to view the wholly perfect horizon around you in full 360 degrees, nothing but water as far as you can see, with your own self at the perfect centre of it
This set of photos comes to you by request – your request.
Every week, sometimes as often as every day, a particular phrase pop up in my search referrer logs (the bit in my stats which tells me what people were searching for on Google or other search engines which led them to click through to this site).
“pictures of empty sea” or sometimes just “empty sea”
Several people a week, over the last three years, a steady stream from around the world, adds up to quite a few views over the years, and all looking for empty sea.
This blog is actually the first result presented on Google for “images of empty sea” and the second for the text phrase “empty sea”.
This all stems from a post I wrote almost five years ago, talking about a particular scene in a book I had just completed writing, then known as “Somewhere Down The Crazy River” but since published as “Shiprocked – Life On The Waves With Radio Caroline”.
The post contained a shot of the view from the Caroline ship – nothing but the horizon and empty sea. And it’s that picture which has brought people here. But since so many people come to look for it, and the sea is, and always has been, my lover, I’ve decided to share a few more of the intimate pictures taken during our many trysts.
As always, you can click on any picture for a bigger version. All pictures taken of the North Sea (or its daughter the Waddenzzee ) off the English and Dutch coasts, unless otherwise specified, during my stints on Radio Caroline and Radio Seagull.
When I went to work on the offshore radio ships, people kept asking if life was boring. After all, the sea was the sea, and was always the same they reasoned.
Boring? When the view through the porthole is never the same two days in a row? The sea is a mistress of infinite moods.
So, those are the “empty sea photos.
Below I include a couple more, where the sea is not quite empty, but which I feel are similarly beautiful.
Wonderful experiences and a great life. The radio was exciting, but the sea was always breathtaking.
Always my lover, I’m not sure if I possess her soul, or she mine.
I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did.
Amongst the response to my post on things seen in 2012, the Fairy Tree and the Forbidden Ground sign have elicited the following query from a UK-based reader, the always inspiring Christopher England (whose own blog can be found here).
“I’ve never seen fairy trees before. I guess it’s an Irish thing. It reminded me of the Tibetan wind-prayer flags that are placed alone and forever, right up in the remote parts of the mountains. Although they do wear and come to pieces in the wind, many remain there long after the person originating the prayer has died. That always makes them something special, imho”
The fairy tree, while not exclusive to this island, does seem to have a long connection with Irish superstition and folklore.
Although I was unaware of them myself before coming across this example in a Dublin park, according to this site they can be found at many locations around the country. There is certainly a lot of fairy folklore in Ireland, and I remember my father pointing out to me the fairy rings and fairy forts in rural Cork and Tipperary when I was very young, and noting how farmers would avoid ploughing or disturbing the ground at these locations.
Perhaps more common in Ireland is the Holy Well or Holy Bush – these can be found in many rural locations, and to this day you will still find strips of ribbon and clothing tied to trees at a “holy” location on a roadside.
The only time I ever saw anything similar in the UK was at Barnes Common, where the tree that killed Marc Bolan is still visited and decorated regularly by his fans, despite the passage of four decades.
Chris goes on to comment on the “Forbidden Ground” sign I photographed in Co. Kerry.
“Also, possibly an Irish thing, is the phrase ‘Forbidden Ground’. An interesting choice of words I’ve not seen before, being more used to ‘Restricted Area’ or the like”.
This one is certainly not Irish, and I am as baffled as Chris by its usage to cordon off a closed pathway in Reenagross Park, Kenmare. I have never seen the phrase “Forbidden Ground” used in a civilian context, and the crime-scene style tape makes it look even more curious. That forbidden zone is just begging to be penetrated if you ask me!
Chris goes on to comment:
“with regard to the many ‘Do Not’ signs in the Dublin Dockland, and mindful of it being an area with an ‘Explosive Atmosphere’, they do seem to have missed out a pretty obvious one of ‘Do Not Smoke’”
Just down the road from the original sign here:
there is another one, on a presumably similarly explosive compound, which does caution against smoking, as well as “spark ignition vehicles” (petrol engines to you and me) – the first time I’ve seen that warning., although apparently if you make a prior arrangement, they are not dangerous . .
