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2016 .. and into 2017
28th December 2016
Its been a good year. Marion and I returned from the Algarve to pick up our new 5th Wheel Celtic Rambler (the rig), a penthouse on wheels! After a stay near Southampton to load it up and make it home we headed off to Devon as we had a seasonal pitch near Launceston. We only had a short stay before we left the rig in North Wales and boarded the ferry for Dublin with car, tent tandem and its Yak Bob trailer.
We arrived in Dublin and met with friends Peter and Mary who we hooked up with in the Algarve. Peter is a nearly retired professional photographer, and I joined him in the Glendallough Youth Hostel to facilitate a week end photographic workshop (all very good with great reviews). We then set off for Athlone in the middle of Ireland to leave the car with Marion's in laws parents, and we got a fantastic irish reception thanks to Paddy and Julie. We set off from there for the West coast, the 'Wild Atlantic Way', and cycled down the Shannon to Tralee, then Dingle, Killarney, and all the ay back up to Doolin, before crossing to the Aran Islands. We spent a couple of nights over there before heading back to Athlone vis Galway, 500 miles covered carrying and pulling about 70 kg. We returned to Dublin (Peter and Mary's) to take in a fantastic Neil Young concert at the Dublin O2 Arena.
We then returned to Devon for a while, with plenty of woodland bird photography along with trips out to Dartmoor for the landscapes. We were beginning to wonder what to do with the inherited monies from our respective mothers, knowing there wasn't enough to purchase a house outright, but maybe a do-er upp-er? Anyhow we has arranged to return to Trevalgan touring park (St Ives) for summer warden work, and so we began to locate ourselves more in the southwest. It was a good season for enjoying the sights of Devon and Cornwall (we joined the National Trust) and I got to do some night skies photography, and even managed to pull in a visit to Brighton for a friends (Graham Devenish) photographic exhibition, and a festival wedding back in Dorset.
Whilst staying in St Ives we had a look at one or two houses in Pendeen on the North Cornish Coast, but they seemed to sell quickly and were beyond our budget. We worked through into September and enjoyed some great music at the St Ives festival.
It was when we returned to our seasonal pitch in Devon that we frequently cycled or drove to Tavistock and up onto Dartmoor for misty morning photography, and we began spending more time taking in visits to estate agents and small houses in the area. By the end of October we had seen and agreed to purchase a very old cottage in Horrabridge, in the Dartmoor National Park!
In case of any thoughts that travels are over, they are not. We had been planning on a winter in New Zealand using the wardening monies, but we simply got priced out of it by post brevet exchange rates. Just as well as buying the cottage has cleared us out! We still intend to travel using our 5th wheel, and being more flexible in using a berghaus inflatable tent. After spending most of November in the New Forest near our children we caught the Portsmouth Bilbao ferry and sped down to the Cadiz area in Spain followed by Donyana National Park. The rig in storage and we used the tent for a couple of weeks, we have now moved back to chalet in the West Algarve, which will be our abode until we return to the cottage in Devon at the end of February. I have a few camera club lectures lined up in Sussex in March, and we are going to be visiting more in Lancashire and West Yorkshire next autumn. In the meantime we will be part of the time working in St Ives, and part of the time working on our new, but old cottage. I will of course be continuing with the 365, a pic a day, and will have some time to decide on any new directions with the photography. I will be posting dates of talks etc and will update the website as we go..

Algarve
03rd February 2016
After a year of great contrasts, both Marion and I lost our last remaining parents - our mothers, and we married on a beach in Papa Westray (Papay). We bought and then decided to part exchange our 5th Wheeler, and so we are currently without van to tourer, and have decided to spend a few months back in the Algarve. Currently we are enjoying some social time with the Camping and caravanning club rally, and although not officially on the rally as we stay in a chalet, I've put on a couple of evening photographic presentations, and we even managed to win the Quiz along with new friends.
We have new plans, starting with picking our new and huge Celtic Rambler up in late April, doing a photographic workshop in the Wicklow mountains, Ireland, followed by a major tandem ride around Kerry and the west of Ireland. A Neil Young concert is booked for June in Dublin, and we return to Devon and then Cornwall for summer work. New Zealand is on the horizon next winter and a possible spring tour of Canada is also on the schedule.
The next birding project will centre on Bee Eaters, along with opportunistic work on birds of prey and Bustards. Presently I might go looking for the Little Owls, Dartford Warblers Chats and other local Algarve birds. Keep watching!
Upcoming Events:
11th November 2015
Padiham U3A .. Earth Wind and Flight 2015 2pm 13/11/15 @ Padiham United Reform.

Burnley Camera Club, the second visit: Earth Wind and Flight 2015: 7.30pm 17/11/15

Garstang Camera Club, the 3rd visit: Earth Wind and Flight 2015: 7.30pm 18/11/15

Bispham Camera Club. Earth Wind and Flight 2015. 8pm 19/11/15

Leicester Camera Club, the 2nd visit Earth Wind and Flight 2015 7.30pm 20/11/15

Seven Sisters Camera Club, Eastbourne. Earth Wind and Flight 2015. 7.30pm 14/11/15
The Spring Tour.
01st July 2014
A Zen moment:

In a valley 1100 metres up in the Pyrenees, named Iraty, on the French / Spanish border, I once again found inspiration to write the blog. Officially a French Aire, but no-one collects the 5 euro rent until July and August, and our company is two more vans, a couple of tents, and plenty of cows and horses with bells around there necks.The peace of stopping by a mountain stream has inspired me to begin an account of what I consider a wonderful journey of nearly four months.
This latest update in the blog is intended to give you the reader an idea of a journey, a way of life and the tremendous photographic opportunities in Portugal and Northern Spain. If this is your first viewing , the background is that Marion and I have lived and travelled in our motorhome for the past three years. I take at least one picture a day and Marion creates all sorts of woollen and felt crafty things as we go.
March 7th / 10th
Our journey begins with great anticipation as although we had travelled to the Algarve before, it had really been too early in the year for the springtime birds and warmer weather. We had stayed in the UK through the mild but stormy weather, with hardly any snow and only 2 frosts between October and the beginning of March. Having sailed to Dieppe (its cheaper) and slept on the Aire for the morning, we travelled in fine weather via Chatres to Le Chene de Lac, Guitras near Bordeaux. The ACSI site was a joy as we were welcomed with a carafe of wine and the next day we joined all campers to enjoy pizza cooked by the owner of the site, and shared foods from al of our different countries. We shared some father christmas chocolate cookies , some teabags and in return feasted on olives, pizza, Bordeaux fresh wine an Pastis. Whilst on this site however, we found our fridge had stopped working and our mobile phones would not work in France, which others tried to assist with. The solution was to stay for a couple of days and to visit Bordeaux to get an estimate on the fridge and purchase a french sim card to phone uk phone companies. All ok except for the quote on the Fridge was 2000 euro. So … 'around Portugal without a fridge' … could be the name of a book perhaps? We also visited St Emillion, famous for its wine, its steep streets and cloisters, and I missed a great photograph when Cranes flew over the Church towers, but happy with the pictures i did get.
March 11th / 13th
We spend one night at Zarautz, another ACSI site stopover with one heck of a good walk down to the beach and back from the cliff top. From here we head off for a long drive down to Monfrague (again ACSI), south of Salamanca, taking our own tour (the camp site offers 4 x 4 tours but the main birding areas have good roads). Here we see familiar birds for this area, with good images of Spanish Imperial Eagle, Griffon Vultures, Egyptian Vultures and a Black Vulture, but seemed to miss the Black Stork (although I have a good image from a previous visit).
March 14th / 15th
Castro Verde. We stop at the town municipal site for two nights. Highly recommended as it has good facilities, free wifi, has a Cattle Egret roost fight next to the site along with Stork nests, and is just down the road from the LPN, a nature and bird conservation initiative. Images of Red Kite, Lesser Kestrel and Cattle Egret are posted and we plan to return for a few weeks after our stay in the Algarve. Friend Rob arranges flights to join us in 4 weeks and that is when we plan to return. Only thing is that its then Easter and the LPN 4 x 4 tours are few and full. Their priority is group education and bird conservation, and so I have to respect their priorities above taking tourists out on bird safari. I do intend to return though, possibly conducting photographic workshops and so will ensure an early booking next time.
March 16th / April 19th
Touriscampo site near Luz, Lagos, Algarve. We arrive a day late for our booked Caravan and Camping club rally. You know after 3 years in the van, we are not exactly your stereotypical happy clappy campers. We enjoy meeting up with people, enjoy the discounted rates, and will certainly continue to winter camp somewhere for a month or so where we do socialise in a comfortable venue. We join in stuff like the quiz nights and boules, and seek out others for cycling and cards. When it comes to the quiz night however, and team name is often 'the peripherals'.
