And I have loved thee, ocean! And my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy
I wanton’d with thy breakers-they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
Made them a terror-’twas a pleasing fear,
For I was as it were a child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane – as I do here.
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.
Poem excerpts from The dark, blue sea by Byron.
Apologies to Matthew Arnold.
Winter in England has been rough too, but in entirely different ways. It has rained. And rained. And then rained some more. In hard, sudden bursts, water hammering the already saturated ground. This is a photo of the Wolvercote/Godstow end of the Port Meadow, early December – when things were still mostly normal. Most of the photos below are from the same general area, few hundred feet up and down the river.
The Port Meadow has pretty much turned into a lake. I have never thought much of this “beauty spot”, so I actually prefer this vast, shining stretch of water it is now, and feel a bit sad knowing that it probably won’t be there much longer.
A slightly different angle of Oxford.
The weather was full of surprises. I was standing under a tree, cursing the sheeting rain, when suddenly the clouds scattered, a brilliant, breathtaking sunshine coloured the landscape, and the brightest, most glorious rainbow I have ever seen arched across the sky. I felt like I could touch it. It almost felt – if I was one to use such words – like a blessing. The beauty of it was overwhelming.
So many rainbows. So much dirt on my sensor.
After a slightly dull morning, the afternoon was glorious.
The Godstow Lock. This is the closest I got yesterday – the path was flooded, and my bootlegs were not high enough to wade through the waters.
Louisiana in Oxford?
So much wildlife! My reflexes – or my lens – are not quick enough for the rabbits, but I managed to snap some birds, all looking rather spring-like.
I never knew there are pikes in the Isis.
A Port Meadow horse. One of these guys followed me as I crossed the meadow, his nose pressed against my back. I love horses, and feel quite comfortable around them, but that was still a tiny bit unnerving. This fella, on the other hand, paid no attention whatsoever on me.
Almost missed the snowdrops this year. My secret bluebell place is also my secret snowdrop place, it turns out. And my crocus place. It’s a small cemetery somewhere in Jericho – not a particularly photogenic place, but a true secret garden – so few people know it’s there. I won’t give you directions, but look for it, when you are in the neighbourhood.
Early August evening in the estuary.
Pretty much the highlight of every trip to Finland, every time: sauna. Woodburning, naturally.
The bottom of the estuary. The water was actually quite warm, despite all the warnings that this year water temperatures are record low.
I caught a fish. Okay, it was only a tiny perch, and was eaten by my friend’s cat, but still.
Oulu. The Nordic Gulf water is brack water, and either clear or light brown like weak tea, meaning it always reflects the colours of the sky unlike proper sea water. On my (shockingly short) list of things I miss from Finland, the shiny clear waters rank high.
A rummage through boxes of my old stuff produced these photos. On top, my mother and me with my olders niece on her first birthday, whole 13 years ago. I was young and not entirely unfortunate-looking once 😉 On the right, with my brother in the 1970s, in the summer cottage of my mother’s oldest friend. My brother isn’t quite so smiley any more, but he is still just a tiny bit ginger. The third picture is my father as a young soldier in the 1950s.