Jo’s Monday walk : YSP revisited

Not sure that I’d want to meet this tribe on a dark night, but on a semi-sunny afternoon at Yorkshire Sculpture Park they seemed harmless enough.  I had hoped to find some Spring colour and a whole heap of rhododendrons, but it didn’t look too promising on my arrival.

The sheep were oblivious, despite the antics of a small boy.  I was happy to find that many of the sculptures had been replaced since my previous visit, so off we went, on a mission of discovery.  Over the bridge and upwards, a carpet of bluebells cheering us on.

The ‘rather cool’ tree sculptures, nourished by decaying leaves, had obviously been there for some time.  Up on the tops it was cool and breezy, but you could see for miles, rapeseed fields lighting the horizon.  And then it was down to the Longside Gallery, and a coffee stop.  No, I’m sure you don’t want to see a photo of my chocolate fudge brownie, but I’d earned it.

The small boy was worried at the appearance of a shaggy Highland Cattle beastie, directly in our path to the gazing head.  With scarcely a glance in our direction, it lumbered into the mud and better grazing.  The head, eyes closed, I found very beautiful.

The lake was huge, families strolling peacefully in pursuit of culture.  I could have wished for more information on the sculptures, but it wasn’t until our walk was over that my husband offered the leaflet he’d picked up.  What was that, lurking on the field?  Unarmed warriors, it appeared to me.

I was sure there was meaning.  Fortunately the YSP website explains all.  British-Trinidadian sculptor, Zak Ové, is responsible for Black and Blue : The Invisible Men and the Masque of Blackness.  He seeks to “reignite and reinterpret lost culture using new-world materials, whilst paying tribute to both spiritual and artistic African identity”. In this work, the sculptor uses graphite to explore what he describes as “future world black”.

Ai Weiwei’ s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads has been touring the world since May 2010.  The 12 bronze heads have a historical reference, but Weiwei intends them to be playful and accessible.  I ceased my perusing to head for the Camelia House.  Their beauty was easy to understand.

I kept looking for that telltale splurge of colour, but green predominated.  Returning to the entrance, I was sorry to see that the reflective silver sphere I loved last time was being replaced.  But there’s often light at the end of the tunnel, and so it proved to be.

A dazzling display of soft pink, rhododendron wonder.  Exactly what I was looking for.

Have you been following Cathy’s extraordinary new venture at Wander.essence?  More energy, enthusiasm, attention to detail and pure determination to get it right you will not find in the world of travel blogs.  I have Cathy’s permission to include my walk on her Photography Invitation.  I hope she likes it.  Do join her on one of her many adventures!

It’s a Bank Holiday here in the UK, so hopefully you’ll have time to read and share my walks this week.  Many thanks to all of you for taking part, and for your continued support.  Join me any time- the details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.


Janet is delighted to lead us into Spring this week.  It’s been a long wait in her part of the world :

Spring walk

I usually have to force my brain to come up with poetry.  Frank makes it seem effortless :

Round the lake (rtl)#1: sea above

Seems Jackie had a bit of a narrow escape the other week.  But, undaunted, she shopped, and ate :

Love food

Drake shares some captivating street art, this week.  A walk in the Black Forest :

Streets with inspiring content

While more of Warsaw’s fascinating history is revealed, in this post from Meg :

I don’t know everything

If you’ve never been there, be guided by Andrew’s wonderful descriptions.  Or even if you have!

Naples, Walking The Back Streets

Another place I’ve been to on my travels, Candy takes a whistle-stop look at Beja, in the Alentejo :

A walk through Beja in Portugal

And here, a sculpture walk very different to mine, from Cady Luck Leedy :

Last Day in Columbus, Georgia

Another poetry walk, and an ‘out of this world’ experience with Suzanne :

Walking in two worlds 

Memories of my son’s childhood recreated for me by Irene :

Railway Garden

Jude, you might enjoy this?  Your neck of the woods.  3rd of 3, with Ceri at Woman Walking :

To the Lighthouse, and other stories

And Emma, simply not letting PTSD affect her progress around the Gower coast :

Gower Coastal Walk: Tor Bay & Oxwich Bay

Another glorious morning here!  I would tap dance my way into the garden, but it doesn’t work with carpets.  Have a wonderful week, all!

Remember ‘Tommy’?


There have been so many moving tributes to the fallen heroes of the Battle of the Somme in its 100th anniversary year.  In Seaham yesterday I witnessed another.  Hundreds of pebbles have been collected from the local beach, hand painted red, and arranged in a poppy around ‘Tommy’. This emotive metal sculpture was designed by Ray Lonsdale and unveiled in 2014.

‘Paint it Red’ was the idea of David McKenna, a former soldier who has served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.  Six years ago he founded a local community group, Seaham Remembers Them.  Cadets and veterans alike were involved in this project, which took 2 months to complete.

Afterwards I strolled on the beach, crunching through the pebbles with their weird and wonderful shapes, and feeling very lucky to be alive.

This article in the local press covers the event.  You might remember a Monday walk I did when Tommy first arrived in Seaham.


Jo’s Monday walk : Yorkshire Sculpture Park


A damp, grey English day sounds just perfect for a visit to a 500 acre country park, don’t you think?  At least I didn’t need to fight off the crowds at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  And the sheep seemed perfectly content.  What’s a little rain between friends?

It’s a place I’d wanted to visit for many a year, so I wasn’t going to be easily deterred.  I’d even taken note of the website, which suggested that sturdy shoes might be helpful.  The fact that I then left them in the boot of the car… well, some people never learn.


So, we’ve met the sheep.  If you pick up a map at the YSP Centre, you can then work your way around the sculptures.  A small ornamental garden sits below the main building and then the ground rolls away down to the lake.  The wisteria was just coming into bloom.

The shapes are interesting, though not necessarily to everyone’s taste.  Sticking to any kind of order was beyond me.  A glimpse of something through the veil of trees and I’d be off at a tangent.  There are marked paths, however, so you don’t need to stray, unless you want to.  The mossy pond gave me my first vision of rhododendron loveliness.

The first renowned piece of work was Molecule Man 1+1+1, by Jonathan Borofski.  Impressed, I examined it from many angles.


I don’t pretend to understand, but some things just draw the eye.  Barbara Hepworth’s Family of Man I found less appealing but, huddled there beneath the trees, I felt a certain sympathy.  The textures were beautiful.



Next in line (groan!) Magdalena Abakanowicz’s Seated Figures, but I didn’t get the photos to do them justice.  My eye was wandering off to a small stone and glass structure, sunk in gloom upon the lawn.  The door, temptingly ajar.


The Camelia House, and its bedraggled beauties.  White Rabbit or Mad March Hare?  I wasn’t sure, but I kept a wary eye on him.  And the horse!

And then there are the KAWS.  I don’t know that I entirely ‘get it’, but they are the reason for my presence in the park today.  An exhibition dedicated to them is set to end on 12th June, and my son is a fan.  Reading about them it seems that Brian Donnelly, a Brooklyn-based artist known as KAWS, focuses on ‘nostalgic characters in the process of growing up’.  There’s certainly pathos in his Disneyesque creations.


At this point the mizzle was getting a little heavier and there was a fair chance of getting seriously wet.  While the others made for one of the exhibition spaces, I couldn’t abandon my pursuit of nature so easily.  I was determined to reach the lake.

At Cascade Bridge I had choices to make.  The trail around Upper Lake appeared to offer more shelter from the weather, leading down into the woods.   Persistence found its reward when, deep in the woods, I came upon this dazzling display.



Aren’t they beautiful?  Despite the weather, or maybe because of it, I delighted in their radiance.  It was starting to get a little slippery underfoot and it was time to retrace my steps.  I had already decided that I would be back, to witness the park in all it’s Autumn finery.

We never did get to see the KAWS exhibition, much to my son’s disgust.  The Longside Gallery, where it was held, was on the far side of the park. Had I paid closer attention I would have observed the small pink shuttle bus making it’s round trip to the gallery, every 30 minutes.  Instead we contented ourselves with a quick look at the work of graphic artist Eduardo Paolozzi, and a cappuchino in the restaurant.  The deck beautifully overlooks the surrounding countryside.

Living in Leeds, our son is much closer to YSP than we are, and he intends to return this weekend.  IF he sends me any photos, I’ll share them on my Facebook page.  Meantime, you can read all about it and find details of how to get there on the YSP website.  Coffee time now, isn’t it?

walking logo

I have a wonderful selection of walks to share again this week.  Please make time to visit.  You really won’t be sorry.  Many thanks to all of you for sharing and for walking with me.  Details of how to join in are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  A click on the logo above will take you there.


