With hours left to go in the day, month, year and decade, there’s no time to wrap up the many other aspects of the year or indeed decade that I might have covered, so it’s one last post in this format before everything changes in 2020.
In the early days of Detail, I used to experiment with galleries of different sizes, not all of them travel-related. Here’s one like those, featuring a single page of photos of suburban Melbourne mailboxes taken on a Canon Ixus in 2001.
Ending the year with galleries of my travel photos from the 1980s is timely, as this year my sidebar images have featured paintings that have held meaning for me throughout my life, many of which I first saw on those trips. There are others that would have qualified, but I couldn’t always find high-resolution images to get the best results for the sidebar excerpts. Still, I managed to find most of the main candidates.
Here’s a gallery of the relevant paintings, along with some notes about when and where I first saw them.
The late 1980s were my undergraduate years at the University of Tasmania, so apart from some short trips in 1988 and 1989 to the mainland and to Fiji, I spent them close to home. As home in those days was the Huon Valley, my main photographic opportunities involved rural domesticity and Tasmania’s southern forests, parts of which I had been visiting all my life.
In late January 1986 my family drove from the south of France into northern Italy, continuing our grand tour of Western Europe. After skirting Genoa we drove south to Pisa, stopping to take a unique, never-to-be-repeated photo of the leaning tower, and then carried on to Florence, where I fell in love with Botticelli and Michelangelo at the Uffizi, and learned from a newspaper stand that the space shuttle Challenger had just exploded on take-off.
At the end of our month in Britain in 1985–86, my family and I boarded a ferry from Plymouth to Santander and drove off it into the wintry sunshine of Spain, for two weeks of exploring my first non-English-speaking European country. Heading south to Burgos, we followed a route from there to Cuellar, Coca, Turegano, Segovia, San Ildefonso, Madrid, Toledo, Belmonte, Cuenca, Teruel, Tarragona, Barcelona and Cadaques. I was bowled over by the country’s enormous, sumptuous cathedrals, and by the many immaculate castles dotting its barren landscape. I fell in love with El Greco in Toledo, Velázquez and Goya in Madrid, and Gaudí and Miró in Barcelona, and took numerous photos of castles, Roman ruins, dusty towns and dazzling architecture. The best are on show in part two of the Grand Tour: Spain and the South of France 1986.
I’m not having much luck with web hosts this year. Since moving the site onto a new provider in February when my old one closed, I’ve had to deal with outgoing email not working with my home ISP and mobile, changes to PHP functionality, and—in the past couple of days—a sudden switch on their servers from MySQL to MariaDB, which has broken the aging open-source version of Movable Type that runs this blog:
install_driver(mysql) failed: Attempt to reload DBD/mysql.pm aborted. Compilation failed in require
Now I’m faced with either moving to a new host and going through all of it again, paying US$499 a year for the latest version of Movable Type (eep), or moving the blog onto WordPress, which doesn’t easily support multiple blogs on a single site. I might be able to switch to multisite WordPress and set up subdomains for different blogs (which for the archives will mean getting to grips with URL-rewriting in htaccess), but it’s a hassle I didn’t need when all I wanted was to post a couple of new entries. For now I’ll add them by hand, like I have with this one.
Five years ago I bought a scanner capable of scanning 35mm negatives, and started working through my oldest rolls of film. It takes a while, and once I paused I didn’t come back to them for years, as we had started travelling again and my digital photos were mounting up. Recently I went back to them, though, and kept working my way through the 1980s, beginning with my first trip to Europe with my family in the winter of 1985–86, after our time in Japan.
When I posted my backlog of Switzerland photos earlier in the year, I mentioned that we had another Swiss trip planned. Last weekend we were in Basel for a few days, and this time I’ve turned the photos around in record time.
After eleven new galleries at Detail, and additions to a few more, I’ve finally finished with the photos from our summer (winter) holiday in Australia. The last pieces of the puzzle were the photos from the flights themselves, where I sat in the window seats so that the kids could take turns in the aisle. They provided a dozen-ish additions to Window Seat, which you can find at the end of that gallery, or by jumping to the first additional photo and clicking through the rest. They needed a bit of cropping and balancing, especially the ones from Dubai to cut through the dust and smog, but include the best aerial shots I’ve ever taken of Canberra and a great string of images from the approach to Hobart, which on a good day is one of the most beautiful landings in the world.
Earlier in the year I made a series of new galleries of the Tasman peninsula for Detail, catching up on a four-year backlog and five trips out there to see my folks. A year after my last visit, I was out there again in July and August with the kids, and this time took them to the most significant tourist attraction on the peninsula, indeed in the entire state: the convict settlement of Port Arthur.
Camping trips were a regular feature of my childhood, our family bundling into the Landy to drive all day to a distant site by some deserted Tasmanian beach. My first memories are of camping, and my first photographs feature camping trips to Tasmania’s northeast and far south. But the place I associate most with those endless summers is the West Coast.
