Posts Tagged ‘2012’

The amazing cliffs at Hunstanton

April 4, 2015

Hunstanton is in Norfolk. It’s a coastal town almost on ‘The Wash’. We visited in April 2012.

To start with the cliffs are none too special.



But what’s that layer of icing along the top? Just wander on a bit further.


Now that is something special. What wonderfully distinct layers of different deposits.

The notice board can explain.


Some folks like to get an understanding of things whilst others just like to wonder at the beauty. So here’s that cliff again.


I think they are just fantastic – and with the blue sky how very patriotic they are – for many countries.


Hythe Pier Railway

March 30, 2015

Hythe tramway

A couple of days ago I wrote about the Rye and Camber tramway and my dad’s visit to it and commented that it was still possible to be hauled by a loco a bit like the one that hauled him.

Actually, I was way off in my thoughts, for his loco, back in 1930, had been petrol engine whereas the one I was thinking of  is actually electric. It runs along Hythe pier which extends out into Southampton Water from the village of Hythe.


There’s the pier and railway and here’s the loco.


It’s actually quite a small neat little thing and clearly has a substantial train which it will soon propel back to the pier head where it connects with the ferry for Southampton.


The pier railway has been running since 1922.

Piers need repair and this service out to the pier head was carrying some timber to keep the pier in good order. This was on a small truck attached to the train by a long metal pole.


And here it goes (click here to see the train move off).

Photos and video date from October 2012.

Christchurch Harbour

February 4, 2015

I took a look through photos I had thought of using in our 2012 flower show and came upon this one.


It was taken at quite a regular haunt for us. As photographer I was on the headland known as Hengistbury Head. And my view was over Christchurch Harbour. I had this photo marked as a possible for the ‘water’ category in the photography section. I didn’t actually use it. The judge we had at the time was quite formulaic in deciding what made a good photo, using the rule of thirds. If there are any highlights in the photo they certainly aren’t in places which are a third of the way from the top or bottom and also from the edges.

But I like the photo. Conditions were clearly quite bright which helps to ensure a sharp image with a cheap digital camera. There isn’t really anything close up in the view so I’d expect it all to be in sharp focus.

The little land train at bottom right might be said to lead the eye into the picture and it certainly makes for a bright splash of colour.


It looks to have a good load of passengers and luggage as it wends its way from the beach huts on the Mudeford Spit to the car park.


That is the church at Christchurch with luxury waterfront apartments for the rich folks to enjoy.


The forest of masts on the yachts. I suppose they get used sometimes. Dinghies were out on the water enjoying a bit of a breeze.


And I rather like a couple of walkers out on the salt flats.


My imagination can run riot on these black cloaked characters. Are they monks or maybe witches? Most probably they are enthusiastic birders, of course.


November 12, 2014

Back in 1973 I was given a book called Facets of the English Scene. It featured text and photos by a chap called Garry Hogg and it showed quirky items and places. They obviously appealed to Mr Hogg and they also appealed to me. One of the photos was this one.


This shows a bit of wall supporting the churchyard at a village called Great Wishford. It has plaques set in it which show the price of a gallon of bread at different times since 1800. Back then it was the time of the Napoleonic wars and it seems Wishford people felt the price of bread was too high. Certainly it was only a quarter of the 1800 price in 1904.

Great Wishford wasn’t far from where we lived and in 1974 we went to see the stones for ourselves. By then a new one had been added since Garry took his photo.


Stones continue to get added and my most recent photo was in 2012.


It records up to the year 2000 when bread was priced at £3.72 per gallon – that’s 83p for a large loaf. It’s probably time for another stone soon.

For anyone who wants to find this pretty village, it is close to the A36 and the River Wylie between Salisbury and Warminster. If you catch the service 2 bus from Devizes to Salisbury you’ll probably go through the village.

Mudeford Spit

December 1, 2013

I don’t know the proper name for the spit of land that reaches north from Hengistbury Head near Christchurch. I call it the Mudeford Spit, yet if you wanted to walk to Mudeford you’d have a long, long walk right round Christchurch Harbour.