With families of Azure Winged Magpies flying around the large site, along with occasional Hoopoe sightings, and a pair of Little Owls only a short walk away in a derelict building, photo opportunities were good. So this combined with cycling between Luz and Sagres, which is an unspoilt coastline of rolling cliffs and sandy beaches, and walking the high cliff above Luz for images of Kestrel, Sardinian Warbler, Short Toed Eagle, the time spent here was very enjoyable. We have made friends through the 'rallying', so hi to Peter and Freda, and Irene and Malc, who together form our cycling, quizzing and card playing friends. The boules is not to be sniffed at either, and there were one or two serious players for whom it was not merely fun and they gave others impromptu coaching, but it all made for a thrilling climax as they were on the losing team in a final game before leaving. WE WUPPED 'EM.
So we cycled some major hills, sampled some delightful meals, had a bit of mixed weather but generally got out and about and stayed beyond the end of the Rally (April 11th) as friend Rob was arriving on the 16th April. We had booked a hire car locally to go pick him up, but the car and the hire people failed to show up, so we took the van down the motorway to FARO. We then sampled Wild Boar and plum stew at a restaurant in the the mountains above Monchique (yum) and the following day spent some time at Boca de Rio. We had frequently cycled this way as its not far from the intermarche, where coffee and custard tart is less than a euro. The birding has previously been very good, but it had only recently proved to be better with Blue Rock Thrush and Little Egret along with numerous Corn Bunting, Chiffchaff and Stonechat, and a Zitting Cisticola. On arriving with Rob however, the old buildings and pond on the right were fruitful again with Woodchat Shrike and then Bee Eaters. We used our camouflage nets to lie close to the Bee Eater tree and were treated to great close views and images.
April 19th / May 1st
Castro Verde. Once again I was amazed with the feel of this place. The municipal campsite is in the town, but also situated within a stones throw of a Cattle Egret roost, along with White Stork nests. The town itself is situated high on rolling plains with pseudo steppe grassland and cork trees. The nature protection is a priority (LPN) but also supplies good guidance and access to see birds. Their work is in protection and conservation, adapting the farming to encourage wildlife, and educating locals and visitors alike. They take limited numbers on tours in a 4x4, but even without this we have managed to see and photograph Great Bustards, Sand Grouse, Bee Eaters, European Roller, Little Bustards, Montague Harrier, Griffon Vulture, Short Toed Eagle, Golden Oriole, Little and Cattle Egret, Common and Lesser Kestrel, Hoopoe, Larks and Swallow. Also seen at different times have been Black Shouldered Kite, Golden Eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture and Long Legged Buzzard. By the small rivers there were Little Ringed Plover, Stone Curlew, many Corn Buntings, along with Iberian Grey Shrike and Woodchat Shrike.
The photographic opportunities are plentiful, not just with the birds, but with the fields carpeted with wild flowers, the whitewashed houses and red poppies, the locals living a life that disappeared elsewhere many years ago, and mostly being more than happy to be photographed. The women work in the fields, fetch water from the village pumps, carry heavy loads on their heads whilst the men congregate around shaded seats and coffee shops. The roads are good for cycling and we could count the number of vehicles that would pass on a ride, usually about five or so per hour.
I was looking forward to the later spring tour, and have found the landscape, flowers, birds and the whole experience wonderful. I would have swum to Portugal for some of the images of Roller, Bee Eaters and Bustards, and this is only the first part of the tour.
Winter storms
12th February 2014
For the first time we are spending the middle of winter in the UK. We returned to finish off house renovations in Padiham, and had to rush as we found we had a tenant waiting to move in. We had hoped for clear frosty mornings and some snow, but we are sitting out these severe storms. Right now the wind is switching to side on and we are rocking. We came back up to Lancashire for camera club presentations and workshops, and have been made very welcome at Bury, Irwell Vale, Burnley and Sale.
We are stopping on a farm outside of Worsthorne near Burnley, a place I used to live 17 years ago. The walking has been fantastic, and it was on a trek over to the Packhorse in Yorkshire that I took an image of Gorple Rocks, which has won the annual landscape competition at Havant camera club.
We are staying in the UK to celebrate my mothers 90th birthday next week, after which we plan to travel to the south of Europe, provided we get some essential van maintenance completed. There are no exhibitions or camera clubs booked until September, so that we can focus on travel and photography. I will be doing a bit of work on tidying the website and processing images that sit in my computer, hopefully before we sail in March. Right now we are just being buffeted waiting a little anxiously for this mega storm to blow itself out.
Catching up
30th November 2013
Its certainly time to catch up with the blog. It has to be a good sign, as we have been pretty busy recently. The Martin Mere exhibition is coming to a close, along with camera club presentations and mini workshops. We have also been busy with the purchase and renovation of a house in Padiham, which is now ready to rent.
As will be seen on the slideshow, there are a number of autumn landscape images from the Lake district, along with a couple of new birdie pics. Thanks go to Keith Banister as we traded a place in his hide to find a Kingfisher in exchange for a presentation at Burnley Camera Club. Its been really good to link up with folk from an area in which I used to live, and we plan to stay longer as we are not venturing abroad until later in the winter.
Other camera clubs have been very welcoming across Lancashire, and thanks go to programme secretaries for booking me. I plan to return to give another camera club tour in September 2014, so if you see this and would like to book ahead please take note. I will have slots into mid October 2014. Special thanks go to Garstang CC who want to book a presentation for a 3rd year running. I have ideas about offering a workshop instead next year!
As for the photography, The Lake District has been rewarding, and there have been occasional bright days locally for Kingfisher and Water Rail. Pictures at Martin Mere have been challenging in the weeks of gloom, and in my attempts to picture the Pink Footed Geese, I have been working far more with the light and context, as the real feel for these is when you see them flocking and filling the sky.
Other events and bookings are being made, including Marion's daughter getting married after Christmas. We will travel to the South Coast after Christmas and return to Lancashire by mid January. The plans for the new year are less geared to events and exhibitions, and more to travel and photography. As the photography develops and evolves, so the motivation to try something different increases. Basically much of next year will be spent travelling and taking photographs in one way or another.
Orkney and Scotland.
20th June 2013
Well here we are stopping at the old Meikle Ferry slipway on the Dornoch Firth. Its 'wild camping' but we have a generator. Big news today was that an Orkney Workshop image won Picture of the Week on Birdguides.
The trip up to Orkney was relaxing and rewarding with landscapes and birds and just a great time working our way North. A van problem meant a longer stay on the Dornoch Firth, but that was no hardship. We met with Rob on the way up who joined us on the Workshop, and Lawrence joined us at the cottage.
Most days saw a 6am start followed by breakfast, and the rewards of the light were well worth the effort. Peter and Celia flew up on the Sunday and the cottage had a real buzz.
The birding was exceptional, close views of Curlew and Oystercatcher, Great and arctic Skua's, and a treat of a fly past of a Short Eared Owl. More great photographic opportunities followed with Red Throated Divers, Hen Harrier Food pass, a battle between Hen Harrier and Short Eared Owl, a Corncrake calling next to the cottage, and plenty of opportunity to both take pictures and develop photographic skills. We visited Papa Westray and met with friends from previous visits. Again the excursion to North Papay was exceptional, and thanks to Jan for the use of her car.
You will have to speak with workshop participants for their endorsements if you want to join me in Orkney next year. Lawrence has already left comments on the site on the message page.
After Orkney we toured the North West coast, which included a sighting of Black Throated Diver, and a spectacular day on Handa Island across from Tarbet. Sutherland was the real icing on the cake after a successful stay on Orkney. And so back to Dornoch, and another tandem ride before we leave for Loch Rannoch tomorrow.
Portugal and back.
12th April 2013
We have returned to the UK from Portugal. Not exactly sure why! its been freezing. Can't moan though as we have had a fantastic time down in the South of Portugal. Hello to Ian and Caroline, Peter and Freda, Ken and Ruth, Malcolm and Irene, Peter, Rob and Sarah, Sue and Bruce, Kay and Colin, Bernie and Ann and Peter and her ladyship. Yes and many more. We met with, cycled with ate with, travelled with quiz nighted with, bird watched with and took photographs with friends we met as we travelled.
The weather down there was a little damp at times but that did not dampen spirits. Regular days out travelling by bike or car meant less time spent on camp, and the rally we were on sort of passed us by. We did longer bike rides up steeper hills than before, and thanks to Peter for pushing us along. Thanks also to Freda and Ruth for making Marion very happy to win the final quiz night by a country mile. You will find images from the time spent in the Algarve at http://www.flickr.com/photos/maxwelllawphotography/
I was also keen on taking more travel and people images as I made attempts to engage folk in conversation before asking for their picture. This was a whole new experience for me, and one which was greatly rewarding. The Grey Nomads project is still on!
There were also some seriously good bird watching /photograhic days seeing Shrikes and Eagles, Fan Tailed Warblers Ring Ouzel and any more. I also discovered "Chiggers" which apparently SeaSick Steve once sang about. We twice visited a remote abandoned farmhouse, the second time to find my hat but all I came back with was these tiny itching little blighters which left scars which I still have!
We travelled up to Castro Verde to stay for a week. We ended up staying over 3 weeks. The weather was poor and wet so we abandoned plans to travel to the north of Portugal and stayed put. The campsite had Storks and a 300 strong Cattle Egret roost right outside. Everybody greeted us in a friendly respectful way. We discovered the League for Protection of Nature (LPN) doing great work to ensure endangered species thrive in the area. Rob and Sarah joined us on safari and we had a magnificent day photographing Bustards, Eagles, Stone Curlew, Lesser Kestrel and many many more. In a period of 2 hours one afternoon we watched Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Golden Eagle and Long Legged Buzzard drifting overhead. The countryside was stunning and cycling sublime.
I could go on and on about it all, but then we stopped in Zarautz on our way back through Spain on the North Coast, and then Le Teich reserve near Bordeaux, where I spent hours getting images of the White Spotted Bluethroat.
Back in the UK and after the decorating of mums lounge, we are getting set for a trip to Iceland and the next two exhibitions, in Chichester Oxmarket and Welney WWT.
New Year Update.
15th January 2013
Well we have 'done Christmas', which was rather enjoyable, and moved south, arriving in the Algarve a couple of days ago. It is coming up for two years living in (and out) of the van and whilst not conventional life is good.
Starting with the exhibition after Martin Mere, which was in Chichester, sales were ok, and took a couple of commissions plus booked a wedding in France (not mine - I just take the pictures you understand).. Also went to the New Forest Christmas fair where business was brisk.
Took some pictures of Jade and her 3 month old daughter, some of my mums new year party guests (all aged over 80) and then set off for the ferry from Newhaven.
I am continuing to take and post a pic a day, and have joined a small Flickr group for a second year which is administered by Ken Scott (touchingthelight), the guy who got me into 365...
As we travelled south my need to take a pic got me looking above my head at tree branches for an image of a Plain Tree, and when we awoke in a sleepy French town the next morning a market had appeared around us! Just great..
We moved down to Zarutz, on the North Basque coast, which is (as yet) my favourite part of Spain with hills, beaches, some wild weather and great scenery. From here we moved a shortish distance to Bergau, and I came across the first of the 'Grey Nomads' whom I intend to photograph.This project will take me into photographing, documentary style the people I encounter whilst away in Southern Europe.
On we went to Salamnca, walking into the historic city to take an image from the city square which will be found in the opening images on this website. This is one impressive clean small city in the middle of the Spanish plains.
From here it was a place we both immediately loved....... Castro Verde, the high Steppe area of Portugal. Perhaps it was because of the recent rain and lush feel of the area, perhaps the vast open feel, with Eagles soaring, and perhaps the slow relaxed feel to the pace of life here in the traditional sheep and cattle grazing farmlands, but it felt very special. The treats were the birdlife including a pair of Black Shouldered Kites, and being shown around a traditional corn mill as the proud owner put out the sails and took us in to watch it grind the maize.
On we went and arrived to meet friends at 'Turiscampo', a campsite near Lagos, with quite a few motorhome and caravanning 'nomads' who have made the journey south for the winter sun. Although we don't completely fit in with the population that tend to travel south and then stay put for winter (we do like to think we are at least 10 years younger than most), the company is great fun and as long as we keep doing the active stuff and hop on the tandem as often as possible, the winter rally can be great fun. There are also plenty of photo opportunities and I will see where the photo documentary style takes me, along with continuing the nature pics.
In addition to all this I have booked to submit a panel of images for the LRPS in July so I move on hopefully in the photography world.
Unexpected journey
23rd October 2012
Scotland as you may gather was rather enjoyable and rewarding. The Ptarmagen were found on Cairngorm, after a 3 hour search in the snow. The bonus was they showed in the sunlight, and I took landscapes and a Snow Bunting. Cresties were a little more elusive, but the autumn weather was tremendous, with many still sunlit days. We met Charlie Phillips waiting for Dolphins (he has tremendous images on his site), but they weren't showing. There were great views and seascapes though.
I have been travelling with Rob as Marion stayed with her daughter and brand new grand daughter. We travelled from the Black Isle / Loch Fleet over the northern road to the Isle of Skye. Elgol and the Cullins was very special, with a boat ride to Loch Coruisk. We slept early at Elgol in order to be up at first light, but in doing so missed the Northern Lights! Hey Ho. The morning light was very good though and its a classic view.
