John, a family friend who writes a blog about his travels around Europe, has just challenged me (amongst others) to come up with four photos that represent the ancient elements of earth, air, fire and water. As is usual with such things, I am supposed to nominate five other people to continue the challenge but I won’t be doing that as I appreciate the power of geometric progressions (it takes surprisingly few iterations before the entire population of the earth has been included). I have however, come up with some images and as a nod to the theme of John’s blog (http://continentalbreakfasttravel.com/), they are all photos I took traveling around Europe. So here we go …
Travelling to Holland on the overnight ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, I went up on deck at daybreak to watch as we passed into the mouth of the Rhine. It was a very still morning and air pollution over the city beyond made for a spectacular sunrise. Air pollution and a becalmed wind farm; it seemed ironic to me.
I noticed this man walking slowly along the rows of gravestones in a small war cemetery in Ypres and wondered whether he was looking for the name of a relative. We visited several military cemeteries on that trip and I found the experience very moving.
We spent a delightful couple of days in Bruges one winter. I know that many people think of the place as false as there are so many buildings where the medieval facade only has been preserved with the remainder being modern, but I loved the place. I struggled however, to take a photo that encapsulated the place for me. Then I saw Julie waiting patiently on a bridge over a canal and took this shot which is the image that I always think of when Bruges crops up in conversation.
I struggled with this element I’m happy to admit. I know that the aurora is not fire of course and I also know that for many Brits the term “Europe” in this context is usually taken to mean “mainland Europe” but regardless, this is the image that I’ve chosen. I had been house-sitting in Shetland for several weeks and my friends had returned so I was soon to leave for my journey back down south. The weather was overcast as we sat down to dinner when I said “ all I need now is for the clouds to clear and an aurora to show”. An hour later I was outside watching this amazing display of what Shetlanders call the merry dancers. It may be taking place high in the upper atmosphere and it may have nothing to do with fire but it certainly warmed my heart.
We had an absolutely wonderful aurora display last night. Not only was there the full curtain effect but it extended right overhead and well into the southern sky. This was the view straight up.
The waves of light were flickering and moving across the sky so quickly that long exposure photos could never capture the spectacle; what Shetlanders call “the merry dancers”. But after a while I just stopped taking photos anyway, caught up in the magnificent free show that nature was putting on. What a wonderful end to my time up here in the far north.
My friends return from their holiday in India today and a couple of days later, I’ll be on my way back to Nottinghamshire, my job looking after their house and animals finished. I probably won’t get chance to post again for a few days so here’s a few photos that didn’t make it into my earlier posts but seem to give a flavour of the last month.
This was my local pub while staying up in Shetland. At a few miles away it was just a bit too far to walk and being on my own this last month, I never visited as I never drink and drive. But I know for a fact that it is occasionally frequented by super-heroes, super-villains and assorted other shady looking characters. My evidence? Just check out Google Street View: https://email@example.com,-1.26678,3a,75y,66.23h,78.11t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sVYBBV4N9neLxpl5E-t6DJA!2e0?hl=en
I’ve been almost housebound these last three days because of the appalling weather, so I celebrated this morning with a run out to Lunna and a walk over the peninsula. Driving over the high road alongside Vidlin Voe, I stopped in a passing place to look down onto the coast and admire a large group of shags drying off on a grassy bank. I wondered, just what is the collective noun for shags? When I got back home I consulted my friend Wikipedia only to find there doesn’t seem to be one, although the word for a group of cormorants is a gulp. Well shags and cormorants are very closely related and look similar so gulp it is, at least until I find a better word.
I took a photo of this a couple of weeks ago but since then, some wag has decided to dress it for Up Helly Aa, complete with Viking helmet, beard and the flaming torch. Quite the Guizer.
I’ve not been out for a while as the weather has been truly foul of late so Just a couple of photos of lichens on fence posts. The second one is a splendid example of Galerus iocum I spotted way out in the middle of nowhere. This large floccose lichen with its conical deflexed fruiting body must surely be the most colourful example I’ve ever seen; well it certainly put a smile on my face. Enjoy.