Sessile oaks, holly and bramble drawn with a brown 08 Pilot Drawing Pen.
Looking  south; Sessile oaks, holly and bramble drawn with a brown 08 Pilot Drawing Pen in Hahnemuehle Travel Book.

4°C, no breeze, 90% stratus, 1 pm

IS THIS the perfect lunchbreak? – twenty minutes brisk walk, yomping through the mud in places, twenty minutes with my sandwich and flask and even time for a lightning sketch of oaks, holly and bramble, then twenty minutes yomping back.

Nothing but the distant white noise of machinery (or is it the rush of the flooded stream?), the drone of aircraft and the occasional clatter of Wood Pigeon’s wings.

The upper branches of the oaks meet to form a canopy, a tree-top highway for a Grey Squirrel which carefully examines the mossy upper-side of the boughs before stopping to nibble some item – an acorn perhaps – that it has found.

I’ve got a long session of research on the computer today, so I can justify the break as essential rest for my eyes but I better be getting back as my twenty minutes has already extended to thirty.

Coxley Dam is well up – at its maximum, giving an impression, as the opaque eau de Nile water laps around the Crack Willows of its former extent. Plenty of headwater to power the looms of the silk and blanket mills, both now long gone. Power that didn’t have to be translated into electrical current before its final use (that isn’t strictly true as energy can neither be created or destroyed although my post-lunch dip doesn’t seem to recognise that law of thermodynamics).

A Blackbird alarms – perhaps because of the Squirrel.

Diving and Dabbling

IT’S A COUPLE of weeks since we last managed a country walk so we’re glad to be back at Newmillerdam where I sketched the multiple trunks of this Ash on the corner of the Barnsley Road by the old watermill as we waited for our coffee at Becket’s Cafe (formerly the Waterside but recently revamped by the new owners).

Amongst a flock of sheep one has died and Crows and Magpie have gathered to scavenge the carcass.

There are at least 4 Goosanders on the lake, two males and two females. There could have been eight in total but their ability to swim together underwater and pop up together 50 yards away makes me think we saw the one group in two different locations.

A bird which I suspect we often miss spotting at Newmillerdam because it spends so much of its time diving underwater is the Dabchick. After a quick view of it diving we waited a minute or so and, unlike the Goosanders, it popped at the same spot.