Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Winter Wonderland
November 27th, 2013

We awoke this morning to snow clinging to the trees. It's our first real snowfall of the season and it turned out to be a beautiful one. When I see the trees covered in snow I'm always tempted to jump in the car and go to the lake or woods somewhere to capture some of it.

I didn't feel like doing any jumping today, but I thought I'd at least go into the backyard and across the street to the start of the path, and to the park that's on the other side of the path. So after a few sips of my first coffee of the day, I grabbed a couple cameras and went for a walk in the winter splendor.

The backyard...

The White Spruce shelters this corner of the yard.

Sedum with its hands full of snow.

The start of the path is just across the street, so it's a one minute walk (if that) to get to it.

The left side of the fork leads to the park.

The seed pods are on a Black Locust.

The park was quiet today... I was the only one there. 

A small creek runs through it.

Heading back up the fork to the path.

Looking north from where I start my walk up the path. I should walk it today, but I'm finding it easier to talk myself out of walks these days. Not good.

When I think that all these images were shot within a 5 minute walk from home, I'm reminded of what I've read many times in magazine articles--you don't always have to "go somewhere" to find something to shoot. Often as not, there's lots near home.

P.S. I'll finish up the UK trip soon.

- fini -

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

England, Scotland & Wales # 4
September 2013

As we traveled through the highlands of Scotland we kept an eye out for what our tour guide, Tara, called "hairy coos" -- "hairy cows". We only saw a few, but we were lucky that they were at one of our stops so we were able to get close to them. They're different.

The calf almost looks like a big dog.

A few extra legs... he's back with mom.

I love the sweeping horns.

Cottage at Culloden, scene of a famous battle from the times of "Bonnie Prince Charlie".

None of us ever expect to see the Loch Ness monster of course, but that doesn't stop us from checking out the lake as we drive alongside it. This exhibit building on the shore of the loch capitalizes on the legend, and is a 'must-stop' for tourists.

This concrete version, in a pond by the centre, is the only monster 99.999% of the world ever sees at Loch Ness.

Roofs of the centre... I'm not sure what the architect was thinking.

Loch Ness. But for its name and the legend, a lake like 1000s of others.

Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness. It played a role in the War of Scottish Independence in the 1300's. Will it gain prominence again when the Scots vote for independence next year?

I thought the Scottish Highlands were stunning. Certain landscapes make more of an impression on us than others, and that was certainly the case for me when we were in the highlands. 

It's a very rugged landscape, with towering hills (low mountains?), grass growing high on their slopes, with sheep scattered amongst the rocks & grass to add life to what is an almost forbidding scene at times. 

I find it hard to capture vast landscapes in a photo. The images are such a small portion of what you're seeing at any one time. Panoramic images help but I don't usually bother with them. Maybe I should. I crop some shots instead, to get somewhat the same effect. Maybe videos would offer a better impression of what you're seeing.

This is definitely a case where enlarging the images (just click on them) will give at least a little better impression of the sweep & feel of the highlands.

The dark brown patches are heather that is past its prime. Some of the small white dots are sheep, some are rock.

Pity we missed the blooming of the heather. Adding its pinkish tones to the hills would add a wonderful warmth to the scene I'm sure.

A lonely spot to live but what a view they have. It's hard to guess how many sheep a given farmer has since they're scattered hither & yon in the meadows & hills. There are a few in the foreground here, but probably lots more here & there on the slopes.

There's no shortage of grass for the sheep.

Another lonely spot to live. I can't remember many small towns along the way, though they could easily be back from the highway.

We often saw stands of trees on hillsides with very sharp outer limits, that seem a bit odd. Normally, I'd expect to see more "loose" trees spotted around the edges.

Instead of the barb-wire fences we're used to seeing here, the fields were most often separated with low, meandering stone walls. They blend much better into the hillsides, and seem much less invasive of nature.

There were a few spots where the heather was still in bloom. Imagine if the hills too were in bloom, with the large swaths of it, that almost covered some of them. I would love to see that.

The foothills of the highlands have gentler slopes and more plant life. The pink flowers in the corner of this shot (and in the one below it) were frequent along the highway. It's Fireweed. Thanks John.

It bears a vague resemblance to our Purple Loosestrife.

We must have seen 1000s of sheep on this trip. In small flocks along the highway and dotting the hills of the highlands. Baa, baa black sheep, have you any wool?

I knew the English had Robins but I pictured them as being larger, more like ours. They almost look like fledglings.

They sure are cute little guys.

Gretna Green where the blacksmith used to marry intentional tilt of the shot--just for a change.

I'm all for 'ordinary' things with character. This looks so much better to me than our cold red boxes. On the small side maybe, but it would do.

A chiseled 'couple' at Gretna Green... hardly romantic looking.

On the other hand, these more human looking ones across the square, evoke emotion & feeling.

Are chimney pots strictly from the good old days? I think they're cool.

Along the way...

I'm guessing a farmer built this bridge. He built it to last... and it has, judging by its aged look.

I took way too many shots of stone walls and hedgerows on this tour, but I find that they add so much to the pastoral scene. They offer a relaxing feel as well for me.

There were exceptions, but most of the cattle we saw were Friesian-Holsteins that are common in Europe. Our Holsteins originated in Europe but breeding has produced a different strain. Ours are strictly dairy cattle; the European breed is used for dairy and for meat. Both look almost identical.

What's he 'thinking' as the bus rolls by? Nothing? Just looking?

In a shop window... evidence that you're in sheep country.

Back in England in the Lakes District. A village scene worthy of a poet. Wordsworth lived here for much of his life... Grassmere.

Hedgerows & stone walls... and a home, and farm sheds, that suit the scene.

This trucking company has an interesting story. Being one of the largest in England, it's become a 'game' with people to spot Eddie Stobart trucks on the highways--to keep kids (and adults) occupied. They name their trucks with girl's names, written on the cab door. So that adds to the game... have you seen Marilyn for example. A fun idea.

The first thing that comes to mind for many of us when we hear the name Liverpool is "the home of the Beatles". So most of us that visit Liverpool make a point of checking out Mathew St. where the Beatles spent much of their time before they hit it big.

They performed almost 300 times at the The Cavern pub. Apparently it was torn down but later rebuilt to look as much as possible as it did when the Beatles played there.

There's an exhibition near the harbour to commemorate the band. The shots of it are Jane's.

Some of the girls went to see it.

Jane said this room was a tribute to John Lennon. Simple, classy. 

How about a T-shirt?

Girls having fun.

A lucky snap out the bus window. Where? Good question.

It's interesting to me how memory works, or is it just mine? We've been back from the tour only about 8 weeks, but already it feels like it's slipped into my long-term memory. It doesn't feel very recent at all.

Posting on the blog brings it back to the fore for a bit, which is one of the reasons I enjoy posting trips on the blog. We're nearing the end. One more post I'm guessing.

- fini -

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