Tuesday 23 October 2012

Ford Village

This is the Old Forge in Ford, a picture perfect village in North Northumberland, about twenty minutes drive south-west of Berwick. I was there today to talk business with the proprietors of the antiques shop which has recently set up inside it, but, email confirmation notwithstanding, when I got there it was closed. So as not to let the trip be a complete waste, I took a few photos. The new owners of the Forge claim that it's the most photographed building in the county, and they could be right. The doorway is designed in the shape of a horseshoe, which never ceases to delight visitors.

It was a dank, misty day, the light so poor that the flash on my camera was triggered (hence the reflections on the door I'm afraid). The autumn leaves were slowly falling from the trees and turning into mulch on the sodden ground. Far from depressing me though this somehow made me happy. This is the way I will always think of Northumberland - grey stone buildings, grey skies, chilly air, damp ground smelling of wet leaves, browsing sheep looming out of the mist. Days of bright sunshine here are relatively scarce and somehow always seem like a bit of an anomaly. My childhood memories are located mostly in an eternal autumn.

The photo below of the churchyard, the mist and the autumn trees captures this perfectly. Sorry if it just looks like a gloomy picture of graves to you. I think that if I were ever living in some foreign land of endless sunshine, seeing this photo would make me cry with homesickness. But one 16th century courtier sent north to serve the English king on the border famously wrote home begging to be relieved of his post in 'this accursed country where the sun never comes'.

I've been waiting for an opportunity to recommend an artist called Peter Podmore, and this seems to be a suitable time. Although he is not a native of the area he has lived in North Northumberland for a long time and paints landscapes which capture the spirit of the place wonderfully. Round here we have a great many bad artists inflicting feeble watercolours of local views on us, but Mr Podmore is not just manufacturing souvenirs for tourists, his paintings express the darkness and harshness of this region as well as its beauty. He has now published a gorgeous and most desirable book of his work called Cold Breeze, Dark Fire: Paintings and Drawings of North Northumberland. Have a look at his website and see what I mean. Then come and visit us in autumn after the crowds have gone and see it first-hand!

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