Radio Lento podcast podcast

Radio Lento podcast

Hugh Huddy

Weekly sound postcards from beautiful places. Listen with headphones for a 3D immersive experience. Find us on Twitter @RadioLento. Support us on Ko-fi.

89 Episoden

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    89 The birds of the leafy ravine - a tonic for tired minds (best with headphones)


    We're going back to early June this year, to the rich and intermingled singing of birds that happens at dawn throughout the spring and early summer. In Britain it's called the dawn chorus, a behaviour associated with song birds during the breeding season.  Captured by a lone pair of microphones tied to a tree, above the watery and precipitous ravine that runs into the infamous Todbrook Reservoir at the Cheshire / Derbyshire border, this segment is from just before four o'clock in the morning. It can be hard to distinguish the different songs, but in amongst the mellifluous tunes there are song thrushes, blackcaps, blackbirds and robins, resonating in the fresh morning air of the ravine. From left to right the watery flow of the stream fills the space, and in the fields beyond, sheep and lambs can be heard.  At four minutes some things with hooves, perhaps several small deer, scramble past along the precipitous path about thirty feet below the microphones. One small fleeting drama, on the cusp of a perfect June day. Far out on the right, where the valley opens out into the reservoir, occasional echoes of cars spill over from the country road between Macclesfield and Whaley Bridge. If, from inside their steel boxes, the occupants could have known about the dawn chorus from down in this secret valley, maybe they'd have stopped, turned off their engines, and listened to a phenomenon so few of us ever really get to hear.
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    88 An afternoon at Wrabness (part 2)


    Above the mud silt beach, it's all bright clouds, moving. Then the sun breaks through. The river is stretching wide here, left to right, silently carrying the land's outflow through marshes, and out to sea. Warm wind blows in between long spells of calm. Close by, on the tree holding the microphones, and almost within touching distance, small waxy leaves rustle in the summer breeze. The tide's falling. Wind is pushing against the moored boats opposite and setting them swaying. In jolly colours they rock to and fro, like bath toys, masts knocking, ringing, bell-like. Mid-stream, marine vessels plough comfortably by. As they pass they make slow moving delta waves. V-shaped echoes, that travel along behind, and sideways, expanding, so that eventually, they wash up along the shallow shore, in clean bright, rinsing waves. Gulls over the water. Wood pigeons in the trees. A mistle thrush too, somewhere far out to the left, Sounding something like a blackbird, still just practising his song. This is quiet time, in a place beside wide water. A place, beneath an open sky, that's not sea nor river, but estuary. Tidal, yet calm. Wild, yet sheltered. A place that's good for afternoon people. 
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    87 Sky landing - when the wind bends the trees


    They look as if they are swimming in it. The banks of trees. Tense into the current, swaying, twisting in sympathy with the changing wind. Like they're wading out into on-coming waves, wading out to be washed in this force of sky, landing.  And in-between, in the tranquil lulls, resting. Tall. Collegiate. Upright. With leaves still trembling. Equinoctial gales, glanced the highland cattle. Or the vernal winds, as the stalwart sheep prefer. A storm of wind that's come to sweep away the dry husks of summer. That's come to redden the leaves.  Is it true though? That such thing as an equinoctial gale, is in fact a myth? Myth, roar the trees. A myth, mutter the scattering leaves. You'll have to ask the sky. Now, the autumn air's blowing in. Along wooded moorsides, up and down the country, the season is changing. Time to blow away the cobwebs. To pack a rucksack, flask and tea. To check the map. To put on coats. To catch wiffs of woodsmoke in the air.
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    Night tide turning at pillbox point (sleep safe)


    High tide on the River Crouch. Night. Not a soul about. Small bobbly waves gamboling along the brimming tideline. Playful, in swilling swirls, reaching for one more inch of land, before the ebb. From the east, a lazy wind muffles.    Tide turned. The surface has begun to calm. Palmful waves bob over each other in glassy melodious slurps. Their thirst for land is over. Retreat not yet in mind, and still nudging the hard ground, they are letting themselves settle to its dry resistance. Night wind softly presses.      The ebb. A grainy hiss of newly exposed land has appeared along the tideline. The water, relaxed, moving slow like a minute hand, is inching back. It's slackened, into tiny, feathery currents. This place is no longer about a shoreline. It's opened. Become panoramic. An aural vista. Wide, silent, tidal river. Far off, murmurs of nocturnal flying curlew, redshank, and geese. And of a low, soporific hum. A ship. In port. Docked, and sleeping.
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    Afternoon meadow in late summer


