This Is Not Bliss

Not Bliss.

Some time ago, a few friends and I were out for a hike in the north of the Isle of Man. We met in the grand sturdy village of Kirk Michael and set off on an upward ascent, towards the Northern Hills of the Island.

It was a fine clear day, with sunshine powerful enough to put heat on our backs, but fast-moving high clouds threatening the possibility of change.

As pretty much anywhere in the Manx countryside is photogenic, it had crossed my mind that I might be able to get some pictures taken on the walk. This photo of the line of the hills as we approached them wasn’t planned and was only the work of a moment.
I just leaned over the gate that you can see creeping into the bottom right of the shot and clicked.

It wasn’t until I was looking back on the pictures taken during the walk that I noticed how vivid this one was. Manx sunlight can catch you out like that sometimes.

I was really struck by the completely coincidental slight resemblance to Bliss. That’s the photo that was the default wallpaper on the Microsoft Windows XP system, showing a similarly rolling landscape and cloud-flecked blue sky. As a result of that use, it’s thought to be one of the most-viewed photos in history. If you used a computer any time between 2001 and 2014, the chances are that you’ve seen Bliss.

Bliss was taken by a photographer called Charles O’Rear in 1996 and shows part of the wine-growing region of California. Not a part of the world that often gets compared to just outside Kirk Michael I would have thought, but I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

So while my picture is not Bliss the famous wallpaper, you can set it as your wallpaper if you want. Bring back the thrill of using Windows XP with a bit of a Manx twist. And let’s be honest, can you think of a fairer description of the hills of the Isle of Man on a bright and breezy day than “a little bit like Bliss“?

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