Week In Focus #46

This is #46 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. The idea behind the challenge is to get myself outside into the Cumbrian countryside, at least once a week.

  • This week’s photo is of a Victorian Verandah at Cleator Moor in West Cumbria.

The veranda outside of the former Co-op at Cleator Moor is an interesting feature and much loved by the locals. The Victorian Veranda was added to the Co-operative building in 1876. The verandah is glazed, carried on 13 cast-iron fluted Gothic columns with pierced spandrels and antefixe.

The verandah was restored 1984.

The building itself is topped with welsh roof, with stone coping to south end; brick mid and end chimneys. It has 3 storeys, 13 bays. The ground floor has a C20 shop front divided by original fluted and panelled pilasters carrying cornice on which verandah rests. Sashes without glazing bars in stone surrounds to upper floors.

Cleator Moor Victorian Verandah

Grass With Blue Sky

Week In Focus #43

This is #43 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. The idea behind the challenge is to get myself outside into the Cumbrian countryside, at least once a week.

  • This week’s photo is of grass.

Weak, slender blades of tender green,
With little fragrance, little sheen,
What maketh ye so dear to all?
Nor bud, nor flower, nor fruit have ye,
So tiny, it can only be
‘Mongst fairies ye are counted tall.

No beauty is in this,— ah, yea,
E’en as I gaze on you to-day,
Your hue and fragrance bear me back
Into the green, wide fields of old,
With clear, blue air, and manifold
Bright buds and flowers in blossoming track.

All bent one way like flickering flame,
Each blade caught sunlight as it came,
Then rising, saddened into shade;
A changeful, wavy, harmless sea,
Whose billows none could bitterly
Reproach with wrecks that they had made.

No gold ever was buried there
More rich, more precious, or more fair
Than buttercups with yellow gloss.
No ships of mighty forest trees
E’er foundered in these guiltless seas
Of grassy waves and tender moss.

Ah, no! ah, no! not guiltless still,
Green waves on meadow and on hill,
Not wholly innocent are ye;
For what dead hopes and loves, what graves,
Lie underneath your placid waves,
While breezes kiss them lovingly!

Calm sleepers with sealed eyes lie there;
They see not, neither feel nor care
If over them the grass be green.
And some sleep here who ne’er knew rest,
Until the grass grew o’er their breast,
And stilled the aching pain within.

Not all the sorrow man hath known,
Not all the evil he hath done,
Have ever cast thereon a stain.
It groweth green and fresh and light,
As in the olden garden bright,
Beneath the feet of Eve and Cain.

It flutters, bows, and bends, and quivers,
And creeps through forests and by rivers,
Each blade with dewy brightness wet,
So soft, so quiet, and so fair,
We almost dream of sleeping there,
Without or sorrow or regret.

Emma Lazarus
Grass With Blue Sky
Moor Row

Week In Focus #41

This is #41 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. The idea behind the challenge is to get myself outside into the Cumbrian countryside, at least once a week.

  • This week’s photo is of a floral display in the village that I live, in West Cumbria.

Moor Row is a residential community situated between Whitehaven and Egremont on Cumbria’s coastal plain. The history of Moor Row goes back to at least 1762, but it was the 19th century discovery of iron ore in the vicinity that built the ‘row of houses on a moor’. Cornish tin miners moved here to work the mines, and their presence is noted in a number of street names such as Penzance Street. One street, Dalzell, is named after Thomas Henry Dalzell, a mine owner.

Moor Row’s Montreal Mines produced 250,000 tons a year, the largest of any mine in the Whitehaven or Furness district. The mine property covered 1,000 acres (4.0 km2), half of which was ore bearing. Both open pit and shaft mining took place. Between 1000 and 1200 people were employed locally in the industry.

In 2014, the village was rated sixth in a list of the best places to bring up children. Places were rated for schools, crime, amenities and affordable homes in a list which looked at family-friendly hotspots.

  • The report analysed all 2,400 postcodes in England and Wales using 71 different factors to determine the best locations for families. Scotland and Northern Ireland aren’t included in the study as they do not collect or report data in the same way.
Moor Row
Moor Row
Hadrian's Wall Cycleway

Hadrians Wall Cycleway

This footbridge has replaced an earlier railway bridge, which was demolished in the 1970’s. The bridge is on a section of the Hadrian’s Wall Cycleway. The whole route is 170 miles long, taking in Roman forts, museums, quaint villages and attractive market towns – including Hadrians Wall itself.

The route of the cycleway was officially opened in July 2006. The cycleway, signed as National Route 72, can be cycled in either direction, though it is normally cycled west to east. For a detailed description of the route, and a route map, please visit Sustrans.

  • Stretching 73 miles from coast to coast, Hadrian’s Wall was built to guard the wild north-west frontier of the Roman Empire.

Hadrian’s Wall was the north-west frontier of the Roman empire for nearly 300 years. It was built by the Roman army on the orders of the emperor Hadrian following his visit to Britain in AD 122. At 73 miles (80 Roman miles) long, it crossed northern Britain from Wallsend on the River Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west.