    Last day of August. Pleasant sunshine, blue sky. Wind 1 to 2 knots, barely noticeable. Standing tall with motionless leaves, the trees are leaning into the warmth, letting their limbs soak up every available ounce of the sun's golden heat. Along the old bridleway, away from the grey noise of a cross-country road, quiet fields are revealed. Knee deep with grass. Waiting to be mown.    A hedgerow, beside a field. All around, the air thrums, with a feeling of wide open space. In the mid-distance, a flock of geese, slowly transiting the open sky. From near in a high tree, a rook calls. It echoes over the fields, a dry bark-like caw that spells the arrival of autumn.   In the next field, hidden from view behind a line of trees, a tractor pulls a long wheeled and bladed contraption up and down. It's mowing the summer's grass. Time to make hay. An old propeller plane hums proudly over. It's passage draws a slow, arching line, between the eastern and western skies.   Gradually, with nobody around, the birds return.  Magpies, to bully in the high top branches. The tchack tchacks, of scattering jackdaws. A pheasant, its creaky call like an unoiled gate somewhere in the undergrowth. Little birds, perched amongst the brambles, emit short, percussive sounds. The tractor continues to mow. More planes traverse the sky. And all the time, from everywhere and nowhere, the air continues to thrum with tiny, silken vibrations. These are the traces, the most elemental of aural fragments, the leftovers gathered at the edges of human hearing from the action of countless rolling tyres on fast asphalt roads, but that from here, filtered through so many trees and hedgerows, are safely  and forgettably muffled beneath the horizon.
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    Down at the marina on a weekday in August


    Sunlit pontoons. Taut ropes. Empty footways. Still, like a photograph. So many boats moored up, waiting for someone to come down to sail them. This is the marina at Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, where to the eye, on this hot summer day in August, everything looks still. To the ear though, it's a different story.    Guy ropes whistle and moan in the wind. Halyards ring against hollow masts. Tidal water swells, and though smooth on the surface, slaps impatiently against the pontoons. And when the wind eases, crickets in the long grass discretely sing.   Out on the open water, small craft on small journeys manoeuvre. Mid-stream, a heavy-engined vessel labours against the out-going tide. Docked, distantly opposite the marina, machines relieve a bulk carrier of its consignment of timber. All the sounds of an August working day. At eleven minutes, six, soft edged, evenly spaced booms. Detonations from the firing range seven miles southeast on Foulness.   The aural ambience in the air around the marina pushes to, and fro, like the ever-changing water. Filling, then emptying, filling, then emptying, in slow, peaceful transitions. It's the sort of place where one can go to just listen, and take in the atmosphere. A waterside place with sun-warmed railings for leaning into, where everything is there, and everything is happening, but in a more reflective, tide coming in and out, kind of way. Summer beside the marina time.  
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    Suffolk Wood (part 9) - the hour before dawn with owls and nocturnal animals


    From over the fields beyond the edge of the forest, the bell of St Mary's strikes 4. Within this empty space between the trees, the golden sound rings pure and clear, though there's no one around to hear it. Soon, the dawn will come.   For now, down amongst the leaf litter, the dark bush crickets are still counting the seconds. Still twinkling, like tiny jewels on the velvety dark carpet of peace that stretches out in all directions over the forest floor. Around, nocturnal animals pad lightly in the darkness. Above, traces of a breeze. Of dry twigs and branches dropping. Of the last drifting echoes of night haulage from the distant A12. Across the resonant wood, owls call. Time passes.     Then, signalled by one single rasp from a rook, something in the air changes. It's well before sunrise. In the mid-distance, a wood pigeon begins to caw. Are these the internal circadian rhythms of life or have they both seen some kind of light? Perhaps a stratospheric cloud, illuminated by a first shaft of sunlight? Whatever it is, a cockerel crows. The bell strikes 5. The night is over. The day has come. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is the 9th episode in our series made from one continuous recording through the night in this special location. You can listen to all previous episodes via this blog post. 
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    Hill top oak in strong wind - a natural source of white noise (sleep safe)


