to take a picture of the sheds still standing but due to my procrastination gene I never got around to it, however I did like the broken windows on this cloudy day.  The sheds (dating from the 1860s), original purpose was to refit and refurbish locomotives, in recent times they have been used by local businesses. I believe some of the dressed sandstone has been kept for use in other projects.  Not too late to get your free firewood.
Not demolished but a derelict farm, not an unusually sight in the outlying high fells of the Lake District and often used for storage or animal shelter in winter.  Higher up the fell was a sturdy looking
barn the walls repelling the weather but not the roof.  There is your taste of agricultural dereliction and here is
some industrial. The buildings of the old copper mines have become quite scenic over time and the valley has taken on their name. There are some miners cottages below, (not in the photo) now converted for holiday use, and the white walled Youth Hostel by the old workings lower down on the right.  A good stretch of the legs to get to work in past times and also for the postman delivering letters.
 Near Pleurmel, France
No use delivering post in this house of decay.

Dash over to ABC Wednesday where there will be more words starting with the letter D

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

ABC Wednesday - Caen

Early morning in the coastal town of Caen, with the rising sun shining on the roofs and spires.  We had stopped briefly after arriving by ferry and as the town was quiet thought it would be nice to have a quick browse around. Thereby hangs a tale. Driving into the town from the port of course the first thing to look for was a car park. "Look there" I shouted, as we swung left and then left again through an entrance.  Only it wasn't an entrance, it was a gap, as we realised after bouncing down the  high curb on the other side. Which would have been fine if it was not one of those car parks where you get a parking ticket when the barrier opens to let cars in. How to get out?  Too tricky to get out the way we had come in.  We had a look at the instructions. Do you know there wasn't anything about accidentally coming into the car park over a pavement,  but there was one if a ticket was lost.  Well it would have to do, oops, it was going to cost 8 Euros.  I always have some small change (sometimes I think its magnetically attracted)  but could only copper up 2 Euro.  We would have to buy something; never a problem to me. We wandered into town.
and admired the rather elegant town hall, its
formal gardens and the Abbaye aux Hommes built by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century, as a penance to the Pope for marrying his cousin Matilda of Flanders, she built a twin church, the Abbaye aux Dames.  William was buried here but the tomb was destroyed by the Huguenots in 1562 during the Wars of Religion. Some of the bones remained but the last of William was scattered in the French Revolution.

Well apart from that gory tale, it was all very pleasant, the streets were being washed but nothing was open. So where was this change going to come from?  Then we turned a corner to a square and there in rows were the stalls of the food market with their produce stacked high, glowing in the sunshine.  After oohing and ahhing at the pile of produce (France is food central) visiting various stalls, stocking up with kilos of juicy tomatoes, fruit, vegetables (I'm putting tomatoes in a special category because I'm never sure what they are) and cheese, we had all the change we needed, and as a bonus almost everything required to arrive at our holiday cottage.  Which we reached after a short diversion to the coast (I thought I would try for a hat-trick of navigation errors) 
where as we saw the signs took a look at Omaha Beach and as I stood on the cliffs looking down, wondered how the troops of the bloodiest battle of the D Day landings in 1944 ever made it off the beach.  The Battle of Normandy apart from the tragedy of loss of life also destroyed much of the centre of Caen.

Catch up with what the other participants in ABC Wednesday are talking about beginning with C