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 ...

Aunt Julia

I imagine this blackhouse belonging to Aunt Julia, she was buckets and water flouncing into them, she was winds pouring wetly round house-ends.  I keep bumping into her, this time in the prologue to Robert MacFarlane’s LandMarks – The Poet Norman MacCaig commended the ‘seagull voice’ of his Aunt Julia, who lived her long life on the Isle of Harris, so embedded in her terrain that she came to think with and speak in its creatures and climate. 

In truth, this blackhouse is on the western coast of North Uist, a place Aunt Julia conceivably never visited, so embedded was she on Harris.  I would never leave either, not with a challenging 9 holes nearby. On the road south to the ferry at Leverburgh, the Isle of Harris Golf Course at Scarista clings to the edge of the world, the pins straining against strong westerlies, the flags always horizontal.  My window of opportunity to play the course was blighted with hail storms and excessive winds – this image was taken the next day in a rush for the CalMac crossing to Berneray .  I must therefore return, there is much outstanding research for Golf in the Wild – Coming Home.

The Isle of Harris Golf Course ...

The Week …

This is a collection of images posted on www.polaroidblipfoto.com over the previous week.  I first started submitting to Blip in late 2013, the central idea being that you take/publish a different image everyday (I ocassionally cheat a little 🙂 ).  It has now become something of a compulsive obsession but its main benefit is that it makes you constantly think about opportunities for taking photographs and a camera is always close to hand – this is no bad thing.  Over two years later I have now built up a photographic diary which, like many other ‘Blippers’, I would be very disappointed to lose.  The future of Blip has been in doubt for some time so the opportunity to support its survival through crowd-funding came almost as a relief.  It was therefore gratifying to see this posted from Blip Central on 2nd February:

We’ve got the money  …  We wanted to let you to know as soon as we could that the collection of money from pledges and donations via PayPal has just passed the target of £120,000. We offer a massive thank you to everyone who has contributed and helped. Give yourselves a collective pat on the back for we can now go ahead and complete the purchase from the current owners.

The images show:  Our local drystone wall repairman – plenty of work in hand; the Tyne rising yet again; the Sandhoe water trough; the Pant (fountain) at Tanners Row, Hexham; Sue Dunne’s white dove; panels from Hexham Abbey (there are actually three); evidence that the sun can still shine on Allendale golf course.

... plenty of work to do - drystone wall repairs on the Beaufront Estate

The Tyne rising ... The horse trough ... The 1858 Pant ... White dove ... Hexham Abbey panels ... The third ...

Homeward bound …

I have been driving for an eternity. A two week car journey around Lapland was immediately followed by a 700 mile round trip to Traigh Golf Course near Arisaig.  The greater the effort the greater the rewards and both adventures were very rewarding even if I left my golf game at home for the latter. I have limited this post to just two images – the first from our last full day at Abisko in Sweden and the second from a late evening drive between Traigh and Acharacle (the view to the small isles from Glenuig).  Hopefully both explain why the effort was worth it:

What is this life if ...
The view to the small isles ...