A few weeks ago now, I placed my camera on the kitchen worktop. When I went to pick it up, rather ironically, the safety strap got caught on a drawer handle and pulled it out of my hand, such that it fell on the tiled floor. At first it didn’t work, but after switching it off and on a few times, it miraculously came back to life. It had a blurred spot in the bottom left corner of the images anyway, so I decided to buy a new one, just in case it decided to pack up when I needed it most.
Having invested in spare batteries, I decided to by the same make, but ‘upgrade’ to a more expensive model (as would-be photographers tend to do) – a Sony RX100 (from a WX500). On the face of it, it was the same camera, with much the same functions, but it had a 1″ sensor and had rave reviews.
It was only when I’d got it out of the box and tried it a few times that I realised it had a very poor zoom of only 3.6x. (My old one had a 30x zoom). And it appears the ‘wide’ panorama isn’t quite as wide as my old one. But, the images do seem to be a lot better. To cover all the bases, I took both cameras with me on my walk from home today. The route was a little challenging in places, due to the snow, but the weather was fantastic.
I always shrink the images to around 250k (to save WordPress space and you waiting aaages for the images to load). Four of the images below, were taken with my old camera, but I would guess that you cannot tell which they are.
When I look out of the window today, it seems inconceivable that only a week ago it was snowing and we had around a foot (30cm) of snow covering our garden. However the temperatures have risen quite sharply since and all that snow has now gone. Our daffodils are starting to emerge and there are signs of Spring everywhere.
Over the weekend we were pleasantly surprised to see at least a dozen different birds in and around our bird feeder. We had the usual Great, Blue, Coal, Crested and Willow/Marsh* Tits, who are regular winter visitors, but in addition there were several Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Blackbirds and Rock Buntings plus a Robin, a Greenfinch and a Pied Wagtail.
*I never can tell the difference.
Most of my photos were not particularly good, but I did also go for a short walk up the path behind our chalet yesterday and I thought I’d share a few of the better images for you to enjoy.
I enjoyed my bisses walk last week so much, I decided to try another. This time I chose a section of the Grande Bisse de Lens, starting (and finishing) in the village of Icogne.
My plan was to do a 5km (3 mile) section heading north, then return the same way. But at the start of the bisse, there was a sign saying it was closed in 3 km (2 miles). I still thought it would be worth doing, so I set off. Sure enough, at a junction with another path, there was a sign saying ‘Stop’ (pic 18).
However, I was curious to see why it was closed, so I continued for maybe another half a mile or kilometre and found the offending blockage. (See pic 21). I therefore returned to the junction and took the higher path back to Icogne.
During my walk I spotted not 1, but 5 lemony yellow butterflies, which I took to be Brimstones. (Sorry, no pics). My book suggests hibernated species emerge quite early in the year and it has been unseasonably warm in the Valais for the past week or so.
While the upper part of the Val d’Hérens is covered in snow, the lower part of the valley is completely clear. So, with the sun shining brightly, I decided to take my camera for a walk down the path from Euseigne to Sion. Although it’s a walk I’ve done and posted before, I was certain I’d find something new or unusual to photograph and I wasn’t disappointed.
The early morning frost made for some interesting images and one of the wooden bridges had been dislodged due to a landslide last year, making it unusable. However, I have no idea why there was a sweeping brush propped up next to the small shrine. (See pic 24).
I think there’s something uniquely satisfying about the deep sounding ‘creak’ or crunch that you get when walking on fresh snow. I’m not sure if it’s just the sound, or the knowledge that you are the first person to walk on that particular spot for a while, or the fact that you have some grip and are less likely to slip, or maybe it’s all three. Anyway, our car had to visit the garage to have its winter tyres put on, so I went for a walk up and down the river (Borgne). As you will see from the images below, it was a little misty, at least to start with, but I think that adds to the atmosphere. To add to at least my interest, there were a lot of fresh animal tracks around, but no animals to be seen unfortunately.
