12 months in a collage around Dartmoor.

imagePictures taken in the last 12 months from car or ♿️.
Amazing what lies by the side of a road, around Dartmoor.
(I’ll post the locations when I’m up to it 😊).

 

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Ingenuity, Photography and illness.

 

I’ve been kindly asked to write a blog post on how I manage to access Dartmoor, as a disabled person.
I am a wheelchair user, but things are complicated a bit by the fact I can’t sit up for more than an hour a day or travel very much…with these factors in mind, ingenuity has to play a big role !
I’m lucky to live in a Devon market town that is literally half a mile from Dartmoor.
So there are many places to discover close by, about a five mile radius of where I live.
After I fell ill in 2013, and was signed off sick long term, I was determined to continue the photography that had been my career, but as so often in life there had to be some big changes. These were of course mainly viewing the moor from a car, and using much smaller equipment, light SlR or compact camera and small tripod. My illness effects my cognitive ability too so things have to be easy to use. Luckily we live in an age where everything is more accessible, and easy to use including photographic equipment.

Its worth mentioning I can’t travel very far because of my health, Plymouth’s only 16 miles from my home and I haven’t travelled there for three years now. So my travel radius is about five to ten miles from my home. However there are some great places to go nearby.
I’ve also hit upon the idea of laying in the back of the wheelchair van I have access to, it has sliding doors and I can experience the view and sounds, without expending energy. There’s a photo of my set up In this blog, you can see my camera on the tripod.
Using close cropping and a zoom lens I hope I can still convey the spirit of the moor.
Lanes and roads feature in my photos much more now, they are a popular subject
matter and something I overlooked when I could walk a mile or two In the past.
I have started labelling my photos on Twitter and Facebook, with a disabled symbol for access. ♿️
Even though I can’t walk on the moor, just being out and seeing it from a car or laying down in the wheelchair van does me so much good. I love hearing the natural sounds, a stream, birdsong, the sound of livestock.

Some people have reacted with sadness when they see my laying down in the back of a car posts, what they don’t realise is that most of my life is spent indoors, laying down.

Just being out of the house is nice, even if I do have to view the world from a wheelchair or lying down…or even sometimes…lying back in a wheelchair ;).
I do believe when life is difficult you have to look and see what you can do, even if it is limited. Difficult as it is, it’s still precious, and so is the natural world I photograph.
(All the pictures attached are taken by the roadside or from the wheelchair van.)

Thanks for reading.

 

Bluebells and historic cemetery, Tavistock.

 

I visited Tavistock’s historic Quaker cemetary yesterday. It’s a wildlife haven and as I drove in my wheelchair, I saw bluebells, primroses and the silent flight of many butterflies between the old headstones.

I can only travel a short distance and bluebells are hard to come by, as not many woodlands are safe or accessible to wheelchairs.

Bluebells normally grow in hedges and open ground on Dartmoor and flower in mid to late May, it being higher ground than other parts of Devon.

My wheelchair got stuck in some mud in the cemetery but I got out of it and guided it out of the mud easily enough, phew !

 

 

 

Spring in Tavistock, Devon.

These pictures were taken over the last few days with my canon g7x from my wheelchair in Tavistock’s lovely park. The well is St John’s Well, situated in a quiet corner. It is sup posed to be built on the site of a chapel presumably on the banks of the Tavy.

 

Sunny day in February Plasterdown Dartmoor.

imageYesteday I briefly visited Plasterdown and took some photos from the car and a few steps from the car. Being Ill means I can only walk a few steps but luckily there was plenty to see.

I stopped next to this willow tree and took some pictures of some well placed sheep before taking the beech trees in the later pictures from a car window.

 

Do not go gently.

imageimageA kind follower on my FB page commented that I’d endured my illness with dignity.
I was very flattered but actually, I haven’t.
I’ve raged and cursed and cried my way way through the last two years. I’ve sworn at strangers who have made idiotic comments about my wheelchair in public. I was incensed that they thought I needed reminding I stand out from the ordinary. As I have said in previous blog posts I would love to be invisible. I’m, at heart, a shy and private person and I hate having attention drawn to me.
I’m just plain stubborn when push comes to shove, so when my hands wouldn’t hold my huge SLR camera I’d loved using for years, and my arms were too weak to lift it, so eventually I started using a semi pro compact.
It’s my main camera now, and I’ve adapted. I still find looking at other pro photographers pictures of Dartmoor hard. It’s just too painful to see through others eyes, what I currently, can’t. But I can see my beloved moor from the car, And I know I’m so lucky to be able to do that.
I really don’t know what the future holds, except with slightly gallows humour I’m lucky enough to say I’ll still be alive, many as ill as me with fatal conditions won’t be.
The poem below encapsulates my frustration and my anguish and my hope all in one.
I often wonder if British literature would have evolved differently had it not been written.
But that’s another topic……for all those raging, whatever against, I salute you.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas.