Down at Dudfleet

Saturday, 15th January 2005
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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pied wagtailgreat titThere's a flock of Canada geese grazing on the Wyke, a marshy field between the canal and a bend of the River Calder, but it's when I get to a small farm at Dudfleet, a farm where the barns and sheds are made from a fascinating variety of recycled materials, that I really start seeing birds.

poniesTen or twelve pied wagtails are feeding in the pasture, one of them chasing another, flitting up and about, their tails fanning in flashes of black and white. A great tit sings its see-saw song from a small ash tree. Three chunky black ponies graze nearby. They're so shaggy and rugged that they look as if they're left over from the last ice age.

postman Christmas Post

As I walk up Dudfleet Lane into Horbury I remember the days when, as a student, I delivered the Christmas post around here as my holiday job. There was one cold, damp, dull afternoon when, as I tramped past one of these houses with my postbag, I glimpsed a Marx Brothers film on the television in the front room. I promised myself that some day I would be the one who would be indoors enjoying the movie and warmth.

But you know how it is: in the last 30 years I've never seemed to have had the time to just sit by the television during the afternoon and my chance to catch up with the Marx Brothers has invariably been limited to late night screenings.

Ee i ee i o!

farmOne of the scenes in the version of Alice in Wonderland that we're working on at Horbury Pageant Players is Old MacDonald's farm (well, this is our producer Wendy Wilby's version of the story). The ramshackle outbuildings of the farm at Dudfleet don't seem right for Old MacDonald. I think of something more like a mid-west American farm, like something out of Gary Larsen. I feel there should be a weather-boarded barn, a water tower and - having deleted a telegraph pole which I didn't think quite belonged - a windmill. Next Page


Richard Bell,

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