Motorcycles …

… and the places they take me. As I type, the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia is juggling the tree tops and spreading leaves across empty Northumbrian fields.  The summer is long gone.  A daily photographic diary is a striking reminder of how the landscape changes from the lush greens of summer to an autumnal palette in the blink of an eye.  It is also a reminder of the places I have been when the sun was at its highest:

… Vulcan XJ 823 and the Scrambler at Carlisle Airport – the latter on its way for a first MOT

… the Scrambler, back at Crindledykes on new rubber – Michelin Anakees

… country roads, take me home – the Scrambler above Henshaw.

… to Carter Bar via Carlisle and Hawick – 134 miles

… ‘Skid Risk’ – actually a racing certainty with steep gradients and hairpins.

… Portobello, near Edinburgh – long ride on the Tracer to meet eldest son at The Beach House Cafe.

… to Sunny Corner, Carrshield

… The Monster of Plenmeller

… back roads near Simonburn, Northumberland

… Keep Out would be more succinct – RAF Spadeadam

… Parkgates above Allendale

… A Bridge too Far meets The Great Escape – Whygate, near Stonehaugh

… Autumn, its light and colours, is arriving fast.

As the year turns, the bikes will spend longer in the garage, as will the golf clubs. It is time to make some serious progress on the sequel to Golf in the Wild – a bit like a 2nd LP, I am finding the follow-up much harder going 🙂

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I have been neglecting this blog.  The weather has been unusually good, flaming June has given Northumberland a taste of Tuscany or, should that be North-umbria. These images, which have all appeared on Blip, explain the neglect – there will be plenty of time to sit at the keyboard over the winter months 😦  – frost and snow are not conducive to bikes or golf:

Green Rigg

… to Carter Bar via Carlisle and Hawick – 134 miles

The Monster – clean and at rest

Press start for instant exhilaration

Skid risk … actually a certainty with steep gradients and hairpins.

To Vindolanda under hot Northumbrian skies

Going back

When I want to go back, I head for the sea.  For all our modern advances, our relationship with sand and water is unchanged in my lifetime.  These images could have been taken any time in the last sixty years. There is a quality of light in the sky as you approach the sea which is apparent long before you arrive at the coast. It is this I remember from long ago summer holidays, summers when the sands were too hot to walk on barefoot. I am still drawn by that light:

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

Alnmouth beach

Alnmouth beach

Alnmouth beach

Behind the dunes is the wonderful Alnmouth Village Golf Course, the oldest 9-hole course in England. On this day the fairways were brown and hard meaning the ball would run forever.  By comparison, the greens were islands of lush green.  I was frustrated not to be playing – in my head, sand sea and golf are inseparable.

Alnmouth Village golf course

You don’t need a weatherman …

climate (n.)
late 14c., “horizontal zone of the earth,” Scottish, from Old French climat “region, part of the earth,” from Latin clima (genitive climatis) “region; slope of the Earth,” from Greek klima “region, zone,” literally “an inclination, slope,” thus “slope of the Earth from equator to pole,” from root of klinein “to slope, to lean,” from PIE root *klei- “to lean” (see lean (v.)).

Whatever the climate might or might not be doing, in these parts, it has certainly been changeable.  From bright, cold March sun through heavy snow, to biblical rain and out the other side to hints of summer, we have had it all these last seven days:

… bitter March landscape

… high water

… lonesome highway

… winter returns

… beneath Hexham Bridge

… bring me sunshine

Monte Carlo or Bust …

… or, how one thing leads to another.

I blame Tish Farrell for this line of thought – it was the story of the allotment bottom test that had me thinking of Donald McGill and smut 😉

I walk into a shop in Hexham and announce to the lady behind the counter – “I am interested in your bust” – pregnant pause – “Ah, yes sir, you mean the one in the window”. Smirking like a schoolboy, “But of course, what else”.  That’s more or less how it happened which goes some way to explain why our house resembles a Scandi Noir crime scene (and that came from an exchange with the wonderfully creative Katherine Anne Griffiths at Photobooth Journal).

To explain – there is a torso in the bedroom created by Dennis Kilgallon and the aforementioned bust.  In the second bedroom there is half a head attached to the wall, a cast from a statue at either Belsay or Wallington Hall, I forget which.  In the lounge there is another bust and in my study/playroom, a pair of lips act as a paperweight.

Stay with me – as regular readers of this blog will be aware, I have spent three years persuading Nikon they needed to exchange my flawed Nikon D600 for the D610 and eventually they came good.  So here I am with the an expensive and very fine full frame DSLR supported by a variety of equally expensive prime lenses and what do I do – spend £26 on eBay buying a Holga pinhole lens and attach it to the D610.  These are the results:

Through a pinhole ...

Eleanor Rigby ...

Another Holga ...

The inspiration for pinhole photography came from fellow Blipper – Flashcube.

On an entirely different topic, I was back in Newbiggin again yesterday – more golf in perfect condtions. Having levelled some criticism at the Couple for being inaccessible in the previous post, I was told there is a land based equivalent, so I went looking.  I was not disappointed and yes, John Updike would be delighted to know, there are Couples:Eb and Flo ...

The Couple ...

PS – in conversation with a local, I learned they are known locally as Eb and Flo. Opinion is still divided; this particular resident would have preferred a miner and fisherman.

It started with a kiss …

Now I have your attention, I confess it started with something much more mundane – a trip to Newbiggin by the Sea to collect a waterproof jacket and trousers from the golf club.  An entirely appropriate purchase given the links were empty, the rain coming down sideways, the skies forbidding and the gulls struggling to maintain their flight plan.

We have been meaning to see the Couple for years, and so it works, public artworks attract visitors.  On the bitterest of days we walked the prom and the beach to see them staring out to sea:

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
John Masefield

When first installed, as with most public art, opinions were divided but I would be surprised if many now object; they are part of Newbiggin’s fabric, not just the couple but locals.  If I have a criticism it is that they are too inaccessible – Sean Henry‘s works are finely detailed and should be seen up close but this remains the preserve of strong swimmers and gulls.

And what came next was a desire to give the couple a permanent residence on this blog – so after nearly five years the theme has has been replaced and they have joined a number of images that randomly appear in the header – a change was long overdue.

The Couple ...

The Couple ...

The Couple ...

The Couple ...

A late addition:

HyperNormalisation

The term “HyperNormalisation” is taken from Alexei Yurchak’s 2006 book Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation, about the paradoxes of life in the Soviet Union during the 20 years before it collapsed.  A professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, he argues that everyone knew the system was failing, but as no one could imagine any alternative to the status quo, politicians and citizens were resigned to maintaining a pretence of a functioning society.  Over time, this delusion became a self-fulfilling prophecy and the “fakeness” was accepted by everyone as real, an effect that Yurchak termed “HyperNormalisation” – Wiki.

Here is my small contribution to “fakeness” – it occurs to me that none of my images reflect reality.  The same field in July, December and February:

Young pheasants ...

... Beaufront Woodhead

The sky is still ...The same “fakeness” is at play in this video: