Too Late Santa …. sorry

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Here’s my Christmas card to all my avid readers, Sorry – I know its late but Santa dropped the parcel and couldn’t find it till now …. sorry. He’s been kept busy with a flooded house and a requirement to consume more than usual copious amounts of single malt Scotch whisky … sorry. But merry Christmas anyway and may the spirit of peace and joy inhabit your souls through this coming year. Sorry ……..

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Osprey Fishing

Osprey and fish

I’m currently working on an exhibition together with other members of the Independent Cockermouth Artists group on a “Celebrating Ospreys” show at Whinlatter Visitor Centre in Cumbria. The show will run from 31st March until 30th April to coincide with the hoped for return of the birds to the neighbouring Bassenthwaite valley, a successful breeding ground for the birds since 2001. The valley is of historic ecological importance for breeding English ospreys as there weren’t any birds in the country for the 150 years prior to 2001. To celebrate that and the wonderful work of the Lake District Osprey Project in supporting the re-establishment of ospreys in Cumbria  we are holding this show. Brilliant birds and a great inspiration to us all.

Border disputes

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There have been goings on down at the home turf recently. Its not unusual. Where people have property and/or land there are often disputes about who is responsible for what, and what the rights of ownership bring.This can lead to people being in disagreement,  exchanging strong words, or even worse. We like to think we are superior to other living creatures, more civilised, with greater powers of reason and thought; capable of working things out  sensibly. But border disputes can bring out the worst in us. Marking our territory becomes a ritualistic act, pregnant with meaning. Fences are there to define boundaries keep others out, and walls are built as symbolic monuments to mark the frontier of what we perceive to be “ours”. Outside of the wall live the outsiders, though they, in turn, may perceive things quite the other way around. In this way we construct areas of separation and division, that work fine whilst everyone respects and acknowledges where the borders lie. Whilst……

Perhaps its just natural – this way of being. After all border disputes are written into our histories. Living in in the far north west of England just five miles from the coastal outpost of Hadrians Wall at Maryport we need no reminder of the blood that lies beneath our feet, shed years ago in various bloody conflicts. Conflicts that originate by large in the drive for power and control over land thought to be valuable for social, military, strategic, economic or political purposes.

And meanwhile in the garden,  a robin vies with a dunnock for a share of the chicken’s feed.

A wonderful surprise in the morning ………

Lying in bed – a little behind time. Listening to Shaun Keaveny on BBC Radio 6 broadcasting the best breakfast music show by a country mile. Wondering whether to read another few pages of Sean Wilnetz’s absorbing “~ Bob Dylan in America” (which is actually all about America in Bob Dylan). Contemplating another Hob Knob when Lizzi said “What’s that thing in the holly tree?”. I said “What thing” (or something like that) , and she said “That orange thing. I think it’s a red squirrel!”. Now, we have never seen a red squirrel in the garden, let alone within 20 yards, but there it was, leaping onto our peanut feeder and giving it some. What a beauty! We stared fairly open-mouthed before I ran upstairs (upside down house)  to grab a camera by which time of course, the squirrel had moved away. A little later, however, he came back and posed for snaps. A trip to the squirrel feeder shop was very much in order!

Owls galore

Out this afternoon – a perfect clear winter’s day in Cumbria it was a joy to see barn owls out in force as the light faded and hunger goaded them into activity. What wonderful, utterly beautiful creatures they are, hunting low over the rushes before swooping down with enveloping wings over a possible prey. In silhouette they appear ridiculously owl – like, with an impossibly large head and flat face. Their colour is something else. Snow white with hints of raw sienna and deep black eyes. To see them, like this, is a reminder that all is not ill in the world.

Along with barn owls, we saw three roe deer, a kestrel, jays, a tawny owl and lots of other lovely birds – a cracking day.

Picture courtesy of RSPB