Progress report on the flat.

August 25 2019 – St Leonards-on-Sea.

Time for a great leap forward in, err, time. The previous post was set at the start of June and here we are now, entering the last week of August. Photographically, it has been a fairly uneventful period; we have not been up to much in the preceding three months, so there was nothing really to write about. Though it has not been completely quiet, we have been to the flat a number of times. I have slowly been filling the space with, mainly second hand, furniture. In the one and only prior post about the flat I commented that I was going for a 60/70s vibe and I have very much stuck to that. The antique/vintage shops in St Leonards have very much benefited from this.

The other thing that has happened was being successful in applying for another job, which I will start sometime in September. The role is with another government department, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. I am still working in technology, though for the first time in 30 years I am not working in an IT department. I will be working in a data and analysis team, though I am looking after their technology, I am looking forward to it. I have yet to agree a start date so I have two, maybe three weeks off between jobs. I am now into week two; hence the flurry of posts in the last week. I very much need this time off as I was burning out, though at least this time I read and understood the signs and took action.

I have mostly completed the things I am going to do the flat in these first few months of ownership. It is now time to visit and just enjoy it all, rather than continuously spending money and doing small jobs. I have bought all the furniture I am going to buy, the last thing was a bed for the second bedroom. My sister is visiting from New Zealand at the end of September so I thought it appropriate that I have a bed for her, much better than making her sleep on the floor!

Below are some updated images of the place.

Often the little things make all the difference, like this little rack I bought from Ikea. Simple, but it has allowed me to use the very small amount of drawer space in the kitchen much more effectively. I quite like the look of it as well.

The same with the mirror I bought for the bathroom. There was a mirrorless cabinet here which I moved as this was the only space for a mirror. Simple things done well. The Nordic way.

Unsurprisingly the main room has had the most spent in fitting it out. I have bought dining chairs since the last post which just showed a table.  Recovered 60s Danish chairs, they were pretty close to being the most expensive thing I bought, El went halves with me on them. I have also (finally) gotten around to getting a couple of street art prints I bought framed, that poster was from the 2013 Baroque the Streets exhibition in Dulwich.

I am still to work out what to do with the weird square white plaster thing on the wall. Current thinking is to do a large portrait diptych of one or two photos. Not sure yet. I am going pick up some cheap frames this week and see.

The record cabinet is 60s Danish; the amp and turntable are very new. The speakers sound amazing, though are not quite the right colour, but they were £30 from a charity shop and they are a great purchase. The red square you see in the bottom corner, and they appear elsewhere are old power-points. I have no idea why they are red, but they will be going. Which reminds me; I must ring the sparky!

The sofa is English, made not too far from home in Walthamstow, again from the 1960s. It is great to have space to put some of the absolute loads of books that El and I have, as well as finding a use for the space under the extensive hearth area.

Since the last post the main bedroom has been painted, mostly a dark grey, with one light grey wall. The room is really big so the dark walls and roof reduce some of the space. Having sloping walls means it is hard to fill the empty space with furniture and it is impossible to hang pictures on the walls. It is also gets a lot of sun, so the original pale walls were far too reflective. The dark works, though the painter was very unsure !

I have also gone for a mustard and grey colour scheme, which is quite ‘on trend’, this will flow further through the house as I decorate, though you can see that in the soft furnishings I have bought.

The flat has a ton of storage, so this sideboard I bought to act as a dresser is semi-redundant, but I really like the look of it and needed something in the bedroom to fill space, as well as store more books.

The final room I will work on will be the second bedroom. But it does have a bed, so no floor sleeping for my sister, or any future guests.

That is it for now. As I said at the start, I doubt I will do much more to the place till winter, when I may start to decorate. In the meantime I have more prints to hang on walls, and a whole load of records to take when I go back down in the next few days.

E17 Art Trail Exhibition. Wander to Wonder.

June 2019 – Walthamstow.

Around a year ago I discussed the idea of exhibiting some of my photography as part of the  biannual e17 Art Trail, which was due to happen in June 2019. I approached my local cafe at the time but they already had an artist lined up. I learned at this point that venues for the art trail are booked two years in advance. It is a very popular time.

I next approached Tony who owns the Walthamstow Cycles bike shop, and discussed the idea of displaying some photos of Epping Forest in the shop. Tony introduced me to the forest a few years back and I have bought both my bikes from him. Not that I use them anymore. Lazy or time poor. I am going with lazy.

Tony was very keen on the idea, and we both let it lie for ages. Around the start of March we had to do a few administrative things, and I had to get an advert written for the trail guide. I then let it lie again until May when I had a holy crap moment as I realised I had to print and frame a whole load of photos, then hang then. By the end of the month.

The art trail has been running for a number of years now and is hugely popular. There were around 250 exhibitors in a number of venues all over the borough, there were a couple of really good photography exhibitions so I was in quite good company! The theme this year was ‘Wonder’.

There were a couple of tense weeks as I trolled through hundreds of images of the forest to try and come up with a theme. I also had to decide on a number of images I could print and frame without breaking the bank. I chose to use some cheap A4 size frames from Ikea as well as use a couple of the large frames I had in the exhibition last year. I would have loved to have used all the frames, but printing 11 images at A1 is not cheap, and these were to displayed in a working bike shop, large sheets of glass hanging on walls was not going to be practical.

I chose the seasons as a theme and displayed three or four images of each season round the various walls. Each season also represented a different location in the forest. There are some may interesting places in the forest, often with their own unique micro-environment.

The photos I displayed are below.

I hung the photos two days before the Art Trail started on a Saturday though we did not have the opening until the following Thursday. The basement of the shop was not this tidy and organised when I started.

The opening went well, a few people turned up and I hung around drinking beer with some of the attendees and the bike shop guys until about 9:00. I had some good feedback and very much enjoyed myself.

I must go and pick the photos up now, the Art Trail finished in June and it is now August ! The displayed images are below. The top image in each section was printed as a 4″ * 5″ along with a brief introduction to the prints.





Photosketch. Part Two, the instant film photos.

May 6 2019 – near Settle, North Yorkshire.

Photosketch Part Two.

Yesterday’s post was all about the Photosketch day, what it was about and how the day went. This one will, hopefully, be much less verbose. 

The objective of this, the second of two walks, was to experiment with instant film cameras; both Polaroid and Fujifilm Instax in a variety of Yorkshire Dales environments. I have never used an instant camera, and I don’t recall any of my friends having them back when they were more common. Everyone else on the walk had used them, and some brought their own along for the session.

When Polaroid stopped making the film in 2008 there was an outcry from the millions of fans around the world, with many buying bulk and hoarding. In 2010 the Impossible Project started manufacturing film for the Polaroid and the world took a long sigh of relief, and things carried on as normal. Fujifilm has been making their Instax cameras for almost as long, and never ceased production like Polaroid. The Instax films are smaller and a more traditional photo shape than the good old, almost square, Polaroid.

There were six different camera models to choose from, some quite old, and most not being used in a long time. Though all had been cleaned, there were still a lot of artifacting and strange marks from the rollers. I loved them.

I started with one of the Polaroid cameras. I liked it, so simple. Point it. Press the button. Wait a few seconds for the photos to emerge, then stick the photo in a pocket to develop somewhere warm. There is nothing fancy with these plastic cameras, no focusing, no setting aperture or ISO, fixing shutter speeds. Nothing. just point, then click.

For my first image I wanted to test the tonal range of the camera to see what it could actually do with contrasting light. I am still reflecting on Robert Macfarlane’s new book ‘Underland’ as it has challanged me to think more about my environment, and think a little about what is below my feet.  Not that I was moving in to an underground system, I just took a photo of a hole in one of the dry stone walls. I am assuming this was to allow small beasts out of a paddock, it is too small for a sheep and a farm dog would just jump over. I cannot think of any other reason for it to exist. It was a view into a place I had never been, and one that was not accessible. OK, it was just another field, but hey, I wanted to create some sort of drama!

The photo did require me to lie down on the damp stony ground, and get up quite close to the wall. Point. Click. Done. New experience.

