stories and illustration

View from Smailholm Tower 2

Smailholm 2

October 9, 2015 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

Flowers by the Path

flowers by the pathIn Liddesdale, hill farming country right on the edge of the Middle Marches, where the sheep roam the hillside without barriers, and the fields are full of rushes, the profusion of flowers and the variety of flowers is markedly greater than in arable farming country, however conscious the crop farmers are of conservation and the limited use of pesticides. Last year in Liddesdale along just one mile long stretch of roadside I counted about a hundred varieties of flowers. This patch of flowers was beside a small off-road path which led down to the track of the old railway, now long disappeared.  One walks down to Kershopefoot, above the River Liddel, with trees on each side, and beside the track hundreds of orchids growing.

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

River Path

River Path

December 6, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

September Field

September Field

September 20, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Harvested Field

august field

Last year this field was set with barley, this year with wheat.  Before it was harvested, round the edge of the wheat were a few stalks of barley, left over from last year’s crop. After a long hot summer the days now are cooler, with flashes of heavy rain.  Almost all the fields have now been cropped, except for some of the barley. Along the edge of a barley field I came across a man gathering blackberries, he eulogised apple and blackberry pie (d’accord, monsieur). The year is on the wane. If I wasn’t out taking photographs, maybe  would probably be lost in my own thoughts, instead of looking outwards at the fields of the Borders. The fireweed is beginning to fray. The skies are banked with clouds. There are red berries in the hedges. The Scottish children are back at school.



August 23, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Border Fields in August


We have really reached the turning of the year.  This tractor was ploughing the part of the big field that had been set to  potato crop.  The gulls and crows and also the pigeons were having what might be called a field day.  The next afternoon I was walking again round the Lees, and I saw a dark coated figure with a bag walking straight across the mud ruts, stooping every now and then towards the earth; it took me a while to realise this figure was picking up stray potatoes that had been left after the harvest and  the turning over of the soil. I remember from years ago the coal-pickers on the beach at Seaham near Sunderland, with their bicycles and big bags slung each side for the sea-coal – old men sometimes, with their grandchildren alongside.


August 19, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Green Hill No More


A few weeks ago this landscape was green from foreground to background, but now, with fields of ripened wheat next to fields of  ripened barley, the colour of high summer has changed the landscape completely.  The helicopter was flying very low, probably checking the powerlines that run between the pylons that can be seen on the horizon. The hay is being cut, everywhere the edges of the pavements are strewn with hay from the lorries going past. The barley and wheat will be next. The summer has been like this almost all the time, hot, blue skies, for weeks; but at last we have some rain, and storms are forecast.

I have been working all week painting.  Next week I will be able to go out (storms permitting) and take some photographs, and get back to work on a picture book.  For the moment it is all hangings and mounts and lists and finishing details…..

August 1, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Irrigation: Ghost Water 2


June 4, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Irrigation: Ghost Water 1


June 4, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Little Walk round the Lees


A Leaf by the Field Edge

Back in the Scottish Borders, I find that the acers in the garden have nearly all withered back, after their last minute burst of colour, so  I am glad I made an attempt to capture them before their delicate brilliance disppeared. I’m brewing up a cold, so decide to go for just a quick walk round the edge of the Lees, a great expanse of farmland without hedges, that is bordered on two sides by the Tweed. The river makes a great arc at this point, which is quite disorientating …

Much of the field area is ploughed now, the  barley has gone, as have the other crops laid round the edge; now the grass is springing up wherever it can manage to take root:


The sun to my right as I walk throws the shadows of trees far out over the field:



I look back towards Coldstream, with its clock towers rising up over the willows and other trees and shrubs that border the Leet, an offshoot of the Tweed:


And look up at the sky over the Lees:


At the corner, where I turn from the field edge up towards the Tweed itself, I take a photograph of the store of wood, in the patch of land where the guinea fowl ran round in the spring and summer:


This is a tree that I like so much:


Turning back towards Coldstream along the river, I kind of cheat, and point the camera through the apple trees on the bank straight towards the sun, and get these delicate murky tints that the camera sees but I don’t:


On past the fishing lodge, then try and get the swans into this picture of an autumnal waterside tree, but the swans are hiding:


So I take a picture of the tree itself instead, against the sky:


Time to go home, past the horse, then back along the Leet.  I pause to take one more picture of the water between the two bridges:


I hear a squawk behind me, wheel round, its that dratted heron: foiled again. Au revoir, heron, one day I’ll either get near enough to you, or have a lens strong enough to catch you properly, instead of just through obscuring reeds, or as a flitting silhouette.


Later, heron….. now it’s home for tea.

October 11, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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