WHITBY – North Yorkshire

[  Photo Blog # 75  ]

Moving from my visits to the coastal areas of the far south-west of England over the past few weeks, I now wish to post over the next few Thursdays a number of galleries of my photographs from the opposite, North-Eastern, coasts of England.  This particular photograph collection is of the historic North Yorkshire coastal town of Whitby.  I have visited there before in a number of my earlier blogs.

The photographs below cover a variety of different scenes within the town . . .

Whitby (0) OS Map

 

 

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The jawbones of a whale, framing the ancient Abbey and church on top of the cliffs on the southern bank of the River Esk as it meets the North Sea.  In the 18th and 19th centuries the whaling industry was thriving in Whitby.  Dozens of ships braved the Arctic seas off Greenland to hunt these elusive leviathans for their lucrative whale oil.  Many of the crews never came back.

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A similar view, but this time showing the statue of Captain James Cook, gazing out to the North Sea, from where Cook first set out to sea in ships transporting coal to London and the River Thames. 

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Close up view of the Cook Memorial

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Looking North along the Yorkshire coast towards Sandsend

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The sea entrance to Whitby Harbour

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Modern reproduction of  HMS Endeavour, the British Royal Navy research vessel that Lieutenant James Cook commanded on his first voyage of discovery, to Australia and New Zealand, from 1769 to 1771.

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Whitby Inner Harbour looking south to the ruins of Whitby Abbey

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The modern ‘Endeavour’s’ figurehead

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Modern-day street entertainer at the entrance to one of Whitby’s many ancient ‘Yards’.   Visit my poem about this particular historic Whitby spot at:  ‘Argument’s Yard’ 

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Queuing for entry to Whitby’s famous ‘Magpie Cafe’, renowned for its fresh fish and chip meals.

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Goths in Whitby for one of its regular Goth Weekends’, a celebration of the fact that Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ novel begins its story near the ancient Abbey here.

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More of Whitby’s Goths

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West Cornwall #3

[  Photo Blog # 74  ]

Below is a further selection of the many photographs I took on my visits to South-West Cornwall and the Lizard Peninsular between 2006 and 2008.

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Beach at St.Ives

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A good day for yachting at St.Ives

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Will You Marry Me’  (No question mark!).  I trust Julie was pleased.

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Porthgwidden Beach, St.Ives

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The view from Tate St. Ives Art Gallery

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View from the Church of St Just in Roseland

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View from Trebah Gardens over to the Helford River

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View from Trebah Gardens out to the English Channel

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Another View from Trebah Gardens

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A Tree (species unknown to me) in Trelissick Gardens

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View from Trelissick Gardens towards the River Fal

Sea  Light

Katie Sarra-Seascape (1)

 

SEA  LIGHT

 

As the swell of the sea reaches the shore
Waves wilfully break on the beckoning beach;
Light catches the colours riding the crests,
Blushing in red, in pink and in peach.

While above as we watch in reverence and awe,
The marmalade sky sugars the view,
Embracing the split twixt heaven and earth,
Splitting the vibrant view into two.

In such scenes as this all life gains a meaning,
For life and desire reside in the sea;
The beauty of nature is here embodied,
Bringing contentment and stillness to me.

Katie Sarra-Seascape (2)

 

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My poem originates from a consideration of the oil paintings of Devon artist, Katie Sarra.  Many of Katie’s paintings present visions of the sea in its many different moods, still, turbulent, calm , moody.   Many of these seascapes are displayed in her gallery facing the River Daw as it runs through the Devonshire seaside town of Dawlish.  Her gallery is named ‘SEA LIGHT’.   It is a great joy to spend time in this beautiful gallery which doubles as a thriving cafe and tea rooms.  Two photographs of the gallery front below . . .

 

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Your Country Needs You

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Doug, a dear friend of mine, died recently at the age of 95.  In 1943, at the age of eighteen, he was drafted into the Royal Air Force and trained as a pilot. In the latter stages of World War Two he was posted to the Cocos Islands in the East Indian Ocean from where he carried out several missions.  At the end of the Far East War in September, 1945, he took part in the relief of Changi prison, the notorious Prisoner of War camp in Singapore where the Japanese interred many of their prisoners.

I have written this poem in an attempt to understand something of the situation which he and many other young men faced in those precarious times.   

TO  DOUG

Given a bomber at twenty one
A young man’s coming of age
Told to use it wisely
On the far east’s war-torn stage

A Lancaster
A lethal gift
To war’s sad sorry tale
An airborne killer
Sky high thriller
Death following in its trail

You grow up quickly in a war
No marking time
No second thoughts
Prevarication precluded
No time for rage
Get on with it
With reality engage

This his introduction
No subterfuge
With minimal instruction
No simulation
Taught to deliver destruction
Reality games now

Yes, young man,
Your country needs you
To fill the gaps left by those
Who bought it
– For their country –
Before you do the same

But, chin up
Soldier on
stiff lip and all that
Who knows
You may be home by Christmas

 

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Ground crews of No.356 Squadron RAF based at the Brown’s West Island, Cocos Islands, celebrate on hearing the news of the surrender of Japan.  (Published under the terms and conditions of the Imperial War Museum Non Commercial Licence, including use of the attribution statement specified by IWM. For this item, that is: © IWM (CI 1557)

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West Cornwall # 2

[  Photo Blog # 73  ]

Below is a further selection of the many photographs I took on my visits to South-West Cornwall and the Lizard Peninsular between 2006 and 2008.