As for what is hidden behind the fence, well that also has some interesting signage:
The “Stripping Pumphouse” eh?
Now THAT’S what I call “forbidden ground” in goold old catholic Ireland!
Click on any picture for a bigger version.
If you’re wondering where the studio, tx and people shots are . . . they’re coming later in the week.
Sign in window of health-shop, Galway, Ireland.
I came across the above a few months ago while in Galway for a book reading, and decided it was too good not to share! I then promptly forgot about it until this morning, while searching for a different picture (which I didn’t find).
What kind of problems do women get for €40 anyway?
One totally unintended effect is the reflection, which puts my face as the background image for “Women’s Problems”.
Art imitating life? Makes pretty unbeatable watermarking for the picture anyway
I was down at my favorite location in Dublin docklands, the Great South Wall, walking my friends Oran and Sarah and their three dogs on Friday evening.
It had been an exceptionally sunny day, and within seconds of our arrival a wall of sea mist came rolling in towards us, blanketing the bottom of the Pigeon House towers, blotting our view of the bay, and muffling and distorting the sounds of nearby shipping.
We watched the Irish Ferries Ulysses creep out of the port at quarter speed, a grey mass almost impossible to perceive against a swirling grey background, sounding its foghorn every minute as it shared the narrow channel with a cargo ferry creeping in the other direction.
A new twist on one of my most loved places.
I would do anything for music, but I won’t will do that.
I’ve promised myself that in the next 12 months I’m going to try to do lots of things I’ve never done before, especially ones that push me out of my comfort zone.
So when Hotpress photographer Ruth Medjber put a call out for nude models “of all ages, shapes and sizes” for an album cover photo-shoot, I put my hands up – and my trousers down!
Over the years I’ve done some strange things for the love of music. I’ve carried heavy car batteries through the woods at unearthly hours on Sunday mornings (to get the alternative rock station South East Sound on the air in London back in the 80s) , I’ve risked death climbing onto the roof of a ship in 110mph winds to catch a rogue guy wire threatening to entangle with a 50kw broadcast antenna – still switched on at the time (keeping Radio Caroline on air during the Great Hurricane of 1987 - see Shiprocked for details) and I’ve enthusiastically lent airtime on shows on Phantom to hopeful bands looking for their first first airplay.
So taking my clothes off in a warm theatre, surrounded by other naked people shouldn’t be such a big deal really.
But nudity is linked to so many hangups and vulnerabilities, and there is the whole body image thing – yes, we men do have it too, especially when we are the wrong side of fourty, and the wrong side of fourteen stone to boot. Plus, in my whole adult life I don’t think I’ve ever been naked in front of anyone that I wasn’t about to have sex with.
I approach The Gate Theatre in Dublin full of an old man’s anxieties.
Will I be the only older person here? The only fuller figure? The only person coming on his own? Will that make me look like a dirty old man? Will people be looking at me? How do I avoid looking at other people while not obviously looking away either? Oh God, why do we have to make things so complex?
I am the first to arrive. The first of the “naked people” or models that is – the band are already in situ, and getting groomed for their photo session.
The Red Labels are a great bunch of guys, who carry a good tune, and if this photo shoot helps build awareness of their new EP then I’m all for it. But that doesn’t get rid of the awkwardness.
The photographer Ruth arrives, very professional and calming, and the other models start to arrive in twos and threes, roughly half and half male and female, most in their twenties or thirties, but a few around my age. I am not the only person to arrive on their own, thankfully, nor the only older man. Well that’s all right then.
People mostly stick in their groups, and I chat to another guy on his own, an actor who wants to use this opportunity to get used to being naked on stage, in case he needs to do it sometime for a role. I tell him how I’m trying to stretch myself out of my comfort zone, and observe that I might get some colourful new experience to help me as a writer.
