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Hardly a vintage day today for a whole host of reasons which I won’t bore you with, but there have been a few small victories – and plenty of losses. It’s now 91 days since I last set foot on a train, which is the longest time I’ve been off the rails (literally, if not metaphorically) for as long as I can remember. The last time may have been sometime in the early 1980s, so at least 35 years, if not more ago. The irony is that right now myself and many other volunteers should have been on day two of a marathon train journey – ‘3 Peaks by Rail’ – the annual fundraiser for the charity The Railway Children’. If you want to know what it’s all about, here’s a gallery of pictures from the 2019 event. It’s a gloriously mad and exhausting event that showcases the true spirit of the railways and the people involved in them. The camaraderie and banter amongst the team is superb and I really miss it. Normally we manage to raise around £250,000 so it’s also time well spent. Here we all are before setting off from Crewe. Well, all but me – obviously, as I’m behind the camera!

DG325281. 3 Peaks by Rail. Crewe. 13.6.19.crop

Instead of taking part in this adventure I’m stuck in the Calder valley, getting rained on, with no prospect of escaping for quite some time. On the bright side. I did finish scanning yet another old slide album today which consisted of travel pictures from 2003 although it was a bitter-sweet victory as it reminded me of just how much I used to travel in those days. Just that one album had pictures from Sri Lanka, Spain and Ireland as well as weekends away from several UK locations, and that was only between January and July! What a far cry from the past 91 days…

It got to the point that I needed to take a break, get some fresh air and some exercise to come back to the present. Despite the fact it was chucking it down I went out for a long walk to take some time to enjoy the here and now away from everything. It was lovely, just having the time to stand and watch the world go by in our local woods listen to the rain and smell the freshness of everything magnified by the downpour whilst gathering my thoughts. No-one else came along to disturb me I had the place to myself. Well, apart from the Robins and the Jays, who seemed oblivious to the weather. Afterwards I walked on up to the promenade above the woods where I had a grandstand view across the valley and beyond to watch the next rainstorm roll in. I was hoping it would be a thunderstorm as I love them, but I wasn’t that lucky. The climactic pyrotechnics, barometric changes and frisson of danger that you get with a good storm fascinate me. They also put you in your place in the grand scheme of things. I hadn’t taken the camera as pictures hadn’t been my intention so this series were taken on my phone.


Inside Scarr woods. Listening to the rain drip through the tree canopy, the birds singing and foraging – but not seeing another soul…


The view from the promenade above the woods looking South towards Norland as the next rainstorm heads our way. I was hoping for a thunderstorm but it wasn’t to be.


Looking over Sowerby Bridge in the valley and Norland up above to the left as the next weather front arrives.


Almost the same view as the cloud front passes, the light improves – and the rain arrives on its coat-tails. You can see why the painter Ashley Jackson loves the skies here so much. They really are Turneresque.

Whilst I’m in such a pensive and thoughtful mode, it brings me onto the…

Picture of the day.

This is about as far removed from the Pennines as you can get. Here’s a picture of the beautiful little beach at Arambol, in North Goa, India, taken on the 30th January 2000.

T9346. Arambol little beach and freshwater lake. Arambol. Goa India. 30.01.2000 crop

My connections to this beach go back to 1985 when I arrived here as a penniless traveller on my first trip to India. The story’s too long for this blog, but I spent 6 weeks living on this beach in 85-86. You see the rocks towards the end of the beach at the far end? We’d bury big old biscuit tins containing our valuables beneath the sand next to them. At night we’d dig pits in the sand on the broad sandy strip facing the sea which we’d line with a mat and cover ourselves with a sheet, falling asleep to the sound of the waves. In the morning you’d wake up and notice the trails of the crabs that had walked over you during the night! In those days it was effectively a nudist beach so in the morning your shower was just (literally) getting out of your pit and running straight into the sea to play in the waves until it was time for breakfast, which (if you wanted to get dressed) you’d have in the nearby village, otherwise from buying fruit off kids who’d come down to the beach, baskets on heads, selling all sorts of local produce. When you wanted to wash the salt off from your sea-shower you’d go for a dip in that lake at the back of the beach, which was freshwater. It was formed by a stream that ran down from the hills at the back of the beach. It was the closest you could get to an idyllic existence and I look back, grateful that I was there at the time to experience it.

One day I’ll do a blog about life here once I’ve scanned the old slides and gone through my old diaries. It was such a different world in those days…

By 2000 it was all rather different, but no less beautiful. Lynn and I had stayed here for several weeks at the beginning of our 1997-99 round the world trip. We’d only been back in the UK a few months but already had itchy feet, so came back to Arambol for a month over the festive season though to the end of January.

Sadly, I’ve not been back to Arambol since 2003. To be honest, I’m not sure that I want to as I don’t know what I’d find now. I have such fantastic memories of the place I wouldn’t want them spoiled. Maybe one day…


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