28 December, 2010

The mighty River Wye . . .

. . . is frozen,

or at least it was on Boxing Day, before the thaw set in.

I had promised myself that there would be no more snow photos but this one seems like rather an exception. Unless Global Warming(!) dictates that Polar weather comes to South Wales each year from now on, this may be a photo that our grandchildren will show their children as something rather amazing.

25 December, 2010

Exciting Christmas Visitor

After a delicious (but not exactly early!) breakfast, we were drawn outside by bright sun and clear air. Our Christmas walk was a complete delight and the camera was kept very busy.

I will no doubt post some shots before long but, for the moment, just this one will suffice. As I was pointing my lens in another direction, Frances let a strangulated shout of "Look, over there". There was no doubt at all about it. There, on the other side of the almost frozen river, was a creature that we know to live in these watery areas (and know to be increasingly numerous) but which is still massively shy – the otter.

I did not have a telephoto lens with me and the width of the river put a limit on how close I could try to get. I took about ten shots with the zoom at the max and got a succession of photographs of not entirely convincing black blobs. It was the very first shot that proved to be the convincing one.

Here is the above shot enlarged to a point that makes for quite a nice shot and . . .

again . . . to about as far as I could go before the image began to break up.

Another sunny but cold Christmas Day years ago, when we were also enjoying our own pleasures before family arrivals on subsequent days, I saw a kingfisher for the first time here. That was a memorable moment to say the least and today will surely fix in the memory in the same way. Wonderful!

24 December, 2010

23 December, 2010

Postscript to the previous post!

After all that rather arty-farty stuff I posted yesterday, our 'tree' has now been significantly 'improved' by the visit of one part of the family . . . complete with imaginative young persons!

22 December, 2010

It may not look like a proper christmas tree, but I think it looks just fine!

In common with a good number of folk throughout these lands I am sure, we are preparing to enjoy Christmas in the warmth (I hope!) of our own home with no one from outside who is further than trudging distance.

We are going to observe most of what one ought to observe . . . but on a somewhat smaller scale, perhaps. In this context, and spirit, we have just put up our 'tree'. Far from wanting to purchase an adolescent tree cut down in its prime, we have sought to use branches from a beautiful twisting evergreen that needed to be trimmed in order to give us a clearer run at our drive.

We have done this before, actually, and the secret for success involves having to hand a bronze sculpture by Michael Ayrton entitled The Equilibrist. This has, I think, been seen before on these pages in various guises but not before in the role of a Christmas tree stand. This time I had prepared for myself some lengths of soft wire but these were not needed, for the branch twined round the sculpture's uprights as if grown perfectly for the purpose.

There was even a sort of inevitability about this symbiotic relationship that I feel Ayrton, the great Mazemaker, might have appreciated.

16 December, 2010

Rather pleasant working conditions!

Ralph Kiggell (whose lovely book, Leading the Cranes Home, is now down to its last few copies) flew in recently from his home in Bangkok to see his family in the UK. He came to stay with us last night so that we could have a concentrated face to face editorial session on his long-planned sequel - working title Water.

With a good log fire and a bottle or two, it was a far from arduous evening . . . and the results were good. I now have to do some detailed paste-up work while Frances must chase permissions. When Ralph returns to Thailand he will obtain his stocks of Japanese cherry wood blocks so that he can start cutting his watery designs.

If this delicious proof is anything to go by, we are all in for another real treat!

09 December, 2010

Is this the day for a sneak invasion of England?

No sign of a thaw this morning . . . indeed a river even fuller of ice than yesterday. Not quite enough to stage the Battle on the Ice maybe but it really does look as though we could floe-hop to England!

08 December, 2010

Chilly times on the Wye

We have had stunningly perfect picture postcard hoar frost for days now. Often one wakes up to it but it is gone by lunchtime. Not so often is it still 'complete' in the evening and ready to be further enhanced for tomorrow's dawn.

I went out with my camera yesterday because I thought I should but, to be honest, I felt the whole scene was such that I would simply be photographing cliché shots.

As I approached the river, however, excitement rose. First there was a strange and wonderful noise and then then the really unaccustomed sight of a river full of ice floes.

The noise was explained by the action of branches sticking up through the water and behaving like circular saws to sheets of wood as the sheets of ice were rushed along by the tide. The noise could be described as a gentle and slowed down version of sheets of glass being broken. Not at all unattractive but a bit spooky.

Here, therefore, are some pictures from the frozen south. I had reason to visit my excellent dentist yesterday afternoon. I mentioned these photographs and he suggested that I should photoshop a polar bear onto a suitable ice-sheet! I fear that he will have to use his imagination!