Waiting for the bus

helmsley_north_yorks_2016

With everything that’s going on at the moment (see the last blog post), it’s nice to be able to get brief escape from it all even if it is only for a couple of hours.

The fact that there will be no Scotland trip this year also weighs heavy.

This image was taken in the nearby market town of Helmsley in North Yorkshire. The town is small but gets a huge amount of visitors each year, though i would say that the people in the photo are most probably locals.

It looks like i’d been spotted by the woman sat third from right.

The Divided Kingdom

dawn-western-highlands

I can’t remember ever posting about politics before on this blog – i don’t think i ever have – but after the events of the last few days it seems as good a place as any to put down some thoughts. I’ve started and deleted this post several times. I’m certainly no great writer but hopefully i can at least put down how i feel.  Lost is probably as good a description as any. So here it is… warts and all.

Over the last few years, I’ve been an increasingly passionate admirer of all things Scottish. I love the landscape, the people, the history and even the politics.  It seems a well balance country, at ease with itself and confident of being a modern diverse nation. At this current time i have never wished more than to be a Scot residing in Scotland. The recent EU referendum reinforced this view with two ancient countries, sitting next to each other, voting in entirely different ways. One ancient country voted looking forward to a modern, secure future, free of hate and prejudice, while the other ancient country looked back towards a mythical version that has never really existed and blaming foreigners for all the ills of the land. One ancient country has a strong sense of identity and place whereas the other has had an identity crisis for years, always looking back on its rose tinted glory days and glorious past that is fast slipping beyond living memory. Oh we should be like we were back in the war –  what? nearly  bankrupt and alone? Many forget that as a nation, Great Britain got virtually nothing out of winning WWII.

The ineptitude and incompetence of politicians has never been more startlingly evident in this country. The circus is truly being run by the clowns. During the referendum campaign personalities were attacked rather than policies, debate turned into farce and the whole conduct of the campaigns was poor. The only unity came when Jo Cox, the MP  for  Batley and Spen constituency in Yorkshire was murdered. Even worse was the fact that Jo Cox was in politics for the right reasons – to tackle issues that she felt passionate about.  It looks like it was that issue, campaigning for refugees, that led to her murder. Both sides of the argument came out with ridiculous claims rather than use political debate to inform voters. Proper information was scarce which makes me wonder if the actual politicians were that well informed themselves. I came out of the referendum no wiser as why we should remain or leave. It was like being talked at, rather than being talked to. Engagement with voters was non-existent. It summed up everything wrong with politics in the UK in the 21st century and  yet the British people were supposed to make an informed decision?

To have the weakest parties and most divisive politicians for years try and deal with a political issue as complicated and important as EU membership seems reckless to say the least. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at the result. Maybe we deserve it. This has been building up for years.  For good politics you need good politicians and the UK currently has few with the intelligence, foresight and statesmanship needed for good governance. The British are also terrible at holding their politicians to account. With the media training politicians now receive, they have been able to mislead, dupe and avoid with remarkable skill. Time after time. Year after year. Why don’t we get rid of them?  It’s probably because we think they are all tarred with the same brush. Vote for him, her or him… doesn’t matter which really. For years the reputation of politicians and politics in general has been plummeting in the UK. As the quote by Joseph de Maistre rightly says ‘Every nation gets the government it deserves‘.  Only in Scotland does there appear to be some sort of order, calm and leadership at the moment. It’s ironic that currently the most obvious choice for the Prime minster’s job in London is currently Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland.

So what of the future? A good question and one that no one seems to have the answers. Personally i see the country weakened by the leave vote rather than strengthened. I could be wrong but the decision to leave just appears to add even more instability when we should be trying to reduce it. Worse still is the divisive nature of the referendum. In 2014, i was in Scotland around a week before the independence vote took place and the tension was palpable. The Yes pro independence campaign were everywhere on Skye and the first No campaign sign i saw was down near Stirling  and had been smashed  up quite violently with a fence post. By the time you got to the Scottish borders, the Yes signs had been replaced with No. Geography did play its part. For some Yes voters the No vote was a betrayal of country. You were a traitor, plain and simple. Sadly some of that attitude seems to have been present in the EU referendum. There is a lot of anger about and bad feeling on both sides which may linger and intensify if things don’t go well. We are not a United Kingdom.

There is some doubt creeping in about the leave decision though. Already UK regions have started to count the potential cost of leaving with Cornwall already starting to look for where the 60 million pounds of funding will come from. We want to leave but we also want to keep receiving the cash seems to be the message. That might be a tough call. The Union of England and Scotland, created in 1707, has been weakened  as a result of Scotland deciding on independence – a vote it would most probably win now. How things can change in 18 months. What looked as though a decisive decision on Scotland’s future for several generations has now been put into doubt yet again.  No big deal if Scotland goes? Well if the Union was broken up, the idea of the country still being called the United Kingdom would be ludicrous and we could lose the iconic Union flag, better known as the Union Jack. How could we keep it?

There is a long road ahead and no-one has a map. What it will bring is anyone’s guess. One thing that it will bring is a lot of uncertainty for the next few years.

Down by the river

IMG_0869.JPG There is nothing like a walk alongside a river, especially if it’s at a place like Durham. The town was just too busy to be a pleasant experience so I decided to head down to the peace and quiet of the river.

Down by the river bank autumn was starting to make its mark though the trees have yet to be totally transformed into the golden colours. Another couple of weeks should see the reds, browns and golds start to appear. It will look wonderful.

Walking along the path beside the wear I noticed that most of the other people were young couples, obviously students at the university, holding hands and totally wrapped up in their own world, slowly walking into town. A tiny bit of me was envious for that young, care free student life again.

A rowing team were being put their paces by a coach on the river bank, shouting out something about oars and rowing technique. The team listened and then slowly turned the boat around, setting off again leaving fantastic ripple patterns, where their oars entered the water, in their wake.

After they’d gone I turned and headed for the town once again.

The Strong Man Lamp

british-car-boot-sale

If there was ever an addiction for the British public, it would be the car boot sale. People go mad for them, search them out, hunt for them. Buyers and sellers.

Maybe that’s the appeal; the car boot offers a modern day thrill of the hunt. Are you looking for a strong man lamp… then it’s your lucky day! Among the junk there is treasure.

It’s true too. I managed at one sale to pick up Don McCullin’s 1979 book ‘Homecoming’ for a pound. Bargain!

Another Photography Book

I’m currently in the early stages of making my second book that i plan to release later this year. It’s an ambitious book idea and there’s lots of work still to be done but I’m having fun and learning a lot.

The book will bring together a collection of images that i shot over a ten year period in the English county of Norfolk. A book seems the perfect format to show the work. The images below come from one of my favourite locations in Norfolk called Little Walsingham.

A place of pilgrimage, Little Walsingham has a remarkable blend of new and old world. It’s one of the most peaceful places i know. The perfect place to unwind.

More details about the book project can be found HERE

priests_walsingham

Two Priests walk through Little Walsingham, a village in Norfolk that has been a focus for religious pilgrimage for centuries

three_crosses_walsingham

Three Crosses in a church garden – Little Walsingham

prayer_candles

Lit Prayer Candles  – Little Walsingham