caralockhartsmith

stories and illustration

Walking the Norham Path

January Sky 1

Finished the commission I have been working on, so since there were flashes of sun between the clouds, I decided to take the camera out, and to walk along the English side of the Tweed, on what I think of as the Norham Path, though Norham is several miles away and I have no intention of walking there.

I was told by a fellow blogger, when I posted pictures of a lone swan sailing round and round in a pool at the edge of the Leet, caused by the flooding, that single swans like this were usually in some kind of trouble, as swans mate for life and are not usually alone – I hoped that this swan had gone upstream, where other swans are hanging out, but sadly no, it is swimming up and down the same stretch of The Tweed, keeping near the bank:

Swan

Climbing up Nuns Walk I see this great tit in the branches of a tree that leans over the water:

Great Tit

I cross over the bridge between Scotland and England:

A Border Bridge

Down below, on the other side,  the water races over the weir, and the heron is back at his staging post (saw another further down, but this is the one that I look out for. If Scotland becomes a separate country from England, maybe this heron should be employed as a border guard, or at least a passport officer.

It is still quite early, but already the light is drawing in, as I take the path down into the wooded path on the other side of Tweed River. Now I am in England. The trees are still grey and bare, but some hazel catkins are out:

Grey Scene

DSCF1281

I worked out how to take close-ups with the new camera, but now I’ve forgotten: however, nice to see the pretty catkins, so early in the year.

When I get to the stile I climb over and try to capture the varying light, as the sun comes and goes. It shines on Cornhill on Tweed, away over the fields:

Cornhill1

Cornhill 2

Shines on the ploughed hill:

Ploughed Hill

And flickers over the hills, making them look like 19th Century landscapes:

Light over Hills 1

Fields and Hills1

Then I  point the camera towards the sun:

Winter Sky

I climb back over the stile, and decide to go back, but not before taking a picture of what may be called A New Broom:

Broom

The first yellow of Spring.

The sun has almost set, even though it is only four o’clock, as I know because the bus that travels between Berwick on Tweed and Galashiels passes me as I cross over the bridge:

Sun over Tweed

It has been invigorating to be out and about with the camera once again, and to see the first signs of the Spring, though storms are forecast over the next few days.  My last portrait is of this crow sitting in a tree beside the Tweed, which makes a nice endpiece; then I turn upwards towards the house:

Crow

January 22, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Robins in the Conservatory

Been working in the studio most of the hours I can manage, and when taking necessary breaks from painting something rather fragile that needs not to be overworked – or underworked either – I watch the birds out of the window, eating the seeds, bread and apples put 0ut for them.  I call “birdies” in rather an idiotic way when I put out the seed, but it does please me when there is a kind of rustle and quiver in the nearby trees.  The hornbeam hedge has been cut down to its minimum, so the birds at the moment prefer the bushes with more shelter to wait until I have gone back into the sutdio.  I was playing some Handel very loud so I turned it down to not frighten the “birdies”.  There are two robins that come, each bird has its own way of taking food.  The blackbirds are very unafraid of people compared to other birds, but they don’t eat much in public, they seize something and fly into the shadows with it  The sparrows cluster together, there are either 15 or none at all.  I think some of them are dunnocks, which I believe is a different variety altogether.  The robins however are on the qui vive the whole time, they kind of pounce at things. They perch on the wooden edge of the raised beds and look every whichway. I like the splash of colour that they bring to what has been a spell of grey gloomy weather.  Anyway, inspite of the sun coming out this evening and there being a spectacular brief flowering of pink and peach clouds, following a sudden flowering of blue sky and piled up white clouds, I don’t have the time to go out “walkies”, so instead decided to look into my expansion drive to find some old photographs of two robins that flew into the conservatory (aka glassy lean-to) a couple of summers ago.  I only managed to get both robins together in one shot.  Anyway, the colours are cheerful.  And … the first snowdrops are out in the garden.  Can spring be far behind.  In the Borders, probably.  All the same….

