It has been a good few years since we have seen lambs in the field adjacent to our house. We live high above the Tyne Valley and there has been a recent tendency to move the mothers and their off-spring to lower ground.
Thankfully, it has not happened this year, at least not yet. These newborns arrived within the last 24 hours and will have spent their first night in freezing temperatures, waking to a hard frost. According to the shepherd, they don’t suffer in the frost, it is rain and harsh winds that gets to them. The forecast looks much the same for the next few days, so these first arrivals should be ok.
This one has a single – so no competition with brothers and sisers
And nothing much else this week. Some days I was reduced to photographing the neighbours i.e. the sheep. It was so bad today, they deserted the higher ground and have probably found shelter near the trees. Other days, I was either in Hexham or walking near Fourstones. Golf and motorcycling seem a distant prospect. On a positive note, the first 100 books (Golf in the Wild – Going Home) have been sold or shipped to retailers.
The lovers at Hexham Pant on Valentine’sDay
Parallel lines – the crossings near Fourstones Papermill Co. Ltd.
In spate – the Tyne at Haydon Bridge.
After the storm – a thorough wash and blow dry.
Nun shall pass – Hexham Abbey.
Bulrushes – between Warden and Fourstones.
An awful day (today, Sunday 20/2) – the field is saturated, the sheep are in hiding and I have not ventured beyond the front door.
There is a chill in the air with some days clear and bright, but rain remains illusive. Normally this would be of no consequence, however, the roads nearby remain covered in a layer of muck and salt such that any outings on a bike, once again result in hours spent cleaning.
It was just the second game of golf this year on Tuesday followed by a long ride out on the GS to Anthorn in Cumbria on Thursday – 117 miles, the longest this year. By contrast, in 2021, I didn’t get out until 17th February – maybe it was the weather or lockdowns or a combination of both – I forget.
It feels like the year is tilting towards spring with almost no days of winter. There is time yet, I guess.
The view from Struthers, Allendale. A brief detour on the way home from an enjoyable 18 holes at Allendale Golf Club – Home of Golf in the Wild.
Looking east along the channel of the River Wampool Anthorn.
A return to Anthorn (home of the pips) on the GS. Finally bit the bullet and increased the insured miles – expecting a hefty admin fee, the total charge was £2.46 :D!
Storm Malik was blowing a hoolie on Saturday
Another sunrise at Beaufront Woodhead – today – Sunday 30th January
The racecourse from east of Blackhill Farm – today – Sunday 30th January.
More sheep – near the racecourse
Towards Hexham, looking northeast from the racecourse road
The weather has been bleak. Our James, Louise and Little Evie arrived Monday and within 12 hours we had all gone down with a stomach bug – on the plus side, they got to stay another day. James is the our youngest boy of three and the the first produce a grandchild. For various reasons, it seems unlikely that the others will follow suit. So, on this branch of the family tree, it seems likely the Down name will die out. My dad would have been disappointed – no longer a name to go down in history.
It is a surname people struggle with – when speaking it, particularly on the phone, I have a habit of saying “Down, D, O, W, N” – it’s short enough and helps reduce the number of misheard interpretations – they are many. Even people we have known for years will add an ‘e’ or an ‘s’ or both – Downe, Downs, Downes are the common variations. Oddly, the Good Wife, who inherited the name, gets more irritated by this than me.
Enough rambling – I trust everyone is having and will continue to have a great Christmas. Like I said, the weather has been bleak and this is reflected in the external images from the past seven days:
Sunday 19th December – The fog on the Tyne moved up the side of the valley.
Monday 20th December – Someone is looking sheepish
Tuesday 21st December – Little Evie and her two front teeth venture north
Wednesday 22nd December – More thoughtful than sheepish
Thursday 23rd December – More or less recovered from the stomach bug
Friday 24th December – the CCM Spitfire Blackout – another recent addition to the garage.
Saturday 25th December – A Christmas day walk to Beaufront Hill Head.
In the manner of Garrison Keillor, it has been a quiet week at Beaufront Woodhead. Snow fell heavily last Saturday night such that Sunday dawned bright and very white. Most had melted by Sunday night. Monday remained bright but cold and then the dismal weather set in for three days. Astonishingly on Friday, my first round of golf since November 11th was played up the coast, at Warkworth, under clear blue skies. Normal service was resumed on Saturday. Yes, the English are obsessed by weather.
This is the collection of images posted daily on Blipfoto:
Sunday 5th December – A bright Sunday morning – the first snow of winter
Monday 6th December – Sunburst over Hexham on Monday evening
Tuesday 7th December – A dismal day outside I started playing around with Adobe Photoshop Camera. You see al this before you press the shutter on the smartphone.
Wednesday 8th December – On another thoroughly miserable day, our near neighbours in their very damp woolly jumpers.
Thursday 9th December – Out for Christmas lunch with friends, this is another smartphone + Photoshop Camera image using a reflections preset.
Friday 10th December – The Miracle that was the trip to Warkworth Golf Club. The view from the edge of the 5th fairway.
Saturday 11th December – normal service is resumed – a very bleak day.
In other news, I finished another proof read of Golf in the Wild – Going Home – the third in as many weeks. It’s a slow process but worth the effort – I am still hopeful for publication before the end of January.
I don’t post on WordPress like I used to. One of the main reasons is the distraction of daily posts on Blipfoto combined with a constant desire to be out on two wheels or playing golf. The latter two become much less time consuming over the winter months, but still I don’t post as often as I might. The sequel to Golf in the Wild also occupies much time as does being honorary treasurer of Allendale Golf Club and continuing to maintain about a half dozen WordPress based websites. And therein lies the rub.
All of the other sites are hosted on an ISP with locally supported and maintained versions of WordPress with access to the classic editor whereas, on wordpress.com, I am obliged to use the thoroughly awful block editor. The irony is that I am now paying for this service since I exceeded the free storage quota. I really should use it more and to that end, I will try repeating what appears on Blipfoto plus maybe a few extra images. Possibly, I will grow to like this editor, but I doubt it.
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:
… 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
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: