Yet another …

… week gone by.  After a dull and dreary weekend, the sun finally appeared late Sunday and from then on, the week mostly took a turn for the better.  Monday was cold, particularly across the moors, but fine enough to get the Scrambler out.  Tuesday felt a little like Christmas as I drove to Allendale Brewery to collect a hamper and crates of beer.  Bright skies and frost appeared on most mornings such that the camera has spent a lot of time pointing at the sky.  Thursday was even good enough to take the GS north, across filthy roads to Otterburn and then on single tracks to Sundaysight, Greenhaugh and Bellingham.  Nothing is quite as good as being alone on two wheels in wild, empty places.

Sunday 12th December – the sun finally made an appearance, late in the afternoon

Monday 13th December – On the Scrambler to Stanhope and Wolsingham. Still some snow on high ground and colder than expected, but grand to be out again. No low winter sun, which is good thing on the bike.

Tuesday 14th December – To the brewery at Allendale to collect Christmas presents. So much better than depending on a courier who might, or might not, deliver to the right address.

Wednesday 15th December – Sheep migrating north in a golden, morning light.

Thursday 16th December – traffic jam near Sundaysight.

On the same day, on high ground between Greenhaugh and Bellingham, looking towards Sundaysight. The GS is filthy thanks to the lorries emerging from Divethill Quarry on the B6342.

Friday 17th December – Egger from Oakwood, on a cold December morning.

Saturday 18th December – a hard frost on a bright December morning. Flying high on the left is Turkish Airlines, Boeing 787-9 from Istanbul to San Francisco.

On the same day – a different treatment of the same scene.

Danger – do not proceed …

Owning a motorcycle is like owning a dog, you can get into long conversations with people who would ordinarily pass you by.

The stop at Bellingham was planned – the Yamaha has a fuel gauge but its advice is at best vague.  It always pays to independently keep track of mileage and expected range – about 150 miles maximum.  This is particularly so when heading north up the A68 – without diversions there are no petrol pumps between Hexham and Jedburgh.  Hence the plan to fill up at Bellingham – a scenic diversion which worked well except my arrival coincided with a tanker delivery.  Within minutes the driver had expressed an interest in my bike and so the fifteen minute wait was filled with conversation.  The same thing happened later in the day when I made a brief detour to the Holy Island causeway; an elderly chap was keen to tell me all about the Vincent he once owned and wished he still did

I was heading for Haddington to the east of Edinburgh – first to collect some copies of David Shaw Stewart’s excellent Views from the Tee and then to meet my eldest for lunch.  Rather than retrace my steps I returned via the A1.  This is a longer route home but the northern stretches near the coast can be spectacular and the dual carriageway allows the cobwebs to be air-blasted from the Yamaha.  These are just some images from the day – a splendid 220 mile ride out in perfect autumnal weather:

Filling up the filling station, Bellingham

Haddington in autumnal sunshine

Robert Ferguson of Raith memorial – Haddington

From the causeway to Holy Island

You have been warned

On the causeway bridge

Another view from the causeway bridge

Here comes the flood

We were all surprised and caught out but in fairness to the Met Office, they did warn that the north east would be subject to thunderstorms and intense rain, just not the apocalyptic variety that arrived.  There are many tales from the day, some of them very unpleasant for those involved but here is some light relief.

The fifteenth at Allendale Golf Club is called Perdition and is descibed on our website as follows:

As in life, disaster and final judgement are but a short distance from triumph and elation.  The 15th is the hardest hole on the course but no matter how hard, surely it is better to play than not at all, for that would be true perdition:

Remember the story of the fanatical golfer who died and found himself on the most beautiful golf course imaginable with rows of shining clubs to choose from.  He contentedly concluded that some fortunate mistake had been made by the recording angel and that he must be in heaven after all.  But then his caddie, a slight figure with narrow red eyes, enlightened him – there are no balls.

I was out on Perdition yesterday afternoon with Ian, Billy and Alan, playing in a seniors match when someone turned the lights out and the skies erupted.  Four golf umbrellas resolutely continued walking regardless of the torrent, regardless of the thunderclaps, there is no klaxon at Allendale.  My second shot cleared the line of trees that cross the fairway and my third, a nine iron, just held the right hand edge of the green, now two thirds water.  A chip from the edge of the green left a four foot tester; with no umbrella for protection, water trickling down my neck, my glasses misting up, two cups appeared.  I aimed between the two and sank the putt to go three up with three to play; our friends from Bellingham conceded to us, the weather and fate.  We headed for the clubhouse drenched.

Are we completely insane or what.

The view from the clubhouse

And for the lyrically minded, some appropriate words from Peter Gabriel, if a little OTT:

When the flood calls
You have no home, you have no walls
In the thunder crash
You’re a thousand minds, within a flash
Don’t be afraid to cry at what you see
The actors gone, there’s only you and me
And if we break before the dawn, they’ll
use up what we used to be.

Lord, here comes the flood
We’ll say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
in any still alive
It’ll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you’re running dry.

And then watch the artist at work:

Mamiyaflex C330

My Dad’s Mamiyaflex has found fame at last on the cover of the Newcastle Journal’s golf supplement.  Not quite as iconic as McCullin’s Nikon F but then the bunkers at Bellingham were empty.

This is ‘photographic irony’ – the Bellingham photos which feature in The Journal (cover and inside) were taken with a Nikon DSLR up a 5M Pole – try putting the Mamiyaflex in a similar place and the camera would probably take flight!


Finally managed to time a trip to Bellingham in good weather.  The course was looking excellent although it was a pity nothing was in bloom.  The assignment was for a Signature Holes article being produced by Norman Harris (The Sunday Times and Observer) for The Journal.  The 18th at Bellingham, Boggle Hole, is the first of a series.  The attached panorama will not be used so I don’t feel bad about pre-publishing, particularly as I risked life and limb on the bar roof capturing it – don’t look too closely for the hand crafted stitch.  The pictures that will be used were all captured from a 17 foot Brodex pole – a bit like fishing – cast and hope.  It is difficult to photograph – the two challenging aspects are the two ravines on the approach and it is only side-on that they become visible.  Unfortunately the panorama does not suit the proposed layout for the article.