Denmark December 2009

Finished my travelling for 2009 by spending a week in western Denmark - which got the same heavy pre-Christmas fall of snow that hit southern England, but where low temperatures ensured that the snow covering persisted to Christmas and well beyond.

The Danes have a much stricter definition of a 'White Christmas' than do we Brits.  In Denmark (I'm told) there needs to be 1 cm of snow covering 90% of the country - rather than the occasional snowflake floating around somewhere in the country at some point on the 25th December.  2009 was the first Danish White Christmas for 14 years.

I learnt lots about what makes a traditional Danish Christmas celebration - there's plenty of food and drink involved - and huge amounts of rice pudding. :-)

We had a very picturesque arrival in Esbjerg as the ferry needed to push it's way through lots of sea ice to reach the harbour, bringing back images from both Greenland and the Antarctica.  Are DFDS ferries ice rated?

The most dramatic landmark near where we were staying is Elia ( - a modern sculpture / lightning conductor / artificial volcano which occasionally spouts forth flames.  It declined to erupt while we watched.

Denmark December 2009

Cairngorms National Park December 2009

Big Cat Diary - Scottish-style: Lynx, Amur Tiger and Highland Wildcat. These are three of the attractions currently in the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie in the Cairngorms National Park. My only previous visit to the Highland Wildlife Park was sometime in the mid-70's just after the park opened, at that time their focus was to showcase wildlife that would (at some time at least) have been visible in the Highlands. The Park is now part of Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and has seen several recent migrants come up the A9 from Edinburgh Zoo.

The Park now has a family of Amur Tigers and most recently a polar bear called Mercedes in residence, and I gather there are plans to move more 'tundra' species further north too (presumably on the assumption that the Cairngorms are a little closer to tundra than can be realistically achieved in Corstorphine).

My brief trip up to the Cairngorms was driven by the desire to see a Highland Tiger (aka Wildcat) - as a result of sponsoring one earlier in the year, and by the need to fit in at least one trip to Scotland in 2009.

The light wasn't great for photography, but a few snaps follow. I'll try and get back early next year when there is some snow on the ground.

Cairngorms December 2009

My guides around the park were GoWild-Scotland - thanks to Aaron for his guidance in making the best of the available light.

What makes a photograph interesting?

I put most of the pictures that I want to share onto Picasa, but I've been putting a few onto Flickr for a while, mainly because I liked the geo-tagging that Flickr supported - and seeing the red dots littered across the map.  I spent a while this weekend playing with some of the other features that Flickr offers, and came across the concept of "Interestingness".  Serious Flickr users debated this feature years ago but my exploration of it did start me thinking about what makes a picture interesting and why I choose some pictures to share and not others.

The twenty most interesting (according to Flickr) pictures include eight from the Falkland Islands, three from Antarctica, a couple each from various Scottish Islands and Argentina - I don't particularly disagree with any of these choices but I am intrigued about what put these ahead of others in my collection.  These aren't the most regularly viewed pictures nor the ones that others have flagged as favourites - and I must admit I haven't yet gone off to look at the various patents that Yahoo have filed in this area to understand the ranking.

 I put pictures onto Picasa (or Flickr) for a variety of reasons. They're there as my 'been there' flags, pictures that represent the geographic extent of each trip and the "famous" places I've visited on the trip.  Although my visit to Beijing a couple of years ago was in the summer and the visibility was lousy, I was always going to put up pictures of the Great Wall even though if I wasn't particularly proud of them.  I also put up pictures that I particularly like or which evoke strong memories.  These are often wildlife pictures - I got a real buzz out of the whale pictures off Boston in the summer and the bird pictures from the Falklands earlier in the year.  These two reasons are really just reasons why I would put pictures up, but not really reasons why anyone else would want to look at them never mind contribute to any concept of interestingness.

The third reason for putting pictures up is (I hope) slightly more altruistic and potentially more interesting to others - it is to give a flavour of the experiences I've had, the places I've been seen or the people I've been visited.  I think this is particularly true of the places I think of as unusual - I do tend to opt (when given a choice) to go to places that most other folks don't go to, and I see part of my "role" as sharing my experience with others.  Part of my criteria for "interesting" would be to highlight things I want to talk about after the trip.  From the Central Asia trip I felt a real need to talk about what's happening to the Uighur people in Xinjiang in western China, but I didn't want to share some of the people pictures just in case there were implications to my doing this.  My compromise on that trip was to include pictures of the various bits of Kashgar Old Town as they still are alongside the freshly bulldozed areas being cleared by the Chinese authorities in the name of progress.

When I'm enthusing about the places I've been to, I also occasionally catch myself thinking that I don't really want lots of people following me there.  Places like the Falklands and Bhutan are fascinating places to go and visit and I'll be going back to both of them, but part of the interestingness of these places (and hopefully my pictures) is that they are relatively unusual destinations.  However neither of these places has a big tourist infrastructure and a huge influx of visitors would certainly change them.  In these cases I get torn between offering interesting pictures and wanting to keep the secrets to myself..

My 20 most "interesting" pictures are linked below

Interesting Pictures?

Watching The Albatross

I'm not sure I'd go quite as far as Robert Cushman Murphy who in late 1912, asserted that he now belonged to "a higher cult of mortals" because "he had seen the albatross", but I do consider myself to be lucky to have seen a variety of albatross over the last couple of years.

My first sighting of the albatross was from MS Fram heading south from Ushuaia towards the South Shetland Islands in November 2007 - on that trip I saw four different species (Wandering, Black-browed, Sooty and Grey-headed). However, I saw all of these at a distance and, truth be told, I was pretty reliant on the accompanying naturalists to confirm which I was seeing.

Those first sightings were enough to encourage me to head back down to the Falkland Islands earlier this year so I could get a look at one of these species at close quarters.

I spent a few days staying at the Neck on Saunders Island in the northwest corner of the Falklands.  The attractions on Saunders include colonies of gentoo, magellanic, rockhopper and king penguins, as well as Johnny Rooks (striated caracaras), king and rock cormorants - but the real draw is the huge breeding colony of black-browed albatross. These awesome birds nest on mud-turrets on a steep hillside facing northwards towards South America - and I was able to sit close to the colony (which they share with both rockhoppers and cormorants) watching the adult albatross sweep dramatically back in from the sea. They stumble through a landing process, most charitably described as ungainly, before going through their welcoming rituals with their partners and then turning their full attention to childcare. The beak-tapping ritual reinforces the bond between the adults - but the real magic is the delicacy of touch demonstrated after feeding when the adult's huge curved beak is used to pick away left-overs from around the chick's head.

I was at the colony in February when the down-covered chicks are not yet quite ready to fledge, but are almost the same size as the adults. The chicks spend much of the day sitting balanced high on their mud look-out posts waiting for the adults to return with another load of freshly caught squid. One of my strongest recollections is walking along the tracks high above the colony aware that many pairs of chick eyes were following me - and if I dared cross the invisible line that the chicks considered to be the safe distance they would very vocally encourage me to take a few steps back up the hill.

A few of the photographs I took around the colony are linked below.

Saunders Albatross February 2009

I spent several days on Saunders Island, and was privileged to be able to spend a lot of hours just watching the comings and goings at the colony, particularly watching the chicks waiting for the adults to return from their long-range foraging trips. This makes the activities of the Albatross Task Force even more important in my mind and I'll be encouraging folks I know who are interested in bird-life to help support the project. We (collectively) need to do everything we can to help protect these magnificent birds as they search for food across the Southern Ocean - I'm trying to figure out how and where I can get to see other albatross up close, but in the meantime I'll continue supporting the ATF.

Travel Envy...

Envy is a terrible thing. My first real pang of travel envy was when I was 12 or 13 - I and my family were on holiday in Aviemore in the Cairngorms. It happened that my school headmaster was on holiday there too. When the snow closed in towards the end of the holiday season my family got out towards the South just before the roads were closed, but the Head and his family got stuck. I made it back to school in time for the new term, the Head made it back several days later. Felt very unfair at the time. Still does.

