Scotlands Highlands 2020: Part Nineteen
10 and 11 August 2020
I was a real grump bag today.
No idea why. I slept really well, although I woke up several times, finally waking at 4am and looking out to see the sky was full of cloud. Dawn wasn’t worth getting up for this morning, and I went back to sleep for a few more hours. Maybe it was the broken sleep, maybe I had physically done enough, but everything was getting really hard. Bending/crouching was really hard, just getting motivated was hard, my back ached, my foot hurt, and I really couldn’t focus properly. I felt like both my body and brain were ceasing up.
Saying all that, I started off chill and just taking my time cleaning up, doing some laundry and so on, so I wasn’t feeling particularly stressed. Once ready, Lossiemouth and Duffus castle were on my list for today, and I hoped to end at Findhorn for the evening, so I headed off feeling fairly good. I arrived at Lossiemouth and started off by taking River for a long walk near the harbour, and onto a beach there (East Beach) It was quite pretty here and I devoted all my time to her, rather than to some photography, although in hindsight I wish I had gone back with my camera, as the view was nice enough to get some shots I think. (Phone snap in header) Once River had enjoyed a good walk, I popped into a few shops, got a few gifts, treated myself to an ice cream, (Yum!) and then went back to the camper to continue my day. From here things seemed to start deviating from the plan… and a debilitating downward turn soon took hold.
I hoped to find some awesome looking caves that photographer Kim Grant had mentioned in her video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sCLEkupBrI&t=563s&ab_channel=KimGrant (8.40 minutes in) and I think near there were also some stunning rock formations that I had seen in some photos (possibly from above the cave section). This should have been quite lovely, but no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t find the caves I liked, nor the rock formations. All I found was one long sandy beach. This left me very disappointed and confused. I tried to park at the lighthouse to get a shot of that at least, but their car park was closed off today and nearby land was owned by the RAF and a touring park, so I struggled to find anywhere else to park. Instead, I went back to Lossiemouth and decided to walk to the Lighthouse from there, to check out the caves that were apparently underneath it. I had the gut feeling they weren’t the ones I wanted, so I left all my kit behind and just walked the route. I am so glad I did because not only were they NOT the ones I hoped for, with all the beautiful colours and lines in the varying rock shapes, but the walk took over an hour. Just there. And the same back. Don’t get me wrong, this beach was great for holidaymakers, absolutely beautiful. There were no rocks to hurt feet, its a huge expanse of gorgeous gentle sand, and the water was lapping so gently in the sun, it was a perfect holiday day out. There was little to my eye to photograph though, although I did find a curious looking purple jellyfish just at the waters edge. I sent a snap to the family WhatsApp group, because I had only ever seen clear jelly fish before and I thought this one looked really pretty!
My grand daughter replied with one she found on google, a Pelagia noctiluca, also known as mauve stinger purple stinger, purple people eater or nightlight jellyfish. (On reading ‘Purple People eater’, I confess I did step back a little…LOL!!!) I looked it up myself later and this is more likely to be a Cyanea Lamarckii or ‘Blue jellyfish’ which likes the colder waters off the Scottish coasts apparently. Although I confess, the idea of a jellyfish that glows in the dark sounded absolutely beautiful so maybe its a shame it wasn’t the purple people eater! With little else to see or do for the two hour walk, all I could do was think – which in part was nice, but it also gave me far too much time to mull over the frustrations I had struggled with today. By the time I got back to Fred, I had lost all my focus, and had no clue where to look or go to next. I tried to think of a different location to get me excited but none took my fancy. So, I went back to my original plan, settled back on Duffus Castle and full of disappointment, completely gave up on Lossiemouth.
The drive was quick, the location easy to get to, free to enter and open for anyone to go in, any time of day. This all picked me up a little bit. It was so nice to visit a complication free location today! From the car park, it looked really nice with the sun now out, and beaming on one side. I took a walk around with River, and found several boards telling me all about it, and some of its history that was so interesting I sent a video back to the kids to watch. It was the first motte and bailey castle I had seen, having learned about them from when my children were young and having to make multiple models for their homeworks.