In the second week of our recent trip to Oz we headed in my father-in-law’s campervan to the South Coast of New South Wales, staying for a few nights in Hutchisson on Jervis Bay. I’d been out to the coast a few times when living in Canberra, but mainly to the stretch between Batemans Bay and Narooma. Another time I visited Kiama, and at one point passed through Eden and Merimbula on my way up from Victoria before turning inland. Never Jervis Bay.
After Singapore I was in Sydney again in July, visiting family with the kids, where I photographed its iconic sights—the Harbour Bridge (crossing it on foot for the first time), the Opera House—as well as some lesser-known ones, like Tarban Creek and Chinamans Beach. We also spent a day up in Gosford at the Australian Reptile Park, taking lots of photos of Aussie fauna. I was going to tack these onto the end of the gallery I posted earlier in the year, but there were enough for a whole new one.
On our trip back to Australia to visit family in July we stopped for a day in Singapore, a city I’ve visited five or six times over the years, first when my brother lived there in the 1990s, and later when my brother-in-law lived there in the 2000s. Add in some additional stops at Changi Airport for a quick curry or bowl of noodles between long-haul flights, and I must have set foot on the island eight or nine times.
While Brexit wreaks havoc on Parliament, its opponents in Parliament Square are drawing inspiration from protesters on the other side of the world, as Hongkongers take to the streets to resist the erosion of their rights by the city’s Beijing-supported administration. Their example drew me back to my photos of a couple of days we spent in Hong Kong on our way to Australia in June 2015, which has yielded another gallery for Detail (and also provided a couple more panoramas).
My summer (winter) holiday photos have borne their first fruits in the form of dozens of new panoramas of Singapore and Australia. Some I’ve added to earlier galleries, either because those were a bit slim or there were only a few relevant new ones. All of the locations featured here will feature in regular galleries eventually.
I had an email from a visitor to the site last week, complimenting my Scottish Sand photos of North Berwick (thanks!) and wondering if I’d ever taken any of Rosslyn Chapel. I saw the chapel a few times between 2005 and 2011, but haven’t been back since, and hadn’t done much with my photos of it. Still, it was a good prompt to go back over them, the first of which were taken on a 2-megapixel Canon IXUS and the rest on a 5-megapixel Lumix. Between them I had decent coverage of the interior and exterior of the chapel, including its roof, which at the time was accessible using the scaffolding in place during its repair. I haven’t got any exterior photos without that scaffolding, so I’ll have to go back to get some, but in the meantime here’s a collection of the best of them.
I was away for a month over the summer, which meant nothing new appearing here, although the trip will yield some more photo galleries eventually. It also meant that a server issue that arose just before I left went unrepaired for weeks. My webhost did something to how it handled Server-Side Includes which meant that any included PHP-driven segments on my pages broke, which affected the category archives on this blog. I couldn’t get to the bottom of it with them, so rather than convert all of my blog pages to PHP and use PHP Includes to achieve the same effect, I tweaked the templates a bit and changed the functionality of some of the archive links. It should all be looking normal now, if slightly different.
It’s over five years since the last collection of Scottish castles at Detail, so here are six more, represented in collages compiled from trips over the past few years to Galloway, Glasgow, East Lothian and Perthshire. This gallery brings me up to date with my photos at long last, apart from the unscanned 35mm negatives, although some travel I’ve got planned for the rest of this year will no doubt bring some more.
At the beginning or end of half of the sets of travel photos collected in Detail are a handful of photos from the air, either of countries I’ve visited or places I’ve flown over. Window Seat gathers together over thirty years’ worth, taken first on 35mm film and then on a succession of digital cameras, and in one case on a phone. I haven’t recorded every flight, and some of my most memorable views from the air, like the snaking Thames after dark or the islands of the Pacific, are missing, but there’s enough here to evoke a lifetime’s travel.
Looking back at these now leaves me with some feelings of environmental guilt, and one day when air travel is again out of reach I’ll no doubt look back with nostalgia... but in the meantime, come fly with me.
Last year I finally started doing justice to a large backlog of photographs intended for Detail, chipping away at sorting, resizing and arranging them into galleries. I’m now near the end of that process, with only a couple more to go. Here are some featuring my everyday surrounds, with photos taken in and around Edinburgh.
The next batch of galleries at Detail looks closer to home, recording trips to the west of Scotland going back over a decade. It’s a beautiful part of the country, with plenty of out-of-the-way places little-known to tourists.
One of the most significant gaps in Detail has been a series of trips I made at the beginning of the decade to Switzerland, mainly to Geneva but also to Zurich, St Gallen, and other towns around Lake Geneva. I had so many photos of the place building up so quickly, and so many thoughts about them, that I could never quite get them together.
I’ve finally dealt with the photos, at least, if not all of the thoughts. The result is a series of new galleries, only six to nine years late.
A few years ago I posted two galleries of Scottish Sand, with close-ups and wide shots from several different beaches. Here’s a third instalment, with photos from Gullane in East Lothian and Port William in Galloway last year.
We got a rocket stove five years ago, and over time it’s become our main barbecue and camping stove: so much quicker than charcoal, and so much more efficient than log fires. But sometimes you just can’t beat staring at the embers, especially after dark—as I enjoyed during an evening of camping in 2017. I’ve turned some photos of that evening into a second campfire gallery at Detail (to go with the first).
Eighteen months ago I spent a few days in Bilbao with my brother, enjoying its fine food, beverages and art. It was my second time in the Basque Country, after an unplanned visit to Donostia/San Sebastián in 2010, and it felt even more of a place apart from Castilian Spain, not least because the weather was cool and overcast, and the surrounding hills were a different shade of green than those down south. I saw some separatist stickers here and there, and a lot of Basque flags.
In between stops in bars and cafés we took in the Guggenheim and the local history museum, and while my brother was off on business I also visited the museums of archaeology and fine art. It was a great weekend, which I memorialised at the time in a limerick, and now at long last I’ve added a gallery at Detail to go with the panoramas I posted of it last year. Gozatu!
The kids’ February school holidays are an ideal opportunity to steal away for a city break, and this year there was every incentive to get over to the continent before Brexit threw everything into chaos (or didn’t, as it turned out, but at the start of the year it sure looked as if it would). I was surprised to find some good deals on flights and hotels to a city I’d long wanted to see, but which had always looked expensive, so grabbed the chance to go. A few weeks later we were on the plane to Venice.
Marking season is always hard, and this blog always suffers during it, because posting here when I should be marking looks bad—not that avoiding posting here makes things any easier. This year it’s been unexpectedly extended by the death of my home computer’s hard drive, in painful stages over about five days. I’ve had some serious incidents with computers before, but nothing that posed such an existential threat to thirty years of accumulated computer files. Fortunately, I had a current back-up, which I’m now handling with extreme care, and have backed up in turn. The iMac should return with a new SSD and hard drive next week, and things can get back to normal.
Which all meant that I lost a week of marking time, and am now scrambling to catch up. But something happened yesterday which prompted a dashed-off comment elsewhere that I want to add here as well, so I’m going to pause for a moment to post it before getting back to the feedback forms. Other backlogged post plans still have to wait.
Did I say I was done with photos from Australia for now? Not quite. Here’s a gallery of Aussie Birds (a more serious sequel to this one), featuring the best photos that didn’t fit in the other Australian galleries of the past couple of months.
Now that the site is back up and running, and I’ve finally recovered (pretty much) from a fortnight-long case of the flu, I at last have a chance to post a project from weeks ago—although the photos go back much further. These are some galleries for Detail from my trips to Tasmania over the past decade, covering places other than the Tasman Peninsula. Most are from trips made with my parents during our visits to them, apart from one we made on our own.
Speedysnail’s long-time trusted host ToastyHosty is closing, which has meant a fair bit of tinkering behind the scenes here in recent weeks: finding a new host, uploading to a new host, trying to get the blog software working on a new host. Almost everything is up and running again, and this entry will test said blog software—fingers crossed.
Sorting out my 2015 & 2016 photos of Melbourne sent me back to some photos from a decade earlier, which I’d never fully done justice to here—so here’s a small gallery for Detail of one of my favourite cities, which includes half a dozen previously seen in Eastern States.
Here’s another trio of galleries for Detail from my trips to Australia between 2015 and last year, which included various stopovers in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, along with a road-trip in 2015 down the Hume Highway, which I’d done many times before but not for a long while. The galleries cover some of the same ground as Eastern States from a decade earlier, with some additional side trips.
Over the past few years I’ve had a backlog of potential galleries mounting up for Detail, partly because these few years have involved multiple trips to the same places, meaning that just as I’ve thought about dealing with one trip’s photos I’ve had new ones from another. Nowhere has this been more true than with pictures of the Tasman Peninsula, where my parents have lived since 2003. My earlier visits were recorded in Tasman, Tasman II and Tasman III, with photos taken on December trips there in 2005, 2007 and 2009. Then followed a gap of five years, after our second baby arrived, our mortgage went up to pay for an attic conversion, and the pound languished against the Aussie dollar: trips home became more difficult, and we had to rely on family members coming to us instead.
In July 2015 we finally managed another three weeks back in Australia, with half of those spent in Tasmania, where I had a chance to photograph some landscapes in winter rather than summer. On the peninsula, the weather was still largely sunny and warm (relative to a Scottish winter, anyway, or even an Edinburgh summer), only with shorter days. The kids even went for a splash about in the sea once or twice. We visited some places I’d never seen before, like the convict site at Point Puer and the tranquil Safety Cove, and walked to Maingon Blowhole and admired the perilous view (it’s literally a hole in the ground right through to the sea, with no fence). We saw Remarkable Cave again, which is, and the remarkable sight of three echidnas strolling across the road up to Hobart. They’re all captured in Tasman IV:
A new year, a new gallery for Detail: two dozen photos from Up North (down south) in Durham and on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, taken between 2014 and the start of 2017. An earlier post about Durham explains what I was up to down there.