When I hear this song it makes me think of a day between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, not only long before Laura Marling ever released it, but probably whilst she was still at school. I had been given a camera for Christmas, my first SLR, and I was staying at my Mum’s house in Menston, near Ilkley, during the university break. It had snowed overnight, and – and here my memory is a little hazy – I was on my own and decided to head out and up towards the moor to try out the camera.
Of course, there was no way of judging what I was doing – I had a little book to make notes on each picture so that I could compare them once the film was developed, but it was too cold to write so the book stayed in my jacket pocket – and I only had a couple of rolls of film so I had to ration the pictures. It is probably an overly discussed topic, but it is still interesting to me how the habits of the hobby photographer has changed with the digital revolution. On that snowy day about ten years ago I can remember stopping on the path or by a dry stone wall and taking quite a time before pressing the shutter. In fact, sometimes I rejected the shot completely, not willing to potentially waste one of the precious images.
The walk ended, as it was always going to, in the warmth of the Hermit Inn, named for Job Senior the Rombalds Moor Hermit, just up from Menston on the Moor Road. The view from the bay windows inside was spectacular, out across the snow-covered Wharfedale. I bought a pint of beer and let my hands thaw a little until I could write some notes in my little book, which I then tucked away in the camera bag. I have no idea where the notebook is now, or the developed films from that walk. Probably in a box in Belfast or a Menston attic. The camera, its lenses plundered for a compatible DSLR, sits in a carton in my apartment, untouched since the last time we moved. So not much left then of that short walk in the snow, except for these memories, that returned unbidden when I first heard Laura Marling’s song.
Words: Paul Scraton