Sunday, 30 October 2011

A walk up a hill on a sunny Saturday

A note to those who are unaware:
you can click on any of the photos below and get a larger version of them....

The weather on Saturday was predicted, by those meteorological soothsayers in the Met Office, to be sunny patches with rain later, at about 4 p.m. so we set off early(-ish!!!) and visited one of our favourite breakfast haunts, The Old Farmhouse, in Burley for the daily breaking of the fast. This having been accomplished, we set off once more towards the West. The car found it's way to Sandbanks in Poole, home to some of the most expensive real estate in the world, but we ignored this (plebs that we are) and drove on past to catch the chain-link ferry across to Studland.  A short while later, we had parked the car and we had wended our way to the cliff tops at Old Harry, which is a large chalk sea-stack at the westernmost point of Poole Bay. 
Old Harry flanked by "his wife" to the right and the mainland to the left
This chalk is soft and friable, as compared to other rocks that one usually finds making up cliffs and this can be seen where the (normal) gentle lapping, of what are fondly known as waves here, has polished the surface.

This stuff behaves exactly as, well, chalk! I picked up a piece and inadvertently (yeah, right!) dragged it across my jeans, where it left a lovely white mark just as a piece of the white stuff that we older folk knew and loved from school lessons. Youngsters these days will have no idea......

Just to give you an idea of the size of these things - and think about the fact that they were laid down long, long ago as accumulations of the skeletons of tiny creatures - take a look at the size of the people in this picture, as they walk along grass growing on the cliff tops near the top left.

As one of us still has to be very careful about how much she does (I do realise I am over-protective of her) we did not go the whole hog and walk to Swanage which was around the next headland, nor even to the top of the hill. However, a goodly way up, we stopped and viewed the scene before us. Unfortunately the panorama doesn't do justice to the actual scenery, it really was an amazing sight! Directly above the head of my better half, on the other side of the bay is Bournemouth and Poole is about halfway from there to the left.

All in all, a wonderful day. I haven't mentioned that it was cool and there was a stiff breeze blowing, which I always enjoy. These days are going to become fewer and farther apart for us, here in the upper latitudes, so we must seize them while we can!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

An American Vacation - Part the Second

Day Two of our Catskill holiday (vacation to the Americans) dawned and the view from our B&B across the valley to the mountain was just amazing.  If you click on the photo to see the larger version, you will see that the white splodge near the top right is in fact a house!

We took a walk in the woods where I spotted this old tree. One could almost swear that woodpeckers abound! Birdlife is far greater than what we are used to in the UK, but we have become very unused to spotting them.

Walking on beyond this tree brought us to the top of the Catskill falls, with beutiful views across the valleys. At this stage the river was little more than a healthy little stream...... you can see from this view looking back up into the hills from whence it came.

We took a trip down the mountain along a route known as the Devil's Kitchen ( no idea why) but it was just the kind of road I love driving - narrow, winding, with steep rise on one side and breathtaking drop on the other. Many rivulets, stream and waterfalls along the way too. bit I wont bore you with those.

Also along the way was this old falling-to-bits wooden building. Strange how many unkempt and dilapidated buildings we did find.

But just to prove that they aren't all like that, here is one that typifies the area.

Our hosts at the B&B told us that just a week or so ago, they had a brown bear wondering along the river at the bottom of the gully below their house, but although I have searched hard, I have not managed to see any. We did see deer on 2 seperate occassions, a multitude of sqirrels and a few of these delightful creatures - chipmunks, whose cries can drive one crazy if they carry on long enough!

I couldnt resist this one. A T-shirt in a shop window that just says it all!

That's all folks! Stay well.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A visit to far-off lands would not be the same without some indication of the location, so here is a little hint of where we went.

Now while it is certainly not Simon and Garfunkel, but it WAS a concert in Central Park! This guy was doing his utmost to get everyone to sing along, regardless of how well or poorly they sang and to be fair, he even had me, the last of the karaoke-ers, singing to the songs he sang. A pleasant interlude to a hot day in the park.

Boy, oh boy! These buildings are big! The saying goes, they make everything bigger in Texas, well dont you believe it! A person can get a seriously stiff neck walking around in this city. I chose to take the longer view and this shot was taken from the ferry to Staten Island, a free trip of about half an hour. You just have to put up with the terrific number of people crowding to get on at each end.

On my first day off after spending the week in the office, we visited the American Natural History Museum, where they had displays of live butterflies and frogs. I had been to a butterfly display similar to this in England before, but the variety here was astounding. If I were to show you all the different photos I took, you would very quickly become bored and disinterested, so let me suffice with just a very few...

We moved along to the Department Of Frogs, where we found this chap doing an imitation of me. I feel for him! There are some days when you just don't want to get out of bed, aren't there? Let alone be put on display.

The display pf the poison-dart frogs was the most challenging one to take photos of, as they were as active as cats on a hot tin roof, never standing still for long and I swear they waited until I had almost got the focus and everything ready then the little buggars hopped along. Nasty little things. Full of spite and, well, poison. Some of them are bad enough that just holding them will do a person no good.

This chap was the star of the show for me. To me he looks like he is saying "Get that thing outta my face! Go on, get it out before I come over there and sort you out!"

Of course a set of photos set in & around Manhattan would be the same without the almost obligatory skyline shots. So here is one from the south during the day....

And the nighttime shot as well. Beautiful place!

The Hudson is a mighty river.  An immense body of water! Across on the other side is the almost equally impressive New Jersey

Barcelona is not the only city in the world with strange and quirky buildings. This one in downtown Manhattan had a strange squiggly and silvery surface.

Of course, I had to show you some of the rubber necking type of views. This is really not the most impressive shot I could have shown you, but it's the best I managed to find when my camera was around!

Most of you will know that Elseline & I live near Southampton. So I had to try their ale. And as it was getting close to Halloween, their Pumpkin Ale seemed to be highly appropriate. Strangely enough, it was even rather palatable!

So, my week's worth of work came to an end and we headed off, intrepid travellers that we are, into the depths of the Catskill mountains ("kill" derives from a Dutch word and means creek, which seems to be any type of river except the massively big ones!) We booked in at the B&B (delightful place) and took a drive to the closest State Park which is a pair of conjoined lakes, aptly named North and South Lake Park! Here we found some examples of the coloured trees which the area is famous for.

I am easily distracted and found this large circular lichen on a fallen pine log fascinating. Not everyone's cup of tea, but hey, this is my blog and I'll post what I want!

By this time the sun had wended it's merry little way to the west and begun to drop. This made photography a little more challenging and I found I was hiding the sun behind trees, leaves and anything else I could find in order to get a few shots.

I loved the way the light bled around the silhouetted pine trees.

There were many people out camping, fishing and canoeing.  This pair look like they are padding away into the night, but really only had about half a mile to go to the far shore.

This has been a GREAT start to our American vacation and it all bodes well for more.  Next we hope to head off towards Yasgur's Farm, where the sounds of music festivals still ring out across the countryside, but not in any way as large as they used to.