Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kissing Gates and Stiles – Wainwright Coast to Coast

Day 2: Kissing Gate Outside of St. Bees
Kissing Gate Outside of St. Bees
I’m still reviewing pictures from my recent Wainwright Coast to Coast walk and one thing I want to mention are the kissing gates and stiles. We passed through a lot of kissing gates, stiles, and gaps; a few are shown here. Why a kissing gate is called a kissing gate depends on who you ask. At johneckersley.wordpress.com a kissing gate is so called because “the gate merely ‘kisses’ (touches) the enclosure either side, rather than needing to be securely latched.” Okay, sounds reasonable. At the dating site kissinggates.com they invoke a legend to explain that “when the two are on either side of the gate, the person in front ‘refuses’ entry to the second person until presented with a kiss.” A little less reasonable in my mind, but it is a dating site. (No, we did not kiss when we went through the gate.)

The etymology of stile seems to be a little more straightforward. According to dictionary.com the origin is “before 900; Middle English; Old English stigel, derivative of stīgan to climb, cognate with German steigen.” (Yes, we climbed a lot using the stiles.)

In the event you cannot sleep with the meager information presented here, you can always consult the Gaps, gates and stile. Specification published by the British Standards Institute for something like £150.00. 

To match days indicated in the captions with dates and the itinerary, see Wainwright Coast to Coast Walk – Overview.

Day 2: Stile, Near Mirehouse
Stile, Near Mirehouse

Day 3: Stile, After Climbing Loft Beck Out of Black Sail Youth Hostel
Stile, After Climbing Loft Beck Out of Black Sail Youth Hostel

Day 5: Stile, Near Shap Abbey
Style, Near Shap Abbey

Day 6: Stile, East of Orton – Looking Down from the Top Step to Both Sides
Stile, East of Orton – Looking Down from the Top Step to Both Sides

Day 6: Gap, Outside of Orton Heading to Sunbiggin Tarn
Gap, Outside of Orton Heading to Sunbiggin Tarn

Day 7: Passage, Under the Train Tracks - South of Kirby Stephen Rail Station
Passage, Under the Train Tracks - South of Kirby Stephen Rail Station

Day 7: Stile, Under the Train Tracks – South of Kirby Stephen Rail Station
Stile, Under the Train Tracks – South of Kirby Stephen Rail Station

Day 7: Gap, Along the River Swale Heading to Muker
Gap, Along the River Swale Heading to Muker

Day 7: Gap, Outside of Muker
Gap, Outside of Muker

Day 9: Stile, Leaving Mount Grace Priory and Heading to Osmotherly
Stile, Leaving Mount Grace Priory and Heading to Osmotherly

Day 11: Kissing Gate, Church in Goathland
Kissing Gate, Church in Goathland

Day 12: Kissing Gate, On the Cliffs Above Robin Hood's Bay
Kissing Gate, On the Cliffs Above Robin Hood's Bay

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wainwright Coast to Coast Walk - Overview


Day 7: Heading to Gunnerside. Turning around to catch late afternoon sun

Day 11: View from the Glaisdale Moor into the Great Fryup Dale

It’s been several weeks now since I went on the Wainwright Coast to Coast Walk sponsored by National Geographic. The walk started on July 24th and ended on August 3rd and included 14 of us and 2 guides walking about 140 miles in 12 days through spectacular countryside. The route we followed was not the full Wainwright trail, but selected parts, Wainwright-light we joked. I’m not a purist in having to complete every part of the trail. The real attraction is getting to know the country, its people and geography. And to that end, this tour was a success. The National Geographic overview of the tour starts with the succinct description: “[c]ross England on foot, trekking from the Irish Sea to the North Sea through three incredible national parks.” Here’s a summary of the itinerary we followed:

Part I - Western

July 24 (day 1) :: St. Bees (Arrive in town and get settled.)
July 25 (day 2) :: St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge
July 26 (day 3) :: Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite
July 27 (day 4) :: Rosthwaite to Glenridding
July 28 (day 5) :: Lake Ullswater to Shap
July 29 (day 6) :: Shap to Ravenstonedale
July 30 (day 7) :: Ravonstonedale to Reeth

Part II – Eastern

July 31 (day 8) :: Reeth to Richmond
Aug 1 (day 9) :: Richmond to Osmotherley
Aug 2 (day 10) :: Osmotherly to Blakey Ridge
Aug 3 (day 11) :: Blakey Ridge to Grosmont
Aug 4 (day 12) :: Grosmont to Robin Hood’s Bay

So you are thinking about this tour and are not sure about it? I recommend it. This was the first group tour I’ve ever done outside of a class trip to Paris in 1983 which I think can be ignored for the purposes of the discussion here. I was worried about whether I could hang with a group for a long period and what would it be like. In the end it was fine. You form a small family with a common goal: dipping your toes in the Irish Sea and then dipping them 12 days later in the North Sea. Along the way, stories are swapped, personalities revealed, and friendships forged. It helped that a guy who would have been my roommate cancelled last minute so I had a single which gave me some private time when we weren’t walking and eating together. During the day while you walk you can always find your space if you need it– by finding a place in the line of hikers. I preferred the back of the group. Typically we had one guide in front and one in back.

The tour includes dinners and lunches (and associated arrangements), transporting your luggage from hotel to hotel, any transportation, and other logistics. You carry just a day pack during the day.

We used the FootPrint maps, more or less, with some deviation when our guides led us on a more interesting route. The FootPrint maps break the walk into two sections, west (part 1) and east (part 2), and I’ve adopted that approach in most of what I posted about the trip.

Why is this coast to coast walked named Wainwright? It is named after Alfred Wainwright (1907 – 1991), a British fell walker, who published his book A Coast to Coast Walk: From St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay in 1973. For more information on this book see the first link below.

Some other Travelmarx posts related to the Wainwright walk which give different views of the trip include:

- A Coast to Coast Walk: From St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay (book review)
- The Wainwright Coast to Coast Walk – A Botanical View (Eastern Part)
- The Wainwright Coast to Coast Walk – A Botanical View (Western Part)
- Mxyomatosis – or – The Explanation for Flattened Rabbits
- Red v. Grey Squirrel
- Rothko on the Moors
- Grosmont and Goathland
- A Name in North Yorkshire
- Benches of the Wainwright Coast to Coast
- Kissing Gates and Stiles – Wainwright Coast to Coast

Footprint Map: St. Bees to Swaledale
Footprint Map - Coast to Coast Walk Part 1 West FrontFootprint Map - Coast to Coast Walk Part 1 West Back

Footprint Map: Swaledale to Robin Hood’s Bay
Footprint Map - Coast to Coast Walk Part 2 - East FrontFootprint Map - Coast to Coast Walk Part 2 - East Back

Benches of the Wainwright Coast to Coast Walk

Day 1: St. Bees Ocean View
St. Bees Ocean View
During this Wainwright Coast to Coast walk, I became interested in the idea of a bench set up for you to sit and take in a view. Ironically, we hardly did so. Instead we kept on the move, lingering only for a snack and lunch in places where there were typically no benches.

The secondary meaning of an empty bench is about missing someone. I was without the other half of Travelmarx for this vacation/trip for the first time in twenty years. So without further ado, here are a sample of benches (and bridges and a few other structures I saw along) the walk.

Day 2: High and Dry – South of Sandwith
High and Dry – South of Sandwith

Day 2: View To Whitehaven
View To Whitehaven

Day 2: Cleator Moor - Wath Bridge, River Ehen
Cleator Moor - Wath Bridge, River Ehen

Day 4: Lake Ullswater from Inn on the Lake
Lake Ullswater from Inn on the Lake

Day 5: Shap Abbey
Shap Abbey

Day 6: Lime Kiln (outside of Orton)
Lime Kiln (outside of Orton)

Day 6: Petty Hall, Orton
Petty Hall, Orton

Day 7: Ivelet Bridge
Day 7: Ivelet Bridge

Day 7 - Kirkby Stephen Town
Kirkby Stephen Town

Day 7 - Kirkby Stephen Churchyard
Kirkby Stephen Churchyard

Day 7: Ravenstonedale – Churchyard
 Ravenstonedale – Churchyard

Day 8: Leaving Reeth in the Morning
Leaving Reeth in the Morning

Day 8: Approaching Richmond
Approaching Richmond

Day 9: Leaving Richmond
Leaving Richmond

Day 9 – Osmotherley - Center
Osmotherley - Center

Day 11: Beggar's Bridge Glaisdale
Beggar's Bridge Glaisdale

Day 12 – Goathland Morning
Goathland Morning

Day 12 – Goathland Morning
Goathland Morning

Day 12 - Overlooking Robin Hood's Bay – The End of the Walk
Overlooking Robin Hood's Bay

