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



Like Midas in a Polyester Suit

The consequence of listening to, and writing about, Joni Mitchell‘s Mingus yesterday is that today I have had The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines to deal with.  Not in the sense of a problematic domestic service provider, but in the sense of the song becoming an earworm.

Joni Mitchell – The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines

I shouldn’t complain; it’s a great song featuring the crispest of brass arrangements and a percolating Pastorius bass line coupled with some of Joni’s wittiest lyrics bemoaning her lack of fortune in the casinos while in the presence of a player with incredible luck;

But the cleaner from Des Moines
Could put a coin
In the door of a John
And get twenty for one

The persistence of Joni’s hooks did at least give me an idea of somewhere different for today’s portrait; one of the seaside amusement arcades.

It is literally years since I’ve been, but found that little had changed.  The slots machines still featured the same imagery

I’m losing my taste for fruit

The coin cascades remained full of loose change that would never see the inside of someone’s pocket,

and of course there was the scourge of every parent and idol of the Toy Story aliens; the Claw!


Even given the cool and cloudy day outside I was surprised how many people were in here, yet I saw no winners.  Apart from the proprietors of course.  Perhaps this was why the punters were in no hurry to have their picture taken as they left having lost pounds through a diet free method.

So I left the “fool’s paradise” and returned to my usual haunt along the promenade where I spotted Nyasha and his family.  This brave Zimbabwean was fresh from a dip in the North Sea when I encountered him, something I wouldn’t fancy although he assured me it wasn’t too bad!  Good timing on my part to meet him just as I left the flashing lights behind.

It’s just luck!