Sunday, 31 August 2014

Brougham Hall Door Knocker

A friend of mine has a photo gallery in a (being) restored 14th century Hall with a rather wonderful door knocker.  While the design of this door knocker may be very old, the object itself is rather more modern.

At some time the original door knocker was stolen and sold at auction!

You can find out about the Hall here.

I'm really busy at present - so comments from last week remain unanswered - it's nothing you have done, its more to do with the amount I have to do!  I will try and catch up as soon as possible.

Linking this post to I Heart Macro and Macro Monday 2.  

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A wombat on Friday!

After a bit of a run of post from the UK (which will continue next week!) I thought I'd take a different direction on fridays for a while and post images of Mammals for a while.

If there is any interest in a "Furry Fhings On Friday" sort of link up, I am open to persuasion!

So, this is a Wombat.  The world largest hole dwelling herbivore by some accounts - and a good value animal by all accounts.

This fine beast was on the beach at Wilsons Promontory earlier in the year - you can read more about what else was about during that trip here.

I'd like to say thanks to everyone who hosted Sky Watch Friday - but at present I am a bit short of inspiration for sky shots that are just a little bit different.  I know that keeping a "link up" going takes a bit of work!  And I don't think I have abandoned skies for ever!

Let me know if there is any interest in a Wild Mammal Friday sort of thing!  SM

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Wild Bird Wednesday 111- Bridled Tern

It came as more than a bit of a surprise to find out that there was a Bridled Tern in semi-permanent residence on the Farne Islands - and it came as an even greater surprise when I managed to get some half decent images of the bird.

The Bridled Tern does breed in the area known as the Western Palearctic - but only in the Middle east, and then not in huge numbers.  It also occurs around much of the north coast of Australia.

I have seen reports that suggest that this bird was from a breeding population in the Caribbean, that had become lost (or simply gone the wrong way - taken a wrong tern??) during migration.

Whatever its origin, this bird was well off of its local patch - just like me at the time really!

So this bird - Strena anaethetus (or Onychoprion anaethetus after a name change) - may have recognised a fellow wanderer and come out to see me!  However, it seemed to like hiding behind vegetation when I saw it.  I almost scored some good "in-flight" shots - but they are a little too blurred for public consumption.

I have since found out that this is only about the 40th time this bird has been recorded in the UK - so, its probably my first image of a bit of a mega bird!

So, this unexpected guest was a real bonus bird on the Farne Island trip.

Now (as ever) it's over to you - click away to join in.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014


It will come as no surprise to those of you familiar with this blog that  I tend to spend a good deal of time looking for all kinds of wild animal.

Just to take a bit of a tangent, these are some animals I found in the UK which are not the least bit wild!

These first two are in the Tower of London, and they are a reminder that there was once a large menagerie of animals housed there.  This was a good while ago (thankfully) with many of the animals being gifts from foreign guests to the King or Queen.  I have to say that receiving an elephant as a gift may have been a bit of a bind in the long run!  I have to wonder if it was ever considered polite to re-gift an elephant!

This horse is much further north, on one of the stable walls of Bamburg Castle - its called Silver.  It's called Silver for two reasons - one it was modelled on a horse called Silver (!) and second the its made of glass, and the use of silver in the glass gives it its distinctive colour.  I have to say I rather like it!

You can find more images from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Copper Bottomed

These are some pictures I took while we were looking around the Cutty Sark, in Greenwich.

The Cutty Sark is a ship, and more especially, a Tea Clipper.  She was built for speed; even in the past time was money.  She was one of the fastest of this type of boat ever built, but like some many other things, her record breaking speed was soon overtaken by steamships.

One of the things I liked about the ship was its copper bottom - the underside of the ship was completely covered in copper to prevent rot and damage from marine creatures.  This form of protection worked very well - in fact it became a byword for reliability!  Today, we still talk of things being copper bottomed.

This sign also made me smile - talk about coals to Newcastle!