River, however, was being very badly behaved and was extremely distracting. I got highly irritated by her constant barking at other people, and especially, other dogs, and where there were quite a few visitors here today, it got to be a little too much! Eventually I snapped and left her in the camper where she would offend no one. This time out, I took the camera. There was one spot in particular that I really hoped to get a photo from. One of the first images I saw of this location, was actually a painting, with the Castle in the back, and a small bridge in the foreground. I found the spot, but the moat was so overgrown with huge reeds and algae, that it was totally impossible to capture a photograph from the same position. That was disappointing enough, but when trying to take an image from the cobbled hump of the bridge instead, a whole bunch of people turned up and just kept getting into my shots. Eventually I gave up there, frustrated with my efforts. The sky wasn’t very pleasing anyway, with the sun directly in my eyes, just to add more agitation to the situation. I continued wandering around the edge of the moat where I captured a token image that, at the time, didn’t particularly excite me. (no idea why to be fair, I quite like the image now!) Seconds later, even that view was crawling with the bus load of visitors. In a completely disheartened mood by now, I just gave up and went back to the camper, trying to work out what was going wrong with me today. As I sat there I suddenly felt exhausted, and I decided that it might be best if I didn’t push it. I would see if I could go out for a nice sunset shot here, and perhaps just stay the night. After I settled on that plan, I completely flaked out.
When I awoke an hour or so later it felt quiet enough for River to come out, and I thought I might retry the cobbled bridge with a possible sunset. Unfortunately as each negative thing happened today, I’d felt more and more beaten, and even as I was setting up, I couldn’t get things to go right. The castle was still in a warm evening sunlight, but the sky was just really bland, with just a flat blue cloudless view. The sunset was clearly just going to be a pink strip on the horizon, as there were no clouds for it to bounce off. In my head all I could hear was ‘Why am I even bothering with this?!!’ A family appeared, walking with their two dogs, and River kept barking every time she caught sight of them. It was really hard to work with her constantly trying to run at them. Then, just as I was nearing the end of my tether, she decided that a dip in the stinky moat would be a good idea, and just wouldn’t listen when I called her to stop. Frustrated with everything, I was feeling like I was about to snap, so I packed everything away, hauled her out and made my way back to the camper totally dejected with today. When we got back, I was just packing the camera bag inside, when she barked nastily and went to lunge at a little kiddie on a scooter. She had NEVER behaved like that before, and in a mix of complete horror and despair, I grabbed her and threw her into the camper, shut the door behind us, and burst into tears. This had been the final straw today, and I was totally confused as to what was wrong with me, and everything.
I didn’t set foot outside again until long into the next day.
11 August 2020
I woke up this morning totally without aim. Thinking proved to be the most difficult thing, so I did what I needed to do. Absolutely nothing. The sky was a flat cloud, so there was no chance of a sunrise or dramatic shot here. When I looked at the map, nothing excited or drew me. So I left it all, and just chilled in Fred. I looked up why dogs bark in the way that River was, and read how to help control it. I then decided that today I would simply try to practice the techniques they suggested, and maybe try a simple shot at Findhorn later. Nothing more than that. I knew I needed a high tide for the shot I wanted of the tidal breaker – water moving around it, a long exposure, and a minimalist shot. Nothing too hard, a photo that had been done numerous times before, by other photographers, but a good practice for me for the minimal technique that I so loved. At 3, I left Duffus without having touched my camera, and by 4.30 I was parked up at Findhorn beach, having had a quick stop off at a small local store for a couple of supplies. High tide was in an hour, so I explored the beach a little and practiced the dog training ideas I had read, with River. If I saw a dog, I simply stood between her and the other dog, made her sit, and made her look at me until the other dog had passed. When she did as she was told, she got a treat. We did this continually with every dog, for the hour and she gradually got the hang of it, and stopped barking. By 6, she happily walked by the other dogs, with barely a sniff in their direction! (YAY!! Progress!) At high tide, I got myself back on the beach, and my heart sank yet again. The water was so low it didn’t even reach the wave breaker that I had come to photograph. (So much for ‘high‘ tide!) I snapped the pitiful scene with my phone, feeling complete and utter resignation. ‘Yep, that’s about right!’ I thought.
I turned around and walked right back to the camper. This was my only photo at Findhorn.