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!

Like a fire in the sun …

Northumberland has been clinging to the wreckage of autumn these last few weeks but its all over now.  Despite Black Friday, despite the ever sooner onset of Christmas and the tyranny of things, it has been a quiet few weeks in Beaufront Woodhead.  It is also a time of inner conflicts.  The desire to play golf set against too damp courses and uninviting weather – the solution – head for the coast. The impatient need to be out on two wheels set against slippery surfaces, biting winds and too much salt on the roads – the solution – sit tight and polish the hardware.

For now, the priority is the much delayed task of writing the follow-up to Golf in the Wild. My modest ambitions for the first version have been met – the production costs have been recovered and 800+ copies shipped.  The sequel is progressing at a glacial pace – I am currently researching Loch Eriboll, just a few miles down the road from the return journey’s place of departure, Durness. Eriboll has some fascinating history, not least that in May 1945, this was the location for the surrender of thirty three U-boats, the pride of Germany’s Wolfpack.  I could be stuck in these waters for weeks, but no matter, the days are short and the nights long.

In the meantime, this is Northumberland as autumn falls into winter:

The view north ... Hopeful Monster ... Perfect conditions ... Messing about ...

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