Sunday, August 21, 2011

McCoy Flower Pots and Crassulaceae

Three McCoy Shingle Style Pot and Saucer
These mid-century McCoy “shingle” flower pots and attached saucers are typically marked “McCoy, USA” on the bottom with the mark shown below. McCoy produced this style flower pot in a variety of sizes and bright colors like aqua, Kelly green, yellow, pink, plum, brown, white in the 1940s and 1950s. Were they used as floral gifts or did people buy them? The ones we’ve picked up over the years are very well-used so I figured why not continue to use them instead of stacking them on a shelf. Here three pots are shown on the Travelmarx deck with Crassulaceae: (left) Echeveria 'Perle Von Nürnberg', (middle) Echeveria ‘Nodulosa’, and (right) Crassula muscosa var. pseudolycopodiodes.

“Muscosa” is Latin for mossy, referring to this plant’s moss-like looks. SMGrowers.com says that “it has also been called Crassula lycopodioides which is in reference to the plant being like Lycopodium, a genus of clubmoss.” Just a step from this to pseudo-lycopodiodes? The genus Echeveria was named to honor Mexican botanical artist Atanasio Echeverría y Godoy in 1828 by the French botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle (DeCandolle) who was very impressed with Echeverría's drawings.

Echeveria 'Perle Von Nrnberg'

One Year Later, 10/1/2012
McCoy Flower Pots and Crassulaceae McCoy Flower Pots and Crassulaceae

10/9/2012 
A Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) Tearing Apart an Echeveria
A Stellers Jay Cyanocitta stelleri) Tearing Apart an Echeveria
A Steller’s Jay Inspecting the Crassula muscosa var. pseudolycopodiodesA Stellers Jay Inspecting the Crassula muscosa var. pseudolycopodiodes

11/13/2012 We brought the Crassula muscosa var. pseudolycopodiodes inside to avoid some cold weather while we were away for a few days. We put in the kitchen. When we got home the house had a strange but pleasant smell – part spathiphyllum, part fenugreek.  We tracked it down to C. muscosa in bloom.  Here are some close ups of the flowers. Five stamens.

Close Up of Crassula muscosa var. pseudolycopodiodes Flowers
Crassula muscosa var. pseudolycopodiodes FlowersCrassula muscosa var. pseudolycopodiodes Flowers

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What Marcovaldo Taught Me About My Technical Writing


Italo Calvino - Marcovaldo Front CoverItalo Calvino - Marcovaldo Back Cover

In our Three Things Italian class the other day we were reading a short story by Italo Calvino (1923 – 1985) called La pietanziera (or the “lunch pail” - loosely translated). The story is from Calvino’s collection of short stories Marcovaldo ovvero le stagioni in città (Marcovaldo or the Seasons in the City) published in 1963. In this particular story, Marcovaldo muses about the times of excitement and disappointment when he opens and discovers what his wife has packed for him in his lunch pail. In the story, Calvino uses many different, but related terms to talk about Marcovaldo’s joy for eating and his anticipation of the day’s lunch. For example, opening the lunch pail richiamare l’acquolina in bocca (to make one’s mouth water) and when it is open, Marcovaldo aspirato velocemente il profumo (inhales the scent) of the food.

During the discussion about the story, our instructor mentioned how Calvino uses the different words and associated imagery to approach the subject of the lunch pail and its contents. Suddenly, a light bulb went off in my head. It is natural for me to write about a subject by approaching it from various perspectives, using different but related terms. Sometimes I do it well, sometimes I do it in a confusing manner. Figuratively, I like walking around the subject, seeing it from different angles. What’s more is that I have this tendency when I write technical documentation. I’ve worked for large companies producing technical documentation and I can tell you this: this approach doesn’t fly. When I decide to use different words to describe a technical concept, coloring outside the lines so to speak, I’ve most often gotten blank stares and demands for simplification and rewrites. I feel the approach is a way of mixing it up, injecting some excitement into otherwise lifeless (usually) technical writing. Ironically, a concern I’ve picked up on most teams producing technical documentation is something to the effect “our documentation stinks and nobody reads it”. Hmm. I say there is a rich area of exploration between story telling (like Calvino does and many, many other authors) and technical documentation. Why should there be a separation?