All change

I’ve been both a town and a country mouse. One thing that stands out for me as I revert to country mouse status is how oblivious I’ve been to¬†natural change¬†when living in towns and cities.

It’s been partly due to my occupations in these places, of course, that I have noticed things so differently.¬† When rushing to work in town or city, you may indeed notice the seasons change, but the micro changes so often pass you by.

Everything at Seaview conspires to remind us¬†that the old Greek adage from Heraclitus ŌÄő¨őĹŌĄőĪ ŠŅ•őĶŠŅĖ¬†(everything flows) is true. Life here is constant flux.

The sun and the moon show this as well as anything.¬† These photographs of a wintry sunrise on the solstice last year (December 21st) were all taken in the matter of minutes¬†as the sun rose¬†to the west of ¬†Bamburgh Castle. First a tiny hint that something was coming …sunrise-1-on-the-solstice-21-12-15Then a bit more …sunrise-2-on-the-solstice-21-12-15And as the sun continues to rise, it appears to swivel to the right …sunrise-3-on-the-solstice-21-12-15Now you can see clearly the¬†orb approaching¬†…sunrise-4-on-the-solstice-21-12-15Likewise the moon, here captured on the night of the Supermoon¬†last month, (14th November) …supermoon-14-11-2016Through the early evening, the moon moved rapidly across the sky, in and out of the clouds.¬† But there were other changes afoot too – man-made changes.¬† In the blink of an eye, a train slipped across our line of sight, travelling down the mainline East Coast railway line …supermoon-14-11-2016-with-trainCloud banks constantlychange, sweeping across the huge Northumbrian skies in a fascinating variety of patterns …cloud-formationsRainbows shimmer for a moment (here over Holy Island) – and then pass on …rainbow-on-holy-islandSometimes the moment appears to linger. This foggy sunrise last winter seemed trapped in a cold still world …washing-line-in-the-misty-sunBut the lingering is always an illusion, usually fostered by the light on cold days, as captured in this picture of Berwick, golden in the setting sun …winter-sun-on-berwickYou’ve got to be quick to catch the birds sweeping through our skylines too.¬† Starlings over the neighbouring houses …cloud-of-starlings-copyCrowds of seagulls following the plough …seagulls-following-the-ploughOr this solitary bird caught in a recent sunrise …bird-at-dawnUnremarkable¬†hungry black birds, looking extraordinary in black and white …wintry-birdsAnd our very favourites, the little sanderlings (who only visit this area in the winter), running in and out of the waterline on the Tweed …sanderlings-on-the-shoreJust occasionally we manage to capture the boats coming into the Tweed – not often.¬† Entry is difficult, limited by the tides, and so dodgy (because the channel is very narrow) that only the local pilots are allowed to navigate these boats to the Tweed Dock. Magical to see them rushing past Berwick’s old lighthouse …marinda-entering-the-tweedTides – ah, yes, tides. Nothing, of course, demonstrates the inevitability and variety of natural change like the tides.

“Twice daily the tides are here, sometimes¬†
breenging shoreward like an army
of small, mad, angry locals,
at others, creeping in on tourist feet.
They are their own beginnings & endings …”

from At Douglas Hall by Stuart  A Patterson (a Borders poet) 

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to record these changes by photographing the Tweed Estuary from our lane throughout the day.¬† In all these pictures, you should be able to make out¬†the wide panorama, stretching from Berwick’s old lighthouse on the far right to Berwick’s Royal Border Bridge on the left of the picture. These pictures¬†start at 9.21 am with very low tide, and the sands of Spittal Point stretching out almost down to the lighthouse …view-to-berwick-from-our-lane-9-21-amAn hour later (10.22 am), the sun has come out, there’s a van coming down the lane, and the sands of Spittal Point are succumbing to the incoming tide …view-to-berwick-from-our-lane-10-22-amBy 11.26 am, the sky is really blue, there are some gorgeous light clouds mirroring the line of the pier, and only a few islands of sand are still uncovered by the tide …view-to-berwick-from-our-lane-11-26-am12.20, and the sky is far less exciting, the sun has gone in, there are still a few very small islands of sand in the Tweed – and there’s a train running up the East Coast mainline, Berwick bound, I think …view-to-berwick-from-our-lane-12-20-am13.17, and rather a dull picture of high tide and no sun …view-to-berwick-from-our-lane-13-17-pmAn hour later (14.20 pm), and shafts of low wintry sun are running over the picture from the left (the west) as another train is captured on the Eastcoast railway line.¬† It is very high tide …view-to-berwick-from-our-lane-14-20-pmBy 15.17 pm the light is beginning to go, but an odd flash of blue sky is revealed in the dying light.¬† The tide is¬†on the turn¬†…view-to-berwick-from-our-lane-15-17-pmAnd the last picture of daylight, taken at 16.15 pm, the sky and sea are delicately rose-pink from the rays of the setting sun in the west.¬† The tide is still only a very little way out¬†…view-to-berwick-from-our-lane-16-15-pmHow uplifting – in a year when the world has seen such radical and disturbing global changes – are these ephemeral sudden shafts of light …

 

Field of the Cloth of Gold

As the seasons pass, the fields outside our house change colour – sometimes it’s because of the weather, sometimes it’s because of the crops growing there.¬†¬† Sometimes it’s just the light. ¬†It is extraordinary how different our view can be because of this colour change.