The bright lights are set up, and Ruth tells us that there will be two main poses – one of us all, naked, sitting in the seats of the theatre, around the (fully clothed) band members, with masks to anonymise ourselves. There will then be another shoot on stage, with the band surrounded by a semi-cricle of naked people, all backs to the camera, but wearing the masks on the back of our head, to make us into spooky-faced arse people.
We’re then moved around to get the best mix of people in different positions, and for lighting tests. We’re all still fully clothed at this stage, but the nervous excitement, the joking and the giggling is growing. Two women put sitting together recognise each other – one is married to the other’s cousin. there are squeals of laughter and conspiratorial excitement as this is discovered. We are given the masks – we will wear these in the frontal shots too for anonimity, and then the moment of no return comes – it is time to take off our clothes.
Any initial embarrassment I might have expected to feel is quickly knocked out of my mind by the simple practical problem of HOW to get undressed while crammed into a theatre seat in the middle of a crowd of people. It’s easy enough to get the shirt off and the trousers down, but getting them off my ankles and my socks off too without belting a stranger in the process requires a lot of coordination. Around me I can see a flurry of arms, legs and breasts flying all over the place as my fellow models come to grips with the same dilemma. And then we are all naked, masks on, and sitting giggling in our seats as Ruth takes shot after shot trying to get the right angle.
I think she is having a harder time of it then us – we can see very little with our masks on, we are jokey and giddy, she can see everything, and has to try to get us to settle down and stay in position for the shot.
Then it is time to set up the other shot, and if there was any modesty to be had while sitting demurely in the rows of seating, it is lost in the scramble up onto the stage. There are no steps up from the floor, and there is no way that a naked man or woman can heave themselves up the 4 feet onto the edge of the stage gracefully.
And so we go up in a flurry of arses, which is good, because it is our backsides that are in demand for the next shot.
Ruth wants the semi-circle to be male-female-male-female all along the line, but there are too many men at my end.
“Don’t worry, they probably won’t be able to tell from behind” I say to the guy next to me.
“Are you saying I have a bird’s arse?” he asks me good naturedly, before calling out to the group “Hey, do I have an arse like a girl? Do I?”
Ruth is on hand to redistribute the sexes, and I find myself standing close in line between two women, as naked as I am, and forced into physical contact, arm brushing arm as we stand together.
They are warm. It seems strange to me, and yet it shouldn’t. All people are warm, its just that we don’t normally come into contact with the bare skin of each other as we rush through the crowds in town. There is something very bonding about that warmth, it takes away any last nervousness, and I can chat happily to them without any self consciousness. Perhaps, I wonder, there might be more peace and equality in society if we all had to go about naked, and regularly hugged each other. Can’t see it catching on in the Irish climate (geographic or moral) though.
Someone slaps the redhead beside me on the bottom and she looks around.
“That wasn’t me” I say.
“Oh I know” she says “but I wouldn’t blame you if it was. There are some things so wonderful and sexy you just have to touch them them don’t you?
“Like breasts” she adds, and starts making the hand gesture for cupping breasts “You just have to touch breasts”
“Oh yes” I agree, with never a truer thought to come out of my mouth “you have to touch breasts”.
Well, so much for me being the shy one was wasn’t going to look or talk. Far from the disrobing being the difficult moment, it seems that when the clothes came off, the barriers came down. Some of the people in the photo-shoot have taken part in other art-shots of naked groups in Dublin in the past, and I can see now why they are so relaxed about doing it again.
We seem to be standing there arm to arm for a long time while the shots are taken – we can hear but not see what is going on, though as the masks are now on the back of our heads, we can at least give each other the odd smile and have some degree of eye contact.
Getting down from the stage is easier than getting up, and now it is time to don clothes, and become somehow more anonymous again.
Leaving the building, I can’t help but think that maybe the clothes are a heavier disguise than the mask.