Lost and Found

Remember that sock I lost?  The probability I would find it again was 1.  During the laundering process it hid inside a pillowcase which was then shoved at the back of the airing cupboard for months.

A few weeks ago we lost our camera.  I was quite pleased, because I hate the camera and have been looking for a reason to finally get a much better, more expensive, DSLR camera.  I procrastinated about actually buying one, and now I want to slap myself because I just found our original camera in a little-used pocket of the rucksack so my excuse has evaporated.

But!  The found camera is a good thing because I now I can post photos of something I really love.  Dry stone walls.  Laugh if you want to, but I tell you these things blow me away.  I acknowledge I am easily impressed – I once spent hours pondering about, and marveling at, the global postal system.

Dry stone walls are a key feature of the English countryside but I’m not sure how many people really give them a second glance.  As far as I am concerned a really good dry stone wall is a work of art.  I mean, check this out.


Your inner dry stone wall appreciation chip might need some calibration, so allow me to remind you that the ‘dry’ means the stones aren’t held together by any cement or other fixing.  It’s a stack of stones, folks.  It’s been there for a long time without falling over.  Someone built it, by hand.

Need more convincing?  Here’s the side view:

K-man is six feet tall, which gives you an indication of the height of these things.  More importantly, observe the way it all just hangs out.  Especially the vertical stones on the top, and the little stones shoved into the spaces between the big ones.

I tried to build a dry stone wall out of some york stone in my own back garden.  It is much harder than it looks.  My wall is around 18 inches high and maybe 9ft long and it took me one afternoon of effort and one day of aching.

The walls aren’t ornamental; their purposes is to demarcate the boundaries of fields.  There are many fields in England, and that means miles and miles of dry stone wall.

This particular dry stone wall is a prime example of 5ft Peak District Field Boundary Mossy Dry Stone Wall.   Did you know there are over 180,000 miles of dry stone wall in the UK?

That fascinating interlude was brought to you by my rediscovered camera.

I’m also happy because now I can take the camera away with me on my forthcoming seaside weekend with JR.  In between now and then I have pressing things to attend to, like watching paint dry and waiting for a particular train to arrive.


14 Responses to “Lost and Found”

  1. 1 Ashley June 30, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Fascinating, truly. In Kansas where I grew up (and I suppose, most of the places in the U.S. that I’ve seen), we separate fields more with wire fences. On my grandma’s farm it was rough limestone posts & barbed wire.

    Is it common for anyone to replace the dry stone walls with something more modern?

    • 2 Nic @ Life, Smudged. July 4, 2011 at 10:53 am

      @Ashley The post and wire thing is occasionally seen in the UK but it’s rare – the posts are mostly wood too rather than stone. Dry stone walls do eventually fall down so if a person didn’t want to rebuild and they did actually need to keep stock in (rather than just demarcate a boundary) they might replace them with post and rail or something, but it’s hard to say. If it were me I would rebuild because shifting all that stone to replace with a fence that wouldn’t last as long would be a) expensive and b) ridiculously difficult. Cool photos by the way!

  2. 3 Ashley June 30, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Aaaand, in my search for a photo of the fence I mentioned, I found a website devoted to the history of the VERY county my grandma lives in. Interesting article on the history of “post rocks”, plus some great photos: http://www.rushcounty.org/PostRockMuseum/PRuses.html

  3. 4 Jason Sutter June 30, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Do you know about Andy Goldsworthy’s “Storm King Wall”?

    * http://goo.gl/AqxLg
    * http://goo.gl/1jglX

    It’s on my short list of things to see up close and in person.

  4. 6 Jen June 30, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    I adore those stone walls. I’ve always wanted one in my yard, but haven’t yet figured out where to put one.

  5. 8 Jenn @ Juggling Life July 1, 2011 at 2:07 am

    I think they’re amazing, too. I’m also really fascinated by stone balancing–we have a guy that does it down by the harbor and I can watch him for hours.

  6. 10 Bella Rum July 3, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Those walls are fantastic and beautiful. I’ve always admired them. That someone made them without mortar and they remain today is amazing.

    I just read a post on another blog. A woman who lives in or near London said the trains were delayed because it was 80 degrees F. Can that be true?

    So happy that you found your missing sock!

    • 11 Nic @ Life, Smudged. July 4, 2011 at 11:01 am

      @ Bella: well, not because it was 80F exactly – but because it was 80F and then there was thunder and lightening which took out power supply and ground the whole system to a halt. It wasn’t even a big thunderstorm (nothing like a good midwest cracker). Basically, the UK train system works if it is above freezing, below about 90F and not raining or windy or autumn (excessive leaf fall on the lines – yes really). Anything else causes ridiculous problems. Out of five days last week, three of them had major disruption. On Tuesday night at 9.30pm it took us two hours to get home and that included getting the only available train to a station several miles from home and sharing a cab with three strangers at significant cost. I will stop now because I feel myself warming to my theme!

  7. 13 trash July 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    You should come down this way Nic, there are ploughing and hedge-laying competitions too.

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