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Taddy by Teatime

Creative block is a challenging adversary.

In my bullish, obsessive way I have to confess that I rarely dealt with it very well, often seeing it as a personal failing rather than a state of mind arrived at for a variety and complex of reasons.

After all these years of banging my head against the wall (and not always metaphorically), I'm happy to say that although I still struggle with the frustration, these days I'm able to take a broader view of it.

If taking the predators approach by a long curve and never looking at the prey, (ie. working through it at a tangent to the original direction...I'm a sod for metaphors) doesn't work then my favoured solution is to pull my boots on and walk it off whatever the weather.

Walking alone is always good, once you're moving and the rhythm kicks in it's like dreaming and in the same way as in a dream state the mind starts to unravel. With no distractions or interruptions your

I have a lot of routes within easy reach that I use, the longest being thirty miles.

This one though, at a leisurely fifteen miles is a favourite.

It follows part of the old Ainsty boundary along the Rivers Ouse and Wharfe and crosses once monastic lands that after the dissolution of 1538 passed through the ownership of some of the greatest families in the North including the Percies and the Fairfaxes.

From my study it's a short leg down to the river, through the city and out along Middlethorpe ings to Bishy.

The second Church of St. Andrew, Bishopthorpe. Well, all that remains of it that is. The location is lovely but the downside of being close to a river famous for it's flooding is wet feet. Which could be a bit of a downer when you're supposed to have your mind on higher matters so in 1892 they built the third church a bit higher up and St. Andrew no doubt was happier for it.

A long since disused wind pump at Naburn that once lifted the errant River Ouse back out of the fields to where it was supposed to be.

Acaster Malbis, the playground of the 'look what I've got' would be mariners and interestingly,

by contrast, a nearby community of delightfully scruffy houseboat dwellers.

Imposing riverside gates to a large and rather lovely Arts and Crafts residence at Acaster Malbis.

I know nothing about who built it but I always have a good peer through the thick hedges to admire the Elizabethan style chimneys.

The weir at Naburn Lock, just 2.5 metres above sea level. Below this the River Ouse is tidal.

The lock also features a greek revival banqueting hall built for the trustees of the Ouse navigation company in 1824.

Big skies across Acaster Ings and the towers of Moreby Hall on the skyline.

This is usually where flood detritus from York winds up. I've seen the occasional octagonal pub table from outside the Kings Arms turn up here before along with the inevitable wheelie bins.

The rivers approach to Moreby Hall, a Victorian gothic revival brass castle built for the Preston family of Leeds on the site of an earlier 16th century manor house. It recently sold for only the second time in it's history...

...looming through the trees above the river, sufficient to tantalise any gothic imagination, it looks incredible when there's a tidal mist running up in the late Autumn.

A better view of the building showing some of the 'Jacobethan' features.

Regrettably a tasteless somebody sadly lacking in romantic sensibilities has parked a caravan smack dab right in front of it. Bloody typical.

Snow clouds building. The much heralded 'Beast from the East' about to make its presence felt no doubt. There's nothing in the way of cover out here so I'm hoping it doesn't get going for a couple of miles yet.

A last sweep of the river, almost to Stillingfleet where the vikings moored up before the failed invasion but successful diversion of 1066. After which they got their backsides kicked halfway across the East Riding until they were given quarter and allowed to bury their dead near Riccall at a site still called 'Danes hills' before limping off in their small craft back down river and out the Humber Estuary. The remainder of the events of 1066 is of course, 'history'.

The footpath to Appleton Roebuck through this young oak plantation has more than a shade of Little Red Riding Hood about it especially with the strange effect of the low Winter sunlight flickering through the trees . To complete the fairytale picture three black Roe deer in winter coat were standing square in the path when I entered the wood.

The sightline of the path leading seemingly and endlessly away from me through the oak saplings...

...the M.R. James slant to the day is eerie.

Half timbered Brickyard Farm at Holme Green.

Dam Lane. An approach to Nun Appleton Estate and Hall. Sadly all now inaccessible under the ownership of Humphrey Smith. I have mixed feelings on this one. On one hand I have great respect for his old world school of land stewardship, on the other his behaviour towards his tenants and the public in general borders on feudal arrogance.

The original Nun Appleton Hall was a home of the Fairfaxes and where General 'Black Tom' Fairfax retired to after the rigours of the English civil wars.

Appropriately built on the site of a Cistercian nunnery from which his great grandmother, Isabel Thwaites eloped with William Fairfax, much to the disconcertion of the Abbess for whom Isabel provided a considerable source of income.

The hall was also the subject of the famous 17th century idyll by Andrew Marvell, 'Upon Appleton House'. If any of this history fascinates your imagination as it has mine down the years then abandon hope now, you have more chance of a private audience with royalty than you have of a relaxed sojourn to examine the atmosphere of this historic site.

Gatehouse to Nun Appleton Hall with a nice bit of Victorian barge boarding...

...and Humphrey's unambiguous attitude towards the curious displayed in his use of seven foot deer fencing, locked gates and brutishly instructive signage (nicely hand lettered though it has to be said).

A blizzard begins followed by a total white out which by the time I've walked the mile down the lane to Bolton Percy rolls on leaving bright sunshine...

...Which highlights the willows and reed beds of Bolton Marshes nicely.

The sunlit, sparkling windows of the Crown Pub, winking at me through the trees and tempting me to abandon my timings for a pint of Sam's and a packet of Salt 'n' Vinegar.

My resolve is firm.

The Marshes are where one of the tiny Foss rivers comes down to join the River Wharfe near Ulleskelf.

After crossing the river, which for reasons of legality I can't explain, I decided to take a short trespass and pay a visit to the tiny early Norman church of St. Andrew's at Kirkby Wharfe.

Sadly it's 14th century monuments and it's carved oak will have to wait for another day as it was locked. The sense of charity to the wayfarer beleaguered by another blizzard hadn't altogether been forgotten though as the porch was unlocked. Contemplated the ancient yew trees over the remainder of my flask of tea I tried but failed to ignore the draught.

The old York Road through Tad, sleet slicked and gleaming in the last of the day's sun.

The old coaching Inns, The Angel and White Horse, long since united under one sign and home of Samuel Smith's brewery's famous grey dray horses beckons.

Time for that pint, or two and those crisps.

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