Scavenger photo hunt – November

Once again the photo challenge has arrived though it doesn’t seem like a month since the previous one, nor does it seem like almost a year since the first one for 2019. The topics for this month are – seasonal view, oops, seashore, card, stripe/d and as usual, my own choice. Some of the photos I wanted to use for this month have proved to be inaccessible due to a corrupt camera card (a problem now sorted with a new one) and I’ve really had to delve into the archives for some of these so here goes.
The first one was taken on a bright autumn day in 2018 while walking round the grounds of Smithills Hall, a historic manor house not too far from home. With the oldest parts of the building dating from the 15th century it’s one of the oldest manor houses in north west England and the extensive gardens and woodland are great for dog walking.
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Seasonal view – gardens at Smithills Hall
The next two photos are from an ‘oops’ moment entirely of my own making while camping in Norfolk four years ago. I’d mistakenly put 40 quid’s-worth of petrol in my diesel tank and a mile or so from the petrol station smoke started pouring from the back of the van. I pulled into a lay-by and phoned the AA who sent a local breakdown truck to take me, the dogs and the van five miles back to the camp site then another guy came out to drain the tank and dispose of the contaminated fuel. As misfuelling isn’t covered by AA membership it was an expensive mistake and one I hope I’ll never make again, though it was also an easy mistake to make at the time…
At home I always get my fuel from my local Asda and at the time the diesel pumps were on the right so at this particular Asda store I’d automatically picked up the right hand nozzle. At first I couldn’t figure out how I’d managed to misfuel and it was only when I went back to the store the following day that I realised the diesel pumps were actually on the left. Since then my local store has changed theirs round but now I always check before filling up.
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Oops – the result of putting the wrong fuel in the van
The next shot was taken about five years ago on one of my favourite beach walks in Norfolk. The camp site where I stay (in the two photos above) is on a cliff top above the beach and just over a mile to the north is the little village of Hemsby ; one of my favourite dog walks takes me along the cliff top and through the dunes to the village then back along the beach. The conditions on that particular morning were just right for a bit of seashore photography and with no-one around other than a couple of guys fishing in the distance I had the place to myself.
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Seashore – my favourite almost-deserted Norfolk beach
A couple of years ago I joined Postcrossing, a worldwide online project where members send and receive postcards to and from other random members in other countries. As it’s all totally random I have no idea who or where my next postcard will come from so it’s always a nice surprise ; I’ve had some really lovely ones from many different countries and this one from a member in America is one of my favourites.
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Card – a postcard sent to me from America
A few years ago when I went to visit a friend she showed me some bedding she had got for when her grandchildren had a sleep over – pink for the two girls and blue for the boy. Now I wouldn’t say I’m particularly fussy but I do like all my camping accessories to be co-ordinating and as my tent was blue so was everything else ; the blue duvet set my friend had bought would look great in the tent so the following day I went into town and got one like it, and when I used it the next time I went camping I was really pleased with it.
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Stripe/d – the blue bedding in my tent
And finally, if anyone knows what my own choice is then please let me know. The camp site in Cumbria where I stayed at Easter and again in June is family run and has several large aviaries in the grounds, home to various species of birds including some quite exotic ones – apparently it’s the hobby of the father of the family. There was nothing on any of the aviaries to say what the different types of birds were and although some were obvious – mynah birds and cockatoos were some – I hadn’t a clue what this one was. There were actually two of them, they looked quite pretty and in flight their wing feathers were the most gorgeous bright blue.
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My own choice – now identified by Joanne as a Blue-bellied Roller
So there you have it, my selection of photos for this month and the final ones of the year as there’s no photo hunt for December. Last year I missed two or three months of the challenge so I’m really pleased that this year I’ve done them all. As usual I’m linking up with Kate’s blog and I’ll be popping over there soon to see what everyone else has selected for this month.

A woodland walk from work

After being unable to download the most recent photos from my camera to the computer and going through a process of elimination I came to the conclusion that somehow the camera card had become corrupted, so a week ago I got a new card and took the camera to work the following morning to test it on my walk home. It was gradually coming daylight as I got near to work and the sun was brightening the sky with a bit of colour so as I walked down the lane I took a couple of shots through the trees.
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All the time I was at work the sun was shining from a lovely blue sky but by the time I left the blue had gone and the sky was grey with a decidedly very weak and watery sun just about shining through, not really what I wanted for my photos but even if they looked dull I was determined to retake the ones I took a few weeks previously and which I couldn’t get off my other camera card.
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Walking up the lane from work
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Looking back
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The stump of the tree which fell across the lane, pushed back into where it came from
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From the top of the lane five minutes of road walking took me to another short lane and past a farm entrance to where a gate took me to a woodland path. It was bitterly cold and locally it was the first morning with a proper frost, giving the open fields beyond the fence and tree line a crisp white covering.
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At the end of the fence a narrow path went down to the right ; I’d never been along there before and I wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere so I decided to check it out. It was steep, with rocks, bricks and tree roots hidden under the fallen leaves but I managed to pick my way carefully down without slipping. Almost at the bottom was a very peculiar structure ; from the top of the path it looked like part of a small building but it was actually just a single stone wall with an opening partially covered by a rusty iron gate. With no evidence that there had ever been any other walls attached to it and no clue as to its purpose it seemed very strange.
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Beyond the wall the path levelled out and followed the river on the left. On my right was a steep bank covered in undergrowth and with a field at the top ; as I walked along a movement caught my eye and I turned just in time to catch the fleeting sight of two deer which ran along the edge of the field just above me, disappearing into the trees then running up the main path. I’d obviously disturbed them, and though I would have loved to get a photo they were gone so fast that I didn’t even have time to put my hand on the camera.
I could only walk so far before the path and field were bisected by a deep gully with a stream at the bottom ; it wasn’t very wide and under normal circumstances I would have jumped across but I didn’t want to risk slipping on the frosty ground so I turned round there and headed back to the main path. A bit further down was the remains of another fallen tree ; this must have toppled from the steep hillside a while ago, obviously across the path as someone, presumably the nearby farmer, had cut most of the branches off to clear a way through.
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Past the fallen tree the path levelled out and I was walking alongside the river, back to a normal level now after being quite a fast flowing torrent from all the recent rain. Ahead of me was the bridge I would cross but first I wanted to check out somewhere else. A few weeks ago, while in conversation with an older friend, she had asked me if there was still a small lake hidden in the trees up the hillside above the bridge as she remembered it from her younger years ; although I’ve walked along the riverside many times over the years, both with dogs and without, I never knew there was a lake in the area so it was time for a bit of exploration.
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A rough steep path on the left of the main path took me up through the trees then levelled out, and a distance along it there was indeed a lake. Now it may very well look quite attractive on a sunny day in spring and summer but on a dull autumn morning with bare trees and no wildlife it didn’t exactly have the ‘wow’ factor, but at least I’d found it and could confirm to my friend that it was still there.
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Back down at the riverside I took a shot from the bridge then crossed over to what I call the ‘home’ side of the river. It wasn’t far from there to the end of the path which emerged at the bottom of a cobbled lane ; on the right was a small gated yard with three stables where three horses looked out over the doors. The nearest one was Eden and the middle one was Honey but I couldn’t see the name of the one on the left as there was a rug draped over the stable door. The top of the lane brought me out onto the road round a large modern housing estate ; fifteen minutes of meandering from there round minor avenues and I was finally home.
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With the exception of the detour to find the lake I walk that route three times a week and from work to home normally takes me 35 minutes ; this time it took me almost an hour and a half but I’d managed to get some reasonable photos, and when I downloaded them onto the computer with no problems later on it proved that there was nothing wrong with either the camera or the computer, and confirmed my assumption that the previous camera card was faulty. At least it had been easily and cheaply replaced, and just in time for another forthcoming trip back to Ireland.
**Two days later, when I stopped to say hello to the horses while on my way home from work, a younger woman was in the process of filling up their hay nets – and she turned out to be someone I’d worked closely with several years ago, and though she lives not far from me we’d lost touch when we both moved on to other jobs. It was good to have a catch-up, during which she told me the third horse is called Archie, and remembering that I once worked with horses myself she said I could go down any time to see her three – and I might just do that.

The dog ate my mouse!

And I don’t mean a computer mouse either, so if anyone is a bit squeamish then don’t read any further – though it is rather a funny story.
So a few weeks ago I was cleaning at the boss’s house and even though it was raining it was still quite mild so I’d left the back door open for Dylan the cat to wander in and out while I was working. I was just about to get ready to leave when I found a dead mouse in the middle of the kitchen floor – Dylan had brought me a present. Now I read somewhere ages ago that if a cat brings you a present you shouldn’t dispose of it while the cat is there or it will feel very insulted – I don’t know who thought that one up or even if it’s true but I didn’t want Dylan to think I didn’t appreciate his gift so I wrapped it carefully in some kitchen roll and put it in a small takeaway-type plastic carrier bag, to dispose of it when I went out.
Now to be quite honest, being the soft-hearted person that I am where animals are concerned, I felt quite sorry for the little mouse having lost its life to a big fluffy cat ; it didn’t deserve to be just dumped in the bin so I brought it home with the intention of digging a small hole with my trowel and burying it under the fuschia hedge. However, by the time I’d walked the fifteen minutes back home it was raining harder then ever so I popped the mouse, in its bag, in the top of the planter near the door with the intention of burying it once the rain eased off.
So much later on, with the rain having finally stopped and totally forgetting about the mouse, I let Sophie and Poppie out for five minutes in the garden, but when I opened the door to call them back in I found bits of shredded carrier bag all over the path. At first I couldn’t figure out where it had come from but then realisation hit – with the absence of a little furry body it seemed that rather than the mouse going into a hole under the hedge as I’d intended it had gone into one of the dogs instead.
At that point I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was no use being cross with Sophie and Poppie as I didn’t know which one had eaten the mouse but I felt a bit upset that the poor little thing had ended up like that. Fortunately neither of the dogs suffered any ill effects afterwards, and I was just glad that the little mouse had actually been dead before it ended up as a dog’s dinner.
Now I realise that anyone reading this will probably have come to the conclusion that I’m completely bonkers, out of my tree, totally insane and needing a visit from the men in white coats but that’s just me, I love animals and hate to see dead ones however they came by their demise, and though it was a sad ending for the little mouse it does make rather an amusing story.

