Posts Tagged ‘landscape’

Iona – the Abbey

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Every time I peel an onion, something I do several times most weeks, it reminds me of our stay at Iona. As paying guests of the Iona Community at the Abbey we took our part in the daily chores which kept the place running, and each morning after breakfast I went with the other ‘Otters’ – the work group to which I had been assigned to the kitchen to prepare vegetables. My part in this job seemed always to be one of two or three of us peeling onions – and you need a lot of onions to cook vegetarian meals for around 50 or 60 people.

There are a lot of dodges that people advise to avoid tears when peeling onions, and I think I tried them all. They may help if you are only peeling one or two, but none help if you have a mountain of them to get through. You cry, and crying only makes it worse. Still, I think I preferred it to cleaning the lavatories and washrooms that my partner was assigned to.

The Abbey is essentially a twentieth-century reconstruction carried out by teams of volunteers from the Iona Community after the site with its ruins was gifted to the Church of Scotland by the 8th Duke of Argyll in 1899, with more modern living accommodation built alongside it in a matching external style.

The Duke is still present – in marble, lying beside his wife.

As well as the abbey, alongside it is a small church, the oldest building on Iona (c 1150) with an ancient graveyard where 48 Kings of Scotland were buried. They were joined more recently by Labour leader John Smith; a boulder marks his grave with the message “An Honest Man’s The Noblest Work of God”.

There are ruins of another chapel in the grounds, as well as those of a former Bishop’s House, and splendid views across the sound to Mull, enough to drag me out of bed for a short walk before breakfast (and onions.) And of course there were a number of short religious services, optional but an important part of the experience, though with too much unaccompanied singing for my taste.

More pictures in and around the Abbey from our visit 12 years ago on My London Diary.

Group Outings

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

Most of my photographs from the late 1970s and early 1980s were made in England, though quite a few outside London. After I moved to Staines in 1974 I joined a photographic club a few miles away and met up with a group of its more rebellious younger members.

We organised monthly group trips, when usually four or five of us would travel to various locations to spend a Sunday taking photographs. Each month one of the group would come up with a suggestion, and those who were interested would meet up early to travel, usually in people’s cars. We would bring the pictures we took back to monthly group meeting to pull each other’s work to pieces in sometimes rather bluntly critical terms.

Numbers varied, according to the popularity of the destination. Partly because I didn’t own a car (I sold the only one I ever owned back in the late 1960s when I became interested in the environment) the trips I suggested and led were always in London, using public transport – and rather less popular. On at least one occasion I was the only person to turn up, and I had a very good day!

More popular were the outings to more scenic locations, and I enjoyed these too. They included Stonehenge and Avebury, some rather desolate areas of the Kent and Essex coasts, the Sussex coast and Surrey Woods and more. We also made a couple of weekend trips, staying overnight at B&Bs.

The group – which had to leave the club – became a group of independent photographers with the name Framework continued until 1993 and over the years organised almost 20 exhibitions, but the group outings came to an end I think in the early 1980s, probably because most of us were seriously into our own projects.

Most of these slides from around 40 years ago need considerable retouching to remove ingrained dirt and mould spots which attack the colour, and in some the dyes used in the images have faded beyond restoration. I think the quality of the chemicals used in their development, both those I used at home and some of those lab developed was rather variable. I’ve worked on these images in Photoshop to produce the results above, but it isn’t always possible to produce an really natural looking result. Some of course may have been taken largely because of the unusual lighting at the time, and some films that I occasionally used – such as Orwo – were incapable of producing realistic colour.

I’ll put more of my old colour images on Flickr shortly.

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.