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