Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fiddle session at Old Friends pub

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We went around to a pub near our house one evening. Three fiddles, Irish pipe, mandolin, tambourine, and bones.

We managed to capture some of the music on the following videos.

It did seem like old friends sitting around a living room playing their instruments. Not a bad evening for the cost of a pint.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Birkrigg Common

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We drove south from Ulverston, eventually crossing a cattle grate which let us know we were on the Common. Sheep were all over the place. The hills look harsh and unforgiving. Trying to find our way was crazy: unmarked roads/cart paths veering off unexpectedly.

These mounds reminded me of a roller-coaster field on which my father used to drive "fast" (it's all relative), and we would hit our heads on the ceiling of the '53 Buick. My moto-crossing nephew would have a great time here, though I don't know if that's encouraged.

So we drove to Bardsea, a pleasant village overlooking Morecambe Bay, and found our way from there to Birkrigg Stone Circle. Actually we stopped at the end of the road, wondering what to do next. I asked a man about the stone circle, and he said to park, walk through the gate and a short way beyond, the circle will be on our left. He said they "regularly sacrifice children there." Ah, British humor.

Notice how the moss thrives here, even in the cold of January.

Sunset over the hedge and gate near Birkrigg Stone Circle.

The stone circle is visible at this time of year. Later on, bracken (fern) obscures it, making it much harder to find.

"Innocent" children playing in the stone circle...

and charred embers on the center stone. Bardsea and Morecambe Bay can be seen to the east. A lovely view fitting for ceremonial fires.


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Scarborough Castle is on a high promontory into the North Sea. The photo above was taken from the castle looking back toward the town. The bluffs were menacing, so Hal and I found this sign amusing. Notice the little man falling/jumping off the cliff.

Entry to the gatehouse (right)

Romans had a signal station here back in 300 AD.
Chapel beneath the old signal station.

The castle dates back to the 12th century and King Henry II. It took some hits in the (English) Civil War. Once the Parliamentarians gained final control, they destroyed it so no one else could use it, whilst sticking out their tongues and singing "Nyah, nyah." Spiteful blighters.

Barracks and batteries were later built, but they took heavy hits from German bombardment in World War I.

We saw no fair, but apparently it was a biggie in the Middle Ages, attracting traders from all over Europe for 45 days every summer. I thought Simon and Garfunkel had written a great song about Scarborough Fair, but now I find that children have sung it for centuries.

Today the town appears to be a beach resort, although I doubt I will be dipping my piggies in the North Sea anytime soon.

Old Bay to the south (left) and North Bay (right) with its colorful cabanas (taken from the castle)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lakes District

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A weekend drive through the Lakes District in January. The fog came and went whimsically. The Lakes District is a favorite walking area for Brits. Even though it's still nippy, we saw hundreds (literally) of hikers.

Driving north from Ulverston to Coniston to Ambleside.

Coniston Water, looking north

It's good to know you can post your mail even here, in the middle of NOWHERE.

Church steeple and lawn bowling weathervane

Reflection in brook

Sheila's Cottage - excellent soup and tea

Tower House and a public well

Then northwest from Ambleside to Keswick (ignore the "w": "Kezzick")

With similar colors and values in sky and snow, the snow looks like holes in the mountain with sky poking through.