And so here we are, in January, and a new year lies ahead. I hope your New Year was a mellow one, and I certainly hope it was a healthy one (said as I’m on day 14 of a lurgy that’s only now getting better – and very slowly). We had a few things planned for this break that didn’t happen thanks to LurgyFest, and also thanks to the rain fest that came our way just after Christmas, but by that stage, when I was choked with the cold, I was glad of a few days where I had an excuse not to leave the sofa.
For years, Christmas brought stress. What to buy, who to buy for, how much to spend, how to afford any of it. What to do on the day. It’s easy to get caught up in the expectations. A few years ago, we decided to step aside from all of those expectations and have the Christmas that we really wanted: quiet, just the four of us, without the pressure of cards or gifts (we donate to animal rescue charities instead), and with a walk as the focus on our day. And for the last few years, that walk has been here, at John Muir Country Park. This has become our tradition.
In my previous post, I mentioned how we’d spent November misjudging how quickly it was going to get dark on our weekend walks, but looking back through photos, I realise we were doing the same in October. As on this walk at Yellowcraig when the clouds were gathering around us, hanging heavy over the Forth with the promise of rain.
I’ve got into the habit of taking more videos than photos now on these coastal walks – not consciously, but then I come to edit the photos and realise I don’t have as many as I would have had months ago. I’m crediting Instagram reels for this shift. Having been monumentally slow to embrace reels, I’m now veering towards them more and more on the lads’ account, albeit less so on my own. Often that 60 to 90 seconds of video feels far more descriptive of what our walks together feel like, with the lads running ahead of me along a beach or winding along the dunes paths. A still photo can feel like a great view, whereas a reel can feel like an adventure. And sometimes that means we’ll come home and I might only have a handful of photos, as here, after this frozen November walk at Yellowcraig.
Do you have certain scenes that you never get tired of photographing? I have a few, the view over Hedderwick Sands (at John Muir Country Park, as in my previous post) being the most obvious, but also every view of Fidra. I started sharing Fidra photos using the tag #TheFidraSeries earlier this year on Instagram, but have many, many more shots – photos I always mean to post but then pause, wondering if people might be bored of the same vista.
But to me this view is never quite the same. The shifting tides, the changing seasons and light – it always feels different. It’s a place that I’ll keep returning to again and again.
I could smell the scorched earth and wood before I saw it. We were walking at John Muir Country Park a few weekends back, on a warm Sunday, and we’d decided to take the reverse route to our usual loop, walking along the side of the woodland that faces onto the salt marshes. I’d paused to take a video of a view through the trees on the edge of the woodland as the sunlight was catching the grasses in the breeze, and as I moved closer I thought, what is that smell? I knew what it was, but why… why could I smell burning?