Wednesday, 7 November 2018

1760 : Nine Distilleries 9. Jura

There are currently only eight distilleries on Islay, so to get to the last of my nine distilleries entailed a short ferry trip to the island of Jura. Despite being thirty miles long and seven miles wide, Jura has a population of less than 200, and only one road, one pub, and one distillery. The Jura Distillery was founded in 1810, but more or less completely rebuilt just fifty years ago. It’s whiskies are generous in taste and flavour - as was the hand of our host in the tasting rooms. The whole experience was well worth the crossing.

To complete the cycle of all eight Islay distilleries is a crowning achievement in anyone’s life. Once done, one can settle down to living the rest of one’s life in a kind of peat whisky fuelled glow. The task has been done - and would never need doing again. Unless, of course, someone was to build a new distillery on the island and then the whole exercise would need to be done again. 

As we were driving from Bunnahabhain to Caol Isla we saw the construction traffic and then the signs .... “Ardnahoe Distillery - Opening Late 2018”

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

1759 : Nine Distilleries 8. Bowmore

Bowmore - the last of my Islay distilleries - is a bit special. It is situated in the town of the same name; or at least what passes for a town on Islay. It has a tasting room with views to die for and malt whiskies to make your passing entirely painless. It is one of the oldest distilleries, not just on Islay but in all of Scotland. They even use the spare heat from the distillation process to heat the local swimming pool!

Monday, 5 November 2018

1758 : Nine Distilleries 7. Caol Ila

I wanted to go to the Caol Ila Distillery for two reasons. First, it would count towards my full set of Islay distilleries, and second, I was desperate to know how to pronounce it! For years, I have been going in pubs, seeing a bottle of Caol Ila behind the bar and being reluctant to ask for it for fear of pronouncing it wrong. So the first thing I asked the charming young lady in the Visitors Centre was for advice in pronunciation. She told me and then she served me with a complimentary dram to taste. Sadly, within a few hours I had forgotten how to achieve the precise lilt and lyricism: so I had to return to the distillery the next day and ask again. She very kindly repeated the lesson and the presented me with another free dram. I dare say that I could provide you with the phonetic spelling of the distillery name - but I am not going to do so. May I suggest you go to Islay yourself and ask the young lady concerned.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

1757 : Nine Distilleries 6. Bunnahabhain

It was the kind of day where Mother Nature decides that colour is an optional extra. The road we drove along looked as if it was heading directly to the end of the world with no option to pass Go. The distillery had the look of a half-abandoned film set; brooding in a way that only granite can brood. You were surprised to find another human there, but there was a chap speaking in tongues about salt, sea and sherry casks. And then he would pass you a glass to sample. I am still not sure if it was a dream or not.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

1756 : Nine Distilleries 5. Lagavulin

We've all played this game: you are alone in a leaking hot air balloon above a crocodile infested lake. The only way to keep it from crashing is to progressively jettison the cargo - which comprises of twelve bottles of single malt whisky. Some are easily thrown over the side, others take more careful thought. Which would be the last bottle you jettisoned? For me, the answer has always been a 16 year old Lagavulin, so my visit to that distillery was eagerly awaited. And it did not disappoint: despite the wind, despite the rain, the Dram Bar was like a tiny corner of heaven.

Friday, 2 November 2018

1755 : Nine Distilleries 4. Ardbeg

It was a bit of a black and white day when we visited the Ardbeg Distillery: the buildings were Islay white, but most other things including the clouds were black. Nevertheless the distillery complex managed to maintain the refined dignity of a maiden aunt, completely in keeping with an organisation owned by the Mo√ęt Hennessy Louis Vuitton group. There is a fine cafe where you can take lunch or have tea and scones  ... and then work your way through a tray full of sample single malts. Delicious.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

1754 : Nine Distilleries. 3. Kilchoman

If Distillery No. 2 - opened in 1881 - was a young Islay distillery, the third in my series is positively neonatal. Kilchoman Farm Distillery only began production in 2005 and its first single malt whisky didn't go on sale until September 2009. New it may be, but it is a bit of a gem: surrounded by fields of growing barley, continuing to use the traditional floor-malting process, and distilling, maturing and bottling on the island itself. As far as I can remember, the product was a bit of a gem as well, but for some reason my memories of the visit became a little hazy.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

1753 : Nine Distilleries. 2. Bruichladdich

The second of the nine distilleries was Bruichladdich on the Rhinns of Islay. Built in 1881 - comparatively recently in Islay terms - it was the creation of the Harvey Brothers of Glasgow. It was designed by brother John, engineered by brother Robert, and financed by brother William. Despite its "modern" design, the fortunes of the distillery have reflected those of the wider whisky industry, and it has been mothballed four times: 1907-18, 1929-35, 1941-45, and 1994-2000. Today it is thriving under the ownership of the Remy-Cointreau Group.

1752 : Nine Distilleries. 1. Laphroaig

I have just returned from a week on the beautiful island of Islay during which I managed to fit in a visit to each of the island's eight distilleries. Add on to that a quick trip over to the neighbouring island of Jura, and that is nine distilleries in total. 

The first visit was only an unhealthy walk away from where we were staying - the Laphroaig Distillery, about a mile or so from Port Ellen. It had the classic look of an Islay distillery - whitewashed walls stacked up against a seaweed-brown beach.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

1751 : You Can't Say No To A Goddess

We went to the Roman Baths at Bath last week. The rain forced me to leave my camera back at the hotel, but I still had my iPhone with me. As we walked around the museum this splendid bronze head of the goddess Sulis Minerva asked me to take a selfie. You can't say no to a goddess.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

1750 : Take Our Picture, Mister

It is back in the early 1980s. I was wandering around the Kelvin Hall Flats in Upperthorpe, Sheffield, looking for beauty in brutalism. I came across these two kids and their cry was "take our picture, mister". Job done.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

1749 : A Street I Must have Known

This was taken in Sheffield in the early 1980s. I am not entirely sure where it is, but it is a street I must have walked down, a street I must have known.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

1748 : Arthur Points The Way

This is a new scan of a negative I must have shot some thirty-seven years ago at a Yorkshire Miners' Gala in Rotherham. It was a few months before the start of the miners' strike, and there is Arthur Scargill pointing the way. Somehow it has turned itself into a sepia print - which is rather fitting perhaps.

Friday, 14 September 2018

1747 : The End Of The Line

The driver and fireman of the Scarborough Spa Express at the end of the line, Scarborough Station. Just time for a quick chat and a bite to eat, and then it's time to turn the engine around and head back west again.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

1738 : Lee Bank Mill, Halifax

A photograph of Lee Bank Mill in Halifax which I took in the early 1970s. It was an age of closed and crumbling mill buildings - an industrial heartland being reclaimed by vegetation.

1737 : Halifax In Transition

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

1736 : Stone, Chapel And Chimney

Stone, Chapel And Chimney

Stone, Chapel And Chimney
In suspect that this photograph dates from around 1970. Whilst the precise date may be lost, the location is undoubtedly West Yorkshire and that part of the county characterised by stone walls, chapels and mill chimneys.

Friday, 15 June 2018

1735 : Sea, Sky And Seagulls

Southwold, Suffolk : May 2018

The British seaside: sea, sands, sky, fish and chips, ice cream, and seagulls.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

1734 : Archives - Orgreave Before The Battle

Orgreave Coking Plant, Sheffield 1982  (Alan Burnett)
Orgreave Coking Plant was like a working industrial sculpture that greeted visitors to the city as they drove along the Parkway from the M1. A couple of years after I took this photograph it became famous as the site of the famous Battle of Orgreave during the Miner’s strike. Within ten years it had been demolished and the site cleared and redeveloped.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

1733 : Ten From Spain 5 : A Lingering Smile

Years and years of sun, gusts and gusts of wind, and the occasional rain that has strayed down off the plain have had their effects on this church carving - but that glimmer of a smile still lingers on.

Monday, 14 May 2018

1732 : Ten From Spain 4 : The Spanish Flag

If ever Spain decides it needs a new flag, they could do worse than an angled white building set against a stunning blue sky.

Friday, 11 May 2018

1731 Ten From Spain 3: Transparent Signs

Whilst the rain in Spain might stay mainly on the plain, the sun gets all over the place. Through the orange trees, through the terracotta urbanisations, even through the roadside signs themselves.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

1730 Ten From Spain 2 : Crystallised Yachts

Turn your back on the concrete blockhouses and you see something very different. The blue sea merges into the blue sky and black-masted boats crystallise where they meet.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

1729 : Ten From Spain 1. Sunny Geometry

There is something about the new bits of Spain: it's all surfaces and straight lines. It is like they have been designed using just a handful of instruments from a child's geometry set - on the day the pair of compasses went missing.

Friday, 27 April 2018

1728 : Ten From The Seaside 10 - To The Next Wave

Like the sea itself,  closeness to the seaside comes in waves: childhood, parenthood and so on. That intimate knowledge of sand, plastic buckets and salty sea-spray can only be experienced through the eyes of the young. Here's to the next wave.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

1727 : Ten From The Seaside 9 : As Constant As Sea And Sand

Donkey On The Sand At St Annes (Photo By Frank Fieldhouse, 1941)
The seaside has been a constant since the first day excursion train set out from the first industrial town on a bank holiday Monday. As constant as work and play, sea and sand. This photo features my auntie, Miriam Fieldhouse, during a wartime holiday in St. Annes-on-Sea.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

1726 Ten From The Seaside 8 : Cleethorpes Palette

I didn't take all that many colour photographs back in the pre-digital days, but this is a rare one taken at Cleethorpes in the mid 1980s. Even with a colour film loaded, you didn't need an extensive palette in Cleethorpes.

Monday, 23 April 2018

1725 : Ten From The Seaside 7 : Donkeys On The Sands

Donkeys On The Sands, Skegness, c.1982 : It's as British as marmalade on toast and malt vinegar on chips: donkeys on the sands. How many times have foreign invaders been driven back from  the coast by a cornet-carrying child mounted on a dapple donkey?

Friday, 20 April 2018

1724 Ten From The Seaside 6 : Paint Cleethorpes

Cleethorpes Pier : c.1982
Basic ingredients for a British seaside holiday : a pier, some sand, a bucket, and a palette full of grey paint. Any resort: paint the Humber estuary, paint Cleethorpes.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

1723 Ten From The Seaside 5 : Bingo, Fruit And Ice Cream

The seaside is more than sea and sand and lobster pots. The seaside is rock and ice cream and games of bingo in neon-lit halls - all to the accompaniment of coin-dropping fruit machines. This was Bridlington back in the 1970s. It still is, fifty years later.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

1722 Ten From The Seaside 4 : Bridlington Breakwater

The sands of the Yorkshire beaches are punctuated with stout wooden breakwaters. Designed to break the backs of the raw North Sea waves, they also provide somewhere to sit down, and - occasionally - provide shade from the sun.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

1721 Ten From The Seaside 3 : Watching The Tide Go Out

A typical British seaside view - sun, sea and overcoats. We are still in Bridlington, still in the 1970s and this particular group have managed to get a Royal Box to watch the tide go out.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

1720 : 10 From The Seaside 2 - Somewhere Under The Rainbow

This is one of my pictures from the 1960s of the old fishing harbour at Bridlington. The Sailor's Bethel was a non-conformist church catering for the welfare and spiritual needs of fishermen and sailors. The building is still there but is now known by the less picturesque name of The Harbourside Evangelical Church.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

1719 Ten From The Seaside 1 : Bracing Bits

Spring came yesterday. It has gone away again today, but that one oblique glance at the sun was enough to make me want to go to the seaside. So a new mini-series of scans from my old negatives starts with the seaside at its bracing best - Skegness. This photograph was taken a couple of years after the great storm of January 1978 cut the pier into three bits.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

1718 : Ten From The Pub 10 - A Pint Of My Mam

Beer Pump Display - Bobbin Ligger, Milltown Brewing Co.

A few years ago I suggested a name for a new beer which was being brewed by Huddersfield's Milltown Brewing Company. The theme for their beers was the old Yorkshire textile industry and the name was based on my father's first job in the mill - a bobbin ligger (someone who would fetch and carry empty yarn bobbins). I designed the beer pump display and incorporated a picture of my mother when she worked in the mill. This provided the unmissable experience of being able to walk into my local pub and ask for "a pint of my mam, please".

FOUND 1 : Walking With Confidence

  FOUND 1 : The joy of found photographs is that, whilst they provide a visual superstructure, you are free to construct your own backstory ...