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Breeze

Fishing boats are lovely splashes of colour on a winter’s day. I love the way the boat colours match not only the buoys but the amusement arcades in the distance, and how the rope leads your eye towards them.

It’s a magical time when the tide goes out and you get a lovely squelchy playground to explore, including these colourful little fishing boats that you can walk right up to. Flash forward a few hours and they will be totally inaccessible. When you see them bobbing up and down on the water, reclaimed as perches by smug seagulls, you’ll think it was all just a surreal dream that you had walked amongst them the very same day.

I have learned that when the tide does come back in it does so very quickly. It is easy to be cut off if you focus too much on taking photos and forget to watch the tide. Fortunately it hasn’t happened to me as yet, though I have had a couple of close calls.

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The New Dawn

Obviously this isn’t a photo I’ve taken recently, but I couldn’t let today pass without marking it somehow. So I’m posting this picture taken in Massachusetts back in 2017. I was visiting my friend Chris there who I recall was embarrassed, angry and concerned about having Trump as President. Her hope was that he was just too lazy and self-obsessed to actually implement much during his term, and that the Americans would boot him out at the end of it.

But Chris didn’t just sit back and hope that Trump wasn’t re-elected. She sent over 800 postcards in the lead up to the election, to constituents in closely contested states. These were targeted at folks who hadn’t voted in the last election but had voted for the Democrats in the past, and were begging them to go out and vote this time. So, I know that she will be very happy today to see a new chapter in the White House, one that already has hallmarks of kindness, integrity, dignity, racial tolerance and an understanding of the issues that America, and indeed the world, is facing.

So Chris, I’m drinking a toast to you as well as to Biden and Harris, for wanting change so fervently that you did your bit to help it happen. As Biden said in his inauguration speech, we have to believe that change can come about.

It’s hard to see a glimmer of hope this side of the Atlantic. All I can wish for right now is that, with the Right Wing bully gone from a position of power in the States, such politics will be less fashionable at home. Maybe our government will need to change their tone a bit, and also not be so quick to label anyone disagreeing with them as ‘woke’.

What else gives me hope? We will have an election in the UK again at some point, and maybe a change can come about here too. As America’s Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, told us all so powerfully today:

The new dawn blooms as we free it.

For there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it,

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

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A Winter’s day at the Beach

The weather has been remarkably spring-like these past few days in Kent. On Sunday the sunshine brought so many people out to enjoy the beach. We had been encouraged by the government to stay at home this weekend, as the virus numbers are currently so high. But I think that, for the sake of everyone’s moral, a few hours in the sunshine is allowed. Especially as there is evidence that vitamin D, which you get from sunshine, not only protects you from catching Coronavirus, but also makes the symptoms less severe if you do get it.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Vitamin D helps your body to fight against the virus, as it generally helps to boost the immune system. It also helps to support healthy heart, bones and skin. Plus, as a bonus, it can boost your mood – it’s no wonder we’re so happy when the sun is shining!

Previously I talked about the mood-boosting qualities of the sea – so when you can combine those properties with sunshine, it’s no wonder that British folks just love spending time at the seaside. And, even in a time of Covid, I think a bit of this is allowed – especially as a I lot of the people I saw were wearing face masks and practising social distancing.

So this may have to be the new normal – enjoying a bit of time in the fresh air when we can while taking precautions – and some may feel that even that is off limits. But a sedentary life is not good for our minds or our bodies; so it’s a balancing act and we all have to do what we think is right both for ourselves and our fellow citizens.

If you are having to limit your time outdoors you can also get vitamin D both in table form and through certain foods such as oily fish, red meat and egg yolks. Light boxes can also help your moods and help to combat SAD (seasonal affected disorder) syndrome that many suffer from in winter. In fact I have one sitting beside me now while I type.

This image forms part of my Daily Print series, and is available to buy here

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All fluffed up!

What a difference a day makes! Yesterday we had snow; today it felt like spring. I’m glad I got out to appreciate it because I hear that rain is on its way next week. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. By the look things, this fluffed up Collared Dove was enjoying the brief respite from winter as much as I was.

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Making Tracks

So, with Margate being in the news for rather unfortunate reasons (apparently the Kent mutation started here), I thought I’d focus a cheerier thing that happened in the town today – it snowed! Just for an hour or so early this morning, swiftly followed by rain. I suspect it had gone by the time many had risen, so here’s the evidence that snow did indeed come to town.

Given that putting the bins out each week is about as exciting as it gets these days, a sprinkling of snow on the ground in the ground was something to celebrate. I’m sad it was over so quickly but, given that I can still feel the chill in my bones several hours later, it’s probably for the best that it was merely a fleeting diversion from the norm.

Now, back to reading books and editing photos for a few more weeks…..

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Home Safety

Lockdown 2021 feels so different to the one last spring. Obviously I haven’t been out much, so I could be wrong, but there is a general sense this time that people are just resigned to it and getting on with it. I’m not seeing the rainbows or the teddies in the windows; and clap for carers is a bit of a damp squib (which I find totally understandable, as it became politicised and tired. Even the person who initiated it won’t participate this time around).

On social media there is a distinct lack of quirky lockdown memes trying to keep our spirits up, and even the advertising seems to have changed – no more romanticising how we’re all in this together and trying to outcompete each other on the Coronavirus caring stakes. Instead we’re seeing lots of adverts for nurses and teachers (hmm, can’t think why……), and some quite amusing ones too, as if humour is allowed again. Oh and a lot for property sites, which I guess is a reflection of the stamp duty holiday, and for home delivery. Who doesn’t love the ‘Just Eat’ advert with Snoop Dog doing the catchiest jingle since ‘Do the shake and vac and put the freshness back’? I think that, and the ComparetheMeerkat adverts, are just about getting me through lockdown.

Well, I’m digressing, but I do think that this has been a fascinating period for social history, and it is interesting to see how fashions quickly change, even in terms of the perceived acceptable public response to a pandemic. I guess, one year on from when we first started hearing about that ‘Novel Coronavirus’ in Wuhan and wondering what it has to do with us, living with the virus is now the new norm.

So, maybe today’s picture, which was taken in Ramsgate incidentally, looks suitably nostalgic. It harks back to that time, way back in 2020, when war was declared on a virus and we all pulled together to help defeat it, with that misguided belief that it could all be over by Christmas….

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Extreme Social Distancing

This picture may look like it was posed but I promise you it wasn’t. It’s just two people outdoors doing their thing during lockdown 3.

The feeling of solitude and sense of possible loneliness reminds me slightly of Hopper paintings. But there is also a sense of defiance – these two are owning Lockdown 3 and are not going to be beaten by it. Well, they did have a fantastic vantage point of what turned out to be a stunning sunset – so I’d say it’s 2-0 to the girl in the red hat and the guy in the yellow coat vs Covid 19.

I just want to know when they will drop the album….

This image forms part of my Daily Print series, and is available to buy here

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Parakeet

This morning I spotted some cheeky parakeets from my back window. They were happily chattering away and preening themselves, seemingly without a care in the world. It was a lovely sight, which makes me all the more sad to hear that the government is considering culling these birds.

It appears that in the last decade parakeets have spread out from London and are becoming an ever-growing threat to native wildlife – the grey squirrel of the skies, so to speak.

The good news is that Jimi Hendrix has finally been cleared of blame for introducing them to London in the first place, when he released a pair in Carnaby Street back in the sixties. It turns out that they have been spotted in London skies as far back as the 1800s. It’s nice idea though, that his presence lives on through more ways than his music – and somewhat apt, as they have a flamboyant appearance and like to make a lot of noise.

This image forms part of my Daily Print series, and is available to buy here

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Coastal Zen

Just a little moment of coastal tranquility – a seagull perched on a coastal marker with a ship anchored in the distance. Calm, turquoise waters, a pastel blue sky and a gentle reflection. That is all.

This image forms part of my Daily Print series, and is available to buy here

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Morning seagull

I spotted this seagull outside of my window this morning. It was to the side of me so I couldn’t quite get all of him in the frame. But there’s something about the colours, with his eye seemingly reflecting the colour of the moss, and also his lovely webbed foot, that I loved. So I’ve featured him anyhow. Besides, sometimes less is more.

This is one of those pictures when the grey sky works, creating a gentle, harmonious backdrop to the vivid moss, and to the soft colours of the gull. Winter photography can be great.

People often confuse my photos with paintings. I’ve a feeling this is going to be one of those images.

This image forms part of my Daily Print series, and is available to buy here