ABOUT ME

I live in a camper van with a couple of West Highland Terriers for company.
My passion is photography but it is a work in progress.
I am always willing to share what knowledge I have and can be contacted through the comments on this post or e-mail ADRIAN
ALL IMAGES WILL ENLARGE WITH A LEFT CLICK

Sunday, 30 June 2013

INNUENDO. (30/06/13)

I have suffered from terrible wind all night and most of this morning. There is a big cave not so far away and I thought it would be well worth a look today. My reasoning being, that in my limited experience caves aren’t windy. I didn’t really think the matter through. The cave lies about a mile away but the route to it involves crossing the next headland. I could barely stand in the gusts and the dogs faired little better._V0G7025 This is about as far from Liverpool as one can get so what John Lennon’s connection to Durness is I don’t know. I’ll try and find out.

_V0G7026_7_8_tonemapped Geodha Smoo.

_V0G7030  Smoo Cave….apparently Smoo comes from the Norse Smuja which means….You Guessed!….Cave.

_V0G7033  It was time to start flashing. Now I don’t flash very often. I had to convert this to black and white as the colour was all over the place. I played around a bit more and things got better.

_V0G7034I could have done with getting the Speedlight off the camera but I don’t have any means of supporting it or firing it. Pocket Wizards are the answer but they cost a small fortune……like a fine for flashing. I’ll pop back with a tripod for the camera and just wander about firing the flash manually. That should be better than nothing.

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_V0G7043This was a good find. A twenty odd foot waterfall in the bowels of the earth. You can go further but one has to pay four pounds. It’s a boat job and the boat man wasn’t there this morning. It was grand in here…..no wind at all. I’ll pop back.

Have a good week.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

ONE SPOT. (29/06/13)

I woke this morning to the patter of rain, not another wet day. No it soon cleared up and it’s been a great morning.

I’m at Durness and overlooking Sango Sands. It’s a beautiful place. I’m booked in till Wednesday but will try and stop for a week or so. The surrounding countryside and coast should keep me amused for a while._V0G7022_3_4_tonemapped

_V0G7007_8_9_tonemapped

_V0G7019_20_21_tonemapped

_V0G7016_7_8_tonemapped Sango Sands.

I’ll go and see the lady who must be paid now and negotiate a longer stay.

Have fun.

Friday, 28 June 2013

THIS WAY AND THAT. (28/06/13)

This morning I drove from Scourie to Durness. The weather is windy and damp and the roads are narrow but wider than the van so I was relaxed and happy bowling along at forty or fifty miles per hour.

I have had three days in Scourie. It’s halfway between Ullapool and the north coast of Scotland. It’s also okay.

_V0G6988    It has a shop. A Spar shop with very reasonable prices.

Scouriepan1  A grand view from the van. We are perched on the edge of a cliff thirty or forty feet above the sea. The sun came out once and the mist and drizzle cleared four times.

I’ve been birding this week but as you will see in a moment you proper birders have no reason to panic. I am not about to usurp your status any time soon.

I lugged Bertha this way and that way. Whichever way I went they went the other.

_MG_0773    One of two pairs of Eider Duck. they can’t half paddle fast. This is the male. His mate is a brownish coloured lady.

_MG_0772   I did get within cropping distance but when he was up and I pressed the shutter down he went.

_MG_0765     The Black Throated divers were even less accommodating. There were six of these. They spend about fifty percent of their time under the water.

_MG_0770      The Grey Heron was there every morning.  I could get within a hundred yards…..I thought it was concentrating on catching breakfast but it had an eye on me. One stride nearer and at ninety nine yards it was away.

It’s a funny thing but despite the lack of usable pictures I enjoyed watching them.

I’m in no rush and Durness looks to be a grand place. It will be if the rain stops. I’m once again on top of a cliff overlooking the sea so given a northerly gale or some daylight I’ll try for some pictures. I have internet here so I’ll also be able to post them.

Have a good weekend.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

ANOTHER LOOK ROUND. (23/06/13)

It has been a funny week. The light has been very flat. Considering it’s only dark for a few hours I was hoping that with twenty hours of daylight to play with I’d have had more fun.

_MG_0741   Molly soaking wet and soaking up the sun. Why I bother sitting waiting for Otters whilst leaving the dogs to splash about I don’t quite know. The chap parked next door to me got some wonderful photographs of them…..He doesn’t have dogs and threatened my two with red hot, rusty, barbed wire when they tried to follow him.

flodabaypan2   This is the fresh water Loch they live in.

_V0G6901_2_3_tonemapped   This is or I hope is what remains of a Shetland Yole. These are descended from the Norse Longboats and still used in the Shetland Isles.

_V0G6896  Boat Builder.

_V0G6897  A pity that he abandoned this project.

_MG_0750  This is a whatever I guess I’ll guess wrong. In for a penny. The Azure Damsel Fly.

_MG_0763   This is Dwarf Milkwort. There is an awful lot of it about. this is about 3x life size. I really enjoy tiny flowers. Pity I'm never sure what I'm looking at.

Tomorrow I’m catching the afternoon ferry back to Ullapool. Then heading further north.

I’ll do some more catching up and in the meantime have a good week.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

PARADISE . (20/06/13)

I left the island of Lewis on Saturday. I drove south through North Harris to a town called Tarbert* and entered South Harris. If you look at the map below you won’t see that the boundaries between Lewis, the posh end, and North Harris. They are arbitrary. A wee isthmus divides the North Harris from South Harris.

When I arrived end of the highway into Tarbert with brakes smouldering I debated whether or not to fill up with diesel. It was raining so being idle and a bit nesh, I passed on the refuelling. Almost immediately the highway reverted to a cart track. A steep cart track! I was in South Harris.

Whatever the moral downside of having an empire may be; whatever  the idle, lazy, incompetent, soft, southern, fat governors are, they are very keen to have their empire mapped properly. Thank the Lord! I pulled up in the first convenient driveway to consult the Ordnance Survey Map. All was well I was on the only road.

The road got thinner as I took the C97 to my destination at Flodabay. The back wheels kept dropping off the blacktop on every sharp bend. I didn’t get out of second gear for five miles. I was feeling a bit frightened when I met a fish freezer truck bowling along towards me at sixty miles per hour. Frightened…I then became terrified…..I hit the passing place with all six wheels locked up and the dogs in a heap round my feet. The fish truck thundered by with a wave and a toot. After changing my trousers and cleaning up as best I could, I settled into the system and got to enjoy the road and scenery. There is a method here, if you spot a bigger vehicle pull over and quickly, if the oncoming conveyance is smaller then just keep going and blast past with a cheery wave and a tap on the horn Think Mr Toad and ‘Wind in the Willows’ Toot Toot!….

In the UK we have ‘A’ roads and ‘B’ roads and bridle ways. Here they have introduced the ‘C’ road a ‘C’ road is like a narrow ‘B’ road, it’s a tarmacked drovers track. They do the job I arrived at Flodabay.

This is a campsite and a very expensive one. It is well worth the money. It takes just four vans, has electric, water, forty acres of bare rock, lochs, bog, orchids and other plants like heather and moss. It has great views over the Minch, an Eagle, two Buzzard, Wheatear, Stonechat, Pipets and some birds I don’t know. The owner is a incommer from Chorley, I’m chest deep in Lancastrians up here. He has fenced the sheep out and is planting as fast as he can go. He is determined to restore his little corner of Harris to the state it was in before the Clearances. He’s been at it for ten years but these things take time. He has stopped land drainage so one can walk on sphagnum moss rafts, it’s absolute heaven though heavy going. I have this temptation to bounce on it. Not a good idea!……If one breaks through then ones welly is full. Even the dogs have learnt to tiptoe across it.

There is just one downside…A great big modern lodge owned by our ruling family. He’s planted Rhododendron in his garden. I only hope the big, daft , elephant eared bugger lives to regret it. His sister-in-law is staying there at the moment and had the cheek to moan because I’d left a light on. It is only dark here for a couple of hours. I didn’t do it on purpose your Highness I was awake and writing. I need light to enable me to place letters in the right order…..Kcuf Fof!. Daft old bat. Fancy Planting Rhododendrons.

image

image     This is a grand spot. I came for three days and stopped for seven. I’ve provisionally booked for January. I wish I could have stayed longer. No internet but I did have EE phone. I’ll get an EE dongle for my next visit.

