Bealach na Bà …

This was a novel experience.  I have been active on WordPress for just under three years and while I exchange comments with other bloggers on a regular basis, I have never met anyone face-to-face. This changed on Sunday when we climbed Bealach na Bà and headed down to the Applecross Inn to meet Ali, the writer and photographer behind ApplecrossLife – a fascinating insight into an isolated community.

I was on a mission – Ali provided me with some fine quotes for Golf in the Wild and I wanted to give him a copy of the book. As a non-golfer I am not sure how useful/welcome this might be but when the winter comes I understand it makes a fine eco-friendly fuel :-)  It was a shame that he was working and we were on a tight schedule heading north but I am very pleased we made the effort to call by – it was good to meet you Ali!

The book has brought me into contact with a wide range of different people, all of them at a distance by email. Part of this trip has been about meeting everyone in the flesh and it has been a delight.  The rest of the trip is research for the sequel: Golf in the Wild – Coming Home.  My ‘caddy’ remains remarkably patient bearing in mind that she has been agitating for a visit to warmer climes.  At Christmas I took her to the Arctic and this was the weather coming over the pass on Sunday :D

Storm brewing ... Passing Place ... Above the snow line... At the summit ...

Four seasons …

in one day.

The light changes dramatically. The further north we travel, the greater the intensity, the greater the rate of change.  It is easy to forget just how startling the northern light can be. Yesterday it was spring-like then, overnight, the temperature fell away, the winds increased and the clouds raced across the sky, late for an appointment in the east. It is good to be back on the shores of Plockton and Lochcarron:

Plockton ... Duncraig Castle ... Evening light ... Sunshine ...

See, I am the whitest cloud that strays
Through a deep sky:
I am your senses’ crossroads,
Where the four seasons lie

Philip Larkin

Photo Challenge: Blur

This is a lethal combination: 135bhp in a car weighing just 740kg in the hands of my middle son, Matt. He spent too much of his upbringing in the company of a madman behind the wheel (:-)) to be trusted with such exotica. More relevant and nearer the truth, my bank balance would not stand the premiums if he were added to the insurance.

Consequently, in this image, both man and machine were stationary and the blur added retrospectively – a much cheaper, virtual solution:

Matt and Elise...

(click on the image to enlarge)

Ephemeral …

… adjective
  1. lasting a very short time; short-lived; transitory: the ephemeral joys of childhood
  2. lasting but one day: an ephemeral flower

… along with youth, fashions, heroes and life.

David Purley raced in Formula 2 and Grand Prix events between 1972 and 1977.  He is best remembered for his desperate attempts to save Roger Williamson from a burning car at the Dutch Grand Prix in 1973. For this he was awarded the George Medal; the video footage is too harrowing, too sad to watch. In 1977 his brakes failed in practice for the British GP – his car went head-on into sleepers and came to a stop within a car’s length from 110 mph. He eventually recovered and took up acrobatic flying, the sport that finally claimed his life in July,1985.  One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name – Sir Walter Scott

In this picture, taken at  Brands Hatch in 1972, he sits contemplating the racing line. My reflection is fleetingly captured on the side of his car and a series of terrible events are practicing their lines in the wings.

David Purley ...

(click on the image to enlarge)

When I was small …

and Christmas trees were tall … one of the odd things we learned at primary school was the purpose of bench marks.  The school was split between two locations with only one canteen so, every lunch time, we were marched in pairs down to the lower school; a hungry chattering snake.  Carved into a wall near the end of the route was a bench mark – I have never been good with remembering the abstract but because there was a tangible example nearby, the lesson stuck.

With the advent of more sophisticated mapping techniques these old marks have fallen into disuse.  This explanation is from the Ordnance Survey website:

Ordnance Survey Bench marks (BMs) are survey marks made by Ordnance Survey to record height above Ordnance Datum. If the exact height of one BM is known then the exact height of the next can be found by measuring the difference in heights, through a process of spirit levelling.

Most commonly, the BMs are found on buildings or other semi-permanent features. Although the main network is no longer being updated, the record is still in existence and the markers will remain until they are eventually destroyed by redevelopment or erosion.

Bench marks are the visible manifestation of Ordnance Datum Newlyn (ODN), which is the national height system for mainland Great Britain and forms the reference frame for heights above mean sea level. ODN is realised on the ground by a network of approximately 190 fundamental bench marks (FBMs). From these FBMs tens of thousands of lower-order BMs were established. The network has had little maintenance for 30 years, and in some areas (mining areas for example), subsidence has affected the levelling values. In these regions the BMs cannot be relied upon to accurately define ODN.

When outdoors for a walk along the local lanes yesterday I came across this example on a local farm gate:

Benchmark ...

Following some extensive online time-wasting, I found there was a Bench Mark Database – a trainspotter’s delight! Even more exciting, this bench mark was not registered but, it is nowBeaufront, Gatepost 3 – not exactly my own star but an acceptable, humble alternative :-)

Dad’s Army

This creased photograph is from an early Andover Carnival procession – my mother is in the rear seat of the front-running Austin Seven and I guess my grandfather is driving. They have won ‘First Prize'; the car is adorned with everything including the kitchen sink. The sign attached to the radiator points to ‘Squatters Camp’ and the tin tub is inscribed with ‘Here We Come’.  The year is a mystery but I would guess the early 1940s assuming the Carnival continued during the war years – my mother married in 1943 and moved north to Manchester so it is unlikely to be later.

It is the detail that fascinates – the familiar shop names: Johnsons the dry cleaners and Freeeman Hardy Willis, the shoe shop – FHW – For Happy Walking!; the hairstyles, the dress, the shoes and the then familiar sight of a man in uniform. This could be a set from Dad’s Army.

Andover Carnival ...

Oddly, on the rear of the photograph and in my mother’s hand, there is a shopping list.  It too is of its time, probably the 1950s but post rationing:

Butter, marge, lard, tea, sugar, cheese, bacon, soap powder, biscuits, Vim, icing, jam, baking powder, suet, Heinz soup, ground almonds, sultanas, matches, toilet roll, cornflour or custard, biscuits.

This is a cook’s list for this is primarily what she did along with keeping the house clean and keeping the children in check (mostly me :-( ).

(click on the image to enlarge)