It’s been a long time!

Hello. Anybody out there? Ah there you are, not everyone’s disappeared off home then. I’m really sorry that I’ve been away from this blog for so long. I didn’t mean to, but I got carried away; literally.

It’s been quite a summer, and I seem to have spent most of my time travelling. First it was Italy and then I’ve been to the Lake District (three times), Rhodes and a road trip with mee old mate to the Yorkshire Dales.

It’s been quite inspirational too. We’ve seen some wonderful sights, taken hundreds of photographs and I’ve fallen in love again with the Lakes. It’s been years since I went walking on the Cumbrian Mountains and to my surprise I’m not as old and knackered as I thought. I’ll be back there soon.

Grasmere

View of Grasmere from Loughrigg Terrace. If it’s good enough to inspire Wordsworth, it’s good enough to inspire me!

Now autumn has properly started it’s time to get down to some work again, and I’ve got some  ambitious plans for the next few months.

Most of these involve various writing projects. I’ll be  continuing  my family history research and I’ll see what books come out of that. I’ll also be publishing some photo essays on this blog: the summer’s been a rich source of ideas, so look out for something in the next couple of weeks.

A major change, though, is in what I’m going to write. When I first started this blog I published a few short stories, but then decided I wasn’t going to write any more fiction. I can’t remember the reason why, maybe I’d just run out of ideas, but I’ve had a change of heart.

What brought it about was something I saw by chance on the internet. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)  is a scheme that started off in the US in 1999. The aim is to encourage aspiring novelists to write the first draft of a novel during the month of November. Drafts  must be at least 50,000 words long. It’s not a competition and there are no prizes: the challenge of writing to a deadline is it’s own reward.

I’ve had an idea for a novel floating round in my head and various notebooks for nearly 20 years, and it would be a crime not to  try and write it. The provisional title is Gamal and the Dancing Death, and it’s a murder mystery set in North Yorkshire just before the Norman Conquest of 1066.  Fifty thousand words in 30 days means I have to write an average of 1,677 words a day, so I don’t expect to be doing much blogging in November. I’ll probably just stick to a quick update every now and again.

From December I’ll be be publishing two posts each month on this blog, normally on the second and fourth Friday’s. The reason for reducing the number of posts is that I want to focus on slightly longer pieces, and I don’t want the quality to suffer.

If you were reading this blog last November, you might remember that I posted a short story about a dim-witted young criminal, Camel. He seemed to be quite popular and a few of you wanted to know how he’d ended up in such a mess and what happened next.

I’ve often wondered that myself until yesterday afternoon. I was mowing the lawns at home (it’s funny where inspiration strikes), and I suddenly figured out the answer. I’ve now got the outline of the sequel, Camel’s Revenge, and I’ll be posting it as part of Dave’s Christmas Cracker on 22nd December.

It’s good to be back behind the keyboard: I’m full of ideas and ready to start! I’ll be back on 27th October with a photo essay, but in the meantime, here’s a photo that Liz took when we were in holiday in Cumbria.

Regards

Dave

Laurel and Hardy

Here’s two of my comedy favourites, Laurel and Hardy. Stan Laurel, the thin one, was born in Ulverston in Cumbria, and the town has erected this statue to his memory. The fat bloke on the right is Oliver Hardy. I don’t know who the other guy was: just some tourist I guess.

 

Summer’s Nearly Over

It’s been a while since I posted here, and summer’s nearly over! I’ve spent most of the last few weeks away visiting friends or camping in remote places with no wi-fi, which explains my silence. Summer might be over, but not my holiday jaunts. I’m off to to Rhodes next week and then the Lake District, via a reunion with my old college friends.

Next week I’m planning to publish a couple of posts with pictures of Rhodes, so keep an eye open for them. In the meantime, here’s a few pictures from my trips away.

ECW

Members of the Sealed Knot English Civil War re-enactment society, giving it large at Scampston Park

Little Langdale Tarn

Little Langdale Tarn in Cumbria. One of my favourite places, near one of my favourite pubs!

Semerwater

Here’s a long exposure picture of Semerwater in the Yorkshire Dales. me and my old mate John went on a short camera and whisky road trip to the Dales. We even managed some photography! The long exposure gives the water a smoother appearance.

 

Today in the Dales

We’re basking in a Yorkshire summer: a mixture of thunderstorms, heavy rain and the occasional sunny spell to keep the spirits up. Today we had a trip to the Ribblehead viaduct, on the Settle to Carlisle railway. The viaduct was built between 1870 and 1875 and it’s a testimony to the people that designed and built it. My pictures don’t do justice to how graceful and well built it is. I can only admire the skill and labour of the people that put it there. 

Here are a few of the photographs I took today. 


Here’s a picture of the whole viaduct. The piers are of stone and the arches are brick, built with a stone face. The whole viaduct flows in a graceful curve. It looks effortless, but designing and building it must have been challenging. What really strikes me is that it’s a marvel of Victorian engineering and industrialisation, yet it fits perfectly into the landscape. 


Here’s one of the regular passenger services that runs on the Settle to Carlisle line. In 1983, British Rail threatened to close the line, claiming it was uneconomical, and in danger of collapse. A group was formed to successfully fight the closure. The line now runs several passenger trains a day, regular freight runs and steam hauled trains. The viaduct is a Grade 2 listed building and the ground below it is a scheduled ancient monument because of its prehistoric field system. It was a cloudy day, and if you look closely you can see a full hazy sun in the background. 


I couldn’t resist this picture of one of the local residents. She stood in front of us and posed for several minutes. 

Yorkshire Dales Special

Hi everyone. After a few year’s absence from the field (no more bad puns I promise), we’re back out camping. It’s been a while, so we’re practising by having a few days away in the Dales.  We arrived on Tuesday night in beautiful weather, but today’s heavy rain is good evidence why this part of Yorkshire is so green. Anyhow we weathered the worst if it (OK, so I lied about the puns. Get over it), and we’re having a relaxing time. Here’s a few photos from Tuesday and Wednesday. 


First here’s two Yorkshire sheep giving us a typical Dales welcome.


Here’s our little encampment. In the distance there are some posh people in caravans. 


From today, here’s a picture of Settle railway station. Sadly there were no steam trains. 

Tomorrow we’re off to Malham. Anyone who suffered geography lessons at Glossop School in the 1970’s will have this place seared into their memories. For the rest of you, I’ll post some lively scenic pictures tomorow. 

Finally, here’s a ‘sunset from the rig’ picture from my mate John. The huge expanse of sky and sea make it look like the loneliest place in the world. 

Goodbye Sally

It’s been a strange sort of week, and for one I won’t be sorry to say goodbye to it. 

I’m very sorry to say that we had to say goodbye to our lovely dog, Sally, this week. Unfortunately her poor legs finally gave out and the kindest thing was to let her slip away. 

She was a cracking dog, and leaves a massive void in our lives. We were so lucky to share our lives with her – she enriched them so much. 

Sometime soon I’ll post a gallery of our favourite pictures, but for the time being here’s one of my recent favourites. 


Next week we’re off for a short camping trip to the Yorkshire Dales. I’ll post a ‘picture if the day’ while we’re there. 

Cheers everyone and goodbye Sally: we loved you very much. 

Dave

Summer Days and Nights

It’s been a very outdoors sort of week. It’s just about summer in North Yorkshire and I’ve been making the most of the light nights and sunny weather. Last weekend the charity I volunteer for, Ryedale Dog Rescue, held their annual fun dog show at Scampston Park near Malton. The night before the show I volunteered to look after the site, and Sally and I settled down to a night’s camping.

It was a wonderful night: warm, moonlit and clear and we stayed up late enjoying the peace and quiet. It’s ages since I’ve camped out and we’ll be doing it again soon.

Most of the photographs on this week’s post are from the night and morning before the show. I’ve also added a couple from a walk with Sally in the fields above Menethorpe, and the first guest picture on this blog.

Our friend Jane has just returned from a holiday in Scotland, so I’ve included a picture she took from the highlands. It really caught my imagination, particularly the way the light shone on the hills.

I hope you enjoy the pictures, let me know what you think.

