Let Nature be your teacher

6x4 strawberries backJust over a week ago we took our grandchildren strawberry picking at Scaddows Farm, a few miles from us. We arrived soon after they opened and followed the well organised Covid-19 precautions, including hand sanitising upon entry. When we reached the fields it was clear that after weeks of ‘home schooling’ many young families were enjoying a morning outdoors. You could almost see the relief on the faces of parents and children alike. And who could blame them? What better classroom than this?

I left this post as a draft, hoping to find a suitable quote about strawberries, but surprisingly nothing came along, even with the help, or lack of help, from google. (If you find one please feel free to comment). Then out of the blue Suzette at Suzette B’s blog posted the quote ‘Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher’ by William Wordsworth.

I searched the quote and discovered that it’s from The Tables Turned. I always need help interpreting poetry so I found a useful analysis of it. Basically Wordsworth is saying don’t double in size by sitting at a desk pouring over boring books. Get outside and look and listen. Nature is full of wealth and wisdom. You can learn more about humanity, good and evil from a tree than from a sage. Go out, ready to learn with “a heart that watches and receives”.

By the way, the strawberries tasted as good as they looked!

The Tables Turned by William Wordsworth

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?
 
The sun above the mountain’s head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.
 
Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.
 
And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.
 
She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless—
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.
 
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
 
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.
 
Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

Spring

Just over a year ago I wrote about ‘Mid May Landscapes’.  Mid-May Landscapes

Here is this year’s offering of such photos, again taken at Rosliston Forestry Centre, part of The National Forest. Rosliston Forestry Centre

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Spring 2020The car park and centre are closed due to the pandemic restrictions but access to the footpaths is still possible for walkers. It is a minor disadvantage not being able to park at the centre (they have promised to extend out annual car park pass!) but the big plus is that there are very few people there so it is good to enjoy the peace and quiet at this wonderful time of the year, especially in such good weather.

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Bluebells the movie!

You’ve had the postcard, now see the movie!

Over 30 years ago at our camera club, I always enjoyed the ‘audio visual’ evenings. A guest speaker would arrived armed with two 35mm projectors, carousels of slides and a reel to reel tape recorder. They had a device, often home made and always manually operated, which enabled them to switch from one projector to the other and achieve some magical effects with fades, disolves and ‘third images’ between slides. The images were usually accompanied by some suitable music, commentary or sound effects and these evenings were always popular and well attended.

Similar effects can now be produced from the comfort of ones own home with digital photos and AV software and then shared with a much wider audience. This one is certainly not a Spielberg epic but I hope you will enjoy a few quiet moments with the bluebells.   First time linking to a YouTube video – hope this works!

Link below… (forgot to say turn up the volume)

Bluebells 2020

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Bluebells postcard backIt is exactly a year since I first posted about bluebells, and here we are again – bluebell season. The difference this time is that we are in coronavirus lockdown so we have been walking close to home and enjoying a nearby small wooded dale.

P1090587My post last year stated  – ‘Here in the UK we have more than half of the world’s bluebells and you can see them in woods up and down the country each spring. They are powerful magnets for photographers and artist alike, although strangely not always the easiest of subjects to photograph and capture the colour accurately’. The photographs this year were taken in the little known local bluebell woods. There is no car parking nearby and consequently they are only used by nearby residents and they do not attract people from other parts of the town. This year they are being used by local families were the parents are clearly on the ‘home schooling’ duties. What better classroom?

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Last year I also wrote ‘Native bluebells are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It’s against the law to dig up bulbs in the wild and landowners aren’t allowed to dig them up to sell them either’. This year we have our 3 and 4 year old grandchildren with us and whilst it is a pleasure to see their joy and excitement when seeing bluebells it can be quite difficult to stop them picking them and taking some home. I remember one shortened and simplified version of the official Countryside Code was ‘Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints’.  Today, I only took photographs but the ground was dry and firm so I didn’t even leave any footprints.

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A perfect spring day – or is it?

St Mark's front

St Mark's backWe continue to follow the official advice and guidance and this week have taken several walks starting from home rather than jumping in the car and driving a few miles first. It does have its advantages. We see things which we would not normally see, have a chat with people we probably wouldn’t usually talk to, and I have taken the opportunity to update photographs of local landmarks and places of interest.

One such landmark is that of our parish church, St. Mark’s, Winshill. It was built in 1869 at a cost of £6000. Like several churches in Burton on Trent, it was provided by one of the town’s influential brewers, in this case John Gretton. The cynics may ask if they saw such gifts as their ticket to heaven, but generally speaking the brewers such as Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton were great benefactors, and often provided facilities which were of great benefit to the people of the town.

The peaceful scene, on a perfect spring day, is a welcome ray of sunshine midst the encircling gloom.

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Walking with a friend

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Walking with a friend backDue to an unusual set of circumstances, our daughter and her two children, ages 3 and almost 5, are staying with us. They have been living overseas, came to stay with us for a while and now find themselves caught up in the coronavirus precautions and in lockdown with us. We have gone from only seeing our grandchildren twice a year to having them in the same house 24/7. We often said we wished we could see more of them but didn’t quite have this in mind!

However, we are thoroughly enjoying the time together and they certainly keep us occupied. When it comes to self-isolation we feel grateful that we live in a quiet area, close to the countryside, have an enclosed secure garden and on our daily walk we see like-minded people, keen to observe the 2 metre rule and exchange pleasantries in a good humoured fashion we Brits are so good at.

It has become a nostalgic time for us, especially doing things with our grandchildren that we did with Rachel, and our son Adrian, almost 40 years ago. We have played in the garden, provided a sandpit and rediscovered footpaths close to home that we haven’t been on for quite a while. On one such walk, Rachel asked if I could photograph the children from behind, just like ‘Walking with a friend’.

Mum had shown me the verse, probably found in ‘The Friendship Book’ or something similar 30 something years ago. It’s a bit twee, but at the time I was learning calligraphy, so I wrote it out and mounted alongside it a photograph of Rachel and her friend Claire. It was displayed on mum’s living room wall from that time onwards. Rachel could even remember the verse and I had no hesitation in taking the requested photograph. Who knows, it may be around 30 plus years from now!

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Messing about in boats

Boats

Messing about in boats

To quote Ratty in full, ‘Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats.  In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter.  Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it.  Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not’.

In my case, this postcard was the result of just messing about with photo editing software and apps.  Just passing time, nothing special in mind other than messing about with a photograph taken a few years ago on a fairly dull March morning at Esthwaite Water, near Hawkshead in the Lake District.

National Memorial Arboretum Illuminated

NMA Illumintated

NMA backThe National Memorial Arboretum, near Alrewas, Staffordshire, is always a fascinating place to visit, and being just down the road from us, we have been many times in all seasons. However, this week much of the arboretum is illuminated and this adds another dimension and atmosphere to the experience. The complete trail is about a mile long and the illuminations were tasteful and varied. I include a couple of comparisons with daytime shots.

National Memorial Arboretum Illuminated

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