Monday 30 June 2014


That's a not so secret vice of writers, and rightfully scorned - but sometimes it's hard to resist. Like today, driving on a gift of a brilliantly sunny morning on a circuit around the Forest of Bowland (a forest does not always mean lots of trees, you may be surprised to learn), which included, besides the sunshine, shaggy sheep, cycles, sports cars, stone walls, streams, shadows and a service. ("Ooh look! There must be an event on at that church, with all those cars outside," we said, and then remembered it was Sunday).

It was a weather-related decision, to retrace our path, having had grey skies previously, and it was a good one. The fancy photographers can keep their moody photos: I like sun to bring out the colours, and today the green of the new bracken was vibrant, and the clouds were bright white in a blue sky. Simple things, but it made all the difference.
Hay-making is almost over, but the one last field being turned made a refreshing change, odour-wise, from the slurry that's also being busily spread this time of year. That was in Quiet Lane, from Slaidburn to Higher Bentham, over the fells past farms and foxgloves, where there were also riders of both horses and motorbikes - the latter, like the convertibles, all powered by middle-aged men recreating a dream from their youth (and thoroughly enjoying it, judging by the bluff Yorkshireman with white beard and leathers I chatted to at a cattle stop).

At Devil's Bridge, at Kirkby Lonsdale, the scene was so English it was almost ridiculous: flat-capped men with small dogs on leads watched cricket on the green, people picnicked by the river, where small boys dipped shrimp nets, bigger boys dared each other to jump from the rocks into the undoubtedly chilly river, and on the 13th century stone bridge above it, people bought mugs of tea from a caravan, and licked icecream cones.

It was a lovely way to finish my tour of northern England and southern Scotland. There's just one day to go now before the long trip home, back to winter, and self-cooked meals, and turning all these sights and experiences into saleable stories. Super!

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