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
Sometimes when the fishing goes through a quiet spell, it’s good to look around at the wildlife on the lake. There’s been a heron on the peg opposite to us for the past few weeks now. I think it’s watching for some tips on how to do it. I’ve not seen it pay for a peg yet though and will report it if it doesn’t. There’s also been a lot of activity by the gulls, feeding on duckling chicks. I saw one in action today – not very nice but the mother and father duck were nowhere to be seen and I think the chick must have been lost.
I was pleased with the static shot of the heron though. Taken with Fuji XT-2 and 100-400 lens with 1.4 teleconverter.
Not a physical tornado but Tornado – A1 class locomotive. I went with my photo buddy Pete Stockton for a day west of Hawes when we saw that Tornado was running. The day started with us looking at some lone trees on limestone pavement stuff at Southerscales and then having a bit of a trek up the hill to get a better vantage point of Tornado. We were standing around for a while and it was fairly cold so a good job we were layered up. It was also a good job that I’d had a decent breakfast, having stayed at the lovely Old Dairy Farm just outside Hawes. It’s run by Paul and Pam and an absolute treasure. Wonderful food and company and my room was very comfy too.
So Tornado came and went and then we decided to have a look at an old ruined cottage that we’d seen earlier. A well earned pint in Aysgarth and we called it a day.
I’ve been working as a volunteer for Hull City of Culture and took on a number of shifts at the Brynmor Jones library at Hull University, where the “Paul Smith to J.K. Rowling” exhibition is showing until June 11th. These works have all been commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery as part of the first prize of the BP Portrait Award. This award is now in its 27th year and is aimed at encouraging artists to develop portraiture within their work. We are extremely lucky in Hull to have so many of these commissions in one place at one time. There is a wide variety of styles and materials used and the exhibition is well worth a visit. Free entry and there’s a great cafe on site with good coffee. I should point out that the Brynmor Jones library also has an excellent collection of it’s own which is also available for visitors to see.
Here are the images on show – you get the idea but really need to see them first hand to appreciate them. Thanks to Neil Evans of the National Portrait Gallery for sending me copies of the images for use.
I figured that the best time to catch the Lego daffodil site in Hull, in a relatively people free manner, would be early morning and as it was Easter Monday today – I thought – even better. Even so, at 8.20am this morning, people were starting to congregate and I had to be quite quick. One couple looking at the flowers told me they’d just got off the ferry from Rotterdam and that although they’d set off around Europe from Dover, some 17 days ago, they always planned to come back through Hull to see what the City of Culture had to offer. They’d disappeared by the time I got back up from the ground. I’d been laying down (in sausage dog mode as my friend Duncan Wood would say) using my Fuji 56mm f1.2 lens to take some wide open shots to see what kind of bokeh it offered me. What a cracking lens.
We hadn’t been with NCL before so took a break with them at the end of March for Sue’s birthday, departing and returning to Barcelona. We tagged on an extra night in Barcelona as we hadn’t been there before and we took the opportunity to use the hop-on hop-off bus to get around. To be fair, we used the bus in a few places to make the most of our time – they’re excellent value and a great way of doing justice to what is really a very short time on shore in any one place.
The pre-cruise was interesting as I was laid up in bed unable to walk – this led to me using a stick to get around Gatwick airport the evening prior to departure and only on the morning of our flight did my foot let me put reasonable pressure on it. However, it improved quickly enough for us to be able to walk up to 8.5 miles a day. I came back lighter than we went.
Norwegian Spirit is an old ship and some things are good, some not so good – best thing is to read comments on Trip Advisor and make your own mind up. There are things you learn which help but you’re not told about in advance, the most annoying thing being the amount you’re charged for shuttle buses to get you from shoreside to city centres – $15 each return – absolutely disgraceful. You’re pretty much consigned to having to use the shuttles as a number of the places we went to, we were berthed at least 5km away from the centre so either you’d have used up a lot of your day just getting there, or alternatively, some of the older folk not as healthy as us wouldn’t have even got there. Anyway, we have learned from that.
Here are a few images from the cruise :-
Florence – melonmobile
Florence – Piazza della Repubblica
Palermo – Piazza Pretoria
Susie plays netball on Norwegian Spirit
Rome – The Colosseum
Florence – street artist
Barcelona Sail away
Valletta street shot
Notre Dame Cathedral, Marseille
Palermo – souvenir shop
Rome – Circo Massimo park
Palermo Cathedral – Santa Rosalia Chapel Silver altar
Valletta – ship’s berth
Rome – Temple of Apollo Palatinus
Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
Florence – Il Duomo
Arch of Constantine
Palermo – one of the quattro canti
Champagne Charlie’s Norwegian Spirit
Main Atrium – Norwegian Spirit
Cathedral – Palma Majorca
Henry’s Bar, Norwegian Spirit
Susie and ice cream – Palermo
Marseille – Boy chasing bubbles
Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
Marseille – Rue de la Republique
Palermo – Teatro Politeama
Church – Valletta
Marching Band – Valletta
Bou – modern sculpture at Es Baluard, Barcelona
Rome – St Paul’s through the keyhole
Reflections – Marseille
Reflections – Marseille
Palermo Cathedral – A mio padre by Vincenzo Muratore
We decided to take a wander around the Ferens Art Gallery as it has recently re-opened. Splendid job they’ve done too. I thought the standard of exhibits in the 2017 Open Exhibition was particularly good. I hadn’t put anything in this year but I’ll make an effort next year again. The sculpture in the entrance hall was very striking and I expected it to start moving at any time. Whilst my assistant was shopping, I took the opportunity to take a few images of the Blade again, using a couple of buildings as reference points. It’s strange to think how many folk were in the square just a few weeks ago for the projection extravaganza – it felt quite empty.
I can’t wait for the new Fuji macro lens to come out. I have a 16mm extension but it’s not as good as a real macro lens I don’t think. Anyway, I asked my buddy Tony Beasty if I could do a few close ups of some of his excellent guitars and we had a good session together yesterday. I particularly liked the first two he brought out, and spent most of the time on those. The headstocks on both of them were attractive in their own ways, the Rickenbacker because of the machine head configuration and the Fender because of the tell-tale decal which helps to pinpoint its age. Also, note the darker wood indicating sustained amount of use on particular chord shapes. The wear on the Tele scratchplate also indicates the amount of use it’s had.
Anyway – I’ll look forward to the next time – thanks Tony, here are a few pics :-
So, I found myself last night frequenting The Back Room, splendid venue owned by very long time friend Paul Sutton and his wife Gilly. Paul puts on a lot of live music and it’s great quality too. Headlining last night the excellent Amanda Rheaume Band, supported by the extremely talented Dennis Ellsworth. An all Canadian bill and not surprisingly they didn’t know of each other before they arrived (well it IS a big country so they say). Apparently the drive from Edinburgh to Hull for Amanda and her band was a bit like going to the shops in Canada….
I’d urge anyone who hasn’t been to The Back Room before and appreciates good music, to take a look at their page on Facebook, or look at the schedule on their website and get down there.
Well that’s it then. I never thought I’d change – but the sheer weight of gear has directed me to look at a new camera system. My decision wasn’t easy, I like my Canon stuff and I’ve built up a decent selection of gear over the years, but, as alluded to in a previous post, my tree hugging days have seen , well, better days to be honest.
There are forums, magazines, videos and leaflets, big shops and little shops, all giving you advice, letting you try B4 you buy and offering exchanges and Black Friday deals and the like. I chose the Fuji XT-2 – the saving in weight on the Fuji, over the Canon 5D Mkiii, is great. Plus, the new sensor and range of Fuji lenses available is exciting. Neil, a friend of mine from f4 Photographic Group is going down a similar path – he had the XT-1 which he really enthused over and so the XT-2 seemed a natural choice for him. Also, there are other members of f4 who made the Fuji choice a while ago and have been more than happy with it.
Time will tell – I’ll post some samples up next week after I get stuck into the manual.