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).

FME

Off to Cambridge this week for training on FME. FME is a product by Safe Software that allows you to connect different applications, transform spatial data and automate workflows. Am particularly excited about this as I think it will be able to help with the GIS strategy that I am currently working on for the Central Scotland Green Network.

Also, it’s Cambridge, so its full of interesting places to take photographs. I am only taking my iPhone XS Max (of which a review will be posted this week) so I hope to test out the new camera. A fun week ahead.

Look out for the review of the new iPhone at the end of the week.

Punta Cruz Watchtower

One of the great things about touring the Philippines was the numerous historical stops that could be made. This was one of my favourite stops, even though the temperature was over 32 degrees that day! While I was walking about the beach @geraldineyoga at least had the sense to take some cover from the sun.

Officially known as the Fort of Saint Vincent Ferrer, the Punta Cruz Watchtower is an isosceles triangle shaped fort located in the western tip of the municipality of Maribojoc on the island of Bohol in The Philippines.

It was seriously damaged after the 2013 Bohol earthquake but has recently been renovated to its previous state and looks as good as it probably did when it was completed in 1796.

The Punta Cruz Watchtower was declared as a National Historical Landmark in February 2009. Its historical marker was unveiled by the municipality of Maribojoc and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in May 2009. Together with other watchtowers in the region the Punta Cruz Watchtower is being considered to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List since 2006 under the collective group of Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines.

Jeepneys

One of my favourite things about the Philippines was the ubiquitous Jeepneys. Sometimes called Jeeps, they are the most popular mode of public transportation, they are known for crowded seating and kitsch decorations, they bring an amazing amount of colour to the Philippine roads. They are cheap to ride in, and not that expensive to rent for a day with the driver (I think we paid around ₱800 / £12  for a day in Siquijor). Jeepneys were originally made from US military jeeps left over from the Second World War. The word Jeepney has two possible origins:

  1. A combination  of "jeep" and "jitney", both words in common slang from the popular vernacular of the era: "jitney" being a popular term for an American taxicab, and a "jeep" a newly coined term to describe a type of military vehicle (origin from General Purpose, or GP, hence Jeep).
  2. It is a portmanteau of "jeep" and "knee", because the passengers sit in very close proximity to each other.

Whatever the origin I captured a few photos of them for your viewing pleasure

 

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.