Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Wild cherries

It’s been raining in Leeds all day, but the rain has now cleared and the evening sun is shining brightly in a sky filled with herringbone clouds. There’s going to be an amazing sunset. After finishing in the edit, I went for a jog, but instead of turning left on the canal tow path, I turned right. It was an extremely fortuitous decision. Heading west, as I was, the canal runs parallel with the River Aire for what seems like hundreds of metres. A system of locks takes the canal higher and higher, whilst below, the river flows majestically. The skyscrapers of Leeds stand proudly behind.

The canal is so clear and still and its covered in beautiful lily pads. Its smooth surface reflects everything in sight; the sky, the honey-smelling buddleias and countless stunning Victorian bridges that the canal passes underneath. Every bridge has its own character; some are simple and elegant, some are grand and sturdy. Some are made of brick. Some are made of stone. Each bridge is covered on the underside with imaginative graffiti; often in metallic paint which reflects light into the darkness. There was something incredibly magical in the clean and fresh air.

As I turned one particular corner, I was confronted by a group of people standing on step ladders underneath a tree. They were picking large black berries. I stopped to ask what the berries were, assuming they were sloes and was astonished to discover that they were cherries. Dark, beautiful, shiny, wild cherries. “Would you like to try one?” one of them asked. “I’d love to” I said. And with that she handed me a handful from her bucket. "We have plenty." I was expecting them to be sour, but they tasted rich and sweet; the most delicious cherries I’ve probably ever tasted. And it got me thinking; firstly how wonderful it was to find a group of people enjoying the crops that Mother Nature has given us for free, but secondly, how often I must have run or walked past wild cherry trees in the past, never knowing what I was missing.

Yesterday, Sam and Julie sent me pictures of the garlic they’d grown on their allotment. Sam now grows most of the produce he eats and there’s something remarkably impressive about that. It makes me think that we should all start to do our bit in that respect. And possibly that as the economy collapses, perhaps it's something we’ll be forced to do.

We re-filmed the male voice choir this morning on a hillside that seemed to over-look the world. We were just south of Sheffield, but I could see Ferrybridge power station and as far as York. They did a wonderful job, and the film now has the emotional heart that I was looking for.

Not a great deal happened in the land of Pepys 350 years ago today. He went to visit his predecessor, Mr Barlow, in his lodgings at the Golden Eagle in Fetter Lane and showed him the documents, which made his pledge to give him a sixth of his income official. Barlow was thrilled. The rest of the day was spent dealing with Montagu’s papers; specifically the ones that dealt with his new title, the Earl Of Sandwich; a title which still exists today. Montagu was the first in a long line of important men who would go on to share this new name. The fourth Earl of Sandwich, for example, gave his name (via Captain Cook) to the Sandwich Islands, better known as Hawaii!

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