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).


Edinburgh in winter; long shadows, low sun and short days. Bright lights, Christmas markets and fairground lights make the cold nights a little nicer. 

I spent Friday roaming around the city, mostly with the intention of taking photos, drinking coffee and soaking in some of the atmosphere. It's been a while since I have spent a full day in Edinburgh and I was a bit surprised at how excited I was to step off the train at Waverley. Needless to say I had to make the pilgrimage to the Apple Store first, at the top of Waverley Steps.

You can pretty much trace out my day from the images below, started off by walking to Stockbridge to (finally) take some shots of Circus Lane, walked up to Calton Hill, then up to the university area and finally the South side of North Bridge to shoot the Christmas market and the fairground rides. At which point my camera battery died. 

I took some other shots that didn't turn out as well as was hoped, hence why they aren't posted, but I'll go back for them before they turn off the lights of the winter festivities. 

Teviot Row and McEwan Hall

End of classes and return to The Hague

End of Classes

I have spent most of time since last week reflecting on the fact that all the assessed parts of my classes have now finished. Just in time for summer! Just a 15,000 word dissertation assessing the potential for glacial lake outburst floods in eastern Tibet to write, before the start of August.

It was interesting presenting some early work on this project at the postgraduate conference, and in some ways justifying why I was looking into this. Someone told me that they were impressed as I was researching a topic that could directly influence people from the dangers of a geohazard and that they had chosen their topic because it was on offer and sounded cool. It amused me as most things related to glaciers 'seems cool' to me.

Truth be told, it is the environments that glaciers occur in that interest me, the mountains, the cold air, the silence, the photographs that can be taken and the total peace of mind that can be attained.

I have made no secret of the fact that I was disappointed with the grade that I was given for the presentation, I believe the marking system to be flawed and the markers staying anonymous stops discussion being possible. Fundamentally anti-science in an academic setting. Reading the handbook on the appeal process, I read between the lines, was basically don't waste your or our time. Of course, the mark for this doesn't matter as much as the feedback that I received from some of the audience members that contributed some excellent sources of new material and resources. I have found that issues that disappoint me are usually not worth worrying about and the people involved, less so.


The Hague

After a 'tour de force' of The Hague municipal government offices (due to an incorrectly addressed tax bill) I have finally sought refuge in theCentraal Station Starbucks for some much needed news updates and coffee intake. Having lunch with a friend earlier this week I commented that the bureaucracy of The Netherlands wasn't that bad once you had registered and were living here. The irony that my 'de-registering' from living in The Netherlands was processed incorrectly and had caused my municipal tax fee to be auto-sent was not lost on me as I traveled from one end of The Hague to another seeking resolution to this 'error'.

I have also found that the most amount of fun you can have is digging through mail that is still being sent your old address. It doesn't matter how thorough you are at informing banks, people, shops and any other promotional lists you will still have a ton of mail after a few months. Soooooooo much fun to be had. Sweating through the 'belastingdienst letters' (tax authority) and cursing over the missed deals from 'de Bijenkorf' (think John Lewis or Sears depending on your western culture). There was also a card that came out of the blue tugging at my past. It made me pause and think.

No daises were hurt in the making of this jacket.

No daises were hurt in the making of this jacket.

Getting a few days away from Edinburgh and traveling back to The Hague has also given me some time to reflect on the last few months of work. It's amazing how some distance can give a little perspective on life events and shows exactly how much some issues are worth in the grand scheme of life. That's not to say that we should stop caring, or standing up for, what is important to ourselves.

Visiting The Hague has been interesting, much of it is how I remember, with some inconsistencies, such a shops being different, the train station renovation being finished (after ten years) and most of the people I knew (know) still being around. There are missing pieces of my life here, experiences that have adjusted my opinion, fun times that will never be recreated and people that have moved on.

It's warmer than Scotland. The people are more relaxed. Their fashion sense ranges from stylish to irreverent and at times it makes me smile, for instance the photograph above. My photography has been limited due to time constraints, and to be fair I think that I shot almost everything in The Hague during 2013. I took a couple, click to enlarge below :-)


Quintessential Netherlands. Den Haag.

Het Plein. Den Haag.