Some grief, some joy …

… memories are made of this.

The joy comes from the company, the startling landscape and the occasionally well struck golf ball.  The grief comes from the sliced drive into a rising westerly, the ball never to be seen again.  Sconser and Traigh are the distilled essence of Golf in the Wild – when the going gets tough, the tough don’t get going, they stand and stare.

It has become an annual ritual – drive part way into Scotland on Thursday night; head for Skye on Friday morning and meet up with David C of ScottishGolfbyTrain; play Sconser on Friday afternoon; catch the Ferry to Mallaig from Armadale on Friday evening; play in the Traigh Open on Saturday.  People might question the sanity of driving such distances (760 miles) for golf but that’s life, some will get it, some won’t.  It’s like riding a motorcycle at high speed or throwing an Elise into a long sweeping corner – until you have done it, there is no understanding.

I cannot get enough of Traigh so when the golf is done, I head for the ridge across the top of the course to watch the setting sun – there is nowhere else that provides such a magnificent panorama of the long day closing:

… Skye Golf Club, Sconser – more #GolfintheWild http://www.golfinthewild.co.uk

… the most spectacular places to play golf on the planet. The 2017 Traigh Open – more #GolfintheWild http://www.golfinthewild.co.uk

… below the golf course at Traigh.

… the clubhouse from the beach at Traigh

… the third green at Traigh.

… the view from the second tee at Traigh.

… below the golf course at Traigh.

… the ninth green at Traigh

On an entirely different topic, music has become a too cheap commodity. As a full subscriber to Amazon Music, I have access to a vast library way beyond my teenage imaginings. New releases are immediately available, listened to and then largely forgotten as I move on to grab the next handful of free sweets. I have lost touch with the cherished LP, the carefully considered purchase and the endless plays until every track was imprinted. I mention this because I hooked up my phone to the hire car’s sound system to find that only three albums were accessible, all by The Boxer Rebellion. After twelve hours behind the wheel, all the tracks are now reassuringly familiar:

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The Last Picture Show

Every morning we look out on this scene; we are very fortunate. Sun, rain, snow or sleet, it remains a magical panorama.  I have captured these trees so many times, in so many different lights, they must consider themselves celebrities.  We have watched them for over twenty years and, in turn,  they have watched over us.  Beneath their branches generations of cattle and sheep have drifted by, indifferent to our stares.

Those trees ...

Late yesterday afternoon, I climbed the fence and set up a time lapse beneath those same trees to get their view of us, to get their view as the last of 2016’s light faded in the west.

We don’t go overboard on New Year’s Eve , staying out late on a cold winter night has lost its attraction.  A modicum of alcohol, a log fire and a good film seem much the better option.  Last night we watched John Maclean’s excellent Slow West – It’s only slow in the way a rattlesnake or a predatory killer is slow. This terrific film is actually tense, twisty and brilliant – The Guardian.  The film may be Coen-esque but the story of an innocent drifting in a violent world is a direct descendant of Jim Jarmusch’s work of genius, Dead Man.  So much so that, realising it was free to view on Amazon Prime, we watched it too – a fine way to enter 2017, in the company of William Blake, Nobody and Neil Young’s haunting soundtrack.

A happy and creative 2017, one and all!

Mixing up the Medicine

I’m not here, I’m back there – I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.  It feels like a personal vindication – I am twelve again.  I shout down the stairs to my mum and dad – “I bloody told you so!” 

“We will have none of that sort of language in this house!” – it is the voice of my mother echoing down the years.  There is no need to respond.  I know when their argument has lost its foothold; they change the subject.

In response to Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize, The Irish Times brought together the response of forty Irish authors, poets and scholars to his literary honour.  I have long been a consumer of Irish fiction, it is in my head as much as the work of Robert Zimmerman.  These reactions from The Irish Times will now provide a future guide to my consumption of Irish literature – those with a churlish or superior response will disappear from my reading wishlist.

But what of those I have already read and admire.  What, in particular, would Anne Enright have to say, would I be obliged to never open her books again.  I need not have been concerned – not only did she approve, she came up with a one-liner worthy of the man himself – “And once you “get” Dylan, you can’t get away”.

On the day his Nobel Prize was announced, Migrant in Moscow, on Blipfoto, clicked on the tag ‘BobDylan’ and a stream of ‘likes’ came pouring into my mailbox.  I had forgotten just how many times I have used his words on Blipfoto.  Many of these images have already appeared on WordPress but, I repeat them here in celebration – good on yer Bob!