Had similar thoughts today seeing the news reports that the Kapitan Khlebnikov has managed to get stuck in the sea ice near the Antarctic peninsula. I'm already envious that these folks are getting to travel to Snow Hill on the KK before it's retirement - and the bonus of getting safely stuck will give them serious bragging rights when they get home...

Bromsgrove and Birmingham November 2009

There's been something of a pattern to my trips this year - Barcelona, Beijing, Bishkek, Boston, Budapest - and Bromsgrove and Birmingham fit right into that pattern.

These two trips (both work-related) covered different aspects of my work role.

The Bromsgrove trip was to spend a while talking with a group of Open University Associate Lecturers about the range of collaborative tools the OU makes available to them now, and to speculate about the new tools that might become available in the next two or three years to either complicate what they're doing further or to help them manage the torrent of information. I enjoyed the session - and I hope my audience got something from it too.

The Birmingham trip was a visit to the Brave New World of the JISC/CETIS Conference - last year I made a comment about being surrounded by twitters this time I was one of them. As always this meeting brings together a really good mix of new technology experimenters and folks responsible for running production systems - and provides plenty to think about.

Budapest November 2009

My last visit to Budapest was in June 1997 - the city has changed since then. One of my strongest memories was that we couldn't find any of the traditional Budapest coffee shops we'd been promised - they all seemed to have been converted into western european (and US) burger bars. This time it had all changed - and the US burger chains have all been supplemented by Starbucks and Costa Coffee - not traditional perhaps, but at least I was able to get a reasonable cup of coffee. The bonus was that alongside the cappuccinos and lattes it was possible to get some decent local cake.

I was in Budapest for a two day workshop on standards for exchanging elearning materials - and (I suspect) as a result of good planning by the organisers, the one point during my time there when there weren't sessions to attend coincided with a time when the skies cleared and the cold drizzle stopped.

I walked the length Andrassy ut on the Pest side of the river - from Heroes' Square (which was in mid-rehearsal for Armistice Day) down towards the Chain Bridge, then along past the Parliament Building. Budapest has more than it's fair share of statues - the most moving I saw were the Shoes on the Danube by Gyula Pauer - commemorating Hungarian Jews shot and thrown into the Danube in 1944.

And it was a useful conference too!

Budapest November 2009

Cordoba October 2009

The trip to Cordoba wasn’t just a quick break in the autumn sunshine clutching a camera, although it was fantastic to be able to wander around in shirt sleeves and to eat outside late in the evening. This trip was about writing rather than just being a tourist. Over the last few months (which have significantly more sedentary, in travel terms, than earlier in the year - 30-something days annual leave each year just isn’t enough to feed a serious travel habit) I’ve been contemplating writing more about my trips in addition to documenting them with pictures.

Searching for some assistance, I signed up for a long weekend course on travel writing with Travellers Tales . The location (based in Seville and Cordoba) was certainly an attraction - I’ve been to Spain three times over the last couple of years, but never ventured south of Madrid.

In hopes of keeping the carbon footprint of the trip down we looked at trying to get to Andalucia by train - perfectly doable (See the Man in Seat 61) but it does take time and it we just couldn’t make it fit into the work diaries. Heading south would have been OK, but getting back north required too many train changes and more time than we had available. Our second option, in an attempt to keep out of the clutches of Ryanair (other budget airlines are available) was to fly to Madrid and use the AVE (the Spanish high-speed train service) to complete the journey. The AVE is a delight compared with most of the UK domestic train companies, but figuring out the quirks of the RENFE website is an art form all of its own (Seat61 has lots to say on the subject). The trick being knowing when to stick with Spanish version of the site, and when to jump into the English version. I’m still not quite sure why the tickets south in ‘Turista’-class cost significantly more than the tickets north in ‘Preferente’. Having criticised the Spanish railways website - I’m pretty sure there isn’t a Spanish-language version of the TrainLine website.

