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Twenty-five years, almost four thousand episodes and goodness knows how many rounds of Susie Dent rifling through the dictionary – that’s no bad thing. There are many good things about Countdown, obviously, but Dent’s unassuming charm is up there with the very best.

I spent considerably less than a quarter-century on this portrait, but hopefully her endearing personality is coming through.

Long may she continue!

berneyinn-4aSituated somewhere between Great Yarmouth and Reedham, Berney Arms is about as splendidly isolated as it gets. If you’re not approaching by boat, the only vehicular alternative is getting off at the dedicated train station. The stop was erected in 1844 – the landowner, one Thomas Berney, agreed to the railway’s construction only on the condition that a station was placed on the way.

It at least affords greater access to the drainage mill. Berney Arms High Mill stands beside the River Yare, now bereft of almost all the dwellings that stood in the vicinity and dominating the skyline by itself.

But I suspect that, for many, even the glorious windmill couldn’t overshadow the other pillar of this unique area: the eighteenth century public house, the Berney Arms itself. The establishment lasted long after the aforementioned community disappeared; sold on its quirkiness alone, business was consistently strong – indeed, pints were still being pulled until October 2015, when closure came with the departure of its landlord. At some point since it has suffered at the hands of vandals and arsonists. A shameful desecration and a sad end of an era. Hopefully, it will one day reopen its doors.

The area is reachable on foot – if you’re prepared to make the five mile treck from Great Yarmouth across the marshes – along the Wherryman’s Way footpath. I suppose it was a handy option for walking off that pub lunch. Enchanted as I am with the place, it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. One day, when the weather is just right!

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stbenets-2Contrary to my previous post, it’s been lovely today. Hot, but not too hot. Later on, however, the sky developed a bit of a temper and I became hopeful of a storm, but as yet nothing has happened. Just like my previous post, I’m holding out for a rumble…

That would explain the attraction to a particularly stormy reference photo and a return to St Benet’s Abbey after almost two years. (The early days. I posted five images in that one post – what’s happened to value for money?)

I’ve done lots of atmospheric-minded stuff quickly and with a limited palette, if not entirely monochrome; some of these were initially to be colour but didn’t turn out well, hence the reduction. Tonight I didn’t allow myself that safety net, and tried to capture in full colour that powerful, moody light as it bathes the ruins – something I’ve always loved about the onset of a thunderstorm.

This was fun. I am enjoying this particular brush – the same as I used last time for my picture postcard. Its long and weathered shape is coming in handy for both brick and vegetation, not to mention texture. I did end up spending longer on this than I’d planned – just a creep over the hour – but that was only because I was having too good a time marking the ruins. No complains there!

I wrote at some length before about the rich history and lore wrapped up in the remains; it really is a tremendously stimulating place, and so I would recommend a visit if ever you can – when the weather’s nicer than this, though!

broadside-1-captionedThe heat, am I right folks?

As sweltering as it’s been, the week has been less than productive. I’ve barely been able to function, never mind sit in front of a computer and make stuff – and it looks to be continuing for a little while yet. At least it means time in the garden, the whiff of nearby barbecues, and ice lollies a-plenty!

After much desperate fumbling, look what came out. What a surprise! It’s like they’re instinctive; I never tire of them! The foremost windpump is based on an old reference from Ludham, and I believe has since been demolished. I wish it were still here. I improvised the rest to try and give a quintessentially Norfolk picture-postcard image – in composition, at least. Of course, where else would one rather be in this weather? I did attempt to add colour and gradients and goodness knows what else, but felt it stronger without the adjustments.

The postcard concept came to me after a hugely important item on the local news, highlighting how few of them are sent these days. As if the windmill weren’t a natural subject before that: like most five-year olds, I indulged in deltiology and put together – and filled – an album of windmill postcards which I could marvel at, draw from, or both. I called it a ‘Walbum’, and no day out was complete without a new one to add to the collection. I wonder if my parents still have it…

Oh, and just for luck: here’s a piece several months old, somehow overlooked back when I was playing with brisk settings (something I really ought to get back into, as it was a heap of fun). It’s rather stormy – might we get a rumble of thunder soon? Fingers crossed.

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lighthouse001Lighthouses are plentiful on the east coast, but few could boast the immediate charm of Happisburgh. The oldest of its kind left in East Anglia, construction in 1790 came in response to a dire winter the year previous, in which hundreds of sailors were lost for the lack of warning lights. Two towers were originally built, but the second structure, under threat of collapse due to erosion, was demolished in the late nineteenth century, granting the taller twin undivided attention.

lighthouse003After almost two hundred years, it seemed it was lights out for Happisburgh in 1988 when service was decommissioned, shunned for more sophisticated navigational technology. Thanks to a tireless local campaign and parliamentary action, it was saved and entrusted to a small group as an independent facility. Upkeep is entirely dependent on volunteers and tourists, thousands of whom visit each year.

The light still operates and has a range of eighteen miles.

lighthouse002It was nice to be able to work a bit more liberally with trees thanks to what was learnt in the Huizermolen build.

It seemed ludicrous and chicken to go so far constructing the lighthouse without due consideration for the light bit. Within the lamp room, I modelled a basic lens for beaming with a spotlight behind it, and it seemed to work, giving the small source a wider, tinted glow. I actually think I fiddled a bit too much, especially with turbulence, and started to lose some of the early promise. It’s something to look at on the next attempt.

I want to marry a lighthouse keeper, won’t that be okay?

 

adamwest-3It’s a shame to hear of Adam West’s passing. A fine comic actor, but most of all the man who gave Batman a sense of humour in the legendary TV series. Certainly, the quips, the puns and the sheer absurdity of it all made the franchise accessible to me as a young boy, providing some light relief from the gloomy and scary Tim Burton films of the day.

The series doubtless threw up many classic moments – and dance routines – there’s the bomb, but for me it’s always this particular scene that springs to mind first. Hilarious. You wouldn’t catch Bale or Affleck doing this…

 

morten-1bIf I were around in the eighties, I’m sure I’d have been swooning all over the place whenever the gorgeous Mr. Harket made an appearance. Not that it’s any different today. He’s even more stunning now; the boyish beauty now elevated with experience, character and the lack of mullet-esque bouffant. Hence, the inspiration to use him for a quickie.

Well, I’m only human.

Relative quickie, at least – a couple of hours. Something about the facial structure is off, but there are elements of the man I can see coming through, so I suppose that’s good. Mostly, I was just happy it came together, and faster than normal; with all that’s been going on lately, I’m just drained. I guess that’s for another time.

Anyway, it’d be remiss to post Morten without sharing the best music video ever created. Pop perfection.

Hmm, I can see an encore before too long!