It was cold and windy up on the hill. I was advised by those wiser than me in the ways of instant film to stick the print under my jacket and into my armpit as the chemicals on the paper require warmth to do their magic. It would happen, but it would take some time. And here is the first image.

I was quite pleased. I love the light leakage at the top and bottom, though I really like the roller flashing a lot more.. They do add to the image. It is all slightly out of focus, but that does not bother me at all.

My second attempt was out in the open, with quite even light. I had no idea what this digger was doing up in this field. It was in good condition, so didn’t appear to have been here for long, but there were no tracks or other sign as to how it got there. I am wondering if it is used to bury carcasses ?

I was pleasantly surprised to find that even though this was taken only a few minutes after the first one the light artifacts and leakage were slightly different. There was no predicting what was going to come out of this camera, and I really liked that.

As we were walking up the field to enter into the next section of the walk the heavens just opened and dumped a whole load of very cold rain on us, it was very brief, but quite heavy. I snapped this image of Steve taking a photo on his phone as the clouds sat just over his head. I have no idea what the bright thing in the bottom corner is…

I like that these images, just look old, and slightly degraded; the loss of focus and the the flat light as a result of time and poor technology. Not that they were taken an hour ago.

At the highest point of the walk there was a collection of rocks overlooking a low bluff. I was working my around the edges and saw this small entrance point. I have no idea if it was short or long, it was small, it made me wonder what was there. Was it an entrance into the underland, to the below/ Who knows.  I took a photo, triggering the flash this time. Different artifacts.

By the time we reached the next area to explore I had used up the film in the Polaroid and it was time to swap to an Instax. The camera I was given was a lot newer than the Polaroid and had significantly less noise and light leakage, but I could not work out how to turn the flash off, it just refused to not fire. It had one more function than the Polaroid, light or dark. Otherwise it functioned the same. Point. Click.

My first play with this camera was in a small section of pine forest.  I literally crawled in to the very dense low-hanging trees for the first couple of shots. Before I knew about the always-on flash, I was trying to capture the very low foilage, the very high moss and tree litter, and the thin gap of light working its way in between. I just got a lot of very bright flash.

Similar to one of the photos I took with the Polaroid I ended up with this strange thing in the foreground, in this case, right across it. No idea what it is, nor why it is there. it did ruin it for me, and it was the worst photo of the day. Things got better once I was not close to anything.

I really like the colour palette in the Instax, it has the yellows and grey that I really like, and the green is quite muted. If only they made a version bigger than 2.5 inches.

Crossing the wall we started down a gradual slope back towards our start point at Fleur’s house. The light was just wonderful as we walked and I took a number of photos on both the instant and the normal camera as we walked.

We stopped for a while at these two trees, native trees are so rare in the dalesl it was an interesting place to take some photos. This is, I think, my favourite of the Instanx photos.

Somehow I managed to accidently take two photos (It is now three months later and I am typing this in the pub, and I have no recall as to what button I was trying to press). However, I like both photos. They break so many rules of photography; the horizon is not straight, nothing is in focus and there is what looks like hair on the lens; and I rarely take photos of people, so a personal ‘rule’ also broken. Fleur and Rachel.

That was the last of the images I took over the course of the day. I very much enjoyed working with this group of people, and with the instant cameras. Back at Fleur’s place we had a very enjoyable session reviewing the range of images we all took. No-one took the same thing, we all have a different eye and different ideas. The important lesson I learned from the people and the day was they are all valid. 

The next Photosketch is in the Peak District on the 8th September. I recommend it. Check it out here.

Photosketch. Part one, the day.

May 6 2019 – near Settle, North Yorkshire.

Photosketch Part One.

This will be a two part post, primarily due to a large number of photos to show. This first post will be all about the day and the images taken on my camera. The next post will be all about the Polaroid and Instax images I took as the day progressed.

The reason for this trip to the North Yorkshire Dales was to attend today’s Photosketch walk. It was the excuse I needed to come north, get out of my comfort zone and share a day with some very talented, exciting and experienced photographers.

