In our fifth week of lock-down, I realise that this week we should have been staying in a coast-side apartment at the western end of Swanage.  I was looking forward to revisiting Studland, the Poole Harbour ferry, Sandbanks and Canford Cliffs, familiar places I have known from my earliest years.  Instead, we remain in deepest Northumberland – we should be grateful – many would consider this a holiday destination and the weather has been glorious.

Had we been away, we would have missed this – drawn outside by a golden light falling on the trees to the east of our home, we were treated to this spectacular light show across the Tyne Valley.  There are many compensations for staying at home, out of choice or otherwise

The beginning …

… the middle …

The end.

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

The story of these sunset pictures, taken near Ullapool in 2012, is told in a previous post – a couple have appeared before but never in this full sequence at The Golden Hour.  The view is north along Loch Broom towards the Summer Isles.  I guess they cover a period of about 20 – 30 minutes; unfortunately I was not prepared so they are handheld and each is taken from a slightly different position.

Golden HourGolden HourGolden HourGolden HourGolden Hour

The photos were taken over a year ago so I thought I should make the effort to take one specifically for the challenge.  This entailed getting up ‘early’ on Saturday for the morning Golden Hour, in an attempt to capture the dawn light in monochrome.  For the first time in a number of years we are having a proper summer in Northumberland; it is 7am and the view is across the fields next to home; the shadows are still long, there is a mist in the distance which will soon burn off and the sheep are still slumbering – which begs the question, what do they count when they cannot sleep?

Golden Hour

For some reason I have been humming this whilst creating the post – all but one may look seriously strange but they still sound wonderful:

The Greatest Show on Earth

The Olympic opening ceremony was a wonderful spectacle but if we saw it every day the novelty and interest would eventually pall.  Certainly I would soon tire of Kenneth Branagh’s self-satisfied smile on the face of Brunel; I would all too quickly long for his dour Wallander.

Pictures of sunsets are a cliché, seen too often, taken for granted, they owe nothing to the person behind the camera other than his/her ability to be in the right place at the right time.  Nevertheless the sinking sun still has the potential to provide the greatest show on earth and it still can attract crowds.

In early August I was in the right place at the right time.  All that is required is clean unpolluted air, open water, clear but not totally clear skies and an uninterrupted horizon; then, all the ingredients are in place.  Sadly not many locations on mainland Britain meet the necessary criteria but on the days when the clouds lift and the rains desist, the far northwest will always deliver.

The right place on this occasion was at the end of West Shore Street, Ullapool, where you step up to the sea defences and walk towards the campsite and the mouth of the Ullapool River beyond.   It was a perfect evening; in the last hour before sunset when the light is at its clearest, the world appeared in Ultra HD.  Then as the sun began to sink into the Summer Isles, people gathered along the shore line, sat and watched, transfixed.  To enhance the occasion a woman played the sun down on a lap harp.

They are never the same.  The cloud formations, the clarity of the air, the stillness of the water, all vary from day to day.  A long, long time ago when the world was still young, I shared a sinking sun from the shores of Applecross; across a mirror like sea, it was pure watercolour on Hahnemuehle paper.  Some things you never forget.