More Plotting

Things have been getting a bit more interesting the last couple of weeks. Our ideas are starting to condense into something more meaningful regarding location and wheels have been put in motion. We are starting to get very excited… and very nervous. We are talking about adding on loads of “extras” to our basic idea which would make the whole experience that we are going to offer a wee bit more unique and special - but EVERYTHING depends on where we go and what we have to play with once we get there so, for the moment, they remain just ideas.

Tomorrow I am having a meeting though with a man who knows all about the kind of things we are looking at. We have also been pulling in inspiration from places we have been and loved ourselves… as well as taking heed of the warnings from places we have been that have been less than good. However this all falls though it is going to be a massive lifestyle change to something hopefully more sustainable both for myself and for our planet (yes, I am just an old hippy!).

So the first big moment in our plans is going to take place in a couple of weeks time (ish) when we start really getting to grips with setting everything in motion. The “where” question obviously remains but that is entirely dependent on a few factors:

1) Where we can find somewhere suitable as a base that is within budget and meets our (pretty fluid) criteria.

2) Where we love to be

3) Somewhat closer to those we love.

The reasons to stay in South Cumbria have slowly eroded away to the point that there is absolutely no reason left to stay, the scales have firmly fallen to the “move on” side and those who need to know have been told the outline of the plan. I love new adventures, I love exploring new places… and I can’t wait to get stuck into all this!

One final point - I have always had this philosophy of “never go back” - this relates to many things in life, but I think is particularly poignant in situations such as the one we find ourselves in now. When I left Doune, a small village just outside Stirling, I was leaving somewhere I had never really gelled with. For some reason I decided that Ulverston in the South Lakes was the place to head - I had lived their briefly in the late 70’s/early 80’s and had fond memories of the town. It could never live up to those memories though and I slowly became disillusioned with the place - and it is somewhere that by rights I should have loved with a quirky feel about the place and some genuinely wonderful and talented people.

I just never fitted in, never became part of the fabric of the place… and then gradually large parts of my life fell to bits. It has been a painful few years - with some exceptionally good moments cutting into the overall drama, disappointment and regret. It is a place where all the bad things in life have occurred and a place which, through memories of a bygone time, is filled with the ghosts of those whom I have lost.

So… how does this inform the future? Well it rules out a few places perhaps - if I am to never go back. Mainly cities and their satellites to be honest as there are still locations close by places I have lived which I would give consideration to, one area in particular does appeal for a return. But perhaps it is time to put my philosophy at the heart of our decision and make a complete fresh start - do something new, explore new possibilities and see where the winds of life cast us.

Hopefully we will have more news and some actual progress reports coming soon! I have so many ideas, as does Jen, that we can’t wait to get started on everything!

22nd July 2019.jpg

Its oh so quiet....

I have been busy behind the scenes the last month or so making plans and coming up with some new ideas. This happens when I accidentally read something, it catches my interest… and then I run off on a crazy idea with it all!

The process started a few months back when I stumbled upon Yr Hen Ogleth - The Old North - which is a feature in the heroic poetry of Wales, but interestingly doesn’t relate to Wales itself. It was a collective of kingdoms spanning Stirlingshire in the north down to Lancashire in the south, and yes… incorporating Cumbria. The kingdoms were seen as broadly the same in terms of culture and language and this is something which can still be seen in the modern landscape, language and… indeed… the culture. The people of the Old North still share a lot in common, and many elements of this collective were still very much evident more recently than I had imagined. One would have thought, for instance, that the Celtic language of the ancient Britonic people would have died out with the coming of the Angles or Norse in this part of the world, but apparently it was still in use up until the 15th Century in some areas, and some words still exist in the modern dialect.

Interestingly the people where the Cymru and the language was Cumbric with the modern county of Cumbria keeping that heritage alive (along with it’s earlier constituent Cumberland), although most of the county was probably part of the Kingdom of Rheged in those times.

I started off looking at all the historical features on the OS Map of Cumbria, plotting each and every one I could find, to get an idea of what was here, and thinking of ways to link these sites and explore their histories and origin. Then I started to add in the placename evidence of the Brittonic people, the Cumbric place names as well as those earlier ones which remain shrouded in mystery… and was pretty impressed with how much is still evident.

