A visit to Tomatin

Christopher – my son – has settled in Tomatin. He and Sandra are starting an exciting new period in the Highlands. The house is lovely, they are fantastic and the scenery is beautiful.

I believe the village name should rhyme with Tomato but I cannot help myself pronouncing it like Tom as in Tom and Jerry.

Some snaps from this weekend – an early morning walk with Chris. I loved it. Thanks for a lovely time, nice chat and great food :-) xx

Chris over the River Findhorn
A woods
The Findhorn viaduct next to the A9 flyover
Walking through a field near Tomatin
The A9!

10th January already. Slow down 2019.

I believe I have come to the conclusion that in order for photography to have any lasting impact upon me it is required to be several things.

Most importantly – it needs to be printed. I require it to be presented. The presentation can be in almost any form – poster, framed, gallery. So long as it is not on a screen. Even if that screen is expensive and it is in a gallery…

Presentations on a screen are in need of audio and narrative.  As a silent, static, carousel they do not work for me. I have over-indulged and it was a saccharin diet.

Additionally, the blogging and presentation of things needs to be edited. Not necessarily “curated” but some level of selection is needed.

This morning I walked Badger and I liked the light and I liked that I had a couple of hours to spend with the dog in the countryside.

The birds were making a lot of noise. One wren in particular was very vocal. I recorded it on my phone. I took a snap on my phone. I tool several snaps before the walk was done. The GPS on the phone recorded where I was.

But the benefit of this to me is a record. A personal record. Every wren in Britain made a similar song this morning. Everyone in east Scotland saw the same light. On my brief walk I passed 10 or more walkers doing the same circuit.

To me, however, it represented an escape. I had fresh air and Badger dog and I could hear the world around me.

The way the world now works is that it is believed we need the ‘hit’. I should post the photos and the audio – heck you can see ‘exactly’ where I was. The hit, however, is banal and inconsequential and now only an addiction with no pleasure taken and no appetite satisfied.

What made the experience unique – at least for me – was the editing of it through my yes and my emotions. The words I chose to represent it. These are the moment far more than the actual photographic evidence, the wav file and the GPS position.

The images on this blog – on websites – surrounding us – they are evocative snapshots. They make us want things or shock us and they are images but try taking time to look at real, ‘boring’ prints.

I recently saw the Press photo images printed and displayed in Edinburgh. Many I had seen before. The impact was so much greater as a print. Immeasurably more visceral.

In 2019 I hope to be able to put together a photo book. This means a couple of things. Overcoming the embarrassment of deciding “I value this photograph” and showing it in that context and slowing down, occasionally, to view the things around me and choose what I want to say.

Let’s see in 12 months how I did.

Maybe…

My oldest son has decided to crop the hair short. I think it suits him well enough. He has a bit of a peak/slight thinning to the front. Nothing unusual in that.

This concerns me, however. What do I look like..?! Maybe I should be doing the same. But my head is like a clootie dumpling…

Nah – not yet.

A lesson worth learning

I do not travel a great deal, fortunately, as this tale proves. I am also very good at mislaying things. On a few trips I have left things lying when I leave. In AirBnB homes and hotels – even at a Tourist Information site in Segovia miles from anywhere!

In all these cases I have managed to get the items returned – the honesty and effort of people never ceases to amaze me.

Twice – while visiting a Church of Scotland manse in the Inner Hebrides – I left items. It is a shared manse for visiting preachers and my friend is a Church of Scotland minister.

Once I left an iPod – I remember clearly on the kitchen counter. Recently I left a brand new Amazon Kindle – we had to rush to catch a Ferry to be sure of a crossing.

Those two times – after all the trips and times I mislaid items – in a building I know well and have friends would pop in to pick the items up – only on those two occasions have the items disappeared.

Just saying…

Forever days

Zahara

The lady on the bus was older than I am. Possibly her grey hair aged her prematurely. She may have been about my age.

She was studying an English book – ‘negative contradictions’ was all that I could make out. It was aimed at people learning English but was also written in English. Clearly, she was set on improving. Learning and improving are the same thing.

I believe she looked Mediterranean. And tired. For a second I glimpsed her face and she had a round face, a “moon face”. She was dark around her eyes and her tanned skin looked as though it would be more comfortable in the sun than here in the misty, wet Scottish morning.

It occurred to me she might need to apply for a residency since we were getting so close to Brexit.

A pang of disappointment and anger passed through me. Anything to do with Brexit now had that impact on me. Most of my life I had hoped to work part time and move to Spain. Now that was a whole lot more difficult. Recently the economic situation had made it feel wrong to settle there. Spaniards need work and housing. When I could contribute I would go there. To a small town or village and in one of the less visited regions.

Did I have the desire this woman had? Would I sit in queues at the Ayuntamiento (Council) to get a visa to work? Would I visit the big cities and stand in long queues to be questioned. Would they want me – us? People argue their reasons for leaving a Union like the European project but, really, it is a display of disregard and lack of will on our part. We chose to feel that Europe hindered us and have clung to some idea we are a “better” nation. Not different – better. It is our way. At least enough of us to vote for Brexit. We never participated, not really. We paid lip service and paid our way. We were like the idle members of a good gym. We paid the direct debit each month but never worked out. Every few months we went along, had a coffee and people were polite to us. They knew each other and played squash on a Thursday. The Germans would swim there most mornings, early. We never did. We blamed them for our insecurity. It is the British way.

I asked myself again – would I sit on a bus on a bad day reading Spanish texts. Learning and improving. Would I study the grammar and the history to be tested on it? It would probably come to that. More importantly – would my wife? Is it fair to expect that of others simply to allow me the indulgence of a new life? A life, moreover, I am not sure is a whim or a destiny. I don’t know.

Then I began to realise that I would. I may do. Middle age has made me more determined to take a more direct approach to life. We do not have forever days. Lost friends and family teach you that. We only have so many days and there are only so many which go to plan. Yet the attainment of those good days is worth the gloomy mornings on a bus going to an inconsequential meeting.

Fingers crossed for that woman and the story I have written based on a glimpse of her complexion and her reading material. I wish her well. I wish myself well and I regret the perception of a smaller world which Brexit has left within me.

I remain stuck here on an island of grey people, lazy dreams and saggy ideals. All the weight of that wealth on our southern end is dragging us down to the depths. To remain afloat we have decided to use “immigrants” as ballast tossed overboard so we can keep our heads above water. Or so it seems. We could simply have distributed the weight more evenly. We were not sinking – just listing.

Image: View toward Zahara from a hilltop in the Sierra de Grazalema, 2018

The road to digital nirvana…

..is littered with people spitting hate, venom and bile. Amen to the closure of Alex Jones’ stinking profiteering from distorting the “truth”. What a contemptible liar.

This type of “channel” has proliferated. This is not exclusive to digital media, either. The scale and the hidden nature by which ‘digital’ business profits from selling access to you – that is new. They push the content and inflate the importance of other people’s libel – then step back and say “don’t blame us – we are only the delivery boy”. They fuel these bigots and inflate their audience. These businesses are valued in the billions of dollars yet struggle each year to identify anything plausible as growth except “sell more advertising” or else “buy someone else’s business”.

Please note: This link does not direct to Jones’ venomous and hateful website. It links to a story about him and the closure of his publishing platforms.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-45083684