Posts Tagged ‘fishing’

Crocuses in the snow and Rita Bradd’s poems

March 26, 2018

In many towns and villages in East Lothian at this time of year, the crocuses – planted by East Lothian Council – have emerged, bringing a welcome splash of colour as you walk or drive into the areas. I’ve featured local crocus spreads on the blog before e.g. here. I was biding my time this year until we got the full display of these welcome early spring flowers, but sometimes you have to take an opportunity to photograph something that you are pretty sure will not be there if you come back tomorrow. Recently, we had a brief covering of snow in  Dunbar and we were driving through the next village of West Barns when I saw the crocuses on their bed of snow. It was a bitterly cold day but I got out of the car to capture the scene.

Firstly, the orange crocuses, making a brave show of themselves in the snow. You’ll see in all the photos that the crocuses are keeping their flowers firmly shut. These may be delicate little flowers but they are not daft enough to open up on a freezing cold day in March.

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Crocuses in the snow at West Barns (Click on all photos to enlarge)

Then the white crocuses. It may be that there are more of these plants to come but, as you see in the photo below, the white specimens on show sit by themselves and not in small groups as the orange ones above. Are these more individualistic flowers which like to display their beauty – see the delicate purple lines below the flower heads – on their own, with no competition from others? A search for “crocus” on the RHS  website   produces 695 different types of crocus on 70 pages, so identifying the ones shown here would be a large task – but do not let me stop you.

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White crocuses at West Barns

The purple crocuses below appear at first sight to be of a uniform colour. However, when you look closely, they are all individually marked. Searching for “purple crocus” on the same site reveals the delightfully named crocus tommasinianus, although it is not clear that the ones below fall into this category. The other feature of all the photos is of course the greenery attached to the stem of the plants and this is also very attractive. The sharp leaves are partly hidden by the snow but they reminded me of the wooden stakes that used to be used in medieval battles to trap advancing cavalry and impale the horses on the partially hidden wooden spikes. I cycled past the same spot a day later and the temperature had risen by a few degrees, melting all the snow. Some of the crocuses had opened up, but not many.

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Purple crocuses at West Barns

I have to admit some interest in reviewing Rita Bradd’s book of poems entitled Salt and Soil. Rita is, like me, from Dunbar and lives near the town. Her husband Alan was in my class in school. I am thanked in the Acknowledgements for my advice on publication. I will hope to be as objective as I can. This is a poetry pamphlet – 15 poems in total. In the title poem, there is an intriguing image of photographers on the rocks by the sea “They’re fishing for life at the edge of the world”. There are some fine lyrical lines in many of the poems, such as “Dawn sneaks her breath into seams/ that constrict the day’s fresh garment” from Day Break or “When the North Sea finished throwing up/ over Siccar point..” from Salt of the Earth, My Mother. Not all the poems are successful but there is enough in this wee book to make you appreciate the poet’s obvious talents. Rita Bradd may well not end up as a Poetry Book Society Choice author but very few poets do. If you would like to buy the book, you can order it here.

Salt and Soil

Salt and Soil – poems by Rita Bradd

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Auld Year’s Night and A Walk on New Year’s Day

January 7, 2017

We had Australian friends staying over New Year. They arrived on 31st December which is known locally as Auld Year’s Day. This expression is, I think, restricted to the south eastern part of Scotland, while other parts use the term Hogmanay, the meaning of which is disputed, but it may be Scandinavian or Flemish. The term New Year’s Eve is used in other parts of Britain. Until the 1950s, New Year was the major festive event in Scotland, with people still working on Xmas Day. Bringing in the New Year in Scotland is seen as attractive by people across the world, as the cosmopolitan crowd in Edinburgh’s Princes Street on Auld Year’s Night will testify. Dunbar Running Club organise a short run on Auld Year’s Night at 7pm and my wife Val and our visitors took part, while I helped with timing. The race is known as the Black Bun Run after the tradition of giving people whisky and black bun to bring in the New Year, to ensure that people would have enough to drink and eat for the following year. I was the (non-running) President of  Dunbar Running Club for 14 years and the local paper, the East Lothian Courier would print my reports of the race – known then as The Auld Year’s Night Race, until one year the paper’s reporter used the headline Black Bun Run a Success. Thereafter, we used this title for the race. After the race, we joined the other runners (23 in total) in the nearby Masons Arms pub, for a pint of Belhaven Best ale, which is brewed just around the corner at Belhaven Brewery. Back home, we had a meal – a tasty Beef’n Beer (photo below) and brought the New Year in with rather less traditional champagne and red wine.

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Beef’n Beer done in Le Creuset pan (Click to enlarge)

On New Year’s Day, we took our friends on one of our favourite walks – to Seacliff Beach (good photos). We parked the car about a mile away from the beach. As you leave the car, just past the farm buildings, you get a magnificent view of Tantallon Castle (good photos)  and the Bass Rock and the view is enhanced (photo below) with the foreground of the emergent spring wheat’s subtle green.

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Tantallon Castle and the Bass Rock

You walk down a fairly muddy path to get to the beach but you are rewarded with a view of a long stretch of sandy beach to the right and left. We went left towards the tiny harbour – claimed to be the UK’s smallest – where there was quite a swell here with the white sea caressing the rocks.

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Swell at Seacliff Beach

On the harbourside, you can still see the remains of old iron winding gear, which, with the backdrop of Tantallon Castle (see below) makes for an intriguing view.

