Monthly Report, March 2024

Another Oxford month - but with lots of London days, and a wee island holiday.

Reporting Days: 31

Location: Mostly Oxford

Distance walked: 300 km

Distance driven: 190 km

Photographs Taken: Hundreds

Mostly Oxford

I always think that Spring-time is a best time to be in Oxford - and while there were quite a few lovely Spring-like days, there were also quite a few days when Spring felt like a distant promise!

Rainbow Bridge, University Parks

Jubilee Bridge, Christ Church Meadow

Bluebells, University Parks

London Days

Another Oxford month also means easy access to London, and on most London days I seem to wind up wandering beside the river.  Eventually I'll get round to walking the whole of the Thames Path again, but in the meantime, I'll keep doing wee bits of the Path.

Canary Wharf, London

London Eye, South Bank, London

Island Break

Usually when I make reference to an 'island break', it's a sure sign that I'm heading north to Shetland's beaches and headlands.  But just occasionally that means south.

We are regular visitors to Alderney - our first visit was in 1994, our second was in 2009 so we just had to add a 2024 visit to the diary. Next visit 2039? Our 'usual' hotel is closed at the moment for what looks like a very major refurbishment, but lots of the other landmarks didn't seem to have changed much and the flight into Alderney airport is still serviced by very small planes (even smaller than the Logonair Saabs that serviced Shetland until very recently). 

Braye Harbour, Alderney

Platte Saline, Alderney

Braye Bay, Alderney

Flying with Aurigny, Alderney Airport

Next Month

Back on the trains to Italy, for a Spring-time visit to Lombardy.

Monthly Report, February 2024

 An Oxford month - but with a distinctly Italian twist.

The numbers

Reporting Days: 29

Location: Mostly Oxford

Distance Walked: 250 km

Distance Driven: 733 km

Photographs Taken: Hundreds

Distinctly Italian?

So how Italian can a month based in Oxford be?

Well, you can enrol on a course in Italian Design run by the University Department of Continuing Education. Or you can sign up for an Italian cooking course (with Ursula Ferrigno at The Jericho Kitchen Cookery School). Or you can spend time at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in London. Or you can eat out in Italian restaurants in Oxford, London and Bristol. Or you can continue to learn a little bit of Italian everyday via DuoLingo. Or you can plan and book trips to Italy for later in the year. 

Or you can do all of these. 

Signs of Spring

And when I wasn't looking for signs of Italy, l seemed to spend most of the month looking for signs of Spring.

Parson's Pleasure, Oxford

Jericho Kitchen, Stadhampton

Early Purple Orchid, Sydings Copse

Crocus, Bury Knowle Park, Oxford

Maps, Stanfords, London

Oxford Botanic Garden

C S Lewis Reserve, Oxford

Magdalen Tower, Oxford

Snowdrops, Stoke Place, Oxford

Entering the City, London

Blaise Hamlet, Bristol

The Duke's Cut, Oxford Canal

Nest month - more Oxford and more London with (hopefully) a wee island fix thrown in for good measure.

29th February

I think we should celebrate the 29th February more.  

They don't come around very often after all.  Today is my 16th.

I've been looking through my diaries and photo archives and picking out what I was doing on each of my 16 29th February.  In later years I've got photographs taken on the 29th, earlier years not so much.

1964    Saturday - Probably in Lisburn - still too young to be at school (and it was a Saturday anyway)

1968    Thursday - School day (in Lisburn)

1972    Tuesday - School day (in Lisburn)

1976    Sunday - Probably doing school homework!

1980    Friday - Probably in Bristol. Probably in a pub.

1984    Wednesday - Cross Country Skiing in Norway

1988    Monday - In Ithaca, New York

1992    Monday - Apparently in Oxford (in the FIM Lab)

1996    Saturday - Probably in Oxford

2000    Tuesday - Milton Keynes (probably in the Open University Library)

2004    Sunday - Probably in Oxford

2008    Friday - At Heathrow Airport.  Collecting tourists rather than flying

2012    Wednesday - Faroe Islands

2016    Monday - Workday at Warwick. Office View

2020    Saturday - Innsbruck (the pre-COVID holiday)

2024    Thursday - Oxford (the Headington Shark)

Monthly Report, January 2024

It's always good to be able to start the year with a long stay on Shetland, but a winter month on Shetland is very often a reminder out how much the weather can dominate daily life on an island where nothing is more than three miles from the sea.

