Recharging my soul

I’m a humanist so I regard my soul as my inner being – the place where all the components that make me me live.  My soul has felt a little degraded recently along with my confidence.  Not sure why …………….could be an age thing!  But today, today its been rejuvenated.  How????  Very simple……….my trusty Virago 535 and the Yorkshire countryside.  What more could you want?


A 67 mile round trip to Malham in North Yorkshire.  Originally, I decided to go and see the peregrines at the Cove.  Peregrines at Balham Cove,  So loaded my bike with my heavy camera rucksack with my Canon 7D with large zoom attached and set off.  However, when I got there, after a lovely cup of coffee and carrot cake, I took the path I thought led to the Cove, but yet again my memory mis-served me and it was the path to Janets Foss.  So didn’t need the rucksack! Doh!


It was a lovely walk though.  So peaceful, gorgeous sunny weather and lots of birdsong.


The wild garlic covered the floor, a missile thrush sang its heart out, a dipper in the stream was gathering food for its young residing in a hollowed out tree trunk and a woodpecker drummed in the distance.


Janets Foss wasn’t as full as normal but this border collie was enjoying the cool water.

Don’t know what a zebra was doing in the Yorkshire Dales!  This pub supplied a welcome cold drink and although I didn’t partake the food looked gorgeous.  I will be back.


A very short walk just over 2 miles, but can be easily extended by carrying on across the road after Janets Foss and following the footpath to the cove.

I love my adopted county and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.




Today I found this  in the woods.  An explanation again from Secret Leeds 

Spackler wrote:
In 1861 the headmaster of Woodhouse Grove School agreed with Thornhill Trustees to lay a pipe from two springs in Calverley Wood so to supply pure water to the school. This agreement lasted 34 years. The small reservoir in the wood still remains.

This extract is from the wonderful ‘Guide to the Calverley Millennium Way’ which is available free in the area. I too had been trying to find out what this well/pond was after stumbling upon it. The little guide has loads on the history of the area and is a credit to those who produced it.




I have fallen in love with Calverley Woods.  A magical place where my Tolkienesque imagination abounds.  A wonderful playground for dogs and humans, with a interesting history. POWs, fireworks, quarries, stone circles and prehistoric markings.


Mighty trees arms stretched wide

Trunks gnarled and smooth

Leaves broad and small

Colours every hue of green and brown

Glades and copses

Paths that wind

Round and round

Up and down

Over roots and boulders

Tunnels of trees and bushes

Glisten in the sunlight and rain

A playground for the imagination.

Below is a small area of the woods.  Check out Secret Leeds for more fastinating history about the woods, including descriptions of the explosion at the fireworks factory from people around at the time.


IMG_3821Had a lovely walk this morning in glorious sunshine, over the golf course and through the wood at Paul’s Pond.

The pond drained to repair the dam.  Below is some information about it from Councillor Barry Anderson.IMG_3820IMG_3819

June 23rd, 2016
I have been advised of the information below by the Council’s Parks Officer:

“On the 4th July we intend to start essential dam works at Paul’s Pond. Since December 2015 we have been monitoring the dam as a small depression was seen by the dam wall close to where the valve chamber is located. In March the situation changed dramatically with a large swallow hole appearing on the other side of the dam path close to the valve chamber. As a result of this we brought in a Reservoir Inspector to look at the situation. The outcome of the survey was a leaking dam wall and emergency repairs required to prevent a breach leading to a loss of the contained water.

Please note that the current position is not life threatening or likely to cause substantial damage to assets.

The works are going to entail: –

An additional valve attached behind the existing valve to have a back-up in case one of the valves fail.
A 600mm lowering of the water level to reduce the likelihood of a breach occurring and make the structure safer
Removal of all fish from Paul’s Pond
The removal of all silt in a 30 metre radius from the valve chamber. The silt will be deposited behind the willows at the south end of the Paul’s Pond in straw bale enclosures.
Removal of all vegetation growing out of the upstream face of the dam wall. Stumps to be treated with glyphosate to prevent regrowth.
Removal of all trees on the downstream face of the dam to the point of the dam toe. The end result will be a grass banking to facilitate easy checking of the dam structure for leaks and to prevent tree roots compromising the dam structure. All timber to be removed from site, brash chipped and removed as well.
Draining Paul’s Pond to enable works to be done on the dam wall. If the leaks are high up it may be possible to avoid a complete drain.
Excavate behind the dam wall in the vicinity of the valve chamber to locate the leak points
Apply puddling clay and maybe a cement face to the leak areas and backfill with the excavated soil.

For the works to take place the following measures will also be employed: –

Closure of footpaths in the areas of the tree works.
Closure of paths in the vicinity of the dam repairs.
A temporary enclosure at the south end of the Breary Marsh next to the bridleway entrance from the A660. Welfare facility to be installed, puddling clay stored, temporary stock pile area for felled timber, stone for path remediation works and creating temporary stream crossing.
Removal of some trees on the access route to the dam from the above enclosure
600mm pipe covered with crushed stone to enable a safe vehicle crossing at the horse ford in Breary Marsh (On access route to dam)
Ecologist to be employed to remove crayfish where the silt traps are to be located below the valve chamber culvert, where the vehicle crossing is to be constructed and from the false stream that runs from the valve chamber to the spillway water channel (this will dry-up when the leak is repaired).”




My Patch

The spring is nearly dried up but the irises still bloom every year where it used to bubble above the surface.

Tetley loves to gallop through the buttercups and the hawthorn is looking rather gorgeous this year.






The photo on the right shows  vesuvius in the back- ground.


This Roman town, significantly smaller than Pompeii, was once a seaside resort and trading port town with quite wealthy inhabitants.  There were about 4,000 inhabitants.

Herculanium is very well preserved, better than Pompeii, because whilst Pompeii was buried under the ashes when Mount Vesuvius erupted, Herculaneum was buried under tonnes of lava and mud in A.D. 79.







Herculaneum was originally discovered when a well was being dug in the early 18th Century at a depth of 50 – 60 feet below the modern surface. Initially a series of ‘robber’ shafts and tunnels were dug to strip the site of any saleable valuables.



A basic plan of the town was mapped out and much of the portable remains removed but eventually these tunnels collapsed and were closed down. The modern towns of Resina and Portici grew up over the site and knowledge of where the entrances to the tunnels were was lost to the scientific community.



In the 20th Century, archaeological excavations re-commenced on a more modern and scientific basis fully uncovering a small section of the town but it was found that the earlier tunnelling had damaged the structure of much of the surviving buildings. The site is also suffering from exposure to the elements and the periodic earth tremors, so there is a constant battle to try and preserve the remains.




The mosaic on the right was on the floor in the baths.







The mosaics and wall frescos are amazingly well preserved.



In the 1980s hundreds of bodies were uncovered between the arches tucked into the town walls (boat storage areas) and the wall of volcanic stone the entrance tunnel buries through. It is believed that people fleeing the city huddled here in the hopes the arches would provide protection from the volcano.



The majority of people who died were gassed by the sulphuric fumes.  They were not prepared at all.

At the time of eruption the Roman senator and writer, Pliny the younger, was seventeen years old. He later gave a very accurate account of the eruption which has survived to this day in the form of two letters which he wrote to his friend, the historian Tacitus. Here are the extracts of his accounts, showing how a volcano seemed to an ancient Roman:

“The cloud was rising from a mountain – at such a distance we couldn’t tell which, but afterwards learned that it was Vesuvius. I can best describe its shape by likening it to a pine tree. It rose into the sky on a very long “trunk” from which spread some “branches.” I imagine it had been raised by a sudden blast, which then weakened, leaving the cloud unsupported so that its own weight caused it to spread sideways. Some of the cloud was white, in other parts there were dark patches of dirt and ash. … Broad sheets of flame were lighting up many parts of Vesuvius; their light and brightness were the more vivid for the darkness of the night… The buildings were being rocked by a series of strong tremors, and appeared to have come loose from their foundations and to be sliding this way and that. Outside, however, there was danger from the rocks that were coming down, light and fire-consumed as these bits of pumice were … It was daylight now elsewhere in the world, but there the darkness was darker and thicker than any night … Then came a smell of sulphur, announcing the flames, and the flames themselves.”

“There had been tremors for many days previously, a common occurrence in Campania and no cause for panic. But that night the shaking grew much stronger; people thought it was an earthquake, not just a tremor … Now the day begins, with a still hesitant and almost lazy dawn. All around us buildings are shaken …. In addition, it seemed as though the sea was being sucked backwards, as if it were being pushed back by the shaking of the land. Certainly the shoreline moved outwards, and many sea creatures were left on dry sand. Behind us were frightening dark clouds, rent by lightning twisted and hurled, opening to reveal huge figures of flame. These were like lightning, but bigger … Now came the dust, though still thinly. I look back: a dense cloud looms behind us, following us like a flood poured across the land.”

“We had scarcely sat down when a darkness came that was not like a moonless or cloudy night, but more like the black of closed and unlighted rooms … It grew lighter, though that seemed not a return of day, but a sign that the fire was approaching. The fire itself actually stopped some distance away, but darkness and ashes came again, a great weight of them … At last the cloud thinned out and dwindled to no more than smoke or fog. Soon there was real daylight. The sun was even shining, though with the lurid glow it has after an eclipse. The sight that met our still terrified eyes was a changed world, buried in ash like snow.”





On the right you can see some the perfectly preserves vessels.









Here we have the entrances to to male and females baths.







To the left are the changing areas of the baths.  You can see the shelves where they would leave their clothes.




To the right are the actual baths.






Some remains of building are still two storeys high and with wood still preserved.







On the left are some food serving counters.  Food would be prepared and placed in these serving bowls. Many of the houses had no cooking facilities and they ate out.  

The streets were planned and laid out in cross sections.  There were shops and services.




