Yay! Snow in the ‘Stow.

Sunday 10 December 2017 – Walthamstow.

A couple of days ago El and I were  visiting Liverpool and it was absolutely freezing, culminating in a small sleet/snow flurry as we were on our way to the station to catch the train back home. London seemed almost tropical by comparison.

El had just gotten up to make tea, I was planning on a decent lie in after a couple of nights of poor sleep, when she called out from downstairs that it was snowing, and it had been settling. I leapt up, looked at the window, and YES. SNOW!

I love snow. Just the fluffy white stuff fresh on the ground, not the grey dirty muddy trampled slush that it turns into once it has stopped falling and humans have traversed it. Living in Auckland for so long and being too lazy/busy to make the trip to the mountains in the centre of the North Island, I hardly ever saw it. This is my fifth winter in London and I have only seen snow once in that time. There was a scant fall last year and in previous years it waited till I was out of the country to pay a visit.

A quick coffee followed getting dressed and we were out the door fairly quickly. I could already see local kids playing in the street, as it was not particularly early we were keen to get to Lloyd Park, near the end of our street, before too many people arrived to mess up that lovely cold white blanket. Wrapping up warmly, as the snow was still falling, I popped the little camera in my pocket and we were out the door. Slipping and sliding down the hill.

The William Morris Gallery sits just inside the entrance to the park and was our first stop. I love this building at the best of times but with snow falling and a big Christmas tree out the front, it looked magnificent today.

As did this nearby tree. I could see we were early enough to find the snow untrampled, and to hear the crunch and squeak of the snow underfoot as we walked round the gallery into the park itself.

I ended up taking a few photos as we walked around the park, though a lot of them were quite smeared and blurred by falling snow. I did not think to bring anything to clean the lens as we walked…

The park was gradually getting busier and busier as time moved on and more and more families arrived with young children in tow. Quite literally in some cases, there were a few plastic sleds on display. Though Lloyd Park could not be any flatter!

This is my favourite photo from the short outing. I Like that the scene is mostly monochromatic from the bare trees and the snow, but human intervention has added a smattering of colour. This is largely unedited by the way.

After completing a full circuit of the park we passed the back of the gallery, and headed for the warmth of home.

It was still snowing a couple of hours later, leaving a good covering on some old garden furniture. I popped my head out the bathroom window and took this photo, which I may well print one day.

I will sneak out again a bit later on in the day…

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A cold day in Liverpool

Friday 08 December 2017 – Liverpool.

I have lived in the UK for most of the past five years. In the mid-1980s I lived here for a further two and half years; and in those seven and half years, I have never once been to Liverpool. As that presidential moron, DT would say, ‘Sad’!

We have an office in Liverpool, planning to be in Manchester on Thursday for a party to celebrate the opening of a vendor’s new office a meeting with a key vendor I decided to take an extra day and make a quick visit to Liverpool as well. The idea was for El and I to meet in Liverpool, spend the Friday together and then spend the night with our friend in Macclesfield. However, our Macc friend ended up being unwell so we booked tickets home to London instead.

I worked from home on Thursday morning and caught the 12:00 train to Manchester. The meeting was great. I ended up leaving about 10:00pm, after discovering my favourite beer, Beavertown Gamma Ray, brewed not too far from home was on tap in the bar we went to. Yay! It was a mildly wobbly walk to my hotel.

There was one moment of low drama when I arrived at the hotel. I was advised that as I had not checked in by 6:00 pm my room had been cancelled. Luckily another staff member came to my rescue and found me a room, I think the first one was going to toss me out on the street!

I was in reasonable condition on Friday morning, much better that I expected I would be, red wine, beer and a terrible sleep are not the best combination for a sprightly morning. I left Manchester at 9:30 and caught a train to Liverpool, where El was waiting for me. I left Manchester under a clear blue sky and arrived in Liverpool to a bitter wind and grey clouds. El said she had seen snow out of the window on her journey up. There was no snow on the ground, the streets of Liverpool were clear of anything but puddles and reflections.

