… the weather. On Monday night we had the first serious snow of winter – unannounced, it took us sufficiently by surprise that the Good Wife had to abandon her car and walk home, about a mile up the hill to Beaufront Woodhead. The car was retrieved the following day, but the snow and and ice hung around for another couple of days. Later in the week, the BBC/Met Office website was finally issuing Yellow Weather Warnings for severe snow in the northeast. In the event, nothing arrived. The same website contains hourly forecasts for the following fourteen days – generally speaking, they turn out to be nonsense. Why the pretence – rant over – have a happy week, everyone, regardless of the weather.
I don’t know how long I will keep this up, but there is an improved chance now that I once again have access to the classic editor. For this I must thank https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com/ who pointed me in the direction of Katherine Wikoff’s post on this subject. Many thanks to both.
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:
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.
New Year’s Day was dull and grey. The next we awoke to a world changed. Overnight snow is the joy of winter. By some standards, it was a modest covering but sufficient to raise me from my lockdown position in front of several PC screens. If we must have winter, if I am unable to ride a motorcycle, if I cannot swing a golf club, then let’s at least have it pretty.
It is around this time of year I get itchy feet and plot escapes north, always by rail – Inverness, Wick, Kyle of Lochalsh and Bodø/Lofoten have been my destinations over successive years, although only the latter yielded the white stuff. This year, inevitably, I am going nowhere – locked up, locked down, call it what you will, I am told we are in Tier 4. News channels can speculate, offer opinions, call in experts, exhort, criticise and alarm – just don’t assume I am listening. I am out of reach and much the happier:
Today I walked down the street I use to wander
Yeah, shook my head and made myself a bet
There was all these things that I don’t think I remember
Hey, how lucky can one man get.
The field next to our home is filled with sheep. The red dye on their backsides confirms they have been seen to by the tup (ram) – he has been a busy boy. It is disappointing that, around the time the fruits of his endeavours begin to show, the flock is moved to the lower nursery slopes.
After a while you begin to notice how your neighbours behave. On really cold, still nights, they gather beneath the trees to avoid the ground frost. Generally timid, they will disperse as we leave the front door but, rattle a plastic bag that might contain ewe nuts and they will come running. Lie down for any length of time and a significant number will limp away, appearing to suffer from dead legs.
I share their pain – a golf induced knee injury, rotten weather, salty slippery roads and various tiers of lockdown have all served to constrain the usual activities – travel, golf and motorcycles. Nevertheless, there is always much to see, just look to the skies:
And then modest snow arrived on Christmas Eve and hung around for the next day – a White Christmas for Hexham:
So, to sign off for 2020, I wish my modest band of followers, all the best for a much-improved 2021. Before I go, some 2020 milestones:
a. In late 2020 I approached maximum disc space on wordpress.com after eight years – I am now subscribed with an annual fee which at least demonstrates commitment and should ensure my readers are not subjected to peculiar adverts;
b. Despite lockdowns, I still managed to clock 7165 miles on the motorbikes – several hundred more than in lockdown free 2019;
c. We still managed to get away – to Saughtree in the Borders, twice to Mallaig and once to north Northumberland. A return to the latter was abandoned due to the second lockdown;
d. The text for the Golf in the Wild sequel is now complete and due for publication in September. Possibly the only golf success in a year when playing was much curtailed.
Finally, as parting shots, a couple of images of the ‘Bad Company‘ I kept on some of the most memorable days in 2020:
Beyond our neighbours’ frosted washing lines,
Their silvered slates and chimney-pots,
Our borderland begins …
Make what you can of it, for no one knows
What story’s told by winter-misted hills.
Douglas Dunn – Northlight 1988
This is the sort of thing that I find interesting, particularly when I have been cooped up for too long. Anyone who uses a Fuji X camera appreciates the remarkable jpegs it is capable of producing straight out of the box. However, as a ‘serious’ photographer, I feel obliged to shoot in RAW to provide maximum scope for adjustment – change to exposure, recovery of highlights, adjusting shadows etc etc, the possibilities are endless. Consequently, I spend happy hours post-processing an image to the point where sometimes it is almost as good as the film simulated jpeg produced by the camera.
There are other options – Photoshop Camera RAW camera calibration contains all of the film simulation profiles which, at the click of a mouse, supposedly provide immediate conversion to the preferred profile – except that, even to this amateur eye, they don’t look as good as those produced in camera.
Enter Fujifilm’s X RAW Studio – I don’t know if this approach is unique to Fuji but it seems a very neat solution. This isn’t just another RAW processor, instead it enables access to the image processor inside the camera. Consequently, what you get is exactly what Fuji intended; not only that, it is non-destructive so you can generate as many film simulated versions as you like, all from the same original RAW file i.e. if you are shooting RAW + a simulated JPEG, you are not constrained to one version of the JPEG. There are detailed explanations of the set up and conversion process on Youtube – this is a good one.
If my ramblings are clear as mud, perhaps this will make more sense – this is the same image – shot in RAW and Acros + Red filter JPEG and these are four versions of the same image with four different Fuji film simulations:
- Top left is Vivid/Velvia with strong grain;
- Top right is Acros+Yellow filter with strong grain;
- Bottom left is Sepia with no grain;
- Bottom right is Classic Chrome with no grain.
