Monday, 27 October 2014

normal service will be resumed shortly

indoor puddle - puddle 1
OH ( my other half) will be glad that  he is down south.

I am up north. In Scotland.

For my annual fix of moors , mountains and glens.

OH likes sunny places with blue skies.

I like cold moody places.

Scotland this week is testing me. For 'moody' I will, in future, exclude 'rainy' when the  rain is in stair-rods and disallows any outdoor photography. When rivers are bursting their banks, and you need a boat to get to the 5th tee of the golf course at Dalmally.

I have been here for 72 hours and it has not stopped raining.

I have become a master of car-window photography, lining up my vehicle against the wind and seeing what I can capture in a few seconds before the entire interior gets wet. Wearing my waterproofs inside the car helps.

Landslips have closed roads. Tourists have been trapped.

The road through Glen Orchy is closed. Route barre……...

puddle 2

So after 2 days I gave in and took my tripod indoors; to St Conan's kirk, on Loch Awe.

This extraordinary place is a popular tourist destination built by Walter Campbell commencing in 1907, and completed some years after his death in 1914.

It is not a pretty building, and inside is dark and damp.

So damp that puddles are collecting on the floor, water dripping down through its leaky roof.

I found myself taking pictures of the windows reflected on the floor.

Light on water I realised later…….

A theme I return to time and time again. (see here)

Loch Awe from St Conan's Kirk

puddle 3

Tomorrow the weather promises to be better.

Glencoe awaits.

Rannoch moor, and Lochan na-h Achlaise.

Outdoors. Beautiful. Waiting.

I will be there.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

the cone man cometh.........

morning light on the English Channel

I was down on the beach at dawn this week.

Fortunately dawn is getting later, but I had to forgo my breakfast when I saw a pink tinge in the sky and knew that any proper photographer would already be on the beach, waiting for the light, rather than drinking tea under the duvet and trying to talk themselves out of bed.

I wanted to see how the rock men were getting on rebuilding the sea defences.

The tide was far too high up to allow me to walk unnoticed along the shore. I therefore decided to be a law abiding citizen, observing the action from a safe distance, well away from the dangerous rocks.

The light on the sea was soft and silvery. Low in the sky. Metallic. Calm.

morning light on the channel

The seagulls were entirely oblivious to the action around them.

The lorries and diggers studiously ignored.

Seagulls, rocks and lorries

I crept towards the action, but heard an engine approaching across the beach.

I was in trouble again..........

Cone man had arrived, probably to tell me to keep away from the rocks.

cone man 

I soon realised that he was not bothered by my presence. After all I was not crossing any invisible lines into a 'no-go' area.

He was merely here to put his cones out.


He had three to arrange on the beach.

Three cones

He did a fine job, even if one was a little on the small side.

They formed an orderly line.

Ready to keep people away from the dangerous rocks.

Optimism in life is a good quality to have.

Cone man then hopped back onto his quad bike and was gone; into the sunrise.

Cone man returns from whence he cometh

Men and dogs arrived for their daily exercise.

man, dog, cone

The seagulls studiously ignored them all.

man, dogs and gulls

 I felt very hungry and went off to find some food.

all day breakfast

Cone man will return at dusk to fetch his cones.

I will return at low tide to see what I can see.

And so it will go on.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

on memories, the pennine way and the perils of ageing

on the Pennine Way ; many years ago........ my brother and I

A week for unashamed sentimentality.

My favourite uncle died.

The one who first ignited my photographic flame and took me hiking on the Pennine way when I was about 18. I don't remember dates. I have no idea what year it was, or even how old I was.

But finding this photograph on his desk pin board last week I realise that it was special for him as well as for my brother and I.

He had no children. My father died when I was very young. Our bond was strong.

I try to remember the trip.

I remember we that we had Wainwright to guide us, with his diagrams and notes.

That we got lost in a  deep river valley and had to climb a steep, scree slope to find our way back to the path.

That he thought we could manage 20 miles a day......... which was a long, long way when hills and map reading are involved.

I remember the peat bogs with snow; black and white. Lunar landscapes like nothing I had seen before.

A youth hostel in a cobbled street. Bread and jam for tea.

A red rucksack with a metal frame.

And that's about all.

Four days and nights.  Lost in the recesses of my mind.

That's why I need my photos. To bring back those memories and keep them alive.

I have a load of old negatives in a safe in the cellar; so worried was I when the children were young that I would lose my most precious belongings if ever the house was on fire. Photos from the last 30 years until digital took over. My most treasured possessions.

It is quite possible that they have disintegrated significantly in that cold, damp environment. Time to do something with them. There is nothing else in the safe; I have no other possessions that I feel the need to save.

So I am going down under tomorrow, into my cellar to open the safe. I have been meaning to do this for ages. I am going to explore the past, and hopefully retrieve some of those lost memories.

And in the meantime I will share some views from a hotel in middle England, a bit up North, where things are a little bit more traditional.

man with dog

girl with teacups

girl with chrysanthemums ( red, white and blue)

horse with candlesticks

I am so aware that my memory is bad, that I  keep a notebook of my most interesting dreams, for if I don't record them immediately they are lost forever.

The fascinating thing to me is that just by writing down a few words, a whole series of visual images spring to mind.

Probably the most telling one recently was the three inch long hair growing out of my chin, that I couldn't remove. I wondered how it had got there without me noticing..........

Ah, the joys of ageing, going half blind, deaf, wrinkled and growing a beard..........

I am so glad I can remember that one.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

'you don't often get out for nowt' ……… the Duchess of Devonshire says 'goodbye'

I am up north………Derbyshire……….for a funeral.

The funeral is tomorrow, and I arrived a day early, so I put cameras in the car and made a journey to Chatsworth House, as I have fond memories of the fountains and countryside from a trip with my children 20 years ago.

I wanted to relive the views and take a walk after all that driving.

I packed my rucksack and set off across the fields, along the river.

I stopped to take a picture of the house in the distance.

The camera was dead.

Flat battery.

I walked back up to the car and changed cameras to a small one.

Back down the hill.

I stopped to take a picture again.

The camera was dead.

Flat battery.

I had driven for an hour to make photos, with two dead cameras. I was not impressed with myself.

Far across the fields were many cars and people wearing black.

I had gate crashed the wake for the Duchess of Devonshire. Quite unintentionally. The police man at the car park said'  a couple came here all the way from Australia  If only they had checked the website, as the house is closed today'.

I had not checked the website either. I had also come quite a long way. With two completely useless cameras.

I needed a walk, and I wandered on down he hill to see some action. I was wearing jeans and a vivid orange T-shirt. Not really appropriate attire for a funeral.

As I wandered towards the house, an elderly man stopped to let me know that he had been to the wake and had tea and cake. 'You don't often get out for nowt' said he. I didn't think I was likely to get anywhere near Charles and Camilla or the tea and cake.

I approached some guides at the entrance to the gardens and politely asked whether i could get anywhere near the sculptures that are currently adorning the grounds.

"just go in' they said. "everyone is welcome' .

"but I am  not really wearing the right clothes………"

" oh there's much worse than you in there'………..

Flattery will get you everywhere.

They were incredibly kind and friendly.

So I plucked up the courage to wander into the gardens amongst the local gentry folk in their funeral wear.

I got out my very old phone, and used it as my camera.

Add caption

old sculpture and new sculpture

Maro by Christopher le Brun

Chatsworth House

The gardens are not short of sculptures, some more appealing than others.

Most people today were more interested in drinking the champagne and catching a glimpse of royalty.

I overheard that there were 500 bottles of champagne left over.

vistas abound at Chatsworth

I inspected the floral tributes, listened to the band playing 'bare necessities' and other jolly tunes, and then headed home for tea.

floral tribute a la hen

Deborah was the last of the Mitford sisters, and held in very high regard locally.

I felt fortunate to have happened upon the last celebration of her life, which she lived so fully.

BBC report today