• January Shifts

Three shots of turbulent clouds, looking north (10 January 2016).

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• Snow Flurries

A couple of shots from inside in the warm of a little snow storm taking place outside in the cold.

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• Wood warbler indoors

Over the years I’ve found a number of avian visitors in the house: robins, great tits, blue tits, swallows.  Today it was the turn of a fearless wood warbler.

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• Yellow Submarine

Here I am, just a couple of days back from my four-month walk through France, and I walk up to Minions for the paper.  But as I pass through Higher Stanbear, I begin to wonder whether the exhilaration of completing my trip has affected my sanity.  Because there, tucked in next to one of the cottages, is a bizarre yellow contraption that looks like a cross between a tank and a double-decked submarine.  In bright yellow.  On my way back with the paper, I find its inventor and his mate (inside the top section) giving it a once-over and they allow me to come in and inspect it, even letting me climb up the ladder and look through the floor-less top bubble into the lower one.  The vehicle – the MSV explorer – is the latest in a line of submersibles, some of which are in operation in waters around the USA.  Brilliant – but at 800 feet above sea-level it’s a bit small for Noah’s Ark.

[2015: the MSV explorer and its inventor have now relocated to Exeter]

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• Horse, water, stone

In three weeks’ time I’m leading a section of my neighbouring parish’s ‘Beating the Bounds’ ceremony, only 36 years since the last one.  My bit takes us over the moor, down into the marshes and up and over the other side, some eight to nine miles in all.  So I’ve been scurrying through the undergrowth, wielding my compass, and donning my wading boots in search of the best route, sticking to the line of the boundary rocks and boundary stones wherever possible. Yesterday was the final reconnaissance.

First stop: a pregnant white mare near one of the taller stones:

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Second stop: the Witheybrook, mellifluous in tone as ever:

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Third stop: a boundary stone that’s virtually inaccessible.  Getting to it was a matter of jumping streams and leaping from tussock to tussock over marshland.  This stone was eventually found hidden under a thicket of trees, covered in moss.  It has three faces, as it stands at the junction of three parishes.  Hence the three letters carved in it: N for North Hill, A for Altarnun and C for St Cleer.

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Job done, it was time to retrace our steps back to the Witheybrook.

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