Five Hundred Miles or so!

Walks have always been an integral part of my life; since my youngest days I recall clambering over the rocks out on the islands in Sweden, scampering through the forests.

Moving to Yorkshire as a young girl the stunning beauty of the moors became the background to my days out. I revelled in trips out into the wilderness, losing myself in bracken taller than my young self, walking along the ridge of the moors where the heather meets the sky, gazing down upon the miniature stone buildings of the villages below. They seemed inconsequential compared to the might of nature.

A younger me out on the moors

This strangest of years has seen walks featuring more than ever in my life – this time though restricted to those from my doorstep. As soon as the stay-at-home order was issued in March, the U.K. experienced weeks of warm sunny weather and it was a blessing to head out for an hour a day then perfect to sit and enjoy the beauty of the garden.

In the last five months, I have covered (according to my phone app pedometer) over five hundred miles, discovering new routes, creating new ones. At times it felt like ground-hog day; wasn’t I only by this gate yesterday, this oak tree surely is wondering why it’s suddenly become so popular? Yet the walks and their vistas proved a tonic each and every time, always something refreshing to sparkle the heart and mind, particularly as the times of the outings varied from day to day.

A painted stones left along pathways

In March the days were chilly, a bite of winter in the wind, the fields barren and mud-ladened. I realised for the first time I would come to know in detail the surrounding landscape, the fields planted, harvested, the lakes full of clear water, then green with algae as summer arrived.

As August comes to an end a carpet of leaves forms a soft bed for my feet as I wander through the nature reserve; Autumn seems to have arrived earlier than ever. Already the fields are busy with their winter crop, the flowers almost all over and instead we spend the walks idling by the hedgerows, filling tubs with the juiciest of blackberries.

A spot of exotic blackberry picking!

When restrictions were slightly eased we headed out with excited anticipation to Marks Hall Arboretum and Gardens and as only members were allowed we relished having the place mostly to ourselves. (You may recall an earlier post about Marks Hall and its Sculpture Exhibition entitled Creative Energy )

I couldn’t stop smiling as we wandered through new landscape, new views, drinking up the sights with sheer joy. The lakes were lush with fish, geese gazed warily at us, standing like sentinels over their young.

Geese and their goslings at Marks Hall.

A Bug hotel caught my eye and I was only too happy and oblige by adding some leaves and sticks to the creation.

Bug Hotel at Marks Hall.

Peacocks never fail to enthral me and in spite of the lack of visitors over so many months, they were as still friendly and unbothered by us humans.

It was with childish joy I encountered ferns on a far-flung part of the estate. Reaching up I could barely touch the tops of them. Hooray! They were still taller than me!

Overjoyed at seeing ferns still taller than adult me!

Up ahead I glimpsed an ethereal sight, the wonder of the white trunks of eucalyptus trees beckoned me, like angel wings amongst the darkness of the other trees. Their bark was smooth and soft, I stroked it as if a pet, relishing in the unusual texture. I picked a leaf or two, inhaling the fresh exotic fragrance. I might not have physically travelled far but my imagination was halfway around the globe!

Eucalyptus trees in the distance

Bugs galore have graced us with their presence, and I’m sure they were always here. Was that a withered leaf on the bathroom floor? No, the most amazing of moths, which I think is called the Angle Shades. The shiniest of red in contrast to the black caught my attention with one bug, which I believe is the cinnabar moth. One lunchtime an admiral butterfly landed on my mother’s hat!

Our garden has been a solace and haven to me, more than ever! In the mornings I’ve had the time to greet the plants, stopped in my tracks in awe of the intricate details of the flowers and their petals.

Garden bluebells

I even say a quick shy hello to our resident troll tree … can you spot it in the acacia below.

Face of our Tree Troll!

It is invigorating to tend to the plants, bushes and trees, then afterwards enjoy relaxation and rest surrounded by the beauty of nature.

Finally, I often have a song ‘playing’ in a loop in my mind as I stride out across the countryside and since writing this review one particularly has stayed in my mind – it’s especially relevant as I worked out the miles walked these months. I first heard it as the soundtrack to one of my favourite films ‘Benny & Joon’. Enjoy the snippets of the film as you listen to ‘I Would Walk 500 Miles’ by The Proclaimers!