This is just a tantalising taster of what the way of life was like for the wealthy in Roman society.  There is so much more to see and explore at this site.  I found myself standing still, totally in awe at some of the things I saw.  I stood and thought of all the hustle and bustle that would have been occurring here in its heyday.  I walked down steps worn by Roman feet and marvelled at what they achieved.  I gazed from the streets of ancient Herculanium upon Mount Vesuvius and tried to grasp the enormity and horror of that eruption, the scale of terror and horror that it caused.  Nature can never be tamed.

Ramblings on Italy and the Amalfi Coast

Ramblings on Italy The Amalfi Coast Sorrento 2015.



Journey to sorrento 6.45 very busy. In a merc people carrier. Naples looked a dump. Many long tunnels through mountains with long queues and fumes! Saw Versuvius pouting suphurous fumes out of various vents. Rather misty out to sea. The scooters and bikes make suicidal manouvers. The road wound through the mountains this way and that-huge vertical drops to the side. Darkness fell and there appeared pinpricks of lights up mountainside and down valleys. The traffics horrendous but the drivers seem quite laid back and easy going.

Off the main road through little tree lined narrow strrets. Hundreds of scooters I reckon 99% of population have scooters. A brilliant form of transport. You can carry your child dog shopping or granny in front of you in the well! If the weather wasnt so unpredictable in britain It would help traffic flow around our towns and cities and cut traffic jams. Although in uptight safety conscious UK we wouldnt be able to drive them on the wrong side of the road,over double white lines, down one way streets without your helmet fastened or heaven forbid in shorts and t shirts without a helmet altogether! The whole thing about the traffic in southern italy is that its so laid back and calm. I only saw one altercation in a week. Nobody shouts swears name calls or does rude signs! There are many cars with scraps and bumps though and sorrento is very busy during the day. One of the things I resolve to be when I get home, is more calm and relaxed when driving.


In Sorrento, the traffic stops in the centre at night, everybody comes out to eat, meet, walk and chat. Children are out playing around the trees whilst adults sit drinking and talking. I didnt see anybody drunk lurching about the strrets shouting bawling or singing football chants which is apt to happen most weekends in leeds. The streets here are very clean but Naples is different altogether. The outside of buildings look tatty with plaster falling off.

The schools start early and finish about 1pm, when the all surge out of school all in their own brightly coloured clothes. I reallly dont get the British and their pathetic insistance on school uniform and the ridiculous instances of children being sent home for,god fobid, show an ounce of originality or i dependance of style! Absolutely bloody stupid and ignorant! Clothes maketh not the man ( or woman).
I think the Italians must laugh at some of the rules we British think raise standards!

The Italians here love their dogs too! Another tick for them. Dogs are allowed anywhere. Shops, restaurants, cafes, trains, buses and shops. Many dogs are taken to work and lay quite happily oblivious to traffic, human and mechanical. They enjoy riding on scooters too. Cats too are all around the streets and ports – all seem well cared for and content even if some may be feral. However i did spy a couple of tame crows in a tiny cage! Not good for any animal let alone such intelligent ones.

One other negative is smoking! It is allowed evrywhere and anywhere which is extremely unpleasant if you happen to be in a restaurant having a meal next to someone smoking, particularly as the tables are all very close. I remember when it was allowed in England . It was particularly bad in pubs and used to make my eyes sting. That’s a plus for my homeland.

The majority of the inhabitants of Sorrento live in high rise apartments, with a small balcony. They’re in very close proximity and have no garden. In fact there appear to be no parks just plazas with cafes and a bit of grass oh and palm trees I suppose it’s due to lack of space. I couldn’t be doing without my garden.

Theres no dawn chorus in Sorrento. I found the lack if song birds really strange. There were plenty of pigeons and a few gulls. There were plenty of crickets the loudest ones ive ever heard on Capri .

There are many lemon groves in this part of Italy. I have never seen such large lemons and the region around Sorrento is famous for its Limoncello liquor which is basically 30% alcohol with lemon.

Watch out for little bitey buggers! Never actually saw what bit me but ended up with several nasty red lumps .
One thing i absolutely hate about Italy and a lot of medditeranean countries is their horrid smelly toilets. No toilet seats! I mean whats that all about? God help you if you have bowel problems! They were fine in the hotels.




Sorrento is a busy unashamedly tourist town. Lots of paces to eat inside and out and some gorgeous patisseries , with various coffees served just right as Italians should. The ice cream in the gelateries is to die for! Every flavour you could think of and more. I had an ice cream nearly every day. Italians make the best waiters without doubt – so attentive and efficient.


The little tiny alleys that crisis cross off the main street can have you confused as they begin to look the same and you end up asking yourself if you’ve been there before. There are many souvenir shops selling products made from lemons and ceramics that are made in the area. there’s a lot of Italian linen garments in the shops and leather goods.


Public transport in this area is very reliable and cheap. We took the train from Sorrento to Herculanium. it took about 50 minutes and cost 2.80 euros. the train was a bit rickety rackety with loads of graffiti.