Ballad of a Thin Man

You see somebody naked
And you say, “Who is that man?”
You try so hard But you don’t understand
Just what you’ll say When you get home
Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is Do you, Mister Jones?
Ballad of a Thin Man

 

Black cows in the meadow Across a broad highway Black cows in the meadow Across a broad highway Though it’s funny, honey I just don’t feel much like a Scarecrow today

Black cows in the meadow
Across a broad highway
Black cows in the meadow
Across a broad highway
Though it’s funny, honey
I just don’t feel much like a
Scarecrow today
With apologies to Black Crow Blues – Dylan

And I answer them most mysteriously “Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”

And I answer them most mysteriously
“Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”
Ballad in Plain D

... for playing electric violin on Desolation Row

You would not think to look at him that he was famous long ago
For playing electric violin on Desolation Row

... the bells on the crown Are being stolen by bandits I must follow the sound

Farewell Angelina, the bells on the crown
Are being stolen by bandits
I must follow the sound

... now over 50 years old

… now over 50 years old

I'm not there

I’m not there

When the jelly-faced women all sneeze.<br /> Hear the one with the moustache say Jeez, I can't find my knees.

When the jelly-face women all sneeze.
Hear the one with the moustache say Jeez,
I can’t find my knees.

Rainy Day Flowers #12 & 35 ...

Rainy Day Flowers #12 & 35 … (or Women)

And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain

And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Not when you have Egger.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

This wheel's on fire, rolling down the road.

This wheel’s on fire, rolling down the road.

Cementerio de Comillas

As the days get shorter and the temperature falls, I remember the clear bright light of Comillas.  It seems very distant now but it is only three weeks since we returned.  The same evening I captured the Monumento we walked across to the adjoining headland, home to Cementerio de Comillas, a spectacular graveyard in an enviable location – tombs with a view.

The cemetery of Comillas is located on the site of an abandoned parish church from the 15th or 16th century and is guarded by the Ángel exterminador Fachada:

That's me in the corner ...

El Cementerio ...Tourists, like me, come to gawp; the locals come to place flowers and dust down their dead relatives.  I am touched and envious.  I have nowhere to go.  Burned to ashes, my dead are cast to the four winds:

... Comillas

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it …

Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much.

Last of the melting snow

After the previous frantic post, this is a calmer time-lapse video to soothe the frayed nerves. The view is across the fields from our front door – as far as I am prepared to travel before breakfast (in my dressing gown 😨) . The morning started well enough but even over the hour this was shot, the day started to dull down. Passengers flying into Amsterdam from Minneapolis on a Delta AIrbus A330 and those on a Lufthansa A380 from San Francisco into Frankfurt were treated to the best of Northumberland – they streak across the sky near the beginning of the video.

There is still some snow but the sun is doing its work at least until the next batch arrives:

... the melting snow

And finally – this looks perishing but it wasn’t – the camera always lies 😉

... across the Tyne

Visions of Johanna

My internal roadmaps contain a section dedicated to the streets of Manchester in the 1960s.  Most of these monochrome memories start from Oxford Road station with its three wooden conoid roofs, a remarkable building for its time with echoes of the Sydney Opera House.  Even a self-absorbed teenager noticed such things but when it came to railways, I had previous.  An avid trainspotter from the age of eight, what else was there to do, I knew Manchester’s stations intimately: Manchester Central, Piccadilly, Victoria and Exchange – all of them dark, filthy and rundown – hell’s Cathedrals.  This was the norm, this was all I knew – smog, steam and rain – the assumption was that this was the way everything ended, Oxford Road included, the station where most of our journeys on clackety closed compartment trains from Altrincham would finish.

Down Station Approach to the left was the Corner House Cinema specialising in ‘adult entertainment’ and to the right, along Oxford Road, was the Family Planning shop, nothing more than a hut beneath the railway bridge. I had no use for either of these services but like forbidden fruit, they intrigued.

The main attractions were the musical instrument shops that lined the south side of Oxford Street, full of guitars and drum kits well beyond our means.  At the junction with Portland Street was a sheet music shop, another frequent haunt – we were as likely to buy the sheet music as the vinyl.

St Peter’s Square is dominated by Manchester Central Library, no longer the blackened cake tin of my youth, it roughly marks the point where Oxford Street becomes Peter Street.  Less than 200 yards further on is the Free Trade Hall where, on May 17th 1966, Dylan had his confrontation with Judas – “I don’t believe you”   ……..  “You’re a liar.” 

This goes some way to explain an obsession that has not left me.  My head is full of disturbing verse, none of it attributable to Wordsworth:

Inside the museums, infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles

So when I create an image such as this, inevitably it is Visions of Johanna that conquer my mind:

And these visions of Johanna ...

 

“Bob Dylan – Visions of Johanna”  Director: John Hillcoat

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.

Collage

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.