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  • Day6

    The Journeys End

    March 4, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 4 °C

    Then all of a sudden it's all over.

    I had a really good flight back and most of the way I chatted with a couple who'd come to find the Northern Lights but hadn't been lucky but they had thoroughly enjoyed their time in Tromsø. Back at Gatwick I stopped at Costa to get a bite to eat and (you guessed it) a coffee then a taxi took me to my B&B accommodation for the night.

    This trip has been amazing. It's the first time I've travelled on my own and not ended up bored and fed up at some point. I have loved every single second of this and have been so lucky to see the things I've seen and done the things I've done. If you've followed me throughout the trip then I hope you've enjoyed the journey with me and thank you for sticking with it and for contributing if you have done so. For photography it was the first part of this trip that shone and I know I've potentially got some great photographs from those days. All of it was brilliant though, which is why it all went too quickly, so maybe another return trip to Norway is needed at some point.
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  • Day1

    Gatwick Airport

    February 27, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    After a lovely meal out with Penny last night the day started with my friend Liz collecting me from the B&B and then catching up over coffee. Liz then dropped me off at the airport in good time to catch my flight.

    Check-in almost went smoothly and was only interrupted when the motor on the baggage conveyor seized leaving my suitcase neither here nor there, but somewhere in between. After a while the bag was retrieved and checked-in at another desk. Phew! The tripod was in there and also other photographic accessories so it'd be bad if the case didn't make it. Oh, and some clothes and other things were in there of course!

    The flight left exactly on time and is now somewhere over the North Sea - not in Britain nor in Norway. Just somewhere in between.

    The plane has wi-fi too, hence why this footprint is posted from a great height.
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  • Day0

    Travelling to Gatwick

    February 26, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

    So this is it - a return trip to Norway flying from Gatwick to Tromsø to begin a photography adventure well inside the Arctic Circle.

    The journey begins, however, with a drive down to Gatwick and an overnight stay in a B&B in Horley. I stayed here in December when the focus was on surprising my daughter, Penny, with a trip to see the Aurora, sight whales, ride a dog sled and more. That was a truly amazing trip but the focus this time is photography. All the gear is packed - and within the weight limits - so tomorrow it's to the airport when the trip officially begins.

    I arrived in Horley just as the sun was setting. There'd been clear blue skies all day and at one point when travelling down the M40 the car reported 21c ... in February, in Britain. It must surely be a dream. The sun was setting low over the airport buildings, offering a really atmospheric view driving along the dual carriageway towards my destination. It was worthy of a first photo but no opportunities to capture one, not whilst driving.

    Tromsø isn't quite so warm of course. Guess it'll come as a bit if a shock!
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  • Day14

    That was Scotland 2018

    August 30, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    That’s it then - the end of the Scotland 2018 adventure and it was as predicted with plenty of falling water from the skies and all those pesky midges of course.

    It’s never possible to predict how a trip will pan out and this one has been no exception. The weather has at times been disappointing with heavy low cloud making it hard for Rob to capture the images he was hoping for. This doesn’t make the trip a disaster or failure, it simply means the images he took were not as expected. It would have been brilliant to have better or more dramatic lighting but you get what you’re given.

    Lessons can always be learned and the main one is not to go to Skye in August. It’s simply overrun with tourists and there were a couple of occasions, particularly at the Fairy Pools, which were impossible for photography simply because too many people were there. August is not so good for midges either, but Rob was prepared for that and the measures he took were effective ... Avon Skin So Soft does work. The camping experience worked extremely well too (Rob will be doing this again) and managing power, charging the phone and camera batteries etc etc, away from mains electricity worked to perfection. Though Rob felt he stalled a few times, unsure what to do due to weather constraints and plans needing to be changed, overall it was a great trip. He felt some time was wasted but it was a holiday as well and there’s no crime in taking time out to reflect or simply to enjoy the landscape you become part of and there were many moments to be treasured.

    In terms of photography, the aim was to return with about a dozen photographs to be proud of which amounts to around one for each day of the trip. All being well, when Rob has had time to view his photos on the computer, that aim will be met.

    The photographs in this footprint are from Rob’s Canon camera and have been processed on the computer after he got home. The first is one of the photos taken of Dunstanburgh castle and this one is in focus even though it may not look pin-sharp once it’s uploaded to this blog. It was taken a little earlier than the one you’ve seen already when there was more light on the headland and castle ruins. It’s basically the same shot though.

    The second photo was taken on Skye just across the road from the campsite. It’s was almost dark when Rob took this and that’s the feeling he’s tried to capture. The moon hangs low over the Cuillins, casting its reflections into the river as the last rays of daylight fade away and the land becomes bathed in a gentle blue light. Soon the night will take the last of the colour from the landscape and the moment will be gone.

    ————————————————-

    I hope everyone who’s been following this trip has enjoyed the journey with me and that the photos I’ve posted and the diary I’ve written have been interesting as well as amusing in places, for that was my intention. Thanks in particular to Richard Valsler who has meticulously commented on the daily posts (you need a medal) but it is difficult to tell if anyone is following along even though I know there’s been a fair number of you. Thank you.

    Someone asked why I do this. I started the FindPengins blogs with my friend Tony during the first trip to Iceland in 2016 and really enjoyed ending the day reflecting on what had been done and also using my phone to capture the journey along the way. I enjoy it because it makes me appreciate more what I’ve been doing and the places I’ve been, and I enjoy it in the hope I will bring something of interest to other people’s lives as well.

    So thanks again to everyone who’ve made it this far .... there will undoubtedly be another trip soon.

    I wonder where it’ll be. Rob
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  • Day13

    The Final Photo Shoot

    August 29, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    It seemed fitting that the final photo opportunity of the trip might be to catch a sunrise from Whitby pier. The weather forecast wasn’t hugely promising, as seemed to be the case for the entire two weeks, but there was a slight chance the cloud may lift around the time of the sunrise at 6.02am.

    Rob set the alarm and was leaving Goathland, having woken himself up with a coffee, at 4.35am so he could park the car and get to the pier for around 5am. It was still dark when he arrived but it is a pleasant time of the morning. It was dry and there were just a few people going about their business and all, without exception, said ‘Good morning’ as they passed. Rob chose his location and set up the camera and tripod then waited in the hope the right light would appear.

    At 5.30 fishermen started to arrive to try their luck from the end of the pier and everyone wished everyone else success with catching fish or capturing a sunrise. Fishing is way more successful it seems because the light never came and the clouds never parted but Rob still took photos and was hopeful he’d get a nice black & white image from the ones he took. Once again, Rob found it very calming being there with his camera whilst enjoying the ambience around him, but at 6.15 it was clear there was to be no spectacular sunrise and Rob packed his gear to leave. The fishermen had been busy though and one of them showed Rob the three good sized mackerel he’d caught, which was impressive for such a relatively short time.

    As Rob walked down the pier he met a fellow photographer who’d tried his luck as well. They chatted for ages about photography, photographic clubs, competition judges and compared cameras etc. That’s all pretty boring stuff for the average human but in those early hours there were two people exchanging thoughts and ideas and enjoying the moment. It was a lovely way to end that last photo shoot and who’d think that taking your camera for a walk was a worthwhile pastime ... and there’s no need for small plastic bags and a pooper scooper either.
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  • Day12

    Whitby Abbey

    August 28, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    There are 199 steps that take you from the town up to the headland where the ruins of Whitby Abbey stand next to St Mary’s a Church where Dracula is supposed to be buried. Dracula is a work of fiction of course but it doesn’t stop everyone searching the graveyard to find his grave. This can take a very long time because not only are there loads of gravestones, but many of them are seriously weathered so it’s difficult or impossible to read who lies there, but there is a grave near the entrance to the cemetery which you can see in the fourth photo of this footprint. It has a skull and crossbones on it and some believe this is where Dracula lies. Others believe it’s the grave of a pirate and others still think the symbol is simply the trademark of one of the stone masons of the time. Which is correct? You must decide.

    Surprisingly there weren’t so many people around here but that may be because it was quite late in the day. There was an ice cream van next to the entrance to the Abbey and Rob just couldn’t resist the opportunity for a ‘99’. The red sauce included isn’t the usual stuff you get elsewhere because here you get asked if you’d like Dracula’s blood on your cone. The answer has to be ‘Yes’ of course.

    The rest of the evening was spent in Whitby culminating with an Indian meal then back to a Goathland. Tomorrow would be an early start and Rob had already sussed out the car park charges in readiness - free until 9am.
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  • Day12

    The Boat Leaves in Two Minutes

    August 28, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    There were no plans for the rest of the day other than to spend some time in Whitby. It was a very long time since Rob had been there so he was looking forward to seeing it again. The cafe was somewhere in the upper part of the town so to get to the harbour there was a maze of tiny streets and passageways to explore then, all of a sudden, you pop out at harbour level to merge with a sea of people walking in all directions. It was holiday weekend of course and the weather quite reasonable so the tourist areas of the town were very busy indeed. What happened next came as a bit of an unplanned surprise because as Rob and his friend were walking along the harbour they were attracted to a twenty minute boat ride for only £3 and this seemed quite a bargain. They paid their passage and stepped aboard and Rob immediately started talking like a pirate and walking with a limp, which of course is compulsory when boarding any sea faring vessel. It was strange though, not Rob limping and talking like a pirate, because he simply couldn’t find a main brace to splice but he wasn’t going to let a little thing like that spoil the adventure.

    Twenty minutes later, and as advertised, the boat arrived back having left the harbour, sailed around a buoy and travelled back from hence it came. It was a pleasant enough trip in very calm seas and gave a great view back to the harbour and immediate coastline. Whitby Abbey really dominates the skyline and it was easy to see why it’s such an iconic feature of the area. Rob didn’t see a whale though, other than a few sitting on the boat who’d clearly consumed rather too many portions of Whitby fish ‘n chips.
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  • Day12

    Walking to Whitby

    August 28, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    After a relaxed start it was time to go walking so boots were fitted and a small bag packed with a waterproof jacket and a blackcurrant Ribena in case of emergency ... other blackcurrant flavoured drinks are available of course! The weather forecast was good so there was no need to take much.

    The first photo in this footprint is at Sleights and is of the fish ladder there. This is an intriguing place, as one stands on what appears to be the over-engineered and substantial foot bridge, where there was absolutely no sign of a fish, salmon or otherwise, and a notable lack of anything which can even remotely be called a ladder. At least at the Damn and Fish Ladder at Pitlochry (apologies for the bad language there) there were some concrete things, but here it appeared to only be a few random stones. It was a peaceful and pleasant enough scene however, not far from a railway crossing, and would be really interesting in the salmon fish ladder climbing season.

    The walk continued over styles and through gates with a goodly amount of chatting, interspersed with sections of ‘putting the world to rights’ and a sprinkling of ‘If I was a Prime Minister ...’ which, of course, is complete nonsense because the world doesn’t work as easily as everyone thinks it does. It especially doesn’t work the way a Trump thinks it does, but enough said about all that.

    Soon the first sighting of Whitby Abbey came into view then shortly afterwards, preceded by the distant sound of a whistle, one of the steam trains passed through which was a splendid sight with the steam puffing upwards, the drivers giving a wave and the passengers just sitting there giving no response. Clearly this train was the Old Grumps Express or maybe it was just too tedious having to respond to every Tom, Dick and Harriot who wave at the train like idiots.

    Finally, having been unsure at one point if it was the right or left path, the intrepid walkers arrived in Whitby where the first priority was to find a really nice cafe for coffee and cake. That mission was easily accomplished and it really was a lovely cafe even though Rob had no idea where it was. Definitely Whitby somewhere, he was certain of that!
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  • Day12

    Harry Potter at Goathland

    August 28, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Bamburgh castle was one of the locations used in the Harry Potter films and so too was the railway station at Goathland in North Yorkshire, which is where Rob’s friends live ... in Goathland that is, not at the railway station.

    The journey down was quite straightforward other than a massive delay due to roadworks at one point though there was no-one working of course, as it was a Bank Holiday, but everyone had to suffer all the same. Goathland was packed with tourists as Rob arrived and although it may be nice to think everyone was there waiting for him to arrive (he can clearly be quite deluded at times) they were there to see the station, ride the steam train or visit the locations in the village which were used in the TV series ‘Heartbeat’, which is not a programme Rob watched so it was difficult to see what all the fuss was about. They all looked happy though.

    After coffee and home-made cake they went for a walk around the area, including visiting the station of course, then came home for the evening. Tomorrow there is more walking planned ending in Whitby. Should be good.
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  • Day10

    St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay

    August 26, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    There was one location in Whitley Bay Rob had in mind for a photo opportunity: St Mary’s Lighthouse. It’s built on a small island just offshore (yes, if it wasn’t offshore it wouldn’t be an island) and is connected by a road which gets submerged at high tide (yes, that’s a causeway ... stop trying to be clever!) When Rob arrived the tide was on the way out and there was a gathering of people standing there waiting for the waters to subside, which they did after around 20 minutes or so. Amazingly, the rain stopped too so Rob had a bit of a scout around looking for a suitable composition then went and got the camera gear from the car. The conditions were nowhere near ideal but as this may well be the last photo opportunity of the trip, it had to be done. No photos were taken though.

    Just as Rob was setting up and thinking it probably wasn’t going to be all that rewarding, a local man arrived and started to chat. He had his two dogs and his Nikon camera, just in case, and he agreed the lighting was somewhat boring. They chatted for quite a while about photography and the local area and about how he’s always up at 5am and loves taking his dogs and camera for walk in those early hours. At this point Rob wished he was a morning person!

    Afterwards, Rob packed up and left and had driven about four miles back towards where he was staying when the light suddenly changed. It was 20 minutes to sunset so he quickly turned around and headed back to the lighthouse but by the time he got there the light had changed again. He grabbed the camera and tripod in any case just to see what he could get and by now it was a pleasant evening so why not? Once again it was almost dark when he left but hopefully he got a result ... it won’t be the best photo in the world, probably not even a keeper but once again it was great being there as the light faded. There is just something about photography that relaxes the mind and all your worries and concerns evaporate away as you concentrate on the moment. Rob was so pleased the day ended like this.

    Tomorrow he goes to North Yorkshire to stay with his friends for a couple of nights and on Tuesday maybe a day out walking. He’ll have his phone with him of course but maybe not the camera, though he might, so there may yet be another instalment before this trip draws to a close.
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