Sunday, 25 December 2011

Happy Holidays.

A glorious Christmas Day here in Hythe, my morning run lit by the golden glow of a rising sun, the wind in the south west, the air mild and damp, an incoming tide, a robin in the Grove Gardens, two pied wagtails, a blackbird, oystercatchers on the shoreline, cormorants diving, gulls in the air, and peace, perfect peace.

The picture shows Happy Holidays from Hythe promenade.

To see more pictures from the Hythe Happy Holidays series, click on the links below.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).

Inspired by the moment and knowing that this time of year requires an emotional lightness of touch, I've turned to the music of Bach and the Christmas Oratorio BWV 248. I've been listening to the arias and choruses for a few days now and find my spirits lifted and my head full of trumpets - and very beautiful they are too.

I'm listening to an old recording of a fine performance by The Monteverdi Choir and The English Baroque Soloists, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner. All the tracks are lovely, but there's one in particular that resonates with me and makes me want to listen to it again and again. It's Part One, No 8 Aria, Great Lord and Mighty King, sung by bass Olaf Bar, and I think I like it so much because of the pure joy of those soaring trumpets, the lilting, smiling happiness in the voice; I can feel myself positively levitating when I listen to it. It's just wonderful.

The picture shows the CD cover. Click on the link below to find out more.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Blue Sky Thinking.

Despite the meteorological office weather warnings of gale force winds, sleet and temperatures below zero, it was actually a very nice week here in Hythe. It has been cold, but not freezing, it was very windy one night, it was very wet one morning, but mostly there have been big skies, sunny days and moonlit starry nights.

The point is, although I carried on as normal and went hither and thither, out and about, and had a very nice time, I can't seem to shake off an underlying sense of dread. Maybe it's the time of year (December is not my best month), maybe it's my frame of mind, or maybe I just need to stop listening to the weather reports!

In a lighter moment and out with my camera, I snapped this wonderful stand of trees (pictured above) in the Grove Gardens, Hythe, set against the clear blue sky.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


We saw the first frost last week and as the outside temperature dropped and the inside temperature warmed, I felt an overwhelming urge to be outdoors. It was more than my usual desire for a morning run; I felt the need to be expansive, to look up at a big sky, to drink in the cold air, to walk, to stride out, to be in the world. I needed to move, to get a sense of space, to feel the possibilities.

And that's unusual for me, I always prefer to be inside. I like to look at the sky, to see the view, but I can look through the windows anytime, so I've been trying to make sense of this sudden need to be outside.

I think it's to do with movement. I don't like to be contained, to be still, to be restricted, so perhaps the first frost signalled the onset of winter, of ice and snow, slippery underfoot, difficult driving conditions, cancelled trains, severe weather warnings, don't go out unless it's absolutely necessary. It's not that I don't like cold weather, I do, and I love snow, I think it's the prospect of a world of limitations, the sense of dread, the lack of movement. I think I need a landscape full of possibilities, physically and emotionally. One of my favourite sayings is "I'm better when I move", maybe I've just fully understood what I mean!

The photo shows a birch tree on Hythe foreshore and perfectly demonstrates a world of possibilities; the beautiful tree, the blue sky, the water, the red funnel of the cruise ship Queen Mary 2 in the distance and, beyond that, the city of Southampton. A still picture of a moving landscape.

Click on the link to see a big close up of the birch tree.

Monday, 5 December 2011


This marvellous mound of fungi is growing on an old tree stump in the local churchyard (St John's, Hythe). I don't know whether they're mushrooms or toadstools because I haven't yet managed to identify them; but they're an astonishing sight and worthy of a mention.

The photo shows a scant half of the entire mound. To take a look at a wide shot, click on the link to visit my picture blog.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Art of Coincidence?

I spent a day in London earlier in the week and passing through New Bond Street, I nipped into The Fine Art Society for a leisurely look at the latest exhibition. The paintings that caught my eye were portraits by Gerald Brockhurst. Today I was in Southampton at the City Art Gallery and there he was again, just one painting this time, Portrait of a Girl, and very fine indeed. Until this week, I knew nothing of the work of Gerald Brockhurst, but coincidence has inspired me to mention it here and to find out more about his life and works.

The Fine Art Society exhibition of his work ended on 30th November 2011 alas, but the exhibition at the Southampton City Art Gallery is on until 2nd January 2012. The exhibition is actually a retrospective of the work of Boo Ritson, and the Gerald Brockhurst Portrait of a Girl is included in her choice of paintings from the Southampton City Art Gallery permanent collection. The Boo Ritson exhibition is well worth a visit; she physically paints her subjects in thick emulsion paint and then has the scene photographed while the paint is still wet.

The photo at the top isn't as irrelevant as it first appears; on the way out of the Southampton City Art Gallery, I was taken with the beauty of the banks of shrubs lining the courtyard entrance and snapped a picture; they're Viburnum davidii.