We spent our first night here in July 2010, and this was the view looking from our home out down the coast to Bamburgh Castle.¬† Gold – and a rainbow to boot!¬† The crops – wheat, barley, oats – were ripening.¬† One field had already been harvested and ploughed up for winter sowing.¬† You can see the reddy-brown soil of the locality.¬† But the overwhelming colour and feel of the place when we first arrived will always be gold for me.golden fields and rainbowBy October, the fields were green.¬† The farmer had sown winter crops, conditions had been benign, and the young crops¬†were growing well.¬† There were still plenty of small creatures about for¬†our cat Poe¬†to hunt.Poe exploring green fieldsThen in November, and on through the winter, we got snow.¬† Sometimes, it was a white out.snow white outSometimes, it was¬†that blue-white, picking up the colour from the brilliant sky-blue and sea-blue.blue white of sky and sea and snowIn other years, we’ve know that sort of semi-snow state where it’s not white or green or brown.Sunrise on snowy fieldsEarly spring is an intense green – and blue.¬† I just love days when the forget-me-nots pick up the blue of the sea like this.¬† (Think it’s a hare in the field).Hare running on green fieldAnd the plants get greener and bigger.¬†¬† Field, garden, lawn¬†– all an abundant luscious green.abundant luscious greenThen the crops start to ¬†change in colour – they’re on their way to gold via a sort of fresh lime-green.¬†¬† At the same time, stronger and bolder colours take off in the garden.lime green fields and the odd poppyThen back to gold again.Poppies in front of golden fieldOn light evenings the colours shift. Some nights a¬†dense blue dominates.deep blue of moonlight¬†Golden fields are harvested.Harvesting golden fieldsThe stubble turns a softer faded gold.Golden stubble fieldOne year the farmer had planted broad beans in the field nearest our house.¬† These were left until late, late in the season when the beans were hard as pellets, and then they were¬†combine-harvested like the other crops.¬† Apparently dry beans such as these are sold to Pakistan.¬† A dirty¬†scuffed brown view for a long time.Dirty scuffed bean plantsThere’s also spring muddy-brown¬†, with just the hint of green as the new shoots burst forth.¬† We had had heavy rain just before this picture was taken, and then hot sun resulting in mist steaming off the fields.steaming brown fieldsThis is the best brown –¬†the rich chocolatey brown of the freshly ploughed field.Chocolate brown field being ploughedIn the right light, a field will take on a completely different colour.extraordinary golden evening light on fieldThis year, the farmer has planted rape for the first time (that we have known).¬† It has just come into flower.¬† A Northumbrian field wearing a cloth of gold.field of the cloth of gold and double rainbow

Busy old fool, unruly Sun

Sun right behind Bamburgh castleIt’s now 18 days since the winter solstice, and although each day that passes lifts my spirits as the minutes of daylight increase, there’s an accompanying sadness.

We are losing our sunrise.

Our house looks south, ¬†out over the North Sea coast,¬† so on a good day we clearly see the castles of Lindisfarne and Bamburgh.View of Lindisfarne and Bamburgh castlesNo view of sunrise, you would think.¬† But that’s where you’re wrong.¬† Until I came to live here some 4 years ago, I hadn’t realised that because of the tilt of the earth, during the winter months sunrise¬†moves over¬†across the eastern horizon¬†towards the south.

Imagine our excitement the first winter we were here in 2010 to see this magnificent sunrise exploding over the snowy fields.¬† At this point ¬†sunrise has moved to half way between the two castles.Sunrise over snow between Lindisfarne and Bamburgh castlesA more furious sunrise here; now the sunrise has moved right up to Bamburgh Castle and you can just make out the silhouette of the castle with the sun rising behind.more furious sunrise behind Bamburgh castleChristmas Eve last year, just a few days¬†after the solstice, and the sunrise is far past Bamburgh Castle.¬†¬†But it’s¬†started out on its journey back.sun starting return journey to Bamburgh castleOh, busy old fool – teasing us with all that promise¬† ….sunrise - teasing us with all that promiseto when you make your cosy little egg yolk first appearance¬†……sun making first little egg yolk appearanceto playing mean and moody………mean and moody sunrise over snowto coquettish,¬†mysterious ………Sun looking coquettish beyond Bamburghto simply gorgeous ……simply gorgeous sunriseI don’t want you to go –¬† I shall miss you!