Blackburn Cathedral – some history and photos

As my pc still isn’t allowing me to download my most recent photos from the camera I can’t post either of the two latest Monday walks so this week I’m featuring a wander round Blackburn Cathedral which I visited back in July during my hunt for some of the town’s street art. Although I’ve been to Blackburn several times as an adult I hadn’t been in the cathedral since I was in my teens and still at school so this visit was almost a completely new experience.
Blackburn Cathedral, formerly the parish church of St. Mary the Virgin, is one of England’s newest cathedrals yet one of the country’s oldest places of worship, and is today the end result of many transformations and a magnificent example of modern architecture. Situated right in the town centre the earliest documentary evidence of a church in that location is recorded in the Domesday Book compiled in 1086. The architectural history of the old church is known with certainty from the 14th century when it was rebuilt in the decorated style during the reign of King Edward lll, but time eventually took its toll on the old building and in 1818 it was decided to demolish it and build a new church.
Designed by architect John Palmer in the early Gothic Revival style the new church was essentially a Georgian building and was consecrated in 1826. In 1926 the Diocese of Blackburn was created and St. Mary’s parish church was elevated to cathedral status, then in the early 1930s fundraising was started to enable the building to be enlarged in keeping with its newfound importance. Work began in 1938 with the original church forming the nave of the much larger building, then after being interrupted by WW2 the work was resumed and continued through the 1950s and into the early 1960s, though with changes to the original ‘modern gothic’ design.
In 1961 architect Lawrence King joined the project and designed the distinctive lantern tower which consists of 56 different panes of coloured glass and a slender aluminium spire. The tower was completed in 1967 and the cathedral itself in 1977, and what had been built over the last almost 40 years was finally consecrated as Blackburn Cathedral that same year. In more recent years there’s been a couple of upgrades to the building ; the original 1960s lantern tower had been constucted in concrete but in 1998 it underwent restoration and was rebuilt in natural stone, then in 2000/2001 the east end roofs and parapets were rebuilt to blend them into the existing structures. Also at the same time a new piece of art was commissioned for the building’s exterior, The Healing of The Nations,  a sculpture by artist Mark Jalland. A huge abstract steel and copper circular piece, it contains thousands of interwoven fibre optics which create many changing light patterns at night.
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Blackburn Cathedral and Queen Victoria statue
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The Nave, looking east
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The Sanctuary
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The Nave, looking west
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‘Worker Christ’ by John Hayward
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‘The African Madonna’ – the plaque reads ‘A gift to the Cathedral Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Blackburn, from the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew and St. Michael, Bloemfontien, 1999
The sculptor Josephina de Vasconcellos was commissioned by the Blackburn Diocesan Mothers’ Union to sculpt a statue as a memorial to their secretary, Helen Dex. It depicts Mary as an earthly mother bathing Jesus, her baby, who appears anxious to get out of the bath. Viewed from the front Mary’s expression is that of happy mother, while viewed from the left it’s one of adoration, but viewed from the right it’s an expression of sorrow.
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Mary and baby Jesus statue
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The ornately-carved pulpit was one of the first gifts of ‘new furniture’ to mark the transition of the building from Blackburn Parish Church to Blackburn Cathedral. The rich pre-war design with six carved figures was completed in 1940 and was a memorial to Dr. J T T Ramsay, a local doctor who was also a former Mayor and Alderman of the Borough. The figures and their emblems are St. Peter, St. James, St. John, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Andrew and St. John the Baptist. On the underside of the pulpit roof is a monogram comprising of the first three letters, in Greek, of the name Jesus and near the top of the back panel is a small cross, a gift from the Lutheran Diocese of Braunschweig (Brunswick) in Germany, with which the Diocese of Blackburn is linked.
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St. John, the eagle of the Word of God
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Two years before the consecration of the new church in 1826 a plan for an organ in the west gallery was submitted by John Gray and Frederick Davison ; built by JW Walker the organ was opened in 1828 with a concert which included works by Handel played by newly appointed organist Joseph John Harris. Over the years the organ went through several rebuilds and restorations ; sitting on four platforms high above the ground the last rebuild was in 2001/2002 by Wood of Huddersfield – comprehensive details of the organ(s) can be found here.
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A section of the ornate ceiling in the nave
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The Lantern Tower
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Window light over the west door
In 2013 a 14-year plan was finally put into practise to regenerate the Cathedral Precinct and the surrounding area, now known as the Cathedral Quarter, and work was completed in 2016. The old Boulevard bus station outside the train station was relocated to a modern site adjacent to the indoor shopping mall a few hundred yards away and the Boulevard itself was refurbished to create a smaller interchange with a new hotel, office block, Starbucks coffee shop and a restaurant and bar, and a new Eastern Precinct was created for the cathedral itself. This houses a library, refectory, meeting rooms and offices, ten residences for clergy and lay staff and has a very attractive pedestrian area and gardens fronting the main road.
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The cathedral itself has so much of interest that it would be impossible to write about everything here. There was really only one thing I didn’t like about the place – the huge monstrosity on the outside of the building which calls itself a ‘work of art’. It’s ugly, looks completely out of place and totally ruins the overall look of what is otherwise a beautiful building – whoever approved it to be put there really should have gone to Specsavers. Other than that I’d really enjoyed my wander round the cathedral and having found more information since my visit it’s a place I’ll certainly go back to another time.


