Change of season

March 29th, 2015

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The Fairfield Horseshoe, from Clappersgate.

This is supposed to be an excellent walk, but I’ve never done it. It’s on the list, perhaps when it’s a bit less snowy!

Portrait of a tree

March 28th, 2015

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In the grounds of Wray Castle, Windermere. I thought each of the main branches had different and interesting characters.

Click for a larger version

Well, that was a surprise…

March 26th, 2015

If you saw my photos from yesterday, you’ll understand why we were surprised to wake up this morning to this:

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and this:

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Very pretty, though:

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By the afternoon, the weather had returned to something closer to what we expected:

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Photos often don’t, however, tell you anything about the wind, which was, at times, somewhat dramatic!

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All peaceful now, though.

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Simply messing about in boats

March 25th, 2015

We’ve escaped to the Lake District for a few days, and, as we turned off the main road and came down the side of Ullswater, we got the sudden urge to be on it instead of beside it, so we rented a small boat from the very nice people at the Glenridding Sailing Centre. I think it was just about the first one they’d rented this season.

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Tilly has limited experience of boats, and wasn’t too sure what to make of it, but quickly settled down. I haven’t sailed much in a long time, but spent many happy days in my childhood doing this. Very nostalgic.

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The Inn on the Lake at Glenridding caught the sunlight nicely at one point.

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And when I got distracted by the view, Tilly would keep a close eye on the set of my sails.

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Click images for larger versions.

Latte to go

March 13th, 2015

In Cambridge, there is nothing that cannot be bicyclized…

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A nice cheery guy runs it, too. He told me that when he first got the bike, he had an hour’s cycle ride to his parking place. I can’t imagine it’s exactly lightweight… that’s a proper espresso machine, and I think the thing on the back carrier is a fridge.

In the land of the red dragon

March 2nd, 2015

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Just back from a weekend in Snowdonia with my brother, niece and nephew, which was wonderful, despite the Welsh weather trying to throw its worst at us. It really is a very pretty place.

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We had gone there planning to climb Snowdon, but we didn’t quite make it to the summit. Though almost no snow was visible from our starting point, as we approached the cloud base we met people with crampons turning back because they didn’t have ice axes, and since we had nothing very pointy or spiky at all, we decided to save the peak for another day. But this was better than we had expected, since the forecast had predicted heavy rain most of the weekend. It was a wonderful walk.

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On Sunday we took a more lowland route, through the old Dinorwig slate quarry.

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Despite some really dramatically inclement weather at various times over the weekend – rain, sleet, hail, and wind so strong it was almost impossible to walk into it – we somehow managed to be inside for almost all of the bad bits and outside during the intermissions!

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I don’t know Wales nearly as well as I would like, and I left with a strong desire to go back again soon. Perhaps in the summer.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

February 2nd, 2015

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I’ve just returned from a few days’ skiing at La Tania, in the Trois Vallées. A pretty spot, and quiet, since we were there before the half-term madness!

However, it snowed almost continuously from our arrival on Weds night to our departure yesterday evening. This was the view from my window on the first night:

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Well, actually, it looked like that almost every night – the snow just got deeper.

This trip therefore had the nicest snow I’ve ever skied on, accompanied by perhaps the worst weather I’ve ever skiied in. When you could see where you were going, and the headwind wasn’t blowing ice at you, it was nice!

This meant that, overall, I took very few photos. After all, there’s a problem with skiing pictures: large areas of white are generally of little interest to anyone who wasn’t there. This was some of our better weather, for example:

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See what I mean? It gets much less exciting and more cloudy above the tree line.

And then, on Saturday morning, just for a few hours, the sun came out, and even a quick iPhone snap could look like this:

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We headed to the top of the mountain, and skied down to La Folie Douce: a bar just below the cable car, parts of which have been around for some time.

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This is a place where they know how to party. A large outside area has tables that are specially reinforced, so you can dance on them, which they encourage strongly. Regretfully, I felt I should decline, on the grounds that my table-dancing was not at its best when wearing ski boots.

Most of the music was intended for people two or three decades my junior, but some of the performers were really quite good.

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(We made our entrance down that slope behind him.)

Playing instruments outside, especially metal ones, does require some extra equipment:

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But it also makes for some dramatic pictures. This lass did a really rather good Lady Gaga cover:

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And this guy, as well as having a great singing voice, was just too cool not to shoot:

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But then the weather closed in again, and we skied down to the vin chaud in the valley. All of which explains why I spent several days in the Alps, and mostly came back with pictures of people standing on tables!

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But I can at least finish with one classic skiing shot, and my thanks to Steve, Paul, JP, Ray and Mani, who welcomed me into their group, and were great companions whatever the climate!

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Gateway to the past

January 7th, 2015

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A doorway at my old college, Gonville & Caius.