Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Happy X Day

X - The letter that in algebra denotes an unknown quantity so as I look up into the sky there it is.   Always a tricky letter in an ABC Wednesday round but this week it presents itself at the most appropriate time of year.

So as I post this the Xmas presents have been opened, an overlarge dinner has been consumed. Time to get the games out?  No lets take a walk
and perhaps play a game of game of 0s and Xs.  Spin those letters.  Don't linger I've got to get back in time for the Xmas Special  Doctor Who at 5:15 in the year 1892.  Another unknown quantity.   Just when the John Lewis advert has got me getting that warm Christmas feeling, by the child looking out of the window and the snowman disappearing to on a long journey to buy a present for his companion, and then there the snowlady has new gloves and a hat. The child is happy. Awww.
Argh. Who but the writer Steven Moffat could turn a loveable and fun object like a snowman into something that may need a trip behind the sofa.   Will Doctor Who save Christmas?  And what will the new interior of the Tardis look like?  Unknown but I'm sure it will have the X Factor.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas

An entry to ABC Wednesday. A journey through the alphabet

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Wings on Water

Wildly wheeling gulls on the wing work out where the food is being dispensed while the mallard sail in the other direction, probably working out that they are no match for those wily birds.  Meanwhile
further along a Ruddy Shelduck contemplates the water.  They are onmivorous and eat on land and water
 but are most often seen dabbling underwater searching for something aquatic, either flora or fauna and no need to wade with that balance. When upright it
waggles those wings to be well-groomed and heads for another part of the lake. To call these birds brown would be to do them an injustice. The best description of the plumage I have seen calls it a coppery-cinnamon.  Lastly for winged wonders that always look as though they come from another world
the pink flamingoes wading and watching.  Pretty Flamingoes - of course I cannot resist the Manfred Mann song of the same name

 a hit in the year of 1966 which also was the year the England football team won the World Cup. To keep to the wings theme Alf Ramsey's team were called the "wingless wonders" because they dispensed with wingers and instead of attaching down the flanks attacked from midfield and confused the opposition. (Brief explanation here)   The rest, as they say, is history.

An entry to ABC Wednesday. A journey through the alphabet.


Wesh Ponies in Cheshire

Is that a unicorn in the distance?  No its a Welsh Pony. A Christmas parcel delivery saw us venture into Cheshire and on Sunday were taken on a walk up and around Bickerton Hill where the National Trust has imported some Carneddau Ponies to help control the proliferation of silver birch trees, so it remains heathland. It is said that these hardy Welsh Ponies date back to the Bronze Age.  Unlike the cattle which grazed the heath until the 1930s the ponies have a varied diet and like to chew fibrous plants  
which is exactly what this one was doing. As I passed I could hear the pop and crunch as it munched away, nothing was going to disturb this pony from its snack.  The article about the Carneddau Ponies introduction to the area says they are tough but naturally timid and won't be attracted to people.  I don't think that has quite worked out. When not concentrating on eating they seem rather curious of people and when I could not resist a stroke of one, its companion munching nearby, not wishing to miss out, rushed over to be stroked too.
Cute factor 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Vintage Vapour Viewpoint

I've shown a steam train from this vantage point before but this is a much more powerful locomotive than the Castle Class I showed for another letter of ABC Wednesday..  Stopping for water at  Appleby this Britannia 70000 is building up steam.  I know nothing about trains but apart from the joy of seeing them clatter along the tracks my favourite part is this moment, and one that no diesel or electric train can emulate. The only place to experience it is here, track-side.
 The Britannia 70000 was built for fast traffic in 1951, has a superheat boiler and is about to depart, the fire is going the water has heated the vapour is building and then rather than the soft hiss of steam while it has vented and  idled by the water tower, it now builds to pressure
the engineer lets all that power go, the overwhelming awe of pure steam power, the air screams and vibrates, the warm
 water warm vapour surrounds us.  Has it vanished into thin air?
 No the gleaming vintage vehicle is on the move.
 A veritable vision of  steam
it continues on its journey to the sound of clicking cameras.

 The  route the Britannia's has taken on this occasion is a popular one for the enthusiast as it travels on a track through beautiful countryside with no overhead wires or any other visual distraction.  This You Tube video of the same loco (taken the week before my photographs) gives a flavour...

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet. This week it is parked at V

Friday, 7 December 2012

Standing in Fields

Trees growing in rocks and thin soil but still sturdy as they grow towards the sun.

The sheep fill their days with nibbling the grass, the sun having warmed away the frost 
and the yearlings are just curious as I walk through their field. 

This is my sky.  For others see SkyWatch Friday

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Under the Scheldt

Saint Anna Tunnel Dimensions
This week I'm going underground or rather underwater and below the Scheldt River where the city of Antwerp's Saint Anna Pedestrian tunnel was built in the 1930s.  Started in 1931 it was opened in 1933
The tunnel is also handy for those pedestrians that ride bikes.  Of course the thing that fascinated me were the escalators that took us up and down to the tunnel

Wooden and very much a product of 1930s Art Deco they trundle  by the white ceramic tiles.  There is also a lift but the preferred option seems to be the escalator.

Always on the move, unless the stop button is pressed. 
First Level
 The depth of the tunnel means that there are not just one but two escalators to ride

 Reaching the bottom and a ten minute walk, or an even quicker bicycle ride and the destination is reached.
We travelling from the bustling city of Antwerp discovered the other bank was full of parks and people enjoying the day. We browsed a riverside collection of propellers and other maritime ephemera, its reason unknown to us, but we spent some time spotting which propellers had been built in the UK.   It is also undoubtedly the perfect place to take photographs of the Antwerp skyline and watch the barges sail past.  We passed a pleasant time strolling on the banks and made our way back to the tunnel entrance
 Back underground
And back to the bustling city

An entry to ABC Wednesday. A journey through the alphabet which has reached the letter - U

Friday, 30 November 2012

Mountain View

Ulverston with Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man
The late slanting winter sun shadows the Coniston hills.  The remains of ice/snow in the gullies can just be seen on the top of Coniston Old Man (right). In this early winter week the snow appears and disappears on the tops
Looking East from Birkrigg
although turning ones eyes to the east and the higher fells  the snow ridges look suitably winter white.  The wind is sharp and chill
and this farmer is on his way home.  I'm wishing I had my gloves on but imagine it is nice and cosy in his cab. 

My skies to join those in  SkyWatch Friday

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A Trip to Thorpeness

"The Headlands" built in 1937
Briefly stopping off late in the afternoon at Thorpeness on our Suffolk holiday we took a twirl around the village and of course being coastal dwellers the first stop was the beach coming in past these houses with the perfect sea view
The village of Thorpeness started life as a small fishing village and is reputed to have been the preferred smuggling route into East Anglia but it was about to change early in the 20th century when a Scottish barrister who had made his fortune from the railways bought up a huge tract of land along the coast and in 1910 started to build a holiday village for his friends.  He went on to develop a private fantasy holiday destination building golf course and club house, tennis courts, country club and homes in mock Jacobean and Tudor style sometimes described as 'Romantic Picturesque'
like these from a photograph taken in the 1930s
The Haven houses built c1914
In common with all Suffolk villages Thorpeness has a village sign and this shows its most famous features, the windmill and the House in the Clouds.  The latter was in fact built to hide the water tower whose tank was clad in wood to make it look like a small house on a 5 storey tower.  With mains water installed in the village it was turned into a huge games room and today is a holiday let with I imagine spectacular views and an ideal way to keep fit going up and down its 68 steps.

Three generations of the Ogilvie family owned these village amenities and when the last one dropped dead on the golf course many properties were sold to pay death duties.  Today 400 people live here permanently but the numbers swell to 1,600 in the holiday season
 We sat in the Dolphin Inn beer garden which is situated near the Almshouses built in the 1930s.  We had chosen our holiday weeks well because it encompassed the hottest day of the year just the excuse for a cold beer, if I needed one.
The House in the Clouds was not the only water tower. This is the Westbar a 'Norman' or medieval style building which also hid a water tower.  So there is my ten minute trip around Thorpeness with its countless building styles the last to be built the first of my photographs but there is lots more including a lake with Peter Pan associations but I will have to make a return journey to Suffolk to take pictures of those. 

An entry to ABC Wednesday - a journey through the alphabet which today has stopped on the latter T

Friday, 23 November 2012

Sunny Interlude

Furness Abbey
Yesterday as the county was deluged by rain, the rail line was shut and roads flooded a picture of of Furness Abbey in the local newspaper showed it as one of the many places flooded but today, apart from being a little muddy there was, as can be seen, no sign of any water. Those 12th century monks knew where to build.  
View from Cemetery Hill, Barrow in Furness
As the sun begins to set we are promised yet more rain over the coming days, today is but a sunny interlude.

An entry to the skies around the world  on SkyWatch Friday