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Winding gear at Seacliff and Tantallon Castle

We walked back along the east side of the beach and up the sandy slope to the path/road where cars can exit. At the top of the hill, you pass under an archway and when you look back, the Bass Rock is framed by the archway. The photo below was taken on a frosty afternoon a few years ago.

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Arch at Seacliff Beach

As you walk back past the farm buildings at Seacliff Farm, you pass many horses as there’s a riding school there. I managed to catch one horse having a feed and another peering at me through the bare hawthorn hedge (see below). So, an excellent walk on a bright, sunny if cold day gave us an exhilarating start to 2017.

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Horse feeding at Seacliff

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Horse through a hawthorn hedge

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Word a Week Photograph Challenge: Traditional

July 16, 2014

Another intriguing word for challengers around the world. Here are my suggestions and you can see many more fine photos at Sue’s website.

Sheep shearing in Coolamon, NSW

Sheep shearing in Coolamon, NSW

Blacksmith in Rutherglen, Victoria

Blacksmith in Rutherglen, Victoria

Kilts for a Scottish wedding

Kilts for a Scottish wedding

My two sons and me – dress rehearsal for my older son’s (on the right) wedding in 2006.

Sorting prawns and fish manually in Dunbar harbour

Sorting prawns and fish manually in Dunbar harbour

While there have been many mechanical and digital advances in fishing, sorting out the catch is still done manually, as it’s aye (always) been.

Traditional letter box in Pisa, Italy

Traditional letter box in Pisa, Italy

 

Eyemouth walk, oral history and inside tulips

May 3, 2014

A walk around the town of Eyemouth last weekend proved to be interesting. Eyemouth is a historic town 23 miles (37K) from Dunbar and only 5 miles (8.1K) from the border between England and Scotland. It is still a fishing town with some large boats and fishing in the town goes back more than 800 years. Some of this history is on show at the Eyemouth Maritime Centre which is situated at the harbour’s edge. The Centre also records details of the widespread smuggling that went on in the 19th century to avoid taxation on basic items such as salt, but also spirits such as brandy and gin, and more luxurious goods such as lace. It’s a very well designed museum. Our walk took us to the far side of the harbour, where we passed (1st photo) the steam powered drag boat Bertha which may have been designed by the famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, although this appears to be disputed. The 2nd photo shows a picture postcard view of the harbour, although postcard producers would probably have waited until the D R Collin lorry had departed. At the far end of the harbour is Gunsgreen House, an impressive building originally built by a smuggler and now a museum. Away from the harbour, you come across the statue of Willie Spears (see photo 3) a fishermen’s leader at the time of the great disaster of 1889 when 189 men from Eyemouth and surrounding towns and villages, were lost at sea in a huge storm. Eyemouth is perhaps not as visually attractive as other fishing towns on the south east of Scotland but it’s well worth a visit.

Steam dragboat Bertha

Steam dragboat Bertha

Eyemouth harbour

Eyemouth harbour

Willie Spears

Willie Spears

When I retired 2 years ago, one of my aims was to do some local history about my home town of Dunbar, and two years later, I’ve started. My intention is to research shops and shopping in Dunbar in 1950. The research project will firstly involve using a number of secondary sources such as newspapers, council minutes, organisational records and photos from the local history museum. I will also be aiming to interview people who lived in Dunbar in 1950 and my initial plan is to interview people over 80, who would be 15/16 in 1950. As part of the background reading, I’ve been looking into oral history in order to examine definitions, techniques and interpretations. Writers such as Paul Thompson state that oral history is not new, as much history was handed down in stories told by the older members of early societies. Modern oral history takes the form of recording the narratives of people who lived through historical events or periods, and it is only in recent times that people other than members of the ruling elite have had the opportunity to give their version of events. So there is value in older people’s own stories, whether they were e.g. farm workers or farm owners. I hope to interview a cross section of Dunbar society in 1950 in order to get a range of views on what happened e.g. when people went shopping. My research background is very helpful in organising such a project but I’m learning new perspectives by reading the views of oral history practitioners and academics.

Over the past 3 weeks in Dunbar, we’ve had an east wind, very cold at times but fairly light. Some days, the sea at the back of our house has disappeared with the incoming haar (sea mist) and there has been a ubiquitous greyness. I would say that every cloud has a silver lining, except on most days, there were no clouds to be seen, just one long uninterrupted grey sky. However, one silver lining is that the tulips have lasted much longer this year, as often they are blown apart in strong westerly winds. This gave me an opportunity to do some close up photography on the tulips and the following 3 photographs show how the insides of the flowers can take on an abstract quality, as if some other form of life was growing inside the tulip.

Inside a tulip

Inside a tulip

Inside a tulip

Inside a tulip

Inside a tulip

Inside a tulip

 

 

A Word a Week Challenge : lines

November 21, 2013

Here are my photos for this week’s challenge – see Sue’s website for many more.

Curved lines of spring wheat

Curved lines of spring wheat

Rows (lines) of sprouts with power lines in the background

Rows (lines) of sprouts with power lines in the background

Strata in a New Zealand gold mine

Strata in a New Zealand gold mine

Baptistry in Pisa

Baptistry in Pisa

Fishing lines with Bass Rock behind

Fishing lines with Bass Rock behind

Fishing lines on a stormy day at Dunbar Harbour

Fishing lines on a stormy day at Dunbar Harbour