But first some numbers.

Reporting Days: 31

Location: Mostly Shetland

Distance Walked: 240 km

Distance Driven: 2080 km 

Photographs Taken: Thousands (mostly beaches, waves and snowdrifts)

The Calm Days

When the weather is calm and dry, it's good to be able to spend the short winter days on the headlands and beaches - and sometimes the guillemots (always the first auk to reappear on the cliffs) will hang out on the stacks.

Calm days on Scat Ness

Guillemots at Sumburgh Head

Early Afternoon Sunset on Quendale Beach

The Snow Days

Every winter brings a few snow days to Shetland - and the normal pattern is for the snow to fall and then melt within a few hours.  Not this year, a spell of bitterly cold weather meant that for almost a week the snow fell on a regular basis and just didn't melt, and when the wild picked up, developed into some very spectacular but inconvenient snow drifts!

Snow on Garths Ness and Fitful Head

Snow on Quendale Beach 

White Out


The Wild Days

And eventually the snow did melt, but the winds built up and stayed.  The ferries didn't run and leaving the house was often classified as a high risk sport. 

High Water on Quendale Beach

Big Waves on Scat Ness

Big Waves and Big Seas on Scat Ness

Next Month - Mostly Oxford but with an Italian theme.

Monthly Report, December 2023

I guess I should round out the 2023 to-do list by writing the 12th monthly report.

And the two word summary would be "Mostly Oxford".  But first the numbers. 

By the Numbers

Reporting Days: 31

Location: Mostly Oxford

Distance Walked: 241 km

Distance Driven: 1213 km

Photographs Taken: Hundreds (mostly trees)

Photographs of the Day: 31

And while we're on the numbers, the walking tally for 2023 came out at a slightly frustrating 3622.5 km, which works out as a daily average of 9.92 km.  

I'm not going to set very many New Year resolutions this year, but on the numbers I'll be aiming at a daily walking average of 10 km, and to add another 366 photos-of-the-day to be catalog.


A fine few days at the start of December

Quendale Beach Sunset, Shetland

West Voe of Sumburgh, Shetland

Scat Ness, Shetland

Oxford (mostly)

Suddenly the photographs are filled with trees (with just the occasional day out at the seaside)

Bury Knowle Park, Oxford

Oxford Canal

Parsons Pleasure, Mesopotamia

The Pier at Clevedon

Spring Lane, Oxford

Shotover Country Park, Oxford


Having said that I'm not setting many New Year resolutions, I do already have quite a lot of travel plans already pencilled (and in some cases inked) into the 2024 diary, so over the next few months you can expect to see pictures from Oxford, Shetland, Alderney, Italy and Norway.

2023 - Twelve Pictures of the Month


In short. 

Oxford, Shetland, Wales, Lombardy, Lombardy, Shetland, Shetland, Shetland, Shetland, Lombardy, Shetland, Shetland.

In pictures.

January - Sunrise, Bury Knowle Park, Oxford

February - Waves, Scat Ness, Shetland

March - Worms Head, Rhossili

April - Clusane, Lake Iseo, Lombardy

May - River Oglio, Boario Terme, Lombardy

June - Puffin in the Pinks, Sumburgh Head, Shetland

July - Puffin & Puffling, Sumburgh Head, Shetland

August - Sandsayre Piers Shetland

September - Scat Ness, Shetland

October - River Oglio, Boario Terme, Lombardy

November - Aurora Borealis, Quendale, Shetland

December - Sunset, Quendale Beach, Shetland