Sunday, 28 September 2014

Old stones

The weekends are pretty busy family affairs, what with my lovely, ever-patient wife, our daughter 'Matilda' and everything.  The 'everything' includes The Hound (our 9-year old border collie) our 5 hens and a rabbit which came to us un-announced and ended up being called 'Rooney van Ramsey' (don't ask, its a football thing made up by The Lad and Matilda).  The Lad is away working for BT this year, doing 'billing' and other important stuff while he takes a break from Uni, so he isn't around much at the minute.  Matilda likes a swim, as do I (good for General Fitness as well as the A.S.) - it's a bit of father-daughter 'bonding' time as well, which is great.   So no, I don't get in the darkroom much at weekends - although I did sneak a little 35mm film into a tank of Infosol3 at 1:14 dilution for 7 and-a-half minutes early this morning when the house was quiet.  The film is hanging in the 'drying cupboard' as I type.  With a bit of luck I might get something printed tomorrow.

The mild spell continues and this afternoon we headed down to Portstewart to see the craic.  Today, the last Sunday in September, was a Big Day in times gone bye.  Known as Chaghera Sunday, it signalled the end of the annual harvest and presumably that meant a rare day off for the labourers, and to Portstewart they would head.  The name apparently comes from a mix of Cookstown and Maghera, two county towns a good bit inland from here.  These days it means everyone drives their car along The Prom, takes the air, gets an ice-cream and generally has a good gawk at everyone else, as is the local custom.  One lap of The Prom and that was enough for us - too busy.  But Matilda enjoyed it, entering The Hound for the Dog Show (didn't win - are the judges blind??) and getting an ice-cream, so all is good.

So for your entertainment here is a print I made of some stones and some wood.

Rock Castle Salmon House, c1600
These particular stones form part of a little cottage in Portstewart which was used by salmon fishermen and dates from around 1600.  Well, I'm guessing the mortar doesn't date from 1600 and nor does the wood where the window would have been, but you get the idea.  Of course The Brother would by now be instigating a philosophical discussion about what it is that gives a building it's building-ness, or some such.  All you have to do to get him started is ask a seemingly innocuous question, such as 'What is a thing?' and he's off, although he'll usually start by informing you (non-too-politely, it has to be said), that that is the wrong question and you should be asking 'Why is a thing?'.  Several hours later and you're trying desperately to cling on to what is by now a distant memory of something - anything - that is real, tangible and understandable in what passes for 'your life'.  That's philosophy for you.

Anyway, this particular cottage-thing lies just in front of Low Rock Castle - famous as the birthplace of Field Marshall Sir George White VC, himself of the Siege of Ladysmith fame.  That house was tumbled only recently and has since been converted into a gated community of expensive town houses and apartments.  Gated community?  In Portstewart?  At least the Salmon Cottage remains, although all boarded up as you can see.

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