Film Friday ~ Alnwick Gardens

A couple of weeks ao, Sophie and I went back to Alnwick Gardens to photograph the Tai-Haiku cherry blossom orchard. We were last there 5 years ago in 2018 and we’d always wanted to revisit. Last time the trees were in full bloom and we had a bit of blue sky, this time the blossoms were falling, and the sky was well, meh. But no matter the weather, we shoot! I had my Contax Aria loaded with Silbersalz 500T film.

The Story of the orchard :- Back in the day, a chap called Captain Collingwood Ingram, was obsessed with cherry blossom trees, and learned so much about them that in 1926 he was invited to give a talk to members of the Japanese Cherry Society, where he was shown a painting of a superb cherry with huge white flowers, which, he was told, was sadly extinct.  But Ingram wasnโ€™t an expert for nothing, he recognised the tree in the painting as being the same as a tree he had seen in a Sussex garden.  As the tree was on itโ€™s last legs, he hot footed it over there, took several cuttings from it, and today all Tai Haku trees in the world are descended from those cuttings. He re-introduced it to Japan in 1932. The orchard has over 300 Tai Haku cherry blossom trees, the biggest in the world apparently.


The Duchess of Northumberland (who owns and developed the gardens as well as Alnwick Castle โ€“ Hogwarts to my American pals ๐Ÿ™‚ )has added 50 double seated swing seats to the orchard.

big blooms
daffodils in the grass of the orchard
ladies wot drum
some fritillary thingys in amongst the daffs.

After the orchard we went to see some more of the gardens, and I’ll do those next time.

๐Ÿ“ท ๐ŸŽž๏ธ ๐Ÿ˜Š

Film Friday ~ project South Shields ~red

When I moved up North in 2005 my first abode was in a flat above a pub called The Dolly Peel on Commercial Road in South Shields. I lived there a year or so before moving in with Phil in Gateshead and Shields is still my favourite place to go with a camera. There are lots of nice bits, the coast with it’s ‘internationally famous’ magnesian limestone coastline, Souter Lighthouse, Marsden Rocks, Arbeia Roman Fort, interesting historical architecture and all sorts of outdoor artworks. I’ve photographed a lot of it, but mostly in digital, so I’m starting over with film. The town centre was not doing so well. Like a lot of seaside towns it’s gradually declined (in line with the country as a whole) but now the Council is redeveloping it and knocking down old empty shops and replacing them with a college campus  including a new public square, gardens and green spaces. They’re using some of the ones they don’t knock down for  introducing a food hall or indoor market space. Apparently this is all being done with the input of the local people after 1000 residents answered a survey asking them what they want. So things will change, and hopefully I’ll get to shoot them when they happen.

On this outing I Walked up King Street, which is the main retail street, to the Market place with Phil who wanted to (guess what?) check out the vinyl stalls. I gave myself a constraint, which was all my shots had to have an element of red in them.

mobiles and vapes
and hands free kits
vintage rocker
market view restaurant. (closed permanently)
heart attacks in buns van

on the way back to the car we turn off King Street into Fowler Street and at the corner is Ladbrokes with The Criterion pub/restaurant above it. Built in the 1860s, the building was designed to look like opulent London restaurant The Criterion Grill. It was closed down in 2000 but in 2018 a chap bought it and restored it to its former glory, many of the original features have been salvaged including the original clock from the 1800’s. So it’s up and running again. Must try it out!

The Criterion
no there isn’t a Silence of the Lambs restaurant, but there should be.
coronation weekend

That’s it for this Friday but stay tooned!

all pictures taken with my contax aria on Kodak Gold 200 film, and can be embiggened with a click.

Film Friday ~ A little bit more of the Grand Union Canal.

I went down to south at the beginning of April to visit Ben and Lewis, and on the only Sunny day we drove to a different bit of the canal than in my last visit (HERE). We parked up and walked through the grounds of St. Mary’s Church, Linslade. Pilgrims were originally attracted to a holy well on the site during the 10th century. The first church was built in the 12th century, though was rebuilt in the 15th century into the form it is today. We didn’t check to see if it was open, as we were heading to a canal side pub for lunch!


Walking down to the canal on a path running alongside a rolling landscape and Lewis and I took pictures of the trees ( he had my little Fuji for the day ๐Ÿ˜Š )

More treees!

The canal was brown due to the heavy rains causing run off from the fields, but this swan didn’t seem bothered


People decorate their canal boats with cool things

To hear, or not to hear..

We got to The Globe Inn and sat in the garden as it was too nice to go in. The chap in this photo kept staring at us, then looking away, I thought he was just admiring our family genetic beauty, but Ben said he was a person of disrepute and if he didn’t stop looking at us Ben would have to ask him to leave. Luckily the guy got up and started walking up and down in front of the pub which was a relief as Ben asking someone to leave wouldn’t involve any words.

Odd man out

After lunch we crossed over the bridge to the other side of the canal, and walked back to the car.

view from the bridge

Along the way there’s a graffiti’d wall Lewis liked the look of


Not sure what this post was all about but I liked it’s ivy coat

post without portfolio

This section of the canal didn’t have as many boats on it as the first bit I did, but that didn’t matter, this one’s owners had their washing hanging out

laundry day

I liked this little barge, and it was reflecting nicely.


We went back past the church, so I took a shot of the grounds

grave grounds

and then we were back to the car. That’s all folks!

๐Ÿ“ท ๐ŸŽž๏ธ ๐Ÿ˜Š

all photos taken with my Contax Aria and Kodak Gold 200 film.

Film Friday ~ Jan~March miscellany

Just had a couple of rolls of film developed and as usual have finished up rolls of film I’ve taken on outings, with scenes from home and round about so here are some of those. All taken on the Contax Aria with various films.

Love is an orchid which thrives principally on hot air. ~Myrtle Reed

We had a couple of days of snow a few weeks ago.

Kindness is like snowโ€”it beautifies everything it covers. โ€“ Kahlil Gibran
Cats leave paw prints in your heart, forever and always. ~Unknown

and spring happened not long after that

Blossom by blossom the spring begins.~ Algernon Charles Swinburne

We visited Phil’s older sister Annette on her birthday

โ€œYou keep your past by having sisters. As you get older, theyโ€™re the only ones who donโ€™t get bored if you talk about your memories.โ€ โ€” Deborah Moggach

Annette has some gorgeous plants in her conservatory and garden
Azalias or are they camelias? ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

And of course, always take some of Winnie & Lord Vincent.

You can not look at a sleeping cat and feel tense. โ€“ Jane Pauley
I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.โ€ โ€“ Hippolyte Taine

That’s all folks!

๐Ÿ“ท ๐ŸŽž๏ธ

Friday Film ~ Egglestone Abbey

Over on the Universe blog you can see the digital pictures I took of the Abbey Ruins, and read a short history of the place if you are interested, though I think most people who visit here are already visitors to that blog too, so perhaps I needn’t say anything!

Anyhoo, here are the shots I took with my Contax Aria loaded with Cinestill 400D, which are not very different in composition, but are in mood I think.

The Church and tomb
Closer view of the church bit
another view of the church bit
West Range
view from the cloister
inside the day room
not sure which bit this is.

It’s quite difficult to work out which bit is bit when you are on the ground, I found a photo on flickr with a better ground plan than the one on English Heritage site, so have asked permission from it’s owner Marc Hagen to use it here for anyone fancying a go at working out which bit is which. It’s quite possible I have the day room and west range mixed up!

Courtesy of Marc Hagen at

๐Ÿ“ท ๐ŸŽž๏ธ

Film Friday ~ The Angel

This week was the 25th Birthday of the Angel of the North, the giant statue by Antony Gormley, located in Gateshead 10 minutes drive away from where I live. Completed in 1998, it is believed to be the largest sculpture of an angel in the world and is viewed by an estimated 33 million people every year due to its proximity to the A1 and A167 roads and the East Coast Main Line. The steel sculpture is 208 tonnes, 20 metres (66 ft) tall, with wings measuring 54 metres (177 ft) across and its wingspan is often compared to that of a Boeing 757 jet, which is actually smaller.

I pop up there now and again when I want a quick photgraphy fix, so a few weeks ago I went up on a blue sky day and took the Contax Aria with me. The film I had in was a Cinestill 400D. For any film photographers reading this….

CineStill Film celebrated its 5th birthday in 2017, having quickly developed a fantastic reputation world-wide for their innovative approach to fulfilling analogue needs. They are specialists in converting rolls of cinema film – designed for movies and hence the name CineStill Film – into batches of 35mm and medium format film that can be used in thousands of cameras, and developed in any minilab in the world. Their passion is for everyday photographers who buy CineStill film to have the same access to high-quality emulsions as Steven Spielberg, Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, and The Coen Brothers!”
from Analogue Wonderland.

There are some hedges and bushes or trees at the bottom of the hill that the Angel stands on, and people leave messages to their dead relatives and loved ones on the branches.


I took some shots there in 2016 not long after people had started doing that, and the only thing I could find that was there now is this Teddy Bear

Fuji XT1 2016
Contax Aria 2023
Neglected Bears

How sad is that?

Always together, forever
Mam and Dad
Memorial Tree
๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ ๐Ÿฅด
Those we love..
Happy Birthday Angel

That’s it this week, but

๐Ÿ“ท ๐ŸŽž๏ธ ๐Ÿ˜Š

Film Friday ~ Bits and pieces at the end of 2022

Sophie and I visited the the Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland and I took a couple of pictures in the town before we got to the gallery.

The Hut

The Hut is just outside the Bishop Auckland carpark, and does the usual Northern fare, chip butties, bacon butties, sausage butties, teas and coffees etc, but I’ve been there a few times and never seen it open.

Walking from the car park to the gallery…

Fore Bondgate

The area known as Bondgate dates to the very beginnings of Bishop Auckland.  It is named after the โ€˜bondsmenโ€™ โ€“ labourers, bound by contract, who served the bishop.  Shortly after Auckland Castle was established, a small settlement grew to the west of the bishopโ€™s residence and Deer Park.  By 1183, the Boldon Book reported that 22 villagers lived here, including a cobbler, a miller and a smith.For centuries, Fore Bondgate was Bishop Aucklandโ€™s main shopping area, home to an eclectic mix of shops and public houses.  Although, today, shops are more widely spread across the town, Fore Bondgate remains home to numerous independent businesses that keep the tradition of the area alive. (ish).

These two shops are not alive.

the birds in this shop are also not alive.
Town Hall and St.Annes Church

A random tree, no idea where I took this.


Sunshine after the rain made my net curtains look like they were sequinned.

Well I thought so!

I am surprisingly keeping this cyclamen alive.


Finally, let’s end with a clichรฉ..

Wardley Sunset

all pictures embiggenable with a click.

๐Ÿ“ท ๐ŸŽž๏ธ ๐Ÿ˜Š

Film Friday ~ Watergate Park ~ Film edition

A few weeks ago on the Universe Blog I posted some photographs of Watergate Park, a recreational park on land that used to be a colliery, you can check that post out HERE. I also took quite a few with my Contax Aria armed with a roll of Kodak Portra. It’s freezing here in the North UK and has been all week, so let’s turn back the clock to Autumn, and have a lovely walk through the park.

this way
the treeful path
All the colours

A pin oak. Or scarlet oak. Some sort of oak anyhoo.
Arty farty sculpture chair. Doesn’t look very comfortable.
Frog on a stick with spectacles.
Water falling
The look-at-me tree.

It has been a lovely Autumn, that seemed to go on a long time. Phil’s hanging baskets lasted until this week. Not much snow here, just a few hours on a couple of days, but below freezing temperatures day and night, so what we did have is stuck in suspended non-animation and it is treacherously icy everywhere. The south got the worst of the snow, which is fair enough as they get hotter summers, but I really would have liked some more of it, for photographic purposes ๐Ÿ™‚

stay tooned!

๐Ÿ“ท ๐ŸŽž๏ธ ๐Ÿ˜Š

Film Friday ~ South Shields beach front ~ Oct 2022

After I’d walked around the empty funfair (here) I sallied forth beyond it to the beach front. Very few people around, but I spotted this chap with his camera photographing some little birds that were hopping about. I asked him what they were and Snow Buntings was the answer. They are a sparrow-sized bird that breeds in the Arctic (from Scandinavia to Canada), and winters in the UK, mainly around the coast. Too small for the lens I have on the Contax, but the photographer wasn’t. When Phil saw this he said the guy looks like he’s about to launch an RPG!


I liked the clean lines of the locked up Lifeguard building,

Baywatch Hut

and I liked the additional rainbow that landed on it a moment later as the rain started up.


The rainbow got cut off at the edge of the clouds, but it hung about as I walked up to the skateboard park behind the funfair.

Little rainbow

The skateboard park was, unusually, bereft of lads with their derring do, and a lone Seagull sentinel stood aloft awaiting the action.

People ahoy!

I realise I’ve grown too old to understand the graffiti alphabet or language of today, I think there’s an M in this. But I liked the mouse. Or maybe the rat?

No idea

It was quite cold this day, and I thought she could do with a coat on, or a blanket, but I guess pirates are mean.

Shiver me timbers.

If only, a beach bar in Havana, warm sunshine, a Cuban Rumba on the music system, a handsome waiter pouring me a cocktail, sitting by the outside bar and gazing out to sea, ah, if only!


I left Havana, without a cocktail, and wandered up towards the beach at Trow Rocks, where a herd of people, (well 4 anyway) were walking their dogs.

And that’s the end of this roll of Kodak Portra, which I think suits the subject quite well. It was a strange afternoon, I’ve rarely seen the place so unpopulated, even though it was cold (ish), but it was also cool, to be able to focus on what there is, and not what everyone is doing. Peace and tranquility, unexpectedly. I think I’ll go back next summer when it’s all on the go, and do some contrasting photographs.

So thanks for visiting, and stay tooned for whatever comes next!

๐Ÿ“ท ๐ŸŽž๏ธ ๐Ÿ˜Š


Film Friday ~ South Shields Funfare ~ Oct 2022

We’re going back to the funfair this week, not with the Ektar diptych maker, but my beloved Contax Aria.

A tiny History Bit

The Funfair is officially known as Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, which sounds very Victorian, which is no surprise as she was Queenie in 1899 when the fair became a permanent fixture. Mostly it’s known as The Fair, as there isn’t another one in our county unless you call Diggerland in Durham a fair, which I don’t.

Prior to 1899, travelling fairs would come along in summer, park up by the market and only be allowed legally to start up once the ordinary market stalls had finished for the day. Eventually they had their own space and could run rides any time. One of the first permanent rides was the Aerial Flight, built in the 1910โ€™s-20โ€™s and cost 1d (old pence) (which would be 0.23 cents in $) for a ride, and advertised that it is suitable and โ€œapprovedโ€ for all ages. (But not any of my ages, ever.)

STH0000818 Copyright South Tyneside Images 1920’s Ariel Flight Ride.

All gone now, and things are a bit more modern. Well a little bit at least.

Bird poop on his face but surrounded by laydeez, a happy chap.

There were a few Marvellous rides (this is the little bit of modern)

Black Widow being chased by an X-person I think
A bucket of Avengers

This chap is doing well for a 94 year old.


Would have had a go on this next one if it had been an option!

Aqua Blasta (should be blaster, sigh).

These next ones are to do with Peter Pan. Firstly a galleon which swings up high at the front, then wangs itself backwards and swings high at the back. You have a bar to hold onto, which you need when it goes back as your bum leaves it’s seat. I know as I’ve been on one prior to being in my dotage, had to hold my lad from falling out. Very scary biscuits.

Shivering timbers

This a faceless Captain Hook I believe, he was at the bottom of the steps up to the galleon.

“I see no ships” (Nelson, 1801)
“Death is the only adventure I have left, Smee.” (Hook 1991)

you can have

Fun fun fun!!

and have lots of

Dentist fodder.

and for your little bambinos

Fragile fish

Finally, some surprised elephants. I did wonder if it was a Disney Dumbo thing, but the ears are not long enough and there isn’t a feather in their trunks, so they’re just your average surprised elephants.


My favourite is the Zombie enclosure at the top of the post, might have to go in there when it all opens up again. That’s it for this week, but stay tooned, there’s a few more to come from outside the fair.

๐Ÿ“ท ๐ŸŽž๏ธ ๐Ÿ˜Š

August Miscellany ~ 3

The last shots from this roll in August take me back to sunny days and Bar-B-Qs, or ODE’s as they’re known here ~ Outdoor Eating Experiences :). Our friends Paul and Lorraine who live over in South Shields and have a lovely big garden, had friends and family over one Saturday afternoon, and I took a few frames.

Phil, Lorraine Paul under the gazebo thingy
Paul ~ masterchef
with Pat & Derek, Lorraines Mum & Dad
a drink ๐Ÿ™‚

It was nice to be socialising oudoors and seeing family we hadn’t seen in ages.

Phi and I had a few ODE’s ourselves on sunny evenings after work

Phil Masterchefing
Sauces and Sparkles

finally, I love it when the evening sun lightens the corner of the living rooom window, and if you look carefully in the shady bottom right hand corner, you can espy Lord Vincent on the back of his favourite chair.

That’ll be it on Film Friday for a while, I’ve got 2 rolls of film on the go and no-where near finished, but, I’ll be back!

Stay tooned! ๐Ÿ“ท ๐ŸŽž ๐Ÿ˜Š

Film Friday ~ August Miscellany 2

Summer seems a long time ago now, sitting here with the rain coming down all day. More pictures from my August roll of film, this time. Back at the zoo with Cal and Liddy, the digital shots some of you saw on the Otherverse Blog.

Cal & Liddy, & Snowy Owl
with the Poitou Donkeys.

I’d never heard of these giant donkey’s before, so here is the informtion you are gagging to know too now..

The Baudet du Poitou, also called the Poitevin or Poitou donkey, are (no surprise) bred by the Pesky French. They were (?)created by breeding male donkeys with lady Poitevin horses to produce Poitevin mules which were formerly in worldwide demand for agricultural and other work. The Baudet has a distinctive coat, which hangs in long, ungroomed locks or cadenettes. They were possibly bred from donkeys introduced to the area by the good ol’ Romans. According to wiki they were also possibly a status symbol in the middle ages at least in France, (will rely on April for corroboration on that point) I suppose like having a top specs Range Rover is today, or was, maybe not so much now with climate change and the cost of fuel. Anyhoo, I digress. By the 1800’s France had established a studbook for the breed, and the 19th and early 20th centuries saw them being used for the production of mules throughout Europe. (Is anyone else thinking ‘genetic engineering to the max?) During this same time, Poitou bloodlines were also used to develop other donkey breeds, including the American Mammoth Jack in the United States. Then came mechanisation and by 1977 there were only 44 giant donkeys left in the world. There are more now because of private and public breeding and by 2005 there were 450 purebred Poitou donkeys. They are still an endangered species, their population is below 800 animals worldwide, with 60 of them in the UK.

ring tailed lemur

A Ring Tailed Lemur surprisingly in focus! Interesting factoid:-
Ring-tailed lemurs have scent glands on their wrists, which they then rub all the way along their tails to then waft their tails at other lemurs in โ€˜stink fightsโ€™! As of early 2017, the population in the wild is believed to have crashed as low as 2,000 individuals due to habitat loss, poaching and hunting, making them far more critically endangered, despite reproducing readily in captivity and being the most populous lemur in zoos worldwide.

Fallow Deer

Fallow Deer have been around for over 8000 years, and are now found roaming free on every continent except Antarctica.


Liddy ~ a unique member of homo sapiens, the most abundant and widespread species of primate. And she is a little monkey!

That’s it for this week! Phil and I are off to Edinburgh today, to the Murrayfield Stadium where Scale Scotland are having their model show, if the Pesky Scots have internet connection up there, I’ll catch up with y’all later.

๐Ÿ“ท ๐ŸŽž ๐Ÿ˜Š