 You can find more marco type shots at Macro Monday2 and I Heart Macro.  SM

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wild Bird Wednesday 110 - Razorbill

The Razorbill is another auk with more than a passing resemblance to a Penguin - but just as last time this is not the case.

The Razorbill - Alca torda - was not as common on the Farne Islands as either the Puffins or the Guillemots, but in the end I did manage to get good views.  Only about 350 pairs of this bird nest on the Farne Islands - and I suspect that a good number had already left by the time I visited.

I have to say that the dark eye on a dark head was a bit of a challenge photographically!

This is school concert week, so I will make this short and sweet!

PS: Have a look at the new header as well - more Puffins!

Now it's over to you - click away to join in.  Don't forget to visit the other WBW contributors if you get the chance.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Cromer, North Norfolk

Cromer sits on the north coast of Norfolk, looking out to the bleak waters of the North Sea.

It has a beach with strands of wave washed flints, and a fine looking church.

But it also has an atmosphere of mournful emptiness - not the genteel decay of some other British seaside towns that have drifted past their sell by date, but a more tangible feeling of finality.  The town was neat and tidy, but it seemed that nothing was happening - maybe that's the charm some people find in the place, but if that's the case, it passed me by.

There is the distinct possibility that the place was actually shut while I was there, and that nobody had put up the notices on the edge of town to tell me about it.  If the town itself was not shut, then the "award wining" fish and chip shop where we eat a meal should consider it a sensible way to go.

Strangely, I find some of the images I made far more interesting than the time I spent there!

Maybe I was in a bad mood.  Who knows.

The flint beach was the best part of the town.  Each fishing boat the launches off the beach seems to have its own vintage tractor to haul it to and out of the water.  All of the tractors were falling apart in about a million different rusty ways.

I hope you like the pictures, and if you happen to live in Cromer, sorry for the less than glowing review!

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.  SM

Sunday, 17 August 2014


There are a number of things I would like to ask about this phone - but the most obviuous is why does it need the "three" button?

You an find more marco shots at Macro Monday2 and I Heart Macro.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Wild Bird Wednesday 109 - Guillemots

Yet more birds from my trip to the Farne Islands - I did got to other places as well, but this was special.

The Guillemot (or Common Murre in North America) - Uria aalge - is a bird remarkably reminiscent of a penguin. However, they are not really all that closely related with the Guillemots and Penguins being in separate orders.

I assume that the similarity is due to their similar ecology.  Maybe the pale underside acts as camouflage     against the sky when seen from below, and the dark back against the sea when seen from above.

What ever the long evolutionary story that has brought the Guillemot to the Farne Islands it is a wonderful looking birds.

It nest in dense colonies on open cliff face, and it's egg are pointed at one end so that they roll in circles, rather than off the edge of the cliff!

Cliff Edge Gathering
Crop of image above - central bird has a fish, note the chick at top right.
Like most baby birds that chicks of the Guillemot are not as good looking as the adults.

When the birds are in the water they look strangely ungainly, flapping off across the water as they try to start flying.  But even brief glimpses of the bird swimming underwater shows that they can fly in two mediums.

We had a few birds come close to the boat during the tours (yes, I did go twice - I have a tolerant family!), but they were not as cooperative as they may have been.  This is one of the better in the water shots - I like the way you can see the water "beading" off the oily feathers.

Another interesting thing about this bird is that two distinct forms of plumage can bee seen in the birds on the cliffs.  A small number of birds have a white line around the eye, so that when viewed from one side they look like they are wearing a rather dapper monocle!   This is known as the Bridled form of the bird - and this form generally becomes more common in populations of Guillemot as you move north - in the UK this form accounts for between 1 and 5% of the populations.

Well, thats your lot for the Guillemot!

Over to you - click on the link below and off you go.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Trafalgar Square

There are many famous things to be seen in Trafalgar Square in London.

