Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Still Challenged To Take A Photograph 6: A Duck And Many Diversions

The quest wasn't going that well.  If success is ever to be measured in terms of number of ducks photographed I had so far enjoyed the catacombs of failure.  If it is measured in terms of having a good time then I was winning.

I left the museum with orders from Blob Thing to return.  As I write this, Blob and Winefride are exhausted.  They had a very full morning being photographed with lots of snow dogs.  Yes, we were off attempting another challenge and I'll tell you now that it's one we failed.  The day isn't over yet though.  We'll be going to a writing workshop tonight based on tarot cards.  Maybe someone will bring a tarot set based around pedigree breeds of dog.  Blob tells me that's very unlikely but I prefer to live in hope.  Blob tells me that I'm going to be disappointed if I carry on like this.

So we walked on in search of a duck.  I thought I knew where a duck could be found.  A real duck.  We would go to the park.  On the way we passed buildings.  I didn't have any business doing anything except walking past them.  No business at all.  Ah, so what?!  I resolved to enter a couple of them anyway.  As a friend once said, "What's the worst that can happen?  They can only throw you out."  She likes going in buildings that she's not allowed to go in.

It was this figure that coaxed me in.  One of the trio of sculptures facing into the building.  These are "Unity" by Lilian Nabulime.  There's a fascinating article about her here.

I walked further into the building.  Because it looked interesting.  On the ground floor under the roof there are tables and chairs and a kitchen for making tea. It was lovely and quiet there.  I can't express how tempting it is to go there one day with a drink and a book or a pad of paper and sit, reading and writing happily until somebody finally asked me what I was doing there.  To which the answer of course would be "Reading and writing happily, what does it look like?"

I decided not to stay and read a book that day - not even the two I'd bought at the start of the duck hunt.  They're great books.  One is a history of the Quakers in Newcastle.  To begin with the Quakers were unpopular here and whenever they tried to meet they would be thrown out of Newcastle and forced to worship instead in Gateshead.  The other is a book of poetry and I just opened it randomly at Keats' "Ode on Melancholy."  Randomly is of course a completely erroneous use of the word.  A word found when someone opens a dictionary at random will never be aardvark or zebra because book opening is never truly random.  I will move on quickly because I can complain in strident tones about the misuse of the word "random."  Which is hypocritical because I misuse it too.  My random bus excursions aren't truly random.  There's an element of chance, but to call them random would be stretching the limits of probability beyond breaking point and then they might spring back into certainty.

I walked into a second random building.  Knowing full well that it wasn't chosen at random.  And found a car.

But a car is not a duck.  Except for sometimes.  This car though was most definitely not a duck.  I could tell.  Such intelligence!  Being able to tell the difference between this car and a duck.

So I left the non-random buildings and walked towards the park.  Exhibition Park.  It's a pleasing place to be, especially on a day with such perfect autumn weather.

The ducks would be straight ahead - if they were there at all.  But I got sidetracked from my quest.  It was a bit like how in a role playing game you might be on a quest to slay the evil dragon (who is probably just misunderstood and is really acting in a perfectly understandable manner by defending his house.)  And then you hear a call from a house,  "Help me kind mage, I have lost my puppy."  And so you take pity on this poor child and spend the next three hours down in some mine filled with dwarves who will only let you pass if you complete an intelligence test and fetch them the Golden Axe of Barley and then you try to fetch it and have a hard time of it because you have to defeat a charismatic goblin in a skipping competition.  Then you take the axe to the dwarves who let you pass.  Eventually you find the puppy and take it back to the poor child only to find that in the meantime the evil dragon has set fire to the town because you spent so long retrieving the puppy.  After all that work you gain five pieces of silver and three paltry experience points for your effort and wish you weren't the kind of person who wants to complete every single side quest in the game.

I got sidetracked.  By the above paragraph.  And in the park too.  By something that would pay me zero pieces of silver.  It was a play area.  I love play areas.  Blob says that we've got to go back there sometime because he and Winefride didn't get a chance to play on the swings.

How could anyone resist playing on this slide?

I played for a while.  Happy.  Free.

And then I heard the ducks calling to me.  Metaphorically.  There was no duck call.  I walked to the lake in the park.

I saw cygnets.

I saw adult swans.

And I saw coots.

But I didn't see ducks.  Not yet!  I walked along the banks of the lake.  And there in the distance, there they were.  Ducks.  On the path.  And ducks.  On the pond.  Cue the song "Ducks on a Pond" by The Incredible String Band.

Ducks.  Ducks.  Ducks.  Ducks.

The challenge was complete.  Six days of challenges.  Six successes.

But I was still in a park and a park does not just consist of ducks.  There's a lot of happiness in Exhibition Park.  There's a pleasing sensory garden.  A cafe with excellent ice cream.  And, sometimes, a miniature railway.  It's a really lovely place to walk through and enjoy the seasons.

Seven examples of the loveliness.  I am really pleased with a couple of these photos.

And one last photograph.  Blob Thing is complaining that I haven't posted any pictures of him.  I confess that's because I didn't take them.  But there is one.  Here is Blob posing next to a fungus.  Ever since Winefride posed by some fungi near Northumberlandia Blob seems to think that fungal posing is a sound hobby to indulge in.  Today he indulged in another of his hobbies:  Posing by a bridge.  That made him smile even more than he usually did.  And Winefride had a good time posing with lots of dogs today although she got a bit overexcited and fell off a couple of times.  She is rather dyspraxic and since that's combined with a strong urge to explore and climb and a love of bouncing (she's sensory seeking) that can be quite dangerous sometimes.  I hope she never gets too hurt.

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