There is a lot to do on this whole project to uncover the Cumbrians, their links to the other people of the Old North… and expand it all into building an understanding of this whole ancient region. But it is going to be fascinating… and I hope photogenic too!

What is even better is that it allows me to mix my own past as an archaeologist with my current focus on photography!

Kendal’s Castle How, the old Motte and Bailey abandoned in favour of the more striking medieval structure on the other side of town.

Kendal’s Castle How, the old Motte and Bailey abandoned in favour of the more striking medieval structure on the other side of town.

This is going to be a slow burner though, done along side and behind the scenes with other stuff as time, fitness and health allow (I am hoping that the latter two will benefit from this project, less time sitting about and more time clambering around the countryside and possibly up the odd mountain has got to help!)

2018 - The Year That Was

January 2018

This was, for me, a tough month. I am always at a bit of a low mental state as the last decades worth of tragedy hits home hard over the winter months. This last year was the worst yet, but since then I have taken positive steps to get life back under control!

These are some of my favourite photographs from this month.

February 2018

Things had started to lift, I was starting to look for solutions, but still absolutely lost.

I upgraded the main camera though this month, which gave a bit of a boost creatively at any rate!

March 2018:

Spring slowly started to arrive in the Lakes. Very slowly as we were hit by a major snow storm!

April 2018:

Just when I thought things were starting to even out, another tragedy hit the family with the sudden loss of my big brother over in the States. It was a massive blow, but I vowed to turn his passing into something positive within my own life, to re-reference my frame of mind… and to try to be “more Neil” in my own way.

Which is where Wayward Spirit evolved. This was one of his domain names which I re-purposed and decided to build something new from.

May 2018:

Another month which was both tough and joyous. We had a funeral to attend in Moab, Utah which was a celebration as well as a chance to mourn.

June 2018:

Back to normal - a month of finding our feet again, and this was when I took on Wayward Spirit and started developing the idea!

July 2018:

Summer was here, photographically my least productive time, but this year we headed to Orkney - back home - which had been planned for some time, but with the loss of my big brother it was a very cathartic coincidence.

August 2018:

The summer holidays continued, I was having a bit of a wobble with the concept of my future… but we got through.

September 2018:

The summer starts to fade and the greens turn slowly towards browns. Photographically things start to pick up again around this time of year for me!

We also had a new arrival to keep us busy, the Tour of Britain came through Ulverston and a world class art installation came to Birkrigg Common!

October 2018:

A month of readjustment - life with a new born was something that we had forgotten how to do!

I also updated my small camera system this month, moving from Olympus which has served me well for a number of years to Fujifilm. I haven’t completed this transition as yet, but over the next year I intend to complete the switch.

November 2018:

Autumn is well under way, the last of the colours were fading.

Not a bad month creatively though.

December 2018:

We made it through! I have had something of a rethink about the speed at which I will make some transitions in life, taking into account this new member of our family… but the year has ended much better than it began and I am genuinely looking forward to the adventures and challenges of the New Year!

So that is that - my very brief review of the last 12 months, with some of my favourite photographs. I am not sure why I picked 7 for each month, perhaps as my sadly departed brother always considered 7 to be his lucky number when we were little?

Anyway, here is to the year that has gone, and the anticipation of that which is to come. Stick around and see where this mad adventure takes us!

Bad Weather?

Bad weather means no photography… true?

Well, no… not really. It means a different approach possibly, and a willingness to experiment! This means that rain doesn’t stop play on any of our workshops. Here are a few from the last couple of days!

No sunset… no problem!

No sunset… no problem!

Sunrise after the rain!

Sunrise after the rain!

Rain sweeps over Coniston Water

Rain sweeps over Coniston Water

It rains a lot in the Lake District, so this is just a reality that we need to live with and deal with! That said, I think some of the best photographs come from the most challenging conditions… and lets face it… blue skies are a bit boring really!

Check out the workshops section, come along and get creative!