Hidden Northumberland: Middle Earth?

Middle Earth may be found in rural Northumberland…

This was brought to my attention earlier in 2017. Somehow it had escaped my radar five years ago when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released in cinemas. One of the teaser posters from the film features Ian McKellen as Gandalf walking through The Shire. However, on closer inspection, it is clear that the rolling hills in the distance are part of a distinctive view in the wilds of Northumberland. One can clearly see a railway viaduct and ruined castle in the middle-right of the image. This is Edlingham Castle which is located on the moors between Rothbury and Alnwick. A nice little hidden find!

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Teaser Poster (2012)

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Edlingham Castle and Viaduct viewed from a similar vantage point

365 Day Photograph Challenge: July Part I

Summer time and cultural excursions.

A summary of the first half of July 2017.

  • 01 – Nigella
  • 02 – Broadway, Worcestershire
  • 03 – Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire
  • 04 – Hosta
  • 05 – Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire
  • 06 – Stanway Fountain, Gloucestershire
  • 07 – Coughton Court, Warwickshire
  • 08 – Overgrown Back Lawn after a Holiday
  • 09 – Morpeth Clock Tower ready for Morpeth in Bloom 2017
  • 10 – Back Garden (following lawn mowing and weeding!)
  • 11 – Graduation Day
  • 12 – Stannington Church and Lavender
  • 13 – Carlisle Park Gates
  • 14 – Steel Magnolias Program Cover (amateur production starring my sister-in-law and friends)
  • 15 – Rothbury Handbell Choir at Rothbury Traditional Music Festival

1st July – Nigella

01 July.jpg

Shot and edited on my Samsung Galaxy S7. Nigella are more or less synonymous with English Cottage Gardens.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • 1/200 sec exposure
  • f/1.7 4.2 mm
  • ISO 50

2nd July – Broadway, Worcestershire

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A typical Cotswold stone dwelling in Broadway, Worcestershire, covered in climbing roses.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/13 31 mm
  • ISO 200

5th July – Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire

05 July.jpg

A Medieval Castle (15th Century) near Winchcombe in Gloucestershire. The chapel is the final resting place of Katherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of King Henry VIII of England. It was a blistering hot day on the day (30+ C) I visited as you can see from the photograph. The bright sunlight gave the added problem of high contrast between light and shade.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/250 sec exposure
  • f/11 26 mm
  • ISO 200

9th July – Morpeth Clock Tower

09 July.jpg

Morpeth’s most iconic landmark is the Clock Tower. It was built in the early 17th century out of recycled Medieval stone. Every summer Morpeth Town Council sponsors Morpeth in Bloom (which is judged in Northumbria in Bloom). I took this photo not long after the floral displays had been installed for the summer.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/13 55 mm
  • ISO 200

12th July – Stannington Church

12 July.jpg

I love the light at this time of day as it really creates some nice highlights and shadows. I was experimenting with the focus on the smartphone and was pretty chuffed with the result.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • 1/2,500 sec exposure
  • f/1.7 4.2 mm
  • ISO 50

13th July – Carlisle Park Gates

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Carlisle Park opened in Morpeth in 1929 and is currently a Green Flag Award Holder.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/50 sec exposure
  • f/9.5 125 mm
  • ISO 200

365 Day Photograph Challenge: June Part II

Summer is here. Sometimes the weather is a bit too British!

A summary of the second half of June 2017.

  • 16th June – Rose ‘Thinking of You’ (first ever bloom)
  • 17th June – Seaton Sluice Harbour
  • 18th June – Alnmouth Village
  • 19th June – Church of St Nicholas, Cramlington
  • 20th June – Northumberlandia
  • 21st June – Armstrong Building, Newcastle University Campus
  • 22nd June – Back Garden
  • 23rd June – Chimney Mill, Claremont Road, Newcastle
  • 24th June – The Hoppings, Newcastle Town Moor
  • 25th June – Matfen Village
  • 26th June – Sand Shopping with Liz
  • 27th June – Interesting Reading
  • 28th June – Rain, rain, rain, just a typical British Summer
  • 29th June – A Farewell to a much-loved and respected colleague
  • 30th June – New Interpretation Board for Geotechnical Experiment

17th June – Seaton Sluice Harbour

17 June

Located in the far SE corner of the county, Seaton Sluice harbour is a picturesque little spot. It is a surprising find considering it is within a densely populated area that is full to the brim of former mining collieries and associated miners’ rows.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/100 sec exposure
  • f/16 38 mm
  • ISO 200

18th June – Alnmouth Village

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Another picturesque spot on the Northumberland coast. Alnmouth village is located  within the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In August it hosts an event known as ‘Volcano Night’ where teams build castles on the beach within a set time limit. The sandcastles are then set on fire and the winner is the last one on fire when the tide comes in!

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/100 sec exposure
  • f/13 80 mm
  • ISO 200

21st June – Armstrong Building, Newcastle University Campus

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The Armstrong Building is easily the most impressive building on campus. A Grade II listed building, the foundation stone was laid by Sir W. G. Armstrong in 1887. It was opened by King Edward VII in 1906. It was built in three phases over the 19-year-period and was designed by, you guessed it, R. J. Johnson. Sadly neither Armstrong or Johnson lived to see its completion, having died in 1900 and 1892 respectively. The architect’s remit was subsequently taken up by F. W. Rich and W. H. Knowles.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • 1/3,200 sec exposure
  • f/1.7 4.2 mm
  • ISO 50

23rd June – Chimney Mill, Claremont Road, Newcastle

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Chimney Mill and Mill House (built 1782), Claremont Road, not too far from Newcastle city centre. Built as a 5-sail windmill, the golf club front was added in 1892. It is a Grade II Listed Building.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • 1/1,250 sec exposure
  • f/1.7 4.2 mm
  • ISO 50

24th June – The Hoppings, Newcastle Town Moor

24 June

According to Wikipedia, The Hoppings is an annual travelling funfair held on the Town Moor in Newcastle upon Tyne, during the last week in June. It is one of Europe’s largest travelling funfairs. I was perched upon Cow Hill on the Town Moor to get this vantage point. From here, one can see all the way down to the coast (some 10+ miles away). Newcastle must be the only city in the UK where cattle are grazed in the city centre!

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/1,600 sec exposure
  • f/11 138 mm
  • ISO 800

25th June – Matfen Village

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Matfen village is an estate village (for Matfen Hall) located in rural western Northumberland. It is quite an attractive little place and I enjoyed exploring around here for an hour or so. The parish church was built in 1842 by Sir Edward Blackett of Matfen Hall.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/100 sec exposure
  • f/16 26 mm
  • ISO 200

365 Day Photograph Challenge: June Part I

Long, long days.

Some of my favourite photos from the first half of June 2017. Enjoy!

1st June – Seaton Delaval Hall

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Completed in 1728, Seaton Delaval Hall was designed by the famous architect, Sir John Vanburgh. Amongst his works are Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, perhaps best known as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Many comparisons in design may be made with Blenheim. Barely 100 years after its construction, the central hall burnt down in 1822 and has never been lived in since. The Delaval family lived in the west wing until 2009 when the Hall and its grounds were sold to the National Trust. It opened to the public for the first time on 1st May 2010.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • 1/2,000 sec exposure
  • f1.7 4.2 mm
  • ISO 50

4th June – Corby’s Crags

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Located on the road between Rothbury and Alnwick, this is a tremendous view point from the top of Corby’s Crags. It is quite a popular spot with climbers.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/19 28 mm
  • ISO 200

9th June – The Grave of Emily Davison

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Emily Davison was famously fatally injured at the 1913 Epsom Derby when she attempted to pin the suffragette colours to the King’s horse, Amner. She died from her injuries four days after the event, having never regained consciousness. She was buried in the graveyard of St Mary the Virgin, Morpeth on 15th June 1913. Her epitaph is the WSPU slogan, ‘Deeds not Words.’

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/50 sec expsoure
  • f/4.5 125 mm
  • ISO 200

10th June – Bust of the Seventh Earl of Carlisle, Morpeth Town Hall

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I quite liked the effect of the perspective and foreshortening that the balustrades of the grand staircase produced in this shot.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/8 50 mm
  • ISO 400

12th June – Woodlea, Morpeth Riverside

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An interesting early 20th century dwelling on the bank of the River Wansbeck in Morpeth town centre. Fun piece of trivia, one can see the position I was stood at to take the photograph on 26th February. It is the corner of the road as it turns up the bank. This photograph was taken at 10:25 p.m.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 2 sec exposure
  • f/8 23 mm
  • ISO 400

13th June – Morpeth Riverside (Civil Twilight)

13 June

Perhaps the most photographed view of Morpeth, and quite rightly so! It is very picturesque. This view has appeared many times throughout my photograph challenge as I particularly love this view. I have tried to vary my position and the times of day. This shot was taken during civil twilight at 9:35 p.m. in the evening. Not quite as late as the previous day’s effort!

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/6 sec exposure
  • f/8 68 mm
  • ISO 200

365 Day Photograph Challenge: May Part II

The joys of Spring

Some of my favourites from the second half of May 2017.

14th May – Berwick upon Tweed Town Hall

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Berwick’s impressive Town Hall was built between 1750 and 1756 and is Grade I listed. It is a fine example of Georgian architecture. Lindisfarne Castle, shrouded in scaffolding, can be seen in the distance on the horizon to the right of the Town Hall.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/19 50 mm
  • ISO 200

18th May – Morpeth Court House

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I’ve photographed this building many times before. It dates from 1822 and is Grade II* Listed by Historic England. I found a little raised spot which gave quite a pleasing vantage point. I also liked the shadow of the trees from the street light on the building. Photographed in RAW format.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 2 sec exposure
  • f/5.6 55 mm
  • ISO 9

23rd May – Morpeth Castle

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The gatehouse is all that remains of Morpeth Castle (along with fragments of the curtain wall). It was restored in the mid-18th century and again between 1857 and 1858 by the Earl of Carlisle. I photographed the gatehouse from Ha’ Hill, which is a former motte castle. The gloom was gathering but I managed to capture the last rays glowing on the side of the castle.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 8/5 sec exposure
  • f/13 55 mm
  • ISO 200

27th May – Cambois Rowing Club Regatta

27 May

Pronounced, “Cam-us” the rowing club (founded in 1911) is based on the River Wansbeck in Ashington, Northumberland. The village of Cambois is further downstream at the mouth of the river. I got the recommendation for this photograph opportunity from my boss who happens to be the secretary of the club. Although not the prettiest of bridges, North Seaton Railway Viaduct (built in 1926) formed an impressive backdrop to the finish line of the regatta and I felt it had an amphitheatre-like quality about it.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/16 150 mm
  • ISO 200

29th May – Tyne River God

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This massive bronze statue is attached to Newcastle upon Tyne’s Civic Centre. The sculptor was David Wynne and it was made in 1968 (the year the Civic Centre opened).

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 8/5 sec exposure
  • f/9.5 125 mm
  • ISO 200

365 Day Photograph Challenge: March Part II

Summary 17th – 31st March

  • 17 – The Key Building, Science Central, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 18 – The Wedding of Chris and Tessa, Burbage, Leicestershire
  • 19 – Nuthatch, Coombe Country Park, Warwickshire
  • 20 – Robin of Pegswood, near Morpeth
  • 21 – Wylam Brewery, Exhibition Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 22 – Leazes Park Gates on a Stormy Evening, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 23 – Cheerful Daffodils in Leazes Park after the Storm
  • 24 – St George’s URC Rose Window, Morpeth
  • 25 – Guisborough Priory, North Yorkshire
  • 26 – Azalea Sylvester
  • 27 – Elswick Riverside, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 28 – Daffodil Close-up
  • 29 – Academic Waste, Art Installation by Helena Lacey, Newcastle University
  • 30 – Great North Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 31 – Cumulus Congestus Clouds near Stannington, Northumberland

19th March – Nuthatch, Coombe Country Park

19 March

Taken the morning after the wedding and after my friend’s and I had seen the newly weds off for their honeymoon. We took a stroll in Coombe Country Park which is down the road from the wedding venue. I was really pleased to get this snap of a nuthatch while we were there.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/200 sec exposure
  • f/6.7 200 mm
  • ISO 200

20th March – Robin of Pegswood

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Officially called, ‘Fire,’ it is known locally as Robin of Pegswood due to the pose of the bronze miner. It was designed by local artist, Tom Maley, stands 36 ft high and was unveiled on 10th September 2009. I captured this shot just after sunset.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 10 sec exposure
  • f/19 88 mm
  • ISO 200

21st March – Wylam Brewery

21 March

Originally built as an exhibition venue in 1929, Wylam Brewery is a good example of Art Deco architecture. As such, it is Grade II Listed by Historic England. I particularly liked the light at this time of the day as the shadows helped to define the lines of the building.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/16 43 mm
  • ISO 200

24th March – St George’s URC Rose Window

24 March

A bit of a hidden gem this one. The rose window of this church is no longer visible from the inside of the church as a mezzanine floor was constructed in 1962 to host the church hall. I was wandering around Morpeth on the evening of 24th March looking for interesting photographs. The church hall was in use and the lights from inside the hall lit up the window to viewers such as myself on the pavement below. I happily took this cheeky close up.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 4 sec exposure
  • f/4.5 105 mm
  • ISO 200

27th March – Elswick Riverside

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An interesting cityscape on the north bank of the River Tyne. There are three phases of construction that comprise 140 years. The tower of St Stephen’s church dates from 1878, the high rise flats of Cruddas Park date from 1963 and the riverside apartments have been built within the last 10 years. It had been an overcast day, but I quite liked the glow from the setting sun as it peeped through the clouds and the reflections in the mud flats.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/9.5 58 mm
  • ISO 200

30th March – Great North Museum

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A little detour through one of my favourite childhood museums one lunchtime. It has been recently refurbished (in the last 10 years) and rebranded as the Great North Museum and is much better than when I was a kid.

  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • 1/15 sec exposure
  • f/2.2 48 mm
  • ISO 500

365 Day Photograph Challenge: March Part I

All the photos (1st – 15th March 2017)

  • 1st March – Morpeth Clock Tower Clock, floodlit at dusk.
  • 2nd March – Star Wars night (original theatrical release, naturally).
  • 3rd March – Bandanas for Brain Tumours (brain tumour awareness month).
  • 4th March – Bothal Castle, dusk.
  • 5th March – Morpeth Riverside.
  • 6th March – Morpeth Courthouse, night.
  • 7th March – Gateshead Millennium Bridge and Quayside, dusk.
  • 8th March – Newcastle Airport, sunset.
  • 9th March – Unsolvable Rubik’s Cube (clue is the yellow and white squares).
  • 10th March – Blagdon Bridge (ugly 80s’ engineering, grafting a modern bridge onto the side of an old estate bridge).
  • 11th March – Wallington Walled Garden Crocuses.
  • 12th March – Sycamore Sunset.
  • 13th March – Horse Entry (one of Morpeth’s curious old alleyways).
  • 14th March – Newcastle Castle, sunset (I preferred the old one haha!).
  • 15th March – Unity (modern art raising HIV/AIDs awareness, designed by Lilian Nabulime).

5th March – Morpeth Riverside

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Perhaps one of the most photographed scenes in my hometown. Morpeth riverside looking towards St George’s URC Church (opened 1860). Oliver’s Mill, the tall red brick building on the left is a former flour mill powered by a water wheel connected to the weir. Notice how the north bank premises are protected with a flood wall. The last flood occurred in 2008. Hard to imagine the river as a raging torrent on a beautiful, clear day such as the day this photograph was taken on.

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/1,000 sec exposure
  • f/6.7 43 mm
  • ISO 200

8th March – Sunset over Newcastle Airport

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Perhaps not the most exciting subject matter. The airport control tower does, however, produce some interesting shapes against the sunset. I quite liked the haze in the distance, it gave the composition a little extra interest. I deliberately chose a white balance setting to emphasise the colour of the sunset. I further enhanced this by increasing the saturation in post-editing.

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/13 160 mm
  • ISO 200

12th March – Sycamore Sunset

12 March.jpg

I quite liked this photograph because it is possible to turn fairly unexceptional photographs taken on the phone camera into more vivid ones by carefully playing around with the brightness, contrast and saturation. Before editing the tree definition was not as clear and the colours of the sky were very washed out.

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Before editing

  • Device – Samsung Galaxy S5
  • 1/30 sec exposure
  • f/2.2 4.8 mm
  • ISO 40

14th March – Newcastle Castle at Sunset

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The fortress that gives Newcastle its name. Literally the New Castle. It was built in 1080 as a Motte and Bailey Castle after the Norman Conquest and replaced the Roman fort of Pons Aelius. Today, only the (later) Medieval castle keep and Black Gate (Gatehouse) survive. In Victorian times the railway was ploughed between the two structures. That’s progress for you!

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/50 sec exposure
  • f/6.7 20 mm
  • ISO 200