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


Back in the early days of LockDown I did a series of blog posts based on desk-based exploration of some of the sheets pulled at random from my collection of OS Landranger sheets - all part of planning what I was going to do After LockDown. 

That little bit of virtual exploration included 10 sheets from Shetland down to the Borders and to Dumfries and Galloway.  At the time I promised to do a further set of sheets but got otherwise distracted.

So, resuming where I left off - Series Two - OS Landranger Sheet 83 - Newton Stewart & Kirkcudbright.

This is one of the sheets I know fairly well.  It covers the area between the Galloway Forest, and the Galloway coast - mostly Wigtown Bay.

The main road across the sheet from west to east is the A75 - linking Stranraer (and the boats to Northern Ireland) and Castle Douglas (just off the eastern edge of the sheet).  I've driven (or more accurately, been driven) across this sheet more times that I can remember - travelling between my childhood home just outside Belfast and a grand-parental home in the Scottish Borders (on OS Landranger Sheet 79).

I can see there are also fragments of disused railway line at various places on the map - but I suspect these were Beeching casualties - and that they were also long gone when I was using British Rail to get to Stranraer in my student days.

These visits both by car and (potentially) by train were long long ago - however I have had one real (as opposed to virtual) visit to the area in more recent years. 

Three landmarks I picked out for that visit were

(i) Threave Castle. On Threave Island in the middle of the River Dee and one-time home of the 'Black Douglases'. I've got lots Douglas connections in my family tree but haven't yet been able to claim a direct link!

Threave Castle

(ii) Isle of Whithorn.  Which isn't currently an isle at all - but once was an important pilgrimage site.

St Ninians Chapel, Isle of Whithorn

(iii) Ross. Aside from natural curiosity, I think I mostly went here so I could hear my sat nav announcing "Ross. You've arrived in Ross." as I arrived in Ross.  Around the time I was visiting (in 2017) the nearby island of Little Ross was on the market - complete with lighthouse and a macabre history.  We decided not to put in an offer. 

Ross Bay

And for the next visit?  Like a lot of this coastline there are a huge number of little bays and inlets to explore - and I think a bit more time to do just that would be good.  The other place that would deserve a visit is Wigtown  - known for the abundance of second-hand bookshops, and for the annual Book Festival.

And from the southwest corner of Scotland - the next step (in real life requiring quite a lot of road miles, and then an overnight ferry then at least one more ferry after that) is to Sheet 1 (Shetland: Yell, Unst & Fetlar).

Monthly Report, August 2020

New month, new report.

  • Reporting Days: 31
  • Location: Oxford (not sure how that happened)
  • Miles Walked: 134
  • Miles Driven: 200
  • Gardens Tended: 1 (Oxford)
  • Puffins Seen: None
  • Photographs Taken: Hundreds (mostly trees)
  • Zoom/Teams/Hangout Meetings Attended: 0

Another very satisfactory month - despite not managing to get back to Shetland (if you're trying not to fly, it's not easy to do a quick trip North) and some rather indifferent weather down south - I did manage to spend plenty of time away from the desk and in and around the local Oxfordshire nature reserves. I have successfully avoided any Zoom, Teams or Hangout meetings again. 

This month the southern garden got significantly more attention that it has recently - several of the bigger shrubs have been restored to the size they were ten years ago (have pencilled in another round of chopping for mid-2030) and it feels a lot more open now.

C S Lewis Nature Reserve

River Cherwell at Mesopotamia

Lye Valley

Shotover Country Park

Between C S Lewis and Shotover

Objectives for the coming month; getting back to Shetland - but hoping that someone else will cut the grass and finish painting the northern fences that didn't get done last month.