Applecross 2. Highlands. Scotland
Applecross 2. Highlands. Scotland

The light on this evening on the island of Jura has been washed so clear by one of the frequent storms that diminishing detail with distance is all but non-existent. The clouds on the far horizon are as sharp as the foreground rocks. Venus, hanging in the sky to the west, is astonishingly clear.

Applecross. Highlands. Scotland
Applecross. Highlands. Scotland
Cademuir Farm. Peebleshire. Scotland
Cademuir Farm. Peebleshire. Scotland

A Borders farmer sets off to attend to his sheep, accompanied by his help-mate, a Border Collie.

Total Solar Eclipse. Stockwood. England
Total Solar Eclipse. Stockwood. England

Moments before total darkness, this apocalytic scene was reminiscent of something from an opera by Wagner.

York Minster. Yorkshire. England
York Minster. Yorkshire. England

York Minster is the see of The Archbishop of York, 3rd in the heirarchy of The Church of England. On the death of his father, Constantine became Emperor of Rome in AD 306 on the site of the Minister. Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to adopt Christianity. After his proclamation of religious freedom in 314, Eboracum, the Roman name for York, had its first bishop. A church has stood on this site since 627. Building started on the present Minster in 1220 and was completed in 1472.

Village cricket match. Chitterne.Wilts. England
Village cricket match. Chitterne.Wilts. England

Cricket is the quintessential English summer game. Pitches are frequently overlooked by the parish church due to the ancient layout of English villages. A tent or, if the cricket club has had a successful fundraiser, a permanent pavillion, will serve tea, cakes, pies and sandwiches between innings. At the end of the match refreshments are usually taken at the nearest pub, where boasts about success or complaints about umpiring decisions will occupy many hours.

The Lime Walk. Holland Park. London. England
The Lime Walk. Holland Park. London. England

Holland Park is the name of an area of Kensington which includes the park. Named after Holland House, a Jacobean mansion largely destroyed by NAZI firebombs in WW2, the park includes a Japanese Garden, an open air theatre, a cricket pitch and The Design Museum.

The Cat Women of Green Park. London. England
The Cat Women of Green Park. London. England

Green Park is one of the three parks surrounding Buckingham Palace, London. The older of these two women spent all day in the park with the dogs and a pram loaded with 4-5 boxes. Each box contained 3-4 cats. The younger woman would return in the evening and together they would make their way to Victoria station to spend the night. Over the several days I observed the women I never saw the cats released from the boxes. The older woman would open a box to feed the cats and then close it again.

Tate Modern Forecourt. London. England
Tate Modern Forecourt. London. England
Sunrise. Marlborough Downs. Wiltshire. England.
Sunrise. Marlborough Downs. Wiltshire. England.

The Romans called their province of Britannia 'the blue island' because of the blue haze that is so common in the damp atmosphere of Britain.

Stonehenge. Wiltshire. England
Stonehenge. Wiltshire. England

The Wiltshire downs around the site of Stonehenge are rich in pre-historic features. The earliest date from 8500 BCE. The earliest features at the Stonehenge site date from 3000 BCE. The present monument, the rings of standing trilithons, was erected around 2500 BCE. The last activity at the site took place around 1800 - 1500 BCE. Stonehenge was the site of 150 burials & 64 cremations. As a sacred site, the stones were laid out as an astronomical instrument to mark the two solcistes.

Salisbury Cathedral Xmas Eve. Salisbury. Wilts. England
Salisbury Cathedral Xmas Eve. Salisbury. Wilts. England

Salisbury cathedral is the only cathedral in England to have been built in one architectural style, Early English Gothic. The main body of the cathedral was completed in 40 years from 1220 to 1260. The spire, 404 feet/123m high, was added 100 years later, in 1320.

Salisbury Cathedral Xmas Day. Salisbury. Wilts. England
Salisbury Cathedral Xmas Day. Salisbury. Wilts. England

The cathedral, apart from its inherent beauty, is notable for having one of the 4 originals of Magna Carta and a medieval clock reputed to be the world's oldest working clock, dating from 1386. It has no face but strikes the bell every 15 minutes. Problems with the additional weight of the spire, 6500 tonnes, were solved by reinforcements designed and installed by Sir Christopher Wren, architect of St Paul's cathedral in London.

