Thursday, June 9, 2016

Let's Topiary

Levels Hall Topiary Garden


Working from home, one no longer has to sit in front of the computer waiting for the end of the day. The disadvantage is neglecting to play with photos, including neglecting to blog them. But the advantage is that instead one can go cycling, or swimming, or shopping, or do some gardening, or even watch other people doing gardening. When it is not raining in these parts, it is important to seize  the moments. Two days ago we visited the famous topiary gardens at Levens Hall on the way to doing a LaneQuest in the south Lake District. Must have done something right as we accidentally won (well, joint 1st) the teams category. This is worth remarking upon as we very rarely come 1st in anything.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Yet more Blue Skies!

Windows done, James is making the most of the luxury scaffolding to practice his lime mortar pointing skills. Last week was too cold, then it was too wet, and now, apparently it may be too warm and dry, in which case I'm not sure quite which day of the year would actually be OK for this temperamental task! Anyway, he has no choice, as we can only keep the scaffolding up a bit longer. At least, with all this good weather, he can do some Blue Skies Thinking while he is up there... 


James up  ladder

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

sunshine and BlueSkies

In January there was one day of blue skies and sunshine when it did not rain, so on that day we cycled to Kirkby Lonsdale for breakfast (Kirkby Lonsdale is very 21st century - they let you eat breakfast until noon!!!). Stupidly I did not take a camera. In February it has also rained a great deal. For example, on Sunday we did a fell race in the wind and rain and mud. Running is probably one of the better things to do in the rain, but it was still unpleasant. However, it is hard not to feel an immense sense of glowing achievement just for completing such a stupid thing. Then yesterday it dared to be sunny when I was too tired from the race to go on a long ride. Very annoying. The whole point of BlueSkiesResearch is that we can go and research the blue skies when they appear rather than being stuck inside staring sadly out of the window. Unbelievably, today it also dawned bright! We cycled one of the several off-road routes to Litton, and this time did not forget a camera.

bikling-1


bikling-2
bikling-3


And to prove it was also sunny at home... one of GingerNut's main hobbies is seeking out sun patches. Presumably he does this in order to make his fur look as orange as possible.
GingerNuts-1-2

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year

To celebrate New Year, we went on a group walk from Settle to the tea shoppe in the ipsy wipsy village of Feizor. About 9.6 miles in total. ShoCKInglY it DiD NOt RAin!


limestone pavement and tree


man and whippet


Pen-y-ghent

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Getting wet

Gavin sent me a nice message yesterday with the curious title, "Stay Dry". Then I remembered that he is an American these days and one should not take these things literally. I interpreted it as a version of that "Stay Safe" phrase they love to use. Naturally it is not possible to literally Stay Dry in Yorkshire. It is always raining outside, and inside the new houses leak because they are new, and the old ones leak because they are old. However, recently, it has been quite a bit wetter than is normal! Even wetter than normal wet flood weather!! Apparently the water has invaded the homes of more than 5000 people in this part of the country, and the town where I went to ("high") school is now a Zombie Apocalypse. To be honest it never has been that cheery a place... 

I'm not one for disaster photography. Today the sun came out for a moment, so I cycled up to the local waterfall, Scalebar Force, which was in great form.

Scalebar-1

I suppose I missed the best one - apparently, for the first time evs, the waterfall has started flowing over Malham Cove. That's just a few miles away from Scalebar, on the other side of the watershed.

Meanwhile, James is practising his lime mortaring on some of the places where leaks sprung in our house. We avoided buying one of the newish houses nearby that, although favourably priced, seemed to me to be rather close to the flood plain. Ours is over 100 years old, but that alone doesn't offer much in the way of guarantees for dry toes if we are to have frequent 100 year events. 


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Monday, November 30, 2015

Sand Dunes #2

This one has been the front page picture on my iPad ever since...

sanddunes-3

The next morning, James and I climbed the nearest dune peak.
sanddunes-5
The wind had done a good job of smoothing out all the footprints of the day before, and ours were the first footsteps of the day.