We walked down through the main shopping area towards the Albert Dock and the River Mersey, our first objective was Tate Liverpool.

We are members of the Tate and our membership included entry into the John Piper exhibition. I have not heard of him before, he was an English artist working in the last century, and we very much liked his work. There was also an exhibition of Roy Lichtenstein which we also looked at, and it seemed to be quite popular as well.

The view out of the window over a very brown and wind blown Mersey.

After a reviving coffee and a sit down, we ventured back out into that strong and very cold wind, there were not so many people outside! I liked the docks area.

Even though it was a day off work I decided I would take ten minutes and pop into the office. I have not met many of the IT team in Liverpool, though have shared emails and messages with most. Saying hello, introducing myself and putting faces to names was an opportunity worth taking. The office was not far from the Tate, and allowed us to walk past the Royal Liver building.

Following the quick office visit we walked randomly around for a while, there are some nice old buildings here, bits of it reminded me of Edinburgh new town with low rise sandstone buildings and lots of pillars. 

Hitting the main shopping streets again, we decided to head back towards the waterfront and the new museums. We visited a photography gallery, great to see such a thing, but the photography did not inspire me much. I was going to try and explain why I didn’t like it, but putting those complex thoughts into words that fit in a short form diary/travel blog didn’t seem to work. However, it has made me think about what I like and why I like it.

We then visited the modern Museum of Liverpool which was really cool, typical of the new breed of light, airy and interactive museums. Bonus points for anyone knows why this football shirt was on display in the music section!

It was drifting towards train time, I was hungry and it was too cold and windy to enjoy spending a lot more time wandering about so we decided to walk slowly back up towards the station. There is a very strange building near the waterfront. It looks like it belongs in a fantasy movie about ancient Egypt, where all the buildings are massive and domineering. We liked it a lot.

The clouds were lowering, darkening and threatening as we walked, it was only mid-afternoon, but it was getting quite dim.

As I was taking this photo of the magnificent central library building it started to rain. We were close to the station, under a hundred yards.

Though, I did stop by the war memorial for a quick photo.

By the time we arrived at Lime St Station the rain had turned to sleet and the temperature just dropped. It was nice to make it inside! Another place we definitely want to go back to, there is a lot more to explore in Liverpool. Though I will wait until summer next time.

The journey back to London was fine, it is only a couple of hours, the train was full, but we got our seats OK and it was reasonably comfortable. There was wine so I fortified myself with a small bottle of red, put my headphones on (noisy children) and dozed. As we passed through Stafford Station it started snowing, a little more heavily this time.

No such luck in London though. London was just cold and clear. A frost formed over night, my car roof was telling me something!

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Autumn in Epping Forest – Week 2

Sunday 22 November 2017 – Epping Forest.

I was a little disappointed with the finished product after last week’s photo walk in Epping Forest. I had some good compositions and had the light pretty much right in most cases. Two key photographic objectives made. Where I had let myself down was the crispness of some of the images. There were a couple I was quite pleased with that were just not sharp enough in the areas that counted. What really galled is that I had humped the tripod around with me for the entire three half hours, yet I only used it for about ten minutes. What a waste; and don’t ask me why I did not use it. I have no reason.

I decided to go out again this weekend, take the tripod, but actually use it. No proper walk planned. Just photograph near to where I park and take more time, but producing less output.

I left home a little later than last week, it was another cracking autumn day, crisp, but not cold, with little wind and a clear sky; perfect for everyone and there dog to go outside. The car park near where I had planned to check out was full when I arrived, damnit! I ended up driving to another location, one I am familiar with, but it was second choice due to it being close to one of the more popular areas of the forest.  I do like to do my photography on my own.  The forest is the one place locally I can let my mind run free, clear out all the garbage that comes in over a working week, then reset and prepare thoughts and ideas for the week ahead. I always feel refreshed when I get home.