The Travellers Tales course was extremely good - a mix of tutorial/seminar and research in the streets, alley-ways and buildings of Cordoba, writing time (and time to read what you’ve been writing to tutors and fellow students) and lots of time to talk about travelling and writing. Highly recommended.

I did take a few photos in Seville and Cordoba but a return trip to spend more time behind the camera is certainly in order.
Cordoba October 2009

If the writing here is any better than before Jonathan, Dan and my class-mates get the credit - if it’s no better (or even worse) I take the blame.

Orbis September 2009

Haven't managed a trip recently but did need my passport to get airside at Stansted Airport recently to have a look at the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital.

Orbis September 2009

I've been supporting Orbis for a number of years - ever since I came across their plane at an airport somewhere on the Indian Sub-continent (either in India or Pakistan, I guess), but this was the first chance I'd had to have a look at the plane (a very heavily modified DC-10) close up. The plane is a mixture of lecture theatre and teaching hospital with wings - capable of both delivering and teaching modern eye surgery. It's a really inspiring project both technically and educationally - and I wish the volunteers every success on their next trip (to Rajasthan in India).

The organisation have fund-raising offices in several countries, including both the US and the UK. The UK branch website is at

Missing a Muse

Over the last five years I’ve taken at least one photograph every day – when I’ve been travelling there have been lots of different things to photograph. When I’ve been at home I’ve taken pictures at work, in the house and round the garden.

However my fallback has always been to take another picture of the exceptionally photogenic cat that we acquired when we bought our house just over 11 years ago. At that time Solomon was five or six years old (we were never sure which), and had always lived in the house. Solomon finally passed away on Sunday morning, he was probably 17 years old. Here are a few of my favourite pictures from the huge number I’ve taken over the last few years.

Boston & Montreal July 2009

Spent two really good weeks in the US and Canada. First week at the Sakai Conference in Boston, and the second at the IMS GLC Quarterly Meeting in Montreal. These were both really good meetings and were in two of the most european cities in North America (and that's a compliment).

Did manage to find a little bit of time to take a few pictures in/around Boston and Montreal, and went whale-watching during the weekend between the conferences.
Boston July 2009
Whales July 2009
Montreal July 2009

A Whole New Geography July 2009

My blog posts are mostly about places I've been - this one is about places I've only just found out about, and I don't expect to be visting them any time soon.

The in-flight info system on my trans-atlantic Air Canada flight (where I'm sitting typing this - although I'll post it a bit later) tells me more about where I'm flying over than any other in-flight system I can remember using - it feels like I've discovered a whole new layer of geography (apologies to my geography teachers from many years ago if they told me this).

I've just passed over the Porcupine Bank - and I'm now heading towards the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone. Some of the other places I can see on screen are the Immarssuak Seachannel and the Great Meteor Tablemount. I knew there were lots of geographic features under the North Atlantic - I've just never known what any of them were called, and since this is an Air Canada flight, I even know what some of these features are called in French (Rive de Porc-epic, Chenal de Immarssuak and Butte du Grand Meteor).

Suddenly there are an awful lot more place names to think about.

Wimbledon July 2009

A real bonus - an offer of Centre Court ticket on Men's Final Day very gratefully accepted. The silver cloud from Andy Murray's semi-final loss to Andy Roddick.

Sat in the middle of a 15,000-strong collection of tennis fans and celebs, ranging from Alex Ferguson and Richard Branson to Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg, to watch the marathon match between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick. For the first four sets it really wasn't apparent how Federer was going to complete his 15th Grand Slam title - which must have been worrying for the folks who turned up in the "Federer 15" shirts.

During the fifth set it wasn't clear how either player was going to prevail, other than as a result of the other collapsing from exhaustion. That was pretty much what happening - as Federer won in the 30th game of the final set I couldn't tell if Roddick was reeling from disappointment or exhaustion.

As the final set rolled on a number of the folks around me made apologies and needed to head to the airport to catch flights - I was starting to worry about whether I was going to be able to make my flight on Tuesday morning.

My seat was in an ideal position (in terms of the light) to take photos - a few are below.

Wimbledon July 2009

China and Kyrgyzstan, May/June 2009

My second big trip of 2009 – after the coastline and wildlife of The Falkland Islands in February this trip was about as far from the sea as it’s possible to get – Urumqi claims to be the ‘city farthest from the sea in the world’.

We flew into Beijing, spending just a few hours there before flying back west again to Urumqi – then we took to the road heading west along the northern side of the Takla Makan desert through Korla, Kuqa and Aksu – then south across the desert to Hotan before tracking the south side of the desert to Yarkand and Kashgar. From Kashgar we briefly went south along the Chinese section of the Karakorum Highway, before turning north over the Torugart Pass into Kyrgyzstan. We spent a couple of nights in the mountains staying in yurts before finishing up in Bishkek.

I’ve included links to a selection of the photographs I took on the trip – just click on the images below to see more from each section.

Takla Makan


Seeing and crossing the Takla Makan. Peter Fleming did this by horse and camel and took several months, we went across one of new ‘desert highways’ in an air-conditioned bus in about 6 hours. The Takla Makan really does fit all the desert stereotypes.

‘Doing’ at least part of the Karakorum Highway. I bought the KKH guidebook in the early 1990’s when I visited Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province – so it was high time I travelled along at least part of the route.

Seeing Kashgar before all the old bits get demolished. The name (for me) conjures up images of camels and a dusty oasis town – there are still a few camels, and it’s still dusty in places, but there are now an awful lot of new buildings too. A lot of building and demolition work going on at the moment involves removing big chunks of the (mainly Uighur) old town – lots of 500 year buildings are being bulldozed as potential earthquake hazards. They can’t be that vulnerable to earthquakes if they’re been there for 500 years.

Learning about Uighur culture. I didn’t know a huge amount about the Uighurs before we booked the trip – it was fascinating to learn about the culture and to meet lots of very friendly and welcoming Uighur people.

Staying in a Yurt These are the traditional tents used in the high mountains in Central Asia – I’ve now spent two nights sleeping in them. And I remember at least some of the reasons why I retired my tent and promoted myself to places with hot and cold running water.

Having a city-break in Bishkek. OK, it’s a long way from the UK for a city break – but Bishkek is an fantastic place to spend a few days, a mix of Central Asian cultures, Soviet-era architecture and western comforts.


Chinese Breakfasts. I love Chinese food – and almost all the evening meals were either Chinese or (more commonly) Uighur, but I really can’t manage Chinese breakfasts. The group got to the stage of fantasising about muesli with cold milk – and the reaction on discovering that we would get the option of porridge once we crossed the boarder into Kyrgzstan was close to hysteria.

Long-drop toilets. There are some occasions when I feel the need to offer thanks that I have a really awful sense of smell – this holiday provided many such occasions.

My other half has posted some of her thoughts on the trip

We did this trip with Explore! – ‘Crossroads of Asia’ – and thanks to all our companions, to Ali and Olga our local guides – and particularly to Craig our Explore! Tour Leader.

Barcelona May 2009

My first IMS trip of the year - and for change on the eastern side of the Atlantic - i.e. not too much travelling time and no jet lag. Excellent meeting and lots of really good Spanish food to accompany it. Despite the full programme did grab a couple of quick outings to take a few pictures.

Barcelona May 2009

Alderney March 2009

Once more onto the Beach. After three weeks back at work it seemed like a good time to head to the coast again – this time not quite so far south. We were repeating a holiday from 1994 – using the same airline and staying in the same hotel. Aurigny still fly the same Britten-Norman Trislanders between Southampton and Alderney – the stretch version of the Islander I used in the Falklands. The Belle Vue Hotel is still run by the same folks that were running it in 1994 too. The island really didn’t feel like it had changed too much since 1994 (but perhaps that’s related to flaws in my memory!). One thing which hadn't changed was the weather, we had splendid weather in April 94 and during our March week this year we had blue skies every day too.

