Wednesday 30 June 2010

what's missing...

I am!

Daisy's not allowed for proper walks for 5 weeks yet and she demands full attention at home so I'd not been to the beach for days apart from a couple of brief trips...

28th June10, Newton Links, 8am

A very quick walk with little Daisy to the beach. We were here last night too and she was running full pelt beside me. She's going to be fast when she's bigger - and she's going to be a lot bigger!

30th June10, Embleton Bay, 8am

A fun training course today with 3 photographers with whom it was a pleasure to pass a couple of hours. I'd been discussing dust on camera sensors so was a bit alarmed to see this picture. On the face of it, this looks like an excellent example of how dirty a sensor can get. In fact these are out of focus flies buzzing over the skaith which was between me and the horses.

The skaith was a bit scummy today which explains the flies. This shot has a greater depth of focus which means that the flies are visible, with their reflections, all over the near surface of the pond.

A simple composition eliminating all but the coble and the flat calm sea. My favourite shot of the day. I love the delicate texture of the sea with just a few ripples revealing its presence.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Walking Miss Daisy

23rd June10, Newton Links, 7pm

Meet Daisy, our new walking companion on the Northumberland Coast. Those of you who have had a dog before will understand the gap that's left in your life by the departure of an old friend like Trooper. A litter of 5 girls came up for rescue at our local shelter and we couldn't resist.

She's a lurcher (like Trooper) and is probably a greyhound/collie cross (like Trooper). She's only 7 weeks old and has had no vaccinations so she's only allowed on the clean sand at low tide by way of an introduction. Over the next few weeks she'll become a regular on my walks.

More photos here on my other blog.

Tuesday 22 June 2010


22nd June10, Embleton Bay, 8am

Now that's a bad golf shot. This ball was where it shouldn't have been.

A beautiful "longest day" (near enough) and I had time to wander right up to the castle snapping as I went. At this time of year the sun is high even by 8 am and the contrast is intense. Not the best conditions for photography in a traditional landscape sense but there's a story to be told...

There are those as like to construct stone towers on the beach. Getting the balance right can be very absorbing and I believe it's a bit of a Zen thing.

Even when dry, the black dolerite boulders reflect a lot of light and appear shiny. The hard rock wears to a very smooth surface over the millenia. The very bright rocks contrast starkly with the dark shadows and reveal lovely textures in this direct sunlight.

Back to the golf theme that started today's journey. It's a pretty good location for a green.

Monday 21 June 2010

Memento Mori

19th June10, Ellingham, 1pm

After a fine walk around Ellingham including a good lunch at the pub, we found ourselves wandering the old graveyard at the church. Very atmospheric. We're not in a morbid mood, it was just the way the walk went.

20th June10, Alnmouth, 12 noon

A stroll around Alnmouth on a day that was warm enough but a bit dull.

Nice enough for the Brits to be sat on the beach in jumpers and fleeces...

Saturday 19 June 2010

Jelly Things

18th June10, Newton Links, 5pm

A pleasant evening which would be warm but for the chilly NE wind.

Moon jellyfish were all over the sand but this one was on the seaweed and was holding on to a mass of tiny bubbles. I never know whether these are alive and waiting for the tide or not.

Hundreds of tiny sea gooseberries all along the edge of the sea.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Circular Variety

I walked this circular route from Craster once with Trooper and we found that the path cuts straight across livestock pastures. That day we were lucky with the cows and sheep but I didn't venture back. Today I was able to walk right by the cows without any problem.

17th June10, Craster to Howick and back, 8am

It's a walk of great variety: From the village you quickly head inland to farmland and woodland and then back to the coast.

The barley looks strong but has a bit of ripening to do.

At the coast and an example of diffraction as the waves pass between the rocks and spread out in a circular pattern. My physics teacher would love this! It's uncannily calm and warm and I'm not ashamed to say I nodded off briefly on a bench to the sound of the Kittiwakes' endless chatter.

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Training Day

16th June10, Embleton Bay, 8am

A fine morning for our small group to wander the beach and dunes at Embleton Bay. Nice to meet you all, I hope you took away some useful ideas and some nice pictures.

The sky was the striking thing early on. At times like this the sky seems to reach far back behind the horizon and it makes things on the ground seem small and insignificant.

The Coble is still in place fishing in the sparkling sea.

Our circular tour took us to the skaith at the start and end of the walk. I'm glad everyone noticed how different the light was an hour or so between visits. That's a Northumberland morning for you! These two shots were taken at much the same time and are just slightly different compositions.

Monday 14 June 2010

A different View

13th June10, Fallodon Woods, 8am

A quick walk through the woods. Everything is very green (and very wet from the overnight rain). The abundance of one colour makes me want to look in black and white.

14th June10, Embleton Bay, 9am

A fine morning after more rain overnight. The skaith is a curious pond. It is affected both by the tide and by the inflow of water from theEmbleton Burn and it looks different every day. Today it was looking very bonny.

It being low tide I wandered out onto the Emblestones for the first time. It's a rough, bouldery walk out a stony causeway which was never suitable for Trooper's spindly legs. It's an interesting spot when you get there with rocks that are wave splashed but never submerged. The yellow splash lichen is very strongly established perhaps because there are few passing feet to disturb it.

Sunday 13 June 2010

The Horses Waltz and other stories

11th June10, Boulmer, 9am

A cycle instead of a walk this morning took me on a 20 mile round trip to Boulmer. I sat on a bench, had a drink and contemplated the old machinery. There's quite a collection of rusting equipment which all seems to be in working order and it supports the small fishing community.

11th June10, Low Newton, 4pm

A fairly busy Friday afternoon to start the weekend. Despite the family groups flying kites and playing rounders, there's always space to sit and read or to quietly contemplate life.

Another peaceful spot at the Newton Pool bird hide. A couple of Little Grebes left of centre.

12th June10, Newton Links, 8am

Time for a quick walk by the sea before heading to the Big City for the day "because we can".

The local horses are often excercised in a circle on the sand. I have taken to thinking of this as "The Horses' Waltz" and I wrote a wee tune by that name last year.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Defensive structures

10th june10, Craster to Dunstanburgh, 8am

A fairly dull day but there's always something to photograph.

Dunstanburgh Castle has appeared often enough on this blog but this is the closest view

The gateway is famously spectacular - more so than it needed to be which gives rise to speculation that this was a bit of a vanity project for its builder.

A bit weather beaten but not bad for a 1314 construction. (although the sandstone is 300 milion years old so it's not going anywhere fast)

Meanwhile, S of the castle these buildings housed a WWII radar station. Radar was one of Britain's greatest wartime secrets as it gave a tremendous advantage. At the nearby quarry in Craster there were buckets on an elevated wire which transported stone to the harbour. As these interfered with the radar function, they had to be dismantled and a flimsy excuse was given to the villagers due to the secrecy of the truth.

The buildings were apparently converted to be used as part of a prisoner-of-war camp later in the war and I fancy that this trough with drain was a latrine of multiple occupancy. If it had a window the view would have made it quite a pleasant place for a toilet!

Beautiful things that hurt

Back to work, the blog will go on. We'll see if it changes at all.

9th June2010, Embleton Bay, 8am

I ran my first ad hoc course on Wednesday but nobody came. It's a quiet week here and I have no worries that things will pick up in the Summer.

Here's a lesson for anyone who decided to not bother because it was a grey sky day. The overcast clouds had beautiful details within. This is one of my favourite pictures for ages.

The shoreline was covered in jellyfish. Some I can identify, others don't appear in my books. I presume they all sting to one extent or another.

First one - distinctive pattern but no idea what it is.

2nd one - beautiful but no idea what it is.

3rd one a Lion's Mane jelly fish which I presume only looks like a lion's mane if you meet it underwater.

Finally the common but beautiful moon jellyfish.

9th June10, Howick coast, 7pm

This is Nightshade but not deadly. This is "Bittersweet" or Woody Nightshade. The berries start bitter, turn sweet in the mouth and then make you violently ill. The flowers are beautiful.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Trooper's last days

Poor old Trooper was finally put to sleep yesterday after 4 weeks of being unwell. He died peacefully at home in my arms which is the best we could do for him.

I'm sorry to anyone reading this who I should really have phoned personally but I can't talk just now. I always knew it would hit me hard.

Penultimate walk, Low Newton, 7th June10

Trooper's mostly oblivious to my presence and is walking and following by instinct.

Last walk, Embleton Bay, 8th June10

Trooper's meandering walk tells a story. He'd fallen in the river already this morning, or would have if I hadn't jumped in myself and held him up.

We chose to end your life today to free you from your pain
Like a thousand snakes of torment were writhing in your brain
They only stopped when you slept and lay peaceful on your bed
And now they've stopped for good and there's calm inside your head
We hope we did the right thing for you and for us too.
Goodbye old friend, old Trooper, you knew how we loved you.

If there's a doggy heaven it looks like Northumberland.
(Trooper at Embleton Bay May 2009)