This set of images were all taken within a 1.5 mile radius of our home – I know this for certain because I haven’t ventured outside this geofence since 24th March. Hexham is a mystery to me now – the Good Wife has taken over responsibility for all socially distant shopping, mostly because I cannot be trusted to buy organic. Any consequential savings I would spend on chocolate or similar. Nevertheless, I am not complaining, I seem to have slipped into this secluded life all too easily. The only thing I miss desperately is getting out on the motorcycles which, as any rider knows, is just self-isolation at speed.
Lean on me …
Always keep a-hold of nurse
Beaufront Castle Lodge …
In a big county …
The entrance to Fern Hill Farm
Five-bar Gate …
Do not disturb …
Another gate above the old kennels, Beaufront Woodhead.
The impression created by these images is of a country life continuing as usual, uninterrupted by world events. Isolating has also meant not listening to ‘news’, keeping socially distant from statistics and mortality rates but, just occasionally the bubble is burst. Peter Turnley’s images portray an entirely different, distant, monochromatic reality:
In our fifth week of lock-down, I realise that this week we should have been staying in a coast-side apartment at the western end of Swanage. I was looking forward to revisiting Studland, the Poole Harbour ferry, Sandbanks and Canford Cliffs, familiar places I have known from my earliest years. Instead, we remain in deepest Northumberland – we should be grateful – many would consider this a holiday destination and the weather has been glorious.
Had we been away, we would have missed this – drawn outside by a golden light falling on the trees to the east of our home, we were treated to this spectacular light show across the Tyne Valley. There are many compensations for staying at home, out of choice or otherwise
The beginning …
… the middle …
… but, fortunately, so far, not locked in. We are very lucky, living in the wilds of Northumberland. For the most part it just feels like an extended winter without the temptation to take a motorcycle out on salty roads nor play golf on water-logged courses In some ways, life is almost simpler. Lacking other inspiration, here are some images of the neighbours who don’t seem to have got the hang of social distancing:
Ewe mucky kid …
Here’s lookin’ at ewe kid
Ewe don’t have to say you love me …
Don’t look back …
The local longhorn …
… and what a time it was …
… a time of innocence
It has been a tough week, saying a last goodbye to my big sister. The service was held in the small church at The Lee, near Great Missenden. A lovely place but, it came as some relief to return to the peace and quiet of deepest Northumberland. There is always hope to be found in the wild places.
And so, the night falls …
… in Beaufront Woodhead. The weather has alternated between dire and freezing, neither any good for getting out and about, especially on two wheels. A couple of storms have passed through and trees have been lost. We have had a couple of regular visitors to our garden and then, yesterday, they took the liberty of inviting all their friends. The image from our rear bedroom window shows a handful but, just around the corner, there were twenty or so more – they have kindly, liberally, fertilised the lawn.
One bright spot, I have replaced the levers on my Triumph Scrambler – I get a disproportionate amount of pleasure out of such fettling – verb (used with object), fet·tled, fet·tling – Ceramics to remove mold marks from (a cast piece). That may be the official definition but, in Manchester and probably elsewhere, it means to fiddle about with machinery – ideally in a relaxed and time-wasting fashion. An alternative would be ‘ferkle’.
“Goodnight, thank you, and may your God go with you” – Dave Allen 1936-2005
… all are welcome, apparently.
… before and after
… super-wide – the 8mm Samyang on the X-Pro2
… winter moon over Beaufront Woodhead
… and Hard Rain along the Tyne.
… another tree down along the Tyne
… afternoon light, Beaufront Woodhead
… and one I might struggle to keep – to post on WordPress at least once per week. Not that I will necessarily have anything illuminating to say but, as I post on Blipfoto everyday, there should be no shortage of images.
It has been a quiet week in Beaufront Woodhead. The hard frosts have disappeared, to be replaced by a gloomy light, plenty of rain and high winds. Occasionally the sun has slid through a gap in the clouds and then it is a few short paces from the front door to grab the light. This is a series of local images from the last few days rounded off by my middle son eyeing up his inheritance – we took the Elise 117 miles into the Borders because we could and because driving that machine is always a joy. Thanks to the bikes I am very familiar with all the routes heading north from Carter Bar, to Newcastleton and south via Keilder:
The sun going down across the Tyne Valley
Taken before the sun disappeared for the day
The view from the trees back to Beaufront Woodhead Farm
A brief moment in time, the sun shining on Keith’s house – earlier today, 7th January.
Those trees again – again, 7th January
Matt, eyeing up his inheritance
… of the decade. Yesterday I journeyed 94 miles on the F850 GS, riding into the sullen Scottish Borders – drizzle and heavy mist over the hills, having left the Tyne Valley in bright sunshine. This morning brought a heavy frost and removed any temptation of venturing out again. Ice and two wheels don’t mix.
… last sunrise.
… and a heavy frost.
… just north of Kielder
Riding the bike into distant empty roads focuses the mind, clears the head and banishes dark thoughts about the year gone by – it has not been a good one. A new decade begins, turn, turn, turn …
My big sister: 1944-2019
I have been waiting for this for a while. Driving up from Hexham, tell-tale dust was blowing across the road. Armed with the X-Pro2 and the Fujinon 18-55mm zoom I was back to the field in minutes hoping to catch a monster in action. It did not disappoint – a Claas harvester was lumbering around in ever-decreasing circles throwing up vast dust clouds to confuse the enemy.
It was a super-heated afternoon with a hot sun piercing high dark clouds – it was very ominous. Within an hour biblical rain was falling on Hexham, the harvester and all souls beneath. It seemed unlikely that the harvest has been completed in time and, sure enough, this morning there was still a large patch of uncut oilseed rape and an abandoned combine harvester. The dust in the air had been replaced by expletives:
Will I see you give more than I can take
Will I only harvest some?
As the days fly passed
Will we lose our grasp
Or fuse it in the sun.
… by now these images should show hints of springtime colour but Northumberland, for the most part, remains determinedly black and white. To quote Joan Didion, we live entirely by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the “ideas” with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience. Put simply, March, and now the beginnings of April, do not fit my narrative line. I have put 498 miles on the Yamaha since January 1st and squeezed five rounds of golf between the snow showers. Every mile and every fairway I have been clobbered up to the nines with multiple layers and thermals. Enough is enough – let’s skip spring and go straight to summer:
Sandhoe in the snow
Snow and frozen puddle – on the road to Fawcett Hill
Afternoon light, Beaufront Woodhead
Up the hill to Beaufront Woodhead
Under March skies
The wrong line
St John’s, Whitfield
Misty morning, Beaufront Woodhead
Misty morning, Beaufront Woodhead
Hexham in heavy rain
To emphasise the point, these last two images were taken today, 1st April. I was on the way to Allendale Golf Club to take part in the first competition of the year – it soon became evident this was not a practical proposition. I turned around 😦
Beyond our neighbours’ frosted washing lines,
Their silvered slates and chimney-pots,
Our borderland begins …
Make what you can of it, for no one knows
What story’s told by winter-misted hills.
Douglas Dunn – Northlight 1988
Looking west from Fawcett Hill
Towards Beaufront Woodhead from Fawcett Hill
No way through to Beaufront Hill Head