Countryside in October


The weather today is officially depressing and even more so because it’s a Monday. I was so annoyed with life that it now is Friday afternoon. 5 days to get to the second sentence is possibly a sign. Of what, I don’t know…

The tree that is in the photo is “my tree” that I pass every day to and from work. I’d taken photos of it on film, and in digital but hadn’t been back to see her for a while. I’ve just checked Instagram and the last photo I took dates from February 2017! It’s as if I had neglected a friend that I had not seen for ages but still pass in the street just exchanging glances and a swift hello.

It was time to remedy the situation. I had left her in black and white, and returned to her in black and white. She didn’t have much to say for herself. Being a tree might have something to do with that, but she was still there. Still covered in ivy. Still with all her branches. Still a part of my workday.

The field of maize was still there. The maize replacing the wheat harvested in Summer. By Tuesday it had been harvested and all you could see in the field were the remains of stalks not over 6 inches high, and yet the day before had been as high as a man. Time goes on and the field will be used to produce a winter crop. Such is the way in the countryside.

Some fields had be let to fallow and recover from growing our food. Nature reclaims them for herself and plants grow up the fence posts and in the ditches by the sides of the road. At least they’ve gone back to green instead of the drier washed out colours of a hot summer.

It’s now Friday afternoon and I was only at work this morning. The sun is out, I’m in a t-shirt, and it’s 19°C. The rain has done its job, and isn’t there to dampen the earth or my mood. When I was a child I imagined the rain being God having a shower. I couldn’t bring myself to think of Him having a wee on creation.

I think He’s out of the bathroom.

Omaha Beach, Normandy

Omaha Beach was one of the five beaches that had to be taken on D Day, 6th July 1944. That task was given to the 1st and 29th Infantry Division of the US Army. To say they took a hammering is an understatement, and General Bradley saw the very grave situation, and one stage nearly abandoned the operation. The grit and determination of his men paid off and they took the beach, but the amount of casualties and dead was tremendous, around 2000 men. A great sacrifice was made that day.

Whilst on that beach, I saw American families turn up, and the emotion was visible on their faces. It is almost a spiritual experience for them, and a form of pilgrimage. The dead are remembered, not only by the few that survived, but by the local population , and the French in general. Just next to the beach, there is the American War Cemetery at Coleville sur Mer. The prisitne graves serve as a reminder to those of us that didn’t experience what they did: the horrors of war!

I remember seeing footage of an old veteran who landed on Omaha, saying that the greatest reward they had, was to see children playing on that beach now, enjoying the peace that was earned by those men who lay down their lives on that same beach all those years ago.

I’ve decided to share photos of both the beach and the cemetery with you. The camera used that day was the Canon 6D Mark II with the 16-35mm Canon lens.

The first morning in Edinburgh

It was that time of the month. The month of December that is. In between Christmas and the New Year. Those days where you’re in food limbo and don’t know what day it is..

Let me explain… Last Summer we went on our annual visit to see my parents in Northumberland. My son was working at the time and couldn’t come with us. My daughter had her two parents all to herself.

Towards the middle of Autumn, my father was in hospital and we we’re all very worried. I hadn’t received “the” call to come home but I was in a bit of a state about the whole thing. Wanting to spend time with him etc, and during Autumn and Winter I tend to get very homesick. My parents were about to go on a cruise over Christmas and the doctors said that he couldn’t go, as they “wanted to keep an eye on him.” As it turned out, he didn’t have pancreatic cancer, and just need his heart medication changing. But I felt so crappy living miles away and not being able to do anything, and failing completely as a dutiful son.

I had once jokingly said, “You know I’m capable of coming over to see you.” To which he replied, “You are capable of many things!” Well that had stayed in my mind, and as Autumn turned into Winter I decided that my son and I would go and see both my parents. We decided on staying in Edinburgh, and we could take the train down and see them. All this to explain what the heck I was doing in Scotland.

I got the poor bugger out of bed before the crack of down, and headed down for breakfast. Not just an ordinary breakfast. Oh no. We don’t do Ordinary. I had the full Scottish breakfast and as I was piling up the sausage, haggis, baked beans, roast potatoes, bacon, mushrooms, and the obligatory HP Sauce onto plate one, I could hear my heart saying something that rhymes with “Oh Clucking Bell!” Funnily enough, it had given up when I got the toast and blackcurrant jam, and the natural Greek yogourt, with cornflakes and red fruit. Gotta stay healthy folks! And Tea. Proper tea. I mean the tea that just gives you a cuddle as you drink it. not this French “infusion” rubbish that looks like something the cat did when it was upset with you. Oh no. None of that. I was home!

Right, now to the geeky bit about what camera I was using. As we only had hand luggage I decided to leave the DSLR at home and only take the Fuji X100F. It’s a great little camera and a joy to shoot with. Between you and me, I actually think it’s my favourite camera. A bit needy in the battery department, if you know what I mean… But I take spares with me.

Île de Saint Cado

So you now that some of my French family lives in Brittany. Just near to where they live is the Island of Saint Cado. It’s one of those quaint places that you see on post cards. It can get a tad windy in winter, but the last time that I was there everything seemed fine.

So what you’re getting today is landscape photography and some wildlife photography. I’ve always like birds and birdwatching and I’m always on the look out. Today I saw a Spoonbill. It’s basically a big bird that wades in the water and has a beak (bill) shaped like a spoon. 10 out of 10 for originality, eh? It’s a bird that is quite rare in the UK and at 47 years old, this is the first time that I’ve ever seen one. I just stood there looking at him and snapped away. It was like being a child again.

I wanted to test some new ND filters with the 16-35 lens, and as you will see further on, I also had the 75-300 lens with me. All this on the Canon 6D Mark II.

Alignements de Kerzhero

My mother in law lives in Brittany. In France that conjours up a whole load of clichés; salted butter, crêpes, kouign amann, pretty houses, the sea, granite, and standing stones. My sister in law also is a fan of Photography and the last time I was up there I made damn sure she wasn’t working and we took out our cameras. That day I was using the Canon 6D Mark II, and the 16-35 F4 lens.

When I fist got these photos back I was in utter dismay at the crap that I had created. I thought I’d never be able to use them and they were doomed to be forgotten. However I didn’t want to have a photographic Waterloo (remember I’m in France) and started up Lightroom and tried to salvage something. This is the result of that salvage, and I have to admit that I was very happy that I did!