Monday, 27 June 2016

Endless Rain Into a Paper Cup

Barrow on Old Winchester Hill, August 2014

There I was, at midday on one of the longest days of the year, skulking indoors with the light on, would you believe. Perfectly normal, of course; plenty of summers in recent years have been washouts, and there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that the rich layabouts at Glastonbury are having a crimp put in their glamping. It was particularly annoying to hear that some local children were late for their GCSE exams because of the festival traffic snarlup; some school bus drivers even decided to turn back, judging the situation hopeless. Apparently some less-than-happy campers were stuck in the queue for twelve hours. Twelve hours! Frankly, nothing – except perhaps flight from imminent genocide – is worth twelve hours in a traffic queue, and I wouldn't even cross the road to hear Coldplay whining in a wet, muddy field.

Anyway. Following on from a previous post, I've been looking at some more of those unprocessed Fuji X-Pro1 files from summers past, and found some pretty ones (not necessarily "pretty good", mark you, but "pretty" will do) from August 2014. I'm intrigued by their quality. The processing innards of the X-Pro1 and the X-E1 being pretty much identical, what I'm noticing must be the quality of the XF 35mm f/1.4 lens that came with the second-hand X-Pro1 body, and which I quickly set aside in favour of the more versatile "kit" zoom that arrived with the X-E1. That 18-55 lens is very good, but I'm finally seeing why the 35mm has the reputation it does. I did keep it, so maybe I will be using it more. Assuming the rain ever stops.

Old Winchester Hill, where these photographs were taken, is a wonderful place to visit, in dry weather. As it happens it's nowhere near Winchester, and is about as far to the ESE of Winchester as Southampton is to the south, so it's rather like calling the docks "Winchester Waterfront". It's a high chalk escarpment with a promontory leading out to a hill, topped by Bronze Age barrows lying within the ramparts of a very large Iron Age hillfort. It's now a Site of Special Scientific Interest, due to its "unimproved chalk downland" flora and fauna, though it was also once used as a training ground for small arms and mortar-fire during WW2. I have several times come across the brass casings of .303 rounds thrown up by burrowing moles, and some areas are still officially out-of-bounds, due to the risk of "unexploded munitions". You can't help but watch the sheep grazing those parts of the hillside with unusually close interest, in anticipation of one vanishing in a Python-esque puff of pink smoke.

Old Winchester Hill, August 2014


Kent Wiley said...

My oh my. You might have to institute a Cranky Old Man Posting Alert at the top of the page. Aw wtf - it's why we love ya Mike.

Mike C. said...


What, Glastonbury, you mean? From the original hippie festival it's now become part of the social "season" for the upper middle classes -- tickets are over £200! People rent upscale VW camper vans because that's the necessary festival look (or there are rentable onsite luxury yurts!). And the acts they choose as headliners...


Kent Wiley said...

They probably pioneered that "service sector". Seems one of our local festivals has the same sort of upscale amenities. Personally, I can't think of anywhere I wouldn't want to be more than one of these summer festivals. Joining a group of three is pressure I can barely tolerate.