Tag Archives: lifestyle

Theme for the Week – Walking the Streets Part 3

16 Mar

– – – EXPLORING THE COUNTRYSIDE AND LANES OF DORSET – – –

So this week, we are on the theme of ‘Walking the Streets’ which apart from walking is also about the genre of photography known as ‘Street Photography’.

Youth

The moral dilemma is of course, is it an invasion of privacy to take candid pictures of people just going about their business in a public place? Well, I have to say that although this is a genre of photography I enjoy, partly because it totally contrasts with my usual landscapes and therefore provides a new set of challenges, I am not completely comfortable about taking pictures of people without their knowledge.

Now, of course, one way around this moral dilemma is to actually ask if they mind you taking their picture but street photography is all about capturing the critical moment, and this moment might be lost if you stop to ask first. Having said that, I do often ask first, although that in itself is not easy because it involves approaching a complete stranger and that takes a certain amount of courage in itself. How paparazzi photographers do what they do, I am not sure, but it seems to me to be street photography in the extreme! Apart of course from the fact that their subjects are celebrities who in many ways benefit from the publicity.

There are though, occasions when things work the other way round. In the case of the picture above, these three youngsters passed me in the street, and seeing my camera, they asked me to take their picture and then proceeded to pose for me. Naturally, I obliged and they then went on their way. I have no idea who they were and they never saw the picture. But to me, this sums up ‘capturing the moment’ as it was completely spontaneous and done in fun, and that is what street photography is about.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until tomorrow,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

I think that I shall never see…..

27 Feb

Bark and Park!

…..But sometimes its because we just don’t look!

I think we’ve probably all experienced that phenomenon whilst we are driving, when we think, ‘That’s funny, I don’t remember driving round that roundabout, or going through those traffic lights, or seeing that building etc; those occasions when we are on autopilot so just don’t remember looking. Of course, we did look, we just didn’t ‘LOOK’! There’s a difference.

It’s true of all areas of our lives – in these modern days, there is just so much going on in our lives that our minds are always elsewhere as we worry about things, plan things, solve the world’s problems, keep in touch with friends, and a million other things that we think need our urgent attention. We almost absent-mindedly travel through life and are always somewhere else in our heads rather than living in the moment maximising where we are now.

Mobile phones don’t help! Back in the ‘old days’, there was just you and your immediate surroundings but now we carry with us the web, phone calls, texts, social media – we are not fully in touch with our surroundings partly because there is a whole raft of other worlds demanding our attention. Our minds are in so many different places at the same time. Like so many things, mobile phones can be a blessing and a curse and it takes a conscious effort to just focus on where we are at this minute and really notice what is around us.

So let’s complete the phrase that started this train of thought – ‘I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree’ (Joyce Kilmer – from the poem Trees) and my picture above that was taken, of all places, in a supermarket car park. I just love the bark with its beautiful range of subtle tones and textures and I thought I would do something a bit arty and include part of its surroundings. It wasn’t the most likely place to find something beautiful, beautiful to me at least, you may not find it so. But the point is, there are gems all around us if we can develop an awareness, and really LOOK!

So let’s change the phrase to, ‘I think that I WILL see’!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

Looking for the Decoy

2 Dec

Recently I have spent some time exploring Wareham Forest. Its not an area I have walked extensively because I thought it was mainly coniferous woodlands which are not as interesting as mixed woodlands. However, I was surprised at how much open heathland there was, and one particular heath that grabbed my attention was Decoy Heath.

Now anyone from Dorset will probably know that in wartime, fires were lit on remote Dorset heaths to lure enemy aircraft away from the towns and munition works, acting as a decoy for their bombs. However, that is not where Decoy Heath gets its name. In fact, it gets its name from ducks.

Back in the day, ducks were trapped for food and feathers and in order to do this, new ponds were created or existing ponds altered in order to attract ducks and draw them into the traps. These ponds were known as decoy ponds and there were in fact two on Decoy Heath, hence its name.

