Tag Archive: photographs

30th December 2015

This is the last post for “Sundry Times”. Writing and posting something at least once a week for five years has been an interesting challenge. Having the possibility of sharing on this blog, I have learnt to look through a camera differently; no longer just taking snapshots and landscapes but also looking for curious shapes and patterns.

I have dared to share some of my poetry – I don’t claim any particular merit but I have taken a bit more care over them, sharpening phrases, typesetting lines etc with the thought that someone just might want to read them out loud. And I have mixed all this up with prayers, politics and jokes in the believe that “It is all of a piece”: we have one life with many accents and colours but not separate holy, secular, spiritual, natural, work and home lives.

I hope that you have found something of value here, some gold among the grit.

The main reason for “Sundry Times Too” is that I have more or less used up all the memory here so I need some space for more photos. The other reason is that I started this blog as a way out of a nervous breakdown. I still have my “unexpected lows” but I am in a much better place than I was in 2010 but I want to mark my moving on by moving on to another, though similar blog.

God bless


Vulcan flyby

I have mixed feelings about this aircraft. On the one hand, it is part of Britain’s technological heritage which has produced an iconic aeroplane whose shape and power is designed to impress. On the other hand, it is a bomber intended originally to carry nuclear bombs to drop on the USSR in the event that the Cold War went ‘hot’. Even if you subscribe to the “Just War” doctrine it is hard to justify a weapon that would destroy on such a massive scale that it is difficult to see how it could discriminate between civilian and military targets.

Still, the distinctive sound roused me from my lunch to discover that we had a view of some of its latest manoeuvres with “The Blades” in attendance. Here are a few photos – not great because they were several miles away (presumably to avoid the built up area of the town).

A slice of Cumbria

Toffee Shop, Penrith

Toffee Shop, Penrith

Now that slice could be a slab of Kendal Mint Cake, I suppose, but I am not a fan of it myself – I much prefer the traditional fudge you can get from the Toffee Shop in Penrith. Apart from my own, of course, they make the best fudge ever: soft, dissolve-in-the-mouth as it should be, not the chewy, long-shelf-life stuff sold to tourists and at the pick ‘n’ mix. I know, I know, lots of people like the standard stuff and it is unlikely to poison you so don’t let me put you off. I’m just saying, you know.

Meanwhile our holiday included a bit of the Pennine Hills as well as some of the Lake District and each has its own beauty and claim to fame that bear more than a fortnight summer’s holiday.  People say that “it’s a beautiful part of the country” and it is true; but they then complain about the rain – where do they think the lakes come from, then?

So here is a brief selection of photos of some of the places we visited.


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Not photographed above is the Pencil Museum in Keswick. We went as a bit of a joke – after all, how interesting can a pencil get? Well, the museum was small in size and took maybe 20 minutes to half an hour to look round (we took as long in the shop afterwards). There was a bit about the history of pencil making, quarrying of graphite, and how pencils are made today. Part of that history included some secret missions during World War II. We learnt about a real life ‘Q’ as in the James Bond – a fascinating detail.

We happened to arrive in Keswick towards the tail end of the Convention – a gathering of Christians which has been going for years. It meant parking took a little while to sort but one bonus was we were able to sit in on a lunchtime recital of poetry written and read by Stewart Henderson. He is a popular contemporary poet from Liverpool.

Finally, the photos of Ullswater do not show you that they were taken from a steamer (misnamed as it ran on diesel) chugging the length of the mere. It was a pleasant, if windy ride.

Cotswold Water park

It was Spring when I took these photos hence the lack of leaves on the trees but the weather was kind and it was pleasant place to stay just a few minutes from Cirencester.

Confusingly there are two “Cotswold Country Park”s on the map but I believe they are similar: well-tended and extensive grounds near the head of the Thames Valley providing holiday accommodation for families with a spare bob or two (or comfortably off generous relatives …). If you are the sort of family who likes walking, swimming, canoeing and sailing, then this is the place for you. Mind you, sitting comfortably with your chosen book was also an option. We were self-catering (which I don’t mind especially as I can more easily tweak the menu) but local pubs and town were not too far away for a bit of variety.


midpoint of partial solar eclipse, 85%

midpoint of partial solar eclipse, 85%

… actually it was 85% coverage of the sun by the moon in a solar eclipse. At our latitude we saw a partial eclipse. To see a total eclipse, assuming that the weather was kind, would involve a trip to the Faroes, which was out of the question for us. Still, I was able to take a few photos using a homemade solar filter. (I should add that the paper was high quality specialist film which I had bought previously when I thought we might see the transit of Venus. As it was, the weather was inconvenient then).

Given that I was using a bridge digital camera (mid-way between point-and-shoot and, say, a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera) and filter holder made from a “Pringle’s” tube, I think I did quite well.

Battle of Lansdowne 1643

Today there is a pleasant walk along the fields on the top of the Western edge of the Cotswold hills near Bath on the borders of Gloucestershire and Somerset. The weather was tolerably warm but mizzly and somewhat overcast but we were still able to see views towards Bristol and Welsh mountains beyond. We were out for a stroll and a breath of fresh air so we didn’t walk very far – just enough to admire the view and to read the information panels about the Battle of Lansdowne during the English Civil war in the Summer of 1643. It took place in and around where we walked on Wednesday 5th July 1643 although trees have been planted and modern roads have since been put it in with accompanying street furniture. Fortunately there are way-markers to follow.

