10 Feb 2011

The ingredients of a good walk

I apologise for posting several recent blogs on a similar theme, but it just so happens to be what I’ve taken photographs of – and where we’ve spent time recently.

It was my husband’s birthday earlier in the week and as he has a few days of annual leave to take this financial year, he thought that he might as well take a few days around his birthday, so that we’d have a choice of days on which to try and get out for some fresh air, should the weather not co-operate on the actual day. As it happens, Tuesday proved to be the best day of the week and an ideal one for wrapping up warm and heading out to stretch our legs.

Please click on any of the photographs for a larger view.

The summit of Beacon Fell. the very grey and misty start had thankfully lifted to the most glorious day.

We were talking in the car on our way home about what a nice day we’d had and listed some of the highlights and decided that these were often the ingredients that went to comprise the more enjoyable days. So these are the bullet points that seemed significant and entertaining – to us:

  • It was quiet – although we went to a popular and favourite beauty spot, it always feels like a bonus to go mid-week when you often get the place pretty much to yourselves.
It had rained relentlessly for the previous 3 days and it was rather squelchy underfoot in places, but sunshine after rain of that nature does provide a rather special atmosphere.
  • We only really passed the occasional dog walker and other mature types like us taking advantage of a day off or enjoying their retirement. We passed grandparents with a cheerful small dog and equally cheerful young grandson, wearing the most fabulous fleece hat adorned with dinosaur spines. When admiring said headwear, he provided a suitably loud dinosaur roar, just in case we weren’t certain what type of beast he was. He advised us that he was looking out for real dinosaurs and bears, so we were more vigilant from that point forwards. Just in case he was lucky.
I must admit to looking a little more carefully into the dark corners once I knew there were dinosaurs and bears lurking. But thankfully the only wildlife we saw were some squirrels chasing each other along the branches, obviously thinking spring was in the air.
  • This encounter left us with a question – why do dogs always prefer disproportionately long sticks to carry? What primeval instinct drives them to drag one along, seemingly far too large for them, causing passers by to swiftly take evasive action to save their shins. You’d think that there would be an optimal size of something like 4 times the width of the dog’s skull – but not so, it would seem, dogs, even quite small ones, will valiantly persist in carrying a stick or branch several times their own length. And for some reason, equally unfathomable, Mr Boo obviously sports the look of a man who would be good at throwing said sticks and he often finds himself with a stick at his feet and a hopeful looking dog attached.
I have posted photographs of this fabulous carved snake before, but the light made the fabulous textured carving on his head rather more visible and we approached it from a different angle. It might just make you jump if you didn’t know it was there.
  • Talking of dogs, whilst we had our favourite car park almost to ourselves, there was one other very small car parked nearby and our lunchtime entertainment took the form of an extremely large (sans stick, presumably he never found one quite large enough) Irish wolfhound that had to be shoe-horned into the aforementioned very small vehicle before departure. I was so sorry that I’d put the camera away at this point. But I had to admire the fact that he’d clearly done it before and knew just what was required to cram himself into the inadequate space. Clearly his daily walk was worth that effort.
I’m not keen on snakes, I certainly wouldn’t have got this close to a real one, but he does have a rather lovely face which is beautifully carved from a massive hunk of timber, with lovely and very tactile textures.
  • I saw my first lamb of the season – very small and still wearing its protective plastic coat, presumably only born in the last few days.
  • We had a very brief and fleeting encounter with a barn owl. As we were driving back towards home, we must have disturbed it on a fencepost at the roadside. It took off and flew alongside the car for a few yards and by the time I’d tried to get my husband to take appropriate action to allow me a photograph, it had veered off to the side and was now behind us, but the close proximity of another rather impatient driver close to our tail meant that we were unable to stop quickly and by the time we’d extricated ourselves from the traffic, the barn owl had seemingly settled somewhere out of sight, despite returning and carefully scanning the area he’d last been seen. I was gutted not to have got a better look or an opportunity for a photograph.
You always know that it has been a good day when you drive home to a sky like this.