    Artificial white noise generators designed to promote sleep and relaxation are widely available online and via apps. For anyone trying to steer their mind away from the distractions of the world they provide a stream of wind-like sound, that masks, washes, and soothes.    Of course natural noise generators exist everywhere. Unlike their artificial versions, they produce their noise in infinitely varying ways. So much so, that rather than thinking of them as making just noise, they can be thought of more as instruments that enable you to hear the shape of an ever-changing current.   Perhaps the most abundant and interesting of natural noise generators, are trees. Evolved as giant plants able to thrive with almost any strength of wind, their leaves, boughs and branches convert even the softest of breezes into perfectly audible sound.    Having evolved in and amongst trees, over several millions of years, our listening minds must have been fundamentally influenced by these kinds of sounds. So it must be, that all of us must have and share an intrinsic ability to understand the language of wind in trees. It might also help to explain why listening to white noise of any kind, works as a type of sound therapy.   High up on an exposed moor, between the Derbyshire towns of Glossop and Buxton, an old oak tree leans into the wind. Its sound is heard only by passing walkers, who from time to time, clink through the gate on their way over the exposed moor. As we passed, we tied the microphones to one of the low boughs, leeside of the strong prevailing wind, and left them alone to record. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanks for listening to Radio Lento. We make it without any grants, sponsorship or funding. You can help Lento keep going by buying us a coffee or a piece of Lento merch on our Kofi site or by telling other people about Radio Lento or leaving us a positive review wherever you get your podcasts. Thank you. 
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    Rising tide in the rock garden - the sea wall near Bradwell-on-Sea


    Stop walking! There's a place to sit. Roll up your jacket to make a cushion and perch on the rocks, just for a moment, to take in the view. Look! Over the expanse of cloud-dappled water, beyond, where the outgoing surge of the river Blackwater swirls into the North Sea, that's Mersea Island. From here, just a sliver of low lying land.   A few miles up the coast, though not yet in sight, are the two giant blockhouses of the now decommissioned and quiescent Bradwell nuclear power station built in 1957. Between the cuffing gusts of the onshore breeze, the air here feels unusually still of human noise. Unusually crisp, unusually vibrant with textural sounds. Deep inside clouds and far out over the channel, are some passing rumbles. Not thunder, more like low flying military jets patrolling and underlining some invisible boundary out there, over the sea. Their distant rumblings not only illuminate, through sound, the infinite void of the sky, but bring contrast to the very tiniest, very closest of sounds. Countless fine edged movements, of a sand made of featherlight shells. Shifting and sifting, picked up and dropped, by gentle, inquisitive waves.    Somehow, a quarter of an hour has passed. The rock pools between the sunken concrete barges that make up the sea wall, are now filling, and swirling, with the rising tide. Moving back up the rocks, above the high water mark, you find a new place to sit, and watch, as the pools overflow, merge into one another, to become new areas of wide open sea. The planes are gone. The footpath beckons. But you stay for a little while longer, just to listen to the changing sounds of the fast disappearing rock garden. 
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    A doze in the grass on Wallasea Island (High-def sound and sleep safe)


    This, is summer island time. Sizzled by crickets, gusted to and fro by hot marshy breezes, a distant marine vessel softly thrums the air with a low soporific hum. Occasional planes pass lazily over. This is Allfleet Marsh on Wallasea island in Essex. East is Foulness and then the North Sea.    Down a steep bank from the trail that leads from the car park to School House viewpoint where the River Roach flows into the Crouch, a swath of warm grassland basks under the hot August sun. Sheltered below the ridge, it's quiet, perfect for a doze. A few yards away from the microphones, behind the waist-deep sedge, a tepid inlet reflects glints of the summer sun.   It's hot here. Dazzling bright. Invigorated, the bees and hoverflies and countless other insects are hurrying skilfully by. The gusting winds don't affect them. Being early in the afternoon, nothing much is about, except for the sparse calls of a marshland bird. A tumbling chirruping song, fleeting, with a bright yellow timbre. Hidden, but only a little way off, somewhere amongst the tall grass. 

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