Northumberland in Mono

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:


Leaving New York

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime – I could write an extensive piece on the things I don’t like about cruising and cruise ships but it does have the occasional upside.  We had been at sea for six days, crossing the Atlantic, when we set the early morning alarm to ensure we didn’t miss the entry into New York.  Drawing back the cabin curtains we found ourselves easing up the Hudson to Pier 88.  This dark September morning Manhattan shone like a jewel across the river; it was one of the most magical travel experiences I have ever encountered.  It has to be the best way of arriving in the city.

When we left two days later nighttime was drawing in under thunderous skies – it is also a very impressive way of leaving New York.

Leaving New York

(click on the image to enlarge)

New York, New York

Travel theme: Cities

Guy Garvey interviewed in the Independent, February 2014:

“New York Morning” lays out his embrace of the city he describes as “the modern Rome, where folk are nice to Yoko”.

“That comes from John Lennon,” he explains. “In his last press conference when he left England for good, he said: ‘Why wouldn’t you go to New York? Every nation on Earth represented, all getting along – it’s the modern Rome’. Then he said: ‘Besides, they’re nice to Yoko’. Quite aside from what people think, whether she was responsible or not for splitting up The Beatles – and I’m very sure she wasn’t, knowing band dynamics as I do – it was the out-and-out racism that accompanied that, so when New York clutched them to its bosom as icons, they were very flattered, and it was the place where they felt they could live together and be happy. They were never far from my thoughts when I arrived in New York, being a Northerner and a musician. Knowing the love he had for his roots, it must have been very difficult for him to transplant himself, knowing he was a national hero.”

New York

New York New York New York

New York

In Garvey’s case, of course, it wasn’t so much a national hero and international icon exchanging one form of attention for another, as an escape from attention into blessed anonymity. Whereas John and Yoko relocated to Manhattan, he settled into the more localised, bohemian surroundings of Brooklyn, exulting in the chance to make friends purely on his personality.

“I enjoyed hanging round these diners, which very much reminded me of the places in Manchester where I decided to do what I did with my life, where everybody’s a writer or a sculptor or a painter, and holding down a job in order to support that,” he says. “I enjoyed being that nice older English guy who comes in every day, like Ralph Richardson in the corner on his laptop! It also made me realise how much more inaccessible that youthful verve becomes as you get older. I prefer the company of one good friend these days, whereas these kids were very much about discovering their identity and showing it to the world. It was a lovely thing to witness.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition

I think I might be mistaking juxtaposition for incongruity but never mind, I don’t think I can be arrested for it 🙂 . This image was taken on the streets of New York. As a stranger to the city, I was just amazed by the amount of ‘stuff’ this guy had to carry around. I don’t think he was wearing a ‘bodycam’ but it must be coming.  Maybe it’s the same in London but in Hexham I don’t think we have progressed much beyond the truncheon (I may be exaggerating).  A grabbed shot which is fuzzier than I would like, but it fits The Bill

Have a nice day

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus

There are occasions when you want to defy the laws of physics, to enter the realms of the impossible – in this scene from a New York ferry I wanted to focus closely on my beloved’s face (not the Elise) whilst capturing a landmark in the reflection of her sunglasses.  No amount of dodging around with apertures and depth of field was going to work – the solution – ‘simples‘ – cheat 🙂

Statue of Liberty

Travel theme: Dance

Travel theme: Dance:  These photographs were taken thirty years ago in Battery Park, New York.  The first is a little fussy with too much going on but with the passage of time perhaps it gains interest.  As I remember, the lone pom pom dancer had no connection with the street musician sat on the bench who was taking a rest between playing the accordion and the trumpet – a uniquely challenging feat for a one man band; the passers-by in their 1980s fashions seem too wrapped up in their own worlds.  Watching over them all is the Norman Millet Thomas Coast Guard Memorial established in honour of those from the US Coast Guard who served their country during World War II; nothing heals their wounds, nothing brings them back, nothing is learned – the world dances on.

Battery Park DancerBattery Park Dancer

On a lighter note, I was born with two left feet so I don’t generally take much interest in dance; consequently I found this theme choice quite difficult.  I have once again mined the Tallinn TREFF archive for these two images of clowns dancing:

Tallinn street theatre - danceTallinn street theatre - dance

(click on images to enlarge)

New York 1983

It is strange how things work out – my last post involved rummaging around some old 35mm negatives which just happened to be filed next to a set from a trip to New York in 1983.  I was so unimpressed by this image that I hadn’t even bothered to make a contact print.  With the passage of time it has developed some merit – the type of yellow cab and the cars place it squarely in the eighties but maybe the background also defines a precise moment in history.  Are the multitude of cranes on a building site or are they being stored? It is somewhere in Lower Manhattan but where precisely?  (click on image to enlarge)

New York 1983Perhaps most poignantly, the road sign points to the World Trade Center where the Towers still stood, tall and proud.

Postcards from the edge – 3

I first came to New York on a business trip in 1983.  I was part of a project to link up an early distributed electronic mail system between software developers in US and the UK.  It was time consuming, complex and expensive; today I can sit on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic, email friends and neighbours and remotely pan and tilt a camera in my living room.  We have travelled a long way in just under thirty years.

So has New York.  Then it was a darker, dirtier and more threatening place, the transformation is staggering, particularly down the West Side.  In my limited experience the people seem to have changed too; once bit part players in the French Connection, now everyone is straight from a Woody Allen film, particularly the tour guides who have perfected the role of edgy friendly familiarity.  Our first was a Tony Bennett look-alike whilst the water taxi showman was late Dustin Hoffman.  As you travel downtown, unsurprisingly, 9/11 dominates the conversation.

We all know where we were; the Terrazza dell’infinito, Ravello, the most beautiful view in the world, a clear blue sky merged as one with a bright blue sea at an indistinguishable horizon; it seemed like the absolute centre of the civilised world.  Later that afternoon in a back street café, news that the modern world had changed dramatically filtered through in half understood Italian.  Suddenly, the barbarians were at the door.

Michael Arad’s Memorial is a fitting and disturbing monument.  Thirty foot waterfalls endlessly cascade on each side of two pools set in the footprints of the original Twin Towers before descending again into the central abyss.  The names of the victims are etched into the bronze parapets that surround both pools.  It is a chilling and thought provoking place to stand, particularly on a warm blue-skied September day in the shadow of the near complete 1 WTC.