Sunrise

In the winter, the sun rises over a row of larch trees, the same ones that shed their needles in autumn and turn the lanes orange.  Their shadows stretch across the full length of our adjacent field until the rising sun clears their tops. By late November and early December the sun’s appearance coincides with mine so I am more likely to capture its arrival.  From down here, the sun doesn’t seem to change but the skies it lights up are different everyday.  These were taken a few days apart:

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It don’t snow here …

it stays pretty green.  Except this year it has and it doesn’t.  These last few days, winter arrived early in Northumberland and elsewhere across the UK.  It never used to snow much in Cheshire either, except in the long winter of 1963 ‘when it felt like the world would freeze, with John F. Kennedy and the Beatles’.  I remember rare nights in the 1950s, staring out at the dim glow of gas street lamps as they lit up huge flakes falling out of the dark night. The rarity made it even more special.  Nothing changes the world quite so dramatically.

If we get no more snow this winter then we will still have had more than the last couple of years which have been monotonously grey and wet.  The British like nothing more than to discuss the weather, perhaps because we get so much of it.  Even the trees shiver …

Snow gets me out, or at least it gets me out with a modicum more enthusiasm than when it is simply cold and wet. We have lived nearby these country lanes for more than twenty years so I have taken countless images of the same things and many have appeared on this blog. The challenge comes from seeing things differently – modern RAW processors provide endless possibilities for variation.  These were all taken on the same short walk to Sandhoe postbox – Saturday 2nd December 2017:

… the north side of Beaufront Castle.

… the north side of Beaufront Castle

… the dead of winter

… Sandhoe postbox

Oh the bitter winds are coming in
And I’m already missing the summer
Stockholm’s cold but I’ve been told
I was born to endure this kind of weather

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

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:

Over the rooftops and houses …

When you’re asleep they may show you
Aerial views of the ground,
Freudian slumber empty of sound.

Over the rooftops and houses,
Lost as it tries to be seen,
Fields of incentive covered with green.

Steve Hackett, Tony Banks, Anthony George Banks

Second flight ... Second flight ... Second flight ... Second flight ...

As someone who has dabbled with pole photography (don’t Google that – you could come away with entirely the wrong impression 😀 ) – it was inevitable/compulsory that some day I should acquire a drone.  With wide open spaces and unrestricted airspace I am ideally placed to practice being the Red Baron.  These were taken on my second flight – on the maiden ascent I used video but the still camera produces much more interesting and better quality results. In enlarged view you can see as far as the bridge at Corbridge and there is even a selfie – the white dot to the left of the arched window is me with the controller 🙂

The first surprise has been evidence of ancient ridge and furrow farming in the surrounding fields, something not at all apparent at ground level.

Expect the sequel to Golf in the Wild to include a host of aerial images 🙂

Here comes the sun …

Sunrises and sunsets are a photographic cliché but this doesn’t stop me rushing for the camera every time I see one.  If they occurred with the infrequency of the northern lights it would stop us in our tracks.

We are fortunately placed, with a near uninterrupted view of the sun rising across the high ground above the Tyne Valley.  These images were taken a short time apart – above the valley the mist has burned off to a gin clear day while down in Hexham, there is fog on the Tyne.  If you look closely to the right of the video, you can see the fog bank shifting along the valley – these time-lapse videos have a certain sameness but I admit to compulsive habits and this is just one of them:

... across the field at Beaufront Woodhead

Fog on the Tyne ... Fog on the Green ...

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!