Cornwall Map

Map of South-West Cornwall

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Low Tide – The Harbour at Mousehole (pronounced “Mowzel”) 

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Low Tide – The Harbour at Mousehole – close-up view

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On the Lizard Peninsular – Mullion Cove – 1

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Mullion Cove – 2

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Mullion Cove – 3

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The Lizard Peninsular – Beach at Poldhu

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Beach at Poldhu – Shoe Rack

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Beach at Poldhu

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Early Evening  at Poldhu Beach

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Poldhu Beach

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Poldhu Beach

 

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The coast and the Marconi mPoldhu

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Poldhu – The site is famous as the location of Poldhu Wireless Station, Guglielmo Marconi’s transmitter for the first transatlantic radio message on 12 December 1901 to his temporary receiving station on Signal Hill, St.John’s, Newfoundland. 

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Poldhu – Marconi’s Commemoration Plaque

 

A.E. Housman – ‘Bredon Hill’

[  No.69 of my favourite short poems  ]

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‘On Bredon Hill’ . . .  Sketch – WHB: 1991

Bredon Hill is in Worcestershire, England, in the Vale of Evesham.  This poem of A.E. Housman’s, which he called ‘Bredon Hill’, is taken from his collection of poems, ‘A Shropshire Lad’ published in 1896.

Housman (1859-1936) was an English poet and scholar, whose verse exerted a strong influence on later poets.  The tone of this particular poem shows a preoccupation with loss and, as such, mirrors the tone of many of his poems.   It tells of lost love, contrasting powerfully the ‘happy noise’ of the church bells which brought joy and happy memories of youthful exuberence at the start of the poem, with the single tone of the funeral bell with which the poem ends.

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Bredon Hill    (From “A Shropshire Lad”)

by A.E. Housman

In summertime on Bredon 
The bells they sound so clear; 
Round both the shires they ring them 
In steeples far and near, 
A happy noise to hear. 

Here of a Sunday morning 
My love and I would lie, 
And see the coloured counties, 
And hear the larks so high 
About us in the sky.

The bells would ring to call her 
In valleys miles away; 
“Come all to church, good people; 
Good people come and pray.” 
But here my love would stay. 

And I would turn and answer 
Among the springing thyme, 
“Oh, peal upon our wedding, 
And we will hear the chime, 
And come to church in time.”

But when the snows at Christmas 
On Bredon top were strown, 
My love rose up so early 
And stole out unbeknown 
And went to church alone.

They tolled the one bell only, 
Groom there was none to see, 
The mourners followed after, 
And so to church went she, 
And would not wait for me. 

The bells they sound on Bredon, 
And still the steeples hum, 
“Come all to church, good people,” 
Oh, noisy bells, be dumb; 
I hear you, I will come.

 

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Western Cornwall #1

[  Photo Blog # 72  ]

Cornwall Map

I visited the western and the southernmost extremities of Cornwall on several summertime occasions between 2006 and 2008.  For the next three Thursdays I will offer some of the many photographs I took on these journeys.   The weather was not always bright and sunny!

01 Glendurgan

Glendurgan Gardens – owned by the National Trust

02 Glendurgan

The beach at Glendurgan on the Helford River

03 Glendurgan

Glendurgan – The Beach

04 KingHarryFerry

On the King Harry Ferry

05 KynanceCove

Kynance Cove on the Lizard Peninsular

06 KynanceCove

Kynance Cove

07 LamornaCove

Lamorna Cove on the Penwith peninsula approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Penzance

08 LamornaCove

Lamorna Cove

09 LamornaCove

Lamorna Cove

10 LizardLighthouse

The Lizard – Lighthouse

11 LizardLighthouse

The Lizard – Lighthouse

12 Marazion-StMichaelsMt

St. Michael’s Mount – from Marazion

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St. Michael’s Mount – from Marazion

The (Very) Outer Hebrides

From time to time I intend to reproduce, usually with minor changes, a few of my earliest WordPress posts from ‘Roland’s Ragbag’.  These will be ones which were, and are still, of particular import to me and which most of my current followers and readers will not have seen or read before.  For those of you who may have come across the earlier versions, I do hope you will consider them to be worthy of a second airing.


