Monday 30 November 2009

A Letter Home

30th Nov09, Embleton Bay, 8am

We walked past a wee bunker that we've walked past many times and, as oft before, I started thinking about the mindset of the boys posted here (and many similar pill boxes etc) in the early days of WWII. Invasion was a very real possibility and it must have been a very frightening place and yet every bit as beautiful as it is today.

So I got to imagining a letter written to a Mum waiting at home. This is a song but you'll have to do without the tune on here. The views are of and from the bunker.

A Letter Home

It's Winter 1939 in a bunker's where I stand
Looking out the window at a mile of golden sand
There's a castle in the distance, it's really rather grand
A castle in the distance and a mile of golden sand

I'm posted here with Geordie, he's a canny little man
He's got a ukelele and we're going to start a band
He says one day we'll make it big and play throughout the land
From the castle in the distance to the mile of golden sand

How's my brother Tommy, he turns 18 next Jan
I hope this all blows over, they say that's how it's planned
But if he does get posted, where could be so grand?
As a castle in the distance and a mile of golden sand

On a Sunday (like today is) we'd be sat with you and Nan
With meat and veg and roasties and peaches from a can
But Geordie's made a cup of tea "the finest in the land"
With our castle in the distance and our mile of golden sand

Once all of this is over, we should come back in the van
There's some spots to put a windbreak up. Aye, it would be grand
To be here in the summer - imagine me all tanned!
With a castle in the distance and a mile of golden sand

They say "look out the window, watch the sea beyond the strand"
It's a canny wee bit scary, the thought of fighting on the sand
We talk about our folks back home and we're prepared to make a stand
For our castle in the distance and our mile of golden sand

Sunday 29 November 2009

Two Mornings

It's all too easy to trudge about listening to my podcasts and concentrating on keeping the wind out. There's always a point on a walk where I look up and see some play of light that reminds me to be grateful and to enjoy every moment.

27th Nov09, Christon Bank, 8am

28th Nov09, Embleton Bay, 8am

Thursday 26 November 2009

The Lookout

25th Nov09, Low Newton, 8am

A very beautiful morning but bitingly cold

Trooper disappeared into the dunes on our way back to delay the inevitable. He would stay here all day. It took me a while to spot him sitting in his lofty perch keeping an eye on me.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Impressionistic Autumn

After a few days N and W of here, in the wet most of the weekend, the rain had follwed us home. There was little colour on the beach but then these 3 lichens (see previous entries...) caught my eye.

23rd Nov09, High Newton, 8am

23rd Nov09, Christon Bank, 3pm

We haven't been to the woods for a while as the cows often guard the gate and, when they're not there, the mud is a foot thick. Undaunted and determined today, I carried Trooper through the mud thinking only of the carpets back home.

Readers of long standing may recognise this technique as I've described the methodology before. No photoshop involved - it's all about working with nature's elements (and knowing how a camera works).

Thursday 19 November 2009

Noisy Beach

18th Nov09, High Newton, 8am

This is my peak season for kids' portraits so not much time for extended walking and not many photos as my mind is elsewhere. I've photographed over 40 kids in the last 2 weeks and I'm a bit done with the visual world for now! It's nice to wrap up and lie back with Trooper on the beach for a while with my eyes shut. I hear the wind whistle overhead and whip through the grass, the rain taps on my hood seeking my attention while the curlew and oyster catchers pipe their mournful refrain over the rhythm of the regular breaking waves and constant "sea noise". Somewhere in amongst all of this nature a man enthusiastically narrates his tale of Britain's oldest bell foundry in my earphones. Too incongruous for today so I'll save that one for another walk...

When my eyes opened, this bank of cloud seemed to rear up from over the horizon.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Paddy's mount revisited

15th Nov09, Low Newton, 4pm

The yachts and dinghies are all away for the winter and they make a fine silhouette against the setting sun.

16th Nov09, Embleton Bay, 8am

Interesting light with early sun on the beach but dark clouds to the North.