We travelled through rain to Mull via Fort William and Morvern. Mull was great for Eagles, Otters and Mountain Hare. Another visit or two is required to get those frame filling shots but all were seen, and more landscapes were added to the collection.
Whilst on Mull, I learnt a good friend from the South coast passed away. It was a short illness and not unexpected, but a really sad loss, and too young!
Plans had changed as I received a late booking for another camera club talk (Stirling)which could be accommodated as we moved south . This was very enjoyable, and what a top club doing great work. Thanks again to Graham and Margaret for generous hospitality.
Stopping off in the Lake District was scrapped as I dropped Rob off in Leicestershire and moved down to Dunstable in time for Andy's funeral, which is later in the week in Hampshire.
There are a lot of images to work on, especially with Martin Mere exhibition in just over a week, followed by another in the Oxmarket, Chichester before Christmas. Bulk orders of Christmas cards and calendars might weight he van down, but hopefully will soon sell and fund a trip to the Mediterranean for winter.
'Living the Dream' looks likely to continue into another year...
Scotland..
02nd October 2012
I love the place. Well although I have not been able to trace my ancestry beyond 3 generations back in Glasgow, it feels like coming home. Thanks for the marvellous hospitality from Graham and all at Dunfermline Camera Club. I've posted Firth of Forth on the site, taken from the north shore on a morning venture with Graham.
Then we stayed up on the shores of Loch Rannoch, before moving up to the banks of the Spey. A little exploration of Insh marshes before friend Rob and I arrived at the foot of Cairngorm, Loch Morlich to be precise.
Quite a few landscape images and one of two of birdlife have kept us busy. Yesterday we discovered Cresties (Crested Tits). Today we walked way up in the Cairngorm range, which is a bit of a slog with a 600mm piece of glass on your back, but no Ptarmigan found. We did however stop off on the way down at the mountain outdoor centre, and I discovered a great place for Red Squirrel shots, one of which has now been elevated to the opening shot on this site.
All is very weather dependent, but after meeting a reindeer herdsman we have some good local tips for more Cresties, where to climb next for Ptarmigan (over Cairngorm to the North facing Corries), a possibility of Capercallie, and most challenging is where to have the best chance of spotting Pine Marten. They are around, but trigger flash kit needed which I don't carry. But a viewing would be just great...
Just love Scotland...
End of summer report.
17th September 2012
Well its been a bit hit and miss since we returned from our tandem ride. Pat and John put us up for a couple of nights on our return, and then it was over to Brighton to pick up the van. A short hop along the coast to see the kids came before a great if wet Larmer Tree Festival. Back down to the coast for a little grandchild sitting, and then a week in Dorset seeking a view of the Dartford Warblers. No Warblers but great images of dragonflies. A few more days on the south coast and then up to Eastbridge in Suffolk, which is next to Minsmere. Saw Bitterns again (big ugly brown birds according to Marion. The highlight was the Barn Owl showing really well each evening of our six day stay. This was the first week of the Olympics which really got us and everyone fired up and patriotic in a manner I had never experienced before. We visited friends on our way out of Suffolk via Stanstead and Bedford.
Then off to Leicestershire "looking after mum" (she was looking after herself and had us assisting in her art exhibition). Whilst there we visited friend Kerry in Long Eaton, and took a day out with friend Rob and visited the Bird Fair at Rutland Water. The fair was huge and Park Camera's introduced me to the Canon 1D X. I had no idea I needed a new camera, but the results from this piece of kit were quite staggering. There was a waiting list but they happened to find one "in the van", and I was there the next day with a part exchange involving giving up my lovely 1D mk 1V. So far so good, with great low noise shots on high ISO., and excellent auto focus.
We also hired out the van for 10 days whilst at mum's and got it back with a bit of a hole in the windscreen. It was back South again then to assist Jade and Darren with their house move, and we are well impressed with the size of their drive... a good home for the van and very close to Luton airport.
From Jades place it was back to the south coast again for Marion to do a bit more baby sitting. I managed to spend time at Pagham in West Sussex, and Blashford Lakes in Hampshire. Managed a good view of the Great White Egret and failed to find the Wryneck. Joined Havant Camera Club for another season, and ordered all the prints and mounts ready for the exhibition at Martin Mere in November.
Back up to Jade and Darren's and Jade is going to give birth anytime soon. Took some pleasing images of the band Darren plays drums in yesterday, and about to set off North whilst Marion stays with daughter Jade. Next project is Black and White landscapes / seascapes.
tandem Tour... 3rd week.
