Category Archives: Photos

A rare East Anglian lakeside walk

In the flat, low-lying eastern part of England, where we live, much of the land is only just above sea level, and for many centuries the inhabitants have been working hard to avoid the appearance of large areas of water.

We have rivers, of course, and dykes and canals, and they are all kept carefully in order and they generally behave and do as they are told. There are village ponds, too.

But to see a body of water of any size here is a rarity, which is why I occasionally make the pilgrimage to Fen Drayton Lakes, about 12 miles from my house. Until around 30 years ago, it was a gravel quarry, but that’s been enough time for nature to re-adopt it and flourish around it. Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far, and it was pleasant to walk in the shade along the tree-lined paths and catch occasional glimpses of expanses of cool liquid.

It’s tantalizing, too, because you can’t go in or on the water: it’s an RSPB reserve, and home to a vast number of birds, who were clearly having a good time. I foolishly only had an elderly iPhone with me, so just took a couple of more general snaps of the scenery.

There are certain areas where you do need to make sure your dog pays attention to the signs.

But it’s a lovely spot, and very different from Cambridge just down the road. There’s even a quick and efficient guided-bus service from the city — when we get buses back — for those without other means of transport.

Despite all this, surprisingly few people in the area seem to know about it. Don’t tell too many of them…

Wet Feet

Ardroil Beach

Ardroil Sands, Uig, Isle of Lewis, on New Year’s Eve.

This beach is generally thought to be the location where, in 1831, the Lewis Chessmen were found.

And yes, I did get my feet wet. And yes, it was worth it.

Update: My mother says this must be the best-selling sequel to ‘A Bridge Too Far’…

Persistent Visitor

We have a friend who keeps coming to visit, despite the lockdown…

He does maintain appropriate social distancing while here, though.

Helps himself to food…

Always politely interested in the conversation.

“What’s the time, Mr Wolf?”

Generally a very pleasant companion.

A remote dawn

Around Christmas and New Year, I was in Scotland in my campervan. I took lots of video footage. Far too much, in fact, so I’ve been gradually working my way through it, on and off, for several months. This evening, I came across this rather pleasing scene. It’s just a still frame captured from video, and on a GoPro too, so the quality’s not great, but I hope you enjoy the view!

This is a dawn dog-walk at Uig on the Isle of Lewis, on New Year’s Eve. Not only was I up at dawn, I had already breakfasted and was setting off for a hike! However, this sounds a bit less impressive when I point out that sunrise in mid-winter up there is after 9am.

The small black blur on the right-hand side, which you may be able to see if you click for a larger version, is Tilly romping in the heather.

Waning gibbous

Moon over Addenbrooke's Hospital

The moon above Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, on Friday night. Click to enlarge.

We’re still standing

The Callanish (or Calanais) Standing Stones, on the Isle of Lewis. New Year’s Day 2020.

Pannellum in Pittenweem

I’ve had fun in the last year or so playing with spherical cameras (often known as 360-degree cameras) and I’ve posted a few on here. But they’ve always had a problem: you really need a plugin to view them, which is untidy. This one of the Sacré-Coeur, for example, relies on a plugin from the Ricoh site.

So I’ve been delighted to discover Matthew Petroff’s Panellum, a panorama viewer created using just HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, and WebGL, which means it runs in most modern browsers natively.

Here’s an example from Pittenweem, a favourite spot I discovered on my campervan trip over Christmas, just north of Edinburgh.

You can drag the image around to look in different directions, and you can zoom in and out by scrolling, or using Shift & Ctrl keys.

On my early experiments, it seems to work very well, even on my fairly elderly laptop. It even has a full-screen button…

So you may be seeing a few more of these here in the near future!

Bug-eyes

None shall pass

None shall pass

Children of the Stones

I visited the stone circle at Callanish this morning. Wonderful spot.

Callanish Stone Circle

Not a peaceful spot today, though: the photo doesn’t show you the 40mph winds whipping across the island!

Here’s an alternative view.

This put me in mind of the splendid 1976 TV drama Children of the Stones, filmed in Avebury, Wiltshire, which also has some dramatic standing stones, encircling half the village. One of the themes of the plot is the rumour that the stones sometimes turn into people and come back to life. I love the Avebury stones, but these ones looked more as if they might do that, given a little encouragement.

I didn’t watch Children of the Stones in 1976, which is probably just as well, since it has been described as “the scariest programme ever made for children”. It’s fun to watch as an adult, though, and is a great example of how you can tell a compelling story with a very low budget and some spooky music! Also, for people of my vintage, it has the added interest of featuring Gareth Thomas, better known as Blake, from Blake’s Seven.

More information on Wikipedia about the TV series, and about the Callanish Stones.

The Old Man and the Sea

I have a feeling this fine vessel could tell a few tales of adventure!

I’m on the Isle of Lewis, where, in order to take a good photo, you can almost wind down the window and click in a random direction.

You do, currently, have only six-and-a-half hours between sunrise and sunset in which to do it, though!

Achiltibuie

I walked through here yesterday, went into the village store, and somebody invited me to a ceilidh! (Which turned out to be great fun.) Such friendly people here, as well as beautiful views.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser