Sunday, 28 February 2021

A Walk

I went out for a walk this afternoon. I'd been out the other day but I didn't go very far at all on that occasion. This was the first proper walk I'd been out on for weeks. I've got an exercise bike which I use a lot so I don't have to go outside to get exercise. Today I was driven out partly by the good weather and partly by a worry that I might be getting low on vitamin D!

It's been a fine afternoon here. The sky, if not cloudless, has been mostly blue. It seemed to be windless as you walked along but when you stood still you realised there was the faintest suggestion of a breeze. I made for the end of the lane, the border of the village, and headed off across the fields. Through gaps in the walls and hedges I caught a glimpse of a small group of people out walking a dog. I actually met no-one during the course of the walk though. I saw two other people a long way off and once heard a disembodied woman's voice talking. It was too far away for me to make out what she was saying. It was the sort of still day when sound can carry a long distance.

I'd set off quite late and the shadows of the trees were already lengthening across the grass. I had plenty of time before the sun set, though. Wanting to soak up as much vitamin D as I could, I took off my t-shirt. The air was so mild one could do this and still felt perfectly comfortable. I hadn't intended to go very far but the sight of the top of the steep bank only a few fields away was too much to resist. 

Once I reached the top, I spent a few minutes wandering around. I've written before about how lockdown restrictions make you pay more attention to your local surroundings. A small stream runs down the bank at this point and, although I hate to admit it,  I realised I'd no idea where it came from or where it went. Since there's no trace of it further down the hillside I realised it must  disappear underground at some point. I followed it upstream to discover where it started. I didn't have to go far. It emerges from the ground a few yards into the field behind the bank. I then turned and followed it downstream until I came to a point where it disappears among a cluster of stones. There are a few puddles and damp patches of grass after that but then it vanishes altogether. Streams are famous for doing disappearing acts in limestone landscapes. However, whether this one does so because of the geology or as a result of  deliberate land drainage, I've no idea. Perhaps it's a combination of the two. It is shown on the OS map, though - a short, blue line that begins and ends abruptly. I have a feeling I know where it re-emerges but it only occurred to me once I'd got home. I'll give it some thought next time I go out.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I was saddened to hear yesterday  of the death of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. His poetry is one of the things that has really  lifted my spirits in the last few years  - and not just in the pandemic. He had a way of writing which will resonate way beyond the times he was writing for. Which is another way of saying his poetry is prophetic. 

Pity the Nation (after Khalil Gilbran)

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti 

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
   And whose shepherds mislead them
 Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
            Whose sages are silenced
  And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
 Pity the nation that raises not its voice
          Except to praise conquerers
       And acclaim the bully as hero
          And aims to rule the world
              With force and by torture
          Pity the nation that knows
        No other language but its own
      And no other culture but its own
 Pity the nation whose breath is money
 And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed
      Pity the nation oh pity the people
        who allow their rights to  erode
   and their freedoms to be washed away
My country, tears of thee
                   Sweet land of liberty

I've spent many happy hours driving around in our car listening to this:

Monday, 22 February 2021

The Proof of the Pudding

A few posts ago I was wondering aloud whether or not to put up some bookshelves.  Well,  after a few more days of  wondering what to do,  I decided to go for it. It's taken eleven months for me to get round to some lockdown DIY but I got there in the end. 

I was a bit apprehensive, as it had been a long time since I'd done anything like it but it went like a dream.  I asked my other half what she though when I'd finished:

She told me she'd tell me once they were full of books! The proof of the pudding and all that. 

I half expected to be woken in the night by thuds and crashes but no.  To my surprise,  they haven't fallen down. Yet. 

The cat was not impressed though. 

Friday, 19 February 2021

Stoodley Pike

 a poem

Stoodley Pike

Look, it says,
pointing up into the sky
as if trying
to show me something

but there's nothing there
except the clouds
(unless it's nothing
I'm supposed to look at).

I can walk round it
even climb up inside it
in the darkness dark as
the stone it's made of
but that's all

did anyone say
there is no need for this
just give the bones
a decent burial

but don't forget
comes at a price

Stoodley Pike is a 1,300ft hill in West Yorkshire. The name is commonly given, too, to the Stoodley Pike Monument, an obelisk erected at the summit to commemorate the surrender of Paris in 1814. It was completed after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. 

According to contemporary accounts, the bones of many who died in the Napoleonic wars were ground down to make fertiliser.

© Carruthers, 2021

Friday, 12 February 2021

Major Tom to Ground Control

An acquaintance of mine once got a job in a chocolate factory. She told me they tell you you can eat as much as you like. If you sit there in front of the conveyor belt checking that everything's the right shape or whatever it is you're supposed to do and you get the urge, go for it. Help yourself. By the end of your first week, so the reasoning goes, you'll never want to look at a square of the brown stuff again.

I'm beginning to feel that way about snow. At one time, if I opened the curtains to find that the world outside had turned white, and that all the things I'm used to seeing out there had been transformed into extraordinary shapes, I used to feel my spirit lighten. This was the stuff of snowmen and snowballs. Today would be different. The roads would be blocked and everything I had to do that day put on hold. I'd get on the phone, find that half the places I had to go were closed anyway and that the other half were inaccessible. After that, I could slow down and take my time. Spend all day in my slippers. I could go back to bed if I wanted to. Lounging around quickly gets tiresome if you've nothing else to do but, in my opinion, if you hardly ever get the chance to do it, a day when you've nothing else to do but lounge around is heaven.

Now, when I look out of the window and see that everything is still blanked out under a layer of the white stuff, that another couple of inches have fallen in the night and that the blue tits are still in a frenzy, pecking at the peanuts I leave out for them, desperately trying to eat enough to stay alive, I ask myself, when will it all end? I feel like an astronaut whose ship has crash-landed on the ice-planet lightyears from earth, waiting for the arrival of a rescue mission they know will never come. It will take years for the SOS call to reach mission control and even more years for the rescuers to make the journey. By the time they arrive, the stricken ship will be buried under metres of ice, like a mastodon in the arctic.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

The Birds Again

We've been leaving Mrs C's wildlife camera outside again. This time we put it close to the ground, close to where we scatter birdseed. Sadly, nothing exotic dropped in but we did capture the regular visitors.

I wrote another short story recently. If anyone would like to read it, they can find it here.

Friday, 5 February 2021

A Project?

I seem to have a few more books than I have bookshelf space for. They tend to pile up in corners. I end up 'doubling up' shelves, putting rows of books one in front of the other - which is annoying when you're looking for a book.

I could always get rid of a few, I suppose. But I went through them before the pandemic and took a few boxes to the Oxfam shop. I can't see that many I want to part with at the moment. What is it about books? I suppose before the internet came along, they were the nearest thing we had to it. If you accumulate a collection of books you find interesting, all kinds of fictional worlds and all sorts of information is at your fingertips. And then there's the poetry.

There's this wall in the room upstairs where I do my office work which I keep eyeing up for shelves. If I could completely cover it in shelving I'd have 32 extra feet of bookshelves. I've been weighing up the best way to go about it. I thought perhaps I should buy timber and construct a shelving unit to completely fill the wall. I'd have to work round the radiator. Alternatively, I could go for the upright strips with adjustable brackets and, once they were fitted I could buy the wood, cut it to size and... hey presto! Having looked into the price, I'm tending towards the bracket idea, probably with Conti Board shelves.

Drill, spirit-level, screws, rawl plugs... I've done quite a lot of this sort of thing over the years but not for a while. I'll have to take my time over it and get it right.  I want these to stay up. I once saw a load of shelves fall off a wall. Fortunately they weren't mine.

That's if I get round to doing it... I might have to, as every time I enter my 'office' I can't help but look at the wall and start wondering how to go about it. It's becoming an annoying repetitive thought.

If anyone has any ideas or shelving 'dos' and 'don'ts' to share they will be gratefully received.

I was going to write this post this morning but I got side-tracked. I came across a YouTube video which I found completely enthralling. I just sat and watched it straight through. 265 works by Duncan Grant. The music is Drone in D by Kevin MacLeod.

Of Lighthouses and Lagoons

We recently returned from a holiday in Cumbria. We stayed for a week on a caravan site in Haverigg. The site's situated on the edge of a...