Walking to work on Friday lunchtime four weeks ago I turned off the main road and was met by the unusual sight of two of the firm’s vans and several cars parked along one side of the lane leading down to the works, something which I’ve never seen in all the years I’ve worked there. In the distance I could hear the noise of some machinery so wondered if maybe the car park was being resurfaced, however when I got round the bend further down the lane I came across something which I certainly didn’t expect to see. A huge tree several yards from the lane had toppled over and completely blocked it and there was no access for vehicles either in or out.
Now I don’t normally take my camera to work unless I know for certain that I’ll be using it so I hadn’t got it with me, but this was one occasion when I wish I did have it. As well as the tree across the lane there were two huge John Deere tractors, one with a front forklift and the other with a long rear trailer, a JCB telehandler, a cherry picker, a Bobcat skid steer loader, and six guys with chainsaws all dealing with the tree to get it moved – I could have got some great shots if I’d had the camera.
The guy in the cherry picker was in what would have been the top of the tree, sawing branches off it. The lane down to work bisects a steep bank with woodland on each side ; there are several bungalows at the top of the left bank and apparently the top of the tree had crashed down onto the conservatory roof of one of them. At first I didn’t think I’d be able to get through to work but the guys had cut a big chunk out of part of the main tree trunk and they stopped the machinery long enough to let me through. Apart from the two bosses and the son of one of them everyone else finishes at 1pm on Fridays but with the tree across the lane no-one was going anywhere, however by 1.30 the guys dealing with it had cut up and moved enough of it to allow various cars to drive through.
The photos below were taken by one of the bosses on his phone ; he’s not a particularly good photographer so they don’t really show just how big the tree was. He emailed them to Maddie and she emailed them to me ; it’s just a pity that was one occasion when I didn’t have my own camera on hand.
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The bottom of the tree with part of the bank still attached
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A bit of the tarmac lane just about visible underneath this lot
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Part of the tree across the lane
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There didn’t seem to be any particular reason why the tree had suddenly come down. It hadn’t blown down in the wind as there wasn’t any, not even the hint of a breeze, but we had just had a prolonged period of wet weather so maybe the constant rain had softened the ground underneath the roots, making it unstable. Apparently it had fallen soon after 9am and just missed one of our fitters who had driven down the lane seconds before, and since then the firm next door to us had turned away three deliveries of steel as no-one could get up or down the lane. I’m just glad the tree didn’t fall down the day before ; I finish work just after 9am on Thursdays and walk up the lane on my way home – if the tree had come down then I might not be writing this blog post now.

