Tag Archive: photos

Galileo, Gordon and Pedro

The biting wind took the edge off the morning but otherwise we really enjoyed the couple of hours at Icarus Falconry. Here are Pedro(Burrowing Owl), Gordon (Harris Hawk) and Galileo (Great Grey Owl).

My companions gave the two-hour experience top marks. I give a lower rating to take into account the weather (not under the organisers control) and a couple of missing information boards. Having said that, the talk by our guide, a falconer, was informative and she did not invent facts if she happened not to be sure of them. I also liked the fact that, when flying the birds of prey, she took us to woodland, field, or walled-garden, according to which most suited the original habitat of each bird.

Hot drinks (tea, coffee, hot chocolate) were offered and were welcome against cold.

Overall four stars or 7 out of 10. Worth a visit but put your thermals on if you happen to go in late Autumn/Winter.

Exhibition Road

Natural History Museum, London

Natural History Museum, London

We knew it would be busy at the museum with it being half term but we were not expecting the crowds to be quite as big as they were. The queue was so long that they took us on a tour of the grounds including garden areas we did not even know existed let alone seen before. Most of the queues was for the dinosaur exhibition which we have visited a couple of times before but this time it was not on our itinerary.

Our destination was the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition which features its winners and finalists. Naturally we were not permitted to take any photos so you will have to take our word for it when we tell you that some of the pictures were truly stunning. I can see why the overall winner got first prize but, for myself, I did not enjoy the sight of one fox carrying the bloodied corpse of another. True to life, “nature red in tooth and claw” and all that, but not pretty.

After lunch we wandered down Exhibition Road. This street made the news recently as an experiment in pedestrian/traffic management. There are no kerbs and all travellers are supposed to share the same space. Think of a pedestrianised street down which everyday traffic is allowed to travel: bicycles could and did go anywhere, for instance. It sort of worked in that it slowed everyone down. Meanwhile we came across this sculpture…

"When Soak Becomes Spill" by Subodh Gupta

“When Soak Becomes Spill” by Subodh Gupta

It is supposed to show a drink poured out and over flowing (think of a fizzy drink being poured into a glass, bubbling up and over). It was made from various steel buckets, pots and pans.

close up of "When Soak Becomes Spill"

close up of “When Soak Becomes Spill”

You can see it on the corner between the Victoria and Albert and Natural History museums. The sculpture was said to represent a comment on the wastefulness of consumer society. I thought that there was a resemblance of the ancient notion of a cornucopia: a horn of plenty. That represented good harvests, more than enough for everyone, a generous blessing. How did we get from generosity to wastefulness? Perhaps the difference is whether we use left overs on another day or simply throw them away; whether we use the generous blessings we receive for ourselves alone or to help others as well.

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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