Sunday 31 January 2010

head in the sand

30th Jan10, Christon Bank, 4pm

As befits the end of a fine day, we had a fine sunset while we walked through the woods.

31st Jan10, Newton Links, 2pm

Not much beach due to the spring tide that hit high tide as we walked along. It's a good walk for high tide as it's easy to escape up the dunes or even behind the dunes as required.

Action Man's expression seems to be saying; "Ok, you've decapitated me and thrown me into the sea, but you ain't got me yet. "

What a guy!

Saturday 30 January 2010

Oh No, More Snow!

Another white morning but only a couple of inches overnight. It's nice to see it white again.

30th Jan10, Christon Bank, 8am

Burdock seed heads wearing caps of snow. Inside the wood was calm enough for the snow to lie undisturbed. Away from the shelter of the trees there's a biting Northerly wind straight off the arctic.

30th Jan10, Howick Gardens, 11am

Back home and the sun came out. On a beautiful day like this I had to be out there. I liked the idea of the shelter of trees so back on the snowy road to Howick for a longer walk.

Trooper goes bananas in the snow. He loves it.

Back to my current obsession with patterns. The flat light of a couple of days ago was replaced by bright sun and dark shadows and a whole new world of possibilites opens up. I thought these snow burdened fir branches were not unlike starfish.

And these patches of light in the snow reminded me of a flight of gulls.

Friday 29 January 2010


28th jan10, Newton Links, 8am

I noticed two temporary circles on my route. The first, a flooded part of the "grey dunes" and the second resulting from an attempt to make some horses very dizzy.

According to my book, "grey dunes" are the stable, grass covered dunes slightly inland and are so named to demarcate them from the "yellow dunes" that are sandy and face the sea.

29th Jan10, Embleton Bay, 8am

Very windy morning with clouds scudding across the sky bringing hail showers and sunshine alternately every few minutes. Trooper had turned to head back but changed his mind when he realised he was head on into the whipping sand and hailstones skimming at dog-height across the beach.

So we retreated up to the top of the highest dune which is a fine vantage point as can be seen.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

patterns in monochrome

I've always loved Ansel Adams work ( who doesn't?) and seeing an exhibition of his prints in Edinburgh a couple of years ago was hugely influential on me. In terms of finding a photograph where others walk on by, he was a master. His use of massive glass plate cameras and hours and hours of patience are not part of my arsenal however.

A recent browse through a book of his inspired me to make the most of the dull flat light that has been hanging over us for days.

27th Jan10, Howick Gardens, 8am

The first snowdrops of spring. Howick will soon be carpeted with flowers, the grounds will have an entry fee imposed and the dog will be banned, so it's a winter venue for our morning walks.

up the line

A few days to catch up on...

22nd Jan10, Cornhill-on-Tweed, 10am

en route to Edinburgh by the scenic road with a stop off for excercise and coffee at Cornhill-on-Tweed. This path follows the course of the old railway line that headed South from Cornhill to Alnwick so there is a connection. This far inland the snow was still lying in thick icy patches.

26th jan10, Christon Bank, 8am

The old lime quarry pond. The gloom never seemed to lift all day today and in the depths of the woods there wasn't much light penetrating.

26th Jan10, nr Newton Pool, 3pm

Thursday 21 January 2010

have you heard the redshank cry?

21st Jan10, Embleton Bay, 8am

A bleak old morning on the beach. Two groups of birds stood one either side of the mouth of the Embleton burn. Like opposing forces drawn up in conflict over a strategic river the redshanks on the N shore and the oyster catchers on the other. In fact there was no rough stuff they just stood their ground and preened, pecked and prodded; hunched against the wind.

I came across some nice words on the Redshank:

"A cry half challenge, half lament, the very spirit of the estuary, of a life that chances and changes with wind and tide" Eric Parker in English Wildlife

21st Jan10, Christon Bank, 3pm

A very pleasant late winter afternoon. The sun setting without much drama, the wind dying away for the evening. It was as if the trees had packed up for the day, knocking off a bit early and leaving dark two dimensional outlines to see the night through.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Things that float

An interesting walk around Warkworth beach for a change.

20th jan10, Warkworth beach, 8am

The route took us to Amble harbour but from the wrong side of the River Coquet. At this tide, the sand and mud is a nautical graveyard with wooden tombstones, black and rotten, marking the graves of various boats of uncertain age and structures I take to be old piers. Onshore too there is a mass of natural and man-made detritus; the recent spring tides and Easterlies have washed up a forest of driftwood and another old boat sits awaiting its fate. Being fibreglass, it isn't about to rot away to anywhere any time soon. An interesting, rather than beautiful, landscape on a dull, windswept day like this.

The natural landscape of the beach is much more appealing than the harbour with its several generations worth of large-scale littering or was it just that the wind was now blowing me towards home?

Tuesday 19 January 2010

A bench with a message

19th jan10, Alnmouth, 8am

Across the river from Alnmouth itself, on the cycle track and thoughtfully at the top of a wee hill, sits a bench. The design is beautiful, the message is reflective and warm and the view is both pretty and interesting. No stopping today as the seat was very frosty and I didn't want to leave a warm bum print. Nor did I wish for a wet seat of my own.

The estuary of the River Aln is a busy place for birds and on a brighter day the multi-coloured houses of Alnmouth would have merited a colour photograph.

I do love it when public works of art are well thought out, designed and executed.

What more could you want as an epitaph than to have been well thought of by those who knew you? As a place for a spirit to rest, this is up there.

Monday 18 January 2010

little whale

18th Jan10, nr Bamburgh, 3pm

There wasn't much left of this little cetacean except for his tail and his teeth. There's no mistaking the mammalian nature of a porpoise when you can see his skeleton; rib cage, spine etc all very much like yours and mine.

Meanwhile up above some military chaps fly in formation for reasons of their own.

pond life

18th Jan10, Low Newton, 8am

Another fine morning. The wee river that drains from the wetlands behind the dunes runs out over the sand and there's plenty of water to drain right now. Very pleasant walking along the beach with a beautiful sunrise through a gap in the clouds. Lovely light at the flooded pond behind the dunes.

Sunday 17 January 2010

dawn comes to those who wait.

The weather forecast was great for today so I ventured out before light to see if there would be a nice sunrise. In fact the pre-sun light was rather flat and dull and it just got steadily lighter.

Eventually a bit of colour arrived, just before the sun itself arose and disappeared into the bank of cloud but it was all the nicer for its subtlety.

17th Jan10, Embleton Bay, 7:30 am

17th Jan10, Newton Links, 2pm

The skies cleared and it was indeed a lovely sunny day.

Long Nanny contre jour

blue skies and blue sea (compare to yesterday!)

Very bonny horses with not much beach to trot along due to the tide.

Trooper keeps an eye on things

A haven required

16th Jan10, Craster, 12 pm

Lots of rain has melted away the last of the snow but there was still lots of rain and the sea was huge. the harbour at Craster has long been a haven for sailors and fishermen but we were seeking a haven of a different kind...

The outline of Dunstanburgh Castle just visible through the spray

And here was our haven...

The new Shoreline Cafe in Craster is a testament to the potential for Good Things to happen in Northumberland.