Tuesday, August 04, 2015

A Week in Instagram

I woke up this morning with a one pound coin and a fifty pence piece stuck to my back. I've no idea how they got there, but I'm not complaining.

The last week has been spent trying to expose my older son to a daily dose of sunlight, so that his vitamin D levels improve. He already walks as if he has rickets, but I think that's just him. If I ask him to walk normally, he gets very cross.

Our first trip took us to Ashdown Forest - the place that inspired the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. By sheer chance, we parked only a few minutes' walk from the memorial to A.A.Milne and E.H.Shephard, carefully placed in a setting that recalls this famous line:

"Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."

The forest appeared to be deserted and for a brief moment, it felt as if we had entered a lost idyll, but the discovery of a rather large bra hanging from a tree quickly changed the mood:

Did the bra's owner have to leave in a hurry, or was she suffering from some form of post-coital amnesia?

Sadly, I think I've got to the age where I'm more interested in unusual trees than abandoned underwear. I particularly liked this tree, which had a bark that reminded me of The Thing in the Fantastic Four:

The following day I explored Birling Gap at low tide, negotiating my way across hundreds of rocks covered in sharp periwinkles. After ten minutes, I realised that I was alone and wondered why most people were content to huddle together on a small stretch of beach, rather than seek out a deserted cove.

I walked along a wave cut platform, looking at the small rock pools that had formed in this transient, tidal environment, watching tiny wisps of fish nervously dart out of sight. As a boy, I could happily spend hours exploring the microcosm of a rock pool. As an adult, I find myself more preoccupied with thinking about what I should be feeling, and wondering why I'm not.

I find that a remote, empty beach quickly induces a sense of timelessness, as if I am the last human left at the end of the world. Is that a bit potty?

Sometimes the isolation can be therapeutic, providing a chance to see things in perspective without any distractions, but this time all I could think about was an annoying tune that had popped into my head:

"Didn't we have a lovely time, the day we went to Bangor..."

On the way back, I took a rather average photo on my phone, which Instagram later transformed into something that vaguely resembles a magic lantern slide.

As I said in an earlier post, I have become a huge fan of Instagram. If you have an account, you'll find me listed as phil._.b (the dots and underscore are vital). Every photo in this post is from Instagram, apart from the bra.

I haven't quite worked out the Instagram etiquette yet, but I generally work on the rule that I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

In contrast to the stark isolation of the beach, I enjoyed a visit to a local village fete, in a place called Glynde:

Almost everything you could want was there: a Punch and Judy show, stalls selling bric a brac that would remain unsold, a tent with a tea urn and a selection of fruit cakes made by the ladies of the parish. Only the local vicar was missing, with the obligatory appeal to restore his organ.

Glynde is an idyllic village, seemingly frozen in time. Many of the cottages are, I'm told, owned by a local aristocrat and rented out. This may strike many as an absurd anachronism, but the reality is a village of beautifully maintained properties rented at affordable prices.

I think I'd rather have noblesse oblige than 'shareholder value'.

My favourite building is the blacksmith's, which is still a working forge:

Later that day, my wife and I went for dinner with some friends in Hove. As I walked across the station footbridge and looked below, my Instagram alarm button started ringing again:

I liked the symmetry of the trains and felt pleased with the shot, but am I now going to start seeing Instagram opportunities everywhere?

I blame my phone, which continues to exceed expectations. For example, when I saw a Ladybird resting on some berries yesterday, I assumed that a close-up would only be possible with a proper camera. Fortunately, the phone coped admirably:

In the pre-smartphone era, I wouldn't have had a camera with me on a short walk around the outskirts of Lewes. But now that I have a decent phone and an Instagram account, I'm learning to look with fresh eyes at the familiar:

This is an abandoned quarry. I love the contrast between the rocks and the primordial-looking ferns. It's a strange place and whenever I hear the swoop of wings in the distance, I almost expect to see a pterodactyl.

This is a rather odd picture because it looks as if it has been heavily manipulated, digitally, but in fact I've barely altered it. The field in the background is Landport Bottom - a place populated by dog walkers and nervous sheep. It's hard to believe that history was made here, 751 years ago.

From Landport Bottom, a wooded path leads to the top of an old chalk quarry. I never tire of the view of the Weald and the Ouse river, meandering into the distance:

In the evening, teenagers come up here, light camp fires and drink copious amounts of beer. So far, none of them have tumbled over the cliff in the dark, but I expect that there have been some near misses.

After doing so much walking, I will hopefully sleep soundly tonight. If I'm really lucky, I may wake up with another £1.50 stuck to my back.


Richard de Pesando MA(RCA) said...

The 'Bangor' song - as sung by Maddie Pryor, is one of the blights of my childhood. Bangor being just a few miles from my childhood home, and having absolutely nothing to offer, except a public baths, with industrial amounts of Chlorine in the water. This song was a big hit when I was a child being regularly dragged to these baths by school coach - apparently, it was written just to rhyme, as it's actually many miles from the coast but none of the seaside towns (like Rhyl) sounded 'right'. It has a horrible jaunty tempo and would be sung by drunken adults at family parties, the same people who enjoyed 'The Birdie Dance'.

Grey Area

mahlerman said...

Is it just serendipitous that the empty brassiere and the tree-bark are almost the same colour? Yes, you are right, I do need to get out more.

Steerforth said...

My father liked it because it made a change from "all those flippin' punk rockers". I suspect that reached No.1 thanks to an unholy alliance between the over 50s and under 10s.

Steerforth said...

It's always good to see the word brassiere - I think most people under 40 believe it's a French eatery.

zmkc said...

How clever to do a week in Instagram. I think I might copy you. I presume the abandoned clothing is a very belated gesture of liberation (poor woman, a. She doesn't know the gesture is redundant these days and b. She couldn't go the whole distance and burn the thing because she'd forgotten to bring matches) or perhaps it's just been washed by country folk and his hanging out to dry

Rog said...

The smartphone camera is a real development. As you observe, it's always in the pocket and ready for opportunistic shots which would otherwise be consigned to the backwaters of half-forgotten memory. My iPhone has almost completely replaced my SLR. All we need now is for Norfolk to develop some sort of half reasonable 3G coverage for instant uploading.

Steerforth said...

I wonder if it might also have been used as a weapon, by a poacher. It would make a lethal slingshot.

Steerforth said...

I have the same problem in rural Sussex. I don't think phone companies like the countryside.

Dale in New Zealand said...

A couple of Google terms for you to explore, Steerforth:
"Aspergers gait" and "Cardrona bra fence" (image search).

Lovely photos; you have such an eye for detail and composition.Keep up the good work.

I find "The day we went to Bangor" a good heart-starter to sing while marching into the shower in the mornings. "The man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo" has the same effect, as does "Stars and Stripes Forever" though you have to la-la that one.

Lucy Melford said...

I very much enjoyed the photos. It proves yet again that the best camera is the one you always have with you. The square format is a constraint that lends itself to thoughtful compositions, but the Instagram 'enhancement' looks a bit unsubtle, if you don't mind my saying so. That said, I'm guilty of many lurid shots myself!

Please keep shooting. I'm thinking that, armed with your phone, you can take the blog forward as a rolling documentary on the extraordinary-where-not-expected.


Steerforth said...

Just Googled it (the - I'm saving the bra for later). Fascinating. It explains why in many photos, he looks as if he has cerebral palsy.

Steerforth said...

I know what you mean. Instagram can make some shots seem hyperreal, but I rather like that, as it gives the user a chance to be more creative. When I photograph a beautiful place, I'm often disappointed by the dullness of the result. Instagram gives me the chance to 'restore' the picture to the way it appeared to me at the time.

Lucille said...

Were you sleeping down the side of the sofa?

I too only use a phone now. I got tired of lugging the camera around and worrying because it didn't have a case and might get wet. Also the lens cap kept popping off. I haven't tried Instagram yet although fellow bloggers have urged me to give it a go.
Your photos are another incentive.

Blackout said...

Love your photos, now stalking you on Instagram :)

Re. the Thing-Tree, I went to a preview showing of the new Fantastic Four movie last night and rest assured, looking at that tree for 100 minutes would have been more entertaining and rewarding. And would probably have had better dialogue, too.

Lucy R. Fisher said...

Steerforth - it's only what clever photo processors used to do. Or you cd do it yourself if you developed your own pix.

Brett said...

Love your photos as always, especially that massive cliff. My Canon S90 sits on the shelf now. It's a good camera, and very compact, but sadly, it can't compete with my smartphone. I really only take "snaps", and never used most of the S90's many functions.

Steerforth said...

Yes, come and join us! I love looking at other people's photos and now have a growing list of places I want to visit.

Steerforth said...

What a shame. It was such a good comic. I've heard that Ant Man is also very disappointing too. Perhaps it's a good thing if they flop, as Hollywood is becoming obsessed with the superhero genre.

Steerforth said...

True - Instagram has made those techniques available to the lay person and we no longer have to worry about filters, shutter speeds or noise. I love it.

Steerforth said...

I bought a Nikon SLR a few months ago and it also sits on the shelf. One day, I'll set aside a few hours to make sense of the instructions, but for the time being I'm happy to take snaps on my phone.

Canadian Chickadee said...

Nice. Very nice. So glad you decided to continue posting.
I like your closeups of the flowers, etc. Your photos remind me of William Blake's "Auguries of innocence":

To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.

xoxo Carol

Anonymous said...

I'm another lurker who enjoys your blog & would miss it very much.
I have a strange question for you. Have you ever read the mystery "Brat Farrar" by Josephine Tey? I fell insanely in love with the book as a teen ager, very long ago indeed. I think it takes place very near Lewes & the mystery hinges on an abandoned quarry.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about restoring the vicar's organ, but I do know this post restored my good humor. Thanks!

Steerforth said...

Carol - I think there's a lot to be said for that. We can become so obsessed with the pursuit of happiness that we forget the simple truth that if we look properly, it's right in front of us. Not being able to travel much has made me relearn the ability to find pleasure in the everyday.

Susan - I haven't read it, but I enjoyed the Franchise Affair so I will have to give it a go. Thanks for tge recommendation.

Tom - I'm very glad that it restored your humour. That's my principle aim, as I never stop being amused by life's absurdities.

Little Nell said...

Great photos. Do you tink the Bra was actually an offering to a tree-god?

I don’t think the wretched Bangor song was Maddy Pryor- first comment - Mr Google tells me it’s Fiddler’s Dram.

Sometimes photos can appear hyper-realistic and in order to scotch rumours that you’ve altered it you have to put the hashtag ‘no filter’ so I’m told.

I am an intermittent intagrammer, but I’ll happily join in the game - I could do with some more followers. I am of course, Little Nell, as always.

Steerforth said...

You're right Nell, it was a woman called Cathy, but her voice was uncannily similar to the great Maddy Prior.

I'm now following you on Instagram and have enjoyed looking through your photos. As far as the filters are concerned, I love them and relish the opportunity to do something creative with my imperfect pics.