Somewhere Nowhere Blog
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Showing articles in category "lake district blog"
A reflection on the projects of 2017, legacies for the future, and lots of walking ...
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.
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.
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.
A journey on the 555 bus to the road block between Grasmere and Thirlmere, and back again, via five pubs ... an unusual kind of a journey.
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.
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 rain is lashing down on what anyone, in a cynical frame of mind, might call a ‘typical’ October day in Cumbria. But in truth, most of October has been sunny and warm, and we were treated to a string of bright days in September that did, in some way, make up for the wet summer months.
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.
Showing sheep in the Lake District can be a competitive business – never so competitive that it overrules friendships, but the reputation of a farmer and his flock is boosted by success. Quality matters. Writing a poem to adorn the champion rosettes was not something to be taken lightly.
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.
Our eyes are drawn by the colour: bright gems of pink, purple, blue, yellow. Buttercups, cranesbill, speedwell, campion, clover. It's hard not to focus on them, to marvel at their vibrancy. It's a major delight of this time of year when roadside verges, meadows and woodland floors sing with these flashes of brilliance.But what about the greens?
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 sound of the curlew’s song looping in the cool air was a cause for celebration last week. And then the sight of its familiar inverted ‘W’, wings in mirrored arches led by a curved beak, added to our joy.
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
From the first step of a walk time is redefined. It passes in glimpses: shards of grass, bare winter trees, limp burnished bracken, sky. Its pulse is the rhythm of footfall, the come-and-go of breeze nudged in from the sea, our breath. We walk through the present, and the sun follows its usual arc through the sky, but Greenwich Mean Time is from another world where counting and figures follow rigid laws ...
I go out into the land to leave behind the lines and squares and glares of inside living, of walls and rooms, computers and information exchange and jagged edged thinking. I heard today another was beheaded; a body was found in the woods; two murdered on a dream holiday; and another child in adult's frame raises her voice to sing the refrain of one abused.
It doesn't take long. I am, overnight, disconnected from the mainframe of technology. Signal-less, no WiFi, no television, no radio. No emails to draw me in, no texts, no messages to log and reply to. Finally, I have found a pause from a near ceaseless state of alert - and my nervous system has found another frequency. My head relaxes.
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.
That single tree that greets us, and is greeted by us, every morning, holds the morning against its winter silhouette. The sky behind shifts from pink to white to grey to blue, from dry to wet to blown to still. Each evening its skeletal shape fades into dark as dusk is pulled over the land - except with a strong moon, like last night, when every branch and nest became an etching on the deep blue infinity of the cold night sky.
Last month Rob and I went to the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal to hear and see presentations from a number of artists who opened their studios for C-Art. Each artist showed 20 slides, each for 20 seconds, using just 20 words per slide to describe what they were showing. And we began to think about the invisible third.
In Kathleen Jamie's book Sightlines she writes about the way that her unstoppable urge simply to get out of the house when she was younger laid the path for her deepening relationship with the natural world. It gave her close encounters with plants and weather, it became a refuge for her eager, explorative self and it probably had a lot to do with her eventual maturation into an outdoor wanderer and a superb writer.
Seamus Heaney’s Blackberry Picking has been lodged in my mind from around the age of thirteen. When I read it now I can taste and smell blackberries and the quickening breeze bringing Autumn in from the north, I can feel the tingle of stingers on my feet (still bravely wearing sandals) and I can hear the urgent calls of swallows preparing for a long southward journey.
I feel as if the wild has been teased out and pushed away. It’s as if it dwells over the other side of the hillock rising to the east, in the Howgills and beyond; it dwells in the higher reaches of the Lakeland fells where gradient, rock, course grasses and weather determine the choice of man to hand it back to nature.
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.
Five stars, irregular points of an imaginary shape, shine on the velvet sky, then fade. A slice of high cloud has snuffed their light, and brushes the crescent moon so that it shifts from bright white to a cool silver haze. And then it passes, revealing the stars once again.