January 19, 2014 Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Winter Branches and Moon

winter branches and moon

January 13, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Hirsel: Moon

Moon

January 11, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Hirsel: Swan and Reeds

SWan and Reeds

January 11, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Hirsel: Three Swans 2

Swans 2

January 11, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hirsel Lake: Three Swans 1

Swans 1

 

January 11, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hirsel Lake:Gulls

aswan8

Went out for a longer walk this afternoon, as had a hiatus in my work.  A fine, cold day. Took the new camera and tried it out on the Hirsel Lake as the sun went down beyond the trees. I haven’t even read a quarter way through the instructions, so don’t know the ins and outs; but am fascinated, especially by the zoom, and by the difference in the way the lens reads colour when the light is dim, and the difference in focus. Was out for over two hours, came home along the back way which was deep in rank mud that I had to wash off my boots and clothes. So many people walking near the lake, and the cafe was full this Saturday afternoon in January. There were dozens of little girls dressed in layers of beige and pink, some with pink crash helmets, riding their scooters,  and one child of indeterminate sex standing under a tree attacking its scooter with a stick and shouting at it. On the back way there was nobody except one brave runner who went splashing through  the mud in her trainers. Not a soul on the golf course. Some day soon when the sun sets a bit later, and the Hirsel is not so crowded, I will go up and crouch in the Hide and peer out over the lake from there.The place is crowded with birds this winter, especially over the far side, and I want to have a closer look.

January 11, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moon, Mooching, River Tweed

Moon over River Tweed

Came back in just as the dark was creeping in. The moon was in the clear sky, but what drew my eye me was that heap of pale cloud over the hills on the horizon. I took some pictures earlier of those hills, looking through the new zoom lens, almost like looking through binoculars:

hills2

DSCF1109

With my naked eye I don’t see the folds of those far hills, and don’t notice that achromatic haze created by distance. I can see I am going to have to find out more about the ins and outs of this camera, and I also know that I am going to have some fun. The delights of not quite knowing what one is about, the real meaning of the word “amateur”, the time to go walkabout. In the morning I am working on a commission, which will take up all next week, if the rough is accepted.  A very interesting commission, but with the need to fulfil expectations upon me, and the hope of pleasing.

river2

With the camera I can just wander about as I please – and since we are on limited rations every other day of the week, I don’t even have to make the supper.  Don’t think I will take a “food” photograph of the tin of red pepper soup and the dried fruit which I dug out of the cupboard in desperation, having bought it in Lidl a year ago. It’s surprisingly sweet and cheap. Unlike myself.

bird

January 8, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

A Single Straying Swan

For Christmas I was given a new camera, all singing all dancing, of course I haven’t mastered the half of it yet.  I have  the correct memory card, a fancy new strap, the instructions on CD (not yet gone through, apart from the opening pages, I am going at this nice and slow) – and nervousness. Technophobe, c’est moi – up to a point –   I do take a delight when something is understood, leaving aside any sense of mastery;  but I am terrified of pushing the wrong button, pushing another button too hard, ruining things.  In the long run, practice, and reading the instructions slowly and with attention, does help.  Anyway, this lovely camera has a good zoom lens (ZOOM ZOOM) so this afternoon, on a damp winter’s day I decided to just stroll round and see what I could see.  An obliging swan had sailed, probably sideways, up the branch off the Tweed which is the River Leet, and this singular swan was just swimming around in what was something between the Leet and overflow sludge.  It seemed quite unruffled and paid no notice of me as I tried out the zoom lens on my swimming target. In the end I continued my walk, right round the open spaces of the Lees, I didn’t mean to go far, but by the time I had gone far enough it was as well to continue as to go  back.  No weather for any more photographs. The rain began to fall, the wind practically pushed me sideways, I noticed that a couple of big branches had come down from my favourite tree on the edge of the big fields. Wind so high I had to take off the possum hat to prevent it blowing into the Tweed. The trees ahead “a chocolate mist” as described by a Victorian poet, either Coleridge or Swinburne (I think) – always think of that in winter, in the countryside. The fishing hut was all locked up, with padlocked shutters.  There was a big red notice  fastened on a nearby tree, instructions to keep dogs on a lead as rat poison had been laid nearby. Coming back past Lees House saw that someone had carved the image of a fish into the stump of a hewn tree.  When I got back home I managed to extract the memory card and put it into the computer.  A small pause, then hello, instructions to put pictures on to the computer.  A good day’s work… what fun I will have….what larks, Pip…..

January 7, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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