Saturday, 24 December 2016

The Good Ship Xmas

Christmas Card (1901) by Harry Napper for the Silver Studio (seen in the Europeana Collections portal)
I echo the words of the Christmas Card and wish Good Fortune and Best Wishes as you set sail on the good ship Xmas

About the Card
Harry Napper (1860-1930) was a British water colourist  and designer in multiple mediums who was one of the leading designers working for the fabric, wallpaper, carpet and metalwork design company Silver Studio (an important part of the development of the Art Nouveau movement).  The card is part of the thousands of objects which form the core of  Middlesex University's  Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MODA) collection covering the Silver Studio's design output from 1880-1960.  This collection can be browsed online here

Tuesday, 20 December 2016


St Bee's railway crossing and station provides an X this week with the yellow cross hatching of the road's 'no stopping' lines.  This is also probably the only angle one can get a full view of the signal box on the right.  Built in 1891 it is a rare example of one built in the Arts and Craft style although the windows are no longer original, a shame for the viewer but not for the signalman who I imagine appreciates the double glazing at this time of year. The station and most of the village is constructed of the dark red St Bees Sandstone, the same type as in the nearby sea cliffs
here seen with a thin strata of white sandstone.  Its full geological name is St Bees New Red Sandstone, yes 'new' - a mere 200 million years old.  

Time to shoehorn another X, this time an Christmas, or rather Xmas, cactus.  Half of mine has just flowered but it looks as though the other half might actually flower at Xmas-time, which will be the first time it has lived up to its name. As my cactus is red Mr Google has helpfully provided a xanthic one in full flower. 
Blessings to you all and have a very Merry Xmas

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

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Windows on Life

A beautiful aspect of the of hills and woodland is glanced through the window's of St Bega's Church in Eskdale Green. Originally built as a chapel of ease in the 19th Century generations will have gazed on the seasons changing from the church seats.
At Colton Church (Holy Trinity) the words of the Psalm 150 greet one coming though the door, which urges the congregation to praise God with singing and dancing.
Windows of a more practical nature in a Signal Box when alert eyes are needed to keep the trains safe and I'm taking the picture through the train window as it slowed down.

Even more windows at the Bluecoat Art Centre, originally built as a school in 1717.

I've got a double here as there are not only window but also a yellow poster advert for WT Windowstore in one of them. I think they were doing some renovation at the this, the old British and Foreign Marine Insurance building in Liverpool. To be honest I was more interested in the building's mosaics which can be seen in more detail here 

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

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Valley View

Here I am looking over the fields of Green Moor in the Woodland Valley from the Conscientious Objectors stone where in 1916 they engraved their initials and names, the view will be exactly the same as they saw a hundred years ago.

Unlike the war memorials little is known about the men who neatly engraved their initials, the date of 1916 is significant because that is when Britain introduced military conscription to the armed forces, and some of those who refused for reasons of conscious or religion (ie consciousness objectors) were given 'work of national importance' such as farming of forestry which is what perhaps this little group were doing.

A hop, skip and jump away    
is the Duddon Valley, a quiet corner of Lakeland. The higher hills have a dusting of snow but here autumn is holding winter at bay although the temperatures are dipping

so there will be no cattle taking their ease and lounging in the sun like this summer view.

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

Tuesday, 29 November 2016


 Tying Up on the River Lazy where it  meets the Duddon Estuary on the Cumbrian coast.

Up high, glad I'm not at the top of this very long ladder in Leeds.

Stepping Up on the 'Sandstone Trail' steps on Bickerton Hill, Cheshire.

where there is a nice view up at the top of Broxton village but some find the undergrowth smells more interesting 

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

Tuesday, 22 November 2016


Wouldn't you just know I had lots of words starting with the letter S to choose from for last week's ABC Wednesday, but this week, unless you are interesting in tractors, not so much.  So I turn to the tree and specifically those I have taken photographs of this October.  This first one just provides some background interest as I was actually attracted by the pollarded wood leaning against the wall. There are lots of woods around this area of South Lakeland and it was nice to observe that some are being managed by pollarding rather than felling.  The overcast sky on this day would eventually clear  
to be a sunny one, just in time to sit by a babbling brook.
Later I would pass by a rather more exotic tree whose shape are always fascinating, the Monkey Puzzle.
I hope the observation that it is going to be a very cold winter when there are lots of berries is not true because there have indeed been lots of berries this year of every hue.  This Rowan tree caught my attention against the white of the house and although it has a quite a lot of berries I have seen some Rowan carrying so many that the branches are bending under the weight.
Not so much the ornamental cherries, they are just floating among the leaves. I have started with the green of early October and finish with the colour of autumn as the month advanced and the days shortened.

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

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Castlerigg Stone Circle

One of the most visited stone circles in the Lake District is Castlerigg (also known as the Keswick Carles or simply The Carles). It has been dated to about 3000BC and is one of the earliest stone circles in Britain.  At the entrance to its location the raised map (above) is placed for visitors to see the positioning of the 38 stones and around the edge the names of the near mountains.
The circle measures about 100 ft (30 metres) and sits in a natural amphitheater formed by the surrounding hills with sight of the valley below

The ever-changing clouds and weather

form a  backdrop changing the light and the atmosphere of this magical place.  I arrived under gloom but gradually the sun started to break through and the low clouds started to break up and dissipate off the tops.
One of the unusual formations of the circle is this rectangular grouping of ten stones in the south east quadrant sometimes called the sanctuary or cove, although its purpose is unknown. Some have suggested it might have been a meeting place for trades of stone axes.
By the time we left the sun was starting to break up the clouds. Nothing much is known about the site but the astronomical alignments have provoked a lot of interest and also the observation that at the north east it flattens out for reasons unknown. Some have imagined that the stones reflect the the shape of the mountains surrounding them.  If only there was time machine to whisk us back to meet our ancient ancestors for them to explain. Until then The Megalithic Portal has a beautiful photograph of the circle taken by firelight which may be the nearest we'll get to seeing it how it might have been.   

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

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Five Rise Lock

Bingley Five Rise Locks, not the biggest in the UK but the steepest rising nearly 60 feet (16 metres) over a distance of 320 ft (97 metres).  The crowds turned out in 1774 when it opened to see this wonder of the waterways and people still come to see a piece of working history.
At the top the plaque not only mentions the Leeds to Liverpool Canal's first engineer who designed the locks, John Longbotham, but also credits the local stonemasons whose work can still be seen for the locks retain most of their original stonework
There have been modern additions such as the metal lock ladders so if anyone falls in they can get out easily (in the 18th century you would have had to haul yourself up the lock gates).  The lock gates of course haven't lasted

but their replacements are made of oak like the originals.
Here is a boat tying up at the bottom ready to make the journey up; no tripping up over an excitable dog because it has been tied up first
and was waiting patiently to get back on board.

 The boats coming down made their way out (the water can be seen gushing down in lock). The journey down takes 20-30 minutes now the locks are ready for those wanting to take the journey up however
this will take longer,  between 45 minutes and 1 hour.
but there will be company because they go up two by two
not to mention the many curious onlookers like me.

They reach the calm waters of the canal at the top to carry them on their way
but my destination was the tea room on the opposite bank which in past times was the stable block for horses.

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

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Threlkeld Quarry

How many chances will I get to encompass three of my interests in one photograph?  Here we have vintage machinery, a locomotive and a mountain.  The mountain is one of the 'must climbs' of the Lake District, Blencathra, also known by its English rather than local name, Saddleback, because of its shape.  I'm not taking you on a walk up there but a more leisurely 
ride on a quarry railway.  This little locomotive is a Ruston 48DL of 1947, once used at the Royal Armaments Depot nearby in Cockermouth (which closed in 1994) and brought here, re-gauged from 2'6" to the 2 foot (0.6096m) and now one of three locos used at Threlkeld Quarry.  The little steam locomotive Sir Tom was not running on the day we visited, a bit of a disappointment, but not for long with the chance of a narrow gauge train ride,  lets climb aboard with a choice of open or enclosed carriages to trundle through a  bit of mining history.
Eventually ending up in the very large quarry where the locomotive is uncoupled and run round to the  other end of the carriages for the return trip.  The Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum is also home to the Vintage Excavator Trust so there was lots of machinery to entrance the three boys who were running around.  I am informed this is a Priestman Luffing Shovel who the toy maker Corgi used to make lots of miniature versions.
While the train was being readied for its return journey part of the Duddon History Group gathered around to listen to the quarry history told by the train 'ticket inspector'.  Our  history walk had run through the centuries having arrived here from a visit to a Neolithic Stone Circle (3000BC) to this quarry which was started in the 1870s to supply railway ballast for the Keswick to Penrith Line (now closed).  Although the Lake District is more famous for its slate this is a microgranite quarry where the rock was blasted from the quarry face with small explosives so it would shift rock without shattering and then loaded into railway wagons or tubs.

This particular type of granite is not suitable for polishing so is generally used as ballast.

 The quarry closed in 1936 but reopened in 1949 when it stated to produce precast concrete flagstones, the railway was dismantled.
The quarry eventually closed in 1982 when the demolition contractors moved in, stripped the slate roofs of the buildings etc and by the time a charity took over the site in 1992 things were deteriorating and in rather a state.

 As you can see what is now the train shed has a corrugated roof rather than nice roof tiles.  After various changes through the year the site was brought back to be a visitor attraction and the present organisation runs the train and mining trips, gold planning and a superb Mining Museum which encompasses the history of mining in the Lake District and minerals with examples of the complex geology of the Lake District. certainly for the geology enthusiast this would be worth more than one visit.  As one of our group said it was too much to take in for one visit although we will have wait until next year because it closed for the end of the tourist season yesterday (30th October) although their Facebook page says there is a Santa Special at Christmas. 

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