One of my favourite new bands are Night Beds – not least for the astonishing voice of Winston Yellen who writes and sings their material. Perhaps the song that showcases both his songwriting skills and amazing vocal range is Cherry Blossoms.
This is a shot I took this morning in my garden – it looks its best in Springtime. This line from the Night Beds song says it all really –
Cherry Blossoms In Spring, And All The Joy It Brings
Seriously recommend this band – sadly missed them on their recent UK tour – hope to catch them next time around. Meantime, hope you like the shot of the blossom.
The Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle can take your breath away when you first see it. Modelled on Versailles in France, its striking grandeur is incongruous in the north of England. The museum was conceived and built by the Bowes family – that’s the same lot that Elizabeth Bowes Lyon (mother of Queen Elizabeth II) was related to.
The Bowes Museum currently have an exhibition featuring art inspired by Rokeby – an epic poem by Sir Walter Scott – including work by JMW Turner.
Rokeby, of course, is an idyllic place located in the same region where I’ve just spent a long weekend in a rented cottage. The drama of the wide open skies catches something of the rugged splendour of the area.
The cottage was fabulous with views across empty fields and just the noise of the chickens to rouse you in the morning – here it is –
Restful and restorative – not least to be able to walk and sketch just a short stroll from your front door.
Plenty of sheep with their new born lambs dotted the fields too – take a look to the right on this picture. After a very hectic schedule followed by a sudden illness, a weekend in these beautiful surroundings is to be recommended.
Surprising how quickly the blossoms seem to fade. Captured some of it on camera earlier this week before that happened.
Far too tired to give you the technical details – let’s just say I played around with shutter and aperture. And here’s what happened.
I managed to make the drive back down the A19 without any hold-ups this time. The weather didn’t make matters too easy, though, as England was being lashed by incredibly heavy Spring rain. Up around the North Yorkshire border the rain had produced some incredibly lush and verdant countryside. Not to mention plenty of puddles!
And, yes, they’re Spring lambs you can see in the field being tended by their mother. Here are some more scattered up the slope of the hillside.
It was the hills that had caught my eye as I was driving south again. In particular, the ghostly effect of the low-lying mist as it shrouded those hills.
The colours of the trees and hedges in the foreground were thrown into startlingly sharp relief by the soft, misty backdrop. The rain had now subsided enough for me to get out of my car, but still in my work clothes, I was starting to get a little wet from the drizzle and I was trying my best to prevent it from getting on to the lens.
So with slightly soggy shoes and a wet shirt I returned to the car.Hope you think these shots were worth it. Hard to believe this was just a couple of minutes from the rush of the busy A19.
I studied English Lit. at University College, Cardiff (now simply Cardiff University), and remember being fascinated by the concept of the green world. I’ll return to this in a later post, as it crops up in other ways in our literature, too.
“In his discussion of William Shakespeare’s works, literary critic Northrop Frye coined the term “The Green World” in order to describe a particular environment that recurs throughout literature. In literary tradition, a hero must undergo several steps before being able to overcome his or her particular challenges. Often, a character will disappear into a perfectly natural environment, most often a forest, in order to confront inner obstacles and gain personal insight. The Green World adventures generally offer elements of magic, supernatural power, and reigning chaos, but must be survived in order to restore balance to the world.”
Those of you who drop by regularly will know I have a beautiful park on my doorstep – Calderstones Park – in Liverpool. It was looking incredible early the other morning in the freakishly warm March weather we’ve been having. The sights in the park brought to mind that whole green world concept in Shakespeare’s plays.
You could easily imagine any of Shakespeare’s Comedies’ green world scenes being set here in the park. Wonder which play these incredible blossoms would host? Perhaps my favourite – A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
Seems to me there’s something almost surreal about this scene as the last of the early morning haze lingers. Calderstones Park certainly has some interesting credentials that lend it a supernatural feel, not least the existence of some of the actual Calder Stones ..
The stones are thought to date from the late neolithic/early bronze age. Impressive, huh? Walking the park and taking in the sometimes chaotic combination of plants and trees also reminds me of one of my favourite painters – Adrian Berg – who sadly died last October.
Berg was a Royal Academician and their site offers useful information about him; http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/academicians/painters/adrian-berg-ra,162,AR.html
His paintings are a real celebration and appreciation of the natural world, and it’s place in our suburban and metropolitan lives.
His use of colour and deceptively casual detail are remarkable. This piece reminds me a little of the French Impressionist – Seurat. Although largely painted elsewhere, it almost seems at times as though he was painting my park .. they’re eerily familiar and immediate. Here’s a shot of Calderstones Park ..
Now here’s one of Adrian Berg’s paintings. He’s somehow able to catch the blur and blend as plants and trees bleed into each other.
If you’ve not seen his work before, I’d seriously recommend taking a look. His paintings will really get you to reappraise the way you look at the natural world in our cities.Leaving the green world of Shakespeare and the rich detail of Berg’s natural world behind, here are a few more shots of Calderstones Park on a fabulous Spring morning.
This is a view of a Quarry Bank School classroom overlooking the park. And as you must all know by now, this was John Lennon’s old school. I like to imagine him daydreaming as he looked out of this window as he looked out over this beautiful park.
I’m pretty sure he’d recognise what I’ve offered in this post. Like to think he might approve, too.
This is Falkner Square, Liverpool, as a beautiful Spring day turns to a dusky haze. The large building in the distance is Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. John Lennon was living just round the corner in Falkner Street when The Beatles first topped the charts back in 1962-1963. These days the area is popular as a film set for television programmes and movies, too.
Wasn’t expecting a foggy haze this morning as I went for an early morning walk in Calderstones Park, Liverpool, but that’s what I got. Just walked through the main entrance and could see some folk walking their dogs in the distance.
Their owners remained deep in conversation as the dogs wandered around their feet.
Even the sound of a woodpecker hammering at one of the trees nearby didn’t halt their conversation. The dogs seemed to have fun though.
By the time I left the park the sun was shining brightly and a great day was in prospect. You can’t beat Springtime in England.
Funny what you remember. Such as this poem by American poet, e.e.cummings, which I’ve been able to recite since being in high school.
Spring is sprung
Da grass is riz
I wonder where dem boidies iz
Da little boids is on da wing
Ain’t dat absoid
Da little wings is on da boid
Spring has certainly sprung here. Bluebells and the golden yellow flowers from a Jew’s Mallow are just appearing. Won’t be long before the blossom’s out in force too. You can’t beat an English garden in the Spring.
Had a meeting at FACT in Liverpool yesterday. It’s an arts centre and cinema complex in Wood Street. Took a few shots there before and after the meeting.
Even the blackboard special seems to work to a design brief. Settled for a green tea and some tuna sandwiches to go.
It was a warm, bright Spring day in Liverpool yesterday which really lit these windows that frame the cafe.
FACT is an excellent venue, not least for the films it has on offer. A special showing of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca was advertised for Tuesday afternoon I think. The building itself is a draw for it’s understated yet bold architectural lines which created interesting shadows and shapes in yesterday’s sunlight.
Even the cafe’s noticeboard made for interesting subject matter. Didn’t manage to take a picture of it, but love the sound of the Happy Hookers’ Crochet Club advertised here too and happy to give a plug to Saint Etienne.
Taken the day off today and spent a little time in the garden this afternoon. The trees are still mostly bare but their various barks make great shapes and patterns on a spring day. This one’s a blossom tree.
This next tree – a Eucalyptus – is a native of Australia and it’s bark looks quite different to those of it’s British relatives.
Meanwhile, the various bird feeders have pretty well done their job now and the netting makes for interesting pictures.
Here’s another one.