Arctic

_IMGP2118_IMGP2181_IMGP2203_IMGP2207When I arrived in Finland mid-December, the temperature was -18°C. That didn’t last, and on Christmas Day I was seriously afraid that all the snow would melt away – and that I’d spend the second week of my holiday listening to the sound of drip drip drop as the winter fades away.
That was not to be. By Boxing Day, the temperature had dropped below zero, and by yesterday, to a mildly terrifying (to a mild climate dweller such as myself) -16. The skies have cleared, and the arctic winter is at its best._IMGP2222_IMGP2206_IMGP2200_IMGP2216The boats resting, (most likely) the final edition. The old marina took a battering in a pair of late autumn storms, which pushed these old boats from their usual stations to all over the place, scattering them around. I suspect they will be carted away with the rest of debris soon enough, so here is one last look. Previous posts with these boats can be found here, here and here._IMGP2233_IMGP2254_IMGP2273_IMGP2271Frozen waters._IMGP2313_IMGP2315Great tits, all fat and fluffy._IMGP2331_IMGP2389_IMGP2388_IMGP2435I set out to photograph my hometown today, and ended up spending so much time snapping the frozen riverside seeds that I had to abandon the task early, because my memory card stopped working and I couldn’t feel my toes. From top – frozen attic windows of my primary school, an old textile mill, now a restaurant, “Iron Bridge”, the old Astronomy Tower._IMGP2368_IMGP2383_IMGP2371
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Blow, blow thy winter wind, Part 1

December now feels like it was years ago. Holidays at home were one of the hardest, most depressing times I have ever had – the weather was gloomy, the sun not showing itself once for nearly three weeks, the endless cycle of sleet and ice and rain, the darkness more oppressing than ever before. My mother was ill, and so were the rest of us. Christmas didn’t really happen. The only really bright memory is New Year, when the ground finally got its white cover of snow, I met friends and drank bubbly from a mug. I only took about 25 photos over the holidays, forcing myself to take the camera out of its bag just so that didn’t bring with me for nothing.

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Bird tracks on freshly fallen sleet.

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I would normally love this sort of thing, but there just wasn’t light to lift up the details of the nature or landscape.

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In the bleak midwinter darkness, the horizon sort of disappears, land and sky becoming one, blurry grey mass. The sea was frozen, but not strong enough to carry my weight.

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Abandoned boats in the marina. Some of these have been there for years, in the summer all but invisible among the bushes that have overtaken the beach, slowly falling apart. The owners have probably died long ago, and these boats will be the last earthy thing left of them.

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This is my niece. She bluntly refuses to pose (her younger sister on the other hand cannot get enough of it), but I managed to sneak this snap of her before she turned her back to me. I rather like the way how the wind has wrapped her hair around her face. It may not be a perfect picture – or even a good picture – but it is her.

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I made a book

I completed another notebook just the other day. These notebooks are diaries of sort for me, though more visual than written – poems I have liked, passaged from books, pictures I like, pictures that serve as inspiration to whatever I’m working on at the moment.

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Some Burne-Jones. I love the pre-Raphaelites, the whole luscious, exaggerated, symbolical world they created. This is one of my favourites, though Burne-Jones for me loses for Rossetti’s Day Dream and Proserpina, both wonderful paintings.

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I paint a lot and very poorly on my notebooks. I can take photos, and draw a little, but the results I get with watercolours are dubious at best.

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Line drawing of finches.

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My favourite Finnish poem, Nocturne by Eino Leino. Captures the spirit of a midsummer evening perfectly.

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Virginia in a lace frame.

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A bit of a story a worked on for few days about a year ago. My notebooks are like cemeteries of story ideas – I experiment with them, write outlines and scenes and try to get a taste if these is enough there to commit. In this instance, there wasn’t.

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Someone I love so, so much: Penelope Wilton in Hamlet. Though I have been an infrequently frequent opera-goes ever since I was five, I have never really grasped theatre until in the very recent years. Spoken word may never hold me in thrall the same way sung does, but the actors’ craft, their capability to express emotion fascinates me. As does the text of a play, the playwright’s ability to create people, create voices on the page.

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My present notebook is, boringly, a Moleskine, and a beaten-up, fat, torn one at that. Yes, that’s scotch tape on the corners, stopping the spine from fraying. The whole thickness is about twice is used to be, thanks to everything I have glued in. The elastic band has a knot on it to make it tighter, and the silk ribbon is long gone. Much abused and much loved.

Autumn proper

We went from summer to autumn very quickly. One day it was t-shirts and flip flops, the next coats and scarves. Even the sun doesn’t feel warm anymore. Apples are ripening and falling – when did that happen? I’m dreaming of making bramble jelly and plum crumble and buying a really nice new autumn jacket.

And of being warm again.

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The peacock at The Trout. Every good pub should have one.

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Brambles, glorious brambles!

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St Giles Fair marks the end of the summer.

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Garden party

I have been photographing lots of garden flowers and gardens lately. I love the delicate shapes and bright colours.

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IMGP3336All these pictures were taken in the Oxford University Botanic Garden, once of my favourite places in Oxford, especially in July when the flowerbeds are in full bloom. I know the name of cone flower and rose and black-eyed susan and hot poker, but not the rest of these, I’m afraid.

All were taken with Pentax K30, using 50mm and 50-200mm lenses, on AV priority setting. The aperture was set on 2 on the 50mm and between 4-5.6 on the 50-200mm.