“Do things that make you happy”

Do things that make you happy. Good advice for the new year, I’d say, and advice I should probably have given myself some time ago. Instead, the instruction (because that’s what it was) came from a medical professional in an effort to help me through a tricky patch. It’s a cheap prescription to issue and by taking the “medicine” I’ll hopefully feel better and, as a by-product, have some photographs to show for it, because the thing that makes me happy is being outside with a camera. 

An illustration of this simple fact came over new year, with a three-night break in Northumbria, on the north east coast of England. Hunkered down in a lovely cottage just outside the fantasy castle village of Bamburgh, we escaped the fireworks and general mayhem of typical new year’s celebrations and spent time walking on vast beaches, looking for sea glass (those tiny, worn fragments of milky white, pale green, brown and blue: litter turned into gems by the simple action of the sea) and, in my case, taking some photographs. 

I was particularly pleased to visit Embleton Bay, where I photographed the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle from the dunes and in amongst basalt boulders of the beach.The latter is a classic view, a northern English equivalent of Durdle Door that every landscape photographer seems to have a go at. As if to prove this point, for Christmas I was given a copy of “First Light” by the great Joe Cornish, and there, on page 96, is almost exactly the same view. So there’s nothing remotely original about my view from the rocks, but the mono image of the castle taken from the dunes above the beach is one you won’t see so frequently and it’s the one that’s made me happier, despite its obvious dark mood.

I’m not sure what the new year will bring and I’ve never been one for making resolutions, but I’m going to do my best to follow the advice I’ve been given because it’s simple and sound: do things that make you happy.

Have a happy and healthy new year.

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