A tasty lunch in Richmond developed into a five mile walk and an encounter with a few deer. The official viewpoint for the protected line of sight to St Paul’s Cathedral was surprisingly quiet, and basically unsigned, which made for a pleasant surprise.
We had some very welcome visitors for the weekend, so we headed to Chester Zoo for an afternoon of animal fun, followed by a tasty dinner at the Chester Fields. Chester Zoo had been on our radar of visits for a while, and it did not disappoint. Four hours was far from enough time, so we’ll have to go again when we get an excuse.
All photos taken with my 100mm f/2.8 macro lens, which did a great job.
The morning after Cathy and Nick’s wedding, surprisingly hangover-less, we took the scenic route through the North Yorkshire Moors to meet Adam in Hull, and visit The Deep. While the “submarium” branding is a little pointless, and some of the interactive exhibits are showing their age, the collection of fish are impressive and it was an interesting afternoon out.
Many thanks to Ian and Finola for organising a week in the Norfolk Broads to celebrate New Year. Finding a cottage with a free boat within 4 miles of the Woodforde’s was inspired, although you can’t prove that we ever visited the brewery since we managed to drink all 72 pints of the evidence.
New Year’s Eve also gave us a chance to dress up and polish our french accents, as we took part in “The Brie, The Bullet and The Black Cat”. While I won’t spoil the surprises, you can be reassured that no-one was exactly as the seemed… It also gave me a chance to play with my new flashgun, which really made a difference for indoor portraits.
Other highlights included tens of herons, thousands of seagulls and a beachful of mating, pupping and nursing seals (well worth a visit).
Slight oxymoron that one, as Christmas was very busy for us both. Boxing Day saw me blast up the A1 to Huddersfield to meet Sonya’s cousins, catch up with Andy from her lab and meet up with some of her schoolfriends, then it was back to Loddon for another round of dinner parties. We made it to the New Year, when we staggered to a little cottage near Bury St Edmunds to recover before going back to work. I can definitely recommend The Old Manse Barn if you’re looking for a comfortable and well-looked after break.
It’s hardly a secret that I like taking photos of animals. My parents have been carefully feeding the garden birds for several years now, and that makes my life easy. Standing at the back door I managed to take quite a collection of pictures. There are captions for those who need their memories jogged, or who don’t know their great tits from their blue-footed boobies…
Scientific conferences: everyone thinks they’re just glorified booze-ups but more often than not you spend nine or ten hours a day sitting in stuffy rooms in a concrete box located in an industrial complex in the suburbs of a city you would never have visited if you had the choice. Luckily I spent last week in Montpellier, where they have beaches, sunshine and 30C. Yet somehow I still managed to spend nine or ten hours a day being bored, confused or, occasionally, inspired. Now Last week was the Euromat conference, during which I pretended to be a materials scientist and learned about composites, hip replacements, solar cells, railway line degradation and hundreds of talks about carbon nanotubes. This week, I’m doing it all again. Geology replaces materials, but the rain of Switzerland replaces the French sunshine. More on this later, once the freezing cold and shocking prices have properly kicked in.
In the mean time, here are some photos from Montpellier.