I was amazed at how much the forest had changed in just a week, a lot of the leaves had gone and there are a lot more bare trees than before. Next time I come up there will only be tree skeletons left. I took significantly less photos than last week, I had given my self a lot less time, and I only strayed a couple of hundred metres from the car, but I did use the tripod and I did get much sharper images. 

Mission accomplished!

I love how this tree has managed to reconnect its roots and has survived being blown over.

I spent a bit of time trying to photography these two trees, I liked their shapes and their relationship and I liked the way the light plays on them and with their leaves. I just could not seem to get the shot I wanted. I took enough, and this was the best of an average bunch.

Perhaps this couple sitting nearby put me off.  I always feel restrained when others are around.



My favourite image from the session.


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Autumn in Epping Forest – Week 1

Sunday 22 November 2017 – Epping Forest.

Last year I managed to pretty much miss the changing of the seasons in London. Autumn arrived quite late and the trees had not started properly changing colour until after I left for India. This year I stayed for the show.

I have not been to Epping Forest for a few weeks, and was really looking forward to this trip. I had a walk planned, batteries for the big camera charged and the tripod in the car.

On a normal trip to the forest I am looking for flat grey light, however today I was hoping for some nice low sun. Actually, what I was praying for was some dense mist, though I settled happily for the clear sky that I got.

I have a semi regular walking route I follow when I go to the forest, covering decent sized groves of beech and silver birch trees. The actual paths taken vary each time, and I often stray in to small blocks of trees that I have yet to thoroughly explore before. Blocks that feel remote, that are quiet; though always my new favourite block.

Though I took the tripod, I barely used it, something I utterly regret now as I do the edit, as most of the images are not really, really crisp. I was disappointed with that. I have no real explanation as to why I did not use the tripod much. I am blaming the fact I had planned too large a walk, for the limited time I had.

I am going to return next week and stick to one small area.

Here are the images I ended up with.  I must admit I took an awful lot, way more than I normally do, but the forest was utterly spectacular. So much colour and so much vibrancy. I will leave it to you to judge 🙂


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November 2017

It is now less than a month to Christmas. 2017 has been another really busy year and I am not really sure where it all disappeared to. But disappear it did. This year has been the first time in the six years since I left New Zealand (on my two year holiday) that I have not been back for a visit.  Mum did come to see us, which was fabulous, but that meant I missed out on seeing my two grand children.  I need to make sure that I return in 2018.

I have not taken a walking trip this year either, not even a couple of sneaky days away, again highly unusual, and another symptom of my busyness. I am going to try and squeeze a weekend away on my own in before the end of the year. Take some photos and do a little bit of walking.  My long term goal to walk the south west coast path have been thwarted, but there is no one to blame but myself, though at least I did visit the path a few times in 2017.

Though we have been busy, a lot of that busyness has been doing fun things, and we have been out and about for numerous walks and other activities. I have no cause for complaint, I just want to do too much I guess. Most of those activities over the year have been written about.

I generally take a camera most places I go, the ‘little’ Canon G16 is in my backpack most days, and if it isn’t, I at least have my phone with me the rest of the time. So, this post may be the start of a regular end of month wrap-up post of the random images I take that do not fit in to another narrative.

The only thread that remotely links even a small number of these images together is ‘Autumn’. I love autumn in the UK far more than in Auckland. Here, even in London, we get much more colour in the trees, and the dead fall on the ground. So I will start with some of those.

Most weekday mornings I walk from Green Park Station, down through Green Park, across the Mall and through St James Park to the office. I have really enjoyed watching the trees turn, it has been a beautiful experience and the walk is a good start to most days.

A couple of weeks ago, Eleanor and I walked to, and then through the recently opened ‘Walthamstow Wetlands’, Europe’s largest urban wetland area.  It is not the best time of year for urban wildlife; and the place was pretty crowded with other visitors, so we kinda just walked through from the Ferry Rd entry to the Copper Mill Lane entry, where I took this picture.

