Tag Archives: lifestyle

Causing a Big Splash

17 Aug

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

The dancing surf

This was taken some time ago as I was walking the lovely Dorset Coast Path and I arrived at Chapman’s Pool, a delightful bay nestling between the headlands of Houns Tout and St Aldhelm’s Head. It was a beautiful evening, the sun was beginning to set and I decided that I would try to capture the moment. This cluster of rocks made a good focal point but I wanted to create some movement by including a dancing wave so I waited, and waited, and waited…….!

Wave after wave rolled in and I held my camera up in readiness but they all just fizzled out. Even when seemingly giant waves came towards the shore, they made no significant splash when they hit the rocks; despite their promise, they amounted to nothing. I almost gave up but then this tiny wave came in, well I almost ignored it as it was obviously not powerful enough to give me what I wanted! But do you know what, that tiny wave created a splash bigger that any of the larger waves, and I got my picture 🙂 !

I like the picture – am I allowed to say that when its one of mine? It might be because I knew the picture I wanted to create, I planned it in my mind, and I captured it just as I imagined it, and that is always satisfying. It could be because it reminds me of a fabulous evening with the sand beneath my feet, the gentle breeze on my face and the sound of the surf rolling up the beach as the day faded to night. It could be that it reminds me of a great day’s walking. Anyway, back to the wave……

Why it happened, I am not sure. I guess it was more about timing than size and that the little wave broke at just the right time but it made me think about life. Often we think that we are insignificant and that we are not making much impact in this huge sea that is our world. That we see others who are seemingly creating a big splash, a noticeable impact with their high profile lives, leaving their mark whilst we are just ordinary people who go by seemingly unnoticed.

Its a bit like the often told starfish story where thousands of starfish have been stranded on the beach after a storm. A young girl is walking along the beach picking them up one by one and throwing them back into the sea when an old man approaches her and says, ‘Why are you doing that, there are thousands, and several miles of beach, you can’t possibly make a difference’. She bends and picks up another one and throws it into the ocean saying, ‘It made a big difference to that one’.

So I guess, aside from hopefully enjoying the picture, the message is – if you ever think you are insignificant, just remember that you are uniquely you, one of a kind, and you make a difference in your part of the ocean in a way no one else can.

And remember too that often its the smallest wave that makes the biggest splash!

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.

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The Footprints of Life

22 Jul

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Footprints to the Sea

When we walk, we always leave an imprint behind, whether it is footprints in the sand, bent over blades of grass, deep impressions in the mud, a tiny bit of wear on a tarmac path, a little rubber off our soles. We never walk anywhere without leaving something of ourselves behind. Sometimes these imprints are permanent such as when we walk across wet concrete and some times they are very short lived such as footprints in the sand on a dry, windy day when the breeze soon ensures that all traces of our passing are obliterated. But however long lasting, we always leave a trace behind.

Isn’t life like that? As we ‘walk’ through each day, do we not similarly leave traces behind as we touch other people’s lives? Whether it be family or friends who we spend time with, or people we touch more fleetingly such as the girl behind the checkout desk, the person we beeped our horn at, the postman who delivered our mail, the comment left on someone’s Facebook page, a smile and ‘hello’ exchanged on the coast path, the list is endless and varies each day. Some of these interactions will have a long lasting effect and some will be soon forgotten, some will be positive, and some may be negative, but there will always be something of ourselves left behind with each personal contact. We all affect each other in a web of relationships, fleeting or forever, as we pass through life.

Today we will have many such interactions, whether we run or stroll through our day, so lets make the footprints positive ones. Lets leave something good behind to enrich the lives of others. The world will then be a better place.

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.

What Is Life…….

26 Jun

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

‘What is life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’, says the poet William Henry Davies, and he had a point! Putting up my recent posts, reminiscing over the ‘good old days’ 🙂 just makes you think about how life has changed since the days of our Morris 10 trips out into the countryside. OK, of course there are a lot of changes that are for the better, but certainly not all……and of course I realise that to a degree at least, the ‘good old days’ only works because you have probably forgotten the bad bits.

Scan 17 copy 6-2

You see, the main way things seem to have changed for the worse is that these days, we have no time to ‘stand and stare’! Back in the Morris 10 days, we walked everywhere and if we did use my uncle’s car, even that went slow. There was no mad rushing about along motorways just trying to reach our destination. No, in those days we went slowly along country lanes and we had time to take in the things we were passing. To continue with the poet, such things as ‘sheep or cows’, woods, squirrels hiding ‘their nuts in grass’, ‘streams full of stars’, etc etc. Our forced slowness enabled us to SEE things that today we often miss. And we are poorer for it!

Back in the Morris 10 days, life was simpler. There was no internet, no computers, no mobile phones, no games machines to carry with you everywhere, so we weren’t trying to be in a dozen places at once as most people seem to be today, texting, checking emails, surfing the web, looking at Facebook, scanning through Instagram, Tweeting, and trying to keep in touch with everyone at the same time. Of course technology has its good points, making communication so much easier, especially with friends and family who are living away from us, but somehow this constant alertness to texts, tweets and tantalising Facebook topics is a stress that takes us away from where we are right now. And we lose something as a result!

Today, a walk in the woods is rarely just that as people carry all their contacts and friends with them in the form of social media which takes away from the immediacy of their surroundings. There is so much to see all around us but we need to maintain an awareness and focus on the NOW, to focus on our surroundings with eyes and ears alert to the bugs, bats, birds, bees, and a whole raft of other things. And life, or God, or nature, however you look at it, will reward us handsomely. I think this applies not just to a walk in the woods but whatever we are doing – if you focus on ten things, you get the best out of none! And if you rush around you get the best out of none!

Sometimes I think that technology, and especially social media, will go full circle and we will start to get tired of the way it complicates our lives, pulling us in a dozen different directions at once, and start to live more simply again; to live in the moment, concentrating solely on what we are doing NOW and on the people we are with NOW. If this were to happen, life might become a little freer, slower, less cluttered, and hey, even more rewarding.

So, how about it? Can we start to slow down again even if just for a bit of time out? Can we set aside our ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ and focus fully on where we are and what we are doing NOW. I fancy that every experience and every day will be richer for it!

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.

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.