The event was advertised on the Twitter feed of Al Brydon, a photographer I follow and whose work I greatly admire, I have made a number of images that Al has directly influenced. Al and fellow photographer Fleur Olby organised Photosketch, a photography based walk by Fleur’s home near Rathmell, a village even smaller than the nearby Settle. The village had a car park, and that was about it, no shops, no pub.

The concept behind Photosketch was for a diverse group  to get together to create photographic art while walking, taking to time to think about and reconnect with nature and the outdoors. It sounded like just the sort of thing I needed to drag me out of a long photographic slump. I liked that this was about making art.  I needed to be reminded that photography is art, and I do it to be creative, not for Instagram followers.

I was a bit pensive going into this event, Al and Fleur are great photographers and I knew there were others coming, they were probably good as well.  I felt a bit of fraud coming along. What if I sucked? We were supposed to show some photos as part of the introduction, my images, my style, my lack of a ‘body of work’, would those be held against me? Would there be sneery looks at my ineptness? Breaking my main camera on Saturday didn’t help much either, cannot even look after my equipment!

As you would expect these were ridiculous thoughts.

Fleur picked me and a couple of others up from the train station in Settle, and we set off in her Land Rover (so much more appropriate here than in London) to Rathmell, where we met Al and the rest of the participants in the towns only highlight, the car park. There were five participants in all. Most of them seemed to know each other, either by reputation or through working together previously. I was not intimidated by this at all, oh no, not at all.

The day started with an introduction session in Fleur’s office/studio/barn. She lives a long way from nowhere, it is very remote and very beautiful. Pretty much all of my event mates were professional photographers or ex degree/masters students; all had exhibited before. In galleries, not in cafes like me. I felt inadequate to start with, however they are all lovely people and once we got talking things all balanced out. We are all human, and all love what we do. We are all equal, just different.

The day was split into two, a short walk to a small ancient swamp forest near the end of Fleur’s property, followed by lunch and then a longer walk into the moorland above. For the first session we took our own cameras, the afternoon was all about playing with instant cameras; both Polaroid and Instax.

The forest was beautiful, very small, very quiet, verging on eerie. It would have been magical to spend some time here alone, absorbing.  There is an interesting mix of light marsh grass and twisted beech amongst rock and fern. There was a very brief moment as we arrived were the light was stunning, though it did not last long enough to get cameras into action.

I was trying to think about my photography in different ways, take things slowly, looking at the details, watching the others; trying to get the feel of the place and get that onto the sensor in the back of my camera.

I wanted to think a bit like Al in the short period of time we had., time when I was largely on my own and able to think and focus.  A lot of Al’s work is underexposed, dark and very moody, allowing the viewer to interpret more from the things that cannot quite be seen than what can be seen.

I had to take a couple of my more usual impressionist photos though 🙂

After a very big lunch and a long discussion covering art, photography, books, nature, place and a wide range of other vaguely related subjects we all donned boots, coats, woolly hats and headed off up the hill and onto the moorland above Fleur’s house.

We were all given an instant camera, with a pack of film. I started with an old Polaroid, others had a range of different Polaroids and Instax cameras. The idea behind this longer walk was to play with this different technology, look and think about what we were going to take images of, not just snap away taking dozens of frames of the same thing with the hope of getting one good image. The instant cameras meant we could review the results today. I have never used an instant camera before, I was the only one who hadn’t, all the others regularly shot film, or used old plate cameras and were ued to thinking about taking images over a longer period of time.  This sort of low tech was what they were used to. I will talk about the instant camera experience in the next post. It was fun.

We passed an old farm house on the way and I got told off for taking photos. The locals do not like the ruin porn thing, displaying the slow decline of the rural way of life. Fair enough I guess.

The moorland was amazing, I really liked it up on the hills, we had a few zones to take pictures, with 20 or so minutes in each as we covered the six or so mile walk. It was moody and cold up in the hills and at once point it rained heavily, though fortunately briefly. The clouds were amazing and I was gutted I did not have the big camera as the wide angle was perfect for this environment. The little G16 did OK though.

