Monday, 30 December 2013

Oshawa Second Marsh
December 27th, 2013

For my project of documenting the marsh, I make a point of going down once a month. I just about missed December, but I wanted to at least check Farewell Creek at the footbridge. Ever since I took this shot a few years back,

I'm always curious what the scene looks like each winter. I don't expect it to ever look the same, but curiosity keeps drawing me back. As is to be expected, every winter is different. More or less snow, more or less cloud cover, warmer or colder, the creek more or less open, plant growth, different light. I could imagine the large tree on the right falling into the creek at some point.

Here's what it looked like today. Turns out it was the tree on the left that was the first casualty. They'll probably both be gone in the years ahead.

The footbridge over Farewell Creek where I take these shots from.

The paths were closed today--officially.

Farewell Creek -- looking the opposite direction from the bridge. Saw a beaver with ice-coated whiskers here last year.

While I was there, several flocks of geese were heading inland from the marsh or the lake. Not sure they'll find much in the fields where they're probably going. I'd think most of what they do find would be under ice. They do survive though.

A Sumach seed pod... it's icy coat makes it look like a red seal.

Biding their time. Nature forms her buds in late summer or early fall. They have to be ready to burst forth in early spring. This image is a little deceiving. The ice looks like it's behind the buds, but the buds are completely encased in ice. I expect they'll do fine come spring though.

Manitoba Maple (the Americans call them Box Elders) keys. They too, await spring. So do most of us for that matter.

Before I left for home I drove down to GM HQ for a look at the lake. Though the lake is free of ice, this bay freezes over. It's a popular spot for families to skate or play a bit of hockey.

I also swung by Oshawa Harbour. This is Bonniebrae Point--another catchy name that I like.

My next visit to the marsh will be in 2014. Time flies. A cliché yes, but oh so true -- whether you're having fun or not. :-)

The Friends of Second Marsh web site...
A direct link to a map of the paths/trails in the marsh...

A link to a page that has my past posts re the marsh, in one place rather than scattered throughout this blog...

- fini -

Thursday, 26 December 2013

After the Ice & Snow
December 26th, 2013

Christmas was very different for us this year. We lost power in the ice storm on Sunday, the 22nd and didn't get it back for almost 48 hours. We woke up to 54° in the house on Monday, which was bearable, but it was only 48° on Tuesday.

We went to a hotel for breakfast and to book a room, but luckily when we got home to gather our things, the power was on. As beautiful as it looked, getting out to take pictures of the ice storm was the last thing on our list when the power was out--and it was now late in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, which Jane spent sorting out the fridge. What could we keep, what should be thrown out? Threw out the turkey and more... went to the grocery store to get another turkey and a number of other things. Sure makes you appreciate power when you don't have it for a couple days--in the winter especially.

Boxing Day was a bit warmer. It snowed, so the ice on the trees was hidden but the snow looked beautiful on the trees, and it wasn't falling off quickly like it usually does. I was thinking of going somewhere "better" than the park across the street to get some shots but decided the park was ok this time.

These shots will look much better enlarged--just click on them.

Someone else showed up with a camera.

Squirrel nests took a beating in the freezing rain. The one in this tree looks pretty tattered.

Clinging leaves add a touch of color.

Hundreds of trees came down in the storm, and countless thousands of branches. We only lost one fair-sized branch. Normally this is a clear path through the park. Just ahead of here it was impassable without a machete.


Black & White

Based on the forecast, the ice may stay on the trees another day or two. If it does, maybe I'll venture down to the lake or to a creek to get some water in some shots.

- fini -

Thursday, 5 December 2013

England, Scotland & Wales # 5 of 5
September 2013

I love railroads & everything to do with them. This is Liverpool's train station.

Their high-speed trains look so cool.

We were having a tea in the hotel and I thought I'd do what the teens do--take a shot of what we're having. Not a shot others care about, but it does bring back the memory of it. Maybe the kids have something going here.

Let's all run out and grab a pair of these "toe shoes". Won't we be the talk of the town.

