The weather has been bleak. Our James, Louise and Little Evie arrived Monday and within 12 hours we had all gone down with a stomach bug – on the plus side, they got to stay another day. James is the our youngest boy of three and the the first produce a grandchild. For various reasons, it seems unlikely that the others will follow suit. So, on this branch of the family tree, it seems likely the Down name will die out. My dad would have been disappointed – no longer a name to go down in history.
It is a surname people struggle with – when speaking it, particularly on the phone, I have a habit of saying “Down, D, O, W, N” – it’s short enough and helps reduce the number of misheard interpretations – they are many. Even people we have known for years will add an ‘e’ or an ‘s’ or both – Downe, Downs, Downes are the common variations. Oddly, the Good Wife, who inherited the name, gets more irritated by this than me.
Enough rambling – I trust everyone is having and will continue to have a great Christmas. Like I said, the weather has been bleak and this is reflected in the external images from the past seven days:
Sunday 19th December – The fog on the Tyne moved up the side of the valley.
Monday 20th December – Someone is looking sheepish
Tuesday 21st December – Little Evie and her two front teeth venture north
Wednesday 22nd December – More thoughtful than sheepish
Thursday 23rd December – More or less recovered from the stomach bug
Friday 24th December – the CCM Spitfire Blackout – another recent addition to the garage.
Saturday 25th December – A Christmas day walk to Beaufront Hill Head.
I don’t know how long I will keep this up, but there is an improved chance now that I once again have access to the classic editor. For this I must thank https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com/ who pointed me in the direction of Katherine Wikoff’s post on this subject. Many thanks to both.
In the manner of Garrison Keillor, it has been a quiet week at Beaufront Woodhead. Snow fell heavily last Saturday night such that Sunday dawned bright and very white. Most had melted by Sunday night. Monday remained bright but cold and then the dismal weather set in for three days. Astonishingly on Friday, my first round of golf since November 11th was played up the coast, at Warkworth, under clear blue skies. Normal service was resumed on Saturday. Yes, the English are obsessed by weather.
This is the collection of images posted daily on Blipfoto:
Sunday 5th December – A bright Sunday morning – the first snow of winter
Monday 6th December – Sunburst over Hexham on Monday evening
Tuesday 7th December – A dismal day outside I started playing around with Adobe Photoshop Camera. You see al this before you press the shutter on the smartphone.
Wednesday 8th December – On another thoroughly miserable day, our near neighbours in their very damp woolly jumpers.
Thursday 9th December – Out for Christmas lunch with friends, this is another smartphone + Photoshop Camera image using a reflections preset.
Friday 10th December – The Miracle that was the trip to Warkworth Golf Club. The view from the edge of the 5th fairway.
Saturday 11th December – normal service is resumed – a very bleak day.
In other news, I finished another proof read of Golf in the Wild – Going Home – the third in as many weeks. It’s a slow process but worth the effort – I am still hopeful for publication before the end of January.
It is the 7th January as I write and Christmas already seems long ago. The decorations have returned to the loft and it is as though it never happened. Except, sitting in the dining room/study/my playroom (note the evolution) the evidence is there for all to see – a half built Tamiya Monster Beetle which will eventually play host to the GoPro camera and, a stack of new books. As this is part personal diary, I will use this as an excuse to list them – they reflect my passions and tastes in a way that nothing else can. I am grateful to a well-informed Santa (and friends and relations 🙂 )
- Alan Bennett’s Keeping On Keeping On – because I have read everything else he has produced;
- John Simpson’s We Chose to Speak of War and Strife – as above;
- Damon Hill’s Watching the Wheels – because his dad was a childhood hero and this most thoughtful of racing drivers promises an intriguing insight to his and his late father’s character;
- Rick Broadbent’s That Near-Death Thing – Inside the Isle of Man TT – no explanation necessary;
- Julian Ryder’s MotoGP Season Review 2016 – again, no explanation required;
- John Berger‘s Here is Where We Meet – a late convert to this man’s fine work, I have some catching up to do;
- Colm Tóibín’s Mothers and Sons – anyone who has read Golf in the Wild will know why this title resonates;
- Robert Marshall’s The Haunted Major – a comic golfing story first published in 1902. This wasn’t actually a Christmas present but, ordered in August, it didn’t arrive until January 1st, thanks to the neighbour’s offspring – bless ’em 🙂
There is a vaguely amusing story attached to this last book. A friend who looks after the feet of the Newcastle United players loaned the Haunted Major to Kevin Keegan, explaining that it was the story of a sportsman who thought himself much better than he really was – “Are you trying to tell me something!” was Keegan’s immediate response. Within a week Keegan was gone from Newcastle, along with said book. Once read I should pass it on as compensation.
The one passion not covered by the above is photography but I tend to just do it rather than read about it. These are the Blip images from the first seven days of 2017:
This is the video used for grabbing the moon rising image – more fiddling about with the GoPro in the adjacent field. Keep an eye out for the good lady feverishly cleaning the porch – Spielberg would have fired her on the spot 😀
Must stop now, I have some reading to do and a Beetle to build.
The leaves may have left the trees but the skies still entertain. Now that the UK’s Met Office and Met Éireann, its Irish equivalent, have taken to naming ‘storms’ that blow in from the Atlantic, the weather has suddenly become more personal. First there was Abigail who didn’t make much of a show in Northumberland – stood up by a storm. Then there was the remnants of ex-hurricane Kate, and now we await the arrival of Barney, followed by Clodagh, Desmond and Eva etc.
