Monday, 25 November 2013

polar bears and pandas, dolphins and poodles, meercats and monkeys


I have decided to become a wildlife photographer.

Having been to the zoo in San Diego and then seen the moon set and the sun rise over the ocean whilst dolphins frolic near the shore it is clear that animals are the way to go.

No more of this fancy grass stuff.

shades of grey © caroline fraser 

No more empty horizons.


Just polar bears and pandas, dolphins and poodles ( well the poodles were in palm springs, which figures).

Here are the polar bears.

They weren't doing much.

polar bears in san diego zoo

Here are their carrots.

carrots for polar bears

And here is their swimming pool

pool for polar bears

As you can see I have paid good attention to their habits and habitat.

But carrots?

Are you serious?

As you can see I really didn't have the right zoom lens with me to capture the animals , and the glass walls were a problem………….

Bonobo watching the tourists

I really don't like seeing animals in captivity, however much the preservation of the species is at stake

cute or not,

rare as a giant panda or common as hens teeth

So back to nature then.

Back at the beach I really did enjoy the dawn flight of pelicans over the ocean


I watched them from the shore, sitting on a beach chair, so could never have passed as a wildlife photographer as I had no telephoto lens with me on this trip and was wearing a dressing gown.

Best of all was an hour spent watching a pod of dolphins swim around the bay, stopping the surfers in this tracks, taking their minds off the waves that bring them out at 6am before breakfast.

dolphin dawn;  it's not about the picture ( which clearly doesn't cut the mustard)

This magical way to see the day commence more than compensated for the complete failure to capture the dolphins as a photographer.

These images are memory joggers for special moments spent in the quiet of the day before the rest of the world appeared; of no interest to anyone who wasn't there

photos are not the only fruit.

it's all about the memories

whether they be the smell of the guano and the cacophony of sound from seals, pelicans and sealions

David Attenborough where were you?

or the tranquillity of the early dawning day.

moons at dawn

Saturday, 16 November 2013

only in Palm Springs

Do you get to find out that Marilyn wears 'big pants'

venison holiday stew
Do pooches get to dine on 'venison holiday stew'

and to wear frilly pink tutus and Santa outfits

Christmas pooch apparel

Can you then pop to the wonderful Museum of Art containing stunning sculptures, including a horse made of bronze cast from pieces of driftwood and a man hewn from wood, holding shovels.

can you ride from the desert, up the hill tow and a half miles by rotating cable car to a wilderness area with snow on the ground, where the bog plants lie rotting into the ground and go for a 3 hour hike without meeting another soul.

decaying bog plants in the wilderness, high above the desert

Can you see the trees in the forest lying in chaotically, felled by fire and wind and left to decay without human intervention in the Mount San Jacinto State Park

Mount San Jacinto state park

Can you have a conversation with a fellow tourist at the top of the cable car on top of the mountain that goes thus……..

she to me ……..." are you from England?'

I to her……………..'yes i am. are you going for a hike too?'

she ……….              "I don't know how to hike………..what do you do?  what will you see?"

me, somewhat lost for words………………..'trees and nature and the wilderness…………..'

which we did.

And it was good.

For a place that I went to with preconceived ideas about elderly folks who play golf, I was wrong on all counts.

A little bit of blue sky and some palm trees can be remarkably therapeutic.

Hotel California, Palm Springs

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

travels without a tripod

waiting for the tourists; Yosemite in November

I am in the land of big scenery.

Magnificent in every way……….in November, when it could be snowbound
but is not. There is snow on the high ground, but not on the roads.

Which is lucky really, because if there was snow we would have had to hire snow chains to enter the park or the rangers wouldn't have let us in. And the car hire company wouldn't have let us use the snow chains if we had needed to…………. which created a bit of a dilemma, which has been resolved by the absence of snow. Crisis over.

The sun has shone relentlessly since our arrival, making landscape photography challenging, unless you want the sort of picture postcard views that would grace a calendar in a tourist shop. Which I do not, but am ending up with just because the sky is blue.

blue skies and sequoia trees

I left my tripod behind as this is  a family holiday, not a photography workshop or tour. Just me and my other half, cruising around in a shiny red hire car, no snow chains allowed.

The sun sets behind the mountains very early in Yosemite valley, surrounded as it is by towering rocks, so artfully captured by Ansel Adams and many more since. By 4pm it is pretty dark, and without a tripod I couldn't get away with less than 640 iso, really not done if you are a proper landscape photographer . Could I get away with it?

No. Not really. The are grainy and the colours are weird.

So I just have to accept that I have come home with images that are good enough as a reminder of my trip, but not special.

Good enough for a small book that serves as a holiday photo album. But not much else.

Life is full of compromise. Which is a small price to pay when spending time in one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world.

autumn in Yosemite valley
more autumn in Yosemite


and the inevitable grass picture from down by the river behind Yosemite Lodge

Friday, 1 November 2013

the washing machine is dead.................deceased...................passed away.

We survived the storm.

The flood waters took the route intended , down the drain, and Bromley survived unscathed.

laundry service, kerala

But the washing machine is dead.

I found it making a strange noise, and rang 'Houseproud', my friendly washing machine and appliance repair people.

There ensued something resembling a doctor's telephone consultation with the lady at the other end of the line.

I was asked the make and model of my machine, and how many children I had, thereby divulging whether I was a 'high use' user. 

I was told that if it was a Hotpoint, which it is, then it was inevitably the ball bearings that had gone and that is was therefore a 'terminal condition'. 

In fact, she said, it was almost certainly 'inoperable'.

I had never considered operating on my washing machine. Yes it has endured years of hard labour, and yes, I took the dog blankets to the launderette so that someone else got the benefit of all the black hairs that clogged up the filter. Yes, the fabric conditioner drawer was a bit mouldy and black, but a quick wipe down could hardly be defined as an operation.

But now it is 'deceased'....... 'no more'........ 'the late'....... or even 'passed away'

People do seem to have difficulty with the word 'dead'.

My washing machine is officially dead, and I have had the joy of choosing a new one for the princely sum of around £400.

Because I don't have a suitable river where I can spend time beating my clothes and chatting to my friends, which looks like a much more enjoyable way to get the job done.

And so I had to choose between the popular Samsung 'ecobubble' machine that plays a tune when it has finished its duties and that has an app for your mobile phone that deciphers the control panel without the need to phone your nearest engineer, or a Bosch, with its 2 year guarantee, sleek lines,  extra large drum and the much approved of 'reload facility' for those unfortunate people like me who always find a stray sock on the floor after the door is closed.

Sadly neither do the ironing.

Now that would have been a technological advance to be proud of.

Maybe one day they will, and I will then be the happiest person around.

The new machine arrives on a Sunday. Shock. Horror.

What is the world coming to.

Clean socks will abound, and I shall be able to go on my travels with clean underwear.