Sunday, April 17th 2016, we travelled from South Uist to Eriskay across the causeway, opened by the Earl and Countess of Wessex on the 11th September 2002. This one mile crossing is the last in a series linking the islands of Berneray, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay. A sixty mile string of roads and bridges which has added much to the convenience of local life but taken some of the romance from travelling these Outer Hebridean islands. We briefly toured the island by car, stopped at the Barra Ferry, took a quick look at Am Politician and were gone, heading south by ferry to Skye.
The ferry to Barra from Eriskay (in my pre-RAW days, the X100S quality now seems a little disappointing)
In 1934, Werner Kissling arrived by sea and stayed on Eriskay for the summer. A career diplomat for the Weimar Republic, his postings took him to Spain, Hungary, Switzerland and finally, the UK as Second Secretary in the German embassy, London. Alarmed at the rise of the Nazi movement, he resigned when they came to power in 1933. Personally harangued by Hitler, he borrowed the yacht, Elspeth, and headed north to escape the attentions of the German secret police.
This great escape undoubtedly suited him immensely. For reasons not entirely clear, he had, from an early age, developed a passion for the Scottish Islands and its people. During his time on Eriskay, he filmed the islanders as they went about their daily lives – collecting peat with their ponies, sheep farming, fishing and tweed making. The resulting film, A Poem of Remote Lives, is an astonishing record of a Gaelic community and a way of life that had not changed in hundreds of years:
… 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 …
… 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
December in old England has been mild and easy, the quiet before the storm? I am still playing golf, walking with the camera and, very occasionally, venturing out on two wheels. At heart, I am a fair-weather rider and there are plenty of reasons to keep the machines safe in the garage – ice on the roads, salt that creeps and corrodes and, not least, the wind chill factor when riding at 70mph into the face of a cold northeasterly.
Nevertheless the desire to be out eventually over-rides common sense and off I go – only ninety miles this month, better than nothing. These are some images from the month to date, including yet another timelapse sunrise across the fields. Northumberland has finally lost its autumnal glow:
After a relatively long dry spell, the weather in the northeast turned this morning. Even the sheep have taken to sheltering under the trees. There maybe something else going on though. Having lived in the same place for nearly twenty years and observed the habits of our nearest neighbours, it is surprising how the different generations do exactly the same things, year after year; just like sheep I suppose. For instance, lambs and ewes alike will bury their heads in the folds of a tree trunk for minutes at a time – it only recently occurred to me that they are probably nibbling at the bark, not sulking. Something to fill the hours on a rainy day:
(click on the image to enlarge)
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:
A day in the life – I guess it should be “my life” but I enjoy the oblique reference to Lennon & McCartney:
Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, I noticed I was late
Saturday 30th March 2013, the clocks change tonight in the UK and the light begins its return to the evening skies. I hasten to add this is not a typical day, indeed these last few weeks it has been very untypical, there being more chance of snowboarding than playing golf. First thing this morning it looked like more of the same as our new neighbours looked distinctly uncomfortable in a north easterly blizzard. Nevertheless, as the morning progressed the weather eased and by 11:30 conditions were relatively benign. The day starts from warming up the car, heading along the Military Road to Matfen Golf Club, completing a very enjoyable round, mostly in the sun, and then heading home to once again sit in front of a PC screen – I omitted a photo of the latter, it being sort of self-evident from this post.
All the photos were taken on a Samsung SII smartphone and then given the Instagram treatment:
The neighbours – they don’t look happy
Out to warm up the car
Up to the Military Road (Hadrian’s Wall) and turn right
This doesn’t look promising
This looks better – No snow on the greens!
My 45 year old brass putter – will it work today, probably not.
Spot the golfers in the trees
All golf balls are magnetically attracted to this lake
Bacon rolls – Now you’re talking!
My golfing buddy waits patiently to halve the match
Time for home and don’t spare the horses
The temperature dipped well below freezing again last night so I thought it time to pay tribute to our immediate neighbours who suffer the rigours of a Tyne Valley winter without complaint.
The truth is I have acquired a new prime lens and I was keen to try it out – not that I travelled far for my ‘art’ exactly, these were taken from our drive immediately after breakfast. I didn’t stay out long.
The verdict: very pleased, the problem is that once converted to jpeg, the resolution dropped to 72dpi and then compressed by the wordpress gallery process, the obvious improvement over my previous lens has disappeared.
(Thanks Patrick – father follows advice of eldest son and isn’t disappointed!)