Old England

There is a sameness creeping into my imagery.  Old England has taken on the role of New England these last few weeks, the countryside turning a super-saturated Fuji Velvia riot of golds, browns and reds.  I carry my Fuji X100s with me almost everywhere I go, hence the opportunity to snap, hence the sameness – however clichéd, however familiar, the temptation to press the shutter one more time is irresistible.

Ken Rockwell describes the X100s as the “The World’s 2nd Best Digital Camera”, the best being its successor, the X100T.

I have said it before – the X100s is like a jewel, a retro work of art.  By comparison my Nikon D600 is a house brick – a perfectly capable house brick (apart from the oil spots on the sensor 😠 ) but not something you feel inclined to carry around in a golf bag, for instance – a full set of clubs in a carry bag is quite heavy enough.

This is what Northumberland has looked like these last few weeks through the eyes of a Fujinon 23mm F2 fixed focal length lens:

Beech leaves...

Autumnal waters ...
Autumn ... Talk about ... Autumn leaves ... Along the lanes ... Looking north west ...

And so to the crux of this post – my ongoing communications with Nikon Support:

Many thanks for your prompt reply. Unfortunately I am once again disappointed by Nikon’s response to this ongoing problem. At the heart of the issue is the fact that the Nikon D600 is a fundamentally flawed piece of equipment which should have been the subject of a replacement exercise from the outset. To be told, on the occasion of its third return for repair, that I might or might not be subject to a charge is unacceptable. There is inconvenience, time spent packing/arranging shipment and loss of use which seems to be ignored by Nikon, quite apart from the blemished images the camera produces.

In addition, it should be noted that I was explicitly told that my camera would form part of the D610 replacement programme by your colleague  – to receive the same camera back, which remains flawed, merely adds insult to injury.

I have been a Nikon customer for many years and have an extensive system supporting the D600. Unless you can guarantee replacement, I intend selling and replacing this system in its entirety – there are simply too many excellent, competitive cameras available on the market to remain with a manufacturer who has so little regard for its existing customer base.  I would be grateful if you could escalate as necessary.

I will let the world know how they respond 😉

The Flying Scotsman

In an earlier post I confessed to a youth spent hanging around sooty stations and sheds, inhaling steam, writing down numbers and underlining entries in an Ian Allan Combined Volume. Traces of that boy in a school cap, grey shorts and Clarks sandals remain.  For the last couple of weekends the Flying Scotsman has been travelling through Hexham on excursions to Carlisle; of course, I had to go and pay my respects.

I last saw this engine in steam at Doncaster when she was still in service; it would have been around 1961, a few years before she was sold to Alan Pegler.  Now she is pristine but in 1961 she was in standard BR livery, soot black and filthy.  Majestic she may be but I have fond memories of the days when not just the engines but the entire railway infrastructure was grubby, down-at-heel but workmanlike.

The first image, dated 14th August 2016,  was taken at Tyne Green on the opposite side of the tracks to the golf course.  The second image, dated 21st August 2016 was taken between Fourstones and Newbrough, on the track and crossing that used to lead down from Bull Bank:

Steaming through ... The Flying Scotsman ...

She is due through Hexham again tomorrow so I will mount the Yamaha and seek out another viewing angle. My whole life has been a landscape with machines.

Dusty roads ...


The Middle House

On high ground between the Tyne Valley and the Roman Wall, there is a wild empty landscape populated almost entirely by sheep.  North of Newbrough and Settlingstones sits The Middle House, abandoned and alone beneath a vast Northumbrian sky.

It is visible long before you arrive; the rough track climbs out of Stonecroft and gradually peters out as it threads west from Park Dam and its solitary swans:

The Middle House ...

The Middle House ...

Abandoned ...

Abandoned ...

Information on the Middle House is sparse online but, this extract from an ancestry site peoples this abandoned space with the Mason family:

My direct line starts with the marriage of William MASON to Mary
RICHARDSON at Simonburn on 23rd June 1743, both shown ‘of this parish’. William
MASON was buried at Simonburn on 26 May 1774, of Middle House, Warden Parish.
Mary MASON died on April 5 1809, widow of William MASON, of Brokenheugh,
buried on 8 April 1809 at Newbrough, aged 97.

They had children baptised:

Ann MASON 24 June 1744, Simonburn (buried 5 December 1744, Simonburn)
Jane MASON 19 June 1748, Simonburn
*George MASON, 25 March 1750, Newbrough, of Page Croft
Ann MASON, 19 August 1753, Newbrough
Mary MASON, 5 December 1756, Newbrough

*George MASON married Sarah HILL at Warden on May 18 1778. They had
children, all baptised at Newbrough:

Jane MASON, 11 April 1779
Mary MASON, 21 May 1780
Sarah MASON, 7 April 1782
**William MASON, 3 October 1784
George MASON, 18 June 1786
Thomas MASON, 6 September 1789
Ann MASON, 5 February 1792

*George MASON died on 21 November 1809, of Middle House, Newbrough and,
surprisingly, left a will proved at York in 1810, where he is described as
of Middle House, Shepherd to Jasper Gibson of Newbrough Lodge. He names
wife Sarah, his sons William, George and Thomas.

**William MASON married first to Priscilla Soppit on 2 May 1807 at Warden.
They had children baptised at Newbrough:

Barbara MASON, 3 October 1808
George MASON, 18 November 1809

When the light dims in the west, it is not difficult to imagine the young Masons still running free across the high moors.


Rule of three …

There is no direct connection between the image, the music and the poetry other than I became aware of them over the last forty eight hours.  The picture is from a walk to the aptly named Crow Wood near Newbrough on the southern Tyne.  The music was brought to my attention by my eldest son, Patrick – @smallhours2 – it pays to take notice of junior. The poetry is an extract from Norman MacCaig’s Close-ups of Summer – I am slowly working through his entire works. Poetry should not be rushed:

Hens sloven. But the cock
struts by – one can almost see
the tiny set of bagpipes
he’s sure he’s playing

The sun’s the same – pipemajoring
across space, where the invisible judges
sit, wrapped in their knowledge,
taking terrible notes

Above the south Tyne ...

This is all a reward for keeping the mind open to new things.
(click on the image to enlarge)