According to the Guardian: “To avoid confusion, if a storm is the dying gusts of a tropical storm or hurricane that has crossed the ocean, it will still be styled according to the current convention of “ex-hurricane X”, as chosen by the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami”.
The list alternates between male and female names through the alphabet. Sadly for all those Quillans and Xaviers out there, Q, U, X, Y and Z will be omitted, in line with “the convention for official storm naming in the North Atlantic”. Nice work if you can get it 🙂
Call them what you like, they have provided some spectacular autumnal skies over Hexham these last few days, with or without a little post-processing 😉 :
For years they have ignored me, now they want to be friends. It started as an innocent discovery – I was walking to the end of our driveway to put rubbish in the bin. It was carried in a stiff plastic bag which crackles in the wind and this sound must share the same properties as the bags used by the local farmer to carry their feed. This sudden friendship feels a little sinister, like something from the mind of Guillermo del Toro (his Pan’s Labyrinth period) – click on the image to get the full cinematic effect:
I can now summon them from across the field at will but of course it all ends in disappointment – it is a cruel sport:
Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie – this is a cropped version – the original can be seen on the smartphone which is taking a live feed from the camera via a wifi connector which then fires the shutter. The Monster’s pipes are visible on the phone but not on the cropped image. In theory, this goes on forever, or at least until I am reduced to a single pixel 😦
There is a delay between firing the shutter and the image appearing on the smartphone, so it is the non-flash image that you can see on the phone’s screen.
Re the clips below – mute the sound on the Youtube clip and let the SoundCloud track play over the video. I think it works better and changes the mood of the piece – but not quite as significantly as it does in the Adam Curtis ensemble – While the Band Played On (I am persuaded @smallhours2 🙂 )
In another attempt to dust off the cobwebs and stretch the trousers we embarked on a walk around Juniper on New Year’s Day; it was a dull morning threatening yet more rain across the Shire. Juniper is a delightful, rural hamlet which achieved some local notoriety in 2010; this article appeared in the the Hexham Courant on 1st April of that year:
A Hexhamshire hamlet is changing its name in order to cash in on the millions of a sixties superstar. The tiny community of Juniper will in future be known as Jennifer Juniper, following a request from hippy hero Donovan. Cash-strapped Northumberland County Council is understood to have agreed to the name change in return for a £5 million donation to council coffers. The denim-decked singer made a fortune in the 1960s from songs like Catch the wind, Universal Soldier, Mellow Yellow and Sunshine Superman, but his personal favourite was always Jennifer Juniper. He took a tour of Tynedale whilst staying at Slaley Hall and fell in love with the quaint hamlet of Juniper. He spotted a dappled mare grazing in a field and just wanted to be part of the place. Villagers have reported being offered large wads of cash for their properties but no-one was prepared to move out of the close-knit community. A consultation exercise on the name change is being carried out by the county council, but comments had to be in by noon yesterday.
It was a quiet morning, just one horse and rider struggling up the steep bridle path from Devil’s Water and in the woods, evidence of avian tragedy:
(click on images to enlarge)
In March 2004 I found myself in Tallinn, Estonia presenting at a pre-accession IT conference. Nearly spring at home, the temperatures remained determinedly below zero throughout as the streets rattled to the sound of studded tyres on tarmac. On one of the short days we escaped to Kadrioru Park by the shores of the Baltic and walked upon the water – the sea was deeply frozen as ferries navigated in and out of the port through roughly carved channels.
The return flight banked over the Baltic and some years later we returned by a defrosted sea on our return from St Petersburg. Thus I have floated on the Baltic, walked on its waters and flown over its deep seas. A couple of weeks back I even went inside:
Actually, I have been inside the Baltic Mill, Gateshead on many occasions. It is a wonderful building but the content rarely lives up to its fine exterior.
(this is another image courtesy of the smartphone).
According to Wiki: The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian and cyclist tilt bridge spanning the River Tyne between Gateshead’s Quays arts quarter on the south bank, and the Quayside of Newcastle upon Tyne on the north bank. The award-winning structure was conceived and designed by architects Wilkinson Eyre and structural engineers Gifford. The bridge is sometimes referred to as the ‘Blinking Eye Bridge’ or the ‘Winking Eye Bridge’ due to its shape and its tilting method. In terms of height, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge is slightly shorter than the neighbouring Tyne Bridge, and stands as the sixteenth tallest structure in the city.
This Let there be Light sequence was taken, handheld, with a Samsung SII smartphone, so less than ideal for the task. Watch and wait for the colours to change; in real life they do this on a much slower cycle – you get bored and very cold in November, standing, waiting and waiting for the next colour shift:
As we travel, we make connections all the time. There is a connection with my previous post – when I climbed in the car and took this series of phone images the route was inevitably the one I use out of habit nearly every day.
There is a connection with one of my followers who uncannily observed that this road would be “precarious if icy” – suddenly it is there the next morning, an Olympic, winter sports grade, skating surface.
When I arrive at my destination, there is the wind turbine with the sun rising over the hill behind – it has a connection to the National Grid although on a day like this, what’s the point.
Golf is all about connections – hands to club, club to ball, ball to hole….or ball to rough, never to be seen again.
There is the connection with another recent post – More notes from the Madhouse – you have to be slightly unhinged to play golf in these conditions, some might say at all. Finally, to make one final connection – in answer to the question, Golf? What’s the story?……sorry Mark, I haven’t a clue 🙂
When you need it most….
Plays shorter on ice…..
The master and eventual winner at work….not me!
When giants walked the earth…
A perfectly timed ending
All images taken on a Samsung SII smartphone and then over-saturated in Photoshop 🙂