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Saturday, 15 December 2018


Friday 14th December 2018
Today granddaughter Katie was appearing in the nativity play at Chetwynd primary school where daughter Jill teaches as Head of English in the senior school. I was invited to spend the whole day sitting in on three lessons and one staff meeting. It was an enjoyable and enlightening experience.

Two of the lessons were spent analysing the poem below, first of all with Year 7 (11/12 yrs.)) and then Year 8 ( 13yrs.)

The depth of analysis was pretty thorough and brought forth some good input from the pupils. They were all well behaved and responsive to the lessons. 

The message of the poem is one worth heeding? Whatever one's thoughts are about the religious aspect of Christmas it is supposed to be the season of goodwill and human kindness rather than a huge dose of consumerism.

Alternative Santa: A Christmas Poem
By Roger McGough
‘I’m fed up looking like Father Christmas,’
Muttered Father Christmas one year
‘I need a new outfit, I must move with the times
So for a start, it’s goodbye reindeer’
He googled Alternative Santas
And was amazed at the stuff that appeared
He got rid of the holly-red costume
Had a haircut, and shaved off his beard
Spent his days in front of a computer
In a cave hollowed out of the ice
Wearing a tee shirt emblazoned Merry Xmas
And jeans (Amazon, Armani, half price)
Couldn’t wait to straddle his snow-ped
(The bargain he’d bought on eBay)
A rocket-powered silver toboggan
His supersonic sleigh
Then one morning he thought, ‘Oh why bother
Delivering presents by hand
When it could all be done online
Busy parents will understand
We are lucky to live in a digital age
Where the aim is access and speed
SantaNet I’ll call the system
‘Santafaction guaranteed’
And that was years and years ago
Times that children barely know
Midnight mass and mistletoe
Christmas carols and candle glow
Sleigh bells ringing across the snow
And Santa singing Yo ho ho
For that was years and years ago
And that was years and years ago.

The grand finale for my day was of course the nativity play. A while ago Jill sent me and her brother Will simultaneous messages asking us to guess which part Katie had been given to which we both replied simultaneously without collusion, "The donkey."
The play was loosely based on the Nativity, but also as a spoof on Strictly Come Dancing, and Katie, as the donkey, was one of the judges, which included a lot of speaking and some dancing. The whole show was priceless, and as all doting grandparents say, my granddaughter was the best, especially in a group dancing finale. Unfortunately photographing the children was not allowed.
Chetwynd is a school with friendly staff and a happy atmosphere with well behaved and attentive pupils. It was all a pleasure to witness.

Katie update 

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Longridge to Arnside - 5

Wednesday 12th December 2018 - South  Quernmore Estate to Halton

I would find it difficult to remember the wide range of topics of nonstop conversation  that take place on these walks, but we often get round to our respective planned evening meals. Today I was encouraged by BC's apparent endorsement of an experiment I had in mind. I had a portion of smoked haddock taken from the freezer this morning. I usually cook it in foil in the oven, perhaps with some tomatoes on top. The new idea was to make a better nest with the foil and break in a couple of eggs.

On a whim, and partly because of the dull day I decided to set the camera on monotone for a change.

Cheered by our granting of permission to walk through the Quernmore Estate we were off to an easy start up the tarmac road - I saw that word for the black stuff spelled with a capital somewhere and have done the same ever since, but with some doubt. I have now consulted Chambers 11th Edition where it is not so; if you were referring to the company Tarmac it should undoubtedly have a capital,

I think we both had slight disappointment at not having a trespass through the thick woods above and finding our way through field boundaries further on.

We passed the hall which was difficult to photograph, and enclosed by walls and a security gate. Further on at one of several farms on the estate a gent appeared from the doorway with a large labrador and a lab pup, all three very friendly. He turned out to be Mr. J who as far as I understand is the owner of the estate along with his wife, and he was the guy I obtained permission from on the phone. We had an affable chat and the young lab tried to eat my glove until Mr. J. prised its jaws apart.

Further on a car approached from the other direction and we were briefly but politely interrogated until we mentioned the magic name of Mr. J. Our interrogator was the farmer from Old Hall Farm that we had just walked by.

As we had driven from parking a car at our finish at Halton we had noticed a gate on the other side of the main road just beyond where we would emerge from the estate, and it promised access to the footpath alongside the river Lune to Halton. After climbing an easy broken fence further down the field that proved to be successful.

Back at the car park a number of vehicles  were arriving from the Lancaster University Rowing Club and we chatted with their coach. He was complaining about the lack of funding in the north for such clubs compared with the universities in the south.

Back home after my customary hot bath the haddock experiment was launched. The result was eight out of ten for the eating experience but minus eight for presentation - the eggs looked as though they had been fired from a shotgun.


Entrance to Quernmore estate

Quernmore Hall - difficult to photograph

Typical English country estate parkland.
The walk through the estate was pleasant and peaceful 

Old Hall Farm.
We were interrogated by the farmer a bit further on,
but politely and only briefly after we had mentioned the magic name of Mr. J

Looking back to the gate from the road that we climbed to get access to
the riverside path back to Halton

The broken fence that gave us easy access to the riverside path

Camera (or me) focused on foreground, 
but interesting because the entire roof of this new housing
development across the River Lune was covered with solar panels.
Surely, that should be made law for all new house building?

The tent symbol marks the trig point that I visited some years ago by trespassing
from the lodge where the red arrow shows our emergence onto the road

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Longridge to Arnside - 4

Friday 7th December 2018 - Lentworth Hall to south entrance of Quernmore estate.

There have been few occasions when I have sought permission to walk on private land.  BC pointed out that so far we have not strayed more than a kilometre from our straight line; that is by chance rather than pre-planning, and it has kept us within the spirit of Nick Crane's Two Degrees West. BC suggested that we now attempt to keep within that limit for the rest of the walk.

Look at the first map below. It encompasses the Quernmore estate. To avoid that private land the only possible diversion would take us well beyond the one kilometre limit, and all on roads, and including a long section of the busy A683 - all  more or less unacceptable, and certainly a route we would have no enthusiasm for.

We had debated various possibilities for traversing the estate but without reaching a definite plan -  less said about that the better.

On this day we met at the lay-by opposite the southern entrance to the Quernmore private estate road where today's walk would finish. Whilst we were weighing this up and reading the notice a car pulled up and conversation revealed the driver to be the daughter of one of the  house owners in the  estate and we were given the name and phone number to contact to ask permission to walk through. Today I followed that up and permission has been granted. It is remarkable that our straight line has enabled us to plot a route largely on footpaths and with bridges over the major rivers: Wyre,  Lune and Ribble, and still remaining within one kilometre of our line. I have tried this with other straight line possibilities and it is rare to be able to stick so close to the line - my unfinished Berwick-upon-Tweed to Castle Carey is a good example (I hope to continue with that, provisionally after Easter next year.)

For this walk please read the captions under the photos.

Heavy rain during the night had caused swollen fast flowing streams.
 For us the rain held off for the day

We thought this may be medieval. At the farm half a mile further on we found
the farmer and his wife had been on a stone carving course and created a number of
similar stones which are dotted around the area

Just before the farm we spotted these. I forgot to ask the farmer a few minutes
later if they were also carved by them but guess this may be the case

BC taking photos from a high point.
There were many awkward stiles on this walk

Jubilee Tower on road to east of our route.
See photo below of an earlier visit on an even more dismal day

If you want another story cut and paste the link.

We did manage to find a viable route through this wood

Much of the scenery was reminiscent of the Yorkshire Dales

The faint reddish line is our straight line

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Photoshop painting - shooting butt 2

Wednesday 5th December 2018

Here is the final painting. I am not totally satisfied, but I have got to the point where I have had enough of it. The butt seems somehow too dominant  but to alter that would mean more or less starting over.

