by the canal

coffee by the canal
the time it takes
for goslings to swim past


Just had a lovely weekend break camping in Hebden Bridge. Beautiful sunny days – despite sun cream and hat I still managed to get sunburn! The nights were chilly of course, but we had plenty of blankets. We don’t use a campsite but pitch in a farmer’s field with use of the outside loo and tap. Very basic but all the better for it. Eggs for breakfast from the farm (laid by white star hens) then boots on and out for a walk.
We did a few good routes this time, taking in Hardcastle Crags and, across the valley, Stoodley Pike. Coffee by the canal was a great way to relax in between, and the Fox and Goose, a community owned pub just out of the centre, was as friendly and welcoming as it always is. Due to lockdown we haven’t visited Hebden as frequently as we would have liked this year, but it was good to be back and spending time in some of our favourite places. Despite many changes, it’s a town that, for us, never loses its charm.
I took the recent edition of Blithe Spirit with me and read most of that, in between walking and scribbling. The haiku (above) was actually inspired by a pair of Canada geese chaperoning 11 goslings down the canal. Of course, by the time I’d rooted about in the rucksack for the camera, the moment had passed. Capturing the ‘haiku moment’ is hard enough, but pairing the poem and the photograph is even trickier. Admitting to this to myself resulted in the haiku below, and I think the poem is stronger for it.

photographing the well
failing to capture
the sound of water

Clearly, one way of being more spontaneous would be to use a mobile phone, but I don’t – I realise this is increasingly unusual. I don’t know many people who don’t use a mobile and when I say that I don’t, people are surprised. There’s no doubt that as an artistic tool they can yield some fantastic results (I’m thinking of Dave Bonta’s Woodrat blog where there’s a real sense of depth and thoughtfulness and the words often take you outside the photograph). What I notice and admire about Dave’s work is that strong sense of connectedness with his subject matter. The photographs are always unusual, and then there’s that extra surprise that he manages to get in the haiku, which moves the whole thing up another level. I’d also add that Dave’s level of productivity is enviable – daily posts of such high quality. Inspirational!


4 thoughts on “by the canal

  1. Thanks so much for the kind words. These days I use the phone as much for writing down haiku notes as for taking photos that may or may not relate to the notes. I never wanted a mobile phone either; this one’s a hand-me-down, and I didn’t have a working number until just two weeks ago (due to the possibility of medical and other emergencies with my aging parents). But as a basic still and video camera, a modern iPhone or Android is hard to beat for sheer portability, and for taking notes in the dark, particularly, it does have some advantages over a small notebook.

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    • Thank you for the suggestions – I can absolutely see the usefulness, especially if you need to be on hand for your parents. I’m in a similar situation, but that’s another story!
      In terms of writing though, you’re what I’d term a discerning user – i.e. you’re using your phone in a purposeful and artistic way. Woodrat has been an inspiration this year. I keep recommending it to friends as it deserves to be in everyone’s inbox.
      Take care,
      Julie x

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