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Land of hope and glory

I was fortunate to escape a month of winter this year travelling again to the United Kingdom and Ireland. This trip was primarily to spend time with our family. Firstly there was the wedding of one of our daughters in Kent in the UK and later we’d fly across the Irish Sea to Dublin to reconnect with another daughter, partner and our delightful grandchildren. It seems an inescapable fact these days that families are often scattered across the world and so it is with two of my three kids residing some 18000kms away. I am so looking forward to the imminent arrival of another grandchild right here in Tauranga. As always I was conscious of how much photography gear I wanted to take and lug around. Being indecisive and full of ‘what ifs’ when out with my camera, I ended up taking the lot which added about 7.5kg to my shoulder burden. 

I have a strong desire to hopefully upon retirement spend several months in the UK and Ireland, not only to have time with the family on the far side of the planet but to travel around indulging my photography passion, camera in hand, photographing the landscapes I really love. I view the countryside of England as a soft poetic romantic historic landscape with so much charm. In Ireland, it’s the rugged coastlines that attract me. Many moons ago a clairvoyant told me I was a priest in Ireland 600 years ago. Maybe it’s where I get my calling :)

We were so lucky to arrive in England at the beginning of a heatwave that saw temperatures hitting the low to mid 30C’s for a few days. Only problem was it wasn’t anticipated so we weren’t exactly well stocked with summer clothing and were really feeling the heat.

 Canterbury, Kent, and the crystal clear River Stour, UK.

Canterbury, Kent, and the crystal clear River Stour, UK.

 Hot town, summer in the city. Canterbury, Kent, UK.

Hot town, summer in the city. Canterbury, Kent, UK.

We were based at our daughter and son-in-law’s home in the beautiful historic city of Canterbury, Kent. 

One of the first excursions was a train trip to Ramsgate and a coastal walk of some 8km between striking white chalk cliffs and a very blue ocean under a clear blue sky. This Ramsgate to Broadstairs walk (16km return) was a real highlight and very much recommended. 

Charles Dickens visited Broadstairs regularly from 1837 until 1859 and described the town as "Our English Watering Place". He wrote David Copperfield while staying at Bleak House. Former UK Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath was born in Broadstairs in 1916. It would have been remiss to have visited Broadstairs and not sampled the best chips in Kent as voted by ‘The Potato Council’. In fact virtually every seaside town makes claim to the best fish and chips. The downside of that is that fish and chips can quickly become the default meal. 

 Whitstable fish fillet, Whitstable oysters and Whitstable Lager.

Whitstable fish fillet, Whitstable oysters and Whitstable Lager.

We drove from Canterbury across Kent, around the southern outskirts of London on the world's biggest car park, the M25, and west to Bath in Somerset and then on to the Cotswolds. Our first overnight stop was the stunning city of Bath.  The Georgian architecture, warm honey coloured stone buildings and the  River Avon flowing through the city paint a beautiful picture. It really is special. 

From Bath it was north through The Cotswolds to the historic market town of Chipping Campden. Here we stayed in several centuries old Badgers Hall. I expected a haunting but they were restful sleeps perhaps aided by a wine or two in very comfortable accommodation. 

 Chipping Campden, The Cotswolds.

Chipping Campden, The Cotswolds.

The Cotswolds exude beauty and are this photographer’s drug of choice A patchwork of picture postcard historic market towns linked by country lanes and set in beautiful countryside. I could live here but not having won Lotto, or been lucky enough to get and syndicate the first authentic photo of an extraterrestrial visitor that’s not going to happen. (Click following images for slideshow).

Heading back to Canterbury we made a stop at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. The scale of this palace and estate is huge. Revered wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill was born and raised here and is buried nearby in Bladon. 

 Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace

 Last resting place of Sir Winston Churchill (1876-1964) "We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."

Last resting place of Sir Winston Churchill (1876-1964) "We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."

I do like to be beside the seaside, beside the sea and have visited a few coastal towns and cities in the UK. On this visit it was Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Herne Bay and Whitstable, home of the revered Whitstable oyster. 

Its a a subjective thing and for me the beaches are not gob smackingly beautiful compared to those in New Zealand or Australia. The attraction to me with UK beaches is in the history, much of it still visible, and knowing so many generations have lived and worked in the ports, or operated or worked on fishing boats, in many cases launching them the hard way from rugged gravel beaches reflecting the lack of natural harbours along the coast.

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...........or just taking fresh air holidays beside the seaside. 

 Whitstable, Kent, UK.

Whitstable, Kent, UK.

The culmination of of this trip to England was our daughter’s wedding. The day dawned overcast, cool and drizzly. By mid-morning the cloud retreated beyond the far horizons and laid bare the most beautiful summer day adding the icing to a wonderful celebration.  

 The Secret Garden, Ashford, Kent with my daughter Dr Jennie Taylor-Prince

The Secret Garden, Ashford, Kent with my daughter Dr Jennie Taylor-Prince

 Let them eat cake! And what a beautiful creation this cake was made by my daughter and her bridesmaids.

