Ironically for a photographer, I’ve lacked focus this week. Nothing inspired me to go and point a lens at it.
This may have been because I’ve been working in a location that I’m very familiar with, and where I’ve been out to shoot the things that interest me already, but I have to question my motivation.
I did take some pictures while out cycling last weekend, as I further explored my new home in Durham, but I managed to time this with the only few hours in days where the skies were overcast. Perhaps that contributed to my torpor.
Shincliffe was my destination. I’d been there the previous day to drop my friend Elaine off at the garden centre. It is a village that consists largely of two perpendicular roads that both join a more major route that forms the hypotenuse of a small triangle. Consequently, with no through traffic other than the green-fingered and its own residents, Shincliffe is a quiet spot that seems almost timeless. This sense was compounded by the fact that due to the spending restrictions that local authorities are imposing the verges of the village high street have not been cut, leading to an almost meadow-like quality.
The effect is noticeable in many locations around the county, but here in Shincliffe it seems almost appropriate and creates a scene that may go back to when this chapel was built and earlier.
The village certainly has a history – the bridge over the Wear here may be built on Roman origins, though it was properly established in the middle ages, flourished briefly following the industrial revolution due the nearby collieries and then declined one again as they closed.
I’ve always associated the history of this area with the majesty of the Norman buildings on Durham’s Palace Green, but there is so much more scattered around here. The remains of the most northerly villa in all of the Roman Empire were found nearby.
On my way home I passed through Sherburn House, a tiny cluster of houses on one side of the road and an imposing gatehouse on the other. These old stones now form part of a residential home for the elderly, but in their time they were part of a medieval hospital established in the 12th century providing care to a large group of lepers.
And yet for all of this opportunity to shoot something historic, it was a more modern image that provided my favourite. This was regatta weekend in Durham, the Wear thronged with racing rowers and their supporters. It might have been a great place to take pictures, but the cycle path I would have needed to get there has been swept away by heavy rain in recent months. Nevertheless the boat houses, which populate the river banks face no such restrictions. The picture I got isn’t high quality, because I needed to crop away most of it to get to the detail that caught my eye. A simple study in straight lines. The purple blades just give it a little oomph!