It's the story of my life. For someone who is fairly cautious, I plunge into things. If an idea catches my imagination, I think "Yes ! I can do that. It will be easy." When I was at work and said it aloud, people used to groan and shrink away. Rightly. It was never easy. Didn't give up though. I struggled through whatever it was. I got there. But I never learned. Another idea came along and it was "Oh Yes ! This one WILL be easy. That's what I've kind of done again with the river Tay. The group 100x caught my eye and the idea of a hundred photos in 2014 on a subject of my choice appealed. I'd just taken some shots of the Tay on a calm idyllic morning. So there it was. I leapt in. It would be easy. Of course once I started to think about it properly my heart sank. A hundred photos ? Well, it's a long river. A hundred and twenty miles. The longest in Scotland. It's the UK's biggest river drainage basin and discharges a larger volume of water than the Thames and the Severn combined. I always thought it started at Loch Tay but apparently it starts on the slopes of Ben Lui. Just doesn't call itself the Tay till it comes out of the loch at Kenmore. What this means is a lot of driving. And at this time of year the sun rises early and sets late which means going to bed late and getting up in the middle of the night to be places by dawn. And I'm beginning the challenge three months late. And I said it would be easy. No wonder people used to groan. But I start by looking at maps and making lists. Before long I've downloaded the Tay onto my tablet. I didn't know I could buy just the little bits of an Ordnance Survey map that I want. I've learned something. And I'm learning more. There are disused bridges I never knew about. An old railway one. A ford. And I haven't explored the Dundee side of the river, which isn't far away. I drive down narrow little roads to tiny communities with nowhere to park. At the end of what looks like a muddy derelict path I find Dundee University boat club. Friendly students getting their boats organised to train. Another road leads to some old expensive looking houses. A creek with moored boats and grass thick with ladies smock. Marsh marigolds everywhere. I follow a path along the edge of the river. Sure as Death bank. Carthagena Bank. Dog bank. A sea of reeds. I want to know the stories behind the names. Back home I find the website of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. What good maps they have. Lots of little boat symbols signifying wrecks. The Tay estuary is full of sandbanks. All named, all shifting, all treacherous. I go and look at the two disused lighthouses at Tayport. Well, three actually. Three disused lighthouses in one small town seems excessive. But I'm pleased to see one was built by Robert Louis Stevenson's granddad. And then of course there are the salmon. They've got a sculpture of them at Newburgh and they are incised into the walls that contain the river in Perth. Further upstream at Boatlands there is a plaque to Georgina Ballantine who holds the record for the largest salmon ever caught in the UK. I like that it was caught by a woman. And I've hardly skimmed the surface. A hundred photos won't do it. It will take more. Fourteen photos in and I'm thinking I will go on for a second year. Take a second hundred. I know I can do it. It will be easy !
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