_V0G6953      The view from the van.

_V0G6966     The view looking westish.

_V0G6968      When it gets it’s act together the light is just wonderful. No HDR required.

It’s as if the glaciers retreated a few years ago. Rock scraped bare……

_V0G6970      Rocks left balanced.

_MG_0744     A Four Spot Chaser. I did have one hot, windless half day. There were several of these patrolling their territory and occasionally falling out. They kept me amused whilst waiting for the illusive otter. For my part I did my bit for the midges by providing food for pregnant females. Irritating little devils they are.

_MG_0733    Here’s another view…..just in case it’s something else! I reckon I can see eight spots.

I’ll hunt some more snaps out for tomorrow and get catching up.

Have fun.

Friday, 14 June 2013

A DAY OF REST. (14/0613)

It’s the crack of noon, the dogs have been swimming in the Minch and I am suffering from a sufficiency of red wine. Thank the lord I have the dogs. They make me feel guilty. So I could well become a Wee Free.

The weather took a turn to normal. I put another couple of layers on over my mankini. The sexes are hard to differentiate up here.  This is coral sand at Uig.

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_V0G6859 The view from the van at Uig. What a road and what a place, I got lost. Three times! So lost that it cost quarter of a tank of diesel. I got to places that the camper was too big for Gallan Head is a place everyone should visit but I was too involved extricating my house to fully appreciate it. I’ve seen footpaths in Derbyshire wider and they are the path to the outside toilet.

_MG_0726 This is a Lewis Pipet. They rear their young in old rabbit burrows. Brilliant they are.

_V0G6888This plant was created on a Sunday. Never seen one like it. It’s called a Lewis Dock. Both the above images are open to proper folk to identify.

I then moved the truck to the seat of Clan Edwards. Oh Dear! What an evening. I’m renowned, if not celebrated, as a piss artist but did I have a wonderful time. Amazing how a Scouser and a Yorkshireman can sit for hours without falling out or fighting. It’s either French wine or old age or being abroad to blame.

Graham has House Martins. I know they are common in temperate England but up here they are not even recorded. The poor buggers are trying to build a nest out of peat and sand. They are struggling to make it stick to his wall.

Bayble baypan1 The badly stitched panorama from my camera and the CooP’s wine This is Grahams view….I could keep on with excuses….I’m away to my bed….Have a great weekend.

 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

MY FIRST DAY. (11/06/13)

I still have internet despite having moved from the east to the west coast of Lewis. I’m at a village called Shawbost. The camp site is just behind a big new school. I’m not a fan of tiny people but it is great to see them as a representation of a thriving community.

Things are very different here. I found the filling station, rifle shop, food shop, map shop this morning with no bother at all….Thank you Graham. The girl selling, petrol diesel and maps, she was short of two maps OS458 and OS456. She said not to worry. They only show the standing stones and a beech and both have a sign post. I had to admire her pragmatism. I asked if she had a Daily Telegraph. No but we may have about five o’clock this afternoon. The Telegraph doesn’t always come though.

I didn’t need a food shop as Stornoway now has a CO-OP superstore and a Tesco. I used the CO-OP cos Tesco crapped on Keith. There is another difference up here. One has to shop after ten in a morning if you want to include Bells on the cart. It’s the Wee Frees. They don’t allow laundry or grass cutting or pretty much anything else on a Sunday and selling alcoholic beverages is something they’d like to see banned. I must admit to being fascinated enough to catch a service this Sunday. I’ll have to look out a pair of trousers, a shirt and tie and give it a whirl.

_V0G6857

_V0G6856   The views from the van.

We went a walk to try and get to the sea.

_V0G6851   I could see it but couldn’t find a way to it.

_V0G6853  On we wandered. The dogs found a friend. He came on our walk with us. I let my two off as there is little traffic and what there is slows down to walking pace. They had a good run.

