Christmas does not arrive in November or at least it shouldn’t. If I ruled the world, any reference to the festive season would be barred until 1st December but I don’t, and it won’t. Governments are wedded to the strategy of debt –laden consumerism so nothing is going to change any time soon.

Fortunately my offspring are long beyond getting excited by Santa so I can only imagine the state of excitement induced in modern-day under-tens – come Christmas Eve they must be fit to explode. I just hope Santa gets it right, which reminds me of a sign in an Audlem shop window:

This year Santa, please give me a big fat bank account and a slim body. Please don’t mix those two up like you did last year. Thanks.

We are currently holed-up on the good ship Oakmere with a very slow and unreliable Internet connection, hence the lack of activity on WordPress. Yesterday we escaped to Chester and found this festive display in preparation in the Cathedral. I can only assume that Ebenezer has just seen The Ghost of Christmas Too Soon:

The ghost ... Father Chrstmas ... The Ghost ...

Autumnal skies

The leaves may have left the trees but the skies still entertain. Now that the UK’s Met Office and Met Éireann, its Irish equivalent, have taken to naming ‘storms’ that blow in from the Atlantic, the weather has suddenly become more personal.  First there was Abigail who didn’t make much of a show in Northumberland – stood up by a storm.  Then there was the remnants of ex-hurricane Kate, and now we await the arrival of Barney, followed by Clodagh, Desmond and Eva etc.

According to the Guardian: “To avoid confusion, if a storm is the dying gusts of a tropical storm or hurricane that has crossed the ocean, it will still be styled according to the current convention of “ex-hurricane X”, as chosen by the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami”.

The list alternates between male and female names through the alphabet. Sadly for all those Quillans and Xaviers out there,  Q, U, X, Y and Z will be omitted, in line with “the convention for official storm naming in the North Atlantic”.  Nice work if you can get it :-)

Call them what you like, they have provided some spectacular autumnal skies over Hexham these last few days, with or without a little post-processing ;-) :

Pink puddles ... Ominous ... The view from ...

Leaves like rain

We have been hidden beneath a blanket of damp misty days, not a breath of wind to ease the leaves from the trees.  Then, this afternoon the skies cleared, a wind rose from the west and they fell like rain on the lanes that run up the hill to Hadrian’s Wall.  We were fortunate to be out in this brief respite, the camera set to emulate the slightly saturated world of Fujifilm Velvia:

Raining leaves ...

Brief respite ...

Golden ferns ...

Wanting to go,
all the leaves want to go
though they have achieved
their kingly robes.

Weary of colours
they think of black earth,
they think of
white snow.

Norman MacCaig – Autumn – 1982

Memory …


This gallery contains 7 photos.

Over the turbulence of the world flies the bird that stands for memory. No bird flies faster than this one, dearer to me than the dove was to Noah – though it brings back sometimes an olive branch, sometimes a … Continue reading

Every picture …

… tells a story, no matter how short.  This photograph of my Dad was taken some time in the mid sixties. A reserved character, a man less likely to take a ‘selfie’ is hard to imagine, but this image looks distinctly set up and posed, not least because the armchair is positioned directly in front of the TV.  I can only imagine this was an assignment for the camera club – ‘this week gentlemen, we will use the tripod and timer to produce a self portrait in natural light‘.  Not bloody likely would be my Dad’s instinctive reaction but he would eventually soften as he did in most things.

A keen amateur photographer, he was also a compulsive reader.  The trip to the local library on a Saturday morning was a lifelong ritual.  For this image he has chosen a Fodor travel guide gripped by Senior Service stained fingers.

The TV was a Grundig, our window on the world.  It was this device that told us of JFK’s assassination, gripped us as England beat West Germany in 1966 and was intolerably switched off when Bob Dylan first appeared on the BBC. Every Monday and Wednesday evening at 7:30pm it was tuned to Granada TV for Coronation Street.

The TV is no more but the brass snuff box on its top remains. The most unlikely objects survive us.


Do you see …


This gallery contains 6 photos.

… what I see.  This is a collection of mostly autumnal images taken near home over the last week. My happy place is out and about in Northumberland and then sat in front of my two 19 inch screens dabbling with … Continue reading

One thing …

… leads to another.  This is my (much ;-) ) older sister.  She spent many years at icy altitudes, first with long-gone British Eagle, then BOAC and ultimately British Airways.  My Dad, a twenty-a-day man and keen photographer, spent hours in the darkroom processing snaps of Pat in far-away places.  This in turn inspired him to book a series of package holidays in Spain and Italy, holidays I detested – there was simply nothing for a sullen teenager to do.


My sister’s flying exploits meant something different to me.  Firstly she brought back an endless supply of cigarettes for my Dad – such plenty meant he was relaxed about Benson & Hedges’ unreliable packing system.  Sometimes there were only 19, even 18 in a twenty pack (the ‘how to’ instructions for invisible extraction of cigarettes from cellophane wrapped packets is contained in this book :-) ).

Secondly, it provided access to cheap LPs from the States. Unfortunately, much like my Dad’s cigarette cartons, some of these albums did not contain the full shilling.  The most significant example of short-changing was Revolver – the US release did not include Doctor Robert, nor one of their very best – And Your Bird Can Sing.  Every element of their genius is contained in this one track – two minutes of sheer delight that I was denied.

Those early foreign escapades cured me of any desire for package holidays in later life while easy access to cigarettes started a habit I only managed to kick in my late thirties.

This post was inspired by an electronic conversation with RestlessJo. Like I said, one thing leads to another.