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  • Writer's pictureBob McBurney

A Wild Rose and the M62

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

Amongst all the plants in the garden, a particular wild Rose gives me most pleasure. I bought it on impulse a few years ago. It was a scrubby little thing with no name on its tag. I probably felt sorry for it. I brought it home and having been challenged as to ‘Where on earth are we going to put that?’, I planted it amongst some stones and rocks at the end of the garden, where it had to compete for survival with some very vigorous Ivy. Surprisingly, it flourished and grew like a weed. Now, every summer, it is covered with the most exquisitely delicate blossoms.

The flowers are very pale cream with occasional soft pink petals and recently I took camera and tripod into the garden in an effort to capture some of this delicacy. It could be said that I failed completely. I’m posting a finished photograph in black-and-white, which I’m quite pleased with; but it’s moody and grainy and sometimes soft and far from the photograph that I thought I would take.

The problem was movement due to a gentle breeze. Without going into technicalities I was trying to use relatively long shutter speeds. I was holding my breath, pressing the shutter release very gently and hoping that the flower heads would stay still for half a second or so. No chance!

Those of you who are photographers will be telling me of all the things that I might have done. I could have put some baffles around the flower heads, I could have used additional lighting, I could have used my phone with its smaller sensor rather than a full frame DSLR. I know these things to be true, but in my defence, I was balanced precariously on a low stone wall with a few nettles and several thorny rose branches protesting at my presence, and I’ve decided to ignore advice and give myself quite high marks for effort!

I often think about relative movement in ‘landscape’. Nothing is completely still. Everything moves at differing speeds. Whilst leaves and branches move constantly and obviously; rocks, which we might think of as stationary, are sinking very slowly into the ground.

In high winds, a couple of weeks ago, I photographed trees in an effort to capture this sense of relative movement. The sun was shining and in my print I have attempted to combine this brightness with the movement. Though the composition could be stronger, it’s an interesting photograph. It’s a beginning.

Thinking about relative speed led me to think about absolute speed. The Earth is spinning around its axis and I read that on the equator this speed is close to 1070 mph. I was driving along the M 62 on my way from Leeds to Goole. I was travelling due East and though I couldn’t work out in my head which way the earth was spinning, I decided that I was either travelling forward at 1140 mph (I was doing 70), or travelling backwards at 1000 miles an hour.

I know that I wasn’t on the equator and therefore the calculated speeds would be less, but even so it was an amusing thought. Of course this single measurement doesn’t take into account the speed with which we are circling the sun, or any other speeds which might relate to the entire galaxy hurtling through space.

In conversation this weekend these ideas led to all sorts of banal suggestions I felt a bit snooty when somebody said ‘Do Australians imagine that we are upside down?’, but I have wondered about it. Do they?

Karen Holmes, who was the editor for my book has launched her new website. On it, she has included a very generous review of my book for which I’m so grateful. Karen lives in France and on her website she offers a residential programme of support and help for writers at all stages of their development. It sounds blissful and purposeful . From what I read Karen puts together a programme which suits your individual needs and can include your partner.

So, part holiday, part boot camp and knowing how deeply immersed she is in the world of publishing, totally worthwhile.

Karen’s website address is

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