Feminine Touch…

Over the past few weeks I have read a lot of archaeological reports about the Neolithic period in southern Britain and they are full of amazing details about the people who died between 4 to 6 thousand years ago. They talk of Causewayed Enclosures, axe heads, flint tools and mortuary practices. Fascinating, if you are interested in such things, but they mostly talk of things that reflect the male perspective on life. (I am aware that we have no idea how many of the objects were used or by whom so I may well be assessing the use of such objects with a 21st bias. The neolithic was very different in so many ways to the way we live).

One thing doesn’t change and that is the need to reproduce and ensure that the next generation have the best chance of maturing. In a sedentary society, that is one that stays in one place and farms rather than roaming a range as the mesolithic hunter gatherers would have done this means that women would be more likely to be tied to the homestead as looking after the livestock in the fields, or hunting for larger fauna in the still significant woodlands that would surround the homestead – having a small child on a hunt is more likely to scare the prey away. Of course it may well be that the neolithic was a female dominated society but given the difference in strength levels between males and females this is less likely to be the case. In short the homestead would most likely be where females ruled and out in the fields and on the hunt is where males are most likely to have dominated.

This doesn’t mean that females were at a disadvantage as they would have formed support groups, if for no other reason that childbirth is the most dangerous thing that a female can endure and the help and support of older and more experienced females would most likely reduce the chances of childbirth being fatal for both mother and child. This remains and detritus of this fascinating social, if my understanding of how neolithic society may have operated is correct, network is hardly ever found and so the archaeology tends to have a male bias, again I acknowledge that this might also be my bias, whilst the only part of the female story is recorded in their worn joints. We have no evidence of the social interactions that took place whilst the women were grinding corn as the young children ran around them getting into trouble and being chastised for their behaviour. These people were the same as us apart from the 6000 years of accumulated knowledge: They would have chatted, gossiped and complained just as we do but these gatherings leave hardly any evidence and so archaeology is the poorer for that.

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Coming Together….

Every now and then life throws one a convergence in the strands of one’s life. Yesterday was one of those days. Ever since Christmas I have been enveloped in a fascinating examination of Neolithic Leicestershire in general and stone axe heads in particular. One of the axeheads was known as the Group XX which was made from rocks to the east of Whitwick and possibly at Warren Hill. After visiting a friend in Whitwick I found myself on top of Warren Hill as the sun set and what a sunset!

Archaeologists who have spent many more years studying where Neolithic axes were made suggest that they were in high places where axe makers might feel they are closer to their own sense of the divine, how ever that might have been defined. Now I am not a religious man but yesterday, standing on that hill top, watching the sunset turning the very post industrial Coalville into a version of Tuscany I started to understand why the axes might have been made on this spot nearly 6000 years ago.

On a much more mundane note – the latest iPhone’s camera is great, I particularly like the ultra wide lens but set against thousands of pounds of camera and high quality lens there really is no contest. Just a thought next time we hear how great smartphone cameras are.

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year….

So it is Christmas Day and we’re all having fun – thus the dogma states. We are jolly and and overflowing with good cheer to all mankind. Horrah! I have lived long enough and professionally seen enough hardship, mistrust, pain and anger on Christmas Day to know that this is just hype. For many people Christmas is a horrid time of hunger, abuse, and neglect that somehow is forgotten amongst all the cheer.

Even the weather is never as promised. For most of my life the weather on Christmas Day has been dull and grey. I captured these images yesterday in the park when the weather was dull, soggy, and grey. As I write this on the morning of Christmas Day it looks like things are not going to improve in fact they may well be worse as it has rained overnight.

And yet Christmas is a time of great joy and happiness. We celebrated Christmas a few days earlier with our family and that was great fun and full of joy – especially compared to FaceTime Christmas we endured last year! We have just so much to be thankful for and we are. It is just that we should take a few moments today to think about those who are not as lucky because for them Christmas is definitely not the most wonderful time of the year. Corny cliche? Well it is Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

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Bungalow Bill…

Seems as though I have taken up my pencils and started to draw again. The results are unimportant it is the process that matters.

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Walking the Night Shift….

A long time ago in a world far far away… from the one I inhabit now I used to work nights on a regular basis. Many of my colleagues at the time thought that nights were the best time I was never that sure. Just recently I have been out at night and I have to say they do have a certain feel to them.

Of course they also have that frisson of danger. The unknown shadows – what hides within?

Nut life has moved on and I have moved on but every now and then I find myself out in the earlyish hours of the morning.

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A Walk in the Cold….

As we slowly crawl towards the shortest day the winter is really starting to take hold and the temperature is descending towards freezing. There was a time in the past where I didn’t mind such matters but now the cold winds seem seep into my aging joints. Being outside in the cold is no longer something I look forward to. This is also feeding into my growing antipathy towards travelling great distances to make photographs. I guess I’m going to have to adapt to trying to make interesting photographs closer to home – in this case Abbey Park, Leicester.

Of course one of the advantage of the shorter days is that I don’t have to be outside until late into the day to get the best light. By 2pm the golden hour is starting so I can be back home for a nice cuppa in the afternoon (I am British and tea is important!)

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Does a Muse Disappear?…

So the days pass and I still desperately strain for hope of deliverance. When will what little talent I had to create things of interest please return to me? Instead I labour for days and nothing seems to work. I no longer have the motivation to get out to capture life with my camera; My art is showing terminal signs of decay and decline and all I seem to find interest in is my historical research which is very rewarding but I all the time feel that I have missed one huge well known fact that renders everything I have discovered out moot,

I guess the only way out of this funk is to just keep working at things in the vain hope that enthusiasm will return and this unblock the drain. It is, at least, a hope.

Oh hippopotamus

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New Beginnings…Again

It has been almost four years so I thought it was time to update my iPhone and these are some of the first images I have made. From the get go the camera is much better than on the 8 plus and the lens I have been really enjoying is the ultra wide with the joke focal length of 1.54 mm which is something around 16 mm I believe in full frame world. A very powerful tool to have in you pocket when the need arises.

So this will be my sixth iPhone since, I think, 2009 and it is a reasonable statement of fact that they have been the one constant camera throughout all that period as Canon cameras have been replaced by Sony cameras which in many ways tells its own story. I look forward to the next fews years in the company of the one camera I’ll always have with me.

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We are living in strange times indeed. As I write this many places in continental Europe are entering lock downs, restrictions and general despondency. Meanwhile in England we are going about our business in much the same way we have for the past few months. There are a number of reasons to believe we might not have to endure many more restrictions but if one thing this pandemic has taught me is to never assume something is going to happen or not happen. We await the the next card the gods deals to us.

On a happier theme I spent yesterday recharging by visiting family in north London. London really is a different place to the rest of England or Britain. We spent time at Alexandra Place admiring the view across east London. It is startling and yet most of the the tourist London. The London that appears on travel programmes and American sitcoms, the West End is obscured from view behind the Hampstead hills.

I know this is a well worn cliche but London is a world city and is also the engine of the British economy. It is also crowded and loud and in places dangerous but I have to say I love it.

As a means of contrast we drove home through the autumnal English countryside which was every bit as exciting, in a VERY different way. Now I know there are many things wrong with this country at the moment but the drive home today also reminded me that there are so many things right about this small island that I call home.

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Creeping Cold….

It was a ‘proper’ frost yesterday. Nothing compared to the frosts endured by many in the north and east but certainly cold enough to make my toes go numb. That was the last day of cold for the next few days but I’m sure, even with the crazy weather we seem to be experiencing nowadays, it won’t be the last.

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