Monthly Report, December 2020

Apologies - page formatting on the phone view is messed up, am trying to disentangle it.

December was a case of grabbing the opportunity - specifically the opportunity to have a quick trip up to Shetland, between one lockdown and the next (correctly) anticipated lockdown.

  • Reporting Days: 31
  • Location: Oxford & Shetland
  • Miles Walked: 104
  • Miles Driven: 1350
  • Gardens Tended: 0 (unless you can count filling bird feeders as gardening)
  • Puffins Seen: None - but I did see guillemots
  • Photographs Taken: Thousands (mostly waves)

The fix of fresh air and sea spray on Shetland was a much needed restorative to the inland views around Oxford - and hopefully the next fix of Shetland will be a bit longer than was possible this month.

Low winter sunshine on Scatness

Low winter sunshine on Scatness

Rolling waves on Quendale Bay

Sunset on Quendale Bay

Guillemots at Sumburgh Head

Blue skies at the Lye Valley

High water in Mesopotamia

Lye Valley Boardwalk

Monthly Report, November 2020

 That's was November, that was.

  • Reporting Days: 30
  • Location: Almost entirely Oxford
  • Miles Walked: 104
  • Miles Driven: 330
  • Gardens Tended: 2 (Oxford and Surrey - total of 5 gardening days)
  • Puffins Seen: None
  • Photographs Taken: Dozens (mostly trees)
  • Online Meetings attended: None

I didn't really enjoy November.  I've not much liked LockDown 2. It's mix of we've been here before, alongside the expectation that we'll be here again early in the New Year - combined with the perception that an awful lot of people seem to be treating LockDown as a negotiating position (not helped by the sometimes contradictory slew of 'rules' and 'advice' offered by both the Scottish and UK governments).  I'm pretty sure that the definition of 'essential' has never before been quite so flexible.

The shortened days have also been a challenge.  Getting outside is always easier when there is either lots of sunshine (and daylight around) or better yet combined with a coastline within reach.  Oxfordshire offered neither in November.  

It did however offer plenty of woodland within easy reach - and I did manage a woodland walk almost every day (except when I gave myself a day off by spending the day in the garden) - and as well as clocking up another 100 walking miles,  I've also clocked up another 30 pictures of the day (I did wonder about rebranding this to tree-of-the-day or wood-of-the-day on a couple of occasions). 

A significant number of the pictures of the day were taken in the C S Lewis Nature Reserve and the almost adjacent Shotover Country Park - for the purpose of this LockDown at least, I'm considering these two areas to be my 'local patch'.

Bury Knowle Park

Green Lane, Shotover

Shotover Country Park

Shotover Country Park

Shotover Plain

Bury Knowle Park

28 November

Pictures of the Day.

Oxford. Milton Keynes. Warwick. Shetland. Antarctic Peninsula. Falkland Islands. Melbourne. 

















Monthly Report, October 2020

Another month navigated.

  • Reporting Days: 31
  • Location: Mostly Shetland :-)
  • Miles Walked: 120
  • Miles Driven: 800
  • Gardens Tended: 1 (Shetland)
  • Puffins Seen: None (although the occasional guillemot was spotted, and lots of autumn migrants too)
  • Photographs Taken: Thousands (mostly waves and beaches)
  • Online Meetings attended: None

It was good, in this very strange year, to finally get a month where I finally got to spend most of the month within (on good days at least) sight of the sea.

It's actually relatively straightforward to live a social distanced lifestyle at the south end of Shetland - even when it's busy on the beach (i.e. there is someone within sight), the traditional greeting is a shouted "Aye, Aye" before heading off in your separate directions. 

The time on Shetland had a certain symmetry to it - 4 or 5 days of rubbish weather, followed by a couple of weeks of decent autumn weather then another 4 or 5 days of rubbish weather.

The good weather encouraged me to spend lots of time outside - and to make up of the lack of sea air in August and September.  

It would have been lovely to report lots of evenings watching the Mirrie Dancers (aka the northern lights) or afternoons watching orca at Sumburgh Head but neither put in an appearance until after I'd got the boat back south.  Which does rather reinforce the view that I should stayed a wee bit longer, but there again I probably say that every time I need to spend time off Shetland.

Looking across West Voe from Scat Ness to Sumburgh Head

Shetland is very good at sunsets!

