A Dog’s Life?

It couldn’t last could it?

Many of the images I’ve posted from English coastal locations this summer have benefited from blue skies and sunshine.  Even those where the skies were overcast were at least free of precipitation.  Whatever happened to the fabled English summer?

There was however a sting in the tail when the last weekend of the school holiday arrived.

With little more than a picnic lunch and short dog walk planned, my friend Jane and I visited Crimdon, on the Durham Coast, to take advantage of its canine friendly sands.  We had just parked when it began to rain from what seemed to be our own personal micro-climate.  Looking around us there were plenty of patches of brightness in the heavens, but directly above us was a large dark grey cloud that was intent on making its presence felt.  Picnic in the car then.

The rain passed quickly however, and so grabbing a small umbrella we descended the steps and duckboards leading over the dunes to the extensive shoreline beyond.APW_6454_5_6

Taking the opportunity to allow Saffy, J’s Yorkshire Terrier, off her leash to trot ahead of us, we walked south to where a group of three Border Collies were enjoying the competition of retrieving a bottle from the waves, and providing me with the inevitable photo opportunity as they mimicked the undulations of the water.

That’s when the second dark cloud struck, and not just with rain.  With torrential rain.  And wind.

Being already saturated the collies were unperturbed, but we began to struggle with the inadequate protection of my small brolly.  As we did so Saffy saw the chance to express her disgust and took off to the opposite end of the beach.

While we discussed who was to give chase, how to protect my equipment, and the predicament of Jane’s increasingly transparent trousers, Saffy extended her head start.

Note to self.  If you’re going to lose a small dog whose colouring is a blend of grey and sandy hues, a beach with patches of coal dust is not the place to do it.

By the time I reunited her with her lead I was soaked.

Now isn’t that how summer should be?APW_6530-2

Costa Cleveland

I’ve posted images from this part of the world previously, but courtesy of my friend Julie I was able to explore Saltburn’s beach in a little more detail, beginning with the stretch below the towering walls of Huntcliff, the brown ironstone that was once extensively mined stained white in places by the nesting gull population and green in others by vivid swathes of weed liberally daubed where there is water to sustain it.

The cliffs are hazardous with the risk of rockfalls, but there is plenty of space below to pass in safety.  Venture nearer however and the rocks reveal hidden treasures for these rocks are layered with fossils.

The incoming tide prevented further exploration to the south of Saltburn, but did at least provide an opportunity for reflection as we turned back.  APW_2341

APW_2342_3_4Of course there was still the long stretch of sand reaching north to tempt us, but first we had to pass the pier.  Now I’ve photographed the pier to death on a number of occasions, but on this occasion I found a couple of new reasons to lift camera to eye.

Mock Turtle?

The famous Saltburn Yarm Bombers have revealed their latest work here; a range of knitted figures inspired by Alice in Wonderland, and though I don’t remember much mention of rain in Lewis Carroll the heavens chose to open at that moment.  Not such a problem though as the wet boards of the pier provided a mirror-like surface for further creative options.

It didn’t stay wet for too long so the journey further north to Marske wasn’t so unpleasant but there weren’t too many taking advantage of the sand and sea.  (Well just Julie, but I’m far too gallant to share!)APW_2459_60_61

Astratto (Venezia 246)

If I’m honest I did become a little obsessed by the lines of bricole disappearing into the distant reaches of the lagoon, particularly when visibility was limited by the heat haze arising from the waters.  They are easy enough to shoot from the fondamente of Lido or Sant’Elena, but when you’re shooting from a moving vessel, then you need to be thinking about your shutter speed so that the gentle movement of the waves doesn’t unduly blur your results.

That becomes more important when the skies are dark with rain clouds.  Now you have less light, so your camera is begging you to open the shutter for longer so it can suck in more photons.  Thrown in some choppy waters as the storm takes hold and you should really give up or adopt a really high (and therefore poorer quality) ISO.

Or you can embrace the conditions, keep the shutter open, and hope to create something abstract.  I quite like the ethereal outcome, probably enough to have a canvas made – what do you think?Venezia-1

(Image processed in Black & White then washed with a sea green soft light layer in photoshop before adding a monochrome texture)



Il Diluvio (Venezia 223)

It’s important to understand the location of Venice, because it has a huge bearing on its climate.  Situated on a very flat plain on the Adriatic coast in northern Italy, Venice is surrounded by water.

The combination of that location and the hot climate in Venice, Italy, during the summer months – sometimes as hot as the south of the country – leads to very high humidity often accompanied by thunderstorms.


You don’t say!


Il Riparo (Venezia 217)

Leaving St Mark’s Basin and passing the Riva dei Sette Martiri, you cannot ignore two enormous archways in the buildings opposite.  My research has failed to find any explanation or purpose for these arcs, though they would allow something pretty large to pass through. What Google will do is to provide you with plenty of opportunities to rent the apartments in those buildings.  

They acquired a purpose on one of the days when the thunderstorms arrived however, making an excellent place to shelter.  Those beneath them would have been glad of the respite from the rain, though perhaps not as glad as those who rented the apartments.


Too Much Water (Venezia 193)

The life of the gondolier may seem idyllic much of the time; slip on a stripy T-shirt, row a succession of generous passengers around a few sites that you can quote a fact or two about for half an hour, bump up your tip with a few bars of a barcarole, pose for some photographs and then repeat.

The reality is a little different.  From conversations I overheard, a gondola can cost between forty and sixty thousand Euros, so the price of each trip reflects the financing of the vessel rather than the gondolier’s disposable income.  Naturally with such an expensive asset, they take great care of the boats, and a rain storm such as that described in a recent posting will quickly leave the gondolier with a headache.

Just like any other boat, there’s a fair bit of baling to be done.



Cloudbusting (Venezia 178)

Could I have continued the ovine metaphor from yesterday’s post?  Probably but it wouldn’t have been very tasteful.  Suffice to say that when the heavens did open it was persisting down!

Many were able to watch the lightning arcing down into the lagoon from the warmth  and dry comfort of their stabilised, thickly glazed, floating city.  Perhaps some were fortunate enough to photograph the Piazetta with the benefit of natural dramatic lighting.

Then there were those of use being buffeted from side to side on our vaporetto, sprayed by near horizontal rain with each new opening of the cabin doors to take on fresh refugees from the deluge.  Nevertheless we considered ourselves lucky.

Paying dearly for the privilege of gondola ride was not such a good idea; the passengers’ umbrellas a pointless defence against water that was flowing in all directions.

Après moi, le déluge.