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Travel Gallery

 

Occasional Galleries of some of our travels around the World

Kindrogan, Scotland (2013)

China (2009)

Mongolia and South Korea (2008)


Greece (2007)

 
Autumn Birds at Kindrogan, Perthshire, Scotland 2013
In October 2013 I travelled by ship, train and minibus to a wonderful location almost in the centre of Scotland called Kindrogan, near a small settlement called Enochdhu in the hills above Pitlochry, in the southern Highlands. I had signed up to a Field Studies Council Autumn Birds course at the Centre described by the FCS as "Scotland’s National Centre for Excellence in Field Studies and Biodiversity Training". I had not been on a FSC course before and I was not familiar with the location either, having never been on this relatively quiet road between Pitlochry and Bridge of Cally.

I had several reasons for coming on the course. I was keen to see, learn about and photograph a wide range of Scotland's native flora and fauna; I was also keen to spend early Autumn in the Scottish Highlands since it was many years since I had done so; and taking a Field Studies course here seemed like the perfect way to do these things and the cost was very reasonable too! I wasn't disappointed on any count, the weather was fantastic (apart from 1 rainy day) and the group (apparently the biggest this course had seen) proved to be great company.

I was picked up at Pitlochry train station along with a couple of the other course attendees and after we arrived we were shown our accommodation and around the centre; we were also advised of meal and domestic arrangements. It's quite a big place, with sizeable grounds and various extensions and annexes that house accommodation, teaching areas and so on; the communal facilities, such as the dining area, reception and lounge bar, are in the main house. Overall, I was impressed by the whole centre, its facilities and how it was run. At dinner I met the other course participants and our tutor, Russell Nisbet and, afterwards he explained his plans for the week while Robin from the Centre went over all the Health and Safety topics.

We had a very varied programme of walks and visits in areas as varied as a short stretch of the Cateran Trail (a 64 mile route that passes the back entrance), to climbing up Glas Maol from above the Glenshee ski centre; from watching dippers, Red Kites and Black Grouse in Glen Quaich and Glen Almond, to watching red squirrels and 3 species of deer in the forests of Glenmore and Cally. What a fantastic week we had, with warm sunshine all but one day and many species of birds, mammals, flowering plants, fungi and insects seen, many new to me or not seen for a very long time since they're not present in Shetland.

The pictures show some of the wildlife and scenery we saw; I suppose the most abiding thought I had, both then and now looking back, is the absolute riot of colour represented in those images. This was not from autumn leaf colour that wasn't as far on as I expected, rather it was from the sheer variety of nature on display almost everywhere we went, from the wonderful blue skies and fabulous sunsets to colourful animals and plants.

All in all it was a great week that exceeded my expectations by a good margin; thanks to Russell and everyone else who attended, as well as all the staff at Kindrogan.
 
Kindrogan
 

China, including Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Leshan, Emei Mountain and Shanghai, 2009
In July 2009 we journeyed from Shetland via Aberdeen, Glasgow and Dubai, to China for a tour of some of its most popular cultural sites in a handful of its cities. We only had a short time in China and tried to see so many things and sights that have inspired and fascinated us for many years. it was an exhausting tour with (whilst in China) travel in 4 cars, 2 planes, an overnight train, 2 cablecars and 2 boats. As well as that we walked for many hours, no doubt very many kilometres too! And it was hot and humid much of the time, around 36-38 degrees C, that's about 20 hotter than we're used to!

We saw temples, palaces, gardens, the Great Wall, a monastery, Giant and Red pandas, many, many Buddhas, Shanghai from the tallest building in the world (at the time), mosques, ate many wonderful Chinese foods (including some quite spicy dishes in Sichuan) and did some shopping and bought many wonderful souvenirs.


One of the many things we had hoped to see was the longest total solar eclipse this millennium, on 22 July 2009. Unfortunately, apart from the first few minutes, which we saw through fairly thick cloud, the eclipse was not visible from our location. About 20 minutes or so after fiorst contact the clouds thickened, the sky darkened and there followed torrential rain, that lasted most of the rest of the day. During the eclipse we were also treated to thunder and lightning, which made us hurry to get our equipment, umbrellas and ourselves under cover - the whole experience was surreal, because it went truly dark for a good five minutes before getting light again.


The pictures show just some of the highlights of our extraordinary trip but the real highlight was the Chinese people. Our guides, Susan, Christina, Jim and David, as well as our drivers went to great lengths to welcome us, proudly help us discover what we had come to see but also help us to understand a little more about China, it's people, history, beliefs and culture. As well as them, almost every other person we met in China was open, friendly, warm and helpful, whether in shops and stalls, hotels, on the train, at the airport or in the street.

 

 

The Great Wall at Mutianyu, north of Beijing

 

Terracotta Warriors Museum, Xi'an

 

Leshan Grand Buddha

 

Giant Panda

Beijing and the Great Wall
at Mutianyu
12-15 July 2009

 

Xi'an, Shaanxi Province
16-17 July 2009

 

Leshan and Emei Mountain,
Sichuan Province
18-19 July 2009

 

Chengdu, Sichuan Province
19-20 July 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman in hat at Yu Bazaar

 

Illuminated sightseeing boats on the Huangpu River at night, Shanghai

 

 

 

 

Shanghai
21-24 July 2009

 

Shanghai at night
21-24 July 2009

 

 

 

 

 

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Mongolia, via Seoul, and including a Total Eclipse of the Sun 2008
In July and August 2008 we journeyed from Shetland via Aberdeen, Glasgow and Dubai, through Seoul in South Korea to Ulaan Baator in Mongolia. We met up with a group of fellow eclipse chasers and travelled onwards by small plane to Khovd in the far west and then south by Furgon to our viewing point at 46 20' N 91 24' E. In total the journey took about 7 days including stops, although our travel in western Mongolia involved some detours to see the sights so it would have been possible to miss out a day there. I also built in a couple of days at strategic points along the way between Shetland and Ulaan Baatar to allow for possible failure of transport - plane delays etc. The complete journey involved a ship, a train, 3 jet aircraft, 1 turbo-prop aeroplane and a Furgon bus-like passenger car. Here are some of the highlights of each part of our trip.

 

Sun Halo

 

Namsangol Hanok Village

 

Prayer Wheels

 

Kazakh children

Leaving Shetland
23-26 July 2008

 

Seoul
27 July and 11 August 2008

 

Ulaan Baatar
28 July and 10 August 2008

 

Bayan Ulgi Region, Mongolia
 29 July - 10 August 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TSE 1 August 2008

 

TSE 1 August 2008

 

 

 

 

Total Solar Eclipse,
Bulgan gol, Mongolia
1 August 2008

 

Stop motion movie of the Total Solar Eclipse of 1 August 2008

 

 

 

 

 

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Greece, including Athens and the island of Aegina, 2007
In September 2007 we travelled to Greece and had a week divided between the capital and the beautiful island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf, 17 miles (30 km) from Athens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens, Greece

 

Sunset, Aegina, Greece

 

The Happy Train, Athens, Greece

 

 

Athens I
20-23 September 2007

 

Aegina
23-25 September 2007

 

Athens II
25-26 September 2007

 

 

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