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Beside the seaside, beside the sea.

The very notion of ‘the seaside’ evokes a degree of yearning and everyone has their own childhood memories. It’s a slightly misleading image of course, in Britain - not so much sunshine and white sand as breakwaters, pebbles, rugs and teeth-breaking sticks of rock - Jeremy Calkin, Telegraph UK.

I have in recent years been fortunate to have visited several coastal towns and cities in the South East and South of England including Whitstable, Herne Bay, Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Deal, Dover, Hastings, Eastbourne and Brighton. I’ve experienced all but the ‘teeth-breaking sticks of rock’ Jeremy Calkin refers to. Margate and Broadstairs buck the pebbled beaches description though, having nice sandy beaches. If it were not for one of my daughters living in the UK, I doubt I would have ever seen much beyond London. 

And so it was, we set off by bus from Canterbury to Whitstable beside the sea, a return to a town I have previously visited and liked so much, it was always going to be lined up for another visit. The first time we walked to Whitstable via ‘The Crab and Winkle Way’, a 10km (6 mile) cross-country trail from Canterbury which follows the path of a former railway line through forest, agricultural and pasture land. That time it was bitterly cold in Whitstable. This time we took the easy option and that was a short bus ride on a summer’s day. 

Leaving Canterbury Bus Terminal, Whitstable bound.

Leaving Canterbury Bus Terminal, Whitstable bound.

I do believe that when photography is a passion, it engenders an increasingly greater awareness of our surroundings. So it is with the seaside I have seen in England. Whitstable has a sort of salty industrial, unkempt look. There's an expansive pebbled beach divided regularly by endless ugly wooden breakwaters (as per image below). That view of the breakwaters is my subjective opinion. Others may think its the prettiest of beach structures. The boat harbour is a small industrial working port. 

Doesn’t sound like love at first sight but something strongly attracts me to this place and it is it's ‘old bones’. It's the history you can see and feel, and scenes like its beautiful beach houses along the esplanade. It’s also much different to home and those differences are what is wonderful about the British seaside and about travel in general. 

Coastal colour. Whitstable seafront homes.

Coastal colour. Whitstable seafront homes.

Whitstable, Kent, UK.

Whitstable, Kent, UK.

Whitstable was first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. Famous for its oysters, which have been harvested since Roman times and this was indeed a magnetic pull for me visiting again, having downed them on previous visits. It’s hard not to baulk at the price of nearly NZ$6 an oyster though! They really are a luxury. I never buy the famed Bluff oysters at home given the price and they are considerably cheaper by comparison. 

The Royal Native Oyster Stores, Whitstable.

The Royal Native Oyster Stores, Whitstable.

Whitstable Harbour bound 'Greta', a historic Thames sailing barge built in 1892 to transport cargo on the River Thames.

Whitstable Harbour bound 'Greta', a historic Thames sailing barge built in 1892 to transport cargo on the River Thames.

Oh yes! Whitstable Oysters, North Atlantic Cod and Whitstable Lager.

Oh yes! Whitstable Oysters, North Atlantic Cod and Whitstable Lager.

Whitstable town is a bustling picturesque place. I love that so many small independent characterful shops exist and appear to do well in the UK & Ireland. They don't appear to have been displaced by the big box corporates who have sucked the life from the high streets at home.   

The colour of life. The colour of Whitstable, Kent, UK.

The colour of life. The colour of Whitstable, Kent, UK.

One of my favourite walks in Kent is the 5 mile coastal walk below stunning white chalk cliffs between Ramsgate & Broadstairs. Ramsgate was one of the great England seaside towns of the 19th century and has the distinction of being the only Royal Harbour in the United Kingdom. Because of its proximity to mainland Europe, Ramsgate was a chief embarkation point both during the Napoleonic Wars and for the Dunkirk evacuation  in 1940.

Ramsgate. Isle of Thanet, Kent, UK

Ramsgate. Isle of Thanet, Kent, UK

Beside the sea. So very British. Ramsgate, Isle of Thanet, Kent.

Beside the sea. So very British. Ramsgate, Isle of Thanet, Kent.

The beautiful coastal walk between Ramsgate and Broadstairs, Kent, UK (Son-in-law, my wife and our daughter up there on the left)

The beautiful coastal walk between Ramsgate and Broadstairs, Kent, UK (Son-in-law, my wife and our daughter up there on the left)

Broadstairs just along the coast from Ramsgate is very much a seaside resort and everything about it mirrors my perception of the British seaside. Beach huts, colourful beach toy shops, deckchairs, ice-cream, amusement parlours, fish and chips. No doubt all very ordinary for a local but another out of the ordinary photographic opportunity for me. 

Charles Dickens visited Broadstairs from 1837 until 1859 favouring it as a holiday destination. He wrote David Copperfield while staying at Bleak House.

Broadstairs, Kent, UK

Broadstairs, Kent, UK

Beside the seaside beside the sea on a glorious summer day. Broadstairs Beach, Kent, UK.

Beside the seaside beside the sea on a glorious summer day. Broadstairs Beach, Kent, UK.

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Tankerton Beach, Whitstable

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Waiting for summer. Herne Bay, Kent.

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And......relax.

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Visitors from Iceland. Whitstable, Kent.

 

 

I knew I loved you before I met you

Having had a number of camera lenses I have now settled on three. I bought these lenses progressively after much research, as I could afford them, and in line with what I felt I needed for the type of photography I wanted to do. I knew I loved them before I met them.

The first of these is the brilliant Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens.  If you were to just have one lens with this camera, this beautiful piece of engineering would be it. It is a wide angle to portrait length lens and also fantastic for landscape, people and street photography. A beautiful robust solid metal weather proof professional zoom lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture providing consistent low-light performance and shallow depth of field control. It's not cheap but diamonds never are. 

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens

My next lens (below) is the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens. Like the previous lens this is a premium waterproof all metal construction sharp telephoto lens. It's 150mm reach (equivalent to 300mm on a 35mm/full frame camera) has made it my go to lens for action shots, beach images involving people, cruise ship and wild weather photography. It spends more time attached to my camera than the other lenses as it allows me to quickly whip the camera out and capture those 'seize the moment' shots where good zoom capability is beneficial.

I previously mentioned the difference in reach to a full frame camera. Micro four thirds cameras like mine have a 2 x crop factor. What this means is that if the same focal length lens, say a 50mm lens, was put on both a micro four thirds (aka compact system camera) like my Olympus E-M1, the image in the micro four thirds camera would be twice as close close as it would appear in a full frame camera. I'd love to have the M.Zuiko MC-14 Digital 1.4 x Teleconverter to extend the reach of this lens magnification by another 40% beyond its capability. One day............

It may sound confusing but after a glass of wine or two you'll soon move on to other things.   

 

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens

My third lens is the critically acclaimed Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2 DG Nocticron ASPH Power OIS lens. This is a beautifully built tack sharp and very fast portraiture and street photography lens. Use this in the street and you'll likely get wolf whistles. Given it is a fixed focal length lens there is no zoom function which means you have to move around with the camera to fill the viewfinder with the image you want. This isn't a bad thing. Provided you watch where you're going and don't trip over the family pet, moving around adds to creativity in composing the photo. Lenses like this are seriously attractive reasons to switch to the micro four thirds compact system camera range.  There comes a point though where you have to evaluate just how much you want to spend on camera gear. Adding new/additional lenses is money that could be used instead on 'doing' rather than acquiring. It arguably would be money better spent on a holiday and taking photos of that holiday.  

Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2 DG Nocticron lens

Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2 DG Nocticron lens

 

The week that was

It's 12 months since we departed on a wonderful trip to the UK & Ireland to see one of our daughter's and partner and to attend a family wedding in Ireland. It started pretty well as I'd booked a hotel room at Auckland Airport, only when we arrived it turned out I'd booked it for May instead of April and it was fully booked out. We were so lucky that after much fingernail biting on our part and good will on their part they managed to off load another booking. Unfortunately the original fantastic deal had to be replaced by a full cost room. 

Primarily based with our daughter and partner in Canterbury, Kent, we did extensive travel including towns and cities on the Kent & Sussex coasts from Whitstable, Deal and Margate to Dover, Hastings, Eastbourne and Brighton. We flew across to Ireland and Dublin, drove across to the Cliffs of Moher, Connemara, Galway, Westport and got a ferry out to the remote Aran Islands. From Ireland we flew to very beautiful Edinburgh in Scotland and rode on fast trains down to Durham and Manchester in the north of England and back down to London and Canterbury. Loved the experiences and hope to return to the UK again in 2017.   

14 April 2015, Tauranga, NZ. 

14 April 2015, Tauranga, NZ. 

One of the first photos I took after arriving in England. It was a very cold day in Canterbury, Kent, but undeniably beautiful with the new blossom and fresh colours of spring. It's so strange going from the  falling leaves of autumn at home to new spring growth within about 27 hours.

Canterbury, Kent, UK. April 2015.

Canterbury, Kent, UK. April 2015.

 

Surf's up!

The photo below was taken by my father circa 1976 at least going by the age of the red Toyota Corolla in the image. It is taken at 'The New Brighton Ramp' in Christchurch, NZ. It is a beachside parking area adjacent to New Brighton Beach. As a teenager, apart from doing circuits around Cathedral Square in the heart of Christchurch City, in those days it was pretty much one of the only other popular 'cruising 'destinations. It was a place where we'd congregate. It was a place to display your car and/or your girlfriend or sit there in someone else's car with someone else's girlfriend. We'd sit and watch the cars doing circuits and gaze out at the chilly Pacific Ocean while eating fish and chips on our laps and Listening to Radio Avon, the first private radio station in Christchurch. The station went to air in August 1973.

New Brighton Ramp (car park). Christchurch, NZ (1970's)

New Brighton Ramp (car park). Christchurch, NZ (1970's)

Until next time........