They wave at you, sometimes with gritted teeth…

Bowmore, Islay, night

Michaela and I have just spent a night on Islay- I had to do some work there on Friday, so she tagged along too. It is a hard life.

Islay is a beautiful island, full of rolling farmland, beaches and a dozen or so distilleries that make the finest whisky. The beaches are stunning and the air full of birds.

On Islay, everyone waves at other drivers as they pass by. It is an instinctive thing- everyone gets a wave. It costs nothing, this kind of distanced friendliness. It is possible to maintain the illusion of conviviality despite all sorts of shared history that divides as much as it unites.

Today Michaela and I explored some lovely beaches and walked around the edge of the weather as it waved to us from dramatic skies. What a beautiful world we live in…

Life glimpsed through winter trees…

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A few shots from a lovely walk up through the woods to the ‘Chinese ponds’ round past Toward.

We took a picnic.

The trees always still you. They have this way of telling you that life is not for the burning, but rather is what happens as we pass by. Each bare branch wears its lichen colonies well, as birds flit through on some afternoon mission or other, unnoticed.

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Meanwhile out beyond the branches, through forks and crooked boughs, the real world looks so angular, so predictable. I would stay in the woods. At least for a while.

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Temperate rainforest…

water falling, pucks glen

It stopped raining so we went off into the forest, getting some air before the arrival of guests who will be with us for New Year.

It is only a slight exageration to suggest that the forests of Argyll are part of the fragments of temperate rainforest left in northern Europe. Huge old trees in a sponge of moss and leaf mulch, well watered by the western Scottish climate.

As ever, my camera came along. I think I have a million photos of some of these places- searching for the play of light and the movement of water. I never quite manage it but some come close.

 

A little lower than the Angels…

angel

 

Psalm 8:5-9

from The Message

5-8 Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods,
bright with Eden’s dawn light.
You put us in charge of your handcrafted world,
repeated to us your Genesis-charge,
Made us lords of sheep and cattle,
even animals out in the wild,
Birds flying and fish swimming,
whales singing in the ocean deeps.

9 God, brilliant Lord,
your name echoes around the world.

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Anyone want to buy my camera?

rainbow through trees, benmore gardens

Most of the photos on this blog (including this one) were taken with my camera- a Pentax K2000 (also known as the KM.) This has been my constant (and careful) companion for the last couple of years. I have loved the quality of images I have been able to collect with it, but I have now upgraded to another Pentax- a second hand K5, and so the old one needs a new owner.

There is a very honest review of the camera here.

It would make a brilliant first camera for anyone wanting to make a step up from point-and-shoot photography into the rarefied world of the SLR- so if you are looking for a camera yourself, or a Christmas present for someone you love, then you might be interested.

The camera will come with two Pentax lens- a 18-55 mm and a 50-200 mm. Both are great lens, modern, lightweight and very usable. Check out my flickr pics down in the right hand margin to see what they can do.

I will also throw in some extras- a camera bag, a circular polarising filter (essential for landscapes) and a couple of extra lens extensions. The camera comes in its original box, and is in really good condition.

I am asking £150, which is about what you will pay for this camera on ebay without both lens.

I would love to see it go to someone who can get some real creative use out of what has been a gadget that was actually worth owning…

Falling off the edge of the world…

waiting for ferry, portavadie

 

I have had a loooong 12 hour working day, involving a trip to Campbeltown to chair some conferences. I took the first ferry over Loch Fyne from Portavadie to Tarbet, and had time to stop and take a few photos.

Campbeltown is a wonderful strange place- right out on the far western extremities of Kintyre. Go too far and you call of the edge of the world (or I suppose, end up in Ireland.) I walked around the town to clear my head between meetings and marveled at the fact that all the shops closed at lunchtime- presumably so the shop keepers could go shopping. It is like a place in its own micro-time zone. In a good way.

A storm was on the way, and I missed the ferry on the way back by about 2 minutes, which meant I either waited for an hour (with the risk that the ferries would be off) or drove home the long way, via Lochgilphead and Inveraray. I reluctantly did the hard miles.

It was good to be home- but my, how beautiful is the place in which I live and work.

Meanwhile, most people live as well as they can, where they can…

A few days ago I wrote a piece about home ownership in the UK- suggesting that it has become a national obsession, and that it might be distorting our sense of community and collective identity.

Today Michaela showed me this- I loved the way people made personal spaces out of whatever they can. Life flourishes where we love.