Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A Tomb with a View

Stoney Royd cemetery. This is the dead centre of town and they are dying to get in here. 

No, but seriously, the Victorians have to be applauded for building a cemetery on a steep hill. I've not seen anything quite like this before...

I won't dwell on the gaudy fake flowers everywhere or the stone teddy bears and plastic windmills in the children's section. I gave it the monochrome treatment to spare your eyes, dear reader..

Still, you do get a Tomb with a View.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Boxed Past

Curled up, away from the light, are the Family's memories. Those pictures we took in 1941 on the sea front at Blackpool of Aunt what's-her-name and Cousin thingy.

We didn't write their names on the back, why bother? We know who they are, it seems like stating the obvious.

Now we are older, a new generation and their children come along and look through the box of memories. They ask us who these people are, but it's so long ago and we no longer remember. We don't remember because we didn't write their names on the back of the picture.

The faces look at us across the years in silent disapproval. How could we have forgotten?

These images are forty to seventy years old now, and they are the only copies. No-one kept negatives. 

These faces and places are preserved only as molecules of silver salts on a paper backing, yet they have survived all those years. What are the chances your digital images will still be there stored as precarious patterns of electrons in a memory stick, or a trail of dots on a DVD disk.

Friday, 24 February 2012

You Yew you

Looking for all the world like some Mediterranean scene, this churchyard Yew frames the steeple and the lovely clear sky.

This tree was trimmed severely last year, just leaving the trunk and thick branches. Once it got over the shock, it has set about sprouting new growth from more or less everywhere. 

I can't imagine what shape it will be in fifty years.

There's a thought. 

Yews are slow growing and notoriously long lived. Does it look down at me each day and say to itself "You might have invented the wheel, war and the atomic bomb, but I'll see you out"

Thursday, 23 February 2012


Are you having a bad day, a bad week? Or is the whole Winter thing getting you down? 

Look on the bright side: At least you don't get grabbed by some huge pink monster and have your head dipped in mayonnaise.
What follows is too gruesome to describe, gentle reader, but be assured that the life of a vegetable is short and brutal.

You might, like this fellow, try playing dead in the hope that you are spared being eaten.

Monday, 20 February 2012


Driving to work, I generally listen to favourite tracks on the MP3 player. 

Driving home I often have the Third Progamme on, providing they are not broadcasting silence, as they often like to do. I also like the Home Service in the mornings, provided they don't start an argument with the interviewee. 

No, nothing starts the day better than your favourite artist and your favourite album.

Who may they be? I hear you ask.. 

Well, I like "Liejacker" by Thea Gilmour, "After the Morning" and "Hill of Thieves" by the excellent Cara Dillon and "Annabella" by Libby Johnson. However the best of the bunch for me this month is the 2005 album "Fearless" by Yvonne Lyon. She has put so much work into the words, and projects the songs so well. 

I bought it direct from her web site and got a post card with the CD signed by Yvonne herself. Wonderful :-)

So, what is the common thread amongst these singer songwriters? I came across them on the Bob Harris weekend show over the past years (it's on the Light Programme by the way). 

Eventually I went out and bought the albums and have not been dissappointed, so thanks Bob, and thank you ladies...

Friday, 17 February 2012

Roll your own

Left exactly where it was unhitched, the disk roller has rusted its way through the winter and is ready to sort out this year's fields.

Agricultural machinery is usually very ... agricultural. Heavy lumps of iron held together with great big bolts. This is why any farm worth it's salt will have several Stillsons pipe wrenches (for dealing with great big bolts) and an arc welder (for dealing with iron)...

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Nailed it

I'm quite glad I nailed this shot. Once again the unusual tapping sound that announces the mobile Farrier rings across the yard. I had an interesting chat with the guy and learnt more about horseshoes in five minutes than I had learnt the rest of my life.

I don't know which needs the greater courage: Dealing with the kicky parts of horses, or driving around with a gas powered forge in the back of the van...

The trick is to take several pictures at the right sort of shutter speed to catch the hammer in flight. Unfortunately I missed the exciting hot-shoe-and-smoke part of the procedure.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


There you are trying to get a half decent picture of a barn when someone pokes their head into the frame and ruins your shot...

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

M+S cafe

This is not just a cafe, this is a Marks and Spencer cafe..

As part of the new local shopping centre development our M+S has been extended and, joy of joys, there is now a small but perfectly formed restaurant complete with a view of the shoppers below.

It is an excellent thing. In fact anywhere you can get a cup of tea and a toasted tea cake and not shop is an Excellent Thing.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Minimalist sundial

Spotted in town this weekend, on the side of a shop: This Minimalist Sundial. 

This is how it works: If the shadow points downwards then it's daytime, if the shadow points up, it is night.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Last Walk

Last light of the day up on Watership Down and the temperature is already minus three. As the sun sets, the last dog walker of the day makes his rounds.

These moments were caught using my Olympus E-PL3. The first with the superwide 9-18mm lens, the second with the 40mm short tele. Both hand held in the freezing cold.

How we suffer for our art. The rest of the day was spent indoors in the warm...

Saturday, 11 February 2012

White out

It has been, frankly, just too cold to go outside in search of pictures for some time. As a result, my daily flow of blog based wisdom has dried up for a while.

So, here is a wimps picture, taken from the office window one morning. Up here on the hill it is always colder and bleaker than Newbury or Basingstoke. 

Last night's Westerly has coated the sides of the trees in snow. No one is building nests yet.

The village isn't always the coldest part round here however. If the car tells me it is -1 degrees on the farm, by the time I have driven down into the valley, it is usually showing -4 degrees. The cold air must slide down the fields into the dip. 

This probably explains things: The farms and houses are all up on the top of the hills, while no-one has ever built down in the valley.

Thursday, 9 February 2012


Freezing fog fills the valley, and the farm lane suddenly seems to lead nowhere.

Sometimes less is more when it comes to painting a picture or telling a story.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dripscape 3

Another day another drip.

I understand that it is legal to take a picture of someones house from a public highway. I certainly hope so. 

In this case the house is out of focus anyway, to draw the viewers attention to the irregular regularity of the wire fence. 

There is an innate spatial formalism here that has been completely subverted by the presence of water. It acts as a barrier and also as an enabler, keeping the viewer at a distance, yet refracting light willingly, inviting him in. The conflict that exists between the private and the public is resolved by Nature's neutral observer, the interloper, the invigilator:

The drip.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Dripscape 2

Almost exactly a year later, a Winter anticyclone brings still air and fog: 

Everything is covered in drips. The car park is empty and the children's swings remain unswung. The world holds it's breath.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Macro Sheep

Once upon a time I was a Mad Scientist, complete with white coat. 

Well, old habits die hard. As you see, my experiments to miniaturise the entire world are coming on nicely. There are drawbacks: These sheep are dead easy to catch but frankly they're not worth eating.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Wood burning staff

I must have words with the Estate Staff clearing this woodland. 

Don't get me wrong: I do appreciate the nice even spacing of these huge bonfires that have been burning steadily for a week now. I also like the way their smoke leads the eye towards the thinned trees.

No, I must tell them they need to place the fires just a little further from the trees to create the best composition. I can see what they are trying to say, but it's just a little crowded for my tastes.

Tsk! People can be so unartistic sometimes...

Actually I missed a fantastic photo opportunity here last week with dusk fires and smoke, but in photography there's always one that got away...