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 same place, the same time; one shot, two ways. The view is south from Beaufront Hill Head, across the Tyne Valley towards Corbridge, Slaley and beyond. This is the highest farm on the Beaufront Castle estate: Beaufront Hill Head is at 214 metres above sea level whereas our home at Beaufront Woodhead is at 167 metres. The views south from both locations are breathtaking in either landscape or portrait – particularly if you climb to Beaufront Hill Head from Sandhoe – the majority of the 217 feet ascent is completed in just a few hundred yards:
(click on the images to enlarge – particularly the second)
Today has dawned miserable again; a cold north easterly from Scandinavia has brought more rain and the threat of snow on high ground – we are on high ground, about 550 feet above the Tyne Valley. To the south are views of Dilston, Slaley and the northern hills of County Durham. In the foreground are Swallowship Hill and the woods that rise to the southern side of the valley. This is the site of the Battle of Hexham, 15th August 1464 – “the last battle of the first chapter of the Wars of the Roses”.
On that long ago Tuesday (5th March 2013) with the promise of Spring in the air, we walked these woods and looked back across the valley to see our home looking south towards Swallowship; even the name holds promise. Today there is just damp mist and no view at all, in either direction.
This is the view north from the lower eastern slopes of Swallowship Hill – to the right, off centre, Beaufront Castle can be seen towards the top of the ridge, shining in the Spring sun. Our distant home at Beaufront Woodhead is a ‘half an inch’ up and left (click on the image to enlarge).
The changing season in the Tyne Valley is about to change for the worse:
A SIBERIAN wind, dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’, is set to batter Britain next week, bringing heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures to most of the country. It will be the worst winter weather in 20 years, says the Evening Standard. A brief respite from the cold weather is expected this weekend before the bitterly cold winds blowing in from Russia and the East cause temperatures to plummet on Monday, making some parts of the country colder than the North Pole.
The North East will bear the brunt of the extreme weather: temperatures around Lincolnshire and Newcastle are likely to reach -12C, while London and its surrounding areas could drop as low as -6C.
We have been warned. When the north easterly winds blow across the fields adjacent to our house, the snow attaches to the trees and disturbing shapes emerge:
The trees and hedge protect the lanes from the worst of the driven snow but these untreated by-ways can remain black iced and treacherous for days on end.
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.