More random thoughts …

Last week I posted this image on  On a circular walk around Hexham we cut through the golf club car park to avoid the muddy public footpath where shafts of light from a low winter sun highlighted drifting smoke:

Smoke in the woods...

A split tone filter from ON1 Perfect Effects has turned the smoke blue which immediately put me in mind of the early television advert based on the Platters record:

They asked me how I knew
It was Esso Blue
I of course replied
With lower grades one buys
Smoke gets in your eyes.

I had hoped to find the original advert on Youtube but this was the best I could find:

All this reminded me that John Betjeman had a fondness for product names like Omo, Oxydol etc but could not find the reference despite much searching on Google.  Instead I found this, one of my favourite pieces by Betjeman which I had not thought of in years – A Shropshire Lad:

I love the rhythm of this poem and its repetition:

Captain Webb from Dawley,
Rose rigid and dead from the old canal
That carried the bricks to Lawley,
Rigid and dead, rigid and dead,
To the Saturday congregation.

I have traveled the full length of the Shropshire Union more than once but could not remember passing through Dawley.  I wondered if the ‘old canal’ might be a convenient invention by Betjeman but a quick Google search came up with this explanation from the Dawley Heritage site:

In 1788 the ironmaster William Reynolds proposed an extension to the Shropshire Canal southwards from Donnington Wood to the River Severn. After parliamentary approval, work started in that year. Following a route alongside the present-day Stirchley Pools and after exiting from a tunnel at Southall, the canal split into eastern and western arms. The eastern arm, through Oakengates to near Aqueduct, was replaced by a railway in 1860 which followed wherever possible the line of the old canal. The western arm from Aqueduct to Coalbrookdale, via Little Dawley, Wide Waters and across Doseley terminating at Brierley Hill declined in use and was closed in 1810 when the new tramway was built from Castle Furnaces across the Lightmoor Valley to Coalbrookdale.

Oakengates, Coalbrookdale and Dawley are all mentioned in the poem.

So, that is how I got from Hexham to Dawley.

As you climb up the golf course approach road you are walking almost parallel to the 18th fairway and at the top is the tee box adjacent to the 17th green.  Earlier in the week this had been as ice-smooth as a skating rink:

Hexham Golf Club ...

I cannot mention ice rinks without thinking of Ravel’s Bolero … and so,  it goes on, randomly 🙂


  1. LaVagabonde · February 22, 2016

    It looks like ectoplasm in that first photo. The sounds and words and images go together perfectly. An eerie late winter stroll. The best kind. 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · February 22, 2016

      Oh yes Julie, I like that – ectoplasm and the Outer Limits – I wonder where that might take me 👻 😱

  2. easyweimaraner · February 22, 2016

    it looks like ghosts are there… maybe that ghosts are the reason that my momma always makes 87 hole in the ground till she hits the ball ?

  3. restlessjo · February 22, 2016

    Wonderfully random, Robin! 🙂 I did enjoy the Betjeman!

    • northumbrianlight · February 22, 2016

      He was wonderful wasn’t he, Jo. I have made the pilgrimage to St Enodoc several times but I have yet to play the adjacent golf course – it is on the bucket list.

      • restlessjo · February 22, 2016

        Fingers crossed 🙂

  4. simon682 · February 22, 2016

    Blimey! Esso Blue. That takes me back!

  5. greenmackenzie · February 22, 2016

    That 1st photo is really atmospheric…mysterious even….and the links within your mind are wonderfully varied 🙂

  6. Sue · February 22, 2016

    Oh, thank goodness someone else has a butterfly mind…..

    • northumbrianlight · February 22, 2016

      We are expansive and imaginative Sue – at least I think that’s what they call it 😉

      • Sue · February 22, 2016

        Well, that’ll do me! 😊

  7. Su Leslie · February 22, 2016

    Great post. The first photo is just stunning and I love the mental meanderings. It’s exactly what I do and it’s such fun to have someone map theirs out. I get from Ravel’s Bolero to the smell of a sheepskin rug. I don’t think I’d even been aware the Winter Olympics was on, let alone been interested in ice-skating before that moment, lying on the rug late on an Auckland summer night, watching the evening news.

    • northumbrianlight · February 22, 2016

      Many thanks Su and I really like the connection between ice skating and a dead sheep – I wonder where you might go with that next 😜 😀

  8. socialbridge · February 24, 2016

    Robin, I’m a true John B fan and especially love the tennising Miss Jean Hunter Brown.
    Hadn’t thought of OMO for yonks!!

    • northumbrianlight · February 24, 2016

      A lost genius, Jean:

      Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
      Above us the intimate roof of the car,
      And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
      With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.

      And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
      And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
      We sat in the car park till twenty to one
      And now I’m engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.


      • socialbridge · February 26, 2016

        Wonderful! Thanks for these lines.

  9. littledogslaughed · February 26, 2016

    The first image is wonderful-it brings to mind all kinds of ghosties and goblins hovering about-and like others I enjoyed the walk through your thoughts Robin-very entertaining and educational 😉

    • northumbrianlight · February 27, 2016

      Many thanks Meg, always good to hear from you. I had never thought of myself as an educationalist before 😉 Have a great weekend (and Hubble and jack Henry)

  10. Karen Thorburn · March 1, 2016

    You’ve captured a couple of lovely atmospheric shots and I love the poetic and musical connections! I like Ravel’s Bolero a lot and was fortunate enough to see/hear it performed live at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh a few years ago. I keep thinking that spring is in the air but your photos show that winter is still hanging on! It’s the same up here – it was lovely and sunny at the weekend but very cold. I captured photographs of sea ice, frozen seaweed and ice formations in a puddle!

    • northumbrianlight · March 4, 2016

      Thanks Karen – apologies for the slow response – we have been down to York for a few days. It was good to see the Minster in snow which sort of confirms our suspicions 😦

      • Karen Thorburn · March 4, 2016

        Glad you got away for a few days. York Minster is most impressive!

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