Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Bank Holiday in Grizedale

Grizedale Forest in the southern Lake District on a bank holiday Monday is crowded, VERY crowded. Its like Blackpool only with trees. Peace and quiet and solitude? Nope! Mind you, I've been there on non bank holiday days and it can be like a miniature Kielder, especially in winter. But I still feel that Grizedale is something of a playground compared to the Border Forest's wilderness.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

I'm Back! - or - Tales from Northumberland

As can be gathered, there was no computer link at either Hostel.
Acomb YH lies about two miles due north of Hexham. The village of Acomb is a sleepy little spot, or so it appears at first. For all it is very rural, it has a twenty minute bus service to and from Hexham which is far better than some urban services. The hostel itself is described in the guide book as "simple accommodation". This "simple" bordered on the primitive. My wardens residence compared favourably with a garden shed! The showers and toilets are in similar corrugated iron sheeting huts. After the initial culture shock, the charm of the place grew on us. You can't help but like its little quirks. The hostellers liked it too. It was really just like good old fashioned hostelling the way it used to be.
Brenda came along too and proved a great help in getting the daily cleaning chores done. It was not my intention to have her doing this but she got stuck in with a will and I greatly appreciated that.
We did a couple of woodland walks. Fallowfield Dene is a peaceful tree filled valley. The forest floor is a blaze of colour right now with bluebells, wild garlic, and a host of other flowers I am quite unable to name.There are beeches oaks, both sessile and English, huge ancient ash trees and of course rowan and thorn. As the old Northumbrian folk song goes,
"Oh the oak and the ash and the bonnie rowan tree
Are the trees that do grow in my country."
On another day we walked down to Watersmeet where the North and South Tynes join to form the River Tyne that flows on to Newcastle. Watersmeet is an exquisite place. We walked through a thickly wooded area, the air heavily scented with garlic, until we came to a clearing in which the meeting of the two rivers was in full view. The South Tyne comes in a good three feet higher than the North Tyne and thus forms a series of minor rapids. It must be a spectacular sight after heavy rain. But today was a balmy day of butterflies, mayflies and the like.

The second week was spent at a completely different hostel, Edmundbyers, which lies on the high moors to the west of Consett, near Durham.We only got out for one walk on the fells that week. The rest of the time it was either raining or blowing a gale. Edmundbyers YH is an erstwhile pub built around 1600. The village itself has a pub which is sometimes open and sometimes not. There are only four buses a day and no shop or post office. Not quite the vibrant metropolis.
The drive back to Lancaster took us over spectacular moorland under enormous ever-changing skies.
Considering this is the tail end of May, it is remarkably cool; 14ºC at best. Global warming? What global warming?

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Originally uploaded by Thole Man.

A group of pines stand on a lonely moor under an uncertain sky. This is in West Allendale, about 20 miles SW of Hexham.

This drawing is 33" square.

Grid 1 NY723712

Grid 1 NY723712
Originally uploaded by Thole Man.
This is a place just north of the Roman [Hadrian's]Wall and some twenty or so miles west of Hexham. Typical Northumbrian country under a typical sky. You can see the extent of the Border Forest stretching to the horizon. Towards the left of the horizon, Cheviot, a hill straddling the border, may be discerned. It is some sixty miles away. There's nowt but trees all the way!

Dave's got it Sorted

Oh Sod It has had its problems of late as any of you visiting it will no doubt be aware. Well, he's got it all sorted and its lookin' good.

Not Here

I will be away minding Acomb Youth Hostel near Hexham as of tomorrow for a week followed by Edmundbyers YH 15 miles t'other side of Hexham the next week. I could well be out of the Blogoshpere during that time, but if the YH has a computer....... Or if I can find an internet café......

Thursday, May 12, 2005


This is the current canvas I am working on at the studio. I am using acrylics and the finished work will be 40"x60". This image is computer generated from photographs.

Its All Happening

First, my thanks to Dave, he's told me how to set up a link. Progress or what? Like I said yesterday, Dave's Blog is always worth a visit.
Rev. Mugo has now moved on from Japan to China. You can update here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Visit "Oh Sod It" Blogsite

Dave's entry for today, May 10, "A Bit Late but Very Funny" has a link which is well worth looking at. It had me laughing.

I tried the spell checker. Its useless, it only understands American. We like to colour things not color them. Our boats sail from harbours, not harbors. 'Part from that, things is fine.

Weekend in Knaresborough

Went off last Friday with Brenda to stay with some friends of hers. I must say I went with some trepidation as I had only met them for about five minutes at a wedding reception last year. However, I needn't have worried. They were a couple of genuine carchters who put me very much at ease. Their house boasts a gigantic garden which I reckon cut just about cut it as a market garden. Needless to say all the food on offer was genuine organic and not a polythene wrapper in sight.
We talked of this and that and ate then talked of this and that then ate etcetera ad infinitum. We took a walk in town on the Saturday. Knaresborough is a pretty little mediaeval town with little alleys and small shops. It has a castle which Ollie Cromwell vandalised in 1644 or thereabouts. The whole place is a much more attractive proposition than its mundane neighbour, Harrogate.
Got back on Sunday tea time. Its a good job we weren't in any particular hurry as the driving consisted mainly of sitting on a long cavalcade headed by a driver in a large car who never does more than 40 m.p.h.
Such parade leaders do turn off the road eventually and the long string of cars gets up to speed again.........
Until we catch up with the next guy in a big car who never does more than 40.....
OK. People are entitled to dawdle if they want to; but when the road from Harrogate to Lancaster has no dual carriaigeway anywhere......
We were even stuck behind a JCB from the top of Blubberhouses Moor all the way to Skipton.
Worra day!!!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Of Aliens and All That

