Posts Tagged ‘sunset’

Perfidia, Hopes Reservoir walk and autumn colours

October 2, 2015

I’ve just finished reading James Ellroy’s epic novel Perfidia – a huge, action-filled book, full of intrigue, plotting, counter-plotting, licit and illicit sex, violence, murder, racism, politics, jealousy and rage. There are no purely good characters in Ellroy’s novel, so don’t expect any here. There is a hero – Hideo Ashida, the Japanese detective – but he is flawed and corrupted by the system. The two other male protagonists Bill Parker and Dudley Smith who are more senior detectives, are ruthless and Smith is a murderous psychopath who gets away with his killings as he is protected by police. The action takes place in Los Angeles in 1941 with a Japanese family brutally and perhaps ritually murdered. The next day, the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbour and there begins a round up of suspect Japanese citizens and a general distrust/ hatred of anyone who appears to be Japanese, by large sections of the public. As the Guardian review (link above) noted “from this point on, the entire cast of Ellroy’s city chase liquor and drugs with such savagery that, by the end, you’re murmuring about how Irvine Welsh is going to have to be re-shelved with the children’s books”. So, not for the squeamish but Ellroy is such a good writer and one who captures a range of different styles of dialogue amongst his characters, and whose plot structure makes the galloping pace of the novel addictive. It’s written in Ellroy’s distinctive staccato style, with short, dramatic sentences. He is one of my favourite writers and I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is the first of a promised quartet. I bought this one in hardback as soon as it came out and will do so with the next one. Ellroy writes big novels, so a hardback does his novel more justice.

Perfidia by James Ellroy

Perfidia by James Ellroy

At the weekend, we went up the Lammermuir Hills for a 7 mile walk which is featured as a trail run in Susie Allison’s book Scottish Trail Running. We parked at the Hopes Farm and walked over the path on the low side of the Hopes Reservoir.

Approaching the Hopes Reservoir

Approaching the Hopes Reservoir

Looking over the Hopes Reservoir

Looking over the Hopes Reservoir

The route in the book takes you up over Lammer Law and we duly did this. The instructions in the book then become a bit vague and it’s not quite clear which track should be followed and where you are supposed to turn off. I’m sure that the orienteers among you will be scoffing – why didn’t we have a proper, detailed map? As it turned out, we took the wrong track and ended up crossing deep heather and coming back on part of our outward route. However, it was a beautiful, clear and warm day – Indian summer here this week – and we enjoyed the walk. It’s quite a stiff climb up to Lammer Law.

Path up to Lammer Law

Path up to Lammer Law

When you get to the top of the Law, you are rewarded with some spectacular views across East Lothian and over to Fife. There was a slight haze on Sunday and not clear enough for good long distance photos. There’s a clearer photo here.  We ended up doing 9.5 miles instead of 7 miles but on such a glorious day, with only a light breeze and hardly any other walkers, it was a delight. At one point, if you stopped, the only sound you could hear was the gentle gurgling of a nearby burn (stream). At another point, four faces looked suspiciously at us and identified us as non-sheep i.e. intruders into their territory. Having finished their disdainful look, the four faces turned and nonchalantly went down towards the burn.

It’s autumn now in Scotland but the mild weather has meant that most of the trees are still green although some have turned to reds and browns and their leaves are falling like snowflakes. This week’s summer-type days have produced some stunning colours in the sky just after sunset. There is no end to taking photos of the sky above our town when the sky seems lit up by rows of burning coals, in contrast to the black outlines of the buildings, as in these photos. I also love the pink sea in the 2nd photo.

Autumn sky over Dunbar

Autumn sky over Dunbar

Autumnal sky over Dunbar and reflection in the sea

Autumnal sky over Dunbar and reflection in the sea

Another source of vibrant autumn colour came in the form of a male red admiral butterfly in my garden and there’s a nice contrast with the yellow top and while petals of the daisy. It’s as if the butterfly was carrying its own evening sky on its back.

Male red admiral butterfly

Male red admiral butterfly

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Blazin’ Fiddles, Borders cycle and sunlight on rocks and bridge

September 6, 2014

On Sunday, we went to Haddington (11 miles/18K from Dunbar) to see the final act of the Trad on the Tyne Festival – the very lively Blazin’ Fiddles. This is a 6 member group, led by Bruce MacGregor, who hosts the excellent Travelling Folk radio show (available worldwide, so check it out). In the group, there are 4 fiddle players, one guitarist and one keyboard player. The show is a mix of fast and furious group fiddle playing and individual cameos by the fiddle players. One of the outstanding individual sets was a a very melodic slow air played by Jenna Reid. The band have a well rehearsed set of often humorous introduction to their sets of tunes and they do appear to enjoy playing with such gusto, especially at the end of the show, with a few rousing tunes to send the audience home happy. It was very enjoyable to sit in the tent on a warm summer evening and be entertained by a set of lively and highly talented musicians.