Maximum Headroom 8′ 0″
Crop Of Wild Mushrooms

Week In Focus #39

This is #39 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. The idea behind the challenge is to get myself outside into the Cumbrian countryside, at least once a week.

  • This week’s photo of a crop of wild mushrooms was taken on a local section of Hadrian’s Cycleway, in West Cumbria.

Mushroom Facts:

  1. The Armillaria bulbosa mushroom can grow as big as the Blue Whale
  2. Egyptians considered Mushrooms the plant of immortality.
  3. Mushrooms are known as the meat of the vegetable world.
  4. People who eat wild mushrooms are called Mycophagists.
  5. Over 30 species of Mushroom glow in the dark.
Crop Of Wild Mushrooms
Crop Of Wild Mushrooms
Wheat Field

Thoughts In A Wheat-Field

At the moment, local fields are a lovely golden colour with Wheat ready for harvesting. Rain has currently interrupted farmers from collecting their crop, but as soon as there is a dry spell, they’ll be out in the countryside in their Combines. Hopefully the rain hasn’t damaged their crop, as moisture content is pretty critical.

Did you know? Wheat was first harvested over 12,000 years ago, with its origin being traced back to south east Turkey. It is one of the most successful food crops with 25,000 different varieties!

In his wide fields walks the Master,
In his fair fields, ripe for harvest,
Where the evening sun shines slant-wise
On the rich ears heavy bending;
Saith the Master: ‘It is time.’
Though no leaf shows brown decadence,
And September’s nightly frost-bite
Only reddens the horizon,
‘It is full time,’ saith the Master,
The wise Master, ‘It is time.’

Lo, he looks. That look compelling
Brings his laborers to the harvest;
Quick they gather, as in autumn
Passage-birds in cloudy eddies
Drop upon the seaside fields;
White wings have they, and white raiment,
White feet shod with swift obedience,
Each lays down his golden palm branch,
And uprears his sickle shining,
‘Speak, O Master,–is it time?’

O’er the field the servants hasten,
Where the full-stored ears droop downwards,
Humble with their weight of harvest:
Where the empty ears wave upward,
And the gay tares flaunt in rows:
But the sickles, the sharp sickles,
Flash new dawn at their appearing,
Songs are heard in earth and heaven,
For the reapers are the angels,
And it is the harvest time.

O Great Master, are thy footsteps
Even now upon the mountains?
Are thou walking in thy wheat-field?
Are the snowy-wingèd reapers
Gathering in the silent air?
Are thy signs abroad, the glowing
Of the distant sky, blood-reddened,
And the near fields trodden, blighted,
Choked by gaudy tares triumphant,
Sure, it must be harvest time?

Who shall know the Master’s coming?
Whether it be at dawn or sunset,
When night dews weigh down the wheat-ears,
Or while noon rides high in heaven,
Sleeping lies the yellow field?
Only, may thy voice, Good Master,
Peal above the reapers’ chorus,
And dull sound of sheaves slow falling,
‘Gather all into My garner,
For it is My harvest time.’

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
Wheat Field
Wheat Field

Week In Focus #38

This is #38 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. The idea behind the challenge is to get myself outside into the Cumbrian countryside, at least once a week.

  • This week, I have three photographs for you to take a look at, of the lovely, historic town of Cockermouth.

Just outside the Lake District National Park, Cockermouth is located at the mouth of the River Cocker – hence its name. The town is prone to flooding and has experienced severe floods in 2005, 2009, and 2015.

Threatening Clouds Over The River Cocker
Threatening Clouds Over The River Cocker

The town is the birth-place of William and Dorothy Wordsworth and Fletcher Christian, who led the renowned mutiny on the Bounty. John Dalton, the noted scientist and father of the atomic theory, and Fearon Fallows, HM Astronomer Royal, were born in or near the town. It even nurtured the talents of New Zealand-born England all-round cricketer, and World Cup winner, Ben Stokes.

Cockermouth also lays claim to be the first town in Britain to have piloted electric lighting. In 1881 six powerful electric lamps were set up to light the town, together with gas oil lamps in the back streets. Service proved intermittent, and there was afterwards a return to gas lighting.

  • The town is often included in compilations of ‘rude’ place names. A fact which is probably more to do with the minds of those carrying out the research, rather than the actual meaning of the name.

Much of the architectural core of the town remains unchanged since the basic medieval layout was filled in the 18th and 19th centuries. The regenerated market place is now a central historical focus within the town and reflects events during its 800-year history.

Hidden Lane At Cockermouth
A Hidden Lane At Cockermouth

The main town developed under the Normans who, after occupying the former Roman fort, built Cockermouth Castle closer to the river crossing: little remains today of the castle thanks to the efforts of Robert the Bruce. The market town developed its distinctive medieval layout, of a broad main street of burgesses’ houses, each with a burgage plot stretching to a “back lane”: the Derwent bank on the north and Back Lane (now South Street), on the south. The layout is largely preserved, leading the British Council for Archaeology to say in 1965 that it was worthy of special care in preservation and development.

