Saturday 6th April 2013 dawned a glorious sunny day giving rise to the first hint of Spring across the Northumbrian landscape. This sudden and welcome change in the weather was perfectly timed for the Captains’ Drive In at Allendale Golf Club; under bright blue skies each new appointee took their turn at the first tee. The new Gents Captain, Andy Gray, was first to launch a magnificent drive down the furthest reaches of Allendale’s first fairway, the aptly named 417 yard par 4, Long Reach. As the applause from the gathered members subsided, this was followed by an equally imposing drive from the new Ladies Captain, Shirley Brown.
Traditionally this kick-off to the new season is followed by a friendly team match between Captain and Chairman but unfortunately the Drive In marked the end of the outdoor proceedings for the day. Despite the presence of a warming sun and steadily rising temperatures, this was not sufficient to melt the deep snow which still covered much of the course. As the two Captains walked down the first to retrieve their respective golf balls from the centre of the fairway, the galleries dispersed to the clubhouse with some disappointment. A couple of members walked the far reaches of the course to inspect the depth of the problem – in the shaded hollows it was probably near twelve inches; there may have been no golf but they were rewarded with some spectacular views of the Allen Valley brush stroked with snow – there is no finer setting for the game of golf, conditions permitting.
The first monthly medal of the year, due to be played the following day, was also postponed awaiting the disappearance of the last of the melting snow.
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
I have written elsewhere on the photographic limitations of travelling by train. On a recent journey along the West Highland Line we passed mountain after mountain lit up by a bright low winter sun – all of them inaccessible to my Nikkor lens through a dirty railway carriage window. The only solution was to hop off the train when it stopped – I did this but once at Crianlarich as it nearly gave me heart failure :-). I was still on the platform when the doors closed and the carriages started moving, fortunately only a few feet – they were decoupling two carriages – the front half of the train heading for Oban and the rear half for Fort William. These are the results of my brief foray; fortunately they have snowy mountains as their backdrop thereby almost making the heartache worthwhile (click on the images to enlarge).
Every time I think the snow is gone, this week I might get out on the golf course, this week I might get back on my motorcycle, this week I might take the Elise off its tyre trainers, back it comes. The wind is whipping up from the south so the swirls of snow just evident in the first picture are blowing away from the house and our drive – this is good news. Also, look closely enough and there are even the odd green shoots of Spring. Before long it will be time for The Masters, the days will be longer and I might just get the toys out of the garage.
(click on the images to enlarge)
I ventured further yesterday – the sun came out so I made it to the bottom of the drive. These photos were taken with a six metre pole and a remote control shutter. Unfortunately I have yet to acquire a camera with a wireless Live View connection so it is a bit like fishing – you cast your pole, fire the shutter and you only see what’s on the end of the line when you retrieve the hook/camera. It resembles fishing in other ways too e.g. not something to be attempted near high voltage overhead cables nor when there is lightning in the air.
The local council have done a good job at keeping the roads clear but this is only part of our problem. It is wonderful to have open views from the house but when it snows with a north east wind there is the potential for the entire contents of the field to be deposited in our drive. The extremes have not occurred on this occasion but it will still be some time before we can get my wife’s car out – mine, with its ‘very sensible’ rear wheel drive and ultra-wide low profile tyres is probably stuck there until August.
This is my 100th post – oddly addictive for something which I only started out of curiosity.
Last year we travelled as far east as St Petersburg, as far west as Quebec, as far south as Tunis and as far north as Cape Wrath yet some days I think we would have been happier just walking up the road – there is not much beats Northumberland on wild winter days (yes, I know, St Petersburg is marginally further north than Cape Wrath – poetic licence 🙂 ).
After seemingly endless days hibernating in front of a PC screen I was finally persuaded to venture out – it was good advice. The lanes around our home were looking at their best under a blanket of snow despite flat grey skies.
There was more snow forecast overnight and it duly arrived with a vengeance – I am delighted. This is the view from our front door; I have no intention of venturing further although the tyre tracks suggest our neighbour has set off for work. Getting back could prove quite difficult – all roads up to Beaufront Woodhead involve a steep incline at some point.
I am supposed to be packing to go away but then I turned on my PC and was distracted by the Weekly Photo Challenge; I will be in trouble. I cannot decide if this is delicate or not; a sudden thaw or gust of wind and the snow would lose its fragile grip so I propose that it is.
Hint: click on the image to enlarge, it definitely improves the ‘delicate’ detail 🙂
Now that snow is falling on my blog until 4th January 2013, falling faintly through the universe, I have posted some seasonal photographs.
Before I get onto the main subject I thought I would share this rejected Christmas card. At some stage in the Photoshop editing process I became bored with the image; it was taken down one of the local lanes but in the end I thought it looked too much like something from the top of a biscuit tin. Returning to it a few weeks later I am loath to discard it altogether. The fine words from James Joyce did survive onto a different version.
I have been blogging (horrible word) for a few months and now seems an appropriate time to introduce the neighbours. We live in the wilds of Northumberland but we are still part of a modern multicultural society – near neighbours include Highland Cattle, Longhorns and Llamas (or are they Alapacas, I am never sure):
It is perhaps unkind to be rude about the neighbours but these Llamas don’t look to be the sharpest knives in the cutlery drawer, but then again, looks can be deceptive. This final picture contains the inevitable sheep, looking unusually grubby against the white, white snow. This is facing southwest across the Tyne Valley; the river is on the right, shining brightly as it temporarily changes course before heading into Newcastle, the Shields, Tynemouth and the North Sea. The picture was taken just down the road from where these poor unfortunates suffer the rigours of a northeast winter.