Looking down from Compass Head, with clouds still on top of Fitful Head

Calm waters at St Ninian's Isle

Waves at Quendale Bay

Showers sometimes mean rainbows, Over Quendale

Spiggie Beach

Waves at Greatness Voe

Calm water at Scat Ness

One thing that is scarce on Shetland (apart from crowds!) is trees - so it was good to see some autumn colour in Headington when I made it back from the beach! 

Autumn Colours, Headington

Monthly Report, September 2020

New month, new report.

  • Reporting Days: 30

  • Location: Mostly Oxford (but I did make it back to Shetland just before the end of the reporting period)

  • Miles Walked: 114

  • Miles Driven: 750

  • Gardens Tended: 1 (Oxford)

  • Puffins Seen: None

  • Photographs Taken: Hundreds (mostly trees)

  • Zoom/Teams/Hangout Meetings Attended: One

  • Major Birthdays: One

Circumstances (mainly the timing of the major birthday) meant that most of the month was spent around Oxford - so I was able to add to my extensive collection of pictures taken on local walks near the Oxford house - mostly around the C S Lewis Nature Reserve, Shotover Country Park, the Lye Valley, Mesopotamia and Sydlings Copse - and I did get to watch (mostly from the comfort of a deck chair) the summer slowly tip over into early autumn.

Lye Valley

Sydlings Copse

C S Lewis Reserve

Shotover Country Park


The socially distanced haul north up the M40, M42, M6, M74 etc to Shetland (which included what I think was my 21st night in a Premier Inn and my 64th night on a Northlink ferry) just crept in at the end of the month - and I just had enough time to fit in a walk on Quendale Beach and on Scat Ness before the rain closed in to end the month damply.

Leaving Aberdeen

Quendale Beach

Scat Ness

21st September

One the benefits (or downsides, the jury is still out) of having taken photos meticulously (obsessively?) over a significant number of years is that I can pick any random day through the year - and (thanks to the habit of designating a "Picture of the Day"), I have a ready-curated snapshot of that day through the years.

For instance the 21st September - the collection starts in 2005.

2005 - Walking in the Pyrennes

My recollection is of doing lots of relatively short - but very hot - walks on that trip.  And I still have nightmares about getting to Toulouse Airport in the morning rush hour in a rental car - back in the days when we travelled!

2006 - One of many offices at the Open University

I worked at the Open University for about 20 years - and had a lot of offices.  This office doesn't exist any more - the building was completely gutted and rebuilt as open-plan.

2007 - My Abstract Phase

I got a bit experimental at various times over the last 15 years of photography - this involved a long exposure and a spinning office chair.

2008 - Sunny Sunday in the Oxford garden

Still have the garden. Still have the garden furniture.

2009 - Journals (His and Hers)

I've kept journals at various times over the years - but never for as long as I've kept a photo-journal.

2010 - With Nikon

Some things do change over the years - still have grey hair, still have that sweatshirt - but the camera got traded-in and replaced.

2011 - Open University Quiz

Never did get an explanation about why there were questions on the Open University fences.

2012 - Renovations at Sumburgh Head

Have spent a lot of time at Sumburgh Head over the years - including their big refurbishment.

2013 - Childhood Travels

My enthusiasm for maps - and for travelling - came from my early years - my father kept 'holiday journals' and plotted lots of the caravan holidays on an old-fashion paper map.

2014 - Coniston, Lake District

On holiday in the Lake District - my recollection it that I'd just spent a month exploring some of the remoter Scottish islands (including St Kilda in the Outer Hebrides and Foula in the Shetland Islands) and stopped off in the Lakes for a couple of weeks on the way back south.

2015 - In the Balance

My diary has a note that talks about searching for a work-life balance... and then says something about eating more fresh fruit.

2016 - Free Cakes

It's always good to be sent a box of free cakes - these came from Moo as a thank you for being a loyal customer.

2017 - Warwick Business School

During my Warwick years I regularly stayed on campus to get out of doing the commute from Oxford every day - sometimes the views were better than others!

2018 - Giving Blood

I started giving blood when I was a student - then stopped for far too long - and until the end of 2019 was donating again regularly, haven't felt that keen to venture into the donation centre at the local hospital over recent months.

2019 - University of Stirling

Passing through.  Stopped off in Stirling to join in at a conference on rewilding then headed on to Aberdeen to get the ferry north to Shetland.

And in 2020? This year I'm spending 21st September in Oxford.

2020 - Same Garden. Same Chairs as 2008

2020 - Different Camera from 2010

2020 - Still enthusing about maps (see 2013)

2020 - More Fruit and Veg than 2015