Heysham village and Morecambe

Heysham village, just south of Morecambe, is somewhere I hadn’t been to for a number of years but seeing some recent photos of the place prompted me to pay a visit one Sunday in early September. Unfortunately the times of the buses to Heysham didn’t coincide too well with the time I got off the train in Morecambe ; knowing that the distance between the two isn’t really that far I decided I could get there on foot in the time I would spend waiting for a bus, so join me as I walk from Morecambe’s central promenade to Heysham village and back again.
Past the West End, away from the main road and with few people about the pedestrian promenade was very quiet ; weather-wise it was a beautifully clear day and I could see right across the bay to Grange-over-Sands and the coastline and hills of south Cumbria. Eventually the promenade split into two and I took the lower section close to the beach ; steps at the end took me up to join the path above, leading between a handful of cottages to the bottom end of the village where a short lane off the main street ended in a slipway down onto the beach.
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View across the bay to south Cumbria
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View towards Heysham village and cliffs
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Not far up the main street was St. Peter’s Church so I made that my first port of call. A Grade l listed building, with a churchyard sloping down a shallow cliff to the beach and rock pools beyond the wall, it’s believed to have been founded in the 7th or 8th century. The chancel was added on in the mid 14th century, the south aisle in the 15th century and the north aisle in the mid 19th century, with some of the fabric of the original church still remaining in the present church.  As well as stained glass windows I wanted to find and photograph the carved Viking hogback tombstone which dates back to the 10th century ; it’s situated inside the church but unfortunately the place wasn’t open so I had to be happy with a wander round outside instead.
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St. Peter’s Church
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Just off the main path through the churchyard was Glebe Garden, a previously overgrown and neglected area transformed into a peaceful and pretty corner by local volunteer gardeners – and that’s where I found the hedgehog. It was curled up in the sunshine on the gravel path, a strange place and time of day for it to be out and at first I thought it was dead ; I couldn’t just leave it there so fastening the dogs to a nearby bench I went to move it, however it uncurled itself so it was very much alive. It seemed to have trouble moving though and when I looked it was dragging one of its back legs behind it – the poor little thing was obviously injured and couldn’t get a grip on the gravel.
A few yards from the path and in a corner of the garden was a compost heap so I suspected the hedgehog may have come from there but I didn’t want to put it back there as it would probably end up back on the path again and maybe at the mercy of someone’s dog. I thought the best thing to do was take it to a quiet corner of the churchyard where at least it would be better able to move about on the grass but just as I was about to pick it up two young women came down the path – and that’s where things got ever-so-slightly stupid.
They were foreigners, German I think though both spoke very good English, and when they saw the hedgehog one of them insisted that it needed professional attention there and then ; out came her phone and she proceeded to Google various options but with no vet in the village or anywhere nearby she eventually phoned the RSPCA, only to get a recorded message saying it would be fifty minutes before her call was answered. She did find an animal charity shop in Morecambe but somehow couldn’t comprehend the fact that (as I told her) it wouldn’t be open on a Sunday and even if it was they wouldn’t just take in an animal. She couldn’t (or wouldn’t) take it anywhere herself as she and her friend were on bikes but she spent so much time faffing about on her phone that eventually I lost patience, told her I would sort it myself, and scooped the hedgehog up in my tracksuit top and popped it into my bag.
At first I did think about keeping the little creature in my bag, aborting my day out and bringing it home to take to my own vet the following day but I wasn’t sure if it would survive the walk back to Morecambe and the journey home by train and bus so I did what I intended to do in the first place. Collecting Sophie and Poppie from the bench, and making sure I got out of sight of the two young women, I went to the furthest bottom corner of the churchyard and put it gently on the grass behind a large headstone – I felt guilty for leaving it but without my own transport or anything proper to carry it in there wasn’t much else I could do.
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Glebe Garden
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From the church gates a path led a short distance through a wooded area to the ruins of St. Patrick’s Chapel situated on a grassy knoll overlooking the cliffs and the bay. A Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade l listed building, the ruin dates back to the 8th or 9th century, with the 10th century barrow graves cut from the rock only a few yards away. Due to their size and shallow depth it’s thought they held bones rather than bodies, though these days they only hold sea and rain water.
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St. Patrick’s Chapel ruins
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10th century barrow graves
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View of the bay from the cliffs
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Back on the main street I decided to walk to the far end of the village without stopping then take any photos as I worked my way back towards the church. At the end of the street the road opened out with a row of cottages and small shops on one side and on the other a large almost-circular ’roundabout’ where the buses would turn round. On the corner, and next door to each other, were the Curiosity Corner tea room and The Old Barn café ; by then it was time for coffee and cake so I fastened the dogs close to an outside table at the café (the tea room was full) and went in to order, however when I saw the very OTT price for a tiny square of cake I just asked for a coffee – and that wasn’t particularly brilliant either but it was passable.
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Across the street from the café was one part of the Heritage Centre which is an unusual surviving example of a 17th century longhouse – a cottage and barn combined. Sometime in the 20th century the longhouse was converted into two separate lock-up shops with a cottage between the two ; in 1999 the Heritage Trust for the North West acquired the two shops and with grant aid from various organisations and individuals they were turned into a small Heritage Centre. The centre was opened in 2000 then in 2005 the Heritage Trust acquired the cottage in the middle. In 2010 work began to restore the cottage which had, at one time, been the living quarters for the occupants of the original longhouse ; a new floor was added to the Heritage Centre and it was reopened in 2011, with the cottage being leased on a short-term let.
On the wall of the right hand building was a large plaque, The Spirit of Heysham, carved by a Michael Edwards to depict the village’s historic legacies including St. Peter’s Church and St. Patrick’s Chapel with its hilltop barrow graves. Each year in mid July the village holds a 2-day Viking festival with battle re-enactments, food and craft stalls and a whole range of family activities ; above the Spirit of Heysham plaque, and on the balcony at the top of a fire escape, was a large Viking figure presumably left over from one of the festivals as a bit of an attraction.
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Looking down Main Street
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The Heritage Centre cottage
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Cottage Tea Rooms, Main Street
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With its whitewashed cottages and colourful flowers in tubs and hanging baskets the village’s main street was certainly very pretty. There was one thing I had to do though before I left all this behind and returned to Morecambe – the little hedgehog had been on my mind and I couldn’t leave without going back to the graveyard to see if it was okay. Although I wasn’t sure if I would actually find it I did, quite unexpectedly ; it was on the grass about twenty yards from where I’d left it so it seemed that even with its damaged leg it could still get about. Being out in the daylight wasn’t ideal but if it could find some food and somewhere safe to curl up then maybe it would have a chance – as I reluctantly walked away I really hoped so.
Heading out of the village I took the upper path above the promenade ; at the bottom of the slope was a large field with a handful of friendly ponies who all came to say hello and a sweet little foal who seemed to be quite shy. The ponies seemed to be looking for titbits but unfortunately I didn’t have anything to give them. Back at Morecambe’s West End I checked the time and found I only had an hour until the time of my train home so not wanting to stray too far from the vicinity of the station I only walked as far as the area near the Midland Hotel.
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Heading back to Morecambe
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Morecambe itself is an odd place. The busy seaside resort I remember from my childhood and early teens fell into a decline in the late 1970s and the following years saw the loss of both piers and the eventual closure of the dolphin show (not a bad thing), the open air swimming pool, the Art Deco sea front Midland Hotel and the promenade fairground/theme park. Regeneration and investment, especially of the West End area, began about fifteen years ago ; after a major refurbishment the Midland Hotel reopened in 2008, the former promenade railway station building became an arts venue, there’s a Morrisons supermarket and retail park not far from the seafront and the promenade itself has had a makeover. Even so, the seafront is still shabby in places ; the land where the theme park once was is still derelict and surrounded by hoardings, there are several empty and shuttered-up shops and a few of the bed-and-breakfast places seem to need a bit of an external makeover. In spite of this though the areas along the promenade which have been done up do look really nice ; to be honest I do like Morecambe in spite of its shabbiness.
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The Midland Hotel and central promenade
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The Stone Jetty
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The Time & Tide Bell, installed on Stone Jetty in March 2019
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Midland Hotel from Stone Jetty
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Central promenade gardens
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With one final shot of the promenade gardens I headed for the station, only to find when I got there that my train had been cancelled, however a replacement bus to Lancaster station had been laid on. Unfortunately, because of the one-way system round Lancaster town centre, the bus was on the last minute arriving at the station so I had to run to get my connecting train. I made it with a few seconds to spare though and the rest of the journey home passed quite well.
Although back in Morecambe the blue sky had clouded over somewhat it had been lovely while I was in Heysham and the sunshine had really shown the village off well. It had been my first visit there for many years, I’d really enjoyed my day and I’d got some lovely photos – maybe next time I won’t leave it so long before I return.

Blooms Hotel, James Joyce and James Earley

Returning to Ireland for today’s post and the 100-bedroom Blooms Hotel, which I came across while on one of my recent wanderings round Temple Bar in Dublin. Established in 1979 and located on the corner of Anglesea Street and Cope Street the building is certainly very striking, and presumably whoever it was who established the place must have been a fan of author James Joyce although I didn’t realise the significance at the time I was there.
Back in 1922 James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ was published, since then being considered to be one of the most important books of the 20th century. The story follows the journey of the two main characters, Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, as they criss-cross Dublin from south to north on June 16th 1904, where they meet other characters along the way and consume copious amounts of Guinness on what would be referred to these days as a marathon pub crawl.
Every year on June 16th many James Joyce enthusiasts, some dressed in Edwardian costume, re-enact this epic pub crawl, and though it’s referred to as a ‘literary event’ it’s basically an excuse for lots of drinking broken up by a bit of walking and the reading of various excerpts from the book. The event is known as Bloomsday and the first mention of such a thing was found in a letter from James Joyce to a Miss Weaver, dated June 27th 1924 and referring to ”a group of people who observe what they call ‘Bloom’s Day’ – June 16th”. The book itself must have made a big impression on someone back in the 1970s as the hotel was named after one of the story’s main characters.
Fast forward to the present day and we find James Earley, a Dublin artist whose works are based on his family’s artistic past within Irish stained glass art. James has been producing artworks in public spaces since 1997, playing an active role in the Irish graffiti movement, and from 2010 has developed abstract figurative works based on the principles and beauty of stained glass. He has travelled widely with his art throughout Europe, Asia and America and has worked on a variety of large-scale projects with various art-based organisations and multi-nationals which support the arts.
In 2014 James was commissioned to paint the exterior of Blooms Hotel ; the project took a full year to complete and to date is the largest public artwork in Ireland. When I first saw it I was quite surprised that this street art wasn’t just part of one wall, it was the whole exterior of the building. With my liking for bright colours and abstract, psychedelic designs I just had to take a few photos although the names on the pictures meant nothing to me at the time until I did a bit of later research and found the connection to James Joyce’s Ulysses.
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Looking at the hotel’s exterior it’s not surprising that it took a year to complete the artwork as it’s so detailed, and the pictures of the book’s characters are exceptionally well done. It may not be to everyone’s taste but personally I like it, and the whole building certainly brightens up that area of Temple Bar. I hope it stays like that for quite some time to come – and maybe, sometime in the future, I’ll track down a copy of Ulysses and read the story for myself.

