This is how I remember growing up. Long hot summers with a bright light leaking in around the edges.  Such is the power of the still photograph, I remember it only in monochrome. The first picture, taken by my Dad with a Kodak Brownie, is on top of the Iron Bridge, Ladies’ Walk in Andover.

The bridge was installed in 1843 by Taskers Ironworks and carries the walk over Micheldever Road. Taskers was the last company my maternal grandfather, Fred, worked for until his death at the age of 74.  The bridge is about a half mile up the hill from where he lived with my grandmother, Florence May aka Mrs Kipper, which explains why we are there.  The bunch of wildflowers was for my sister’s pressed flower project – strange what you remember.

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Micheldever Road was once a busy road linking Andover with the villages and army camps to the east – to prove the point, there is the blur of a car passing beneath the bridge.  The upgraded A303 now slices through the road such that it goes nowhere and has fallen silent along with Fred, Florence May, my Mum and my Dad.

Further along the walk I was handed the camera to take the second picture, inevitably from a slightly lower angle – they are all looking down on me.  As is the way with little brothers, later in life I would take great pleasure in reversing this perspective on my sister.

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The achievement?  Well, I am still here, clinging to the wreckage.

Travel theme: Arches


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For years I have taken Hexham Abbey for granted but recently I have been paying it more attention – I have been inside at least three times this year which, for an irreligious chap like me, is quite good going. … Continue reading

Triumph of Minimalism

A motorbike is all about the bare essentials; it is minimalist engineering at its finest. I have been looking for an excuse to post some pictures of the Scrambler and then a link to the video at the bottom of the post appeared in my inbox – it explains everything. The first picture was taken at the top of Dryburn Moor above Allendale and the second near Sycamore Gap along Hadrian’s Wall a few weeks later … two icons in close proximity. The eagle-eyed will spot the change of exhaust between the first and second image – the single pipe of the new version looks much neater and, more importantly, sounds wonderful.  If I were to remove the baffle it would wake the dead – I am tempted :evil:

(not quite what the challenge had in mind but what the heck :-) )

Scrambler in the hills Two Icons

Travel theme: Autumn

Prompted by this article in our local newspaper (Leep of Faith) and a recent post by BreathofGreenAir, I went in search of autumnal salmon jumping the weir beneath Hexham Bridge. They are an impressive if fleeting site and very difficult to capture on film – a few brown bears would have made things easier but these are few and far between in deepest Northumberland.  In the end I gave up and settled for this darn duck, fresh from paddling in the Tyne – oranges anyone?

Tyne duck ...

Is this Duck Berry, doing his infamous duck walk? (if you are impatient, jump to 1 minute 19 seconds).

Travel theme: Numbers

Golf is all about numbers  - look at a scorecard and it is covered in them:  the holes 1 to 18; the White, Yellow and Red distances for each hole; pars; stroke indexes; gross scores; nett  scores; stableford points, handicaps.  Non-golfers might be surprised to know that there are GPS systems which tell you exact distances from where your ball has landed to the hole – more numbers (I am warming to this subject :P – I promise it is the last such post).

Golf in the Wild takes you on a journey of 727 miles from Northumberland to the far northwest of Scotland, taking in fifteen courses – assuming you play eighteen at each that is a total of 270 holes and this is what awaits as a finale, on the last course, Durness – what a finish (click on the image to see if you can make out the flag):

The eighteenth at Durness

This is exactly what the sadistic inventor of golf had in mind when he explained his intentions to Robin Williams – sensitivity warning – those offended by bad language should not watch/listen:

And this image just to prove that I don’t ‘dress like a pimp’ and no wheels are involved – I carry my own bag :-)

Golf in the Wild


Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art

This is the opportunity for some self-promotion, so apologies :P . This is the cover of my recently published book, Golf in the Wild Consistent with the challenge, the image is “intended to echo a particular character of the subject matter, an essence that words fail to capture with simplicity”.  The view is from the third green of the glorious Traigh Golf Course near Arisaig.


This is the first independent review from the October issue of the Killin News:

Golf in the Wild – A journey through time and place” by Robin J. Down

“This book exists because of Killin. It was here in 2005 that the idea of solitary golf in wild places was first born.” ( Chapter 4 Killin)

This is a newly published book and as a non-golfer I found it a surprisingly enjoyable and easy read. Written with humour and candour, it should appeal to a much wider audience than just the golfing fraternity. With descriptions of wonderful ‘wild’ courses, on which the golfer can test his or her skills (or lack of them!), the book encourages you to take the journey and to step off the well publicised golfing route map. It could even tempt the non-golfing household to enjoy the delights of a touring holiday in north Northumberland and Scotland and may just persuade others to abandon the hassle of airports and their annual golfing jaunt to Turkey, Portugal or other such popular destinations.

This book is much more than about playing golf. It takes you on a journey through time, wonderful landscapes, the fascinating history of the places where the courses are located, the author’s life and the various characters in his family, and his passion for fast cars and those who were lucky (or unlucky) enough to race them. The golfing journey begins at Allendale, Northumberland and ends at Durness, in Sutherland, having taken you on a route north via courses such as Selkirk, Bishopshire, Killin – to which a whole chapter is devoted, Craignure, Traigh and Gairloch. A great tour to undertake even without the golf clubs and the book will, hopefully, encourage new visitors to all the destinations that are mentioned.

It is a book you can dip in and out of and should inspire every reader to do a bit of exploring. Copies, priced at £8.99, are available in Killin at The Old Mill and at Killin Golf Club or may be bought directly from

Gillean Ford

And this is the inside cover:


(click on the images to enlarge)