There were piles of leaves all along the end of the Copper Mill Lane, so I stopped to take a few photos of the brightly coloured leaves, drying and dying on the ground. The rich array of coloured leaves, all from the same type of tree is a constant reminder of how  amazing the natural world is.  I also tried a little bit of ‘Intentional Camera Movement’ photography to get this blurry, splash of colour, painterly affect.

On Saturday we went to Tate Modern to see the Modigliani exhibition, as members we got to  enter the exhibition an hour before the ‘public’. It was really good, I am not overly familiar with his work, but I particularly liked his early portraits. There was no photography allowed in the exhibition. However, I did quickly snap this picture outside, a scene I really liked, and one I am going to go back to to try and get a better image.

Along with this one of the wonderful silver birches outside.

El and I went separate ways after walking to Liverpool St Station. I was on a mission to a record fair at Spitalfields (unfulfilled), though I did find this wonderful light sculpture around Broadgate.

And this old shop front, which I surprised myself by never having seen before!

There are a couple of posts coming from two short photo missions I have made in Epping Forest over the past couple of weeks, and that will be a wrap of November 2017!

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A little slice of Devon Heaven

Sunday 29 October 2107 – Budleigh Salterton and Dawlish, Devon, England.

Up early again. On a Saturday. Again. This is becoming an unhealthy habit! El and I are off to Exeter to visit Charlie’s flat and drop a load of stuff off that he could not take down on the train. We were in the car and off by 7:30, stopping for breakfast and a coffee on the way. It was a good run down to Exeter and we were there by 12:00.

Charlie lives in a big old house; there are seven students in it, in a street full of big old houses full of students. We were lucky to be able to park the car pretty close to his front door and after unloading we were off to the student bar in the university campus to watch football and eat lunch. Not bad, nice food and cheap beer, but I was driving.

Once the game was over (a Tottenham loss to Man Utd.) El and I headed out of town to the very nice B and B I had booked for the night. We dropped the bags and carried on down to the coast. We passed through Budleigh Salterton on our July south coast road trip and liked the place enough to want to come back for a longer visit. I tried to find somewhere to stay the night there, but there wasn’t anything available, so we are staying in Clyst St Mary on the edge of Exeter. I parked on the sea front and we wrapped up and went for a walk; it is cold.

The light was marvellous as we walked along the side of the pebbly beach and up to the cliff top viewing area to admire the views.

The sea front at Budleigh Salterton is nice, we both liked it. However; when we walked into the small village to find somewhere to have a meal, it seemed to be all shut. Hmm, there were a couple of places open; but as a place to move to, well we need more choices for food. We jumped back in the car and headed to a pub near the B and B and had what turned out to be a pretty good carvery for tea. I haven’t done a carvery pub meal for ages. I enjoyed it.

We were back at the B and B really early, not long after 7:30. It was dark and cold and we were tired, so heading in to town was not really an option. As we arrived a great fireworks display started at, I am guessing, the local school. Even better was we could watch it from our room, which was very sound proofed !

It was another glorious day on Sunday, we had a bit of a lie in with breakfast booked for 8:30. Full English, yum. We were not picking Charlie up until 1:30 so decided to take advantage of the sun and go to the other side of the River Exe and visit Dawlish. I have passed through Dawlish numerous times on the train but have never stopped there. This section of the railway was design by Brunel and runs right along the coast, across causeways and through tunnels, a wonderful piece of engineering. I have always wanted to visit, though parking the car was more expensive than London and made me a little grumpy 🙂 We parked at the station.

We walked along the sea front to the very nice Cove Cafe at the end. We briefly enjoyed sitting in the sun drinking the best coffee in days along with a piece of un-needed, but very much desired and enjoyed sweet cannoli each. It was a shame that the family with the loudest voices in the south of England were sitting right next to us.

I was hoping to be able to walk further along the train line, though had to settle for just looking and marvelling at the engineering feat that Brunel managed on this rugged coast line.

There was even a bit of street art nearby. I am liking Dawlish!