Please click to enlarge

BC commented that the original sketch was preferable - I'm not sure if that was serious, but I saw some merit in the observation so I did another one paying just a little more attention. It shows that a watercolour effect can be achieved whereas the final is more closely related to acrylic. It only took about ten minutes, but the final picture has taken hours. I'm going for a lie down now.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Photoshop painting - shooting butt

4th December 2018

After a long period I have embarked on a new Photoshop painting. The subject is a grouse shooting butt. I really don't know why I was motivated by this subject in view of my antipathy to the associated "sport." All I can say is that the melange of moorland colours, and especially flowering heather do something for my soul.

This painting is based, loosely on the photo below. I am using Photoshop Elements 15. I start with the photo itself then put s blank white layer on top. I then reduce the opacity so that I can see the original photo below enabling me to sketch the basic outlines. I then bring back to opaque and continue to paint. Most of the sketch lines eventually disappear.

Further progress will be shown if I feel reasonably satisfied with my efforts.

Oiginal photo

Here you can see the original sketch lines and just few washes of colour thrown in to get me started.
This is a skilful business, but perfect for amateurs because mistakes can easily be taken out and redone, and the scope of techniques in Elements 15 is endless.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Longridge to Arnside (3)

Friday 30th November 2018 - Grizedale Reservoir to  Lentworth Hall

How does one define a good walk? Today made me realise that it may be more to do with one's own mood at the time supplementing the physical attributes of the weather, terrain and landscape.

Today saw us following the River Calder back to the Arbor which was all attractive enough, and then a stiff climb, partly trackless up heather covered hillside, and more trackless yomping across the tops and then a descent to the plains of the River Wyre, and surfaced farm tracks giving a panoramic view of the whole extent of the Bowland hills skyline from the south that I had not seen before. A further descent into the course of the Wyre, and then its crossing, and another steepish climb out had us at our finish. All that was good enough, if not a bit special, but when one factors in pretty dismal cold weather with prolonged bouts of heavy wind driven rain one may think that could have reduced the enjoyment.

From the start I had a feeling of pleasant anticipation. Conversation, as always with BC, was nonstop and wide ranging. On the steep climb from the Arbor I felt fit and somehow empowered revelling in the satisfaction of a well dictated rhythm and almost uninterrupted ascent. Once out on the rolling moorland, trekking through heather not much more than ankle deep, I had a more than usual feeling of euphoria and liberation with huge expanses of wild country in all directions. Wind and freezing rain and hail only added to my elation, especially knowing that I had good clothing keeping me warm and dry underneath.

This was for the partly indiscernible reasons that I have tried to express above a bit special.

The Arbor again.
Photos elsewhere show the windows as English arches, but now covered by metal sheeting.
Even the skylight on the roof had a metal barred cage over.
Halfway up the climb from the Arbor.
BC surveys one of the line of posh shooting buts we were following

This is the first time we had seen such engineered shooting buts.
Does it indicate the growing prosperity of the grouse shooting activity?

The River Calder looking towards its source.
The Arbor is down below to the right of the stream

Huge expanses of wild moorland - deep breaths and fresh air.
Red line in distance shows our route - click to enlarge

A traditional shooting but, but a pretty elaborate one at that.
They are often a lot more rudimentary, although the photo above shows modern development.

Zoom to sun on Heysham power station

Surfaced farm track and the new to me view of the extensive Bowland hills skyline from the south.
I once walked the whole of its length - a day that turned out to be longer than I had anticipated

A tributary of the Wyre we crossed before crossing the main river bridge.
The path here was steep, muddy and eroded - I indulged in a bit of bum-sliding.

Gnarly beech trees just before we merged onto the road beyond and our finish.
They look better enlarged.

Ignore green horizontal (The Wyre Way)
No significance in use of two formats for route indication