We spent a splendid slow-paced week walking along the coasts and paths of Alderney – saw over 40 different bird species although they weren’t quite as amenable to photography as the Falkland ones.

Alderney March 2009

Only problem now is that I can’t see how to keep up this work:vacation ratio for the rest of the year.

Falkland Islands February 2009

When the snow lies deep and crisp and even across Oxfordshire, it’s a good clue that it’s time to head south. I headed pretty much as far south as I could get on a direct air link from Oxfordshire specifically to the Falkland Islands flying on the MoD air-bridge with a brief stopover in the Ascension Islands. After trudging through deep snow at RAF Brize Norton it was rather pleasant to get to spend a couple of hours sitting in the sun on the ‘Transit Patio’ on Ascension Island before flying on south to Mount Pleasant near Stanley.

The Falkland Islands aren’t (at any time of year) as warm as Ascension but it was a very pleasant 16-18 C in mid February – and on most days the sun shone and the wildlife was amazingly accessible. I never visited anywhere where the birds are so co-operative. Many centuries of seclusion from ground-based predators has made the birds, particularly, easy to see. Back in the North I rather expect any passing snipe to either hide in the undergrowth completely or at very least to disappear into the distance at the slightest provocation – with the magellanic snipe I encountered on Sea Lion Island their idea of an evasive manoeuvre was to jump about 2 feet then carry on feeding.

I spent a total of 11 day in the Falklands – three days on Saunders Island, four days on Sea Lion Island and the rest based in Stanley.

I was fortunate to get to spend my time on Saunders staying at the Cabin at the Neck – a magical place to stay within sight and sound of gentoo, magellanic and king penguin colonies and very close to a rockhopper penguin and black-browed albatross colony. There is also a huge elephant seal colony just a few miles up the coast on the appropriately name Elephant Point. The guide books suggest that the Cabin is going to be pretty primitive, but they’re out of date! These days the Cabin has hot and cold running water, central heating and mains electricity – I’ve lived in worse. I wouldn’t hold out much prospect for Room Service though the nearest other buildings are 10 miles away (which here equates to an hour in a Land-Rover – the vehicle of choice for most people in the Islands).

After Saunders I travelled by FIGAS (Falklands Island Govt Air Service) down to Sea Lion Island on the southern edge of the Falklands. This was the first time I’ve stayed at a hotel with an airstrip but no car park. Sea Lion was major change from Saunders – it feels less remote and rugged but in fact it’s much less disturbed than Saunders Island and still has lots of the tussac grass that once covered most of the Falklands – this provides shelter for lots of smaller birds as well for a few larger mammals such as sea lions (you’d expect that given the name of the island) and elephant seals. Neither of these animals take kindly to being stepped on – and they’re both impressively large with lots of teeth and in the case of the elephant seals spectacularly bad breath.

The bird-watching on Sea Lion is something I’ll remember for a very long time, and the undoubted highlight was lying on the beach just after dawn as the gentoo penguins came to investigate the new arrival on the sand. Having established that I wasn’t good to eat they opted simply to stand watching me watching them – wildlife photography with a wide-angle lens is a whole new experience.

The other real characters on both Saunders and Sea Lion Island are the Striated Caracaras – one of the world’s rarer birds of prey (except on the Falklands). These birds are very confident and incredibly curious (a combination which probably explains their rarity) – they will attempt to carry off a substantial camera bag should the opportunity arise and they are well able to move a heavy bag even if they can’t get off the ground with it. This strength is put to rather better effect (from the caracara’s perspective) at other times by pulling the heads off penguins!