It is a lovely town, it has everything in my book, apart from being too far from anywhere, and rather ‘elderly’. It is clean and tidy, not too ‘seaside shabby’, has some marvellous views, and a seawall that would make for some excellent photographic opportunities in stormy weather.

The weekend was slightly ruined for me by the seven hour drive back to London. It was the last day of the mid-term school break and the traffic was mad, so many accidents, so much traffic. We went back to London via Oxford to avoid the snarl ups on the M4. It was tiring and horrible.

But the weekend made it pretty worth while.

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A walk around Norwich.

Saturday 14 October 2017 – Norwich, Norfolk, England.

Continuing our search to find somewhere outside of London to buy a house El and I decided to take a day out and visit Norwich. It is not a coastal town, so for me it has one immediate downside. However, it is not a major effort to get to the nearby coast, and it has a lot of positives. One of those positives it is only two hours by train from Liverpool St Station. This makes it far smoother to get to and from Walthamstow than with trains that terminate in Paddington.

By my Saturday morning standards I was up very early so we could catch the train, and we arrived in Norwich late morning. In a burst of unusual enthusiasm we had done some research into Norwich and had a loose plan for the day. Starting with following the River Wensum from the station around to the Last Wine Bar, where El had booked us in for lunch. Visiting the castle and the cathedral were also on the list; any town with a river, a castle and cathedral has an advantage in my book.

The walk around the river is really nice, with paths on both sides and plenty of interesting things to look at on the way. Norwich is an old city, with settlements back to pre-Roman times, though its mad boom period was in the 10th century when it was the second largest town in Britain; behind London. The Castle and the Cathedral were both built soon after the Norman conquest. The inside of the river was the site of city walls and there were a number of gated bridges controlling access, like the 15th century Pulls Gate.

Cow Tower was built in 1398 as an artillery post to defend the city against marauding local rebels and the perceived threat from France. Now it is a nice river side spot to have a wee late morning doze.

The river takes an almost 90 degree turn at Cow Tower and the path meanders past the edge of the cathedral fields. With lunch in mind we did not venture in to the cathedral grounds just yet.

The River Wensum, joins the River Yare just outside the city and the Yare flows to the North Sea at the busy port of Great Yarmouth. Norwich was a busy inland port and quite a wealthy city, this section of the river walk reminded us a lot of Brugge, very European in style. Norwich is a university town, so has a lot of students; which means a lot of cafes and bars, along with a youthful and outward look on life. It was not a Brexit supporting town in the referendum in June last year. This seemed to be reflected in how the city ‘felt’. Maybe having a row of houses that look European makes a place feel European?

We were early for lunch at the Last Wine Bar so took a walk round the immediate area, there were some nice little streets, and nice windows with reflections to keep me entertained as well.

Lunch at the wine bar was excellent, really nice atmosphere, food, wine and service, not cheap though. London prices as they say. However, we would go back.

After lunch we took a walk around town, heading into the old town, past numerous shops, bars and some nice looking cafes. It was pleasing to see that there were a number of non-high street brand stores, independent retail had a home in Norwich. I am liking it more and more.

We headed up to the castle, though did not go in; cost and time, prohibited it. Next time.

Looping around the castle we headed back down the hill, past the lovely old Anglia TV studio building, down towards the cathedral quarter.

Started in 1095 the construction of the cathedral was completed in 1145, the spire was completed in 1148 and is the second tallest in England. It is a marvellous spire and I marvel at its age and the skill and vision of its builders.

The streets around the cathedral are equally lovely, especially on this glorious, early autumn day. Cobbled lanes, big old trees, a mix of Tudor and newer buildings, bright colours. What’s not to love?

Maybe the Bear Shop was a step too twee.

It was a slow stroll, back around the river path to the station.


Another great day and a town now high on the ‘should we buy here’ list. Nice one Norwich.

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Thetford Forest YHA Weekender

Sunday 1 October 2017 – Thetford, Norfolk, England.