Not only are these none destructive edits to the original RAW file, the subsequent JPEG edits are also preserved in *.FP1 files so they can be reloaded and amended further. All of this done with the convenience of a large monitor, rather than peering into the camera’s LCD.
How often I will use X Raw Studio I am unsure, given that I am already post-processing with Photoshop CC, ON1 2018 RAW and occasionally ON1 B&W (this remains a very effective mono engine even though replaced many releases ago). Nevertheless, it is good to know the option exists.
Anyway enough of that. The reason I am going cabin crazy is down to the endless hours in front of this screen. The Siberian snow has now been replaced by a dull wet slushy thaw and I can find no enthusiasm to go outside – unlike the previous few days. This has been the weather in and around Hexham:
According to Wiki: Carter Bar forms a popular point for tourists to stop and take photographs on the Anglo-Scottish border. There are two marker stones on either side of the A68 for this purpose, the original stone created by local Borders stonemason, Edy Laub. Upper Redesdale, the Scottish Borders (including Tweeddale) and to the east, the Cheviot hills are all visible from Carter Bar. However, its altitude means snow is possible even in late spring and early autumn, and the Carter Bar pass can be subject to frequent snow-related closures during the winter.
Perhaps I should have read this before setting off on the Yamaha. A hint of warmth in the air around Hexham convinced me this was just the day for a round trip to Scotland along the A68. Everything was fine until Byrness village when the already biting wind chill bit harder, snow appeared in the verges and a persistent layer of ice was visible at the northern end of Catcleugh Reservoir.
By the time I had climbed the 418 metres (1,371 ft) to Carter Bar, the landscape was mostly white. Fortunately, the roads remained clear and ice free. Pulling into the viewpoint lay-by I was hoping to see The Borderer mobile snack bar but they had sensibly upped sticks for the winter. There was nothing to do but extract the camera, take some quick shots, try to get some heat into my fingertips and head back south (I really do need heated grips). Not the most comfortable ride but a thoroughly energising 77 miles. Next task, wash off the salt and muck from the bike … and me:
We have seen much weather this last 48 hours. The cold Arctic front has duly arrived, bringing snow to Netherbutton, Orkney. We are marooned, at least for the next few hours – there is much to be said for the Internet under such conditions. It makes you wonder how the Scandinavians manage to put up with it but, perhaps they don’t. The Finns have a word for it – Kaamos – drifting around with the browser, as you do on such days, I found this:
Thousands and thousands of Finns suffer from kaamos depression, or depressio hiemalis as the fancy Latin of doctors terms it. Depression, anxiety, exhaustion, restlessness — it’s all mostly because of the lack of light. How are you supposed to wake up and keep moving when it’s dark outside when you go to work, and dark again when you get out? It’s as if the cold colorless world outside settled into your bones — unfeeling, unmotivated, a dull ache, a hunger that can’t be satisfied, a sleepiness that can’t be shaken — all in all, not a nice thing at all.
This is just a small extract from an entertaining post at Masks of Eris.
The cottages at Netherbutton overlook Scapa Flow, a body of water with a remarkable history. It might be expected that in peaceful times there would be little activity in this remote place but, far from it – there are currently two oil rigs in for maintenance, a supply ship and three tankers. At night they light up like Christmas trees on dark waters.
Despite the harsh winters and the classic ingredients for kaamos, we have found everyone delightfully friendly and approachable – Orcadians are in the top ten of happiest people in the UK and enjoy the best quality of life of any rural area. It was not always so, at least if you believe the serviceman who penned this while stationed here in the war:
This bloody town’s a bloody cuss
No bloody trains, no bloody bus,
And no one cares for bloody us
In bloody Orkney.
The bloody roads are bloody bad,
The bloody folks are bloody mad,
They’d make the brightest bloody sad,
In bloody Orkney.
All bloody clouds, and bloody rains,
No bloody kerbs, no bloody drains,
The Council’s got no bloody brains,
In bloody Orkney.
Everything’s so bloody dear,
A bloody bob, for bloody beer,
And is it good? – no bloody fear,
In bloody Orkney.
The bloody ‘flicks’ are bloody old,
The bloody seats are bloody cold,
You can’t get in for bloody gold
In bloody Orkney.
The bloody dances make you smile,
The bloody band is bloody vile,
It only cramps your bloody style,
In bloody Orkney.
No bloody sport, no bloody games,
No bloody fun, the bloody dames
Won’t even give their bloody names
In bloody Orkney.
Best bloody place is bloody bed,
With bloody ice on bloody head,
You might as well be bloody dead,
In bloody Orkney.
Don’t believe a word of it, it’s a great place which can only get better once it stops snowing 🙂
And as fer me,’ Sam said, ‘don’t fret.
The sky’s took a turn since this morning;
I think it’ll brighten up yet.
Three Ha’pence a Foot – Marriott Edgar
late 14c., “horizontal zone of the earth,” Scottish, from Old French climat “region, part of the earth,” from Latin clima (genitive climatis) “region; slope of the Earth,” from Greek klima “region, zone,” literally “an inclination, slope,” thus “slope of the Earth from equator to pole,” from root of klinein “to slope, to lean,” from PIE root *klei- “to lean” (see lean (v.)).
Whatever the climate might or might not be doing, in these parts, it has certainly been changeable. From bright, cold March sun through heavy snow, to biblical rain and out the other side to hints of summer, we have had it all these last seven days: