f4 Photographic Group Annual Trip

This year, the decision was made to go to the Lake District. We hadn’t been there for a number of years and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

All the arrangements were made fairly early in the year with the assumption that the Covid-19 situation would have eased and around 10 members signed up and booked. There were no signs of anything improving so one by one members cancelled out until a hardy 4 were left. I felt sorry for Cathryn from Skelwith Bridge Hotel who put up with me changing arrangements , sometimes on a daily basis. But she (and the hotel) was very welcoming, the rooms were comfortable and the food was great. Just ask about the Steak pies – they’re wonderful.

We’d chosen a number of different venues to photograph, Skelwith Bridge itself, Elterwater, River Brathay, The Langdales Crummock Water and Buttermere. A good time had by all and some excellent photographs too. Here’s a selection.

Majestic Cruise Line – Mull

For my 70th Birthday Sue took me on the Glen Etive, owned by Majestic Cruise Lines. The cruise was called “Mull – her inlets and islands”. It is a small ship – usually sailing with maximum 14 travellers in 7 cabins – yes, it’s intimate. Owing to Covid-19 regulations, we sailed with just 10 passengers in total, plus 4 crew.

We were due to sail from Oban but decided to break the journey by staying at Duck Bay next to Loch Lomond. I had used this hotel before when on business in Scotland. As we were due to sail late afternoon the following day we planned to visit a viewing platform at Inveruglas and also the Falls of Falloch on the way up to Oban. Fate decided this wasn’t to be.

The next morning we set off and within 20 minutes I got a warning beep from the car telling me we had loss of pressure from my left rear tyre. We decided to make for a garage to get some air and/or change the wheel. The nearest one was a filling station at Arrochar only 2 miles away so we headed for that. It was an automated filling station so I filled up then went to the air machine – it was out of order. I thought I’d try and change the wheel but after having jacked the car up and got the wheel nuts off, the wheel wouldn’t budge. I called The AA – joined and asked for a call out. They said they’d get someone there at 12:30 which would have allowed sufficient time to get sorted and up to Oban by 3:15. At 1pm he hadn’t shown up and I got a text from the AA saying they were still trying to contact their breakdown service. At 1.30pm I got a call from their engineer saying he was in traffic. By this time, panic was starting to set in. A group of bikers came into the station and even if the AA guy arrived he’d have no space to park. I wondered if any of the bikers had a foot pump or something to hand and went over to ask. One guy patted his jacket down and said in a heavy Glaswegian accent that he hadn’t got it with him. He must have seen the despair (I’m gonna miss the boat) and asked what the problem was. As soon as I explained we were trying to get to a boat and I couldn’t get the wheel off he and his biggest mate came over and asked for the brace, jack and spare. He couldn’t get the wheel off either but his large pal said “will I give it a kick” – and he did – the wheel fell off and was changed in 5 minutes. It was a spacesaver wheel so we had to limit to 50mph and got there around 3:20.

Some of the cruise was spectacular, we saw dolphins, White tailed eagles, heron, seals and a golden eagle flying so high it was impossible to get a decent image. The small Lochs we went in were beautiful, especially Loch Spelve and Loch Aline. Unfortunately, because of bad weather, we were unable to get a tender into Staffa for Fingal’s Cave and onto Lungha to see if there were any puffins left – two main reasons for wanting to go on the trip. The crew were really excellent and the food from Gordon, our chef, was fantastic. The cabins are very small but are decently equipped.

We probably won’t go on such a small ship again but Majestic are a very accommodating Cruise Line and we’re pleased to have been on this trip. Thanks to our fellow passengers as well – we enjoyed their company.

f4 Photographic Group – Staying at Home

All we are being asked to do is stay home, stay safe, eat, drink, sleep and look after ourselves. It doesn’t sound that hard does it but we’re all getting cabin fever to some degree. At f4 Photographic, we’ve started to hold on line meetings via Zoom and of course we’ve had to change our programme to reflect the remote access via laptops. We had a “Photographs I took this week” competition which was quite interesting and we incorporated a macro inspired “Can you guess what it is yet?” element as well. We’re managing to hold our internal club PDI competitions but likely we’ll hold all our print comps later in the year to catch up.

Anyway, here’s a few “Photographs I took this week”.

Stay Safe.

 

Christmas in The Lake District

It’s a while since I posted anything – I’ve had one of these viruses that seem to last forever and the inspiration just hasn’t been there. Christmas presents the opportunity to relax and enjoy the time of year with family and friends so Bowness on a sunny Christmas Day was lovely.

We met our “Christmas Friends” Martin and Maxine at Bowness for a good catch up and to enjoy our hotel on Lake Windermere. As the weather on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day wasn’t very accommodating we didn’t walk very far and didn’t go on the Boxing Day lake cruise, more of a meander around the area really. Grasmere was very quiet – in fact, one lad I spoke to on his way to the car park declared that “Grasmere was shut” and they were going.

Good company and a much needed break – here’s some of the few images I took :-

Saga Cruise to Norway

For my birthday this year Sue booked a cruise on the Saga Spirit of Discovery. We looked and booked about a year ago and there weren’t many cabins left then. The ship looked beautiful in the brochures and didn’t disappoint when we got to Dover. The whole experience with them was just great. I must admit that I was wary about how old our fellow passengers would be but was quite relieved when the Captain said that the average passenger age was 56. We came down to earth a bit when he said that this included the crew… (only joking).

Anyway, we had an unexpected bonus on the first day, sunbathing in the North Sea, on the way to our first stop – Kristiansand. The North Sea was flat calm and around 20 degrees so we found a spot out of the wind and laid out.

Kristiansand was pretty, the fish market was great, I could have spent a lot longer there. I remember when we had numerous “wet fish shops” in Hull when I was younger and this place took me back to those days, except for the shark’s head which I’ve already posted on FB. We got to Bergen for my birthday and went up the funicular for a great panoramic view of Bergen. I hadn’t realised that there were so many good walks to be had from the top – must be great in summer with more time to spend. Alesund was pretty the last time we were there but this time the weather had closed in and we had sun, rain, hailstones and wind for most of the time we were there. We took a walk in and went to the Art Deco Museum. There were films running showing how Alesund’s wooden houses were destroyed in 1904 and then rebuilt. Also some really good art deco pieces in the museum – especially a beautifully laid out dining room. The final stop was Haugesund. We walked around the town in the morning and in the afternoon we had booked a “Coastal walk to Ryvarden lighthouse” It was only about 2km there and 2km back so just nice to finish off the cruise. Unfortunately the weather was becoming quite unsettled by then and we had a drop of probably 10 degrees in temperature and an increase in wind plus somebody had set the rain to stun setting. I got one awful shot of the lighthouse – it is totally exposed to the elements (well it would be wouldn’t it) and then we walked back. It was described as 2km on mostly even surfaces but it actually went up and down like a fiddler’s elbow. Anyway The Norwegian waffles and hot tea made up for it!

Lovely ship and great Birthday prezzy thanks Sue xx

Salo – Lake Garda

Gardone, where we’ve been to a number of times, is a pretty little place and we’ve enjoyed going there. Salo, just a couple of kilometers away, is a bit busier and has a lovely long promenade to stroll along – we decided to give it a go. The weather was hovering around and just above 30 degrees C for the time we were there – it was extremely sticky – and, unlike a lot of hotels, we couldn’t get the airconditioning down to “stun” setting. Lovely room though with a large lake view balcony. Thanks to a great set of people working there too.

It was an opportunity for us to visit The Dolomites – we’d not been up there before. We took a coach from our hotel at 7a.m and went up to Cavalese for a coffee and strudel stop, then Moena for a photo stop and finally up to Passo Pordoi at 2200m where we took the cable car up to 2950m, complete with snow – beautiful, but cold. However, as usual, there were holidaymakers up there just in teeshirts and some folk were sunbathing….

After lunch we came back down and stopped for coffee at Ortisei Sankt Ulrich, then finally arrived back at the hotel gone 7p.m. A lovely day out.

Here’s a few pictures :-

 

f4 Photographic Group – Holland

We continue our travels from Keukenhof via an unnecessary ferry crossing, to Zaanse Schans, arriving a good 30 minutes after everyone else. SatNav also had a hand in our being late in arriving at the hotel for the evening in Apeldoorn, but that was down to user error. I apparently put in the co-ordinates for Apenheul Primate Park rather than the hotel. Before that, we had also taken a long detour because of very slow traffic on the road to Apeldoorn and satnav calculated that we would take a minor road which would circumnavigate the problem and get us there with a minimum of delay. It doesn’t work quite like that when you get onto the minor road  and find it’s closed halfway down and Satnav didn’t know. The end result was that we ended up going back onto the original road because there wasn’t another way out and sat in the traffic just 30 minutes behind again.

The next morning at Apenheul we had a brilliant time and went into Apeldoorn for a lovely meal afterwards, followed by beer!

The final day was spent at Kinderdijk in the morning and early afternoon to see the restored windmills. I’d been there before but the weather was kinder this time and we had a great walk around. We finished up in Brielle where I bought chocolates for Sue from a lovely little chocolate shop I’ve been to a few times before – then we sat in the sun having a beer before we returned to the ship. This was a great trip!

Holland – Keukenhof Gardens

Early last month I went to Holland on a short trip with some of my f4 photogs. We started off from Hull, travelling overnight to Rotterdam on the ferry. The first planned stop was the Keukenhof Gardens at Lisse. We’d just missed the enormous display of flowers in the fields, but the show in the gardens was still just amazing. Here are a few images from there before we moved on to our second port of call Zaanse Schans, where we stopped to photograph the windmills and small visitor centre. Some of us took a ferry to get from Keukenhof to Zaanse Schans. I confidently said to Alan, my passenger, “don’t worry, I’ve been here before, there are no ferries, SatNav has made a mistake”. Of course SatNav knew best but you live and learn. Some images from there too. Our  next day was a full day spent in Apenheul primate Park, a visit suggested by Tracey, a fellow f4 photog. Photos to follow on the next blog.

Picos de Europa

Last year I was looking on the web for somewhere different to photograph. I also wanted a variety of subject matter. A friend in my photography club had been to northern Spain and I decided to give it a look. The terrain on a map looks quite mountainous and there are good walks, lush vegetation and some wildlife. I trawled the net for a short photographic break and came across Imber Court Photo Training, run by Ashley Gardner. I asked for details and got a speedy response and enrolled on a break with him.

In total there were 5 plus Ashley in a large comfortable VW plus all the gear. We were based at the Hotel del Oso in Cosgaya – what a super choice of base camp that was. The place was just brilliant and I had a large room with a view of the mountains from my window. All meals were just fab, especially breakfast – the largest buffet I’ve ever seen.

The days were planned between landscapes and birds and on the final day, a trip up a cable car to snow covered peaks on top of Fuente De (1823mtrs) – it was cold up there. The cable car took just under 4 minutes to get up there and we managed to get in the first car of the day, despite the efforts of a German tour leader, keen to get his people in first. Cheerful banter like “Oi – stop queuejumping” and “don’t mention the war” were taken in good spirit and all 20 of us got to the top to be amazed by the sight.

I can recommend this trip – Ashley was extremely thorough in his approach, also knowledgeable and helpful so take a look – he doesn’t do many trips as far as I can see, but they’re worth it. Here’s some images – thanks to my fellow travellers Alan, Colin, Mark and Valerie for making the trip enjoyable as well.

Croatia – Places & other stuff

Further to my last post, here are some of the places we went to see. The Krka Falls are just spectacular and although there were plenty of people there, it was too early in the season for the swimmers so there was no roped off foreground where they were allowed to swim. The church and monastery on Vis by night was beautiful and looked so tranquil. Sue found the monument in Vodice to the Victims of Communist Yugoslavia particularly poignant. I liked the Monument to the Sun in Zadar – it is solar powered and lights up at night with constantly changing colours. Also, although we couldn’t see it, we heard the Sea Organ at Zadar – Google it for a good set of images and explanation.

The route into Milna on Brac Island was very picturesque and there was a lovely church interior to see, but next door was a really squalid looking building with no roof and varying amounts of detritus inside and outside.

As I said in my last post, this ship was small and there wasn’t really anywhere to be on your own but we met some nice people – the crew were very helpful and so was our tour leader, especially when I fell on the last but one evening. There was a leak coming through a light fitting and the wooden floor in the bedroom was saturated and I got up in the middle of the night and slipped flat on my back. Luckily no bones broken but I was sore for a week.

Finally, our cabin is the one indicated – the doors open directly on to the walkway around the ship so you need to keep the blind closed!