Our local group of friends, AKA ‘The Walthamstow Lot’ have been holding an annual weekend away since the children were very young. The YHA Weekend. El used to go along, though she stopped going before we met. Last October we went along for my first YHA Weekend experience, this weekend we returned for our second. Last year we stayed in Brancaster Staithe on the north Norfolk coast, this year we stayed in a hostel in Thetford Forest, also in Norfolk. There were 26 of us, split fairly evenly between parents and youth. Ranging from 17-24 years old, it seems unfair to call them the kids.

We drove up after work on Friday, it was not a bad journey, mostly driving in the dark, not something I have done a lot of lately and it was quite strange. A small amount of drizzle did not help much either, but the traffic was light! The hostel is really nice, big and airy, clean and new looking. Friday night was quiet, sitting around talking rubbish over a few drinks. I was really tired so went to bed well before everyone else. Not that it meant I was first up on Saturday.

Saturday is activity day on the YHA Weekender, the group were off to ride bikes in a different part of the forest to where we are staying; about 15 minutes away by car. One of our friends invited me to take the wheel of his Maserati sports car, I think it is the Levanti. I wasn’t going to say no…

I have never driven such a powerful and solid car, there was so much power under my foot, it was almost scary. Though a bit nervous about getting nicked for speeding, or even worse, damaging the car in some way, I did enjoy driving it, and it does sound very cool!

There were four of us not riding, with such a nice day we were not going to turn down the opportunity to go for a walk in the trees, and I wanted to take a few photos while we were there, and I had lugged the big camera along for the ride. After farewelling the cyclists we sat down for coffee 🙂

I took a lot of photos of trees. It is a working pine forest, but I love the clean straight lines and order to a pine forest, a counter to the rambling, meandering wildness of Epping Forest.

It was a great walk and the cyclists were finished before us, much to our surprise. 

Back at the hostel I went for an early evening explore of the immediate area. I am very much enjoying the photography of Al Brydon, and wanted to experiment with his underexposed, deeper, darker images. I set the camera phone to manual mode and had a bit of a play.

I snapped the front of the lodge on the way back for dinner.

After dinner there was a bonfire and a bit of a sing-song. Normally I do not go in for the sing-song thing; though sitting around a fire in a forest, drinking wine with friends it just seemed to be the right thing to do. I actually enjoyed it as well!

Another good weekend away, they just keep on coming!

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Sunday 24 September 2017 – Edinburgh, Scotland.

In a rare show of organisation El and I planned to take my mum to Edinburgh for the weekend ages ago. Mum was going to spend a few days in Northumberland with her brother, so we thought we would tack Edinburgh on the start of that visit and drop mum in Alnwick on the way back to London. However, in my usual style I did not do anything about it until quite late, so we ended up paying too much for a pretty terrible hotel, though the train tickets did not seem to be any more outrageous than they normally are.

I started this post about three weeks ago, and the detailed memories of the trip are fading as fast as my brain is filling up with work projects, other activities and thinking about the pending festive season, and maybe a trip back to New Zealand next year. I feel a head cold coming on and I am really tired after a few sleep nights of disturbed sleep. This may well be a short post, and I am determined to finish today. I am glad I completed photo editing soon after the trip; at least there is a prompt for my ramblings.

As mum was not travelling back with us I had to buy her train ticket separately to us, though we did manage to sit together for a while. I took a few photos out of the window as usual, starting from Newcastle station, where the train journey gets more interesting.

We arrived in Edinburgh early on Friday afternoon, it was not a bad day, a bit windy and a bit cool. we were staying in the ‘new town’ and decided to check out that side of town first, saving the old town for a full day on Saturday. The ‘new town’ is hardly modern, mostly built in Georgian times. There are some lovely buildings.

We walked up Calton Hill, with its great views of Edinburgh and out over the Firth of Forth. The Nelson column, pierces the sky from the top of the hill and can be seen from all over Edinburgh.

The nearby National monument was started in 1825, and was to be a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, funds ran out in 1829 and building was stopped. Never to be restarted. It is a monument to Scottish soldiers killed in the Napoleonic Wars. It is quite popular.

