Friday, 1 February 2013


On Wednesday we had to visit the hospital in Plymouth so that Marcia could have another check-up. You will be delighted to know that there are no signs that the cancer has returned.

There is one photograph that I want up on Dartmoor which requires really good visibility and so, the forecast suggesting that we would find just that, we set out from Plymouth to Tavistock for a quick cup of coffee in the Bedford Hotel before setting off up onto the moor proper - and into low cloud: thin cloud but cloud all the same. One day I shall get that picture, but that day was not last Wednesday.

On the way home there was a brief moment when the sun sent wonderful steaks of light on either side of a cloud. As so often happens, by the time I had grabbed a camera and it was ready to shoot, it was really too late: some of these light effects last for seconds and then they are gone. Anyway, here is how it was when I finally got myself organised.

Talking about clouds, did you know that there is a Cloud Appreciation Society? Well, there is and it has over forty thousand members. I am not one although I suppose I should be. Clouds are fascinating and here, on the peninsula that is the south west corner of England, we have a rapidly changing and often wonderful display of all sorts of cloud formations. Clouds are ephemeral: according to the Cloud Appreciation Society, the average lifetime of a cloud is only eleven but my observations suggest it is about twice as long.

Having said that, I have been known to watch fascinated as a cumulus cloud begins to appear out of a bright blue sky, grows and changes until, often quite suddenly, it starts to disappear and within a few minutes there is the bright blue cloudless sky once again.

For some reason, I find myself unable to resist the urge to take cloud pictures and so I have a large store of photographs taken in various parts of the south west which demonstrates just how variable they can be. Here are just some of them. Most, of course, are the result of luck: simply being in the right place
at the right time but some are planned – mainly sunsets since you know when they are going to happen and what the weather is like before you set out.

There is another missing photograph that has been bugging me for years. Here is the extract from Hattie's Mill:

James Barrington drove his second-hand Citroen Dyane jauntily through the narrow Devon lanes. James, born and raised in Dorset, was no stranger to high hedges, restricted visibility and inadequate passing places. Nevertheless, the recently purchased car was very precious to him and, despite the jauntiness, he kept a wary eye on possible damage to her paintwork. His mother had advised an introductory visit to Miss Wetherall at the Mill before he committed himself but refused his offer to come along for the ride and see for herself. She realised that James felt it incumbent upon himself to allay her motherly anxieties and, though she appreciated his offer, she suspected that he would prefer to take this step alone.
She was right. James was secretly relieved that she hadn't taken him up on his offer, enjoying this feeling of being out in the adult world at last; the owner of a car and a Mirror dinghy, in possession of a job and soon to be a householder. James, who had also been raised in the Anglican faith his father being a country parson, sang a tuneful snatch of the Te Deum and peered at a signpost that was all but obliterated by cow parsley and convolvulus. Abbot's Mill Creek 2 miles. He swung the wheel and headed down the narrow lane. The tall grasses and luxuriant summer growth leaned out to brush the car on each side and, as he slowed, he was aware of the scent of honeysuckle.
He rounded a bend, caught his breath and braked abruptly. Far below, the creek lay mysterious and still, its steep wooded banks clothed in a patchwork of green, the fields above - golden with standing corn or dotted with grazing sheep - swelling gently against the misty horizon. A soft haze, diffused with glowing sunlight, smudged the distant view but he could see a small sailing boat tacking its way up the river making the most of the gentle breeze and, his heart beating with a sudden excitement, James let in the clutch and followed the winding lane down to the head of the creek.

We know exactly where James stopped and I have wanted to take a photograph of that scene for about ten years. Unfortunately, every time we have managed to get there it is either raining or there is a heavy mist. Now we are again living much closer I might just have a better chance. We shall see.