Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Tales of a Blindy Photographer: The missing subject

A slender lighthouse almost hidden by a large brick object in the foreground of the image. In the background is the Firth of Forth, the wide river estuary to the north of Edinburgh.

Wherever I travel I love to take photographs, but sometimes being visually impaired means it isn't all plain sailing. Some might call these “blind fails”, but to me they're just a consequence of attempting to take pictures with rather imperfect vision. 

There was a good example today. I was wandering along the quayside at Newhaven in Edinburgh ( yes, it was a surprise to me too that there is a Newhaven in Scotland, though when really thinking about it, what's really surprising is that there aren't more around the country) attempting to find the Light House restaurant, and pausing every so often to snap an image of the harbour below me. I thought at one point that I had found the lighthouse after which the establishment was named. It seemed to be one of those old fashioned types, part of a general building rather than standing tall and alone on the water's edge, and I took a few shots from across the road. 

It was only when, several hours later, flicking through the photos I had taken that I came across one with a strange pencil like structure almost hidden by a brick wall I had deliberately included in the foreground. Yes, of course it was the lighthouse, but what of the building I had previously mistaken for it? 
A church, viewed from across the road which runs along the harbour side.

Well, that turned out to be a church spire, perhaps a lighthouse of the sorts, guiding the souls of mariners rather than lighting the way home. 

Always on my mind

The Facebook status box asks, rather intrusively if I stop and ponder it, what is on my mind. 

I don't really know where to start. 

Firstly, and probably most importantly, I've had a pretty successful day. I arrived in Edinburgh fresh as an ever so slightly wilted daisy, navigated my way around a largely unfamiliar station, net up with a colleague, chaired a consultation event, facilitated a break out group, found my way from a random bus stop to a never before visited hotel despite the best efforts of the local planners, and capped it all off with a pleasant dinner in a little place overlooking the water. 

All pretty good, you might think, and with good reason. Travelling alone can be stressful and challenging, until a year or so ago the thought of speaking at an event, let alone leading it, would have terrified me, and if there is one thing I really hate it is eating alone in a restaurant. So, on the basis of that I have really had a pretty good tiime. 

But then theirs the fact of where I am right now, enjoying the springyness of a Premier Inn bed beneath my body whilst penning this post rather than making the most of a night in Edinburgh during the Festival Fringe. Despite all that I have achieved today I have failed. I have failed because I have succumbed to the tidal wave of anxiety and fear that frequently threatens to overtake me when anticipating doing something challenging from a visual perspective, but which I mostly manage to hold back just long enough to do the things I want to. Right now, where I want to be is inside the Merchant Hall enjoying the Blues and Soul Review rather than hiding away in a nondescript hotel room miles from the city center, but the thought of navigating thronging crowds alone on dark, unfamiliar streets, first to find the box office, and then the venue itself, is just too much to contemplate.

The feeling won't last forever, I know. Indeed, from past experience I know that it will last just long enough to make me miss the event before subsiding sufficiently to allow me to rue my decision for the rest of the night, before the next wave of concern begins to build up. 

Tomorrow is a new day with new challenges. It has things I will enjoy, like travelling further north on the UK rail network than I have so far been to date. It will have things that will be enjoyable and worthwhile at the time, but which I will worry about beforehand, such as meeting stakeholders new to me.  And I dare say it will have challenges, as yet unforseen, which will test my resolve to keep going. I only hope I can push through this time around. 

Monday, 20 August 2018

A knotty problem

I've got a knot in my stomach. It has been there for several days and is showing little sign of going anywhere. Truth is, I wasn't especially surprised by its arrival and rather expect it to stick around in one form or another for about the next seven days. 

You see, this always happens when the date of my next big adventure transforms from a grey smudge on the horizon into a wall of rock and ice to be surmounted imminently. On this occasion it is a week away, a bit of work, a bit of play, with a couple of sleeper trains and five different hotels thrown in for good measure, all things, quite frankly, which one would be forgiven for thinking that a Robert would be entirely comfortable with, if not relishing actively. 

If my pre trip anxiety seems rather contradictory to you then I can assure you that it is downright baffling to me. As any reader of this blog will have realized, I really love to travel. Indeed, I love to dream, and scheme, to anticipate and dream some more, before departing on a new adventure, to visit unfamiliar places, meet new people, eat and drink and even learn a new thing or to. It is the thing that keeps me going in the long days of winter or on late nights in the office, yet it frequently renders me frozen with fear, overcome by the enormity of what is to come. Of course, I could just stay at home and spare myself the stress, but then that travel bug would start nibbling at me anew and the whole cycle would start once more. 

So, here I I am, stuffing the kitchen sink into my holdall, worrying that my luggage is suitable neither for a business trip to the Scottish capital, nor a jaunt through the highlands, but somehow having to make it work for both.