Walking back down towards Princes St, we walked into the Calton Old Burial Ground, a place I thought about visiting last time we were here. The entrance is through a gate in a high wall, hiding a bigger space than I expected, full of old gravestones and monuments. It is a lovely place, and I quite enjoyed walking around. I will definitely go back next time we visit. Maybe even take the big camera and spend some proper time there.

We all went our separate ways after the graveyard, I went back to the hotel for a rest and mum and El went and did some shopping. Meeting up again late afternoon to walk, almost as far as the castle, to the famous Witchery Hotel for dinner. Walking anywhere in central Edinburgh is wonderful; as was the meal we had.

After dinner it was a slow stroll back down to the hotel, for a not particularly good night. I had to complain to reception at 4:00 am about the noisy neighbours.

Saturday morning we started our exploration of the old town. First walking down the Royal Mile; past a couple of interesting shops.

We did not pay for the tour of Holyrood, I took a photo through the gate and we stopped for coffee and cake.

There is a long day of walking ahead, something I kept forgetting, and that mum is a wee bit older than me. She is very fit, but she is not longer 75….

We then headed back up the long and reasonably gentle hill that is the Royal Mile.

At the top of the hill is Edinburgh Castle, we were thinking about visiting, but it was so crowded up there we did not go in, but we did admire some of the views from that side of town.

With lunch time approaching we walked down the side of the castle to Grassmarket and stopped for more coffee and a snack in a small cafe. Mainly because it had somewhere to sit down!

A rest and some food gave us a new burst of energy to head up the hill to the National Museum, there was a crowd gathered inside the entrance to Blackfriars cemetery so we decided to go in and have a look. A wise choice. Inside was a small display of owls who were either found injured on born in captivity. I love owls, though have never seen one in the wild in the UK. I must add that to my to do list! It was great to be able to get up close to these lovely birds.

It was also time to check the final result of the West Ham v Tottenham football match, the smile suggests who won. Tottenham, El is wearing her Poch coat, which almost guarantees a Tottenham win.

The statue of Blackfriars Bobby was on the way from the graveyard to the museum. I love how his nose is so shiny from the decades of hands touching and rubbing it.

We were knackered by the time we reached the museum, so only had a very cursory look around the ground floor, we will definitely come back here next time we are in the city, the building itself is worth a visit, and the museum does look interesting.

It was another early night, we were lucky to get an early table in a pizza restaurant quite close to the hotel. More sleep was had, though the same noisy neighbours came home late again, though this time there was no singing or loud voices till 4 am. Thankfully.

We checked out of the hotel after breakfast on Sunday morning, and took a slow stroll to the National Gallery, which I thoroughly enjoyed, along with a far better coffee than we had with breakfast. Thank goodness for gallery cafes I say.

After the gallery we took an even slower stroll to the station through the gardens.

We were quite early for our trains, though better to be late than never, and Edinburgh station is always busy.

Mum’s train left a few minutes before ours, so once we had mum safely on her train to Alnwick we were settled into our first class seats for the journey back to London.

It was not a bad trip either. I do love Edinburgh and if it was not so expensive, would consider it as a city to move to. London of the north when it comes to house prices.

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When mum came to stay.

Friday 06 October 2017 – London.

We had the great pleasure of mum coming to stay for a few days over the past month. Mum turned 80 in May and my sisters and I conspired to buy her return ticket from New Zealand as a present. Mum had not been here for (I think) seven years, and was not sure if she would come back, so our birthday present was a welcome surprise!

In 1973, mum and (my late) dad emigrated to New Zealand, taking me and my sisters along for the ride. I am very glad to have mostly grown up in NZ, a fabulous country to be boy and young  man in, and something I will be for ever grateful for. Mum has two brothers and other friends and relatives in the UK, some of dad’s family are here too.

Mum stayed with El and I for half of her time in London and was out and about with her brothers visiting friends for the rest. If I had not recently started a new job I could have spent more time with her. I was lucky enough to be able to take a few days off here and there, and have the odd ‘work from home’ day.