Yesterday, Val and I ventured down to the borders with my cycling pal Alistair and his wife Di. We drove to the tiny village of Heriot, unloaded the bikes from the rack and set off on a very pleasant, quiet, rural route to Innerleithen, down a long 4 mile descent, following the Leithen Water. This attractive wee town is most famous for Robert Smail’s Printing Works which is a National Trust property now but was once a prosperous business in the town. The Smail Archive  contains many examples of the variety of publications produced at the works and much of the machinery survives and is well maintained. This is well worth a visit if you are in the area. We had coffee/tea and scones at the excellent Whistle Stop Café (good photo). We were given a friendly welcome and were even given locks for our bikes. The café has attached rings to the outside wall on to which cyclists can lock their bikes – what a service!. From there, the route took us to Clovenfords where we had lunch, having cycled 22 miles (36K). Thereafter, there was a 15.5 mile (25K) cycle which took in some stiffish hills but also exhilarating downhill freewheeling. At one point, we passed through the extensive Bowland Estate and to our right, for about 10 miles, we could see the construction of the new Borders Railway which will go from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.  So, a great day out and a lovely part of the country – must go back and take my camera with me.

Two recent walks with my camera were on sunlit evenings and I captured some different effects of the late sunlight. Firstly, a walk along the promenade at the back of our house. When the tide recedes, there is revealed a series of rocks of different shapes and some appear to be landscapes in miniature e.g. ragged mountain ranges. If you can catch the sun on these rocks at the right time, there are some wonderful colours, as in the 3 photos below (click to enlarge).

Sunlight on the rocks off Dunbar's east promenade

Sunlight on the rocks off Dunbar’s east promenade

Sunlight on the rocks off Dunbar's east promenade

Sunlight on the rocks off Dunbar’s east promenade

Sunlight on the rocks off Dunbar's east promenade

Sunlight on the rocks off Dunbar’s east promenade

The second walk went past Belhaven Bridge – featured before on this blog. There was a biggish sun on the horizon which brought out the bridge’s structure well and the sun reddened the shallow water under the bridge.

Belhaven Bridge at sunset

Belhaven Bridge at sunset

Belhaven Bridge at sunset

Belhaven Bridge at sunset

 

 

 

Refraction, sunset and Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings

July 31, 2014

We were having a meal outside the other night, on a warm and clear evening. The sea was calm and the sun was still quite high in the sky at 9pm. From our house, you can see the Isle of May (aka May Island) and at first, we had a normal view of the island in the distance – it’s 12.7 miles (21K)away. We then noticed that the island was changing shape. This was due to refraction which distorts the image. At first, the lighthouse on the top of the island turned into a column, then the island seemed to split into two, with 2 columns in between each layer. Finally, the island took on the shape of an anvil. All this happened slowly over about an hour and a half and my wife and I and our 3 visiting relatives were fascinated. My brother in law, who is a former ship’s captain, once told me that refraction caused him to see a ship coming toward his ship upside down. Photo 1 shows the Isle of May in normal view during the day.

Isle of May - normal view

Isle of May – normal view

Photo 2 ( this was the best image I could get) shows the first effect of refraction.

 

Isle of May refraction

Isle of May refraction

Photo 3 shows the island changing to an anvil shape.

Isle of May refraction

Isle of May refraction

That same evening, there was a glorious sunset over Dunbar and in Photo 4, you can see the refractory effect on the setting sun and, in Photo 5, the changes in the colour of the sky. So, it turned out to be a very entertaining evening, watching the refraction on the Isle of May close up through my x25 magnification scope, seeing the constantly changing colours of the sunset, and enjoying some very tasty Coonawarra wine.

Sunset with refracted sun

Sunset with refracted sun

Sunset over Dunbar

Sunset over Dunbar

 

On Sunday, I went to the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh with another brother in law, to see Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings ably supported by the energetic 69 year old Maggie Bell’s Band. The theatre was packed by women and men of a certain age and it turned into a very enjoyable and entertaining evening. The Rhythm Kings, fronted by ex Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, were a 9 piece band with 2 energetic saxophonists, a piano/keyboard player, a drummer, 4 guitarists and a powerful vocalist Beverley Skeete. The band played rock and roll, the blues, soul, rockabilly and Americana, and were given a standing ovation at the end. A Youtube search will provide many good (if legally suspect?) examples of the band and Skeete’s vocals. The Rhythm Kings change the line up constantly and if you get the chance to see them, don’t pass it up.

Kailzie Garden Restaurant, rain and evening sky

June 5, 2014

On our trip to Peebles (see 28 May posting), we enjoyed a pleasant walk along the River Tweed (nice photos on this site a) and enjoyed the reflections of the trees in the river – Photo 1.

River Tweed at Peebles

River Tweed at Peebles

 

After our walk, we went for lunch to Kailzie Gardens Restaurant. This very attractive restaurant, set in an old stables building, is part of Kailzie Gardens, an extensive area of garden with spectacular displays of flowers at different times of the year. We go back to this restaurant because of the quality of the food and the service. The lunch menu presents the visitor with a problem – what to choose? The very tasty smorrebrod or the flavoursome quiche or the smoked haddock risotto, which is light in texture but has a depth of taste. I enquired on a previous visit how the chef got his risotto so light and he said that it was done simply with butter and parmesan – yes, and a lot of practice. There are always specials on the board and on this visit, I went for the pork belly with mash potatoes and savoy cabbage. I like pork belly but am wary of ordering in restaurants unless I know it will be crisp on the edges and full of flavour in the middle. This pork belly – see Photo 2 – was the best I’ve had. The crackling was very crisp but not overdone i.e. it does not threaten your teeth with its hardness, the meat was tender, the mash was creamy and the gravy had the depth and quality of a good red wine. On the photo, you will see a small sliver of smoked eel at the side of the plate. On of our party had smoked eel and scrambled eggs, and the eel was gently cooked and I liked the mild taste, never having tried eel before. There ensued a discussion in our party about how best to scramble eggs. We all knew how not to scramble eggs e.g. as served in cheap B&Bs and made with eggs and milk. My wife cooks her eggs only with butter, while I like to add a little crème fraiche to mine. We asked about these eggs and were told that the chef used butter, a little rapeseed oil and a teaspoonful of cream. If you visit this restaurant, you must try the warm border tart with ice cream and butterscotch sauce. Border tart comes in a variety of forms and recipes differ e.g. this recipe includes a lemon glaze, which I would not recommend. The Kailzie border tart has crisp pastry with a very fruity filling and the butterscotch is light but adds much to the dish, as does the local ice cream. This is one of the best puddings/desserts I’ve ever had. I forgot to take a photo but you can see one here. This is a restaurant for food lovers, with the food freshly cooked and served by friendly and informative staff, and a chef who is very approachable.

Pork belly dish at Kailzie Gardens restaurant

Pork belly dish at Kailzie Gardens restaurant

Today in Dunbar, the rain was relentless all morning, driven by a cold NE wind – welcome to June in Scotland. Having said that, this is a cold interval in between warmer and sunnier weather. The other day, I turned over my poetry calendar and found the poem Rain by Linda Pastan. It’s a poem that has striking images – “A rage of rain/on the tin roof;/ a hammering/ as of a thousand/ carpenters;/ …. bright sheets/ of water/ blowing about/ in the wind/ like translucent laundry”. John Lennon sang “When the rain comes, they run and hide their heads” in the song Rain and Thomas Hardy’s We sat at the Window has the lines “And the rain came down like silken strings/ That Swithin’s day./Each gutter and spout/ Babbled unchecked in the busy way/    Of witless things”. I like to watch the rain fall from indoors – it’s less alluring when it’s hammering down on your bike helmet, as it was on Monday, and you’ve 10 more miles to go.

Last night was the first brilliant sky of what I hope will be many this summer. There was truly a red sky at night and while this may traditionally be a shepherd’s delight, and promise a beautiful day to come, this morning’s deluge proved it to be an exception to the rule. I love the range of colours you get in skies like these, and never tire of taking photos of these wonder displays of shapes and colours – see Photos 3, 4 and 5.

Evening sky over Dunbar

Evening sky over Dunbar

Evening sky over Dunbar

Evening sky over Dunbar

Evening sky over Dunbar

Evening sky over Dunbar

A Word a Week Photo Challenge: contrast

April 2, 2014

Here are my photos involving different types of contrast. Many more excellent specimens at Sue’s website.

Please note that I’m unable, at the moment, to make photos open in a new tab – looking for a solution.

Height of man and height of termite mound in Litchfield National Park,  NT, Australia

Height of man and height of termite mound in Litchfield National Park, NT, Australia

Bright sky and dark shore at Belhaven Beach, Dunbar

Bright sky and dark shore at Belhaven Beach, Dunbar

Silhouettes against sea and sky, Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Silhouettes against sea and sky, Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Burj Khalifa dwarfs 70 storey buildings in Dubai (Photo taken from car)

Burj Khalifa dwarfs 70 storey buildings in Dubai (Photo taken from car)

Contrasting colours in the summer sky above

Contrasting colours in the summer sky above the summer night sky in Dunbar

Upright donkey, leaning tower in Pisa

Upright donkey, leaning tower in Pisa