Last light at Kimmeridge

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Another photo from my evening shoot at Kimmeridge Bay last month. The iconic landmark on the headland is Clavell’s Tower.
Built in 1830 by Reverend Clavell as an observatory and folly, the tower has inspired writers ever since. Thomas Hardy took his sweetheart, Eliza Nicholl, to the tower and included an illustration of it in his Wessex Poems. It was also the inspiration for P. D. James’s novel, The Black Tower and was used as a location in the television adaptation of the story. Moreover, it appeared in the music video for The Style Council’s single, ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’.

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Between 2006 and 2008 the whole tower was painstakingly moved, stone by stone, 25 metres inland to save it from cliff erosion that threatened to send it crashing into the Bay. It is now operated as a holiday let by The Landmark Trust.

Bamburgh Castle

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Several people have recently asked me about the header image for this blog. It is Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland. In August 2009, we spent a very enjoyable week in Northumberland, England’s most Northern county and its most sparsely populated. Even in the midst of the summer holiday season, it was easy to find peace and solitude.

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We stayed in Seahouses, just down the coast from Bamburgh, and with spectacular views of the iconic castle. Despite Northumberland’s reputation for terrible weather, we had a week of sunny days and, every night, spectacular sunsets.

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Bamburgh Castle stands on a basalt outcrop. The first written record of a fort on the site dates from 547CE but a fort had probably been there for at least a century. The Vikings destroyed the original fort in 993. At the heart of the present castle stands a Norman structure. Further building took place over the next several centuries but the castle finally fell into neglect in the 1700s.

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The Victorian industrialist William Armstrong completed restoration of the castle and it is still owned by the Armstrong family. It is open to the public and has also been used as a location for several movies, including most recently the 1998 film, Elizabeth.

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If you are ever in the area, Bamburgh Castle is well worth a visit, but beware: last admission is at 3.30 and the castle closes at 5 but the staff were so eager to get home that they started clearing us out at 4.30. An hour is most definitely not long enough to see the castle and admission is not especially cheap!

Volucella Zonaria

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One of the many interesting insects I snapped for the first time last year was this hoverfly. It’s a whopper and if you don’t know your hoverflies from your hornets, rather scary. This critter is designed to mimic the European Hornet, and it does a good job! Apparently this one is a male. Yes, I can now sex hoverflies – is there no end to the fairly useless and geeky things I am learning through photography?

Red

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Red is such a very photogenic colour. It looks great against snow and ice.

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And makes a vibrant focal point for a colour-popped black and white.

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We love red over here, on our buses, phone boxes, and postboxes.

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It is the colour of earth, from the slopes of Kauai’s Waimea Canyon…

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…to the raw power of the mighty Kilauea.

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It is the colour of fire, and those who fight it.

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But it is also a colour flowers use to lure bees,

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the colour of a robin’s breast,

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and of Christmas.

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From a boat on Lindisfarne’s fair and ancient shore,

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to the far more ancient walls of Egypt,

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deserted cliff-dwellings,

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and the roof of a Quebec church,

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red is all around us.

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It is the colour of our very life’s blood,
and of remembrance.

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