Somewhere Nowhere Blog
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Showing articles in category "environment"
A reflection on the projects of 2017, legacies for the future, and lots of walking ...
The Lake District National Park received inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 9th. We think it's great news - but it doesn't mean this area needs to be frozen in time. Rather this accolade is a stimulus for partnership working towards a National Park where the environment improves alongside traditional farming practices and thriving communities ...
We have spent two years with seven remarkably ordinary trees so it feels wonderful to share them through The Long View book and the exhibition at Grizedale Forest in Cumbria.
Sometimes you've just got to do it, you just have to give in to the urge. Getting up at 3am to sit with the Little Asby Hawthorn under the light of the Super Moon, and then to watch the dawn come in, was, it turned out, a very good decision.
The stunning beaches of the south Pembrokeshire coast drew us in and we swam in the late evening sunlight before strolling across the rocks ...
Following the UK vote to leave the EU, in the midst of political confusion and financial uncertainty, does paying attention to nature really matter?
Isn't it great when art causes debate ? Here's our reflection on how a single line of cloth got people talking about the impact of humans on the environment ...
We hadn't guessed that it might feel good to cut down trees ... but recently discovered why it can be very beneficial in Hardknott Forest in Cumbria's Duddon Valley.
What good does it do to sit in a tree? Or to lie on a slab of rock and watch the clouds? Can there really be any point if you’re, well, just sitting in a tree with no particular point in mind?
It is beginning. We both felt it, but didn't talk about it until after we had come out of the valley. We walked back from the Langstrath Birch long after the sun had set and the moon had sunk below the horizon, picking our way along the stony footpath by the light of our head torches.
The five of us began our walk in the thickness of night. The sky was the darkest of blues - perhaps the colour of ocean depths.
To mark the beginning of a new year we thought we'd take a moment to reflect on somewhere-nowhere's year in 2015 and to look forwards. If you've missed any of the highlights (mountains, meadows, wandering poems, mavericks ...), or want to find out more about what's coming up, read on. There are exciting times ahead.
The floods caused by the rain that fell with Storm Desmond have left their mark in Cumbria. We spent hours bailing, fighting against a sense of futility, as if trying to empty out an ocean with a thimble. For a time we felt like machines, bending, scooping, bailing, lifting buckets, filling, emptying, filling, emptying; at times our own rage rose, although hurling that at the fury of the storm was utterly useless.
When we turned up I wasn't quite sure how it was going to work. One wall gap of about eight metres in length, and around twenty five people, many of us complete novices. Was mending this wall - in fact building it up all the way from its footings - going to be all fingers and thumbs and confusion?
The wind has dropped and I can hear the scraping of an insect in the grass at my feet. The evening sun is a gold orb in the black mirror of the tarn. Stillness. Here is silence, a commodity that is, as far as I know, impossible to find in the city.
The land climbs abruptly away from the flat east, up, up, up from the myriad greens via intensely folded valleys to an average height of 4000 breathless metres. And then rapidly returns to being flat again. Up here where the parched earth is peppered with snow-covered volcanoes, thousands of lamas roam unfettered across a vast open space.
This particular bee is flying heavily from one clover to the next. It seems to take a random zig-zag path, led on by scent, but maybe there is a plan that I, as a non-bee, can have no idea about. Above its pollen-laden body, meadow grasses sway, sorrel shimmers red-green, oxeye daisies turn to the sun, and the fells climb green to the skyline. There’s constant birdcall echoing through the valley, and the river’s gentle song is like breath, always there.
The pulse of sound that rose like a cross between a muffled donkey's bray and a bassoon stopped me in my tracks. I stopped breathing. If I could physically open my ears, as I would widen my eyes, I would have. And there it was again, a sound I heard with my belly and my bones more than anything else - low, dense and strange.
If you haven’t already got a copy of The Shepherd’s Life, by James Rebanks, then I advise you to find one, settle down, and start reading. Since its release last week it has caused his twitter following to rise by more than twelve thousand, and its reading on BBC Radio 4 as book of the week has certainly got people talking.
" The ashtree growing in the corner of the garden was felled. It was lopped first. I heard the sound and looking out and seeing it maimed there came at that moment a great pang and I wished to die and not to see the inscapes of the world destroyed any more."
Gerard Manley Hopkins
It’s official now, that the current era is the Anthropocene – ‘The Age of Man’. Wind back the clock to the late 1760s when a writer called Thomas Gray wrote a journal of his tour of the English Lakes. The result was what was to become the first true ‘guide to the lakes’ and a very popular one at the time. Last weekend, Gray’s guide was one of several shared and discussed at The Wordsworth Trust.
Over the last few months we’ve been putting posts and comments on twitter and Facebook about sheep wandering in the fells with a poem attached to them. Now that they’re back, it’s time to share a bit more of the story behind the poem sheep.
Encounter with place is often enriched when there is a purpose – the eye becomes keener, all the senses perk up, and you take in the sense of place with more intensity than if you were just passing through.
So it was today when Rob and I went to the Borrowdale Valley, just north of Kendal, walking into the heart of the valley for the first time. Our purpose was to take a look at a place I’ll be getting to know more intimately during the summer months when it dances with meadow flowers
During the last month our eyes and minds have been drawn eastwards. Anyone who has linked in to Facebook or Kickstarter will have seen Rob’s posts and pictures from Nepal, where he has been walking in the hills. He has referred to it as strolling, but that’s far from accurate. Rob has been doing the job of a porter – one of the many men (and a handful of women) who carry loads up and down the mountain trails.
Well, after two years of research, photographing, dark room alchemy, writing and days out on the fells and in the yards of farmers, we have finally brought together a selection of material for the Land Keepers exhibition, which is looking pretty nice at the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere.
" Whether we regard our situation as heaven or hell depends on our perception. "
That quote resonated with me just a week ago whilst camped in deep snow below the world’s third highest peak, Kanchenjunga. I was coming at the peak from the west, on the Nepali side. To the east lay the Sikkim region of India, to the north Tibet. It had been a tough few days, a typhoon over the Bay of Bengal had brought three days of heavy rain in the valley below and a lot of snow
We all know that the essence of nature is flow, but I think we sometimes forget this in our quest to find certainties, answers, stability. In a yoga class yesterday the (very bendy) teacher triggered a realisation in me when he refuted the names we use to describe our bodies. Rib Cage? It’s not a cage: it’s flexible, more like a basket. Spinal Column? Again, it’s so flexible and responsive, it's like a spiral, a spring.
Just back from Georgia and one of the things that struck me was the gentle but insistent hum that filled the air - a low drone of countless insects going about the no-nonsense, urgent business of gathering nectar. Prime amongst these winged collectors were the bees. Every flower head seemed to hold a furred yellow and black brooch-like worker.
Dent has been released from the grip of winter. After a few false starts Spring has finally arrived. The leaves on the sycamore and rowan are luminous, the sky is blue, the water in the river is low.
When you see an open door, do you walk through it?
It comes at a raging rush, and it comes in waves. As I stand on the stony shelf the surge rolls towards my feet every second or two. It is pulsing while it is flowing. A few weeks ago I walked up the pale slabs of this river bed, I knelt beneath ten-foot icicles and peered through ice sheets, hearing only a gentle trickle of water and the echoes of bird song.
I stop beside one pool where the rock has been worn away and an unlikely three-petalled aperture appears between water and sky. Beneath it, the water is golden yellow, reflecting the leafless trees inside this shape, like a church window with burnished stained glass.