_V0G6854  He’s still with us half a mile later. This is something I find different. You have small croft cottages and impressive houses like this one abandoned. People then just build a new bungalow to live in. There must be method in such madness but so far it escapes me.

_V0G6852    A stack of peats. This is winter fuel. It burns like wet cardboard but with a much more pungent aroma.

Tomorrow we are moving to a posh beach with dancing girls, all manner of Divers and Waders and miles of perfect sand.

I love moving around. The folk at the site are great. The toilet block is called Downing Street. The Ladies is number ten and the Gents number eleven. I’d love to have a dump in both.

See you again when I can get online.

Monday, 10 June 2013

SUMMER ISLES. (10/06/13)

Just a quick post today. We completed the voyage across the Minch without incident. We  were first on the ferry and as it’s a Ro-Ro, first off. I spent three years plodding up and down these waters three or four times a year and cannot recall the sea being so calm. A wonderful crossing._MG_0708

_MG_0706 These are the S_MG_0705ummer Isles…..you can see why.

Cal Mac were excellent. Sailed on time, arrived early, and provided a breakfast of Motorway standard at half motorway prices. The coffee was better than Starbucks. I’ll sail back with Cal Mac….Not that I have much choice.

I ought to have stopped in Stornoway but got muddled up finding my way out…..all six lane super highways here…It’s worse than negotiating the  Périphérique round Paris. I’ll go back down tomorrow as I need maps, food, diesel and petrol for the gen set. I can last in this weather on the solar panel but I’m not expecting this weather to last and neither are the weather guessers.

I have good internet here and phone but I’m parked just outside Stornoway on a convenient but expensive and unprepossessing site. I suspect I may go AWOL for several days but as this blog is more a diary than anything else I’ll just stack them all up and post as and when I can.

Alf hasn’t been on a boat before but was very impressed. He enjoyed his crossing and I met a nice chap with a Labrador who held mine while I had breakfast. Then I held his while he went for a coffee. Cal Mac are dog friendly but not excessively so. They have a couple of areas with no windows. I was going to rephrase this paragraph but bugger it.

Have a good week.

 

Sunday, 9 June 2013

THE ROAD TO THE ISLES. (09/06/13)

Despite my prediction of fog there has been barely a wisp of cloud from three thirty this morning until just now when the odd bit of fair weather cumulus has arrived. It is baking hot. Not even a sea breeze to take the edge off.

We had a walk first thing but I didn’t take the camera. I then came back had breakfast and watched the GP qualifying on I Player. It looked freezing in Montreal.

I was just setting out on my second wander when I was accosted by a young lady. I took no notice. It’s not something that happens very often. The Swiss girl staying next door had seen me playing with mine. My camera! Cleanse your minds it’s a religious day up here. She wanted to know why hers wouldn’t work. I took a look, sucked air hard through my teeth as I’ve seen experts do, then after a minute of nodding and perusing….. Asked her. “Where is the battery?” It was on charge in her van, often where mine is after I’ve walked for miles with a useless box of tricks. That problem solved she then wanted to know how to use it on manual settings…..Yes!! My luck has changed but it transpired she was still referring to the camera. I had never realised but for Canon to get an exposure reading you have to half press the shutter button. I’ve just always done it but looking in the book it doesn’t say you have to. Her boyfriend then came out and told her. In no uncertain German terms, that playtime was over. Spoilsport! I know I had much more knowledge to impart.

No HDR today….no need. It is Proper Summer._V0G6841 The little smudges on the horizon are the Summer Isles. So called because they were only noticed after thousands of years one summer.

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_V0G6844 These views are from the shingle beech in front of the van.

_V0G6845  There are lots of these little cottages scattered around…..If the lottery is kind to me I’d get one in the middle of nowhere with a sea view.

_V0G6847  Ullapool Esplanade.

_V0G6849 A bit more of it.

_V0G6846 This is the Road to The Isles. As you can see it’s shut on Sundays, much like everything else. Tomorrow morning the van, dogs and I will be in the queue here. I’m excited…..I’m going abroad.

I’ve framed todays snaps as I know I could come back here twenty times and never see weather like it.

Have a great week.