None of them appear in this post!

As every, I looked elsewhere!

Clearly I was not the only one not looking at the famous or the iconic!

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Fallen Maples

These pictures are from the Canadian War Memorial, near Buckingham Palace in London.

The Memorial itself is a downward facing triangle, cut with a walkway trough the middle - the two sides representing the two World Wars.  Water flows down the slopes on both sides

Despite there being very clear signs asking people to stay off the memorial, some families were allowing their children to use the memorial as a play ground - I find this kind of behaviour disappointing.

I loved the way the the memorial had Maple leaves as a clear link to Canada, and I think that the flooding of the water may symbolise time or change.

I just wish that some people would not see the freedoms that people died for in the past  as a reason to behave without consideration in the present.

You can find more close up shots at Macro Monday2 and I Heart Macro.  SM

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Looking Back

The image really needs to be enlarged to see what I am trying to do - so click away!

This picture is looking back towards Bamburg Castle from a boat that has just passed the Inner Farne Islands.

As you can see, its a rather great landscape to be in!

And for those of you how like such things - there is a seal in the picture!

You can find more skies at Sky Watch Friday.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Wild Bird Wednesday 108 - Arctic Terns

Arctic Terns are famous for a number of things - having one of the longest migration of any species and for seeing more daylight that any other species on Earth.

One thing that they should be famous for is their absolute ferocity - for a bird of their size and mass they must be one of the most aggressive species on Earth!  On the Farne Islands, this tendency to fierceness comes to the fore because the birds nest right next to, and sometimes on, the paths around the island - and when camera and binocular draped birders get too close the bird consider the birders fair game!

Even through my well loved canvas bucket hat, it was surprisingly painful when the birds stabbed me on the head!

Under circumstances like this my traditional low key green dress sense seems a little redundant!

On a more serious note, the Arctic Tern - Stena paradisaea - is about 35 cm long, and carries that wonderful combination of black, white, grey and red that make this bird so wonderful to see, and rather difficult to split from Common Tern.  There were terns all over the place on the islands, in in some places you had to step over birds that were protecting their young on the boardwalks and pathways.  Well over 1000 pairs of Arctic Terns nest on these islands - along with smaller number of Common and Sandwich Terns.

Now it's over to you - click the link below and off you go!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Hampstead High Street 2: Rather Expensive

While leaning on the windowsill of out little flat in Hampstead, drinking tea and watching the world go by, I noticed a rather flash looking, bright yellow sports car parked on the other side of the road.  I have a passing interest in such things, so I asked H, my resident expert to identify the vehicle.

With rather less effort than I was expecting H identified it as a McLaren MP4-12C!  On road cost about 1/2 million Australian dollars - which is a great deal of money in any currency!

As he was providing me with this information, an equally bright yellow, but rather less flashy van pulled up behind the sports car.  In large letters on the van was the logo of the Automobile Association - it was an AA van.

For those of you not familiar with this organisation, its a roadside repair and assistance club - in other words the flash car was broken down!  It was too good an opportunity to miss!

I grabbed a camera and went out to take some pictures - the owner of the car took my interest rather well under the circumstances, and told me what the problem was - the car would not go into gear.

I loved the coincidence of the matching colours - and the fact that sports car was being overtaken by a man on a bike!

Then a Ferrari went past, and the situation become even more silly!  While there was no shortage of very new cars on the high street, it was not really packed with super-cars, mobile or not!

Not my usual subject matter - but the whole thing made me laugh.

You can find more images from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Westminster Abbey Chapter House

These pictures were taken in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey.

The inside decoration of these ancient Religious buildings has changed over the years - but the walls of the Chapter House retain their 14th century decoration.  The wall paintings show the Apocalypse and the Last Judgement.

It must have been a happy place for people to visit!

This first group of figures is known as the Doom Group.

You can find more macro shots - and less end of the world - at Macro Monday 2 and I Heart Macro.  SM