Nature is lovely. But nature is also brutal and harsh.
And to be out in it is wonderful and frightening. It is to feel your significance and your insignificance at once and to wonder at it all.
We should all do it more.
Bike slowly rolling down the hill
Watching the yellow changing, golden changing fields
and it’s bales and it’s bright blue cloud dotted backdrop
and it’s stick figures.
I’m smiling at summer’s last swallows
Waving at cats lazing in driveways
Laughing down roads marked ‘unsuitable for motor vehicles’
Eating sandwiches on hilltops, by fence posts, on stiles.
In short – I’m not here.
The night I found out, I went and sat on the bed and fumbled through some songs to myself – stuff off of ‘Ziggy’ and ‘Hunky Dory’. I’m acutely aware of the influence he had, not just directly upon me but on so much of the music that I listened to growing up. And how I would dress up. As for this song – I have always loved it but this version is so alive. He looks so happy and he is throwing so much of himself into it. It’s a treasure to behold.
First thing you notice as you leave the road and cross the bridge onto the path is the sound of the beck, the river. The rush, whoosh and roar is everywhere beneath the tree lined track as we begin our walk, slowly fading too a high background ‘ssshhhhhh’ as our route moves away from it.
When we reach more open ground, the fell sounds change. Trickles and bubbles of ghylls meeting culverts and gulleys; streams of water winding their way down the hillside; shimmering clear sheets over stones. Sparrows, blue tits and robins chirp and chirrup from the trees; A pied wagtail on a corrugated roof from the farm below, a wind chime drifts up from the kitchen garden.
Then as we go to round a corner, the sun breaks behind us over Lingmoor fell and a rainbow appears over Pavey Ark and the southern crags and pikes of Blea Rigg. We stand amazed. It’s colours visible from start to end.
The photo is not what we saw, it is never what we saw. What I recall was our wonderment as it appeared, became more vivid, fade slightly, return again. I couldn’t tell what colour the fells really were, what was rainbow and what was not and how fantastic it felt to be here. In all of this.
I’m aware that digging in to the link below could (and should) take up a fair chunk of your time. But if you’re interested in how we can make our everyday lives happier & healthier, our environment safer and cleaner and potentially help our communities and economies grow stronger, the link below is a fascinating read. For those that don’t have the time, maybe watch one of the two videos below – I found them both incredibly enlightening.
Shopping yesterday, my progress through JD Sports
was halted as three young girls (13,14 maybe) placed
themselves in front of a large mirror for a group selfie. I watched, keenly, as each one simultaneously adopted the same facial expression…
Lightly puckered lips, slightly raised eyebrows, their noses faintly wrinkled as if they were smelling shit or holding something in disdain. They stared into the mirror. Shutter pressed, then satisfied, their expressions turned to smiles (genuine smiles, a reflex?).
Then on they marched, as if no one else were there.
It wasn’t where I had intended to go.
My map reading skills are weak. I timed myself from the station to the crossroads – 12 minutes. That gave me an hour to get up the hill and down with enough time to get back to the station before dark.
The hill I wanted to walk up was huge in front of me. I walked up a steep path, a sign saying ‘3/4’ to the top but the path seemed to stop in someones yard – a Range Rover, a newish Astra and me feeling embarrassed and conspicuous. I walked back down the path and examined the map again. On the opposite side of the valley, an orange contour line marked ‘275’, a trail of green dots marked a path. And that’s where I went.
A sign marked ‘Public Footpath’, a sign saying ‘DANGER MINESHAFTS’. I follow 4×4 tracks in the grass, that lead me out into the middle and suddenly worked out that I’m totally off track on a very steep hillside. I scan the map and read the tightly packed contour lines. If I go as high as I can, I should see the track.
A narrow path as wide as the length of my foot juts this way and that roughly along the top of the ridge. I follow it’s course. The grazing land gives way to brambles and bushes. Jays fly out of the trees below me. Voices travel up from the trail path 200 metres or so below. A discarded sunhat stuck to a branch. I pee against a tree trunk. The pencil thin track zigzags down further still into a denser patch of trees and my path darkens under the canopy and the fading light. I must be halfway down, surely? Then I spy the path which lead me here, just as the map had told me.
I make it back to the station before dark.
I did it.