Decoy Heath

Decoy Heath with the Old Decoy Pond

I visited one day this week on a beautifully sunny day and walked around the larger, and more obvious, pond. This is known as Old Decoy Pond but is not technically a ‘decoy pond’ in the accepted sense as its shape is irregular and there is no evidence of its being used to actually trap ducks. It is in fact thought to have been used to attract ducks to the general area and its size would have facilitated this.

The second and smaller pond where the actual trapping took place is known as Decoy Pond and is much less obvious, being smaller and somewhat hidden amongst trees and marshy land to the south of the larger pond. I returned on another very misty day to search that one out. This smaller pond, together with its associated but now derelict decoy man’s overnight shelter, is a Scheduled Ancient Monument as there are few remaining in this country in any recognisable state.

Decoy Pond

The way through marshy land

Just reaching the old overnight shelter was like something out of the Hound of the Baskervilles, with mist and marshy land all around making it difficult to reach the old shelter. The simple single roomed building with one door, one small window and a corner fire place was once probably thatched but the roof has long since disappeared. Only the remnant of the walls remain standing. The stream that feeds the decoy pond circles round three sides of the cottage, almost like the moat of a castle and it is hard to know where it is safe to tread.

Decoy Pond

The decoy man’s overnight shelter

It was fascinating finding this old relic especially on a day which seemed ideally suited to emphasise the mystery of the place. It was built in 1724 by the Drax family of Charborough Park, together with the pond and nearby Decoy House (now demolished) which was where the decoy man lived. It was used for over 100 years until 1856 when shooting rights were granted over the surrounding land, creating too much disturbance to make duck trapping viable.

So what about the pond itself? Well unfortunately the whole area was so marshy that it was impossible to walk farther in than the old shelter. The pond’s shape is still visible on the overhead satellite view but this appears to indicate that it has become considerably overgrown with reeds etc so that clear water is not now visible. However, it is still waterlogged and in better condition than most – it is in fact one of only two remaining in Dorset.

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-12-00-19

Satellite view showing the pentagonal pond in the trees

I was interested to read how decoy ponds were used. The practice dates back to medieval times in more simple forms but the more complex design seen here was introduced from Holland in the 17th century. Most were star shaped, a main pond with tapering ditches known as pipes running in a curved shape outwards, with netting over the top. In the picture above, the remnants of some of these ‘pipes’ can be seen stretching out from the pentagonal shaped pond.

It was down these ‘pipes’ that ducks would be lured by either using strategically placed food or by using dogs. The latter method relied on the ducks’ natural inclination to follow predators such as foxes to keep them in sight – thus the dog mimicking a predator led the ducks up the pipe. Carefully placed screens would be used to hide the dog but allow sufficient glimpses to maintain the ducks’ interest. When they reached the point of the pipe, they would be captured by the decoy men and have their necks wrung.

The images below give an idea of how the decoy ponds were used. They are by Sir Ralph Frankland-Payne-Gallwey, 3rd Baronet (1848-1916) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons from his book ‘The book of duck decoys, their construction, management, and history (1886)’.

decoy_5_pipe

decoy_in_action

It has been fascinating exploring this little corner of Dorset and the old custom of duck decoying. I am sure there is much more to learn but I hope you have enjoyed this little taster.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

To Live a Creative Life!

26 Jun

Summer daze!

If you follow my blog, you will know that I love walking in the countryside, through the created landscape – I can’t see it any other way than created any more than if I walked out to my drive and found a brand new car there, I could see that as anything other than created. To me, it would be laughable to think of that new car as just an accident and that the parts just kind of formed themselves together by chance. And yet, for the most part, our countryside is seen that way. To me, the world we live in, and indeed you and I, are not the result of some freak accident of nature.

Anyway, you may also know that I am interested in creativity and I have believed for a long time that there is a creative person inside me who is bursting to get out. OK, I know I’ve done a few oil paintings, I sketch a bit, I take pictures, I even write a poem or two but that is just scratching the surface. It’s more about creative living than undertaking the odd creative act, having a creative attitude to life!

You see, by nature I am a structured person who follows routines – when I was working I even had certain suits and shirts for certain days of the week, I could tell what day it was by what was in my sandwiches 🙂 ! At school I studied the science and mathematics subjects and in fact maths was my favourite subject. I loved the very fact that it was factual, either right or wrong, no debate.

In many ways I think our education system encourages the structured kind of lifestyle, focussing very much on results and achievements almost from birth. I certainly wasn’t given time to dream dreams at school and I don’t think many people were. In fact, daydream in class and you would be in trouble! But daydreaming is part of being creative and visionary and should be encouraged, together with exploring and having a degree of freedom to find your own way.

Morning mist

The problem is, that later in life, its hard to overcome the way you have lived for over 60 years, you are almost fighting against yourself. Its like you are walking through the woods on a misty day – you can touch and feel the trees or even hug them if you are that way inclined, but try to catch the mist and you’ll have trouble. Getting in touch with your creative, spiritual, perceptive, intuitive self is like trying to catch the mist. These parts of our nature are intangibles, unlike the more obvious parts.

So what is creative living? Well, its much more than sketching or writing. Lets say you decide to have a barbecue and you invite lots of friends round, hoping for a sunny day. It turns out wet, what do you do? Cancel the whole thing, or come up with different ideas and maybe have the barbecue IN the rain, just because its different. I read a story once about a farmer who set up a chicken farm which became very successful and grew in both size and profits. The trouble was it was on the banks of a river and every now and then the rainy season would come and the river would burst it banks, wiping out the stock. After restarting several times, he gave up and was about to sell the farm when a creative minded friend came up to him and said, ‘Why don’t you keep ducks?’

I guess its about thinking outside the box. Its about doing things differently. Its about breaking out from our structured and routine based ‘prison’ and LIVING life – we have only the one! But it also means being an individual and not following the crowd, going against the trend maybe, and that can be tough! Fear plays a part in this.

Elizabeth Gilbert in her book ‘Big Magic’ suggests that all of us have hidden treasure within us, jewels just waiting to be released – searching for those jewels is creative living. We can ignore them and live a mundane life or we can search for them and live an enchanted life.

Impression - Bluebell Woods

 

Perhaps a big change for me came with retirement. until then I had to go to work every day and that, together with commitments elsewhere gave my life an automatic structure. It was like those parts of my life formed the skeleton on which everything else hung. With retirement, that skeleton disappeared and life became an amoeba with no structure, just a flexible thing that can change shape at will. I want to live life differently and maximise that change……but I could have done it earlier.

If I think back to the hippy days when ‘anything goes’ there was less structure then. Now I’m not advocating the hippy lifestyle and I did not agree with much that took place then, but there can be no denying there was a freedom in that way of life. Clearly as we are all in community and family, there has to be certain parameters to live by but do we need to be quite so structured?

I want to live life differently. I want to dream, to live creatively, to do things I’ve never done before, to live outside the box…..after all, I’ll be in it long enough (well my body will be)! It will take time to overcome a lifetime of structure. Just one small example is the clock – we live by it all our lives, but do we really need to? Certainly in retirement there is much less need……and yet I will still probably have lunch at one o’clock. Old habits die hard, but, hey, one step at a time! So I’ve set myself an objective – do one thing each day that I wouldn’t normally do, something wild or different. Perhaps I’ll share some of those things in a future post. Its free and its an adventure and I hope it will grow!

Its time to dream, its time to think differently, its time to think possibilities, its time to live creatively and grow that sense of wonder and discovery we had as a child. Its time to break out of this ‘prison’ and LIVE!

How about you?

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

I HAVE NOW SET UP A FACEBOOK PAGE FOR THE DORSET RAMBLER AND THERE IS A LINK ABOVE. THIS IS TO BRING TOGETHER MY THREE PASSIONS OF DORSET, WALKING/THE OUTDOORS, AND PHOTOGRAPHY. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THESE OR YOU ENJOY MY BLOG, PLEASE DO ‘LIKE’ MY FACEBOOK PAGE.

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.