Drake was quick off the mark this week with a very beautiful share :

For your eyes only

Then  along came Anabel, almost on my home turf!  Such a lovely place.  You’ll like it :


Meg took me gently strolling  through the streets of Warsaw, and down Memory Lane, in more ways than one :

Warsaw at dawn

I love introducing one blogging friend to another!  Susan, in California, meet Ann in the Ukraine :

Walking Chernigov, Ukraine

Jaspa shared life on an extremely grand scale, down in Buenos Aires :

Avenida 9 de Julio

Something a bit more challenging now, in a country I would love to visit.  Please go and say ‘hi’ :

Hiking in the Japanese Alps- Kamikochi to Nishi Hotaka hut

I also love reflections, shop window or otherwise :

Soho Reflections- Part 11 

Jude is the perfect companion for a garden stroll.  This one is delightful :

Garden Portrait : Bourton House

I’m reserving judgement on Denzil’s amusing walk, but I did visit Ostende, briefly, many years ago :

Walking the Belgian coast

Carol is taking us to the heights, in more ways than one, in Hawaii :

Walking up, Looking Down

If only the bench were free, I could sit with Gilly all day enjoying this one.  After our stroll, of course :

An Overbecks Stroll

That’s it for this week.  Although I’m showing you clouds, I’m happy to report that a tiny bit of sunshine has made it to north east England.  I hope to get out and enjoy it.  Take care and I’ll see you soon!






Instagram 016

When I’m not blowing about on windy clifftops this Winter, I’m often to be found in a museum.  It was pure chance that took me into my local art gallery in Hartlepool this week.  So unprepared was I that I didn’t even have my camera with me!  It’s no longer a catastrophe when I have my phone handy, but I do have to apologise for the quality of the photos.

Inspire is an exhibition comprised of wire mesh sculptures and photographs of local athletes, or aspiring ones.  It was the efforts of the disabled nephew of a friend of mine, competing in a local triathlon with his Dad, that brought the venture to my attention.  As often happens, I was delighted with what I found.

Suspended beneath the timbered ceiling

Suspended beneath the timbered ceiling

Instagram 023

Diving gracefully floorwards

And into the light

And into the light

Michelle Castles is the lady responsible for the life-sized mesh sculptures.  She graduated from the University of Sunderland and it’s always good to see local talent so beautifully showcased.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hartlepool Art Gallery lives in what was formerly Christ Church, and is a lovely venue in itself. You may remember Follow the Herring, an extraordinary exhibition of knitting I showed you last year? It’s always worth looking in on a museum.  You never know what you might find.

I’m linking to Paula’s Thursday Special again today.  Her theme is multi-coloured and I’m thinking that I’ve just got enough colour here to get away with it.


Jo’s Monday walk : Seaham ‘Tommy’

Sculpture Eleven O One, known by the locals as Tommy

Sculpture Eleven O One, known by the locals as ‘Tommy’

It’s a far cry from the cliff tops of the Algarve to the Green above the cliffs in former mining town, Seaham, but that’s where our walk will take us this week.  The campaign to keep Tommy in place has attracted national attention, and I needed to see him for myself.

Built out of special corten steel by local sculptor, Ray Lonsdale, Eleven O One is so named for the armistice which came into effect at 11am on November 11, 1918.  His air of total bone weariness and despair makes you want to throw an arm around him. Originally intended to be in place for just 3 months, Tommy has touched so many hearts that donations have almost raised the £85,000 needed to keep him.

I’ve taken you to Seaham before, though not on my Monday walks.  It has a long seafront and a pretty little marina.  Come with me and I’ll show you a bit more.

I'm starting at the car park at the far end of the front

I’m starting at the car park at the far end of the front

And walking back along it

And walking back along it towards the lighthouse

Pausing to admire the many rock pools

Pausing to admire the many rock pools

There's a lot of cloud today

There’s a lot of cloud today

So the sea isn't at it's twinkly best

So the sea isn’t quite at it’s twinkly best

But it's still a place where the starfish like to play

But it’s still a place where the starfish like to play!

For the moment we will bypass the Green, where a crowd gathers to have a photo taken with Tommy.  I will come back when it’s quieter, to lay a hand on his knee and try to console him. Instead, we will drop down into the marina, not looking quite so pretty today with heavy skies.

Boats can always snare my attention

Boats can always snare my attention

With a waft of flowers to cheer them up

With a waft of flowers to cheer them up

And some noble weeds

And a few noble weeds

There are good views out to the lighthouse from the cafe that sits above the marina, and the RNLI have an excellent museum, showcasing the lifeboat, if you have time to browse.

Leaving the marina, I look out to the lighthouse

Leaving the marina, I look out to the lighthouse

And the view around the bay

And back across the bay, at Seaham , above the cliffs

There are miles of cliff tops so you can extend the walk as far as you want.  There are parking facilities at both ends of the seafront and also by the Green.  A lower promenade takes you closer to the beach, or you can check out the craft shops and sample local cuisine if that appeals more. But now it’s time to return to Tommy.

Could anything be more sad?

walking logo

Time I shared with you some brilliant walks from last week.  You can click on the logo above or my Jo’s Monday walks page for details of how to join in.  You’re always very welcome.

First up we have Elaine, fresh from the Three Peaks Challenge on Saturday.  I think she’s earned a rest this week!  :

Drake has been a loyal supporter since I started my walks.  Come with us to lovely Strasbourg  :

Jude always has an eye for a beautiful garden and this week is no exception  :

The Alcazar in Seville is a special place, especially when seen through Amy’s lens  :

You need a strong stomach for Sue’s post this week.  Deep fried Oreos?  After you!  :

Happy walking folks!  I hope to see you next week.

Chasing the Byron connection? Windswept at Seaham

Rough seas at Seaham Harbour - copyright Ian Britton at

Life is strange sometimes, isn’t it?  It was one of those “blowing a hooligan” days, but the sky was blue and bright and I just couldn’t stay home.  As always, it was the lure of the sea that pulled me up the coast to Seaham.  It’s a place I don’t often visit, but whenever I do it seems to have improved.  Over the years it’s had to pull itself up by the bootstraps.

Revitalised Terrace Green, Seaham

The Durham coastline is rugged in the extreme and Seaham Harbour was hacked out of these cliffs to provide transport for locally mined coal.  Seaham’s deep mines reached out more than 3 miles beneath the North Sea.  Seacoal and waste despoiled these beaches as far as the eye could see when the last mine finally closed in 1992.  Almost 20 years later, the sea has washed and groomed them back to a semblance of their old selves.

Of course, man has pitched in to help with the repair.  The success of this is evident in the Coastal Footpath which now graces the clifftops.  At numerous points along the coast road it’s easy to drop down onto wide sweeping stretches of coastline.

Seaham itself has a vast panorama.  At the southerly end the lighthouse juts out into the harbour.  Sometimes, returning home by train from Newcastle, I’ve witnessed the sea battering its way in over the harbour wall.  Today was not so ferocious, but I had to lean into the wind.

Lower promenade

From North Terrace you can descend to a lengthy promenade which hugs the cliffs.  Not pretty in itself, still it gives shelter from the wind and the chance to observe the nooks and crannies of the giants above.  Dogs foolishly bark at the waves and small wellie-wearers enjoy the rock pools.

Seaham Hall Beach Car Park Sculpture

At the northern end I clamber back to the cliff top to admire the Seaham Hall Beach Car Park sculpture.  Shaped like the layout of St Mary’s Church, it’s one of a number of sculptures which pay tribute to the town’s heritage.

Vane Tempest Sculpture

The Vane Tempest Sculpture is a striking piece of art work, depicting the skyline of the former Vane Tempest Colliery.

The upper promenade leads back to Terrace Green.  Opposite, at 17A North Terrace, is my favourite coffee stop in Seaham, “Leaf, Bark and Berries”.  An intriguing mix of food emporium, café and furniture shop, the homemade quiches are excellent and I always enjoy a browse at the crafts and cabinetry on display.  Using the sizeable properties to their full potential seems to be a Seaham trait, as I noticed that the newer “Black Truffle Coffee Shop” on Terrace Green boasted a boutique at the rear.  Must check it out, next time.

Leaf, Bark and Berries- cafe-cum-browsing opportunity

Looking back at my subject, you could be forgiven for wondering what all this has to do with Lord Byron.  On 2nd January, 1815 he married Anna Isabella Milbanke, the daughter of the owner of Seaham Hall.  The marriage took place at the Hall rather than at nearby St Mary’s, and was thought by many to be doomed for this reason.  Whatever the cause, they were to last only a year.  A child, Augusta Ada, was born on 2nd December.  She never knew her father, but at her own request was buried next to him in the family vault at Hucknall Torknard Church, Nottingham.  Which, completely coincidentally, brought me full circle with my last post on Byron’s ancestral home, Newstead Abbey.

Seaham Hall today is a very grand and successful hotel, the only obvious connection, Lord Byron’s Walk.

Many more details of history and heritage can be found on from whom I have borrowed a number of photographs.  The most recent addition to the town sculptures sits beside the new Byron Place Shopping Centre.

The Brothers- waitin t'gan down

Life as it was in Seaham, a town proud of it’s industrial past, yet reaching out to the future.