I grew up in the countryside. Up intil about the age of 16, it was all about the rural life - jumping into the river, fishing, camping with nothing but a fire and a home made bed of leaves, climbing trees, playing with sheep shit and, well, getting into trouble.
Although I’ve spent almost half of my life as of now living in the city, the country never seems to leave you. You can tell when someone was brought up in the city. They are always so obsessed with safety and cleanliness. I’ve been flat on my stomach in a puddle in an alleyway before trying to get the angle I need, I’ve been in some dangerous positions, and that is because I grew up doing worse. The city is all fine and well, but it can be very sheltered. The looks you get on the way home from a shoot covered in muck and soaking wet indicate the looks of someone who has never played in mud and eaten a jam sandwich without washing their hands, or not really cared if they are shin deep in cow excrement.
However, the issue with city life as an adult is that the craving for the country never goes away. In adulthood, I try to get out to the country as often as is realistic. I live in Edinburgh, one of the most beautiful cities in the world - I can see the Castle from my flat, yet it’s never enough. Recently, my craving levels for the wilderness had reached tipping point, and then an oppotunity came along
An Invitation to Creetown.
My Aunt Fiona and Uncle Elliot got in touch and invited me to their cottage, Curlew Cottage, in Creetown in Dumfries and Galloway. I had to go.
We set off at around 10am from Edinburgh, and I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I was in a car for this length of journey. I couldn’t wait to see the hills, taste the fresh air, touch the long grass, and smell, yes city folk, the cow shit.
After a quick stop off in Lochwinnoch, my home village just outside Paisley, we departed for Creetown. The drive down was a stunner. Hills, rivers, dramatic skies - it had the lot. Soon, there we were: Curlew Cottage, Creetown.
Now, this was perfect. Settled in an idylic and scenic village, nothing is too far, yet you still get the sensation of isolation. Curlew Cottage boasts 2 bedrooms, one double and one twin, with a nice modern bathroom. The downstairs has a good sized and warmly living space, opening out to a large kitchen and dining area. Then there’s the garden. It has a summer house and a massive garden overlooking the hills and ends at a river.
Initially I found it hard to switch on my photography eye (and no, it’s not because there was no Wi-Fi, there was, I just never connected!), it was because 1. I was too chilled out, and 2. the country is certainly not my usual subject matter, and is very much outwith my comfort zone.
Oh, and before I forget, the neighbour keeps chickens, so you’ll get to hear the cockerel go… I dunno what noise they make. Cock-a-doodle-doo?
A Short Walk from the Cottage
There’s a lot to see within walking distance of the Cottage, and I was excited to see what it had to offer. I’m currently looking for material for an upcoming exhibition called ‘The Aesthetics of Decay’, and so I was looking for man made objects overcome by the elements. With the help of Elliot - jackpot. I played around with these a little to fit my usual style, but mostly found these worn objects fascinating without my darker style added. Obviously I couldn’t ignore the odd angry sky either!
A Short Drive from the Cottage
Creetown houses the pub they shot the original Wicker Man movie in, so if you are still alive, there is plenty more to see in the surroundings of Creetown, all just a short drive away.
Take Me to the Beach…
Everyone likes the beach. Well, not everyone, I have a special name for them that shall not be mentioned here, just as I have name for people who prefer stone beaches to sand ones. Not far from Curlew Cottage is one of the most stunning beaches I’ve ever seen in Scotland. It soon dawned on me that something was not quite right; something out of the ordinary. Then it came to me, there was no litter. And I mean, NO LITTER. Not that I was looking for a half smoked cigarette to finish off, but seriously, I was tempted to litter just to show the beach who is still boss. In the end I didn’t. For that, karma would have ensured my camera dropped and landed firmly into the wet sand, slowly getting wetter with my tears.
The tide was out, and so a lot of the beach was exposed and we could walk very freely and long distances, and the weather turned very quickly, with the sun making a dramatic entrance.
It truly was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun experimenting with the sky and the atmosphere, but I found some didn’t need any at all. The 10-18mm lens at 10mm adds it’s own vignetting when at 10mm. with a high f stop. The second photo was just a case of clicking black and white. Done. A first for me.
Take Me to the Stones…
Again, just outside of Creetown, lies Cairn Holy. I’d never seen standing stones before. Well, there’s one single stone I’ve seen the Isle of Gigha we knew as the witches stone.. Not a fun name when your 7 years old. There was a lot more to see here, so I got to exploring. We found what looked like someones grave, but it could have been a room of an ancient house because I read once that everyone back then were the height and size of me.
Take Me to the Surrounding Villages…
Creetown is full of the weird and wonderful, and there is a lot to discover, and a lot to notice if you look hard enough. Including creepy trinkets in house and shop windows, beautiful gardens and wildlife. Outside the village offers much the same, with each cottage and shop being unique and showing off its individuality and history.
The Wonderful and Mysterious World of Eddie
You might wonder why there aren’t more photos of some of the locations I visited. This is actually because I’ve missed out on two other family members who were there. Isla, my cousin and Eddie, their family dog.
Isla is much like me when I was her age. 14 years old, she likes to be alone, drawing and playing the guitar. Both of which she is excellent at. I saw her at meal times though, so that was good.
However, most of my editing time was taken up by ‘Editing Eddie’. Eddie will be a massive help as we build up our Pet Photography Portfolio, due to go live by the end of August, with hopefully more pet shoots to come this weekend and in the coming months.
Eddie doesn’t bite. I mean, EVER. This instantly raised suspicions for me. Ususally dogs have a breakng point and you get a nibble. He also NEVER barks. Once Fiona told me this, I came to 3 logical conclusions:
He hasn’t been bullied enough
He is waiting…tactically
He’s just a really good, well behaved dog. [EDIT- Since writing this I have dismissed this theory due to the off the wall, controversial nature of such a concept, along with the occasional death threat from frustrated dog owners]
He is, however, a very excited dog, and was very difficult to capture and keep still. Out of hundreds and hundreds of photos I captured a small insight into the bizarre and shadowed world of Eddie.
He was a pleasure to photograph. I have been putting off doing my own cat, Margaret, quite simply because I know I’ll need to have a black backdrop, a packet of ham, and most of all patience.
Take Me Home…
So that was our adventures in Creetown and beyond. It was time to return to Curlew Cottage. My thirst for the country was well and truly quenched. Time for one last treat. As the sun went down, it was time for the fire to go on, Early night as we all had to be up first thing in the morning.
Until the next time Creetown.
— TFP .David Gulliver