Yeah, it’s another one of those stylised, ultraglow photos that don’t really reflect real life that much.

I mean, yeah I was there yesterday and sure, the view was pretty, but not that glowful!

Still, the people behind Google Photos have to have their fun, right?

Life is for All

Tree branches.

Every little thing you see is a part of a bigger thing. It’s sometimes difficult for me to get my head around this. Difficult for me to remember that I’m just one small part of a big, big world.

We support each other. It’s impossible for one branch to float in the air by itself. It needs a tree (or at least a strong breeze) to be able to get up there and stay aloft.

I go for a walk in the morning. I follow a path that takes me to the river.

Sure, it’d be nice to be like Mr. Crow and take the direct route, but I can’t – the ground is what supports me.

It’d be swell to stay out here by the river all day, but I can’t – I have to start work in an hour or so (and besides – I get hungry).

It’d be neat to swim to the other side of the river and climb, dripping wet into a new country where my clothes become butterflies and my hair a magic cloak of gossamer and my wishes are a click of the fingers away from reality, but I can’t – life just not like that.

I live in this world, where I walk sedately along a path, return home when I say I will, and where I’m connected securely to what is.

Me and you and the path we walk to get to the places where we’re going, whether that’s the river, work or just the breakfast table, are all connected. Take away any one of us, and the rest of the whole is poorer for it.

Maybe you feel like you’re the branch at the top of a tree that just longs to break free and live, unsupported in the air, and maybe that could work for a short while. But never let go of the certainty that you are someone else’s trunk: their essential support in this world.

You and me and all of them are part of one world. Remember this: I love you until the end of time. And, even if you don’t realise it, you love me too.

So, – have a lovely day, my love.

Life by Squares – B7

Here’s a new thing – two of us wandering around York! Hey-la, my wife is back from foreign lands and so we (after much dice-wrangling) went to walk around here:


As you can see, this square almost contains York Racecourse. We once went to an Eighties event there, which featured such luminaries as Marc Almond (Soft Cell), ABC (from my hometown of Sheffield), Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet) and Altered Images (because who could forget Clare Grogan bouncing around the stage on TOTP). It was fab!

For today, we kind of decided on five photos each, with an equal number chosen by both of us, and we almost stuck to that. Here’s the first one from me – looking across Knavesmire from the road of the same name:


As you can see, there was a bit of a sun in the sky, which was surprising considering that the temperature is due to fall well into the minus tonight. And also – some trees. Make the most of these skeletal beasts because they’re going to get good and fat soon. Leaves ahoy!

My wife, who I shall henceforth call N, principally to avoid using a pronoun (my) that makes it seem like I own her, chose the next shot. It was taken on the same road, but looking the opposite way:


N says that it makes her feel like it represents an embracing, all-encompassing love. Nice!

Perhaps you have heard of the Internet of Things, which is “the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data” (Wikipedia). Well anyways, we’re still in the barcode era in York, as this photo from the southerly end of Knavesmire Road demonstrates:


Well, that’s why I imagine that this fence has been given a ‘QR code’. Darn it – I should have scanned the code to check – silly me!

Straight after that, N spotted something in the grass:


She loved that way that the colours contrasted with the grass. And maybe because it was lonely. Personally, I think it’s because one of her friends collects feathers and so N looks out for them for her.

Walking along Knavesmire Cresent, looking at the dinky front yards of the row of terraced houses, I spotted a cute rabbit, or maybe a big-eared mouse – I wasn’t really sure at first. As I was taking the photo I could hear N saying ‘oh, no!’ but I did it anyway. Here’s the result:


Cute, huh!

Nothing like a bit of blue sky, some gorgeous green grass and a smattering of perspective to change the subject. Here’s N’s choice for our next snap:


Had to do a bit of straightening up on that photo to get the tree to stand upright and stop the horizon from tilting, but I think it came out alright – what do you reckon?

The subject of the next photo is too small to be a coal-hole and too big for the mice to have built it, but one of these is a feature of every house on Curzon Terrace:


I have not the faintest idea what this is, but me likes it! Something to do with angels and horseshoes, maybe?

A lovely example, on Albemarle Road, of the kind of shiny foliage (holly leaves are another) that lasts all year round:


Isn’t that just lush!

And look at this for a great example of resilience, determination and tenacity from further up the same street:


Some may call that a weed, but we call it nature at her best.