CREATIVE ENERGY

20170901_125523 (2)

Whimsy met fantasy, nature recreated by man stood next to the absurd, the beautiful rested close to the ethereal celebration of family. A journey of discovery ensued as I visited the Gardens and Arboretum of Marks Hall which hosted over 300 sculptures from across the UK. For once such a magnificent exhibition was near to me and with a childish delight of the unknown, I set off to explore…and found the most wonderfully surprising, original, colourful and creative work imaginable. It felt an honour to feast my eyes upon these sculptures and I left a few hours later in awe of the artists and inspired by the collective creative energy.

20170901_133315

The plaque accompanying this magnificent statue was written by the designer, Stephen Charlton and is a testament to his desire to share joy and happiness with the viewer through his work.

‘THE OFFERING
NO WORD SAID,
BUT WITH A SIMPLE,
GESTURE INSTEAD.
AN OFFER OF MY HEART,
LET’S BE ONE TOGETHER
– NEVER APART.’

20170901_124915.jpg

The magnificent and awe-inspiring ‘Freedom’ stands in the prime position looking across the lakes, a glorious celebration of being, ready to take flight. It’s majestic in execution and simply breath-taking in scope.

20170901_134025

This wonderful ‘Guardian Angel’ is made entirely from cedar wood and the photograph is deceptive of its size with the statue being thigh high. Its huge wings reach out as if to scoop you up into safety. Its creator, Ed Elliot declared that ‘sculpture is a language for me and I aim to create a memorable presence with my work. Finding the right environments for sculpture is crucial in finishing many pieces and making them sing’.

 

Animals featured too amongst the sculptures including a variety of birds, fighting hares as well as two beautiful willow horses, the light flickering across the material rendering it almost life-like. It was hard not to just reach out and touch the friendly creatures. Their creator Jane Foddy says that ‘willow is a natural product that bends in elegant curves. Willow sculptures cast intriguing shadows as the sun moves across the sky, which brings them to life and suggests movement.’

20170901_131057

20170901_131028.jpg

Rounding the corner from the dark shade of a wood I entered the light of late summer afternoon and ahead in a beautiful golden circle, yellow flowers fluttered serenely in the light breeze. At the centre I spied a gleaming white statue of four figures and approaching it I realised I must meander through the maze cut through the flowers…how original and imaginative. Closer I spied the family unit of four enveloped in hugs, standing tall and stoic, looking bravely into the future.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There was a variety of modern art sculptures dotted around the two and a half acre site; nature inspired many such as the glass and metal flowers, the metallic leaves of one is mirrored by the metal scooped windmill branches of another rotating creation which thrilled with its quiet ease of motion.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Other sculptures took on a more abstract form, mimicking the tall trees around as well as one displaying an everyday bird bath which is ingeniously unique and quaint.

20170901_133932

I paused in front of the giant portal made from rusty steel; visions of numerous viewings of ‘Stargate’ come to mind. Did I dare pass through into the next dimension? Tickled with excitement I stepped beneath the circular arch – of course, I was still here, nothing had changed but for a moment the possibility thrilled me and then it occurred to me, that by visiting I had changed, new thoughts were born, energy was refreshed.

20170901_133011

This ginormous stained glass mosaic ball was stunning in its breadth of creation, ideas and colours which came vibrantly to life and was a most unusual form of stained glass artwork I’ve come across.

20170901_123502

Quirky, fantastically absurd and eye-catching summed up this astonishing creation of the fork and the conker. It stopped everyone in their tracks as the rule book of the norm, the expected was thrown out and a new reality recreated for us.

20170901_131822

Two personal favourites of my visit were of a smaller size. The wave totem was made of ceramic stoneware with in-glaze images of photographs from olden days. It was a terrifically atmospheric work, reminiscent of another era whilst using the art from across the Atlantic.

20170901_132817

The Rustic Oak Tree was galvanised steel formed into a perfect oak tree and placed on the autumn colours of a display board. Here the artist, Chris Townsend wanted to ‘challenge sculptural space’. He added that ‘in public places, beautiful objects can intrigue, calm and inspire. Some simply bring on a smile…”

All the sculptures at Marks Hall certainly achieved that, smiles all round, conversation flowing as discussions ensued, spirits revived on a beautiful late summer sunny day.

20170901_131715

I hope you enjoyed your ‘tour’ of the exhibitions and thank you for reading and viewing. Do you have any favourites of the sculptures I posted? Have you had the opportunity to visit any sculptures shows during the summer (or for some winter). I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments.