Friday 29th December 2017, 12 noon (day 2,318)
On the return home, a healthy dosage of the white stuff. This being a maritime British winter, not one of these more robust continental versions, by tonight it had all gone.
Took the scenic route over to the in-laws’ in Morecambe today. Between home and there lies the Forest of Bowland — most of which isn’t covered in trees at all, this photograph is actually atypical. Nice drive to do in pleasant weather though. The year coasts towards its end placidly enough.
Commercial forestry is not inherently a bad thing: there are many beautiful and well-managed plantations in England. But there are prices to pay, and when you see a ravaged landscape like this one — well, it does make you realise that this is not nurtured land. More like arboreal strip-mining, take the products and leave a wasteland behind. In this mist it looks almost apocalyptic, like the zombies are just over the horizon. Maybe one day Treebeard will stomp out of the remaining woods, like he does in The Two Towers, and swear vengeance against the human despoilers.
The clocks have gone back, and there’s no denying we are now firmly in autumn. The first intimations of sunset came worryingly early this evening. For some reason I feel especially reluctant to let go of the summer; the coming of winter gives me no feeling of comfort this time round.
There have been very few Hebden Bridge pictures on the blog recently; in the last sixty pictures, since 14th August, there have been only 10 before today (and five of them were in the first week of September). But there will be a run coming up; time to reconnect with home turf. The trees are just beginning to turn, the nights drawing in.
In the near six years that I have been doing this blog, my spreadsheet reveals I have been to Russia on twelve separate occasions, and I know I went there at least four times before August 2011. And in all those sixteen occasions I have never been outside Moscow or its immediate environs (airports mainly).
This time is an exception. I currently reside in Khanty-Mansiysk, at 61ºN, 69ºE approximately: thus firmly behind the Urals, and in Siberia. (If Siberia, even by its most conservative definition, was a separate country it would still be the biggest one in the world.) What did I expect this place to look like — in the summer at least? Well, this pretty much sums it up. This is not out in the genuine taiga — this being a Russian academic conference they can never resist the ‘cultural programme’ so we were taken out this afternoon to the local open air ethnographic museum to see a bunch of log cabins in the woods (and the associated mosquito population). It was interesting though, and I was rather taken with this storehouse, built on stilts to keep the contents away from bears and other scavengers, but I can quite picture it as the legendary hut of the witch Baba Yaga, which could sprout chicken legs and chase after naughty children.
Most of the university campuses featured on this blog — and there have been a good many over the last five and a bit years, at least 20 I make it — have plenty of nice, green space. But the one on which I spend the most time, Manchester, has hardly any, it is the most urbanised, built-up campus I can think of. So it’s nice to picture some of its very rare green space on another very pleasant day. Even if this shot isn’t ‘green’ in the slightest. (It looked better in monochrome.)