 

ON . . .  Flannan Isle, St.Kilda, and ‘Coffin Road’

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The Outer Hebrides – showing Flannan Isle

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In 2012, on a Round Britain cruise, I passed close to the Flannan Isles and to St.Kilda.  This was, for me, meant to be the highlight of the cruise, as I had in the past read much about both these remote places – the outermost islands of the Outer Hebrides – St.Kilda in fact being the furthest west point of the whole British Isles.  Unfortunately, the weather, as is often the case in those parts, was not good.  The sea was rough and the islands shrouded in mist.  I did manage a few photographs of St.Kilda, covered in mist and seabirds, but that was it. . .

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St.Kilda in the mist … Photos by WHB – 2012

Flannan Isle is in fact a small archipelago of seven rocks, sometimes known as ‘The Seven Hunters’.  It has held great interest for me ever since, way back in my school days, just about my first introduction to narrative poetry was through the re-telling, by Wilfred Wilson Gibson, of the story of the three missing lighthouse men in his poem  ‘Flannan Isle’ (q.v.).  The story, for those not familiar with it, has echoes of the story of the missing crew of the ‘Mary Celeste’.

The Flannan Isle lighthouse was constructed in 1899 by David and Charles Stevenson.  Just a year later, when investigating why the light was not lit, 3 men landed on the isle but could find no trace of the 3 lighthouse keepers.  Although the table in the lighthouse was set with food, and although the rules of procedure insisted that one man should always remain in the lighthouse, no trace of any of them was ever found.   The full story is recounted in Gibson’s poem.  I have always remembered in particular the emotive last verse:

‘We seem’d to stand for an endless while,  Though still no word was said,
Three men alive on Flannan Isle,  Who thought on three men dead.’

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The whole story was brought vividly back to me when I recently read Peter May‘s 2016 book, ‘Coffin Road’.   Gripping from the very beginning, It is a top-quality read – the best book I have read for a long long time.

‘A man is washed up on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris, barely alive. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only clue to his identity is a map tracing a track called the Coffin Road.’

Flannan Isle itself, and the story of the three lighthouse men, are central to the story. There is a very strong plot and, as well as being a first-class thriller, the story has a cogent environmental message concerning the dangers of science being exploited for profit unrestrained by ethics.  As in others of his books, Peter May brings the Hebridean landscape to vivid life in all its rugged beauty, as well as realistically conveying the wildness of both the Hebridean sea and its weather.

I also learnt a lot about Bees from ‘The Coffin Road’ !!!   I thoroughly recommend it.

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CORNWALL – the North-East Coast

[  Photograph Gallery   #71  ]

Cornwall’s Coast . . . continued . . .

00 Cornwall-North-Coast

01 StEnodocsChurch1

St. Enodoc’s Church, Trebetherick, Cornwall. The church is said to lie on the site of a cave where Enodoc lived as a hermit.  It is situated among the sand dunes on the eastern bank of the River Camel estuary. Wind-driven sand has formed banks that are almost level with the roof on two sides.  From the 16th century to the middle of the 19th century, the church was virtually buried by the dunes, but by 1864 the church was unearthed and the dunes were stabilized.

02 BetjemansGrave

St. Enodoc’s Church – The grave of Sir John Betjeman.   From his youth Betjeman had come to this particular area of Cornwall.  He went on doing so regularly for the rest of his life.  He eventually moved to live at ‘Treen’, down a quiet lane in the village of Trebetherick, where he died in May 1984. 

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St. Enodoc’s Church – the decorated west porch

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St. Enodoc’s Church  – the decorated west porch (close-up view)

05 Cornwall-Sep07 Padstow

Harbourside entertainment at Padstow on the River Camel estuary

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The view towards Boscastle from where the River Valency meets the sea

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Boscastle harbour and breakwater at the mouth of the River Valency

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Boats tied up in the shelter of the stone jetty at Boscastle

 

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The River Valency at Boscastle. Here seen after radical repairs and reconstruction of the river bed and bridge following the hugely destructive floods of  2004. An interesting description of this flood disaster can be read on Wikipedia at:  Boscastle Flood

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The Coastguard Station at Boscastle

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The sea entrance to Boscastle on the River Valancy viewed from the hilltop to the south of the town.

Cornwall – The South-East Coast

[  Photograph Gallery #70  ]

Moving west from the coast of Somerset, which was the subject of my last photographic gallery  ( See –  ‘Coleridge and Watchet’ ), I intend, over the next few weeks, to offer some of the photographs which I have taken in England’s western-most county, Cornwall, mainly in its coastal areas, on my several visits there over the last ten or so years.  I begin today on the south-eastern coast of the county, covering part of the area between Cothele on the border with Devonshire and Fowey (pronounced (Foy).

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Map of the South-East coast of Cornwall

Cornwall (01)Cothele

Calstock and the Viaduct from Cothele House (National Trust)

Cornwall (02)Looe

The Harbour at Looe

Cornwall (03)Polruan

Polruan

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Polruan Siesta

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Polruan – Coastguard Lookout Station

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Rame Head

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Cawsand

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At Mount Edgecumb

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School’s Out – at Mount Edgcumb

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Cottage in Fowey (pronounced ‘Foy’)

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Old timbers at Tor Point

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Ship’s Figurehead at Anthony House

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