stories and illustration

The Acers in September

September Acers

After the green of the willows in the woods, these acers round the little pond demonstrate the vibrancy of a different part of the spectrum altogether. These are colours that I love to use when painting. The creator of the garden was told that acers would not flourish this far north, so since he loved the plants, he set out to proved them wrong.  And did so. Up close the leaves of the acers are exquisite, but I wanted to make an image which showed the colour they create in the garden at this time of year when, apart from the spears of the gladioli, the flowers are fading in the garden, and the wildflowers have almost disappeared.





September 29, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Willows by the Leet


A wash of green: the willow,  and those delicate leaves from surrouding trees growing every whichways, seen as I was going home along a by-way of the river Leet, where hardly anyone walks. I could hear some children playing in the distance on the other side of the river, and the harsh cry of a disurbed duck, but otherwise silence.

September 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Quick Step in September


The virginia creeper is shining outside the window, and despite the existence of a list to tick off, I decide to have a quick afternoon wander round Coldstream. BAVS window is its usual respendent self:



I take the cut down to the bank of the Leet, which is shining deep blue below the bridge:


“Above us only sky”:


Really there is no time to do the usual round, so I step across the green, passing a gentleman of a certain age in biker’s gear, who is sitting having a snack at one of the tables, and whom I feel is gazing at me covertly, probably wondering what I am up to as I walk under the shadow of the bridge.  Here the water drops off a small weir:



The gauge at the top of the wall is possibly to do with flooding. The Leet, a small river, has the most amazing capacity (or lack of capacity?) to flood, it can just take over, very swiftly: I have seen lamposts sticking up out of the water along Penitent’s Walk, which has become completely submerged under water, it happens a lot of the time. Apparently the whole valley of the Hirsel can become one sheet of water.

I push through the mass of stinging nettles along this part of the bank, and look down to see reflections of apple trees that are high overhead. Inthe first case I think the blurring is from camera shake, but to me at least it has a certain impressionist, or should it be pointillist, charm:





Up there, in the garden high overhead, it isn’t only apple trees.  There is a long workshop, which must be a stunning place to work:


Enough already with the reflections. Time to take a brisk walk up Coldstream High Street, and turn down Nun’s Walk, and for once take some pictures of the hills, as their colours at this time of year and in this late are attractive – also I hardly ever take pictures of the hills unless there is a barley field or a river in between:



So those are my pictures from the top of Nun’s Walk, of the hills that are the background ot the town. River Tweed turns in a wide coil round the fields of The Lees:


And I say farewell to the sunlit September view through the tall steps of September grasses, before getting back to ticking things off that list:


September 25, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reflections of Apples


The apple trees grow in a garden high above a backwater of the Leet. It is a hot day in September, and I have to wade through shoulder-high stinging nettles to get near the water, which photographs so blue, with the nearer leaves so black. I have a kind of longing to go into this mysterious garden high above me.

September 24, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Self as Shadow: The Hand


September 20, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Self as Shadow: All Flesh is Grass


September 20, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Self as Shadow: Puddle and Little White Feathers


September 20, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Walk by the Tweed: Berries, Birds, Broken Boxes


The gulls have flocked inland, and are standing where Tweed water is shallow. There are no boats on the river round here, so I am the only person disturbing the birds. I like their white wings against the dark maroon of the ploughed earth, where the phacelia grew in high summer. There are boats left tied up here and there all along the river, and I photograph one of them, with its eddy of scum. I try and photograph little boats, as they often come into my illustrations (it was once remarked that the spindly oars I had drawn wouldn’t get anyone anywhere fast):


The barley has all gone, but the stubble is still left in this field, beside the grass alongside the river which is thick and wet this afternoon, with red clover sprung up since I last walked this way:


Swans as well as gulls stand in the shallows:


But one swan is swimming near the edge of the opposite bank with its brood:

swans and brood

As I turn up the lane towards the little wood that leads back into Coldstream, I see the blackberries in a transitional state, and the elderberries ripening:



And then come across something more unexpected, standing amidst the cleared clods of earth at the edge of the field:


Some rage here, perhaps. When in Sunderland my friend Fred told me of a friend of his who, seeing Mrs Thatch once more upon the screen, picked up the television and hurled it through the window: the house was rented, the television was rented, maybe not such a good idea.  My father told my youngest brother, one sunny day: “If you go on sitting there all day watching the television, I’ll pick it up and throw it out of the window.”  My brother: “Go on then.” So the television got hurled out of the upstairs window. However… the next day the Test Match was starting, which my father had not taken into account, so we had to trail into Carlisle and buy a new television, which actually worked much better than the old one. All the same, television reception wasn’t that good in the Liddel Valley, I can remember that at one time we would take turns to stand with the aerial held out of the window to stop the picture going jagged.

Coming back through the wood, I see the rowan berries, a fine crop this year, which is reputed to mean a cold winter:


Coming out through the wood, I see theseat with its shreds of green, where I have never seen anyone sitting.


It’s still a dim day, there is no-one around.  On the way back  I saw howdy to the horse, in the field  once in habited by the two shetland ponies.  The horse no longer has his hood on, as most of the flies have gone too.  The horse  has a melancholy expression.  It always comes up to the fence, then after a moment or so ambles off again. It does not strike me as particularly joyous:


Its purple horse-blanket is torn. It would be happier with a donkey, maybe, to keep it company:


I loved horses when I was young, I went from ballerinas to horses, and since I drew a lot even then, I was found drawing ballerinas with horses legs.  Not surrealist, just absent-minded. I can’t imagine any worlds I would fit in less: The World of Ballet, The World of Horses. But I still think horses are the most beautiful things, even if when I tried to sit upon them I spent most of my life sliding sideways or even down the neck on one occasion when the horse started to graze. I was a bit hopless. We went to Madame Tussauds and I threw a fit because we weren’t allowed to go into the Chamber of Horrors – the reason I threw a fit was because I thought it said Chamber of Horses.

I come back down past the cat in the window, who was in an earlier post, but instead is going to finish this one instead:

This Cat is Not for Sale

September 19, 2013 Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Silver Birch in the Wind


September 15, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Gold Leaf II

gold leaf 2

September 13, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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