I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow account but here are a few details.

The strategic goal was for the Royalists (supporters of King Charles I) to take the city of Bath from the Parliamentarians (Oliver Cromwell was their leader). It failed During the battle, the leader of the Cornish infantry, Sir Bevil Grenville died. Some seventy-seven years later in 1720 his descendents put up a memorial to him to mark the spot where he died. We had driven past that memorial several times and it had piqued our curiosity – one reason for our walk. Apparently it is the oldest surviving war memorial in the country. Apart from the futility of war, there was a particularly poignant note. The two generals Waller (for the Parliamentarians) and Hopton (for the Royalists) had been childhood friends.




Gladstone Library

From my top floor bedroom I could see across the treetops to Queensferry on the river Dee in the distance and the tower of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on the far horizon. To be honest, I only confirmed this using the zoom function of my camera; the photo was not especially clear.

I was staying at St Deiniol’s which houses the Gladstone Library founded by a Victorian Prime Minister at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries. It houses his original collection of books and papers though the library has grown over the century to provide a resource of theological books; not quite the size of a university library but certainly larger than any diocesan library I have known. This is a good place to do some private study whether Biblical or other Christian topic. Having said that, I would not expect to find anything to help plan next week’s Sunday School or an All Age service – though you might find a book or two on the theology of them.
The grounds in the village of Hawarden are pleasant and the bus link to nearby Chester (about 20 minutes) was regular with generally several buses an hour (check times for Sundays and bank holidays, of course).
The most obvious indication that you are in a different country is seeing all the signage in two languages: Welsh and English in the one, English alone in the other. On the bus, crossing the border, you would be none the wiser that you had left one country and had entered another unless you were paying attention to, for example, the road signs. The second clue is that after you passed the Airbus factory at Hawarden airport, the road leaves the flat Cheshire plain and starts the climb the first of many hills that characterise the Welsh countryside. The elevation gave an extra boost to my view (see above).
A week was long enough for my purposes; other residents were there for a retreat, some for conferences. If you wish to find out more try this link to the library.

A wander round Kessingland

While on holiday in Kessingland, I spent one afternoon with the camera doing a circuit from our cottage down to the sand dunes and back again.  Basically, I took my camera for a walk and stopped every so often to take a photograph.  When I had had enough, I stopped. Having got back I looked at the photos on a larger screen and found many that I liked. None the pictures were “staged” in that I photographed what I saw without moving or changing anything apart from how I stood or how wide or tight I took the photo. So, yes, there really was a solitary pink flip flop on the dunes; yes, someone had made a notice the month before; and so on.. (hope they found the tent!). This is a selection of what I found.


A slice of Suffolk

Mostly on or near the coast. We were staying near Lowestoft which is England’s (and the UK’s) most easterly town. Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t reach the most easterly point itself due to building works so we were something like 50 metres short. We liked the beach at Lowestoft because of the sand and because it had RNLI lifeguards. Our next port of call was Southwold Pier on one of the few really rainy days. Among the usual gift shops and cafes was a display of some of Tim Hunkin’s mechanical creations.

Another day, near Southwold, we went to a model railway exhibition. The day included a fundraising visit from the East Anglian Air ambulance.

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Near Lowestoft is the East Anglian Transport Museum. What intrigued me was the number of items that were related to London where I grew up: letter codes from Southern Rail commuter trains, posts to hold the wires for the last trolley bus service in the East End. I enjoyed the chance to take a short trip on a tram or trolley bus although not every one in our group were as enamoured as I was.

Minsmere, the nature reserve and bird sanctuary featured in this year’s BBC’s “Spring Watch”, afforded us a view of some wildlife, a heron and a view of Sizewell Nuclear Power Station.

As this was a family holiday we included a trip to “Pleasure Wood Hills” a theme park situated between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. Like any other of its type, there were a number of rides, rollercoasters and the like. I think it fair to say that my prowess on the pedalos was not appreciated. Indeed, when a few days’ later, we went for a day trip on the Broads (starting at Oulton Broad), my companions were less than totally confident in my piloting skills. Sufficient to say, they need not have worried and I thoroughly enjoyed pootling along the river even for just two hours. I will concede that it is not easy steering and eating a Marmite sandwich at the same time.

Back at the theme park, we enjoyed the stately ride on the chair lift and we decided against going on the “Wipeout” rollercoaster. I also avoided the “Rattlesnake” and “Marble Madness” which others in our group did enjoy. One general comment about the staff. Without exception we found them all polite, friendly and helpful. Many, we assumed, were doing summer jobs between terms but we did not encounter much, if any, of the bored and tired looks that you sometimes get.

There is more that we could have visited, and we enjoyed what we did. Worth another visit some other year.

Midsummer flowers

A few summer flowers and a couple of insects that visited our garden recently:

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