Although Carlisle was considered the county town of Cumberland, Cockermouth shared the county assizes with Carlisle, and prior to the Reform Act 1832 was the usual venue for electing knights of the shire as MPs for Cumberland. Cockermouth borough was also a parliamentary borough from 1641 to 1918, returning two MPs until 1868 and one thereafter.

The town market pre-dates 1221, when the market day was changed from Saturday to Monday. Market charters were granted in 1221 and 1227 by King Henry III, although this does not preclude the much earlier existence of a market in the town. In recent times, the trading farmers market now only occurs seasonally, replaced by weekend continental and craft markets.

Cockermouth Is Full Of Historic Character
Cockermouth Is Full Of Historic Character
John Paul Jones Spiking A Whitehaven Cannon

Week In Focus #33

This is picture #33 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. The idea behind the challenge is to get myself outside into the Cumbrian countryside, at least once a week.

  • This week’s photo is of a statue of John Paul Jones, the founder of the US Navy. On April 22, 1778 Jones, along with some of his crew attacked the Port of Whitehaven in West Cumbria. It was the last time the English mainland was invaded by foreign forces.

John Paul was born at Kirkbean in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, in 1747. He crossed the solway and began working in Whitehaven as an apprentice to a local merchant. His first voyage was made to America in the ‘Friendship of Whitehaven.’

Later he obtained command of the ‘Betsy of London’ in which he traded to the West Indies. During one of the expeditions to India the crew mutinied due to arrears of pay. This mutiny led to the death of the ringleader of the mutineers. John Paul’s friends persuaded him to flee from Tobago to the mainland. Here he assumed the name of Jones.

In the meantime relations between Britain and the Colonies was approaching a state of high tension. Due to the ineptitude and tactlessness of the British Government war broke out. Jones applied for and received a commission in the Infant Congressional Navy. He was appointed first lieutenant of the ‘Alfred’ and so distinguished himself in his duties that he was put in command of the ship USS Ranger’ on 1st November 1777.

In December of 1777 Jones set sail on a voyage around the British coast with a view to inflicting as much damage as possible on the enemy. Embittered by the events that had clouded his career as a merchant seaman he prepared to wreck the entire merchant fleet at Whitehaven. Prior to John Paul’s raid on Whitehaven his ship, the USS Ranger, was challenged off the coast of the Isle of Man by HMS Revenue Cutter ‘Hussar’ from Whitehaven. Following a brief engagement, the ‘Hussar’ received a hit on the stern and holes in her mainsail, the cutter escaped and returned to Whitehaven where the ship USS Ranger was reported as a vessel with hostile intentions.

On 18th April 1778 he attempted a descent on the town, but was foiled by contrary winds. On the evening of the 22nd he was lying in wait off Whitehaven. His call for volunteers met with poor response, but eventually Jones set out to attack the fleet of 200 collier vessels docked at Whitehaven, but due to the defection of one of his crew, who alerted the town, he was forced to retreat having created very little damage.

Following Jones’ attack on Whitehaven, the effect on the town was great, it spurred Whitehaven into considerable activity in improving its fortifications. The attack also embarrassed the British government immensely, they immediately ordered the Royal Navy to hunt him down. The Navy sent 12 ships to search the Irish Sea for Jones, but success was not forthcoming. Jones eventually accepted service as a Rear Admiral in the Russian Navy, but his career was wrecked by an accusation of rape, which was never proved or disproved. He returned to France, and there he died at the age of 45.

In 1913 his remains were removed to the crypt in the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. In 1999, during Whitehaven’s inaugural Maritime Festival, John Paul Jones and the United States of America were granted an official pardon by the people of Whitehaven following events during the war of independence.

John Paul Jones Spiking A Whitehaven Cannon
Statue Of John Paul Jones Spiking A Cannon
The Hoverfly


When I first set eyes upon this little critter, I did think it was a Wasp, but on closer inspection and thanks to Google Lens, I discovered it was the Hoverfly.

As the name suggests, they are often seen hovering or nectaring at flowers. Adults are very similar in appearance. Females may be distinguished by the former having entirely yellow femorae (thigh bone), and from the latter by having no hairs present in their eyes. Males also have bare eyes.

Hoverflies are brightly coloured and very common in gardens – many people will be familiar with them. Many have black and yellow markings and so are often confused with bees and wasps. However hoverflies are totally harmless and are definitely a gardener’s friend, as the larvae of several common species have a voracious appetite for aphids!

The main difference between a wasp and a hoverfly is that the wasp has four wings, hoverflies have two.

  • There are over 280 species of hoverflies in Britain.
The Hoverfly
The Hoverfly
Hoverfly Close-up (Cropped)
Hoverfly Close-up (Cropped)