Glasson Dock and Lancaster Canal

As October seems to have been constantly wet and miserable, weather which now looks like it’s continuing into November, I thought I’d brighten things up a bit by posting a Monday walk which I did on a warm and sunny day in early August. Having been to Garstang only a couple of weeks previously I decided this time to go a bit further afield and have a wander round Glasson Dock, a little place on the River Lune estuary which I hadn’t been to for several years.
Back in the early years, before becoming a dock, Glasson was just a small farming and fishing community but because of the increasing difficulty of navigation up the Lune to Lancaster docks the Lancaster port authorities decided to build a dock there. Land at Glasson was purchased in 1780 and construction was started, with the dock finally being completed and opened in 1787 ; it was a well equipped place and could hold up to 25 merchant ships.
Construction of the Lancaster Canal was started in 1792 and finished in 1800 and during that time thought was given to making a connection between it and the sea, although the original plans weren’t actioned. Those plans were revived in 1819 and after additional finance was raised construction of a canal branch, later known as the Glasson Arm, was started in 1823 and opened in 1826. Over its two-and-a-half mile length from Galgate to Glasson the branch dropped through 52ft, and while the main canal is lock-free for the whole of its length the Glasson branch was constructed with six locks between Galgate and the Glasson Basin, with a seventh lock between the basin and the dock itself.
In 1834 a shipyard and Customs House were built at the dock, followed by a watch house in 1836 and a dry dock in 1841. The quay was connected by a branch line to the railway network in 1883, operating passenger services until 1930 then continuing with goods services until its final closure in 1964. The shipyards, which had been mainly concerned with ship repair rather than ship building, eventually closed in 1968 with the dry dock being filled in a year later. A limited amount of commercial shipping still uses the dock to this day, with outgoing shipments including coal for the Isle of Man and Scotland’s Western Isles and incoming cargoes of fertiliser and animal foodstuffs. Since the shipyards closed in the late 1960s the canal basin has developed over the years into a marina for pleasure craft, with mooring facilities for 220 boats and a wide range of boating services, and in more recent years the trackbed of the disused railway line has become a very pleasant linear park and cycleway.
The road into Glasson runs alongside the salt marshes of the estuary, with a large rough-surfaced car park overlooking the canal basin and marina. At the end of the car park and set back off the road was the Lock Keepers Rest, a permanently sited large caravan-type fast food place with tables outside, and across the corner was the white walled Victoria Inn. The last time I was at Glasson Dock the Victoria was open but due to lack of business it closed four years ago – a shame really as it looked like it would have been a nice place for a meal and a drink.
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View from the road into Glasson Dock
The road past the Victoria Inn led to a small car park at the beginning of the east side of the dock and across the far side a crane was unloading something from a cargo ship. Up ahead I could see a small white building with an odd-shaped tower at one end of its roof. Intrigued I went to take a look but was told by a guy in a nearby portacabin that members of the public weren’t allowed along the dock side – so I asked nicely and he said I could go and take a couple of photos if I was quick about it. The little building, apparently now used for storage, had originally been a lighthouse built round about the same time as the dock ; there seems to be very little information about it but it was classed as Grade ll listed in 1985.
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Back past the lock gates which separated the dock from the canal basin I decided to take a walk along the canal, something I’d never done on any previous visits to Glasson. Close to the car park was a permanently moored ‘live-aboard’ narrow boat looking quite attractive with its bright pots of flowers on its roof, then a bit further along and in complete contrast was a sunken wreck with just its cabin sticking up out of the water. I think I remember seeing that boat years ago when it was complete and being lived on ; information tells me that it was called Kikobo and was an ex-fishing boat. During high winds in December 2013 it was repeatedly struck against the dock side until a damaged plank sprung a leak and it went down, although not as far as it is now. Because of bad weather it couldn’t be salvaged at the time and for whatever reason it was just left to sink even lower – a shame really that it’s ended up like that.
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A hundred yards or so past the beginning of the canal was Christ Church, designed by Lancaster architect Edmund Sharpe and built in 1839-40. The east window has a modern design dating from 1979 while the other windows all date from the 19th century, and the churchyard contains the war graves of two soldiers from World War l and one soldier from World War ll.
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Christ Church, Glasson
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Unfortunately being hampered by the restraints of work later on I had to keep my canal walk reasonably short as I wanted to make time for coffee and a snack at the cafe near the dock, so I only walked as far as the third bridge before turning round and retracing my steps. It was a nice walk though, and once I’d got away from the canal basin and past the first bridge the scenery was lovely.
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The first bridge
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View looking towards the second bridge
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View towards the third bridge
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Looking back to the second bridge
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Heading back to the Glasson Basin
Back in the village I crossed the end of the canal by the swing bridge and went to the café on the far side of the dock, ordering a ham and cheese toastie and a can of Coke as it was really too warm for coffee. It was really pleasant sitting out in the sunshine but all too soon it was time to have another wander round before I made tracks for home.  Just along from the café was the Dalton Arms pub set back in a large car park on the west side of the dock, and just by the entrance was a long planter with a very pretty flower display which I thought was worth a photo.
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Tithebarn swing bridge
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View from outside the cafe
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Back across the car park and behind the Victoria Inn I got a photo of the view over the estuary looking towards Overton village, then with shots from the nearby bowling green and cycleway I headed back to the van.  As I drove away from the village I stopped at the side of the road for one final shot of the view over the inner estuary then I headed for home without stopping again.
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View across to Overton
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The bowling green and estuary
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View towards the Bowland fells
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View over the inner estuary
It had been nice to spend a couple of hours or so at Glasson Dock after not having been there for quite a while, and since then I’ve discovered details of a circular walk in the area which takes in a few points of interest so no doubt I’ll be making a return visit sometime next summer.