Let them eat cake! And what a beautiful creation this cake was made by my daughter and her bridesmaids.

Welcome aboard Aer Lingus. It was hard to leave the UK but exciting heading across the Irish Sea to Dublin to spend time with another daughter and family and our grandkids. Oh’ and to a sneaky (and expensive) visit to a camera shop.  More on the Emerald Isle in the next instalment 'What's the craic?'. 

 Dublin bound

Dublin bound

Just a touch, a touch of paradise

At the end of August my wife Margie and I travelled down to Nelson for the first time in over 20 years. Even much longer ago, 40 years to be precise, we had our honeymoon at Kaiteriteri Beach which is around 45 minutes drive from Nelson and very close to the boundary of the magnificent Abel Tasman National Park. Knowing that our 40th wedding anniversary was coming up I thought, why not return to the place where it all started?

 City of Nelson, NZ. Photo taken with iPhone 6s 

City of Nelson, NZ. Photo taken with iPhone 6s 

We stayed in a fantastic waterfront apartment Arrow Rock, which had a glorious view across the harbour and Tasman Bay. The photo below of a container ship entering Port Nelson is taken from the balcony.

 Dusk arrival, Port Nelson, Nelson. 1/125sec, f/4.5 ISO 200

Dusk arrival, Port Nelson, Nelson. 1/125sec, f/4.5 ISO 200

The day after we arrived we drove to Kaiteriteri and the start of a full day out in the glorious Abel Tasman National Park. Kaiteriteri is one of the most popular summer beach destinations in New Zealand with its golden sands and sheltered clear waters.

 Golden sands of Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson. 27 Aug 2016. iPhone 6s photo

Golden sands of Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson. 27 Aug 2016. iPhone 6s photo

It was a stunning late winter's day as we headed up to Bark Bay (Medlands Beach) and the starting point of our walk. On the way we saw young NZ fur seals and little blue penguins, but just watching this beautiful coast from the sea was terrific.

 Bound for Bark Bay in Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 27 Aug 2016

Bound for Bark Bay in Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 27 Aug 2016

After a look around Bark Bay and the last remaining illegal 'squatters cottage' in the national park we started walking south along a section of what is at full length a 60km coastal and bush walk with the most fantastic views. We did a four day walk way back in the 80's and so many memories came flooding back.

 Looking back to Bark Bay (Medlands Beach) in Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/320sec, f/6.3 ISO 200 

Looking back to Bark Bay (Medlands Beach) in Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/320sec, f/6.3 ISO 200 

It is easy to feel like you may be the only people on the planet during the off-season finding you can have the most beautiful of beaches to yourself. In the height of summer the track and overnight lodges along the way are 'heaving'. We were told it wouldn't be unusual to see 150 two person kayaks on the beach at Anchorage.

 Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/800sec, f/8, ISo 200

Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/800sec, f/8, ISo 200

Torrent Bay was named by French explorer Dumont D'Urville during his exploration and mapping of this area of New Zealand in 1827. The Abel Tasman coast has one of the largest tidal differences in NZ and these estuaries quickly fill and drain with the ebb and flow of the tides.

 Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/800sec, f/8, ISO 200

Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/800sec, f/8, ISO 200

Arguably one of the most beautiful bays and beaches you could visit. Anchorage is simply superb. It would be a great place to 'unplug' from the world for a few months. There is a very nicely appointed Department of Conservation Lodge overlooking the beach and this along with others is available for overnight accommodation for track walkers.

 Anchorage, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/1000sec, f/6.3, ISO200

Anchorage, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/1000sec, f/6.3, ISO200

 Margie near 'Cleopatra's Pool' in Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ, 27 Aug 2016. 1/60sec, f/4, ISO 800

Margie near 'Cleopatra's Pool' in Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ, 27 Aug 2016. 1/60sec, f/4, ISO 800

It was a truly wonderful day under a big blue sky and warm sun. We absolutely loved it and the sight of the water taxi approaching Anchorage brought it to a close much too soon. New Zealanders are often called the world's greatest travellers but all too often we are probably guilty of heading off-shore more than seeing our own country. I recall a marketing campaign many years ago with the catch-phrase 'don't leave home, till you've seen the country'. With so much awesome and diverse landscape and coastline, we don't know how lucky we are.

The colour of Nelson

 Love the history and character of Nelson, NZ. iPhone photos. 

Love the history and character of Nelson, NZ. iPhone photos. 

Where did 40 years go! 

 28 August 1976

28 August 1976

 Our pride and joy. Jennie, Louise & Mike

Our pride and joy. Jennie, Louise & Mike

 Cheers to 40 years. 28 Aug 1976 - 28 Aug 2016. 1/250sec, f/6.3, ISO200

Cheers to 40 years. 28 Aug 1976 - 28 Aug 2016. 1/250sec, f/6.3, ISO200