And to finish off, I snapped me another piece of wall from up on Ovington Terrace:


I took it from an angle to try to give some idea of the three-dimensional (3D) nature of the marvellous texture there. Not sure if a 2D photo really does it justice. We’ll probably have to wait for 3D photography for that. Any boffins out there?

And that’s it for today – thanks for reading. Loves – R & N:


Life by Squares – B3

This walk in York is split into two part: the morning wander is on the South side of the Ouse and the evening one is along the North bank. Not many roads here so it’s pretty much all about prettiness.


I think that today I’m going to cut down on the chat and let these photographs speak for themselves. Of course, you know that this ain’t gonna happen, but the intention was there.

It was a beautifully sunny morning. Little bit nippy (about 5°C) but nothing a warm coat couldn’t cope with. This is snapped from the road (Water End) towards the river Ouse:


And so is this:


Don’t you just love how the sun makes everything that little bit more jolly? Make the most if it though, if you’re in England – apparently we are going to get some winds from Russia this weekend with temperature dipping down to -8°C according to one newspaper and -20°C if you take the word of another.

But for now – enjoy the spring-like grass:


… and the spring-ish sky:


… not to mention the springy tree:


… and the … er … pampas grass tickling the tree:


That was in someone’s garden, but can you imagine what a wondrous sight a whole plain covered with pampas grass would look like! I wonder if anything like that still exists.

I think that these are called snowdrops:


Love, love, love what the clouds are doing in this next shot:


Here are some trees playing hide and seek with the York Minster:


And finally, for the morning session, this is a shot of civilisation, in the form of Scarborough Bridge, appearing around the river bend. By this time I was up for a pee and so this vision was doubly welcome:


That moody little shot marked the end of the morning session.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the afternoon/evening shots are a little muddier. That’s what winter does to England. The first shot is of the same Scarborough bridge but from the other bank and towards the other side of it:


Ha – and I thought the morning shot was moody!

Then there’s a sequence of tree/water/sky:


I could have used effects to brighten them up, but I didn’t. Another:


That one was taken without framing or posing the tree. Love the flash of red.

And another:


I’ve taken these same photos in summer and they look ravishing. Now? Not so much.

And another:


Mud, mud, glorious mud!

Now the next one has had an effect applied to it. My phone seems to analyse my shots, pick the best ones and then tell me that it’s optimised them. Here’s what it did to this:


What do you think? An improvement? I like the lone person walking on the path.

Here’s a fragment of a tree:


I know – maybe I should have skipped that one.

Around the river bend, over the other side of the Ouse, I caught the dying embers of a sunset long gone:


Looks like something caught fire …

Then, finally, this:



Life by Squares – A4

I arrived at work ultra-late this morning (9:40am when I generally work from 8 ’til 4). The reason for this is that today, I decided to wander around York early rather than late.

I choose somewhere with few roads so that I wouldn’t be uber-ultra-late, so this is where I went this morning:


Not much to go on, right? Well, wrong, actually! There’s a whole post-industrial feel to this landscape that reminds me strongly of where I grew up in Sheffield and this gave me some interesting shots. Whether you feel the same is open to debate.

Coming around the corner into Leeman Road, my back to the railway bridge (see above) I came across one of my favourite subjects. Yep – it’s another tree:


When I take shots of trees I like to get the branches outlined nicely against the sky, with no other structures getting in the way and I nearly almost got that here. Love the stark shadows here and the way the sun nestles, nice and polite, into the fence.

Note to self: find out why buildings, fences and poles always seem to lean into my photos.

Sad indicator of … something or other:


I have mixed feelings about this empty billboard. On the one hand it’s sad to see evidence of the decline of the economy, yet on the other it’s nice to see a check to the rampant consumerism that plagues the world. It’d be nice if we could slow down and take a rest. Not sure how we could do that and still have a good standard of living, but there must be a way, right? Anybody?

Seemed to me like this is an odd place to put a bench:


I mean – it’s not as if there’s much of a view here! Still, you can’t knock a bit of shade from the sunshine and rest from the rat-race. Picture the locals meeting to sit and have a chin-wag, oblivious to time and circumstance and I guess you’ve got the point. Maybe.

There’s only one side-street showing on this map, whereas in reality, there are several. I walked down a couple of them and found this at the end of Carlisle Street:


Actually, seen from this angle, the photo doesn’t really show what I wanted it to, but just over the fence, behind the bike, is a little playground. It’s made entirely of tyres that are partly buried in the ground, and gone-to-seed grass hummocks.

You might say to yourself ‘how sad’ but it’s actually miles better than what we had as kids. We had a bit of spare ground that must have looked like a rubbish tip to the casual observer. We (the kids on that street) used to range far and wide and drag all sorts of things back to that bit of scrubland: old carpets from skips, wood from building sites and galvanised sheets from who knows where! The first objective was to build dens. We put ’em up, scroamed around in ’em and tore ’em down with manic intensity and regularity. Then, when bonfire night (remember, remember the 5th of November) came around – everything was used to build the bonfire that everyone on the street came to. And then – we’d start all over again. Anyway – that little playground reminded me of all that.

I took a photo of a couple of rubber bands, and then another of an iced-over puddle, but instead of showing you those, I’ll leave you with this:


No caption necessary.

Life by Squares – A2

Got to admit that I cheated yesterday. I had to work and then I had a dentist appointment straight afterwards. Consequently, I didn’t let the dice choose my wandering location on the map – I picked a place that was on the way home from the dentist. And, because it was going to be dark (and I was going to be hungry), I picked somewhere where I wouldn’t have to do much walking.

Therefore, this is what you’ve got:


Yep – a short walk over the river Ouse and a quick side-step down a couple of three dark and lonely lanes.

You’d think that, because it was so late in the evening, that the photos wouldn’t come out good, but this camera I have (on a Smartphone in fact) consistently amazes me. Look at this view down the railway tracks on Water End:


Over on the left you can just see the York Minster peeking out between the trees so you know that this view is towards York city centre, which is probably a mile and a half away.

Immediately after that I turned and took a snap of the rush-hour traffic on Water End. Just look at all that light:


And look how well behaved the lamp-posts are here – just about all of them are standing up straight! Quite unlike the houses in York, which tend to appear drunk on my shots.

Back to my favourite subjects next – trees and sky. I couldn’t resist this street-lamp lit tree on the junction of Salisbury Road and Water End:


Interesting how it looks weepy down below and plain scary (if you’re that way inclined) against the sky. And what a sky – deep blue – even in the dark!

Underneath a lamp-post further down Water End I saw a puddle, and underneath the puddle I saw a lamp-post:


Now when you think about it – this shot is amazing. It was absolutely pitch black here. When I looked at the pavement, all I could see was darkness and yet – look at what the camera does! And before you say it; no the flash didn’t go off – this is just the amount of ambient light the camera sucks in. Amazink!

Over to the left of Water End was a view out towards the countryside and therefore, theoretically, into the depths of darkness, so I thought I’d see what the camera would do with that:


The light you see on the horizon is remnants of the long-set sun. The light in the middle is a loop of the river Ouse. Not much detail here, but still – a nice little shot.

I walked a little further and crossed the road so that I was over the river Ouse again, but this time looking towards York city centre:


All I could see with my eyes were tiny spots of illumination from the lights on the cycle-path by the river. But my camera was still up to the task. Ah, the sky, the water, the trees!

The rest of the roll is trees against sky, so if that ain’t your bag then look away now. First up we have a shot from the end of Government House Road – a very exclusive little enclave. Surprises me that there were no guards patrolling the razor-wire topped fence. But then again – York isn’t really like that. Anyway – the tree:


Yeah, I know – not that spectacular – but I like it anyway.

Next up is a snap from the end of Ousecliffe Gardens, which (despite how it appears on the map) gives access to both the river and Westminster Road (the next parallel road on). This view is towards the river:


I don’t know what it is about that shot that makes me want to both smile and shrink back at the same time, but that’s probably what makes it my favourite of the evening. Paradox and contrary emotions are what make life interesting, yes?

The last of the trees (of the evening) also has the river (not that you can see it) and that gorgeous sky as a backdrop:


Isn’t that magnificent?

Nuff said.

Life by Squares – C4

I really enjoyed this walk around York because it happened as it was getting dark. I’ve never done a night walk before and so I started off feeling a little trepidatious, but as it turned out – it was wonderful. You might think that it would have been difficult to take photo’s in the dark but, as you’ll see – it’s easy!

Here’s the area I walked:


That map’s starting to get a bit tatty. I hope it’ll last the course.

I began with a few snaps of Christmas decorations (yeah, I know it’s February) but they look a bit lame so let’s skip straight to the good stuff. This is the Holy Trinity Church, which is on Micklegate:


The scene originally caught my eye because of all the flowers (snowdrops?) on the grass – the ones that look like snow, but when I got them into the frame I spotted how nice and warm the colours of the church are – so I took a picture of that instead too.

Parallel to Micklegate is Toft Green. It’s the road you use to access all the back doors and make deliveries and stuff. Across the road is the council building. And attached to that is this:


I guess it’s a bicycle shed, but look at those colours! It’s like a warm cave – a harbour in the night – a place where you can sit around the campfire and scoff at all the wolf and bear noises happening in the distance. Put the baked beans on, Ma!

Further down the same road is this fence:


There was a car parked at the bottom with headlights on, and the fence was reflecting the light. The photo doesn’t really do it justice, but you can just about see the effect. The building on the left hosts the council offices.

I suppose you’ve been noticing that gorgeous sky. The colours in the photos are actually quite close to how it was. This is the view from the bottom of Toft Green:


Fairy-tale castle, right?

Around the corner from that is Station Road – the venue for what is probably my favourite shot of the evening. If you look at the map you can see that this is a view of trees over the city wall:


But oh – just look at the colour of that sky! Beautiful, right!

When I came to Lendal Bridge I could not resist taking this photograph of the Ouse:


You can just about see where the sun set an hour or so before. It’s that reddish tinge in the sky. I love this place. Love this photograph. Love the light.

And talking about light – I walked over the bridge and descended down to the riverside. That’s where I took the next photograph. Just look at that:


Isn’t light just the most beautiful thing ever! Without it none of these photos would exist. Without light, we wouldn’t exist. Love the light.

And that’s it. I walked further on, but down darker streets – and you wouldn’t want to follow me down there now would you!

Life by Squares – B6

The dice have spoken and consequently (or is it subsequently) I have walked the streets of Holgate, which is a very nice part of York. It features a racecourse (horses), allotments, a hill (rare in York) and sunshine (limited offer only). As usual, I used the map I found on this site to aid me. This is a snap of the part I explored:


As I said, this a much nicer part of town than … some of the others. It’s older and grander and there’s more greenery here. In fact, there’s so much plant-life that they even use it to cunningly disguise the street furniture:


That was on Scarcroft Road, just by the side of the bowling green.

Across the road is the hill I mentioned – Scarcroft Hill to be precise:


Believe it or not, this is probably one of the steepest places in the whole of York, which is, on the whole, very flat (and slightly boring for it). I was born in Sheffield and the hilly nature of the city (seven of them (like Rome)) is one of the things I miss about it. The views are amazing, you see.

Further on up the hill, I couldn’t help noticing that the sun was shining. I think it was the fact that I started to sweat that alerted me. The temperature was hovering just above zero degrees Celsius today, but it didn’t feel anything like as low as that. Any-which-way-on – here’s a snap I took of the sun whilst in the shade of a skinny tree:


Look – there’s a rainbow that I made! As per normal, the houses are drunk in my photographs. Do you think it’s a setting on my camera that I need to change? Or perhaps I need to wean them off the alcohol. And hey – you think that’s a UFO in the sky there?

You know what? It looked so positively springlike today so I went in search of something green, and I found it at the end of St James Mount:


Ain’t that just beautiful! My memory reliably informs me that this is a Rhododendron bush. Unfortunately, it couldn’t tell me how to spell that word so thank you Mr Dictionary for correcting me.

I was on Aldemarle Road when this whole bunch of car-shadows caught my eye, but when I look at the photo now, I reckon that real life was much better so I’m going to show you a field instead. Oh, wait – skip that – it looks really boring on screen. How about this instead:


It’s a view from Tadcaster Road across Knavesmire of the York Racecourse. And there are trees in it too!

And, sticking with the trees for now – here’s a picture of another weeping birch from the north-western end of St. Aubyn’s Place:


I gots love me a weeping birch! Yeah, that phrase makes no sense to me neither, but I reckon that this tree will look truly spectacular in the spring.


I was at the bottom curve (behave now!) of Trentholme Drive when I got to thinking about buds. I couldn’t see any on the trees and bushes that died back in winter, but on close examination, there were plenty of buds and flowers elsewhere. In fact, in the next photo, you can see three stages of development all in one:


I don’t know the proper terms, but there’s pre-flowers, flowers and … post-flowers – all on the same plant. Isn’t nature marvellous!