Scavenger photo hunt – October

For some reason October, for me at least, seems to have gone by in a flash and I only remembered yesterday that I should have posted my photo hunt pics on Thursday. Unfortunately I’ve had to have a rethink on some of the ones I wanted to use as they were only taken recently and for some stupid reason my computer isn’t importing them from the camera, so I’ve had a bit of a mad scramble through the archives to sort out some alternatives. The topics for this month are – umbrella, wet, puddles, overflowing, splash, and my own choice, so here’s my hastily-put-together selection.
The first shot was taken in the foyer of Dock 10 at MediaCity when I went on the Coronation Street tour last year. The umbrella project was launched on June 28th 2018 as part of an initiative to raise awareness of ADHD and autism and though I couldn’t see the significance the open umbrellas certainly made a bright splash of colour on the foyer ceiling.
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Umbrella – a ceiling at MediaCity, Salford
While on one of my regular Anglesey camping holidays a few years ago I went to Rhoscolyn beach on the west side of the island, a place I hadn’t, up to then, previously been to. The bay is a lovely place for water sports and I found these colourful kayaks pulled up on the wet sand.
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Wet – kayaks on the wet sand at Rhoscolyn beach, Anglesey
The next shot was taken during a camping holiday three years ago at my favourite site in Norfolk. The first few days had been very warm and sunny but while I was shopping in town at the end of my first week the weather changed and heavy rain arrived, and when I got back to the camp site I had a totally unexpected and unwanted surprise. I’d left the tent sitting on ground that was so dry and hard that I’d had difficulty knocking the pegs in when I first set up camp but I returned to find it sitting in the middle of a huge puddle a couple of inches deep. Fortunately the tent was fully sealed with an integrated groundsheet and the water soon drained away once the rain stopped.
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Puddles – my tent sitting in the middle of a huge puddle on a Norfolk camp site
About 50 yards along the street from my house is an unadopted back lane with a row of five garages set sideways on to the road, and one evening in March last year a main water pipe burst in front of the first garage, sending water overflowing down the back lane and into my street where it ran like a river past my house. A couple of United Utilities men turned up at midnight but they couldn’t do much with just a couple of torches and one spade between them so the needlessly overflowing water continued to run until the following day.
One place I often go to for a dog walk along the beach and a good meal in a nice cafe is St. Annes on the Fylde coast and when I went on one occasion last year I noticed quite a bit of work going on around the old model boating pond. This year I found that it’s been turned into a bright and attractive water play area, quite coincidentally called ‘Splash’, and a warm and sunny day in July saw it being well used by plenty of kids and the odd mum or two.
Splash – the new water play area at St. Annes
And finally, sticking with the water-based theme, a search of the archives provided the last shot which was taken way back in early September 2008 when my partner and I had taken our caravan for a few days at Bridge House Marina on the Lancaster canal near Garstang. Sitting in the awning one evening I looked out to see a lovely sunset over the canal beyond the site so I grabbed the camera, ran round to the marina and fired off a quick shot before the sun disappeared completely. It was, just literally, a ‘point-and-shoot’ job but it came out so well that I enlarged it, printed it out and framed it.
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My own choice – sunset over the Lancaster canal
So there you have it, my quickly put together collection for this month. As usual I’m linking up with Kate’s blog and once I’ve had some sleep (it’s now 1.15am!) I’ll hop round to see what interesting photos others have included.