Rocks. Dartmoor. Devon. England
Rocks. Dartmoor. Devon. England

Dartmoor, Devon, is a wild, largely treeless expanse of moorland of 950 sq kms/370 sq miles. It is a National Park. The moor is a great dome of granite 310 million years old, capped with exposed granite outcrops known as 'Tors'. Dartmoor has more rainfall than the already copious amounts that fall in this part of England. Large areas of trackless bogland have given rise to myths and legends and, most famously, the Sherlock Holmes adventure 'The Hound of The Baskervlles'.

Rievaulx Abbey. Yorkshire. England
Rievaulx Abbey. Yorkshire. England

The first religious buildings on the site, temporary timber structures for the monks sent from France, date from 1131. Stone buildings were begun in 1135. The abbey continued to be extended into a magnificent abbey and associated buildings for the community of monks until the Suppression of the Monastries by Henry VIII in 1538-9. The abbey was sold to the 1st Earl of Rutland &, like Glastonbury Abbey & many more, dismantled to provide masonry for buildings erected for the new owner.

Landscape with cottage. Somerset. England.
Landscape with cottage. Somerset. England.

Another example of the archetypal blue haze characteristic of a Britsh landscape.

Ferris Wheel 2. Hyde Park. London.  England
Ferris Wheel 2. Hyde Park. London. England

The lamp in the foreground is still powered by gas. Now lit automatically, not by a lamp-lighter with a flame on a pole.

Landscape with church tower. Somerset.  England
Landscape with church tower. Somerset. England

A scene which is common throughout much of England. A village, the tower of the parish church - which will have been built 600-700 years ago - standing over it. Narrow, twisting lanes following the lines of ancient field boundaries - perhaps only the telegraph poles would have to be removed to show the scene at it would have been when the church was first built.

Hammersmith Bridge. London.  England
Hammersmith Bridge. London. England

Hammersmith Bridge, spanning the Thames between Hammersmith on the north bank & Barnes on the southern, is a fine example of Victorian engineering. Designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, it was opened by the Prince of Wales 1887. Increased traffic has caused the bridge to be closed often for repairs and it is closed now, [Sept 2020] even to pedestrians. An estimate £140 million is needed to return it to use by vehicles. A look at the map will show how necessary this is.

Castle Howard. Yorkshire. England
Castle Howard. Yorkshire. England

Castle Howard is more a palace than a castle. This vast building, designed by Vanburgh assisted by Hawksmoor, has 145 rooms, was begun in 1701 and took 100 years to complete. The village of Henderskelf, owned by the Earl, was demolished to make way for the house. It was the setting for the TV & film adaptations of 'Brideshead Revisited'.

Castlerigg Stone Circle. Keswick.  England
Castlerigg Stone Circle. Keswick. England

This stone circle is one of the many prehistoric features that are more numerous in Britain than any other European country. Castlerigg is a simple circle of stones, 30m in diameter, with outliers and a square of stones within the circle. It was constructed 500 years before Stonehenge, in around 3000 BCE. Unlike Stonehenge it has no burials or cremations associated with it. It is believed to be a purely astronomical structure.

Venus over Ardlussa. Isle of Jura. Scotland.
Venus over Ardlussa. Isle of Jura. Scotland.
North York Moors Historic Railway. Yorkshire.  England
North York Moors Historic Railway. Yorkshire. England

This line runs across the Yorkshire moors from Pickering to Whitby. Built in 1836 by George Stephenson, the engineer who built the first loco to carry passengers on a public rail line, it is now, like other branch lines in Britain only 10-20 miles long, a 'heritage' line. It is questionable whether being pulled by a steam train & watching the Yorkshire countryside go past out of the windows is any different, whatever the rolling stock. But the dedication to keeping it running is admirable.

Oak Tree. Yorkshire. England.
Oak Tree. Yorkshire. England.

A sky very difficult to believe is real. But it is. And, despite being an oak, like any tree on the upland windy parts of this island, bends before the westerly winds.

Fellside. Yorkshire Dales. England
Fellside. Yorkshire Dales. England

This lonely cottage on the skyline, on this bare, bleak Yorkshire fellside, with the clouds perhaps building for a storm, seemed redolent of a setting of a passionate scene in a Bronte novel.

The Magic Gateway. Lowood. Somerset
The Magic Gateway. Lowood. Somerset

In the shadows of the evening, the gateway gives onto another world, bathed in sunlight. This is where we want to go.