New Year 2019

I think it is only appropriate to start this post by saying “Happy New Year” to my readers/followers. I have spent most of the festive period in digital isolation, which is a cute way of saying i have spent most of it in front of the television watching marathon sessions of Netflix. The only interaction I have in these periods is Netflix asking me if I am still watching? How do you disable that annoying feature anyway, if I wanted it paused I’d train the cat to pause it on command. My apple watch also tells me to get up once an hour, but I just put it round the cats neck to make sure that it thinks I am moving and alive.

I did venture out on New Years Day with absolutely no idea where I was going to drive to but I did have the foresight to pack my camera. As I pulled out of the driveway I had two thoughts, Fife or the Trossachs. The latter dominating my thoughts primarily as I was in the wrong lane on the motorway for Fife as I sailed past the junction.

The Trossachs generally refers to an area of wooded glens and braes with quiet lochs, lying to the east of Ben Lomond in the Stirling council area of Scotland. The name is taken from that of a small woodland glen that lies at the centre of the area, but is now generally applied to the wider region. It is part of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park which opened in 2002.

I have posted below two shots, Loch Ard and the Lake of Mentieth. I was a little late for sunset, but I did manage to get a few locations that I can go back to.

Loch Ard at dusk

The Lake of Mentieth at dusk

North Queensferry

With the roads quieter after the Christmas Festivities I took the car out to refuel and to have a drive to get rid of the cabin fever. I invariably end up near the Forth Bridges when I drive without a real destination in mind. This time in North Queensferry.

It was eerily quiet so I stopped to fire off a couple of shots from the camera. This one of the Forth Rail Bridge, after a severe amount of manipulation, I liked.

Cambridge

As I write this in Cafe Nero, across from Cambridge Train Station, I feel a little melancholy. It may be the almost five days of (mostly) solitude that has passed or it may be that I am actually a little sad to be leaving. My trip here has been successful having passed the FME training course and having learned more than I hoped about the application. I also spent a lot of time in the early evening wandering Cambridge and taking photographs, primarily to see how the camera in the iPhone XS Max performs (admirably).

Cambridge is an interesting city, a combination of medieval buildings, colleges, modern science & business parks with everything in between. The River Cam which runs through the city was delightful to spend time at. I managed to get coffee in a cafe near the river bank and watch tourists on boats being punted along it and hearing a hundred different languages being spoken as people walked by. 

Some of the architecture blew me away. I have seen photographs of the buildings before but to actually see them in person is so much more. The buildings of Queens’ College and Kings’ College were amazing, I literally don’t have the adjectives to describe how impressed I was. I have never before seen such an amount of buildings that impressed me in such a small amount of geographical space.

I also visited the Wooden Bridge that joins two parts of Queens’ College, also known as the Mathematical Bridge. Nicknamed the mathematical bridge due to its arrangement of timbers arranged in a series of tangents, creating an arched bridge rom entirely straight timber. I will not try to explain it any further as my lack of engineering knowledge and maths would be all to evident. A popular myth around about the bridge is that Sir Isaac Newton designed and built the bridge without the use of nuts and bolts and that at ‘some time’ in the past students attempted to take the bridge apart and put it back together. They were unable to work out how to hold the structure together and had to use nuts and bolts to finish it. Of course, when it was first built, iron spikes were driven into it to hold it together and could not be seen from the inside which is why the bolts were thought to be an addition to the original. More to the point though, Newton died twenty two years before the bridge was constructed.

I have added a few photographs of my trip below, all taken on the iPhone Xs Max. I decided not to take my 5D purely out of the interest of saving weight and to push me into using the iPhone (the best camera you have is the one you have with you).

Sunday Wanderings

A few photographs from a Sunday wandering around Stirling and Bonnybridge. Accompanied by @alycoste who managed to lose her phone in a nettle bush, while the phone was on silent. Our trips are never dull. On our last trip she lost her gloves at Stirling castle, in the pitch black; the gloves were also black. To be fair at least both items were found again :-)

Chocolate Hills and furry creatures

One of the main attractions on the Island of Bohol is the Chocolate Hills. They are a group of unusually shaped hills located in the middle of the island and they are unique to Bohol. There are conflicting views on how many hills have been formed but the estimates are between 1250 - 1750. The highest hill reaches 120 meters in height but most are around 30-50 metres, scattered within a 50 square kilometer area.

Local legend says that long ago two giants fought for days, hurling earth and stones at one another, until they fell exhausted, leaving the mounds of earth and stones in place. The more romantic legend says that a handsome young giant, Arogo, fell in love with a mortal woman. When his love died, as all mortals must, the giant wept and his great teardrops fell to the earth and turned into the chocolate hills.

Of course, geologists came up with a theory; they are weathered formations of marine limestone lying on top of an impenetrable clay base. They get their name from the colour they turn at the end of the dry season as the grass turns from green to brown. I prefer the romantic legend, geology seems to take the fun out of them.

I literally couldn't wait to get there, up at 4am to get there for dawn.

We arrived at the chocolate hills just as dawn rose after spending a night at the Fox and the Firefly Cottages near Loboc River. I can't even begin to tell you how amazing this experience was. Not only were the cottages amazing to stay in with amazing views but the food and service was also outstanding! The last two photographs was the view from the chair in the first photograph.

At this point you are probably wondering about the furry creatures that is mentioned in the title. On the way back from the Chocolate Hills we visited the Bohol Tarsier reserve. They are the world's smallest primate. They measure 10 - 15cm and belong to the primitive sub-order Prosimii or Prosimian that dates back 45 million years. They are known locally as mawmag and is a species endemic to the Philippines. There is some good information on Bohol-Philippines website about them. I have added a few of my own pictures underneath.