The drought ends
Summer holiday break
Rebellion on the Bridge
For five days in July activists from Extinction Rebellion occupied Bristol Bridge. I walked past, and through it, most days. What is usually a busy, traffic choked part of town had been transformed into a carnival over the river. A pink boat stood in the middle of the bridge along with an array of solar panels and a sound system. Part of nearby Castle Park had become a massive tented village with a kitchen and workshop space. It always seemed to be busy when I passed through. One afternoon Billy Bragg turned up and played a short set by the boat drawing a large audience. As I was coming from work I had my small Sony RX100 II camera on me. This was during the long heatwave in July and it was very sunny and bright. This made it hard to see what was on the screen clearly. I do miss having a viewfinder but despite this I can still take some great photos with it.
There were protests and road blockages which inevitably angered and upset some. On the whole it seemed most of the protests caused minor disruption throughout the week. One morning though, throughout rush hour, they blocked one of the main entry points into Bristol. This did not go down well. I’m not convinced that making people very late for work in the morning helps your cause.
The five days wore on. At the end of it the rebellion was dismantled and every trace removed, all gone. And Bristol Bridge returned to its usual traffic choked state as if nothing had happened at all.
Malvern Spring Show
Another busy, long day at this years Malvern Spring show. The crowds were bigger and there was so much to see. Our first port of call is always the enormous Floral marquee as a lot of the best displays and stalls are here. You have to get in quick as its popularity means it gets unpleasantly busy very early on. And so it proved, it fast became rammed so we were happy to leave when we had seen all we wanted to see. It can be difficult to photograph in the marquee with my Nikon 3300, so much jostling around you. It didn’t help that I forgot my zoom lens and only had my prime with me. I did my best!
We wandered around, had a gawp at the show gardens, bought too many plants, then with tired legs headed off for home.
Welcoming Summer in…
It’s the first Saturday in May. It’s sunny but there’s a freezing cold wind blowing down the back of my neck. I’m waiting for ‘Jack in the Green’ to arrive after his marathon dance from the city centre. There are a lot of people waiting. There are more people arriving by the minute as Jack’s popularity spreads every year. After a while you can hear a beat, faint at first, then it grows, louder and louder. In the distance a large mass of people emerge and in the centre of it all, Jack.
It all happens very quickly, the procession steams ahead to its usual spot further up the common. To photograph this while trying to keep up with it is pretty much click and pray. There is no time to think, people are everywhere, moving, dancing, around you. I’m walking, turned sideways, looking through the camera viewfinder, trying to keep up. I manage a few photographs then we are there and a circle forms. I’m on the outside.
I can’t see much, but I can hear the music and see Jack dancing in the middle, he’s nine feet tall. Words are said but I can’t hear a lot of it. More music, more dancing, more words. Then it’s over, Jack topples over and dies to release the spirit of Summer. There is a mad scramble as the crowd grab a piece of greenery to take home to celebrate the arrival of summer. There’s not much left at the end. Summer is on its way…
Nothing says the ‘Lord has risen’ more than a cheap Easter egg emblazoned with a cartoon character. I detest the inevitable frenzy of commercialization every seasonal event brings. But, having said that, despite the glut of Easter eggs and hot cross buns, it does mean two week school holidays for the likes of me. It feels like the first real holiday in ages as there’s plenty of time to relax and unwind. The hedgerows and trees are coming into bloom and bulbs are up everywhere and in full display. It’s time to get out and about and explore. There’s lots to photograph!
Enjoy the chocolate that the season brings. I hope wherever you are you have a lovely, relaxing Easter break.
Transforming an iPhone…
Ages ago I purchased some add on lenses for my iPhone. They were bought late on in the Christmas sales period and arrived just as I was about to return to work. They were used briefly, then put to one side when the normal world resumed after the festive season.
I was originally intrigued with the idea of adding extra capability to the standard iPhone 7 lens. At the same time I didn’t want to spend a small fortune if the end results were going to be naff.
Anyway, I got them out the other day and had a play around with them and found them useful, especially the Macro lens.
Elswick Kids – Tish Murtha
This book arrived mere days before Christmas. It will be of no surprise that the idea I had of spending time with it over the holiday failed quite miserably. Despite best intentions, it ended up being cast to one side during the main part of the festivities. Now that that hullabaloo has long subsided I can spend some proper time with this excellent book.
The book’s photographs focus on a working-class area of Newcastle in the late ’70s. It highlights a time, now long gone, when children enjoyed the freedom to play outside and get very dirty. I remember those times well and the book evokes many memories from my own childhood in London. You went out to play with your mates and only came back when you were hungry.
Funded by a Kickstarter campaign by her daughter Ella, the book is of excellent quality. Both beautiful and moving the book is highly recommended, get one while you can.
Woke early and pulled back the curtains to find a super thick blanket of snow had settled overnight. Wahoo! Next thing, there’s a message from work – we’re closed for the day, stay at home, it’s a snow day. Excellent news!
As soon as I could I was dressed and out with my camera. The snow was deep in places and there was a bitter cold wind bringing heavy fresh snow all the time. I would have to be quick as the cold was getting unbearable. Wandering around I found this bush covered with yellow vetch like flowers. I quickly took this photograph and headed full speed back home to warmth and breakfast.
Note to self: Fingerless gloves may have prevented my hands from becoming blocks of ice. I’ve already worked out that snow and Croc’s aren’t a good combination.
‘Here’s to thee, old apple-tree…’
The custom of wassailing dates back to pre-Christian times. The word ‘wassail’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael, and means ‘be well’ or ‘be in good health’.
The purpose of blessing the apple trees in an orchard is to provide a bountiful harvest of fruit in the autumn.
Celebrations generally take place on or around Twelfth Night. Those gathered make an awesome racket to awaken the trees and scare away evil spirits. There is much singing and shouting with the banging of pots and pans and cider is poured onto the trees.
There were more people this year, including lots of young families with children. So much so that there was little room to spare in the space around the wassail tree. With the blessing done and a terrible racket made it was time to tie ribbons on another tree. You make a wish for the coming year as you tie your ribbon. It’s difficult to take photographs when everyone scrambles towards the tree. In the past I’ve taken my ‘big’ camera but this time took my ‘little’ Sony. It’s more discreet and I can get closer without having a big camera bashed into. The main part of the action is all over fairly quickly so you have to work fast. When it’s all over its time to head off home and eat cake from the cake stall.