We have a few days of sunshine forecast, so I hope to bring you some brighter pictures later this week. 😀
Below some more photos taken during my recent trip to Malta, which didn’t quite fit into the other 3 categories already posted. This includes a trip to the north east coast and the National Aquarium at Bugibba, which also had a few reptiles. (At least they kept still while being photographed!)
Last but by no means least, as mentioned in my first post, there’s a picture of me presenting a copy of my dad’s book “Bobbing Along”, to the FWA (Fondazzioni Wirt Artna) at their offices in Notre Dame Gate. It contains a whole chapter on his time in Malta and will be added to their archives.
After searching the flights for a late summer/autumn beach holiday, we decided on Mykonos and it proved to be a great choice. Although the wind blew quite strongly some days, the air and sea temperatures were perfect.
As you will see from the selection of suitably watermarked images below, Jude takes much better pictures than I do.
Last weekend, my daughter Sarah and her husband Karl came to stay for a few days. They have done many of the walks in our valley already, but they had never been up to the Cabane de la Tsa. Although closed at this time of the year, the mountain hut sits at 2,607m (8.553ft) and provides a nice circular walk from Arolla.
The remainder of our holiday was spent on the Finnish mainland. After catching the ferry back from Brändö, we drove up the west coast via the beautiful, UNESCO World Heritage town of Rauma and then on to Yyteri beach, which is one of the longest sandy beaches in Scandinavia at around 6km. From there we turned east to our base for the next 4 nights, which was a self-catering wooden lodge, or chalet, next to Lake Vesijako.
We returned to spend 2 more nights in the delightful city of Turku, which is the oldest town in Finland, with stops en route at the towns of Lammi and Hämeenlinna
Some other things I learnt during this trip (which you might also like to know):
- As well as having thousands of islands, there are 100’s if not also thousands of lakes in Finland as well (and the Finns take great advantage of these by having weekend lodges close by).
- There are a huge number and variety of mushrooms and toadstools in the woods. (During one walk, I met a man and his wife foraging. They had collected at least one big bucket load of one particular type).
- The woods are not all conifers as I imagined they might be. There appears to be an equal number of deciduous trees as well.
- The people are extremely welcoming and friendly.
- The Finnish language seems to specialise in very long words, which often include double A’s, E’s, I’s, K’s, M’s, N’s or U’s. The longest word I encountered, which I don’t think is exceptional, was 25 letters long.
- I don’t know the significance, but many (most?) street or track names end in ‘antie’, ‘entie’, ‘ontie’ or ‘untie’.
- The peak summer holiday season is from mid-June to mid-August and, before and after that period, you may find some things are not running or closed. (Though the ferries appear to run all year round – when it’s not completely iced over of course!)
- In the depths of winter, when conditions allow, it’s possible to drive over the ice to some islands. (No doubt special tyres and a brave or trusting nature are required for this).
- Last, but by no means least, the beer in Finland (and Stockholm) is pretty good. They certainly know how to make a tasty IPA. 😊 Cheers! 🍻
Let me take you on a little journey from Stockholm to the Åland Islands, which are an autonomous region of Finland…
Travelling to new countries (and blogging about them) certainly teaches you a few things, like there is hardly any tidal movement in the Baltic sea (which is why the thousands of islands are always visible); the water is not as salty as the ‘normal’ sea and, despite belonging to Finland, the islanders all speak Swedish (and most also speak English thankfully).
We caught a Viking Line ferry, called Grace, which was more like a cruise ship, from Stockholm to Turku, on the Finnish mainland. It’s a sailing which is highly recommended, if you ever get the opportunity, as the boat weaves its way through the almost impossibly narrow channels between the many islands. After an overnight stop and hiring a car, we then hopped on and off 2 more ferries to get to the group of interconnected islands called Brändö. (See map pic B11).
A particular highlight of our time there was a day on the island of Jurmo. We arrived too early for the ferry, but an extremely friendly local, called Ari, offered to give us a lift in his small boat. There was a harvest festival type celebration on that weekend and we were treated to a tour of the island on a tractor trailer.
Like yesterday, I’ve divided my photos into 3 distinct galleries. (Click on any image to get a larger view).
The ferry journey: