this is now my first reddit
Poppies en Provence
Seems we hit peak poppy here in Provence. They have been looking stunning here there and everywhere and standing in for the lavender which is not yet out. Below are a few of my favourite shots.
outside our gite
in an arrangement
up close and personal
Bed Is Coming Along
The built in bed I've been making is coming along quite nicely. Pleasingly it's been predominantly built form reclaimed wood; the most recent joy was finding some excess floor boards which have happened to make a perfect top skin to the framework. Last night I finished the top and placed on it our futon mattress to test drive the bed. I like the height and look forward to unfurling the final mattress which is presently downstairs still in it's wrapping (thought best not to unwrap until all construction & painting is finished). I do hope that the whole construction isn't a mistake. I don't think it is apart from the small radiator issue which clearly is sub-optimal. We'll have to see how cold the room is now with an under-bed radiator (a feature?), I suspect I'm going to have to up the loft insulation which I believe is significanly lacking just in this section of the loft. Watch this space.
Or come and stay (soon) and try it out.
bed in progress
This Time Last Year
On of the series of shots I took of Chesterton Tower. I am yet to make this into a little animation, but hopefully that will come one day soon.
Or in my case, water droplets. This evening I was enthralled by Dr Helen Czerski's BBC 4 documentary POP! The Science of Bubbles. For one thing I recognised one of the labs as being from my old Southampton haunt - Tizard, Building 13. But mostly because the program was simply excellent. People go on and on about Brian Cox and how he's going to be the future face of popular science broadcasting on the BBC. But have they seen his latest series? It was devoid of content, boring and pointless. This documentary, however, was entirely the opposite. I have to say I was only just tempted to watch by the lack of anything else on; I never really thought I had an interest in bubbles. In fact I barely though about them other than the frequently demonstrated 'square bubble' experiment. But that was exactly the point, people don't think about them, yet they are everywhere and they are fascinating. And this whole program was chocked full of interest, science, experiments and inspiration. The sort of thing where you go away feeling like you've now got to look at the world in a new light. Bubbles are everywhere and we should all give them much more credit than they presently get.
In my twitter correspondence with Helen I remarked on how the program reminded me of a 70's Open University documentary. I don't know if this was deliberate, but I really liked it. For one thing those old programs were simply excellent. Dated, yes, but they always presented complex things and didn't underestimate the viewer. This bubbles program did exactly that, it presented complex ideas in a graspable way without dumbing down the content. Yet at the same time she unpacked the complexity in what is seemingly simple. I think that is a real skill. Listening to the program again on the iPlayer I'm noting the background etherial music which I think adds somewhat to the "Look Around You" feel.
It also got me thinking about some old photos of mine from way back in 2005 when I was quite interested in water droplets, in part a link to my PhD - asteroid impacts into the oceans causing super big splashes. Now droplets are not bubbles, but as Helen presented in the documentary they are relayed. It all comes down to surface tension. So here are some of my choice droplet photos. Enjoy.
droplets on glasses
closeup of those droplets
a dyed droplet splash
water beeding on a mini
total internal reflection of a wine glass
explosive droplets hitting my Bluebird
droplets on a petal (I think I created them artificially)
droplets on a blade of grass
grass droplets from another angle
splash over cherry plum harvest from 2011
Today Su and I decided we needed to get out of the house and as the weather was simply superb we took the opportunity to visit a the Wicken Fen National Trust nature reserve as it's one we've not been to. The cycle route was a little epic, 32 miles in total and half of that spent with a mud encrusted mud-guard. The fenland was beautiful, strangely reminiscent of both Suncheon and Jeju in Korea. After a cream tea lunch we wondered the board walk spotting a barn owl through my binoculars before getting a little chilly as the sun began to set. We headed off on the cycle path to Anglesey Abbey and then our usual route home to Chesterton and then on to Histon. Here are the photos as it's time for Homeland.
This weekend, I have mostly been...
... making this desk while the wife was away on a jolly to London.
Chesterton Tower Blossom
The blossom was just so gorgeous I simply had to get out and take some shots. Also with the update to Picasa recently I tried a couple of the added filter effects.
Blossom up close
A local cat on the hunt for squirrels
Blossoming and yet to blossom
A harlequin ladybird
Bing European Aerial Imagery Hunt - which if you live in Europe is rather run. The challenge I set myself is to locate each of the images using Google Earth. Normally it's pretty easy. I did the one of the Ponte Vecchio from a tiny visible clip of the screen. But this one here has been like a thorn in my side. Even the identifying text merely mentions: 'Sardinian Landscape, Sardinia'. Great! Sardinia is pretty big for an island and has a lot of ladscape. The image itself is pretty devoid of landmarks - no roads or buildings, no lakes or rivers, just some apparently terraced blank landscape. The hunt was on.
This was the hardest yet. It's come up a few times as my Windows 7 desktop background as part of the Bing Maps Aerial Imagery theme: Europe
With that snippet of knowledge - a terraced hillside - I had my work cut out. After searching generally over the island for some brownish regions I managed to determine that only in the north are there significant terraced hillsides. I'd norrowed the search. Then it was down to some brute force searching, zooming in and out to hunt down the feintist of telltale landmarks - a few trees to the west and possibly a hill or is it a valley - matching up the shadows cast by the trees determined that the central point is a hill. But none of this was much help as in the end I found the exact spot was litterally benieth a cloud as you can see by the third Google Earth screenshot below. Phew. I can put this one to bed.
My starter for ten - some Sardinian landscape, somewhere
Part of the North of Sardinia where I identified some terraced features
The exact spot, like for like and covered by cloud (I'm not kidding)
This is it, our brand new home!
Home, sweet home.
Cherry Plum Harvest 2011
Here are some photos from the cherry plum harvest last July. It was not such a good year as last, but we still managed a fair horde. A week later we'd processed these into jam and eaten a fair few (they were delicious), and found a fruiting Victoria Plum from which we gathered 20kg. It was a good fruity year after all.
Yellow and red cherry plums
Washing in the sink
Arty photo time
Capturing a water droplet
Fun self portrait in colour highlight mode
Spring At Anglesey Abbey
With some stunning early Spring weather, we grabbed the chance for a trip out to the National Trust gardens at Anglesey Abbey. First off a little picnic lunch of egg fried lice on Midsummer Common. Then we cycled off to the Abbey, on a Saturday for a change (we've usually gone on a Sunday, but that often has the 'sad sunday' feeling of the end of a weekend, so this was even more joyful). The gardens were superb, we explored right down to the end of the woodland for the first time and found some humping ladybirds (not pictured here) as well as the eco loo and some splendid mix of formal and informal gardens. We also had a small ramble along the mill race and a wonder down the winter garden which was looking even more superb right at the end of the season. Here are some photos from the day.
Su overlooking the emerging willow along the Cam
One of a multitude of ladybird
A pheasant looking splendidly regal
A daffodil - but is it a good photo?
Forget-me-nots below a stand of horse chestnuts
The beauty of an emerging bramble leaf
Fiery dogwood in the winter garden
Here are a few macro shots from the grounds around my flats in Cambridge. Spring is definitely in the air, I just hope there isn't a frost anytime soon to kill the blossom before it's set.
Some sort of crab apple just about too bloom
A white damson or sloe
A pink plum blossom sticking out of the trunk
Some odd tiny yellow flower which looked like leaves from far away
A cute bunny photo on Facebook made me reminisce about the Kitchener Community bunnies:
Barney and Blackberry on their first date
Willow, RSPCA rescue
Roo being cooked in the tandoor oven (saved by her sheer size)
My commuting bike was stolen at the end of last year. It was a bit sad, but in all honestly has always been to large for me - I had never been happy with the frame size, even when I got it changed for a 49cm from 53 (my size) the reach was simply massive. It did a good job getting me to work in the mornings and also took me to Rouen. So when it was stolen from outside my office in Cambridge I set about looking for a replacement, and this was what I eventually settled on: a Ribble Audax/Winter Trainer.
Snow In Chesterton
Two photos from the second dusting of snow.
I happened to glimpse out the window before going to bed and saw this.
My new office view is slightly nicer, though the blinds get in the way.
We are hear and beginning to explore the wider area. The weekend before last we got out to Anglesey Abbey to finally make use of our National Trust membership. It was a glorious day out and really stoked the fires of wholesome family sustenance.
a truly glorious day at Anglesey Abbey a couple of weekend ago
While on a recent work trip to the Isle of Wight I had an hour in West Cowes waiting for the speedy ferry home. Turns out they have some lovely shops including a fabulous kitchenware grotto - Live Like This. I spent a good while in there looking at all their beautiful things. What caught my eye were these pretty awesome lunch boxes called 'Box Appetite' by the London based Black&Blum (not Black and Plum as I tried searching for - turns out is a film about a young girl raised by her father who goes on an ill-advised adventure with a magical guardian).
It took me an age to decide on which colour to buy, green or black?, and in the end I went for one of each so that we can each take a box to work. Today I used mine for the first time, and it worked admirably. Su had made bibimbap last night and this was the perfect occasion to use the box. With a separate compartment for the rice (thus can be heated separately) and a little pot for spicy sauce (no pre-mixed soggy mess) I was able to re-heat it and mix it to make a perfectly balanced and rather splendid lunchtime treat. Awesome.
Which colour to choose?
Black for me, green for Su.
Second Wedding Monthaversary
Thanks to February having an appropriate number of days, today was both a month after our wedding and a Saturday, but most importantly it was sunny. A PhD friend was in London for his Birthday so we decided to have a day out in the capital and take in the sights of Kew Gardens. After some debate over train prices (£65 for the two of us - nearly decided to rent a car) we did catch a train with our bikes to Clapham Junction. From there we cycled to Kew Gardens, about 7 miles away, following my iPhone's map. The cycling was just awesome, quick and gloriously warm, but mostly just so much faster than all the idiots in their cars stuck in traffic jams. Fools!
We spent the entire day in Kew (due to the quite high entrance ticket price), and even had a little snooze on the lawn after the warmth of the tropical house. As the sun went down it got a little chilly so we stopped at the cafe for a coffee and lovely apple-cinnamon muffin, then took a late afternoon stroll round the winter garden. The timing was perfect as we chanced upon a weeping cherry plum being under lit by golden sunlight glancing off the pond - a stunning sight. As Kew closed we mounted our trusty steeds bound for Covent Garden but as we passed through Hammersmith we chanced upon a Vietnamese restaurant - Saigon Saigon and took the opportunity. The food was AMAZING and the price exceedingly good (two mains, a starter to share and tea for under £30 including 12.5% tip). If you're in Hammersmith go there! We then hooked up with the birthday part for half a drink in the Porterhouse Pub before catching the train back to Soton.
A truly stunning day - makes living totally worth it.
Our packed lunch spot outside the tropical house
In the roof of the tropics
The blossom under which we had a nap
Daffodils were still looking beautiful
The trees without leaves are quite wonderful
Su in the treetop walkway
An arms-length portrait
Outside the temperate house
Some of the magnolia had burst forth while others were just about to
A dandelion curiosity in the gift shop
The stunning cherry plum blossom
As the sun went down the light just got better
Backlit blossom glowed with renewed vigour
And the daffodils were tremendous
We both soaked in the sunset, lingering over the glasshouse
Our chance sighting of the Vietnamese restaurant Saigon Saigon
Vietnamese noodles - our new favourite cuisine
The largest moon for 20 years over the london eye
Some More Panoramas
Hong Kong from the Peak view full size [2560x1024]
Place Fell from Helvellyn view full size [2560x1024]
Crete monastery view full size [2560x1024]
climbing Baegundae in Seoul, 2008 view full size [2560x1024]
view from the top of Baegundae view full size [2560x1024]
Buttermere view full size [2560x1024]
Vikos gorge, Greece view full size [2560x1024]
the view from Su's old house view full size [2560x1024]
front garden project 2010 view full size [2560x1024]
bark garden panoramic view full size [2560x1024]
Seoul cityscape view full size [2560x1024]
view from the downtown Lotte hotel view full size [2560x1024]
This set of photos I shot a few years back now, but I've just been having a go at doing some photo stitching with some success. Now I want to go back to the mountains and photo some more. Both versions are available full size (2560x1024 - dual-monitor resolution)
Nnant Ffrancon, Snowdonia - view full size [Idwal Cottage YHA]
Llyn Ogwen and Tryfan from Pen yr Ole Wen, Snowdonia - view full size [map]
Cycle to Winchester
Our second cycling trip of 2011, this time up the road to Winchester on a rather dull grey day with a northerly headwind. We also returned home by bike, so the day's total millage would be well over 20 miles.
These perhaps don't look that great, but the include a wonder through some trees to a lunch spot above Shawford which got tracked on my iPhone so added to the time [MotionX GPS].
- Distance: 11.4 miles
- Elapsed Time: 1:04:54
- Avg Speed: 10.5 mph
- Max Speed: 25.8 mph
The road to Winchester
our route north to Winchester
Su was off to church and I was left to my own devices. So I decided to potter out into the garden to make some progress on the tasks for winter - damage control. But first lunch. Su'd brought back a special 'no meat' instant noodle from Korea and suggested I have that for lunch. That I did, and augmented it with some extra fresh green vegetables. It was simply gorgeous! An eight or nine of the yum-o-meter.
Kitchener Christmas Meal
Another year another Christmas dinner. Like every year the new people come and old leave us but it was great to have so many old members join us. The food was excellent, some rather tasty roast potatoes, carrots and parsnips, red cabbage, home made mince pies, garden squash, wine, mulled apple juice, chicken and lemon quorn and plenty more (yes, including sprouts). Sadly the only thing missing was my lovely wife :(
a Kitchener Christmas
Crown Prince Squash
This is the squash that I grew in the front garden on the pallet fence. Thankfully nobody stole it so we were able to enjoy it for our kitchener christmas meal. I stuffed it with some lentil mix and roast garlic.
here is it growing on the fence earlier in the summer
about head size