Christchurch Harbour is a natural (ish) inland flooded area. The Hampshire River Avon flows down from Salisbury and out to the open sea via Christchurch Harbour. It is not a harbour in the sense of big ships.

The spit, about half a kilometre long, almost closes the harbour off from the sea, but a narrow exit for the river remains and separates the spit from Mudeford. This spit, facing the sea one way and the more peaceful waters of the harbour the other way, is the venue for beach huts.

Now by all the way I was brought up I should despise and dislike this spit. These beach huts are expensive items at about £100000 pounds to purchase. They are clearly the playthings of the rich. And the owners gather en masse. Not for them the quiet and introverted life of the marine biologist. This is a place for parties and fun. I should dislike it, but I don’t. I find it a fascinating place. Well actually, there is wild life a plenty to see but of course it is also a good place for people watching as well.


This is a February 2012 view from the slope up to Hengistbury Head. Christchurch Harbour is on the left and a bit of sea can be seen on the right. The spit reaches out ahead of us with its lines of beach huts. Beach huts give people the chance to use jolly paints. A seaside blue often dominates.


And why not have a punning name on the hut.


But in amongst the huts there is a wealth of wildlife – some of it well accustomed to humans and more than willing to beg for a share of the picnic food.


Yes, a starling and aren’t they just beautiful. That was in November 2008.


Of course, there are all sorts of gulls – here’s a line up on the harbour side.


Nearby there were oystercatchers.


There’s nothing uncommon there – but that doesn’t matter hugely to me. Wildlife that I see as beautiful is beautiful whether it is common or not.

But the views are wonderful too – particularly if you climb up onto Hengistbury Head. Footpaths and stairways make this easy.


Across the water there is the western end of the Isle of Wight.


Yes, there are ‘The Needles’ and the funny squat light house. The coloured sands of Alum Bay are in the shade.

It’s probably time for another visit to that area.

Not the only happy nerd in the world

November 23, 2013

From time to time I get to visit my pal Nick up in Norfolk. I have known him since we were at junior school so he is a very old friend. He’s very different from me, but he has nerdy tendencies and one of these was in evidence when we paid a quick visit last year.


On the table, there was Nick’s wind up gramophone, complete with record. He also had a book of HMV records so he could date his record. There are obviously other records there in a case. I spot a Broadcast 12 in the sleeve – a cheap record which used narrower grooves so a 10 inch record could play as much as a normal 12 inch one, albeit at a slightly reduced volume. A toolkit is there as well so maybe Nick had needed to do some running repairs on his gramophone. I believe it is a Columbia portable.


The record is from the dance band era being a performance of ‘Loving you the way I do’, a fox trot, by Ambrose and his Orchestra. It dates from 1931.

Nick and his wife provide a real home from home for us. Like me, he seems such a happy nerd.

The arrival of the Egret

July 19, 2013

This nerd likes birds – but certainly isn’t a twitcher. This post is about a UK incomer species.

The little egret has become a very common water bird in the south of England.  That’s an amazing statement for a bird which first appeared in any significant way in 1989 and first settled and bred in this country in 1996.

The little egret is a pretty bird in the heron family. It has big cousins and they, too, have put appearances in on this side of the English Channel. But it is the little egret that has invaded the south and, seemingly, conquered it. I wouldn’t expect not to see egrets on significant waterways.

Let’s see a picture or two.


This – not a brilliant photo – was taken from my own home in my own village in Wiltshire. This was in February 2010 and the waterway the bird is surveying is a very small stream.

In 2012 we were awaiting a train at Looe in Cornwall


Across the estuary we could see a dozen or so egrets. I think we have eleven of them in that photo.

This year, in Kingsbridge in Devon there seemed to be an egret that had got used to close proximity with people. As the tide dropped at the head of the estuary we could watch it wiggling its feet in the underwater mud which, I assume, helped bring tasty morsels into view.


The expanding range of this bird is a sure sign that, despite some lousy weather at times, global warming is a reality.


The Looe Line

May 28, 2013

Looe is a small fishing harbour and town on the south coast of East Cornwall. It’s a pretty place with the Looe River running through it. Like many a Cornish seaside place, parking can be a problem, but Looe has an advantage. It has a branch railway still running. And a fascinating line it is too.

It starts at Liskeard which is also on the main railway from London to Penzance.


There’s a lovely GWR signal box and the signal man when we were there was very chatty. There is even a super lower quadrant signal.

Now oddly, for Looe is south of Liskeard, the line starts at a terminus platform and the way out is northeast.



There’s the single carriage train arriving from Looe.

We boarded the train for it was going back to Looe. This is a remarkable bit of railway. Within a couple of miles we have gone hugely downhill, passing under the main line which strides across us on a lofty viaduct. To do this we have changed direction on a tight curve. We left Liskeard heading northeast but we are travelling southwest when we go under the viaduct.  We continue to work down and around. By the time we stop at the little station at Coombe we are heading almost due north. We have travelled over two miles but are only about half a mile from Liskeard station.

Near Coombe we have joined a much older railway – one originally built to carry mineral traffic from the Cornish hills to the harbour at Looe. That happened at Coombe Junction.


But we, at Coombe station, are heading away from Looe which is down the right hand railway, whilst the line to Liskeard veers off to the left. Our driver must go to the cab at the other end of the train for the rest of the journey.

And there, in the distance, is unlikely Coombe Station. It is nowhere in particular, really.


We now really begin our journey to Looe, travelling down the East Looe River – a pretty journey.

Looe is a great place for egrets – the incomer birds that seem to have now colonised our country.


For our return, later in the day we took a riverside seat in the train. Trains, these days, are air conditioned. You can’t open windows so photography is harder. But here’s a typical view of the river.


And so, back to Liskeard, with the same performance at Coombe, but in reverse, of course.


It must be lucky that this odd little line survived. It is good to see that there are some steam specials on the line as well as the simple little diesel railcar. It’s a lovely trip whatever the train – a journey of less than 9 miles in total. We made the journey on September 27th 2012.

Solent Sunset

May 25, 2013

One of life’s pleasures is going to the Isle of Wight. From where we live it is not that far to drive to Lymington. Usually, we leave the car there and have a day on the Isle of Wight without our own vehicle. We have legs and can walk and we are also of the bus pass generation so we can travel on the island’s bus network (and very good it is) for free.

We visited on 10th October 2012 and our return home, across the Solent from Yarmouth, was as the sun went down.


Now a happy nerd can admire beauty. Sunsets can do it for this one and here we see the see and the sky and Hurst Castle which is on a long spit of land that stretches out across the Solent from the mainland of England.


Fantastic. I do not regard myself as a special photographer but sometimes you are in the right place at the right time.

Old signs

May 20, 2013

I commented recently on my liking of cast iron signs. Well of course, it doesn’t matter if they are cast iron or not really. I can just like old signs – and here’s a road one.


From memory, this was on the Isle of Anglesey. I took the photo in the early 1970s. This is in black and white so I’d have used an Agfa rangefinder camera and, almost certainly Ilford FP4 film. I processed black and white myself.

These days signs like this are ‘international’ in style. That means words are not used. Simple cartoon like images represent the hazard, instruction or advice. But this one has the best of both worlds. The picture of a double decker bus having to be in the middle of the road under the bridge is clear. And so, too, are the words.

No doubt much money has been spent replacing old signs with new, to meet some ruling laid down by our lords and masters in government (now surely that should read ‘our servants in government’.).

But some have slipped through, and occasionally you can come across what looks like an old sign still in situ, by the side of the road and still doing the job for which it was intended.


This one is in Ramsbury in Wiltshire and uses the dashed black and white area to mean the routes lead to the A419. It was photographed in 2012.