On my slightly disastrous journey to Orkney last month I spent a very long time on the train. I usually find travel time creatively helpful – sitting motionless for hours as Scotland flashes past, I’ll often end up with a page or two of poetic snippets I can turn to for inspiration when beginning a new song. But on this trip the hours were largely wasted. No turns of phrase accompanied the turning of the wheels, no metered rhymes sprang from the rhythm of the track.
Mind empty, I simply gazed out the window and let the fields flow by.
There came a field, though, that shook me from my trance. It seemed to have been descended upon by a swarm of tractors. All the surrounding fields lay still and empty, while at least 20 machines worked together to… um…do something important. I’m no farmer so I have no idea what they were actually doing, but my imagination immediately ran away with me into a neighbourly world where folk turn up to a barn raising with a bowl of potato salad or gather round to lend a hand pulling in crops when the weather turns, and as far as this month’s song goes, that was that.
Here are some more photos from North Ronaldsay. Keep on going for words about about the project, now that the year is over and it’s time to wrap it all up!
END OF PROJECT THOUGHTS:
I’m not that old but I guess I’m old enough to remark upon how quickly time slips by these days, and let me tell you: it definitely does.
I’ve been thinking back over the past 12 months in an attempt to reach some sort of grand conclusion, or to pick out some breathtaking insight conferred upon me by all my wandering and writing. The one feeling I keep coming back to, the one common thread that has tied all of these experiences together, is just an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
Gratitude for my various flexible jobs, which allowed me to take off whenever the fancy struck.
Gratitude for the generosity of the wonderful Air B&B hosts who opened up their homes to me at such drastically reduced rates.
Gratitude for this stunning, sprawling country I call home, which never fails to fill me with awe.
Gratitude for you, the people listening and reading; for all the positive feedback; for the time and equipment to record and to photograph and to put all these things up here to share with you.
Although it’s the beginning of a new year and I now have a job and a flat tying me down, this project has accomplished everything I hoped it would.
Musically, I am actively *enjoying* writing songs again, instead of having to force myself into it. I’ve got a renewed confidence about my writing and am even planning to get a few folk together with an aim to doing some shows!
Photography-wise, I’ve been amazed to discover how much I enjoy capturing landscapes and natural subjects, considering that I’ve mainly done portraiture in the past.
As far as traveling goes, I never exactly fell out of love with it in the first place, but it’s been interesting to remember just how simple it is to make it happen on a local scale. Money I could have spent on buying more stuff, or on nights out, or on any number of other things was put aside into train fares and accommodation, and I haven’t regretted a penny of it.
In the weeks ahead I’m planning to continue the project in spirit, if not quite in the same form. I can’t run off to the countryside quite so often, but am hoping to manage it every few months. I’ll still be aiming to write and record at least one song each month, and to post them up here along with the occasional story and collection of photos.
In the meantime I’m also working on an exhibition as part of the Take Me Somewhere festival, which will involve displaying my photos and playing a small show… in my own flat! More details to come as things progress.
Thank you again, all you lovely folk, for your feedback and your attention. A very happy new year (if a bit belated) to you all.