Winspit Waves

1 Jun

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Continuing our theme of introducing blur and movement into photos to create a different effect, today we are visiting one of the coastal quarries that line the Dorset coast. This is the old, disused quarry of Winspit.

Winspit

The Angry Sea

Winspit Waves

Winspit sits just to the east of St Aldhelm’s Head but is still not very well protected from the South Westerly winds. Often, these whip up some good sized waves that crash violently onto the rocky shoreline, throwing spray everywhere. This was just such a day and I really wanted to capture the movement of the waves as they drove in towards the impenetrable rocks. I wanted somehow to capture the sheer force and mood of the stormy sea, so I decided to introduce a bit of blur into the shot to bring out the multi-directional wave movement as it bounced backwards and sideways from the rocks, meeting incoming waves head on in the process.

When I stand on these rocky ledges in these sorts of conditions, I can’t help but think about the quarry workers who shifted massive blocks of stone using the simplest of equipment. Sledges would be used to bring the rocks to the edge of the ledge and then a simple wooden derrick would hoist those stones and lower them into waiting boats that would then transport them farther out to sea using oar power only, to transfer them into larger vessels that would carry the rock either to Swanage or overseas. I think the skill of the quarrymen, especially those in the boats, is legendary!

These coastal quarries are amazing places and I will perhaps use that as a theme in the future because they deserve more space than I have allowed here. For now though, stand on the ledge with me, feel the wind and the spray, smell the sea, and hear the noise of waves crashing on rock! This is what I have tried to capture – I hope I have succeeded!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

The Old Pier

31 May

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

To continue with my theme of using blur and movement rather than freezing the action in order to give an alternative view of Dorset, we are today paying a visit to the remains of a very old pier in Swanage, a lovely town on the Dorset Coast Path.

The Old Pier, Swanage

Swanage

The Old Pier, Swanage

This is the original Swanage Pier that was opened in 1861 in order to serve the quarrying industry. Stone would be brought to Swanage from the coastal quarries and a pier was needed in order to offload this stone from the ships. Originally a tramway ran along this pier so that trucks could be used to transport the stone inland – the rails are still in place along the sea front paths. With the coming of a passenger steam service to Poole and Bournemouth, a second pier was needed and this was built in the late 19th century.

Due to a combination of the new pier and a declining stone industry, the old pier fell into disrepair, so much so that all you see today are the wooden piles that remain jutting out of the water. What was once a busy and active pier, has become nothing more than a resting place for gulls…….oh, and a huge magnet for photographers 🙂 !

This is a place that has been photographed countless times, and more often than not, the technique used is to set the camera with a very long exposure, in this case, 90 seconds. This has the effect of totally blurring the water in order to create this seemingly perfectly flat sea that looks almost as if it has iced over. It also has the effect of blurring the clouds. This technique therefore simplifies the scene, highlighting the only solid parts, the pier and the headland beyond.

This is a technique that can in my view be over used, and at one time it seemed that every picture involving the sea was a long exposure, such was its popularity amongst photographers. So much so that I was once contacted by a magazine editor who was looking for a picture of a particular bay, and when I asked him what he wanted, he said, ‘Anything that is not a long exposure’! You see, if you are not careful, even trying something different can quickly become very same-ish!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

Running Free

30 May

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

So, we are continuing to look at Dorset from a different viewpoint by introducing blur and movement into the pictures and in some ways, this is another one that comes under the heading of Deliberate Camera Movement, although this is movement in a slightly different way to yesterday’s post.

On the Run

Running Free

This shot was taken on one of Dorset’s trailways, disused railway tracks that have been converted to footpaths. These are used by walkers, cyclists and runners too so I thought it would provide a good opportunity to be creative. In this case, I wanted to add quite a lot of blur to create an impression of ‘Running Free’, again without detail, and also so that any people wouldn’t be recognisable. However, to give some sharpness to the runner, I used a panning action, following the runner whilst exposing the shot.

The idea was to illustrate the freedom of walking, cycling or running in the open countryside and this final picture seemed to do that reasonably well, as well as giving a different view of our network of footpaths which are such a valuable resource.

On a wider issue, although these trailways  provide longer distance footpaths for all to use, there are still some issues. A lot of these routes emanated from the activities of Lord Beeching back in the 1960’s when many railway lines were closed down. Unfortunately, the emphasis on providing public open space was a bit late in coming, resulting in much of the old track beds being lost to development or private purchase before they could be converted to public rights of way. So although the ones we have are valuable, there could have been many more.

For instance, if the powers that be had been quicker off the mark, it would today be possible to walk or cycle from Bournemouth to Bath, some 60 miles, along the old Somerset and Dorset Railway track. Add in the branch lines, and there could have been a whole network of trails running across our county. All is not lost however because there are now active groups around that are still campaigning for the old track beds that still exist to be turned into footpaths, and in some cases even to be restored as railways. I really hope that these campaigns will gather support!

In the meantime, lets celebrate the freedom we have to walk, cycle and run in the lovely Dorset countryside!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

In a Dorset Bluebell Woods

29 May

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Can there be anything so typically English as a bluebell woods in spring? Can there be anything more popular? Well, understandably, everyone loves a bluebell woods because they are beautiful, but beyond that, they herald the arrival of warmer weather after the greyness of the winter months. And, understandably they are extremely popular with photographers too, so how do you capture something sightly different that hasn’t been done a million times before?

Impression - Bluebell Woods

In a Dorset Bluebell Woods

For my theme this week, I thought we would do something slightly different and look at a few pictures that all involve movement in one form or another and that perhaps give an alternative view of this wonderful county and our wonderful countryside. This one involved ‘Deliberate Camera Movement’, also known as DCM.

Deliberate camera movement involves, as the name suggests, deliberately moving the camera whilst you are taking the picture rather than trying to hold it steady as you normally would. It involves setting a slow shutter speed and moving the camera vertically (as above), horizontally, or whatever way you choose in order to create a impressionistic feel to the picture. It is of course very ‘hit and miss’ and usually involves a lot of experimentation in order to get an effect that you like……but at least with digital, you don’t need to worry about how many pictures you take 🙂 ! The idea is to create an impression of the scene so that you take in the whole rather than the detail.

I guess it is a bit of a ‘Marmite’ process – you will either love the effect or hate it. As for me, I have always loved the impressionist painters and I enjoy trying to create something similar with my camera. I wonder how the image makes you feel?

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

Quirky Dorset 20 – This Way Up!

27 May

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

So, today we reach the last part of this week’s ‘Quirky Dorset’ set, and entry number 20 in the overall series 🙂 ! And this is another of those quirky, odd things which you often find in churches. This is The Upside Down Font 🙂 !

The Upside Down Font

The Upside Down Font

The Upside Down Font at Melbury Bubb

So, what do I mean by ‘upside down’? Well, it doesn’t mean that the water basin part is on the floor; no, that is at the top where it should be. It is more about the carvings around the sides, as they are upside down. These carvings feature various animals who appear to be trying to bite each other. In fact it is difficult to tell exactly what the animals are but there seems to be a stag, a serpent, a horse (that appears to have paws rather than hooves), a lion, a wolf, a couple of dragons and so on, but if you look at the pictures, their feet are all at the top and their heads are at the bottom!

The Upside Down Font

The Font and the Interior of the Church

The font stands in St Mary’s Church, which itself stands in a village with the very Dorset name of Melbury Bubb. There are a number of theories that have been put forward over the years in an attempt to explain this quirky design. One such theory put forward by Arthur Mee suggests that the carvings were deliberately made this way in order to represent the overthrowing of cruelty with love, as in the gospels. This is based on the fact that they all seem to be hunting each other in the carvings. Another, that it represents creation being overthrown by sin.

Perhaps a more likely explanation is that it was just a medieval form of up-cycling by the Normans, and that the font was at one time the base of a Saxon cross or column, designed to be used the other way up. Even here, there are differences of opinion – did the mason make a mistake and hollow out the wrong end, or did he carve it that way deliberately because it suited the shape better?

Yet another suggestion is that it was deliberately and symbolically turned upside down because the carvings around the side are more pagan than Christian. There is an old saying that goes, ‘The truth will out’, but actually in this case I don’t think it will and we shall never know the truth.

The village church

St Mary’s Church, Melbury Bubb

I just love these curiosities in Dorset, and I love the fact that we will never really know the truth because the only way to do that would be to go back to Norman times and talk to the mason who did the work. History is loaded with unsolvable puzzles and conundrums, and it all adds to the wonder and intrigue we feel as we explore these ancient sites.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

St Augustine’s Well……or is it!

25 May

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

We are continuing with our theme of ‘Quirky Dorset’ still and I think this is Part 19, and it is another well. It seems that a lot of wells have a lot of folklore written about them as legends and ‘Chinese whispers’ are passed down through the generations, and this one is no exception! So whose well is it? Lets look at the evidence 🙂 !

St Augustine’s Well

St Augustine's Well

St Augustine’s Well

St Augustine’s Well, as it is known, is in the lovely Dorset village of Cerne Abbas, of ‘Giant’ fame, and tradition has it that it owes its existence to St Augustine of Canterbury, hence the name. It seems that in the 7th century, St Augustine visited Dorset and he was travelling through the Cerne Valley before the current village existed and he met some shepherds. They were thirsty so the saint asked them if they would prefer water or ale to drink, and they, probably realising he was a saintly man, replied that they would prefer the former. The saint duly did what anyone would do and struck the ground with his staff, crying out Cerno El which apparently means ‘I perceive God’, whereupon water flowed from the spot.

Now this may be a correct and true story but the cynical in me thinks that might just be an invented tale, since there are others! I say ‘invented’ because people did do that sort of thing simply to attract visitors 🙂 !

St Augustine's Well

Ribbons Adorn the Tress

The second story in fact doesn’t credit it to St Augustine at all but rather another gentleman known as St Edwold. He was actually royalty, but became a hermit and settled in the area back in the 9th century, and he had a vision where he saw a silver well. He was walking through the Cerne Valley one day and being hungry, he bought bread and water from a shepherd, paying him with silver. The shepherd handed over the bread and brought him to this well to draw water, whereupon the saint immediately recognised the well he had seen in his vision.

Taking this as a sign, he built a hermitage on the site and stayed there until he died. Thus, perhaps this should be called St Edwold’s Well! Or maybe Silver Well, as it seems it was once known. Then again, some say that St Edwold’s Well is in fact a different well all together as there are a number in the area. These things are so confusing…..but that just adds to the intrigue 🙂 !

Fallen and Floating

Autumn Leaves in the Well

We will never know the truth, but we do know that this was recognised as a sacred place and that there was once a chapel built over the top of the well. This was lost in 1539 with the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The well was until comparatively recent times used as drinking water by the villagers, although looking at my picture above, you probably wouldn’t want to try it in autumn with those rotting leaves 🙂 ! Oh, and apparently a 3 feet long eel was found in it not long ago 🙂 !

As with most wells, the water is said the have curative properties and also to aid fertility……which of course is also something that is said about the famous Giant on the hillside about which I blogged recently. It was said too to be beneficial to dip new born babies into the water! It wasn’t only fertility either, as young girls were often encouraged to come here and pray to St Catherine for a husband, turning round three times as they did so.

Oh, and there is another local legend that says if you look into the water over Easter, you will see reflected the faces of those who will die that year.

Path to the Well

The Quiet Tree Lined Path to the Well

Clearly, this is a mysterious and somewhat quirky place, and one that has been regarded for centuries as a holy place. To this day, people still tie written prayers on the surrounding trees. In fact there are 12 lime trees around the well and these are known locally as the twelve apostles.

St Augustine’s Well is a delightful place. It nestles in a hollow beside the graveyard and not far from the old abbey ruins. Peace and tranquility are words that spring to mind as you stroll down the tree lined path that leads to the well itself. This is a well that is perfect for a pilgrimage, or just to sit and meditate beside.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

 

The Wishing Well

23 May

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Today, we continue our theme of ‘Quirky Dorset’ and for Part 18 I though we could take a look at one of Dorset’s many wells, and a wonderful place it is too! This is in part a natural and mesmerising wonder, delightful to watch and listen to. This is the so called Wishing Well at Upwey.

The Wishing Well, Upwey

Although this is known as the Wishing Well, it is not strictly a well at all but rather is a natural spring which is the source of the River Wey which flows from Upwey to Weymouth some 5 miles downstream. It is believed to date back to the last Ice Age and was at one time the village’s water supply. It is at this point where, because of the formation of rock, sand and clay, water literally bubbles its way to the surface from the underground stream. The water is always clear and maintains a steady temperature of 10.5 degrees.

Upwey Wishing Well

Although this is a natural phenomenon, it is one that has over the years been harnessed by man as an attraction to draw people into the area, and that includes royalty because it is said to have been something of a favourite place for King George III. In fact, the stone seat next to the well was specifically built for him. When he visited, he drank the waters from a special gold cup which interestingly became the original prize for a horse race known as the Ascot Gold Cup. In addition, it is said that Queen Charlotte and also HRH Edward, Prince of Wales both visited.

The royal connections continued because further changes were made to the site in 1887 when arches were added above the seat to commemorate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria.

Upwey Wishing Well

One of the quirky things about this place is that there was a very specific way to drink the water! This involved filling a glass, drinking part of it with your back to the well, and then throwing the remainder over your left shoulder back into the well, making a wish as you did so. Such was the popularity of this practice that some villagers were appointed to help visitors with the process. Naturally, with modern health and safety requirements in mind, the practice is no longer encouraged.

One further change is that in recent years, the practice of dressing the well has taken place for May Day. This is a custom that is more associated with the Peak District but that has now come south to this Dorset well.

Upwey Wishing Well

The Wishing Well is a place that was for centuries just a natural ‘welling up’ of water to the surface and which was only popularised in the 19th century when the term ‘Wishing’ was added. Today, with its attached gardens and tea rooms, it is still a popular place. And deservedly so because it is quite magical to just sit and listen to the birds, the bees and the babbling spring.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.