Monday, 7 August 2017

Scotland 2017 - Distilled out

What's better than visiting one whisky distillery? Why, visiting three distilleries all in one day! Yes, I managed to visit The Dalmore, Glenmorangie, and also Balblair on Saturday. 
At 5pm I was done and headed off to find a place to camp for the night. With the sun shining I set up the tent next to the Strathrory-Scotsburn drove road, and Pip and I had our dinner bathed in glorious sunshine. 
My night of camping was slightly marred by a hole in my mattress, but I was determined to spend at least one night in my tent. 
Cold, tired, and bleary eyed, Pip and I got up for a walk at 6am. It was cold. Cold enough for gloves and a woolly hat, but I didn't have either of those. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful start to the day, with mist rising over the Strathrory. Now it's definitely time for a cup of tea ...

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Scotland 2017 - The way up

Pip and I left the house in high spirits, at 7pm Wednesday.  The first part of our journey was uneventful, just lots of traffic. At around 11pm we hit some snag spots, but the worst was to come just before reaching our first stopover at Stoke-on-Trent.  Huge road works in action on the M6. No matter, it only delayed our sleep for around an hour, oh and it meant there was more traffic about. 
We left Stoke-on-Trent at around 5am.  Feeling tired, I had to stop several times to rest, which meant my journey time was longer than anticipated. We arrived in Scotland at around 11am, with another 260 miles to go!

Looking over the Cromarty Firth

Finally we reached Alness at around 7pm.  Too late to do much exploring, but I spent a good half hour looking for a good place to stop for the night.  We ended up based near the Fyrish Monument (the less said about that the better) with stunning views over the Cromarty Firth.  
It is so silent here, something I was hoping to find, but never expected to so close to towns and villages. The only sound greeting us were the calls of buzzards echoing up the valley.


Tomorrow I'm going to do some journey planning, and then it's off to The Dalmore! 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

King Cormorant: Titania's Poem

Since the summer I have been working on a sculpture based on the River Teign, and marking my first carving for three years.  After starting carving Titania I went for a long walk along the shores of the River Teign picking up sand, stones, bits of china and all manner of flotsam and jetsam, which have been incorporated into the sculpture.  The poem that accompanies the piece describes the walk:

King Cormorant

The roots of the oak tree
Reach down through the mud and shale,
Touching fragments of china cups,
Scattered shore-side;
Lying side-by-side with stones and shells,
All framed against the red sand.

Out in the river
The body of a dead tree
Holds King Cormorant.

I’m lost in overturning mud stained shells,
Snaked with worm tubes
And broken.
I’m lost in overturning bits of china,
Searching for one last piece.

In searching I realise that
These fragmented shells
Are just as beautiful
As perfectly formed spirals.

Retracing my steps
The tide has claimed its victim.
Again: limbs and all.


King Cormorant surveys the River Teign.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Haiku at Swaney Cove

At the beginning of the summer I made an Artist's Date with a place called Swaney Cove. I had hoped to swim there, but my new wetsuit broke (?!) so I was left pondering what to do after walking so far.  I mooched about a bit, tested the water with my feet ... Freezing. I picked up some odd things that had been left by the sea on the white stones: a shell, a crab shell, and an egg-shaped pebble.  Later on I found an empty egg shell on top of the cliff. These oddments seemed to mean something.

The beautiful Swaney Cove.


So I sat, I listened to the sea, and I wrote.  There are two poems that came out of my visit.  One, the haiku, I decided to make into a small art work using the oddments that I found on the beach that day and the egg shell on the cliff...

Samphire scents the cliff ...


Sunday, 28 August 2016

Craigellachie: walking above Thunder in the Glens

The Cairngorms in Scotland is my holiday destination for my final week before the start of the school year, and today I decided to visit Aviemore to get some walking ideas.  I had been wondering about the large number of motorbikes on the road up here, and it turns out that Aviemore has been hosting a huge Harley Davidson bash - Thunder in the Glens - over the past few days.  So my walk around Craigellachie was accompanied by the sounds of engines revving, and several different covers bands. Not the usual sounds you associate with a walk around a nature reserve!

I was taken by the heather covering the forest floor: purple in the green. 

Ferns add fire to the purple in the green.

   
Nearly at the summit.
My descent was marked by a swarm of midges, which attacked me at the summit and a mass exodus of tiny frogs, which were making a dash from the forest.

Sharing the path with tiny frogs.

After spotting a deer in the ferns, there was a moment to pause by the water.

Clouds reflected in the water.






Monday, 8 August 2016

Wall Studies at Restormel Castle

Back in June I ventured out to Cornwall for a week's camping and also to visit the Eden Project to see PJ Harvey perform her new album.  I stayed in Lostwithiel, a wonderful little Cornish town, nestled in amongst hills within the River Fowey valley.  Just outside the town is Restormel Castle, a 12th century castle commanding views across the River Fowey and beyond.

While at the castle I was reminded about a quote from Leonardo daVinci  about studying walls and stones a while ago, and then found this article expanding on the idea.  So I decided to photograph my own little studies.  It's amazing the colours, textures, and tiny worlds that exist in such a small space!

Wall Study 1


Wall Study 2


Thursday, 29 October 2015

From Minehead to Simonsbath

My spirit lifted as I entered Minehead, Pip and I pleased to see Stuart and Michelle.  It didn't matter that it was my birthday, those days of celebration have passed me by. I worked out that last year I was unceremoniously dumped on the eve of my birthday, and the two years before that conned into ending my celebrations early for the sake of a lie. Birthdays are really just another day.

On Tuesday Pip and I made our way to Simonsbath; the vivid colours of Exmoor in the Autumn taking my breath away. I drove slowly and let the full tilt Range Rovers pass. 

Simonsbath was awash with colour and new life under the beech leaves.




Every now and again I'd catch the scent of the greening moss, eventually through exploring, the perfume covered my hands.  Pip was in his element, taking the lead on the leaf strewn path.








Over the moor I caught a glimpse of a stag, but too far away to take a photo.  We ended  our walk with a view of the River Barle.