10th July 2012
From Arras and its war graves we headed south west back to Normandy, with the intention of heading for rivers and following then to the coast. We passed through Albert, a town with 30,000 inhabitants pre Great War, reduced to 150 post war. The place was rebuilt with aid of people from Birmingham, and the houses are very much like the old terraced houses of the West Midlands. We cycled on to Corbie, picked up camping information from tourist information and stopped by the Somme at Sailly-le-Sec.It was a shorter ride into Amiens the following day along the river / canal. A really pretty ride despite the rain, and then dried out at Amiens camp site, stopping for two days so that we could visit the city. The cathedral and little venice were both really worthwhile.
From Amiens we followed the Somme over 2 days to the coast at Le Treport and down to Criel sur mer. The lumpy bits on the coast were challenging, and a camper van passed us twice, and then we passed it on a downhill. A man appeared over the hedge at the campsite, and recognised Marion. He was the driver of said camper van (named Rudi) and was so friendly that when he had finished walking his dogs, he returned with gifts (wine chocolate and biscuits). He had a bit of a tumble when going down the bank after giving us these gifts, and if you read this Rudi .... Thank you.
We then took a long ride West to Neufchatel, our first stop on the ride as we crossed our original route. The countryside was impressive with long hills, and again we topped 60km/hr as we took a 2km downhill.
Next we headed for Rouen, and then after camping it was downhill to Duclair, who were also setting up for the Tour de France coming through. Duclair was somewhere well worth a visit and the ride that followed down the meanders of the Seine were beautiful, through the fruit route and the cottage route on the south bank of the river. We were going to camp just outside Honfleur, but noticed a camping sign in a village 5km short of the town. We followed the signs with bike loaded with shopping, and about 4km late, all uphill noticed a sign directing us for another 1.5 km uphill. Not happy at this major lump at the end of the ride we found a really old site with showers out of the ark. After showers however, and a couple of beers the heavens opened,and so we stayed in the bar and had just about the best moules/ frites ever. Definitely worth another visit.
Our last day followed as we needed to head back for dental appointments, and so it was off to the ferry at Caen, which we reached mid morning. We hung about until 4pm when it sailed getting in to Portsmouth at 9.45pm. Then following a text or two it was a 10 mile ride to near Fareham where our friends Pat and John kindly put us up for a couple of nights before we left for Brighton and the van.... Nearly 1100 km completed and feeling good.
Tandem Tour... 2nd week.
10th July 2012
Well, 2nd week began with a bang, and plenty of flashes as we fled the tent at 5am for the campsite games room. A storm raged for an hour or so, and on return to the tent at nearly 7am I was tempted to return to bed. Too late though as others began to pack for the ride. We headed north towards Guise, and turned to the west when roads got a little busy. Our journey extended by this detour we ended up near Guise as we followed the rivers north and east, looking for a farm camp site on the local information map. After getting lost and turning back we had decided to head into Guise, when we came across the equestrian farm which hosted a small camp site. It was well hidden with no sign posts but well worth the effort, with great views and good facilities for 6 euros per tent. After this long ride we headed west again with S & L, doing half the distance to Vernand, and then on again the next day to a schedule stop in Bapaume. We were passing through World War 1 battle sites and then on through the cereal growing planes that are familiar as you drive straight through for the ferries. Stopping in Bapaume for lunch did not work out too well, as the food and beer cost a bit, and the camp site marked 3 km up the road did not exist. And so a few phone calls later we headed off North East to the East of Arras, which was an extra 20km with bags full of supermarket shopping - to the next nearest camp site. A good stop it was, and with our friends keen to cycle on to Calais, and a wild weather forecast we decided to say goodbye to S & L and move the tent to a more sheltered spot to sit out the storms. It was a wise decision, as there were howling gales and heavy thunderstorms that followed the next day.
Tandem Tour... 1st week.
09th July 2012
Well we had planned to cycle from Montpellier to England, but events overtook us and we stayed put whilst our friends caught the bike bus down. It was all down to family commitments. So when a couple of weeks later things improved, we drove to Brighton, left the van on Marion's sisters drive, and off we went with fully laden Tandem.
We had to push it up the 1st hill as I couldn't get it in "granny cog", but after that it was cycle all the way.
We caught the ferry to Dieppe and cycled down the Green Route (old railway line - now a cycle path) t camp at Neufchatel-en Bray, which has a supermarket near the site and we were sorted, with 65km on the clock from Brighton.
