Sunday, 9 July 2017

I Love Purbeck

The Pipit that Rocked....

It's been a week.... News of deaths, illnesses and major operations come in triplicate.

But on the bright side the weather is fine, and our trip to the Isle of Purbeck and surrounding area reminds us of how scenic this world can be.

And also how glorious the natural environment is.

Sea mist fringes the Jurassic Coast at Chapman's Pool,

But conditions are good for walking the South West Coastal Path.

The 100 metre cliffs are crumbling, 

But the Norman Chapel at St Aldhelm's Head still stands foursquare, its corners indicating the cardinal points of the compass, the door remaining open to allow swallows to feed their young in the nest they created inside.

Bird life here is abundant. This little Stonechat has found plenty to feed its chicks,

And this Rock Pipit appears to be teaching goldfinches to forage

In the sea cormorants and guillemots dive and feed,

And in the village of Worth Matravers the Square and Compass remains unchanged, a wonderful living example of how welcoming and refreshing a pub can be....

I waxed a little lyrical about this in 2012 in another Dorset piece: (

But it is one of my favourite haunts, and not just because of the link to my dad and RADAR, which was the big thing from 1940 to 1942 when the Telecommunications Research Establishment was here, with some 2,000 people working on creating the first map-like radar display, called the Plan Position Indicator....

I love Purbeck.  and the Jurassic Coast. And Poole Harbour.  We spend a perfect morning exploring RSPB Arne, where we see, among many other birds, two Ospreys, though geese, shelduck and gulls are more in evidence.

And cormorants fly past, their shape not so different from local fossils.

In the afternoon we inspect Lulworth Cove, where I swim in the clear cool water occasionally rippled by the shock waves of heavy gun fire from the nearby tank ranges.

Then, for old times' sake, and softer sand, we track back to Studland Bay, where Old Harry reaches out towards the Isle of Wight. I swim here as well in the warmer but slightly soupier waters, where I swam, and shivered, as a boy.

And then we head back to the Scott ArmsKingston, where supper is served with the sun going down through the ruins of Corfe Castle,

And then it sets over a glass or two of local cider.

Isle of Purbeck.....

In Memoriam 

George Pitman

Thursday, 29 June 2017

A Fit of Peaks

Down from the Mountain.....

Halò (Hello)!  Doctor Colville took the Pullman train to Fort William.  

He was met, welcomed and transported to his room overlooking the Sunday papers.  It was a very nice.  Although the ginger cake exuded crumbs, it was sweet and potent..... 

Restlessly hopeful young Don Paul was considerably less at ease with himself, or, for that matter, the world.  His craquelure piqued him.  The Scottish air would be beneficial, perhaps? 

Don Paul took lodging in a remote cabin, more in keeping with his appreciation of Lyme disease and the general pleasure of enough-of-these mesquites than for comfort....

Madainn mhat (Good Morning).

Oh Ho! Oh Ho! Oh Ho! Laughed the rident chorus in Scottish vapours.

Mountains of good fellows' hip ached through the cloud, eyes closed to avoid recognition and of general appearance not unlike a walrus.

This was where we were..... A neatly timed protuberance against the shy line. Trudgedy trudgedy trudge.  The grim peeper on the hedge of thyme....

See the little thing against the sky! Dr Colville stolid stepping upwards and on words.... Brudderkin, fellow, how the difference affects? Look up!  This guy's the Limax.  

Troubles is the will within Don Paul to clamber skywards has dwindleminished.

But that is not to say.  Fàilte (Welcome)! The pleasure of company has not evaporated in its complexity. A bubble or more of light water still glints behind the dam. Looking down is still uplifting....

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I'll fly away;
Like a bird from these prison walls I'll fly,
I'll fly away.

[I'll Fly Away]

Slàinte mhor a h-uile là a chi's nach fhaic.... (Great health to you every day I see you and every day I don't).....

And so here we up high are. High are and high are. Top of the world to ye. Slàinte mhor (Great Health)!

Don Paul has come to some epifania. The upward slogging most definitely rewards those who more than just manage. The views and overarching privilege of the higher up are not for the faint.  

Kiss me mother kiss your darlin'
Lay my head upon your breast
Throw your loving arms around me
I am weary let me rest
I am weary let me rest

[I am weary]

Despite appearances, it is the differentials that appeal, or, rather, we find we are more alike through our dissonances - the love of other is our bond -

But I fail in substance.  I fall behind, I taste the stale air.  Then I become myself in drifting with the wind.  I rest my aching knees and forgo the ultimate heights to watch the (common spotted) orchids:

Or admire the sundews:

To hear the cotton grass:

In different lights,

Through different ways of seeing,

To scent the bell-heather:

To startle at the British Soldier lichen in flower:

To feel the yellowness of the tormentil (whose vertue is to part/All deadly killing poison from the heart):

And the maiden hair-dying bog-asphodel:

To stroke the passive frog:

And to savour the patient distances:

After days of rain, our ultimate sortie is to the height of Gulvain (Gaor Bheinn, 987m), a remote Munro (whose name means Great Rough Hill), where the Trig point on the first summit is reached by 730 metres of unrelenting uphill climb, squelching in the stream bed that is at times the path.  

I better the worst, and picnic high on the shoulder, but, having watched the nether portions of Dr Colville disappearing into cloud almost vertically above me in a stone field of scree and tussock, a Joycean light fills me with epifania and I decide that descent is the butter path of gory.  

And from down I then scan the up, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?  In the meantime, without the comfort of telephotosynthesis, I watch a family of wrens learning the wropes, and enjoy the flipping flights of a pair of spotted flycatchers.  So engrossed that even the midges believe me marble.

Then, saving a golden-ringed dragonfly from drowning in a peat puddle, 

And, reconciled to our independences, we fraternally drift toward a sunset of elementary colour....

So, the Dr achieves his goals, tips his cap to another Munro

and I discover my limitations, finding enjoyment in the observation of other views, endeavouring to improve my photographic delivery.  

The glens and hills are stunning.  The natural world is undisturbed. A fleeting glimpse of a female hen harrier; a couple of deer scurrying over the ridge; the bruising flare of fox gloves in contrast to the silver bark of birches.  A river skirls down to the loch.  

And in all there is the joy of interpretative sight, the imagination drawing colours from the atmosphere. 

My latest sun is sinking fast, my race is nearly run
My strongest trials now are past, my triumph has begun
Oh, come angel band, come and around me, stand
Oh, bear me away on your snow white wings
To my immortal home
Oh, bear me away on your snow white wings
To my immortal home

[Angel Band]

In retrospect I love my excursions, through the soaking aches.  I think of Hokusai's sense of something being alive other than the crude rock and brute massif.  It is lovely to be out in the light, painting imaginations from the ever expanded present....

Ooh death

Whooooah death
Won't you spare me over 'til a another year?

[Ralph Stanley (1927 - 2016)]

Oh brothers let's go down, let's go down, come on down
Come on brothers let's go down, down in the river to pray....

Bidh mi 'gad fhaicinn....
(I'll be seeing you....)