Meanwhile the sky was very moody behind the castle. The "moat" in the foreground is field flooding and is not normally there, but it does suggest there was a moat here in times past.

16th Nov09, at home, 3pm

Very wet all day but finally the sun started shining through the rain on the window just in time to get out and about...

17th Nov09, Christon Bank, 8am

Paddy's Mount. Many, many years ago, an Irish labourer died while working at the farm and was refused a burial at the Church on account of his being a catholic. The farmer and the man's friends and colleagues buried him here with some trees for company and as a visible reminder of the story. The farmer subsequently narrowed all of his stiles so that the local vicar, a portly gentleman, had an uncomfortable time on his habitual constitutions.

The moral? Don't be prejudicial and don't mess with Northumbrian farmers!

Fallodon Woods

Friday 13 November 2009

Long Dogs and Tall Tales

13th Nov09, High Newton, 8am

Trooper is a "Long Dog" a name given to lurchers and most often used in connection with poachers. Today the sun made us both seem rather too much on the tall side to be completely believable.

13th Nov09, Embleton Bay, 3pm

By conicidence, I was listening to a podcast today where a sociologist was discussing her study into the role of the flip-flop in today's global community. The world's biggest selling shoe apparently, and also probably the first ever shoe design created. They are known as "go-aheads" in China because you can't walk backwards in them. These ones were abandoned as if the owner had exited vertically as a result of alien abduction. I considered tossing them into the sea in case they arrived at the feet of someone needy but decided this was unlikely. We hung them on the gatepost instead.

This was a very cool VW camper. The coolness was somewhat offset by the fact that while He drove the camper, She was parked nearby in a nice modern car with the kids.

Thursday 12 November 2009

A fine day

Very pleasant out and about this morning. Trooper won't get much of a walk this afternoon as I'm in Edinburgh so we went for a good hike for a few miles up and down the beach.

12th Nov09, Embleton Bay, 8am

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Catching up

Lots of catching up to do - Better get on with it...

7th Nov09, Christon Bank, 8am

Frosty morning with interesting fungi...

Probably "Blusher" a delicious culinary mushroom. I'm not 100%sure so I've not eaten any but I know where they live...[ edited: On further investigation, this is a clump of pholiota squarrosa Not for eating! If in doubt leave it be...]

Coprinus Xanthotrix Beautiful, delicate and ephemeral. Not edible.

9th Nov09, Embleton Bay

A grumpy sort of a day.

This beach art is a bit poignant.

9th Nov09, High Newton, 4pm

Blue skies at the end of the afternoon gave way to a strange misty atmosphere behind the dunes.

A skein of curlew.

The beach was huge with the low tide and completely empty.

10th Nov09, Christon Bank, 8am

Gorgeous autumn colours made all the more stunning by the first rays of the morning sun.

10th Nov09, Low Newton, 3pm

Jolly beach art today.

and nature was painting magnificent patterns with the clouds

11th Nov09, High Newton, 8am

A big rainstorm was fortunately well offshore but another crept up behind me so we got wet anyway.

11th Nov09, Low Newton, 3pm

Patterns and textures drew my eye today.

Friday 6 November 2009

normal view

In case that video was too much here are some stills...

6th Nov09, Football Hole, 8am

With the lack of wind again, the water lying in the pools was very peaceful while the sea remained restless and grumpy.

Sunday's floods brought the part-time river back to football hole and I suspect this chap was washed down to the shore in the torrent. He was gamely making his way back up the dunes. We bade him good tidings and left him to it.

A different view

Here's another experiment. A video this time.

Hope you enjoy it. It takes far too long to do this every day! The music is my own wee doodle too.

Thursday 5 November 2009

surf's up

5th Nov09, Low Newton, 8am

Barely a breath of wind here but distant storms have sent a huge swell to our shores. The atmosphere was very peaceful but always with the distant roar of the waves crashing in.