The next morning was the 1st rain test, and we managed Forges by lunch time. A call into travel information, and we had a map with campsites. We headed East along small roads and attained quite a height in poppy lined cornfields, and made good progress before heading a little north to camp near Conte. The downhill to the town was long and smooth over 2 km, and we topped 60 km/hour (40 mph). Camping by lakes we came across Otters and a Heronry along with varied birdlife. Again a good distance, over 80km.
We then headed East to Montdidier which didn't seem too appealing, so we stopped at the supermarket for evening food before heading to a farm site to the East. A man approached us outside the supermarket to talk about our tour, and when he found out where we were camping invited us to his house at Remaugies. We had a lovely evening with Jean and his son Nils, with good food, wine and talk. Nils had a great knowledge of birdsong which I played from i-pod. The site was quiet and in rolling woodlands, with red squirrels and woodpeckers. As we were ahead of schedule to meet our friends, we stayed two nights. We then headed off to ride into a forest site after a short days ride. It was utterly enchanting but soon rained again, limiting the walks. After this we went to rendevous with our friends cycling north, at a lakeside site near Vailly sur Aisne, which is close to Reims. Two nights here as we were a day early, and Vailly was worth a visit.
Computer vacation
09th June 2012
I shall be away on a cycling trip for the next four weeks, and so will not be able to respond to requests or process orders for images until returning in the 2nd week in July. Please be patient, and I will post images of the trip through France once settled back and re-connected to internet.

Thank you.
6 weeks of rain.
09th May 2012
Arrived back in UK with friend Rob, after being spoilt in Le Teich, Bordeaux with temperatures well up in the high 20's. Marion had departed to see her grandaughter, and Rob had flown out despite missing his plane. The journey back was across the Loir,and Loire valleys and rural Normandy. Le Teich was great for Spoonbills and Black Kites, and Normandy excellent for Hen Harriers (showing what effect game keepers have in England).
Problem was that within 24 hours back in England it snowed! And its been cold and wet ever since.
The wet brings certain problems when living in a vehicle on grass, and we have needed a tractor pull. The exhibition in Chichester ran itself and was profitable which is always nice. Marion got us some space in the Brighton Art Trail, which continues as I blog.
We had planned to head East to Suffolk, to spend a few weeks in premier bird reserves, but life doesn't always follow the plans you make. My 88 year old mothers illness which flared up in February recurred, and so a trip to Lutterworth became the priority. In a bizarre week she was discharged from a Coventry hospital at 5pm and a 999 emergency call at midnight led to an ambulance being called. I was with her in the ambulance which got completely lost on its way to Coventry hospital. With a critically low BP we returned to Lutterworth nearly 40 minutes after the ambulance journey began. We were then whisked into Leicester and straight into resuscitation. I thought ambulance men were supposed to know their way to hospital!
So looking forward to finding some decent weather again (as we were so spoilt in Portugal) and moving forward with the nature photography, as there are a lot of ideas for exhibitions, talks and workshops later in the year.
Latest publication
11th April 2012
Hampshire Ornithological Society have used the image of the Red Flanked Bluetail taken at Sandy Point on Hayling Island for the front cover of the latest Bird Report.
Back in Blighty..
11th April 2012
Well the trip to the south of Europe was splendid. On the way back we called in first at El Rocio, in the Donana national park in S/W Spain, and then had a couple of stops in Exteramurdia and Arcachon basin in France.
El Rocio is really worth a visit, both for nature and the fascinating setting of the town. The streets are all sand and travel is mostly by horse or 4x4. There is a pilgrim association and the church is stunning. The river delta has a nature reserve near the town, with good hides and stunning views of marshes that give close views of Glossy ibis, Purple Heron, Spoonbill, and if lucky Night Heron and Squacco Heron. We took a safari 4x4 ride and came across Wild Boar and Lynx.
Further North towards Salamanca, we got close to many White Storks, the scarce Black Stork, Short toed Eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, and even got a view of Eagle Owl.
In Arcachon at Le Teich, the reserve gave great views of Spoonbill, along with numerous Black Kites, and close views of familiar birds such as Grebe, Snipe and other waders.
All of these sites gave good views from hides, with close views and NO staged images where birds are fed or called.
On return to England, I first had to travel to Leicestershire and Lincolnshire to sort out business and see family. The weather was freezing with a bit of a blizzard... such a shock! Now back to Brighton, before the next exhibition which is in Chichester next week.
The plans ahead include stopping near Minsmere, Suffolk, and then renting out the van whilst we embark on a pretty long bike ride, from Montpellier, France to Lincolnshire. We will be on the Tandem with tent etc .... so there will be a few journal images from the trip.