Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Autumn can be one of the most beautiful seasons of the year, and in Northumberland, the peak of the autumn colours is usually in the last week of October and the first week of November. Misty autumn morning always bring to mind the famous poem ‘To Autumn’ by John Keats, written in 1819. This view shows Hexham Abbey on a fine autumn morningm with mist across the Tyne valley, which was in the Seasons of Northumberland calendar a couple of years ago. Today, the sun is shining and there is the promise of a fine day, with exceptionally warm temperatures as Hurricane Ophelia approaches from the Atlantic.

 

Prints of Northumberland

Prints make an ideal present for birthdays or Christmas, and there is a good range of Northumberland prints available. One of the most popular images is the starry skies over Sycamore Gap (in the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park), but the range includes Hadrian’s Wall, the Northumberland Coast and the famous castles at Alnwick,  Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh. The mounted prints are supplied ready to frame.

New Christmas cards of Northumberland

There are some new designs available this year, which have just been sent to the printers, and will be on sale sometime next week. Climate change seems to be causing much milder winters, so winter photography with snow and frost is now something of a rarity, even in Northumberland. So the new cards are from images made during the two cold winters of 2009-2011. This view shows the River Coquet from the bridge at Hepple, looking towards the Simnonside Hills in the Northumberland National Park on a very cold morning with a temperature of about minus 15 degrees C.

Environment greeting cards

There has been so much publicity recently about plastics and pollution  that there has been a massive increase in public awareness of the global environmental impact of the unrestrained use of plastics. In the sea, plastic pollution is mostly invisible until it washes up on the shoreline, yet the ‘invisible’ aspect is more disturbing – microscopic particles of plastic are now found throughout the marine environment and food chain. This card in the Cherish the Earth series shows a crashing wave in Cornwall, with an accompanying quotation by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the Karma Kagyu lineage and one of the most eminent figures in Tibetan Buddhism:   “Environmental degradation is far more complex than anything we alone can tackle, but if we can all contribute a single drop of clean water, those drops will accumulate into a clear stream and eventually a vast pure ocean. This is my aspiration.”  The Karmapa is well known for his interest and commitment to environmental issues, as well as social justice for all.  He frequently highlights the issues in his teachings and life’s work.

 

 

 

Northumberland Winter

Early days yet, but for those who are looking out for distinctive Christmas cards, there are more than forty designs available in the Northumberland Winter card range. They are supplied in packs of ten cards, with subjects ranging from Hadrian’s Wall to the Northumberland Coast, Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh and Alnwick Castles, the North Tyne, South Tyne and Coquet valleys, Kielder, red squirrels, and winter scenes across the Northumberland National Park.

Red admirals

Yesterday was the most lovely day, a brief taste of Indian summer before the next weather front. After years of poor summers and the decline of many butterly populations, it was wonderful to see dozens of red admirals feasting on flowers in the garden, the most I have seen for a long time. Like honeybees, butterflies are a sensitive indicator of weather conditions, the seasons, and the environment. Warm sunny days at this time of year are a real bonus, before the onset of the long Northumberland winter. But in the meantime we have the autumn colours to look forward to, peaking in another three to four weeks.

New website

Well it’s not really a ‘new’ site – much of the content is the same, though some superfluous content has been removed, and some new content will be added in the weeks ahead. The aim is to make the site as easy to use as possible so that buying a card or a calendar will not be a complicated and frustrating ordeal trying to work out the next step! And also to try and make an attractive website that is a pleasure to use and interesting for the viewer, whilst keeping it simple and uncluttered. There will soon be some new products beyond Northumberland, such as new greeting cards based on the sea, and on India. Meanwhile, all the regular products are available: Seasons of Northumberland calendars, Northumberland greetings cards, Northbumberland Winter christmas cards, Mindful Moments, Cherish the Earth, Earth Light and Time cards, and the notelet cards of Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland National Park, nature, Northumberland Coast and Hexham Abbey.

As always Terry Walsh (twda.co.uk) has been really helpful in giving advice and doing all the technical bits and making it all look so easy. Thanks Terry!

Honey

We have just finished the honey season with our bees and have a modest amount of heather honey – the best for many years – and a good amount of flower honey from earlier in the season. The bees are a very good barometer of the weather as they only fly (and therefore gather pollen and nectar) when the weather is pretty good. Unlike bumble bees they stay inside when it’s raining. And every year the bees do something unexpected so that as a beekeeper, you never stop learning.

One of my bee photos has now been produced as a greeting card in the new Cherish the Earth card series. The theme of the cards is to highlight the global environment through photography, and specially written quotations by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage and one of the most eminent figures in Tibetan Buddhism. The Karmapa is well known for his interest and commitment to environmental issues, as well as social justice for all. There are twelve cards in the series, ranging from honeybees to Himalayan mountains, wildlife to oceans.

Mindful Moments

If you are looking something a little different in choosing a greeting card, there are twelve desings in the Mindful Moments card range, depicting images from this country and around the world, each with a specially written reflection on nature. In our busy lives, even a few moments to pause and reflect with awareness can be beneficial. This image shows a tiny arctic willow tree less than six inches in height, growing in the polar desert of the High Arctic in North East Greenland National Park. In summer the snow melts on the coastal tundra and in the short growing season there is a wealth of flowering plants which provide food for musk oxen and other animals of the far north.

Seasons of Northumberland 2018

The Seasons of Northumberland calendar 2018 is now available from this website, and from retail outlets across the regio. The 2018 calendar features views of Northumberland through the seasons of the year, including Bamburgh Castle, Alnwick Castle, Northumberland National Park, Hadrian’s Wall, puffin (Farne Islands), River South Tyne, Padon Monument, and Embleton Bay.

It makes a great Christmas present for family and friends in Northumberland and beyond, and many Northumbrians living around the world.