An Evening of Surprises

Unsure of what to photograph I dropped into Durham this evening, expecting to see the usual sights in the fading evening light, and in that respect, I wasn’t disappointed.  What’s more the river was so still it produced glassy reflections that demanded to be shot.

Nothing remarkable there then, but then the less usual sights began to manifest themselves.  The narrow streets were full of men in dinner suits and girls in cocktail dresses.  A little formal for normal sunday evening attire, but if I’d been thinking I would have realised that this is end of term, and therefore the various colleges of Durham University will be in full swing with Summer Balls and other post examination celebrations.  The third shot tells a great story of boy patiently giving his girlfriend support as, now that the venue is in sight, she changes into her party shoes at the last available moment.




Just below the bridge they were on was my second surprise.  A handful of fly fisherman were casting about in search of trout presumably, a very different approach to the anglers who have regularly featured on this blog when I lived by the coast.  This is a more active pastime, the line constantly flicked out and then drawn back in, as opposed to the cast and wait approach of their maritime brethren.



Up on Palace Green there was more evidence of party season, but more surprisingly the doors to the great cathedral were firmly shut.  APW_3963_4_5


This seemed wrong for a Sunday Evening.  Where were the sounds of evensong or the thronging of worshippers leaving to return home?  A glance at the notice board alongside revealed that evensong took place at 3.30.  Seems a strange way to define “even”.

There were other minor suprises to enjoy – a stack of restaurant furniture ostracised upon a bridge was one,APW_3996-Edit

a strangely ominous cloud formation including the number 3 another,APW_4108

but there was a more unusual encounter to come.

Descending to the Market Square I did hear the sort of singing I expected at the Cathedral.  The tune seemed familiar…  How Great Thou Art is a well-known hymn set to the tune of a Swedish Folk Song.  But which version was being performed?  I can’t be certain for the performance came from a solitary Asian man who, unused lyrics in hand, was projecting his voice across the deserted space,  presumably in his native tongue.  It was certainly a courageous performance.



A priori

A priori


1. Proceeding from a known or assumed cause to a necessarily related effect; deductive.

a. Derived by or designating the process of reasoning without reference to particular facts or experience.
b. Knowable without appeal to particular experience.
3. Made before or without examination; not supported by factual study.

On one of those rare days where it feels like summer in May i set out in search of some interesting location to take some pictures. My first thought was the Blast Beach at Seaham, but a quick check of the tide tables told me that this would be futile.

Not to worry, Penshaw monument is reasonably close, and in the 5 decades where it has been symbolic of being home again after any road journey, I have never climbed up to it. What’s more i still haven’t for as I arrived today my eyes scanned up from the densely populated car park to the monument itself; festooned in the football strips of the crowds who saw it as a perfect spot to bask in the sun. The photographic possibilities in my mind instantly crumbled.

Which is when I thought of Finchale Priory (or Finchale Abbey as it is more popularly known). Another place that I’ve neglected over the years, my two previous visits having been:

  1. At night trying to spot bats when I was a child, and
  2. When I found it during a cycle ride but couldn’t stop as I had no way to secure the bike, and would have found it difficult to explore whilst wearing cleated cycling shoes.

I knew from the latter foray that its remote location maybe gave me a chance of beating the crowds.  What my prior knowledge had chosen to neglect was the fact that there is an adjoining caravan site.  The place was thronged with visitors, but with plenty of space to laze by the river, or cross the bridge to walk in wild garlic saturated air of Cockem Wood, as well as the grounds of the priory itself, there was room for everyone.  There was also sufficient opportunity to photograph what is left of a site that dates back to the 12th century in part, although it was inhabited by a retired pirate even before that.  The place must have some stories to tell.

Situated as it is on a bend in the river, with steep banks climbs behind and on the opposite bank, you could understand what would have drawn monks to the spot.  It benefits from peace and tranquility, as well as a good supply of running water (and doubtless a few fish too).

The bright sunshine was creating some crisp shadows that gave definition to every contour in the stone, whether carved by man or the centuries of weather that have eroded the stones since.  With lots of nooks and crannies capturing pools of light amongst those shadows it would have been an interesting location for a model shoot… if my favourite models hadn’t been camping 80 miles away, or shopping for school clothes!

Nevertheless I captured plenty of location shots to satisfy me for the day, but then I saw a large hat sailing into view, and when it’s owner pushed back the brim I knew I wanted to add a portrait to today’s blog.  This is Sikha, a Zimbabwean of Zulu heritage.  I loved the way the light fell on her face.  There was an added bonus too.  Her son Thando.  APW_2736-Edit

All that fuss looking for locations and it turned into a portrait shoot!APW_2667-Edit



No internet, but lots of pictures

Still no internet, so I’m forced to use mobile phone tethering to upload.  I’ll keep the words brief then and let the pictures do the talking – here are some of the other images I took as part of the shapes project.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Of course I didn’t have eyes just for this.  I shot a couple of beautiful landscapes too, but even then the first contains a triangle!


Wear river banks
Wear river banks
Wear river banks
Wear river banks