This evening I took a train ride down to Kirkham, midway twixt Blackpool and Preston. The train's punctuality was as reliable as only British trains can be; consistently late. Consequently I missed my connection at Preston and a 45 minute journey took an hour and a half. I could go on......
Anyway, the purpose of this trip was to visit Liam, my eldest grandson.He is now 16 years old and very much into Giger's "Alien" and its by product, "Predator." He took great delight in demonstrating his computer game/X-box/Gameboy; AVP, Alien v Predator. Having seen the film with him we could share the fun.
On a more serious note we also looked at his future career options. He has some idea of what he would like to do but I think he is in something of a quandary. I know I was when I was 16. A long time ago I know, but I remember.. It is very difficult trying to make choices that are meant to determine a way of life when at that tender age one is none too sure what type of life one wants to lead. I don't envy him.
Anyway, after 2 hours of virtual mayhem and slaughter on the video screen where we saved planet Earth for another day, I made my farewells and returned to Lancaster.
The trains ran on time!!!

What's That Number?

You may well ask. I suppose I should have mentioned it earlier. NY680947 is the grid reference number on Ordnance Survey maps. Many of the places I depict are remote and place names would be meaningles unless you happen to live in that particular neck of the woods. On the picture of a group of trees on the skyline, the grid ref. is that of the tree at the left hand edge, near the centre of the picture. It is an isolated spot some two miles or so NNE of Kielder village. Other examples are "Grid 1 [NY723712]" Scotch Coulthard is the nearest place, a farmstead some two miles off the left edge of the frame. Another is "Grid 2 [NY767993] which is slap in the middle of a lot of densly packed Sitkas and five miles from the nearest road, let alone a dwelling!
So, I find the Grid Ref is enough to locate it. After all, the pictures are about the wilderness experience.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Originally uploaded by Thole Man.
Now that "Naturescape" is up and running, my studio space looked a bit like a shipyaerd after the ship had been launched. Time to lay the keel of the next project.
Using this same image, a landscape in silhouette, various skies to show varying moods will shown. The same drawing medium of graphite ± charcoal will be used as I feel monochrome is best for this type of image. But then again I am influenced by B&W photography. Some pictures will have this "letterbox" shape and others will be split into multiple images. It is all very experimental. I will post examples as time rolls on.

A Pilgrimage in the Far East

Rev.Mugo is the Lay Ministry Chaplain of the OBC, (Order of Buddhist Contemplatives) and is currently on a pilgrimage visiting the sites relative to this branch of Soto Zen. She has just finished a comprehensive tour of the Japanese temples and tomorrow goes on to China.
Dogen (1200 - 1252 AD) was a Japanese Master who is the founder of the form of Zen we practice. He journeyed to China in search of a good teacher. He found one in the form of the Master of Tien T'ung Shan Temple which lies some hundred miles to the south of modern day Shanghai. His name was Ju-ching, known in Japanese as Tendo Nyojo. It was from here that Dogen returned to Japan some years later and established Eihei-ji temple. The tradition has continued down through the centuries to the present day. New temples sprung up around Japan and now in the 20# and 21# centuries we have temples here in the west, like Mount Shasta in the USA, (one of many), and Throssel in the UK which also has its daughter monasteries. If you want to see more of Rev. Mugo's travels, visit www.movingmountain.blogspot.com

Monday, May 02, 2005

A Day at Throssel

It is now Wesak, the Buddha's birthday. He was born in 623BC.
Usually this is something of a flower festival when spring weather is much appreciated. The day started ominously at 7-00 am with a brattle of thunder followed by rain. But as the day wore on it got better and by mid afternoon we were basking in glorious sunshine, even at Throssel which lies high up in the West Allen valley in Northumberland and about 1400 ft. above sea level.
Quite a large congregation had gathered for the ceremony. Children are very much to the fore on this occaision. They play a major part in proceedings making their offerings of paper lotus flowers. We sang many chants, some ancient and some modern.
A lecture by Rev. MasterDaishin followed telling how to deal with the dragons in our lives, anger, frustration and so on by saying we should try to recognise these things for what they are and in so doing, puruify these negative feelings. He went into it far deeper than I can expound here. I am no Zen master and I won't even attempt to explain further except to say it did strike a chord in all of us.
The ceremonial over, we all had a delicious lunch, the food is always excellent at the monastery, during which we had chance to meet up with old friends and catch up on each other's news.
Later in the afternoon, on the way home, Chris' children wanted to stop off for a little walk. I suggested we stop at Ninebanks Youth Hostel, which we did. the walk was quickly forgotted when the two young girls discovered that goats are kept there. Pauline and Mike, the two wardens were only too pleased to see me again and it wasn't long before the all important kettle was on the stove and a brew in progress. It gave Chris a chance of a breather while Kate, Pauline's daughter took the two girls to see said goats. I spent a good two hours or so catching up with the local news and gannins on.
The afternoon wore on and all too soon it was time to return to Lancaster. It has been a good day.

Sunday, May 01, 2005


Last night I rather foolishly deleted four pictures from my server thinking that once they were on my Blog that would be it. Big mistake. I log on today to find they've gorn! So... I've re-instated them and now they are appended below. If you read my previous ramblings then the pictures will make sense. I hope.

Double Annulus

Double Annulus
Originally uploaded by Thole Man.

Double Annulus, its back.


Originally uploaded by Thole Man.

Evensong, the sun setting over the Border Forest


Originally uploaded by Thole Man.
The Breaker on the shore at Porthmeor Beach, St. Ives in Cornwall


Originally uploaded by Thole Man.
Faraway restored