Walton Colliery nature park

  • Birches

I got so much from working in black and white last weekend but with some winter sun at last as we walked around the woodland and the lagoons at Walton Colliery nature park I couldn’t resist the  autumn colour against that clear blue sky.

Jay, buzzard and cormorant flew over.

Be a Tree

crab apple4.55 pm; Blackbirds are alarming as the gloom of sunset fades out the remaining colour in our back garden. Not that we can see the sun setting; it’s remained cloudy with varying degrees of gloom all day.

In contrast to the twilight mood, the golden hornet crab apple by the pond is bubbling with pale yellow fruits, festooned with golden baubles.

In movement and dance, school children are asked to be a tree. What kind of tree would you be if you decided to be an autumnal golden hornet?

Although it is stretching to the skies in classic tree-mime fashion, those awkwardly bent limbs suggest that it might be attempting to support the firmament – like the Viking cosmic tree – rather than reaching for the sky in hopeful supplication.

A couple of broken paving slabs that I’ve leant against the raised bed give the impression in my sketch that the crab might have used those scraggly limbs to scrabble and scrooge up from an underground lair, like Mole in The Wind in the Willows.

Dripped in Ink

sketchbook and notebookDrawn, or rather dripped, in bamboo pen using Daler-Rowney Calli waterproof ink, the drawing is so blotty that it will take days to dry, so I’m photographing it rather than laying it on the scanner. And thank goodness I didn’t use my regular sketchbook and put that out of action.

As I got inky fingers opening the bottle, I thumbprinted the basic shape of the main stem on the blank page before I started the drawing. I decided that might take away the some of the scariness of the blank white sheet while working against the clock.

I started at at five to four and called it a day after fifteen minutes.

Drawn by Hand


albumLooking back on the black and white album that I put together for a Facebook challenge, I’m surprised how much I managed to do over a 5 day period, just setting myself the achievable goal of posting five black and white photographs a day.

My thanks to John Welding for suggesting the challenge. It came just at the right time and got Barbara and I out and looking at things in a different way. The weather wasn’t sparkling but the couple of days since have been even more damp and dismal.

‘November seems ideal for black and white.’ says John, ‘Grey, misty. Tonal.’

Yes, I always think of warm autumn colours but colour is so seductive that I neglect the tonal values that could give an image some structure.

handI’d like to try a similar thing with short sessions focussed on taking shots of animals or making widescreen movies about a particular place. It’s made me dig out the manual for my FujiFilm FinePix S6800 bridge camera.

But it’s back to pen and ink and watercolours and writing now, including these two hands drawn in waiting rooms yesterday.

‘You’re passing the time by doodling!’ quipped a passing physio.

Doodling? Hmm!


Moss Garden

  • Leaf of leek.

It’s my final day of taking five black and white photographs a day but this time I didn’t get the chance to go further than the back garden. The mossy lawn, overgrown pond and garden shed didn’t look very inspiring but as soon as I saw the honey fungus on the path I began to focus in on the grassroot jungle of the meadow and the moss garden on the sandstone rocks surrounding the raised bed.

Notton Bridge

  • Railside path, Notton Bridge, near Royston

At Notton Bridge the Trans Pennine Trail passes the Chevet branch line, itself now a traffic-free cycle route and, in part, a nature reserve.

Caphouse Nature Trail

  • Canker.

Photographed this morning on the nature trail at the National Coal Mining Museum for England, Caphouse Colliery, Overton, West Yorkshire.

Nostell Priory

  • Cross-bedding in sandstone on the kitchen extension to Obelisk Lodge at Nostel Priory.

A Spaniel in the Wood

Cloud Base

heronspire in the mistA grey heron doggedly makes its morning rounds against an equally grey sky.

The cathedral spire, looming out of the afternoon fog, appears to connect with the cloud base.

The Brick-banked Beck

gulls by the beckbindweedThe Westgate gulls are there again, gyrating around some centre of attraction hidden down in the brick-banked beck.

A few white trumpets of greater bindweed remain on the twisting vines on a chain-link fence at the edge of a car park.

wasp clusterI return to a dozen wasps, some dozy, some dead, to evict from my studio this afternoon. The way three of them were huddling up in the top corner of the window this morning, I’d guess that they were  hunkering down for the winter but only the queens will make it through to the spring.

They’ve been nesting in the roof-space in an ever-expanding colony since midsummer.


welbeckgulls at the bottom of Westgategull on playing fieldA hill across the Calder valley from Wakefield has been created by landfill, taking waste from across the district and beyond. I’ve seen huge flocks of gulls swirling over it but this afternoon they’re gathering in smaller groups on playing fields around the city and near Westgate Beck, which runs alongside the Dewsbury road into town.

As the sun sets, more gulls are making their way down the valley towards Pugneys country park lake, which has long been a gull roost.

The City and Moor

city and moorDistant moors are turning bronze-gold as the sun dips behind them. From Pinderfields, looking back to the city across twelve acres of open fields (now earmarked for residential development) you appreciate how Wakefield, a market town at least since early medieval times, fits into the landscape.

ochre hedgeMigrating birds travelling north or south across Yorkshire or from east and west across the Pennines, follow similar routes to the Roman roads, packhorse trails, inland navigation, rail routes and motorways that have played such a part in the development of the town.

A ragged row of trees by a car park on the edge of the city has now turned to full autumn ochre.