Buckingham Palace, London

Now that I’m on leave for Christmas and have wrapped all our presents I have a few more moments to sort through photos from the year, and figured I’d make a gallery of a weekend trip to London I didn’t post about at the time. I was there in April to take my son to Legoland Windsor and do the whole visit-Buckingham-Palace thing, now that he was six. It was my first trip to London in quite a while, too, so I was happy to see the Shard and one or two other new things. Here they are.

23 December 2013

Norn Iron

I first visited Ireland with my parents in 1992, starting in Dublin and driving south and west to Cork, Limerick and Galway. I was back again in 2002 with J., on a weekend trip from Edinburgh to Dublin. On both visits I liked the easy familiarity of the place, with its good-natured people and its villages reminding me of midlands towns in Tasmania. But on the first visit, at least, there was one direction we wouldn’t have dreamt of driving.

The Troubles began eighteen months before I was born, so like any now-forty-something I grew up hearing about them. Throughout the 1980s, stories of hunger strikes, IRA bombings and troops on the streets made Northern Ireland sound like the last place you’d want to visit, at least in the British Isles. So when I visited the British Isles, I didn’t. When I was studying in England in the early nineties I met someone from Derry, who sounded Scottish until I listened more closely, and who didn’t talk about home much. His home seemed to me as exotic and as distant from our university town as mine must have to him, but mine at least was on the other side of the world.

By the time we moved to the UK in 2001, the landscape had changed. The Good Friday agreement drawing a line under the Troubles was three years old, and appeared to have worked. When we were travelling around Britain and Europe during those first few years, we contemplated the short hop to Belfast, by Ryanair or by ferry from Stranraer, but never quite made it. On a trip with my parents around Ayrshire and Galloway in 2008, we looked across to the Antrim coast from the old ferry town of Portpatrick, and thought about it again; it was barely a hop and a skip.

Read More · 21 December 2013

Skua, Shetland

In our early years in Scotland, before the kids came along, we worked our way around the islands, visiting Orkney, Islay, Skye and the Outer Hebrides. But one group of islands always seemed just that bit too far away. Even from Edinburgh, it costs a fortune to travel to Shetland, either by plane or by ferry—as much as it would cost to fly to Canada or Greece. With two extra tickets to buy, it costs even more, and there’s always been more need to put the money towards trips home to visit family. It seemed like one of those trips that would never quite happen.

Read More · 14 November 2013

Shetland Panoramas

My photo-sorting has been gathering pace. I’ve added four more Shetland Panoramas to the first couple posted in August to create a new gallery of windswept scenery. Non-panoramic scenes to come.

29 October 2013

The Long View

I’ve finally started tinkering with the photos from some recent trips, to turn them into galleries and maybe even write a bit about them, if I can get my prose-writing wheels turning again. I’ve added the first fruits to an old gallery of panoramas, starting with the Mountains of Mourne—so, yes, the trips were to Northern Ireland and to Shetland, two places I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to but am very glad I did. [Edit, 29 October: The Shetland panoramas now have their own gallery.] [Further edit, April 2019: The Mountains of Mourne have now been moved as well.]

Which reminds me that I have other unstitched panoramas in my photo archives I should do something with. And sets of photos of whole other trips. And old prints and negatives I should scan. And a list of unwritten blog posts as long as Armagh. Time for another reboot, perhaps.

14 August 2013

I was in Liverpool a week ago with some colleagues for an HEA conference on research methods in the social sciences. A handy place to pick up a free cloth bag with an ESRC logo on it, which may well be the only loot I ever get out of the ESRC.

After all these years of living in Britain, and before them visiting Britain, it was my first time in the city, despite having been a big Beatles fan throughout. From this end of the country it’s out-of-the-way enough that you have to be heading for it rather than passing through, and a pilgrimage to Penny Lane never seemed enough justification for a trip.

Read More · 31 May 2013

Travel in 2012