Back to the lodge for a traditional US-stylee breakfast (pancakes etc), and we were back in Boulder that afternoon.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sand Dunes

Last stop on our tour was somewhere we have managed to not visit on several occasions, due to it being a bit out of the way: Great Sand Dunes National Park. We arrived in the afternoon and stayed at the nearby lodge, which was excellent with lovely views of the dunes.


sanddunes-4

The existence of the dunes is very interesting; a source of sand in the hills, plus wind blowing and water flowing in the right directions. One might wonder why there are not more dunes about, but these seem to be the only ones in the vicinity, apart, of course, from the ancient ones like those we saw at Canyonlands.
sanddunes-1

It was fairly quiet and there was no evening meal available at the lodge, but the rooms had microwave cookers, so we had shopped in a supermarket along the way. Before dinner, we went to have a closer look at the dunes.
sanddunes-2

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Civilisation

After Hovenweep, we crossed over into Colorado and headed up a dirt road out of Durango. There in a patch of trees live two people I'd never met: the sister of a friend of mine from Japan and her husband. In earlier posts I might accidentally have been a bit impolite about some Americans. Actually I think they are a more evolved life form.  My friend, Audrey, had often times told me of her sister (Wendy) in Durango and suggested we visit. Being a straightforward kind of a person, I can't tell if these kind of invitations are serious, but Audrey is a lovely person, so I decided to take her up on the offer of her sister's hospitality! And they were indeed amazingly generous. It was actually my friends's sister's husband (Rob) who did more of the hospitality as he was not working that day. The couple had built their house 20 odd years ago using the proper American method of buying a patch of forest and reconfiguring the trees therein into a log cabin.

Thus:
1 over cabin dcabin-1

It only took them 3 years. Wow. People like this in the UK get television programmes done about them! After a comfortable night in the cabin, Rob took us on a delightful tour of Durango. 

Next stop was the million dollar highway and Ouray. Ouray is another very cute town. But instead of more pix of buildings, here are some nice mountains. 

Continental Divide
Ouray

The first is the high point of the highway before Ouray (the "conninennal divide"), and the second is the view from the top of the Box Canyon Falls in Ouray.

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Dustville #2

Sorry for the gap in the holiday snaps. I had to do some other writing - of a scientific kind. Just when we were getting to the best bit of nothingness, too...

After touristy Bryce we enjoyed Utah scenic byway 12 which is not only scenic but also passes by the best named National Monument of all - "Grand Staircase-Escalante". However, the camera was tired from Bryce. After some pizza the car was set to cruise control, destination Dustville#2  Hanksville.

Hanksville (population 215) is quite the metropolis. It is so important that, when you're 50 miles away, it is still the only place on the road signs. Like Dustville#1 (Dinosaur), it has very few facilities, but the difference is that twice as many of them are open and they are also clean. I might be wrong, but it seemed a bit like all the open and clean places might have been under the same ownership. Suspect it's just one big happy family...

Whispering sands motel, Hanksville.
Hanksville Motel

A day of being in the middle of nowhere called. First stop was Natural Bridges National Monument which was the only place in the trip where some jobsworth checked my ID along with my parks pass. Of course he couldn't resist making comments of the "you're not from round here are you?" type, and so I tried to frustrate him by telling him we were from Boulder. Pops is a kind and well-mannered gentleman and so gave the game away, but to his credit he did his bit by bamboozling the man with stories about his times living in Colorado in the 1960s. However, once that was over, Natural Bridges turned out to be quite nice. We made Pops walk down to give one of them a closer look. 

Natural Bridges

Natural Bridges

My delightful travelling companions after their strenuous walk.
My companions @ Natural Bridges

Vegetative patterns...
Tree

It was a Sunday. Scarred upon my mind is a memory from the end of the last century which involved failing to get any refreshment in a North Wales town on a cold and wet Sunday. We found out last year that North Wales has moved on but I feared Utah may have not. However, the Subway in the great Megalopolis of Blanding (population 3581) was open. Almost back in civilisation (Colorado) by now, we made one more diversion, and visited Hovenweep National Monument. This is Mesa Verde for those with their own imaginations. i.e. you don't get a guide and a big group of other tourists to get in your way, but instead can wander round wondering what life was like living in these places.
Hovenweep

Better end with a question for the reader. Interesting masonry here - are the little stones in the mortar, structural, or decorative, or both?
Hovenweep]

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bryce Canyon

Arrived at Bryce Canyon to a cloudy afternoon, so decided to enjoy retail therapy at the inn, rather than visit the park for a non-existent sunset. We looked at cute trinkets for a while, wondering whether to buy a souvenir. Then I remembered having expressed regret that we bought such tiny ornaments while in Japan, as the ones we have disappear into the enormous house we have bought. Not wanting to make the same mistake again, and egged on by both Pops and James (a Yorkshireman and a Scot both trying to make me spend money is surely a sign of something!), I picked almost the largest brightly coloured enamel kokopelli we could find (not unlike this one). It is quite strange that such a large and bright thing can look merely elegant in sufficiently large, dark surroundings.

Next morning James and I visited Bryce for sunrise, and then picked up Pops after breakfast for a more extended tour.

Pre-dawn
pre-dawn at Bryce

Post-dawn
Dawn at Bryce

Bryce Canyon

Post-breakfast
Aspen and a hole at Bryce


Flowers!!! at Bryce Canyon

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