Regards

Dave

Scotland

A first for the blog: a guest photograph. This was taken by our friend Jane in Scotland. Harry Potter fans might notice the viaduct. I love the way the light falls on the hills.

Biplane

This biplane flew over the showground at Scampston while we were getting ready for the Ryedale Dog Rescue show. It was a lucky shot as I wasn’t really prepared for it.

Geese

This flock of geese landed near my tent on the morning of the show. Luckily the dog didn’t spot them and I was able to get quite close for this photograph.

Moon

There was a beautiful bright full moon the night before the show. This photograph doesn’t really do it justice. It was bright enough to read by.

Scampston Church

The church in the tiny village of Scampston, just as the sun was setting.

Camp

Here’s our camp at the show ground the night before the show. Sally’s doing a sterling job of keeping us both safe.

Beer

This bee was busy collecting pollen in the sunlight at Menethorpe. There are loads of bees this year, and it’s lovely to see them thriving.

Sally

Sally relaxing in the sunshine at Menethorpe.

 

Out and About

I’ve been out and about this week in what passes for summer, taking a few photographs of interesting sights. I might moan about the weather (raining one day, hot enough to give me sunburn the next), but it’s great to have the long days to wander around in.

Despite the weight of a heavy camera and all the trappings, I enjoy taking photographs of pretty much everything I see. I’m a fairly indiscriminate taker of photographs, but it does have its advantages. For one it makes me concentrate on what’s going on around me, rather than just wandering around in a daze. I’m an expert at losing myself in my thoughts, but if I’m on the lookout for pictures, I’m forced to be more alert.

Actually I had rather a proud moment at Malton Show this weekend. I was there with Ryedale Dog Rescue, helping to run the dog show and take photographs of the contestants. I was busy photographing the dogs on the agility course and another photographer came and stood next to me. You could tell he was a proper photographer because, not only did he have a  decent camera, he didn’t push his way in front of me to get a better view. Real photographers tend to be more considerate of each other.

Anyway, we exchanged nods and then got on with the task of trying to photograph dogs in mid-air as they went over the jumps. As we were waiting between contestants he turned to me and said:

‘Who are you snapping for?’

‘I’m just with the dog rescue’, I replied ‘taking a few photographs for their website’.

‘Oh, right’, he said ‘I’m here for the Malton and Pickering Mercury’.

Vain soul that I am I felt quite proud that I’d been mistaken for a professional photographer. It’s probably because I had a large camera with me: it’s a good job he didn’t see the results.

In retrospect it’s a bit like the comments on my first year school report from secondary school. My mother always made sure I had the right PE kit for school, and I was always well turned out. Shame I was crap at sport, and my teacher was spot on in his comments. He wrote:

‘David is always correctly dressed for his PE lessons. It’s a shame his prowess doesn’t match his sartorial elegance’.

Anyway, pro or not, I’ve enjoyed myself with the camera this week. Here’s a gallery of my favourites.

Three Dikes

The three parallel earthworks in the picture are known imaginatively as Three Dikes. They are on a hillside overlooking Langton in North Yorkshire

Boating

My son and his friends having fun on Jamie’s new boat. Shortly after I took this picture the engine died and they had to float the rest of the way home.

Flying Dog

This spaniel’s clearly having fun on the dog agility course at Malton show. It cleared this by miles! I think the ears help.

Low Flying Dog

“OK, so some of us aren’t that good at agility. Why are you making me do this?’

Rabbit

One of the rabbits from Orchard Fields in Malton having a late evening snack. It wasn’t too bothered about me getting up close for this picture.

I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoy being out and about taking them. To be honest the photo essays are my favourite part of writing this blog.  So, for the rest of the summer, I’m going to concentrate on getting out and about and publishing my favourite photographs. Instead of two posts every week, an editorial on Wednesday, and a main article on Friday, I’m going down to one a week, with the focus on photography.

I’d like your opinion too. Since I started this blog I’ve written a mixture of book reviews, short stories, photo-essays and family history. What are your favourites? I’m thinking of tweaking the blog in the autumn and I’d like to know what you like to read the most.

Have a good week and look for more ‘out and about’ photos next week.

Regards

Dave