We dropped down into a small section of pine forest, passing a really cool mountain bike loop on the way. The pine forest was an interesting change from the open and mostly treeless moors, and Iiked the closeness and darkness of the trees. We didn’t have long there unfortunately, I think I could have gotten quite ‘lost’ in the depths of this large grove.

Walking back down from the top we were again exposed to some massive views, with big clouds, big horizons and wonderful contrasts between the yellowy grasses and the grey sky. I took way too many photos. This is my sort of place, though I was supposed to be not taking cliché Phil photos today. I couldn’t help it, and I know I was not the only one…

Watching sweeping rain showers batter the horizon from our position of relative dryness was dramatic and inspiring and I wanted to stay longer, however those clouds were not all ‘over there’ and we could see them coming our way, with growing rapidity.

Apart from the pine forest, we saw very few trees, coming across two trees together we stopped to take a few photos, they were almost unique in that environment.

I had a lot of fun with the instant cameras, I had a go with both types and took about 24 photos. All the cameras were old, some hadn’t been used for a while so results were unpredictable, there was a lot of roller noise, but for me this just added to the joy of the images. This was my favourite, a landscape Instax. I will show some of the rest in the nex post, maybe tomorrow.

It was cold out, so the instant photos took a while to develop, even stuffed into pockets close to body warmth.  Back at Fleur’s we spent some time looking at all photos we had taken, comparing images and effects from the different cameras and discussing experiences. It was really nice, quite education, and interesting to see the varierty of styles. I very much enjoyed it. adly and all too soon it was time to be dropped back in Settle, the day was done 😦

It was a good day, I learnt some things, met some brilliant people and came away feeling validated that I can make good images. I just need to find my thing, as I don’t have a thing at the moment. It will come !

Big thanks to Fleur and Al for organising, and to Steve, Rachel, Kristell and Phoebe for being great company and good teachers.

The next Photosketch is in the Peak District on the 8th September. Check it out here.

Victoria Caves

May 5 2019 Part 2 – Settle, North Yorkshire.

Inside the cave mouth it is near silent; no bird call, no wind. Just the occasional bleat of a ewe calling her lamb, and the steady yet slow drip of water falling from the rock above It feels like the outside world is slowly ceasing to exist. The further I move into this, most shallow of caves, the more the outside disappears. As light slowly reduces so does sound, natural noise cancelling headphones.

Caves terrify me. That is not totally correct, as THIS particular cave doesn’t terrify me. It is quite large and open and at a glance it does not appear too deep and foreboding. Being a law-abiding citizen, I am not going to pass that safety rope, so I don’t have to explore its crannies and tunnels. I can safely ignore any paths into the dark below, into the underland. It is they, and the unknown terrify me.

One person who does know what lies in the dark below is the author Robert Macfarlane, who has just published a new book ‘Underland’. Exploring ancient and future history by looking at what is under our feet and hidden from view. Cave systems, mines and melting ice fields revealing all sorts of things that humans have buried or disappeared. I started reading it in the pub on Friday night, and have been reflecting on the passages I have read over the weekend, I am going to take my time with this book. it intrigues me.

After five hours of job application writing I was finally ready to back out again, it was getting late in the afternoon, though I still decided to take a walk up into the hills and try to find Victoria Cave. It was clearly marked on Google maps and was do-able in the time I had between now and it being too dark to be out wandering alone in strange hills.

The first 40 minutes just seemed to be uphill, with a little bit of flat before going back up hill again. I am not as fit as I used to be, but managed to keep pretty good pace given I didn’t have a lot of time.

I love the dry stone walls here in Yorkshire. There are very few trees in the hills. Not knowing the old history of the area I am assuming that this was not heavily forested back when these walls were built, some possibly date as far back as the bronze age, though those old stones will be very low down in the walls as remedial work has taken place over the centuries. They are a thing of beauty, and control in this otherwise slightly disordered landscape.

I wish I had taken more time, exploring the bluffs and craggs that surrounded me would have been so much more interesting than writing job applications. Though I guess being in work allows me the time to indulge in walking and photography in places that are a way from home.

At the top of the first climb I came across this ruin. I have no idea what it was, and do not really want to know as my imagination ran riot trying to work it out. Why are there blast holes in both directions on that panel, what the heck blew holes that size?

