2020 January

dazzled by the sun
The path at Fyvie Castle. The sun shining straight at the lens

The year started, as it usually does, on Hogmanay! Technically It’s the last day of the old year … OK … but for us it marks the moment of change! We usually try to take some cameras and record either Hogmanay or New Year’s Day – it depends on the weather! This year it was sunny on Hogmanay – but bitterly cold and frosty.
We decided to go to Fyvie Castle, the closest place where we can walk and shoot and enjoy both the tree walks and the small loch too. Too cold for our old bones to be outdoors for long, but perfect to catch the sunshine, which is so fleeting in midwinter.
Flickr has an album of photos of Fyvie Castle and loch

winter tree with shadows
The long shadows cast by winter trees

We both decided the walk was more important than the photography, as we’d been trapped indoors for so long in December, with gales, rain and freezing conditions. So I took only my mobile phone, the iPhone XS Max. I am constantly surprised at what good photos it takes!

winter pine tree
Sun on a lone pine tree – a frosty Hogmanay morning

The sun was melting the frost off the grass as we walked from the Castle, across the fields towards the loch and the driveway/path into the grounds.
So began our welcoming in of the new year and the new decade too.

spoons and 2020 text
Welcome to 2020 and a decade of the unexpected!

I like playing around with reflections, so while I was reflecting on what this new decade might hold for us I thought a fitting way to express it might be with spoons … their shiny surfaces obliged.
Hogmanay is very much a part of the Scottish New Year – we moved one of the few treasured national ‘Bank Holidays’ to January 2nd, to prolong the festival. So, as New Year’s Day was a Wednesday, and Jan 2nd a Thursday, most of Scotland was on holiday until Monday January 6th. It meant the village and the local roads were quiet and peaceful, as there was no need to drive to work and back home in the dark. Aberdeen is on the same latitude as Moscow, and close to the Arctic Circle, so winters bring long hours of darkness … and I always feel it is a time of semi-hibernation ;o)
So it was the 5th before we finally made the regular run to Inverurie, our nearest town with some small supermarkets. We always smile as we go shopping, as it means driving through some of the most beautiful countryside….

low sunrise through trees
Low winter sunrise seen through the car window

… and at this time of year with the sun low in the sky, there are some beautiful sunrises. Yes, they do shine straight into the car windscreen, and dazzle us as we drive….

low winter sunrise 2
On the road to Inverurie, low winter sun through the windscreen

…. bouncing off the road surface … but the effects are so beautiful. So this was a quiet Sunday ‘groceries run’. There are almost no places to stop and take photographs, so I have to content myself with shooting through the windscreen (as here) or out the passenger-side window as we drive along. It’s difficult at 50 mph on often muddy roads, but I can’t resist it. I use my old Sony RX100 most times, with a lens filter to protect it as I stick the camera out of the window and shoot ‘blind’ as we drive. But here I was trying out the iPhone, and accepting the problems of the windscreen, as it was too cold to open the window!!
Below is also shot from the moving car using my ‘drive-by’ technique. A winter scene of our shopping trip views – from a previous year, when the snow was still lying on the hills.

Landscape in B+W of Bennachie range of peaks covered in snow
A winter view of Bennachie, our local range of hills.

And in the summer the road is so lovely! Again with a view of Bennachie in the distance, and again shot driving at 50 mph with my beloved Sony RX100

RX100 landscape shot
The RX100 shooting a landscape in Spring

I never tire of shooting the local landscape, and I don’t leave home without a camera to shoot as we drive. But back to this January!

So it wasn’t until January 7th that we got the news that one of our oldest friends had died on January 2nd. We met Dave Gavine when we moved to Scotland as newly-weds many decades ago. We had moved to Fort Augustus and he and Mike taught in the Abbey school, while I taught in the village school. Later he moved to Edinburgh, and we to Aberdeen, but we kept in touch as often as we could.
He was always interested in both geology and astronomy, and studied, photographed, wrote and lectured on noctilucent clouds. See the Wiki for more

David M Gavine Phd
Our old friend Dave Gavine died as the year began

Many years ago I persuaded him to allow me to paint him, with one of his photos of the aurora borealis behind him. He will be sorely missed, both by friends and colleagues!
More about him here
So it was a sad start to the year here.

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