Did you ever read a book called The Secret Garden? No, me neither, but the image still sticks in my mind, and this is the kind of sight, further down Tadcaster Road, that epitomises it for me:


And with that, I’ll bid you au-revoir – thanks for keeping me company on my trip to B6 in York.

Let’s hope the weather is good tomorrow.

Life by Squares – D4

Third in the incredibly unpopular series of meandering around York – not just through the streets but within the realm of my own mind. This is the web location of the map I printed off and here is a photo of the area I explored:


As you can see, there’s a fair old bit of territory there and so here is a confession: I cheated! Yes, I know, I know – it’s shocking. Instead of walking down every single street, I contented myself with eyeballing them all instead. My excuse? It’s minus out there and it’s snowing!

I started by the famous York Minster, but instead of taking the usual tourist shot, I snapped a reflection of the building in one of the decorative … things on the steps:


But if you don’t like that, search for York Minster on the internet and you will find gazillions of images!

As I was walking past the back edge of the Minster I noticed this fella in a tree. He (no, I didn’t check the gender – I’m just supposing) obliged me by staying still long enough for me to snap him:


I like seeing birds in trees – there’s something about it that makes me feel, I don’t know – comforted somehow. Any shrinks out there want to hazard a guess as to why?

What’s next, what’s next? Erm – can’t remember so I’ll just go ahead and insert it:


Oh yeah, this one. After walking around for a while watching the people passing by and musing on the vanity of flesh (there was this one lady who’d dyed her white and thinning hair purple, and another who was stuffing a pastie into her mouth as if her life depended on it (and it clearly didn’t when you looked at her girth), and another guy with wild eyes and a homeless expression on his face who was showing the police constable I-know-not-what down a dark alley that led to the river, and further on the police were trying to talk to another homeless guy in a shop doorway but his only reply was to take off his beanie-hat, rip out the label with his teeth and put it back on again, and there were all sorts of people walking with me through the snow) I was struck by how there’s the world people see and then the one that they don’t. To illustrate this I took a picture down a grate in the middle of the most affluent and grand(ish) part of town (Coney Street). Make of it what you will.

Then there was a tree silhouetted against a perfectly white sky and a church (All Saints, Pavement):


And some snow on the wall next to the church:


And then some more snow falling past this building on the corner of Stonebow and Garden Place:


And yes – that really is a building. Each of the rectangular shapes is a brick and each of the diamonds is many feet tall and I’m surprised I didn’t get arrested for taking a picture of this place because it’s the main telephone exchange in York. It would be a prime target for … all sorts of nefarious stuff. I’ll say no more.

Here’s view of the York Mister from St. Saviours Place:


What do you mean ‘which part of it is the Minster?’ It’s the two greyish looking crowns and the squarish lump in the middle of the bottom of the frame. When I took the snap looked very picturesque – what with the snow falling and all of that. You can see the snow in the photo, but it mainly looks like ash from a … I was going to say a nuclear explosion, but actually, I’ve never seen one of those. It looks like soot. Okay?

On the north-facing wall of Saint Andrew’s Evangelical Church (on St Andrewgate) is this walled up place:


Walled up places always make me wonder who is walled up behind them. Yep, you’re right – I read too many Edgar Allan Poe books as a teenager.

These trees are right in the middle of town – on Parliment Street. I snapped them because (as you probably can’t see unless you look very closely) the Christmas decorations are still up (in February!), and they are still lit up (in the middle of the day!!) Out-blooming-rageous. Someone should write to their MP.


Oh, actually – you can see the lights. Aren’t they pretty!

To finish off, I took a picture of a goose:


It was patently ignoring me as I squatted behind it on the banks of the river Ouse so I started making noises to try to attract its attention. Here are some sounds that do not cause a goose to turn its head:

  • Oi
  • Psst
  • Quack.

Here’s what did cause it to turn one beady eye towards me:

  • Tut.

Thus proving that geese are …

I’ve been staring out of the window for a good few seconds trying to think what this proves and the only thing I can think of is that it demonstrates that my brain does not work optimally when I need food. That said, it doesn’t work that well after I’ve just eaten either. Maybe I should just leave it at that.

Half past two in the afternoon – I’m going to get some food now. Have a nice day, y’all.