I also want to know if this plate, made in Bishopsgate, in what is the heart of the finance centre of the City of London is covering, is there something under here ? did it blow up ?

There are not a lot of trees here, the land does not look it would sustain many, and I wanted to photograph each and every one. How old are they? And why one? So many questions.

It is very unusual for me to not be listening to music, I have headphones glued to my head on my commute and as much as possible in the office. I play music when I cook, sometimes it is why I cook. I am playing music as I type. I listen to it a lot. Except when I am walking in the country, when I walk I want to listen to nothing but the countryside and the questions in my head. There are often a lot of questions.

My object for this afternoon’s walk, the Victoria Caves are somewhere in this bluff, the Attemire Scar. There are a lot of cave systems in the Dales, including some managed commercial systems. If I had more time I would have had a look at some, though I doubt they would be as amazing as those mega caves I visited in Malaysian Borneo. I am intrigued by what fears me.

I reached the cave about 5:00pm and had a sit down, a drink of water and a snack bar. I had walked quite quickly up to the cave as I had no idea how long the loop would take to do. The return journey was simpler than the way there. So arrival with plenty of time meant a relaxed walk back.

The cave is not deep, or at least access is not deep, there is a lot of rock fall and most of the cave is roped off. I could have gone deeper, there is no-one there to stop you, but I am a chicken so only went as far as the barrier. The darkness, dankness and silence was calling me further in, I really wanted to see and learn more, perhaps find someting so far undiscovered, new bones, a few coins. Something newly revealed by rock fall or fissure. 

The caves were discovered in 1837, the year of Queen Victoria’s coronation, hence the name. They were apparently an archaeologists dream find, with loads of prehistoric bones as well as a collection of Roman and pre-Roman artifacts. The question remains as to what it was used for.

Between the main cave and the much smaller second cave I found two climbers, playing on a wall. The wall was not high, not particularly dangerous looking, though I was terrified just walking up the scree slope to the caves. As well as not doing dark narrow tunnels I also do not do heights, and the older I get the worse the vertigo gets and I really struggled getting back down from the caves to the level grass below.

The path that makes up the second half of the loop was more clearly defined than the one I followed on the way up, which was at the best of times a mown strip in the grass. This path leads to a nearby car-park, and then the road,  following a very wiggly line of dry stone wall.

I came across another solitary tree, as this one was in my path I stopped to take a few photos, intrigued as to how and why it was growing on this particular rock outcrop.

I think this is a hawthorn. I love how nature has allowed a seed to grow between the rocks of this harsh environment, forcing its way up into the light, pushing the rocks apart to allow its growth.

I was soon walking down the road towards Lancliffe, passing these very friendly lambs on the way, I thought they were trying to come with me for a while. Maybe my sheep voice is better than my Scottish accent ?

On the outskirts of Lancliffe I passed what I am assuming is a private forest, possibly surrounding some large manor house. The variety of shades of green in the walls, the moss on the banks and the trees was incredible and I have failed to capture them with any accuracy. The light was low and I had no tripod. After spending so much time with few trees, it was wonderful to be reminded of why we need more, not less of these wonderful things, and that wandering amongst them should not be just the privelidge of the wealthy.

That was pretty much the end of the walk. It was lovely and I wished I had more time to enjoy it. I did deserve the massive meal and couple of pints I had in one of the pubs!

Settle, Yorkshire.

May 5 2019 – Settle, North Yorkshire.

Settle is a small farming community in the Ribble Valley, it used to be a mill town, using the river to connect the mill to the bigger towns and further down the rivers and canals to Manchester and Liverpool. Tourism is the big earner here now, and there is very little cheap accommodation, though there are a number of pubs serving good food at, almost, London prices. It is very attractive and my first thoughts are ‘I like it’.

I am here for Photosketch, a day long photography walk, chat and learning session with two fabulous photographers; Al Brydon and Fleur Olby. The photo walk is on bank holiday Monday, though I am here three days early so I can have a day looking around the area, and visit my daughter in the Lake District, which was the subject of my last post. Photosketch will be the subject of a near future post.

I arrived in Settle late on a Friday afternoon, parking my car in a pay and display car park for the weekend; and constantly forgetting to feed the meter. Austerity cut backs in the council means that no one checks my car for unpaid parking; feeding the ongoing austerity I guess. I did pay when I remembered. I am staying a small Air B n B, the owner is friendly and has loads of maps and suggestions for walks and things to see. She is an ardent advocate for the area.

I have bought both Canon cameras for this trip, the big heavy 5d and the smaller, jacket-pocket sized G16. Grabbing the 5d I head out for a walk to stretch legs tired after being in the car for most of the day, and to have a nose around some of Settle and neighbouring Giggleswick.

Giggleswick is even smaller than Settle and on the opposing side of the river. There was a nice little section of white water and I planned to come back here one night with the tripod and take some moving water shots, something I very much enjoyed though have not done in over 10 years, there is not a lot of white water in London.

Giggleswick is famous for its school chapel, and possibly for its mildly humorous name. Giggleswick School is a public (which means private in this strange country) school established in 1499, though it moved to its current location in Victorian times. A local landowner gifted the chapel to the new school, and construction commenced in 1867.

The chapel is a magnificent building, on the top of a small incline at the back of the school, it is on private land and there a number of signs reminding me of this. I sort of skirted them and finding a gap in a hedge up a lane sneaked on to the land to take a couple of photos. I would have loved to have gone inside.

Back in Settle I had dinner in one of the pubs. It was Ok, the food was good, but it was the least welcoming of the pubs I visited. I am guessing it is the most ‘local’ of the pubs, and I could imagine how some residents hated the fact that everywhere was packed with noisy visitors all the time.

On Saturday morning I took a slow drive to Ambleside to see my daughter. The first hour of the drive I spent in the hills overlooking Settle, trying to find some of the interesting sights and sites. I started looking for Winskill Stones, a series of limestone rocks that looked quite interesting photographically. I didn’t find them J But I did take a photo of my car with Pen-Y-Ghent in the background. Pen-Y-Ghent is one of three fells in this area that make up a well known day walk.

Driving to Ribblehead Viaduct, a slight detour on the way to Ambleside I passed what seemed like hundreds of those day walkers as well as a good number of mountain bikers; with caving, rock climbing and kayaking, this really is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, and busy all year round.

Construction on Ribblehead Viaduct began in 1869 and it took five years and a hundred lives to complete. It is part of the Leeds to Carlisle railway and is still used today. It is a glorious construction, and very heavily photographed. I wanted to add to its photographic history, but did not add anything new or interesting to that photographic history.

The rest of Saturday was spent with my daughter.

When I booked this trip I had planned on spending Sunday looking around Settle, visiting some of the ample number of places of interest in the immediate area. However, in the interim I had found a really good job to apply for. Sunday was mostly spent at the dining table in the B n B writing a civil service job application. Not the easiest thing to do if you want to do it well. As I am writing this almost three months later I can say I didn’t get that job, but I did get another one. More on that another day.

Before settling in to write I took a walking tour of Settle, visiting all the bits I didn’t go to on Friday night. It did not take a long time to complete. It is a nice village, sized perfectly for a Sunday morning walk.

Most of Settle and its cross river neighbour, Giggleswick, has been built from local stone. There is not a huge amount of colour in the buildings, nor variation in style. These towns were built a long time ago and no-one really wants to expand them. I really like it. Clean lines, standard colouring, simple design and local stone, lovely. This is my B and B.

Not so sure on the Daily Mail though, I suspect those who drink in the pub I went to on Friday appreciate the hate Mail more than I.

There is a small loop walk through the town part of which runs up one of the original village streets to the farm land that makes up the bulk of the dales.

There is a path through a small section of forest that leads to the top of one of the small craggs, I don’t think it has a name, it was under a hundred metres high, but the view over Settle was great, and looking up the hill there was adventure to be had.

Back down through the grey stone of the town I stopped for coffee and a snack, and then a look around the small and interesting museum before walking back to the B and B, and five hours of constructing a job application.

236 miles to London!