Monday, 10 July 2017

Northumberland at Large

I've just had a fabulous few days in Northumberland (including Tyne and Wear and Durham to be exact) visiting an old university friend.  He lives just west of Newcastle in Walbottle and whilst he was at work on Friday I took my Mac - have Mac will travel - down to the Tyne and caught up on emails and my MSc.
2017-07-07 Tyne
That evening Simon and I wandered eastwards along the north side of the Tyne ending up in the central waterfront area.  So lovely to be back here.
2017-07-07 Tyne Bridge
Simon has a wonderful old house which is just across the road from the line of Hadrian's Wall and has a benchmark to boot (see bottom left side of the house).
2017-07-10  Simons BM
He is quite high up, well, 77.28 m above MSL to be precise (yes, we looked up the height of the benchmark) and has amazing views as the sun sets.
2017-07-07 Pink sky
On Saturday is was gloriously sunny and we headed towards the coast, staying south of the Tyne.  As we drove around the A1 I spotted the Angel of the North up on the hill.  Simon hadn't realised I'd never seen it up close (it's a new fangled thing for someone who graduated in 1990) so we hopped off to have a look.  It's a fascinating sculpture - I love the 'panelled' style of the metal work.
2017-07-08 Angel of the North .21.48
We returned to the car and headed off towards Seaham.  As we did I pointed out an atheneum type monument on a local hill.  "Let's go there," said Simon.  And so we did.

It turned out to be Penshaw Monument, a folly built in 1844 and reminding me of a similar structure in Edinburgh.
2017-07-08 Penshaws Monument 12.07.02
2017-07-08 Penshaws Monument 12.02.14
As we wandered up I pointed out that it would be a fine location for a trig pillar.  Simon and I did the same surveying degree so he accepts my geo-geekiness with full understanding and empathy.

Anyway, lo and behold, look what we found around the back!  TP5394
2017-07-08 Penshaws Monument 11.54.27
2017-07-08 Penshaws Monument 11.54.10
We eventually made it down to Seaham and enjoyed a scramble around the rocks...
2017-07-08 Seaham 12.44.52
...ending up at Seaham Harbour.
2017-07-08 Seaham 12.57.32
An interesting First World War memorial - erected in 2014 to mark the 100th anniversary of the start.
2017-07-08 Seaham 13.11.20
Simon was playing at a gig that evening so we had to be home for him to turn around and leave again but, with a spare 15 mins, we popped up to the local remains of Hadrian's Wall at Heddon-on-Wall.  Interesting how many buildings locally are built of this stone.  I'm sure after the Romans left the locals dismantled it for their own dwellings.
2017-07-08 Hadrians Wall .22.12
I stayed in on Saturday night and watched/read the amazing book by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild, about Chris McCandless.

Sunday was duller weather wise, but still dry, and this time we headed north.  We started off in Bednell wandering around the harbour enjoying the massive cloud show.
2017-07-09 Bednell 12.51.00
The harbour.
2017-07-09 Bednell 12.52.24
We then drove down to Seahouses.
2017-07-09 Seahouses .25.30
And again ambled out to the harbour.  It contained lots of fishing vessels (both commercial and taking tourists out line fishing), divers with massively thick dry suits for their North Sea forays, and numerous ferries shuttling tourists to/from the Farne Islands.
2017-07-09 Seahouses .48.08
We drove out of Seahouses and stopped near the dunes, hopping over to picnic on the beach.  It wasn't too windy so stayed warm however I was not to be tempted to join Simon for a paddle.
2017-07-09 Picnic .50.55
We probably sat there for over an hour playing 'spot the ferry'.  There were 3 to 4 in action and at any one stage we could see 2 as they chugged and weaved in and out of the islands, which you can see on the horizon in the left of the photo.
2017-07-09 Picnic .51.41
Last stop for the day was Bamburgh Castle.  There was a croquet game in flow on the green and I explained the rules to Simon.  I thought everyone played croquet on their grandparents' lawn as a kid. Turns out he played bowls as a kid and no doubt thought everyone did same too.
2017-07-09 Bamburgh Castle .36.00
We consulted the map before heading back and realised that we really were rather close to Holy Island of Lindisfarne and its causeway.  So being fluid with our timings we continued northwards and parked up to inspect the route.  As we'd surmised, the tide would be in, but it was receding at quite a fair lick.
20Holy Island -07-09 Holy Island .06.28
We calculated it was retreating at roughly 1 white line every 3 minutes so it was quite addictive to watch.  However, as the causeway wasn't due to be drivable for another 2 hours, we decided to head back.
20Holy Island -07-09 Holy Island .06.14
Monday saw me working from Simon's house whilst he was working.  I sat and watched the rain drip down being most grateful for the wonderfully dry weather I'd experienced for my first 3 days.  Simon and I have packed a lot in, not to mention hours of university reminiscing, quaffing wine and whiskey and talking nonsense.    It's been a blast!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Derbyshire Trig

I drove up to Sheffield last weekend to collect my daughter and on the way stopped at Crich to see an old university friend.  Over supper she mentioned that she had a local trig and did I want to go and see it?  I suppose it's a bit like asking a duck if they like water - "sure!"  So once fed we ambled up around the corner from her house and within 10 minutes we were at Crich monument and trig.

First things first, the trig hug (TP2588 for the spotters).
2017-06-16 20.24.53
Both myself and Ruth had a go.
2017-06-16 19.38.21
And then I ambled over to the monument - you can see how close they are from the photo.
2017-06-16 19.41.35 HDR
2017-06-16 19.41.03
I was surprised to note it had a benchmark on it.
2017-06-16 19.40.48
I find it unusual that there is one so close to a trig with its own perfectly formed, and higher order, BM on it.    There must be a reason.  Perhaps the trig building team of the Ordnance Survey got bored over lunch and chiselled the only mark they'd been taught to make?  Like OS graffiti.

Ruth and I then wandered over the hill and gawped at the amazing views.
2017-06-16 20.02.55
Changing the subject somewhat, on our way home I decided to go cross-country from Sheffield rather than the M1, to avoid the traffic and amble across this beautiful county. We went through Matlock - hey cable car! Now that looks fun.
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They are ascending to the Heights of Abraham. I should try that one day.

I had Riona's bike on the roof and was quite taken by the shadows it cast.  It's a very reassuring view when you know you loaded a bike onto the car!
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Dappled shadow on the bridge.
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Sunday, 9 April 2017

Durban - I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

On Friday 10 March, yes just over 12 hours after returning from the road trip, we were off again.  No rest and all that.  Anyway, this time we flew so it was an easier trip - Gautrain to the airport, flight down to Durban and then a hire car.

We headed to Pietermaritzburg to meet clients getting stuck along the way due to motorway accidents.  Witnessed a police car stopping in the middle carriageway (we were only doing 10 kph) to berate a taxi driver who was driving like an idiot (he was actually in between lanes 2 and 3 whilst the policeman ranted at him if that gives you an indication of the taxi driver's road sense).  You never quite know what's going to happen on the roads in Africa.  Although people complain of poor driving in the UK at least most people follow the rules.  Mind you I think that makes us complacent drivers.  In Africa you can never be sure when a pedestrian walking on the hard shoulder is going to cross, or when a taxi will suddenly scoot across a few lanes/stop, or when something is going to fall off the lorry in front.  Undertaking is common place so, in fact, everyone appears to be far more alert as you never quite know what's coming next...

Anyway, back to Durban and a wonderful avenue of trees.
2017-03-11 Durban trees
And a whalebone jetty on the recently developed waterfront at Umhlanga (the 'posh' bit of Durban where all the A list come and stay).
2017-03-11 Durban whale and sea 29
2017-03-11 Durban whale and sea 37
A cycad near Beverly Hills hotel (see above).
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 15.39.20
On the Sunday we met another old client of Martin's on Durban's seafront.  It was teaming.
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 09.33.32
The wind picked up and the waves increased - just what I like.
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 15.53.35
We went back to Umhlanga and saw the lighthouse (nearly as lovable as a trig pillar).
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 15.36.02
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 15.54.25
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 15.56.35
And the big seas forming.
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 15.56.17
2017-03-12 Durban waves    29
Wind in my hair.  Salt in my nostrils.  An ocean in my horizon.  This is what I love.
2017-03-11 Durban whalebone      8

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Back Where I Started - 4500 km Later

Our final drive was a slog from Upington back to Johannesburg.  We fueled up on breakfast fruit.
2017-03-09 Upington breakfast
And said "Merry Christmas!" to Upington which still has its decorations up.  [They're not uber early but late as there is an official banner wishing us all a peaceful end to 2016 and a properous 2017.]
2017-03-09 Upington Christmas
On the road at 0800.
2017-03-09 Upington to Jburg 02.32
It was a long day and even the novelty of road photos wore off.
2017-03-09 Upington to Jburg 50.31
I worked on my MSc and Martin drove, in increasingly busy and heavy traffic as we nearerd Johannesburg, which we hit (not literally) at rush hour which was a bore.  And so, 11 days after we started, our road trip was over.
Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 12.16.58
We covered ~4500 km (of which I gallantly drove a mere 100 km: how embarrassing), more fuel stops than I could count, 10s of cans of coke and bottles of water quaffed, nuts/fruit/vegetables munched, 7 different places stayed in out of 10 (a different one each night excepting for Swakopmund) and marvelled at storms, sand, sunsets and sunrises aplenty.  We met new and old clients, fished for work, caught up on old news, battled wearily with slow internet speeds, read numerous papers on spatial data sets and dreamed big dreams for our company.

I totally crashed that evening.  So whilst the others ate and chatted I slept.  Road trips are great but sometimes it's good to stop!

Seeheim - Upington

We stayed at Seeheim overnight on Tues 07 March at the Seeheim Hotel (the only one in the village).  Martin had stayed here before and last time he'd leapt into the pool to cool down only to be yelled at by the owners to get out of their drinking water!

It's an interesting hamlet steeped in history due to its location at the junction of key railway routes and the Fish River.
2017-03-08 Seeheim Hotel 44
From its development in the late 19th Century by Germans it grew due to trade (helped by a diamond rush) and in the 1940s it was a town with railway station, churches, shops, a school and 3 hotels.  However it declined in the late 50s and now there is just a railway (non-commercial line), a hotel and no shops.  The nearby Keetnamshoop is the main centre for this region.

View from my room.
2017-03-07 Seeheim
The hotel was wonderful and included a parrot which swore.
2017-03-08 Seeheim Hotel 35
And turkeys whose feeder was on the veranda's wall.  They had to jump up to feed which was a surprise during breakfast.
2017-03-08 Seeheim Hotel 30
And we're off.
2017-03-08 Seeheim to Upington 09.24.10
I was very grateful we'd covered 450 km the previous day as today we had just a similar distance plus border crossing.
Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.42.17
This way to South Africa.
2017-03-08 RSA sign
2017-03-08 Leaving Seeheim 08
We arrived in Upington during daylight.  Martin went to the gym and I did some work.  But it seemed foolish not to do this whilst sitting in the pool.

2017-03-08 Upington     2
And so another day sets and more travelling looms ahead.  But that's for tomorrow.
2017-03-08 Upington sunset