Monday, 26 May 2008

Drove to Kielder Water today, out north-west of the city in the blazing sun. Many landscapes occupy this part of the country and Cara talked passionately about the foreign places that each scene reminded her of, foreign places that she had never visited.

Each twist in the road, the thin ribbon-like streams, great brown crags of rock and the sharply cut encampments of pine brought forth false memories of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, even Canada and Alaska. Within each one we tried to mine the origin, to recall where this association began. Was it through television or cinema, perhaps? Certain types of scenery are overused in order to represent a place and its trappings. Think of the Russias, Alps, Bavarias and New Mexicos of films where expanses of fauna and weather are enormous film sets, loaded with preset association.

Of course, many of my associations come from authors and the particularly Northern European experience of today no doubt arose from Sebald, who I am but ten pages from finishing. I have been a bad reader, breaking off sessions to do something far less rewarding, but far easier. Whilst reading last night, I decided to smoke and the combination acted together like substrate and catalyst, leading me to hunt off in my room for pen and paper, upon the finding of which I was able to sketch out a working structure for a book I intend to write. My mood instantly lifted, much to Cara’s fortune and subsequent happiness.

Driving out to Kielder was not a difficult decision this morning, not when faced by the blossoming weather patterns overhead and my improved disposition. The water itself, a large man-made lake shone darkly in opposition to the pale skies and tired banks. Sat upon rocks we ate some food and drove to somewhere quieter, accidentally crossing the Scottish border. Amongst the perilous turns of the road, we found a gravelled lay-by and stopped the car. Cara led the way as we pitched down into the valley on foot and found three small, natural ponds surrounded by grasses, a scene entirely reminiscent of writing I had started years previously but never finished…

The pond lay at the beginning; the place visited first and often, the immediate encounter. No travelling was undertaken to reach the pool of water, it simply arrived, atop a hill and in the centre of a clearing.