Back in Stanley I had the opportunity to visit a major King penguin colony at Volunteer Beach – this is described as being the most accessible King Penguin colony in the world – which meant that it required a hour on gravel roads, then 90 minutes in a Land-Rover with a very good driver to reach the colony (all assuming you’ve already got to Stanley). I had a wonderful couple of hours at the colony and on the beaches nearby before the crowds descended! My guides (Arlette Bloomfield from Falkland Islands Holiday and Tony Smith from Discovery Falklands) had wisely advised that I needed get to the colony as early as possible before the cruise ship crowds arrived – they were absolutely right. The guidance I’d been given about keeping your distance from the penguins and waiting until they came to you clearly hadn’t sunk in with at least some of the cruise ship passengers. What’s the penalty for harassing a penguin?

The Falkland Islands are now firmly on the cruise ship itinerary – there are economic benefits to the Islands in this but there are downsides too. A big cruise ship can easily double the population of Stanley when it arrives and completely transforms the town – local advice was to either leave town or stay in doors. In addition to this any attempt to get significant numbers of people to a site such as Volunteer Beach is clearly going to be problematic. As we drove to Volunteer Beach it was clear how much damage had been done by 4x4’s to the ground between the road end and the penguin colony. On the day I visited the colony there were well over 40 vehicles parked up near the beach and something like 120 or 130 people milling about amongst the penguins – I can’t see how this is sustainable!

My first trip to the Falklands was a fantastic experience – at one time (many years ago) it was just somewhere in the South Atlantic where we fought a minor war, for me it’s now THE place to go and see, hear and photograph a fantastic range of wildlife. The only real question that remains – on my next trip do I revisit Saunders and Sea Lion Islands or do I make time to get to some of the other 700 islands?

I’ve put together three collections of photos from this trip – a small selection from the vast number of images I took.

The first set will I hope give an impression of what the Falklands Island is like at this time of year (early autumn in the southern hemisphere).

Falkland Islands February 2009

The second set is a collection of penguin pictures from Saunders and Sea Lion Islands and Volunteer Beach.

Falklands JustPenguins February 2009

The third set is my attempt to put together an illustrated bird-list for the trip – there are 37 different species shown here. I saw a few more but they didn’t hang around for long enough to be photographed!

Falkland BirdList February 2009

A word about logistics – I organised this trip through Falkland Island Holidays in Stanley who sorted out all my local flights with FIGAS, the accommodation throughout the trip and even my ‘meal packs’ on Saunders Island. I sorted my MoD airbridge flights with the Falkland Island Government Office in London. On Sea Lion Island I stayed at Sea Lion Lodge, and my chauffeur and guide to get to Volunteer Beach was Tony Smith of Discovery Falklands.

Useful URLs
Falkland Islands Holidays
Falkland Island Government Office
Sea Lion Lodge
Discovery Falkland
Falklands Conservation

Snow Event February 2009

I'm not quite sure how much snow (and associated disruption) is required to make a Snow Event - but that's what the media have been calling the weather in the UK over the last few days.

It's made the commute from Oxford to Milton Keynes much more entertaining, and provided more photo opportunities than a typical February week.

Snow Event February 2009

Oxford January 2009

Travelling this month has pretty much been limited to browsing the guide book collection.

However several weeks of enforced inactivity (flu & pneumonia) has given me the chance to reflect on the statement I made in early January last year - "I don't think I'll be doing quite so much travelling in 2008".

So how did I do...

It depends how you measure - in 2008 I "only" clocked up 65,000 airmiles, well down on the 102,000 I did in 2007 (and I only spent 60-something nights away from home, as opposed to over 100 in 2007 - there's a correlation there I'm sure).

On other measures the change isn't quite so clear - 2008 involved 10 trips which meant 39 flights, 2007 11 trips and 41 flights.

So what about my carbon footprint - the 10 trips in 2008 included 6 work trips and 4 leisure ones - the work ones generating 7.3 tonnes of CO2, and the leisure ones 3.2.

My car also made a contribution to global warming last year - about 18,000 miles last year (or about 5.8 tonnes of CO2). About 85% of that was my daily commute.

I'm sure I'll be doing less travelling again this year - plans at the moment only get me to about 20,000 miles. We'll see.