A king in Cardiff Castle loved animals so much that he decorated the walls around the castle with them.

Helping the needy.

Back to the 50's... a bathroom in a hotel in the Scottish Highlands.

Good idea, driver.

A colorful place to have a coffee. Maybe too colorful? The chairs don't look comfy.

Bikes are popular for ads. I think this guy needs a bite to eat before he goes any further.

Before we left home we thought we'd be on major highways all the time and wouldn't get to see any quiet country backroads. Luckily we were wrong. We were on lots of them. They're like something out of a poem.

Out the back window of the bus... no way anyone can pass us. They had to be patient and follow along. We met a few coming at us. They kindly backed up (sometimes a quarter mile or so) and let us pass.

A picturesque church in the hills...

... in a small village in contemplative countryside.

A mix of fast & slow in the village.

Sheep were everywhere, including this parking lot. They're strutting along like they own the place.

An inviting door that makes me want to open it to see what's inside.

No barb-wire fences here either. The road runs between high hedgerows.

The patterns can get quite intricate.

At Glastonbury Abbey--more ruins, but it's King Arthur country. School's out.

How smart is this. Two for the ladies, one for the men. And we all know why that is. Just think ladies, when the hordes of tourists arrive, the line would only be half as long.

Also at the Abbey

The baths at Bath

Time for a sit-down while I take a couple more shots.

I'm always interested in the price of gas in other countries. At £1.369/litre it works out to $10.50 CDN per UK/Cdn gallon. Our price is now $1.19/litre or $5.40 per gallon, so they're paying about twice what we are. I based this on the exchange rate we paid-- $1.69 for a £. It's no surprise that you see very few large cars over there. The American gallon is 80% of ours, so with that and the exchange rate, they come out a bit better with the math--well, sort of.

When I rented a car in Portugal in 2001, I paid about $5 CDN per gallon. I was paying about half that at home. When will we hit $10/gallon? I expect we'll be seeing more small cars on our roads in the years ahead.

Brighten your ride.

One-stop shopping.  Buy yourself a suitcase, pack it with a bunch of tacky souvenirs, and you're good to go.

Another inviting door. Don't you just want open the door and see what the yard looks like?

Over the years, in movies and books, I'd read of heather & gorse "over 'ome". Always wondered what they looked like. Saw heather earlier, now some gorse. They both look gorgeous when they cover a hill.

Don't remind me.

We had wonderful weather, as we were often reminded, but we did get a fair number of overcast skies, which lead to what photographers call "bald skies" in photos. With Photoshop, you just put a new sky in the shot, as I did with this one (see below).

We're back in Scotland here by the way. Keeping things in perfect order is too much bother.

And I can't be bothered with replacing skies for most trip shots either. It's not worth the effort to my way of thinking, even though it only takes a couple minutes. It does improve the shot though.

I can't resist a good sign.

Thought I'd throw in a bit of nature. I do love fungi. These were in Scotland too.

As was this plant/weed with its unusually colored violet seed pods.

This scene could be in Ontario, but the reason I took the shot is the variety of breeds in such a small herd. Probably a story there.

As opposed to an abattoir?

This was through a shop window from the street. We watched the craftsman work for a few minutes. I think he's had that radio for a while. Probably doesn't play MP3s.

I had to try this. It was on the counter where you paid your bill. I actually thought I could likely do it. I tried a few times. Should've known better. I would have donated a winner to the cause in any case. A good idea for charity.

With our germaphobic society, this is probably coming our way. Press the top button for soap, the middle one for water, and the bottom one for forced air. Only your finger-tip can pick up germs. A true germaphobic probably wouldn't even press the last button. They'd just air-dry their hands.

I think we all looked forward to seeing Stonehenge. It's on the Salisbury Plains. You can still get quite close to the stones (100 meters or less). This is a wide-angle shot so it looks like we were farther away than we actually were.

The stones weigh between 20 and 50 tons each. The most popular theories as to how they lifted the horizontal lintels involve sand or dirt ramps and logs.

The bird on one of the stones gives a rough idea of scale. We all have our preconceptions. They're not quite as large as I thought they'd be, but they were larger than Jane expected.

A bird again with a zoomed view.

The people in the background are about 100 meters the other side of the stones so the scale is exaggerated. It's another wide-angle shot.

I was very impressed, but standing next to the stones would have been much more awe-inspiring I'm sure. A 100 meters makes a big difference.

It did make me think of the 'unfinished obelisk' I saw in Egypt in 2003 in a quarry near Aswan:

Its estimated weight is just under 1200 tons. It developed a crack before it was completed so the Egyptians abandoned it. They had already prepared the bottom portion; it's resting on some granite stubs. Hand tools were found in the channel beside it.

How were they intending to lift it out of the quarry? I haven't been able to find any references to explain that. It's easy to understand why the "alien connection" theory is rampant for this type of mystery.

It's one thing to lift 20-50 ton rocks like those at Stonehenge, on relatively flat land, where ramps, logs and ropes might be used, but how in the world could the ancients possibly lift a 1200 ton piece of granite out of a rock bed? It truly boggles the mind.

An image of it from the web...

A shopkeeper checking "the look of things".

Our dollar stores passed the $1 mark with some of their stuff a while back. Time to update their sign too.

Another good name for a bar. It looks boring but apparently it gets pretty lively at times.

Note the "Family Hostile" quip. 'Dogs allowed in the bar' sounds accommodating.

Can you figure this one out? Hint: Birds

Outside a cathedral.

Love the flowers. Love the bike.

Now that's a basket.

Jane's English heritage led us to a pasty shop. Delicious.

Note: They're Păsties, not Pāsties  :-)

At a pit stop along the highway. Did I already post this one?

Does their dog chew the mail? Solve the problem with a high mail slot and a basket inside?

I forgot to include this with the Scotland shots. The Royal Yacht is moored in Glasgow. The queen wasn't wild about the idea but politics entered into the decision.

The queen's bedroom on the yacht. What surprises most people are the simple furnishings on the yacht. The queen chose them herself. Word has it that she loved her time on the yacht. She probably enjoyed 'slumming it', away from all the gold and red carpets of the palace.

Prince Philip's

A spot to relax on the yacht.

When dignitaries are on board.

Back in London... low tide on the Thames.

How the other half lives. These condos have their own private lock off the Thames to moor their boats/yachts.

No grass to cut.

This bus is off to the World's End.

We went to Kensington Palace this time. This wallpaper in the apartments caused a stir around town.

"Listen to the walls whisper". Jane is beside one of the 'hidden' speakers, listening to the royal gossip. The recording was in a whisper.

An interesting thing here was the windows. They are made with a type of 'prism glass' so when you look out them to the left or straight ahead, you can see the outside gardens in front of the palace where the public wanders about, but if you look to the right (where the royals could be strolling in their enclosed private area), the glass becomes completely 'fogged' so you can't see a thing.

'Had to' take this shot. We didn't get to see it but according to Wikipedia:
Canada Water is a freshwater lake and wildlife refuge in south-east London. The lake is named after the former Canada Dock, of which Canada Water is the surviving northern third, and which was mainly used by ships from Canada.

Somewhere along the way.

I love your country, Liz. Rule, Britannia!

Sculpture at the airport. Not something I'd choose, but to each his own.

I always check these screens on flights. We're in a metal tube, at this point over 11 km (almost 7 miles) above the ground, flying at 517 mph and it's 51° below outside. Are we sure we should be doing this?

As Jane walks off into the sunset (well, into the sun at least), I'll join her in spirit, and leave with her.

It was a great trip. Saw lots, did lots, ate some delicious English pastries and the best steak & kidney pie I've ever had. Had some haggis. Met some wonderful people, both tour-mates & locals. Our tour guide was exceptional. The weather was wonderful. What more could we ask for?

A takeaway from the trip:
I wish more shops & businesses on this side of the pond would put flowers outside their places of business. Brighten up our streets, lift our spirits.

- fini -

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