Mum arrived on Saturday 2 September after 27 hours of travel with Singapore Airlines, she was glad it was over! I took a couple of days off work so Tuesday mum and I went for a drive out to Southend, a place mum had been to a number of times over the decades. After faffing trying to find a place to park we stopped on the west side of Southend and decided to go for a walk towards Westcliff, before turning back for a traditional fish and chip lunch on the waterfront, followed by a gentle post lunch leg stretch and then a Rossi ice cream.

I parked as close to the centre as I could, near a tiny section of virtually empty sand.

We headed westward, towards Westcliff, and view on to London. It was not a hot day, nor was it cold, some where irritatingly inbetween. It was windy and quite cloudy. A bit grim, bit not terribly so., which probably sums up Southend.

Soon after starting our walk, it started to rain, not heavily, though the drops were big and solid and the promise of a windblown downpour was strong. We had coats but chose to turn back, skip the walk and go for lunch instead.

By the time we were half way back the threatening rain had been blown away and while the sky stayed heavy and full, it did not rain on us again. We walked along the seafront, past the pier and the entertainment area.

We were looking for somewhere reasonable for lunch. Somewhere on the sea with a view over the water; and somewhere selling fish and chips. We found that somewhere, and lunch was excellent, we chose the right place. It was full, with small groups of retirees also eating fish and chips, if is full then there has to be a reason. After a large lunch we waddled back to the car, stopping for a famed Rossi ice cream on the way. It was good day out.

On Saturday we took a trip in  to central London to visit the Tates. None of the special exhibitions were of interest to mum at Tate Britain so we took a walk around and perused the general galleries. There are no photo restrictions in the free galleries which was fab.

I am not sure who painted this massive piece but I really like it,  you will have seen similar in some of my photos; A tiny stretch of beach/land and a massive sky taking up most of the frame. The colour reminds me of Turner.

Speaking of JMW Turner, Tate Britain has an exceptional collection of his work. For a long while I was not a fan, art is very subjective, and I just did not get him. Even though he was active during my favourite artistic period and certainly has a lot in common with the impressionists I love, I just did not get him. Over the past couple of years that has been changing and the more I look at his work and think about how it could influence my photography the more I have come to appreciate what he has done. This work from Lausanne from 1841/42 is a great example of what I want to be able to do with my camera. I am not quite there yet.

It was a nice day so mum and I took the opportunity to stroll the south bank of the Thames to Tate Modern. I love the Thames, it is such a nice walk;  history, space, views, city, what more could you ask for; though there are places where the crowds are just maddening. We were lucky in that it was still not too busy, yet…

The office building next door but one to mine!

I took mum for lunch in the members lounge in the new extension to Tate Modern, the view over south London, and up and down the river is just lovely, and worth the members fee alone. The extension is magnificent, a wonderful concrete and steel construction on the side of an already brilliant space.  They should offer afterhours photography tours of the building. Though having the odd person in the shot does give the scale of the building some perspective. 

We had a walk around the Giacometti exhibition, it was really busy and quite hard work, being able to stand back and read the signs and take  a decent, broad view of the pieces was impossible. I am not really a sculpture person, but I do love his mid-period tall skinny people work, fabulous. Hopefully El and I will get an opportunity to go back and take a longer look; at a members only session Smile

Mum stayed with family for most of the next week, coming back to stay with us for a few days when Meliesha was visiting on her way from Bristol to Austria. It was great that mum and Meliesha could hang out for a few days together in my neck of the woods. 

Mum, El and I had a weekend away in Edinburgh, and I will write about that next. On the way back south Mum stayed ‘oop north’ for a few days with one of her brothers and visited some old friends. All too soon it was back to us in London for a few days and then off to Heathrow and back to New Zealand.

It was great having mum over to stay, hopefully there will be at least one more visit before mum does not feel able to travel such long distances again; though maybe we could meet half way for a catch up some time! Love you mum xx

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