Monthly Archives: July 2017

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. 


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.




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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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 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


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?’


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.



The Midwich Cuckoos 

This week’s book review is of British 1950’s sci-fi novel The Midwich Cuckoos. I came across a battered 1970’s edition of John Wyndham’s novel in the Ryedale Dog Rescue charity shop in March. I don’t usually read sci-fi, but I thought I’d give The Midwich Cuckoos a go. Sometimes  the best reads happen by chance.

The premise of the plot is pretty simple. An alien craft lands near the sleepy English village of Midwich, rendering all it’s inhabitants unconscious. Apart from a few accidental deaths, people recover quickly, with seemingly no ill effects. However, this is just the start of a strange series of events that effects the entire village for years.

I won’t spoil the plot for you, but the events of the story involve a struggle between the inhabitants of the village and invading aliens, with the usual dramatic conclusion. What I like about Wyndham’s novel is that the conflict is much more subtle and psychological than the usual run of 1950’s ‘robots with death rays’ stories. Wyndham raises some interesting questions about the limits of human intelligence and evolution. It’s a good story that makes you think, and they aren’t always easy to come by.

The Midwich Cuckoos is a fairly short book and the story moves along pretty quickly, even though   the events take place over about ten years. At times the book seems a bit dated, which isn’t a problem if you approach it for what it is: a piece of groundbreaking sci-fi from  60 years ago. It also seems quite quaint at times: with its rural village setting it almost feels like an Agatha Christie novel with added spacemen.

On second thoughts though, this is one of it’s strengths. Midwich is an ordinary, actually very dull, place, and it’s this ordinariness that makes the growing horror of the situation seem worse.  Faced with something literally out of this world, most villagers behave in a thoroughly civilised way. In the end it’s this approach that puts the world at risk, and only a violent conclusion is possible. I suppose it raises the question about whether it’s possible to adopt a humane approach to an inhuman species, who works to its own ruthless rules.

Despite it’s faults I enjoyed The Midwich Cuckoos. It reminded me of the almost cosy scares I got watching Dr Who as a kid.

If you fancy a shot at reading about Martians vs the Home Counties, why not give The Midwich Cuckoos a try. John Wyndham wrote several sci-fi novels along similar lines, the most famous probably being The Day of the Triffids. I enjoyed my trip back in time to face a possible version of our future, and found myself being entertained and challenged at the same time.