Derbyshire, Batman and Phone Apps

First off, Happy New Year everyone. I think this is the last week where you’re allowed to actually say that; afterwards you just sound like a prick who’s been somewhere warm over the christmas period and want to boast about it to your colleagues because you’ve arrived back so late in the new year.

Anyway, I hope you all had a great time whatever you were doing. I missed out on Christmas Day snow here in Copenhagen, but thankfully it came a day later over in Derbyshire, England, where I went to spend christmas with my family and catch up with old friends. It was hard work trying to get to see everyone, and sorry to all of you who got struck off, but there’s always next time.

Ashbourne, Derbyshire, England, hills, snow, landscape, photography by matthew james, pbmj, instagram

A view of Ashbourne and the hills of Derbyshire

Being back home amongst the beautiful hills, rivers, caves and valleys of Derbyshire made me realise just how fortunate I was growing up in such a beautiful place, and I can’t for the life of me understand why I took girls on dates to the cinema or out for dinner, when there were perfectly good places to visit just a mile or two out of town. That’s social bullying for you: we men are told that women like flowers, rings and romantic dinners. What a load of sexist bullshit.

What all of this meant for me was that I could start experimenting with Instagram on a completely different level than normal. Those of you who follow me on the photo-sharing app will probably be used to random pictures of Copenhagen, sporting events or behind-the-scenes snaps of jobs I’m currently working on. But having sold a couple of landscape pieces recently I decided that #Derbyshire was just gagging to be photographed.

Church window, glare, lathkill dale, instagram, photography by matthew james, pbmj

The setting winter sun created a beautiful brown glow inside this quaint church at Lathkill Dale

We drove to areas I’d never visited before, including a very muddy single-track road that weaved all the way down to the river Dove. Flanked either side by woodland, farms, and steep hills covered with snow, I had to exit the car on three or four occasions to open and close access gates. But the stillness and crisp air made the inconvenience worth it.

When we got back to my parents’ house, my grandmother made enquiries as to where we’d been. “Ooh, that’s the route I used to walk to school everyday,” she told me. “Even in snowy weather like today,” she added. “Down the hill, past Uncle Jack’s farm and all the way along the river. It was about three miles in each direction.”

Comments like that makes you realise two things. A) We have it easy with cars and public transport and B) Life moves way too fast for us all in the 21st century and we don’t have enough time to appreciate the little things, like a peaceful walk to school or work in serene surroundings.

Sunset, Derbyshire, Hartington, Instagram, Photography by Matthew James

The sun sets over the village of Hartington during our exploration of the Derbyshire Dales

Moving on. but still speaking of apps and being back ‘home’, my partner and I decided we’d deserved a break from our 14-month-old and headed over to Nottingham where we first met. And to make things easier, I finally got to use my free Hotel Tonight app on my iPhone, which helped us to find a very last-minute, very decent hotel, right in the middle of town. Neither of us can remember the last time we were in the city (for me it was probably photographing a court case back in 2011, so not very glamorous), but walking past our old haunts was hugely nostalgic; all sorts of memories came flooding back.

Nottingham City Hall, Market Square, Christmas Market, photography by matthew james, instagram, pbmj

The Christmas Market and the Council House at Nottingham Market Square

After meeting up with my friend Craig for some beers and staring with unbelief at the hard-core English ladies plodding down the icy high street in their high-heels and hip-high skirts, we rounded our experience off with a classic English fry-up (that’s a breakfast to you non-Brits reading this) and headed over to Wayne Manor from The Dark Knight Rises, aka Wollaton Hall, for a spot of sledging. Sadly Batman wasn’t home, but Alfred didn’t seem to mind everyone using the front lawn, as long as we kept away from the Wayne family gravestones!

Wayne Manor, Batman, The Dark Knight rises, Wollaton Hall, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, sledging, instagram, photography by matthew james, pbmj

Wollaton Hall in Nottingham, used as Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises

And now here I am back in my office, as if non of it ever happened. Races have started, job enquiries are starting to come in, and the list of things to do is growing by the hour. What I will say is thank you for taking the time to read this blog, because I know that we all get bombarded everyday with “LOOK AT ME, READ THIS, SHARE THAT, ACT NOW, LIKE ME, TELL YOUR FRIEND” crap. So I try to make all of this fun and informative, just to give you a five-minute break from life.

I’m pleased to say that a brand new website is just around the corner, where you’ll get the chance to buy some of my artwork for a discounted price in the January sales. But until then you can still follow my work and connect with me Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Hope you all have a fantastic 2015, and I’m looking forward to sharing my images with you over the next 12 months…