The mass of yellow flowers and pungent aroma are long gone, and the rapeseed is left to ripen in the field by a favourite walk. The plants are not generally regarded as visually attractive at this stage, but the setting sun and cloudscape in the background give a helping hand, resulting in a pleasing image.
I love being on the cliffs at Thursaston on the Wirral side of the Dee Estuary. When the tide is down you are basically looking out over huge mudflats with the occasional resting anchored boat, and when it is up the expanse of water becomes huge. Amid this twice daily rhythm there are often spectacular sunsets, at this time of the year round the corner up the coast towards Liverpool and beyond. Although there are few birds just here at this time of year, you are almost spoilt for choice photographically. Here are just a few.
I imagine that there is always a wonderful sunset in progress somewhere on earth; whether you see it is just a question of where you stand – a metaphor for the inner spiritual world that lies always within and is accessible with the right inner stance, or so we are told by countless mystics and sages.
The process of seeing the setting sun is, for me, in itself a spiritual experience, bringing me closer to that inner world. So the chance to stand on these Devon cliffs at the recent full moon, as the sun went down, was a privilege indeed. My trusty Panasonic ZX200 superzoom made a fair interpretation of the true glory of the colours, here presented in time sequence.
I was watching out for the green flash as the sun disappeared, but it was not to be on this occasion.
Meanwhile, behind me the unusually large April supermoon was coming up fast, a reminder that these two lights are inseparable and interdependent, as are mind and feelings, which they represent in astrology.
Serenaded by blackbirds on a country walk, coming up to sundown. The pattern of clouds in the luminescent sky, or archipelagoes out to sea?
Silhouettes of the living intricate skeletons of trees, soon to be bedecked with thousands of leaves.
Shot just to the left of the declining sun.
Once I was taught to write proper sentences.
At the end of a dull grey January day, a patch of clear sky and low sun show the beauty of deciduous trees in winter.
I think these two are oaks.
Towards sundown in winter Tatton Park becomes a place of magic, with wonderful images of sky, silhouettes of trees and the lakes. The recent snow and ice on the lake gave an added bonus this New Year’s Eve.
I couldn’t decide which of two similar images to include, so here they are both.
A late afternoon walk at Shakerley Mere, as the sun is going down. Nice photo opportunities.
Click to see detail.
The central section of Southport’s pier offers photogenic opportunities, such as this one set against a bright late afternoon December sky. Clumps of marram grass and reflections in foreground puddles complete the picture.
The view in the opposite direction (northwards) can also be of interest. Here the low sun catches the normally unremarkable buildings of Lytham St Annes on the Fylde coast, 5 miles away as the crow flies (or 34 miles by road, skirting around the Ribble estuary).
Heavy cloud can give good photo opportunities, when there are gaps. Here the pools of water on the beach at Southport, that gap in the cloud, and the low late afternoon December sun combine to stunning effect.
Sun going down over the sea in North Devon, after a bit of a cloudy day. It starts like this.
And then the magic happens.
Every evening, a different show.
Crosby beach is a popular place to view the ships coming into Liverpool down the deep water channel in the Mersey estuary. The windmills provide an ideal backdrop, as the Antony Gormley statues look out.
A good place to rest awhile.
And as the sun goes down you can watch the ships queuing to come down the deep water channel into Liverpool.
So that’s it. The sun goes down over Knutsford 31st January 2020, heavy clouds loom. It’s the last sunset we shall see while the UK is in the EU. We are actually out. The UK flag is coming down all over Europe. Winston Churchill’s dream is over for us in the UK, for now – but it is alive and well in the rest of the EU. We wish them well, and hope to join again some day.
Reactions have been remarkably contrasting, notably in the European parliament, where the emotionally mature statements of the European politicians contrasted markedly with the infantile gestures of Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party.
For another 11 months we’ll individually have the privileges of membership, such as freedom to work or retire anywhere in Europe, such as reciprocal medical care when we travel, such as minimal bureaucracy when we take the dog to Europe. Life is likely to be more inconvenient and costly from there on. But that’s nothing compared to the strain on UK people living in EU and and other countries nationals living in UK – it is a nightmare for them. Even for us, it feels that we have been severed from Europe against our will by our fellow citizens – like the branch on this tree.
We now await the Amazing Boris performing the great illusion of Having His Cake and Eating It, just as he did with the Withdrawal Agreement. This time I fear he will fail, falling between Scylla and Charybdis (EU and US). But maybe he is the master illusionist?
If only there had been an evident good reason for Brexit, it might have all seemed worthwhile, rather than being an unnecessary diversion from the real issues we (and Europe) face!
I spotted this silhouetted curlew on the rocks, against the backdrop of this sundown picture at Crosby, Merseyside.
The sun is not yet low enough to produce the longer wavelength reds and yellows, but as we drove into Southport, a bit further up the coast, these colours had become quite magnificent, but for only a short while.
Quite a difference!
The metropolitan borough of Sefton extends from Bootle, on the edge of Liverpool, up the coast as far as Southport.
We were in the car park by Southport’s Marine Drive having lunch. Out of the dunes at the back of the parking area came several youngsters carrying what looked like a couple of canoes or surf boards. Not thinking much of it, we carried on eating. A few minutes later their two tiny cars drove away, and we realised there was no trailer, no roof rack, the boards had somehow gone into the cars. Now that was a mystery.
Lunch over, we went for a walk with the dog over the said dunes to see the Marine Lake. On the lake were a couple of similar boards, with people standing on them and apparently punting or paddling. A friendly local, who turned out to be their mother, was standing by the waterside, so we asked her what these things were – paddleboards. Apparently they fold down for storage but you pump them up to make the boards, which are then driven/steered from a standing position by a long paddle.
The slowly declining sun provided a super backdrop for a photograph or two.
According to our informant, the Marine Lake is a popular venue for paddleboarding. She had tried it on the sea, but got seasick!
Internet research shows that paddleboards have been around for a few years and are a rapidly growing trend. It looks fun. We should keep up!
It was over 50 years ago that I first experienced a wonderful sunset at Parkgate on the Dee Estuary. So incredible it was, that I had some sort of peak experience. Unfortunately (from this perspective) I was with very materialistic university friends who were not impressed and could not understand my elated state. The effect soon passed, as the beer took over.
Last weekend the sunset and the effect were much less spectacular, but still provides a decent photograph. A good birding pool in the marshes gives the foreground, with the dark hills of Flintshire behind. The channel of the River Dee now flows along that side of the estuary, leaving Parkgate, which was once a port, with just marshland at the quayside.
I think awe is probably the right word to describe my reaction to these spectacles of nature.
Neumann’s Flash was formed when a salt mine collapsed in 1873. The Northwich salt mines had expanded rapidly without due safeguards, so inadequate supports were left to hold up the ground overhead.
A chemical industry developed around the production of salt, so the enormous holes created by this collapse, and the even more dramatic collapse of the nearby Ashton’s Flash in 1880, were in the 1950s used to dump lime waste. After dumping ceased, nature gradually began to recover and since the 1970s the area has been gradually developed into a country park, now part of the Mersey Forest initiative. Yes nature will recover, if given half a chance. See the story here.
Today, this is a great area for walking and birding, joining up with the nearby Anderton and Marbury parks.
The picture shows Neumann’s Flash from one of its three hides, with a fair sprinkling of birds on the water, as the sun slowly sinks towards the horizon.
The featured image is a crop of the central area.
A spectacular sunset was the highlight of my afternoon walk today. The featured image shows a plane flying out from Manchester Airport over the town, and the following two images are taken from near St Cross Church.
In my experience the Merseyside coast has some fabulous sunsets. The recent one at Southport, with the sun setting over the Mersey bay, was particularly spectacular.
To see an image full screen you will need to single click twice. The high contrast resulted in my Panasonix TZ200 producing a rather grainy beach with little detail.
This sky also gave a good backdrop to two of Southport’s rather quirky pieces of street decoration.
A white dog runs out into the Dee estuary from the beach at Thursaston in the Wirral. The owner calls it back, and there emerges a white dog with brown legs. The estuary is actually very muddy, beyond the thin strip of sandy beach at the edge. Viewed from the low cliffs, mud, sand, river and tides combine together in wondrous picturesque swirls and patterns. Add to that the Sun descending slowly in the western sky. This combination never fails to lift the spirit.
Llano is a good place to stop on the way to somewhere else in Texas. This small town was founded as a frontier trading centre on the Llano River in 1856. The river and the ‘old’ town provide the main focus of interest, plus one of the best BBQ restaurants around (delicious).
The bridge is rather functional and not particularly attractive, so I was quite surprised that my Panasonic ZX200 made it look quite attractive after nightfall (featured image).
More spectacular was the view of the evening sky from the bridge, over the weir.