I was struck by the "yellowness" of Easter Ross and the Black Isle when flying back from Stornoway yesterday. My objective of taking a series of aerial "harvest time" snaps was thwarted by a) being moved from my chosen seat [2A] on the Loganair Saab to 4A [right over the engine] for "trim" reasons and b) by vicious little rain squall as we flew over the Firth, causing a very grey evening with no visibility and one of the more interesting cross wind landings in Dalcross that I have experienced for a long time.
However driving home in the early evening, I was struck by the light and clouds over the South side of the Black Isle, and decided to take the short detour via Balbair point, just to catch the light, and see a cruise ship depart from another angle.
This snap is the result.
Harr gathers over Easter Ross, as the sun turns the Ardross Hills orange.
Mornings have been very misty over the past few days, which has been frustrating for people like myself keen to photograph the stream of cruise liners that have been in out of the firth all week. Three in one day yesterday, albeit wee ones.
Never managed a single photo of them though....
Living just a couple of doors from the East Kirk and walking past it almost every day, means that I am privileged to see the building in all seasons and weathers.
Dusk and Dawn - in any season - are my favorites, but just occasionally a summer mid-day, with strong blues and greens give us a picture such as this.
Reykjavik houses in June, when I visited Iceland for the first time. I'm going back in a few weeks, and I must admit I was seriously impressed with this little country in the middle of the North Atlantic.
Less population than Highland Region, the last place in the Northern Hemisphere to be populated by humans, and an island that has known grinding poverty within less than half a century.
But now? With an economy built on cheap energy and a adventurous and entrepreneurial population (they call themselves the Italians of the Scandinavian world) it's a model for many places, not least Scotland and the Highlands and Islands.
However it does come at a price - literally - Beer is a bum clenching £8 a pint.
The sad and early death of Steven Campbell - at only 53 - and my recent trips back to the Glasgow School of Art have made me look at this painting on my study wall with nostalgia and some poignancy.
I remember Campbell's strong, almost brooding presence at the GSA, smoking French cigarettes and drinking as thick a coffee as the Vic could provide, always surrounded by his group of admirers. I never knew him, and he would have known me from Adam, but was fairly close to a couple of contempries in the new Glasgow Boys, Wisniewski and Howsen.
I knew Adrain Wisniewski fairly well, as he was a Architect student in the early years, and we hung around in the same crowd. I was active in student politics and "represented" him in an appeal to transfer from Architecutre to the Fine Art Department. It worked, and he got his transfer, and the rest is, as they say history.
The above - not very good - photo of a very early painting by another of the New Galsgow boys who is now a fairly famous UK contemporary artist, Peter Howson. His paintings grace a fair number of modern art galleries, and his later works are very collectable and fashionable (Madonna has several for example) This one may in fact be one the earliest of his paintings around.
I studied at Planning School within the Glasgow School of Art from 1977-81. From 1977-79 I lived at the John D Kelly Halls of Residence in Garnethill, and was friendly with a chap called Pete Howson, who lived in the room next door to mine at that time. In June 1979, when we broke up for the summer, Pete was clearing out a stack of his paintings, completed over the winter of 1978-79, putting them in a skip. I had admired one his paintings that had been kicking around his room for a few months - a powerful scene from his army days -which was a large painting in acrylics on chipboard. Since I liked it, Pete offered it to me, and I have had it in my possession ever since (Not wonderfully looked after in the early days I'm afraid, as it was moved from house to house, and flat to flat - in a Reliant Robin I seem to recall).
The painting now is now screwed to the wall of my study in Cromarty, Ross-shire, since Ruth and I moved back the Highlands in 1985. It has been "publicly" displayed in the past 25 years, in a local exhibition of art from Cromarty people's walls in about 1990. I have has no contact with Pete since I left the Art School in 1981, and I'd be very surprised if he even remembered who I was. However, I always admired his work, and followed his career with interest, but I suspect that neither he nor his agents are aware that such a painting from his student days exists.
Stevens death, and that of my brother Kai a couple of months ago, do however remind you of your one mortality, and what is left behind when you depart this existance. For some at least, great art is what they will always be remembered for.
62 years ago today.
Taken by the ships photographer of aircraft Carrier HMS Vengeance – my Fathers Ship – after delivering Royal Indian Air force Spitfires to Japan in late 1945.
After service in the North Atlantic, the Med and Indian ocean, HMS Vengeance was at sea on the 6th August 1945, steaming to start offensive operations against Japanese Forces in Formosa. It was part of the British Pacific Fleet, scheduled to provide close air support to Allied Forces invading Japan on the 1st November 1945.
The bomb stopped that, and HMS Vengeance was diverted to help liberate Hong Kong.
Was dropping the bomb neccessary, and am I here because it was dropped (and therefore my Dad came home, and had me) or was Japan on the brink of collapse and the loss of hundreds of thousands of civilian lives a total waste?
Do you know - I don't know. I do not think that we will ever know.
But I do know that if the bomb had not been dropped hundreds of thousands of different people could have died, perhaps more than at Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
Just in different ways.
Have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki