Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Rhubard and no custard


My new printer arrived today. An Epson 2880 which prints up to A3+ size. Tried it out this afternoon and made 10 prints for the sale. Also a Graflite arrived which will allow me to examine prints in the the proper neutral light.


Another frost this morning! But it was pretty light and the day turned out very warm. Saw a butterfly too ... a Comma. Nextdoor neighbours also gave me 3 rhubarb plants which I dug in with plenty of compost ... I planted them next to the big compost heap anyway. More flowers coming through ... and the Almond is on the verge of blossom. Cut some Daffodils for the table.

This Time Last Year

Got up at 8am and mooched around on the PC. Walked up to Central Market with Sacha but could find no English papers. Managed to find Shoal Creek and followed it all the way to town. Sacha had a couple of swims along the way and I had a friendly chat with some of the bums that hang out there.

At Book People I managed to find a week old Observer and so had lunch at Wholefoods and read the paper for an hour. We then continued down to Town Lake where Sacha had a swim by the Wisterias. Eventually we wandered around to Uncle Billies for a pint or two and Debs arrived around 5pm to pick us up and take us home.

Sat on the stoop chatting until bedtime.

Monday, 30 March 2009

A Frosty Morning - hopefully the last


Four books arrived from the US today. 10 Euros tax to pay but still cheaper than here. Also received stuff from ... the Speedlight Prokit 4 and the ProKit 6 Diffuser as well. It was ordered last Friday and arrived today. Quick. I'll order the gels when they are ready. I tried them out this afternoon ... but only had a daffodil for a subject ... need something just a little bit bigger to see the difference between the different snoots and honeycombs. I'm impressed with the build quality though and hope to make better use of them soon.

The Books were ...

"The Nikon Creative Lighting System: Using the SB-600, SB-800, SB-900, and R1C1 Flashes" by Mike Hagen.

This is a terrible cut and paste job and gives little more than the Nikon Manual. Massively disappointing. I read this in the bath. I almost drowned of boredom.

"On Being a Photographer: A Practical Guide " by David Hurn and Bill Jay.
"The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos" by Michael Freeman.
"Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape" by Rowell Galen.

I've yet to look at these yet.

The only exhibition work I did today was apply labels to the mounted prints I have prepared so far.


Unbelievably their was a frost this morning. I could really do without such a late frost. Last year we had no pears or plums because of this. The daffodils took a hit too but they seemed to recover OK later when it warmed up.

It has been 10c this last few days but the forecast says this will steadily increase until it will be 20c by next week-end. Let's hope.

This Time Last Year

Everyone has a long lie-in and a lazy day. I don't really get myself together until 4pm.

We discover that Cardinals are nesting in the front porch. We have to creep around so as not too disturb them.

Me and Sacha wander down to Central Market. I buy a stack of novels.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Paddling Town Lake in Austin


Amazing thing happened today. Kristine and I walked up to Hof ter Saksen this afternoon and as we came around the corner at the entrance gates Kristine bent down and picked somethng up. It was a part from my tripod which I had lost on the same walk two weeks ago. It made me smile. Later on when I tried to take a few photographs I found that I hadn't brought a memory card! Dumb!

This Time Last year

Up early to shower and shave and then Deb drives me into town - Shady Grove - for I am to meet Jennifer at noon.

She is already there - having driven up from Houston - and we spend a couple of hours chatting and drinking and eating as we catch up on what we've been doing since last June. We had met on a canoeing trip in the Dordogne last summer.

Afterwards we walk down to Barton Springs and the river where we hire a canoe and paddle down to Town Lake and back. I paddle, we chat, she wears a pink coat.

Then it's back up to Uncle Billies for a beer and we drive up to the University of Texas campus and find the Crown and anchor pub for a final beer. It's seven and a half hours later now. Exhausting.

I walk back home, via an ice-cream at Amy's and jennifer has to drive all the back to Houston.

In the evening we drink whisky into the small hours with William. The conversation gets heated. It's all too much.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Blue Hole re-visited



Prepare shots for sale for a catalogue book

This Time Last Year

Up early and packed by the time Debs arrived. We load up the car and then drive around to the Falls so that Sacha can have a walk and a swim.


We drop into the Texas Hill Country Vineyard but they are so offhand and rude that we leave. It's then onto the Woolmer Winery which is very different. We try the tasting menu and pick out two deliciously perfumed whites.

After that we drive into Fredericksberg and have lunch at the Silver Creek.


On the way home we re-visit the Blue Hole and Wimberly. It's 15 years since I camped here with Nathan and Kristian. The place is now closed and looks a bit forlorn. The river and bankside trees still look fine though and we here that the village is going to restore the camp-ground and re-open sometime. I hope so. It was a lovely spot and I remember clearly swinging out over the river on ropes suspended from the trees and dropping into the cold water on a hot Texan day.

back in austin we stay up chatting until bed-time.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Twisted Tree Roots

Twisted roots


What can I say? Kristine wanted to go and no use my explaining you can choose and buy all this stuff on the internet. A deadening experience which was only ameliorated by going to a smart sushi restaurant afterwards. That's the budget gone for next month then.

This Time Last Year

Up at 8 for breakfast. Again it's cool and cloudy. I hit the road by 9.30am and take the park road which leads to the Falls themselves. On the way I pass the Bird Blind and check it out. I see Cotton Rats, Cardinals, Hummingburds, House Finches, Blue Jays, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Howpee and Goldfinch. As well as a squirrel!

Forest and stones

Then it's down to the Falls which are spectacular. I spend a lot of time scrambling about and taking photographs. I stop for some trailmix and an orange and then decide to hike along the river bank back to camp. It's a long hot bushwack that seems to take an age. I take plenty of shots of twisted tree roots along the way.

I get back to camp around 3pm and nap and then shower. I then return to the river to read until 5pm. I;m back in camp to light a fire bout 7pm and eat the last of the chicken. I watch the fire die down til 10pm. My latest night!

Tree roots and stones

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Along the Wolf Trail



Did 10 more prints today and mounted them.

This Time Last Year

Had a bit of a lie in today as the day started cloudy. Visited by Crested-Tits, a Blue Jay and a couple of cardinals at breakfast time.

Hiked out to find the Wolf Trail and followed it towards the Primitive campsites. Nobody was there. I rested at the bluffs overlooking the river before walking on to Jone's spring whre I shot a couple of dragonflies and a Hairstreak. Finally the sun comes out and it gets very hot.


I decide to bushwack a little and follow a small creek (Mercal Creek) down to the main river. I then follow the river back to camp and arrive about 2.30pm. I rest and then shower and spend the afternoon reading. I'm in bed by 8pm!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Moon over the Pedernales River


Lego Pirates and Rockets

Stayed at home with two of Dhar's boys; alexandre and Charles. Spent much of the building and then playing with Lego Pirates. We also watched a couple of episodes of "From the Earth to the Moon" about the Apollo Space program.

This Time Last Year

Woke at 7am and walked down to the river. Photographeed the moon over the river and then walked upstrea,. Waited an age for the sun to reach me and photographed some old trees. Walked back to the tent along the Group Camp Road. Back at camp by 10am for breakfast.

Lazed around til midday.

Walked down to the river with a chair to while away the afternoon. Helped a father and his two sos find the ford so they could cross the river on their bikes.

Found a nice spot to read "The Secret Life of Bees" and cooled off in the river from time to time.


Back in camp at 5pm and just mosied around. Started reading "The Anatomy of Peace". Lit the fire at 7pm.

Debs and Alex arrived at 7.30pm and brought with them a supper of Chicken and salad and wine. Chatted for a while and then took sacha down to the river for a runabout and a swim. They left at 9pm and I watched the fire die down before crashing out.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Chasing Pipevine Swallowtails


This Time Last Year

Up at 7am for a morning walk down to the Pedernales River. The moon is up over a misty sunrise. I take plenty of shots.

I then walk downstream to the edge of the park and see plenty of butterflies; especially Pipevine and Thoas Swallowtails. Also many Red Admirals about. In the river itself I can clearly see some huge fish. I think they are Bass.


I arrived back in camp at about 1pm and had a nap for a couple of hours before going out on another hike. Many butterflies about and a few dragonflies too.

Back in camp about 6pm for another BBQ supper. Watched the fire die down and retired to bed.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Arrive at Pedernales Falls State Park



Spent an hour or so hinging mayyes today in preperation for prints. Run off a few prints too, but really happy with them. Do I buy a new printer or use a Lab?


No work in the garden as it was rainy and windy. Can still see plenty of new things coming though though.

This Time Last Year

Up early and ready and packed for a camping trip. Drove out to Pedernales Falls State Park via Johnson City. Arrived about 3.30pm after doing a grocery shop. I set up camp and then went for a walk down to the river with Deb and Sacha. The dog is crazy for swimming and we spent some time trying to teach her to fetch a stick. Not bad.

Back at camp I lit a fire; we bought wood and firelighters from the camp-host.

Deb and Sacha leave about 7.30pm. I get a BBQ going and cook a couple of sausages for supper. I then watch the fire burn down before crashing out.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Botanical Gardens


More Planting

It feels colder today even though the sun is still shining.

Kristine does plenty of spring-cleaning and I do a few more jobs in the garden. I'm still working on the Ireland photographs too.

This Time Last Year

Up at 8 or so. Suzanne packs ready to leave and we take her to the airport. Usual sad farewells.

We go back home to pick up Sacha and then go down to the Botanic gardens in Zilker Park. We walk around and find a nice red dog-lead. Alex and Paige come down to meet us.

After walking along the river we cross over again for another visit to Uncle Billies for a beer. After that we go to Amy's for an ice-cream.

We spend the evening chatting over a couple of glasses of wine. Early night.


Saturday, 21 March 2009

Twin Falls to Barton Springs



Planted more seed mats in the garden today and dug out some of the Periwinkle (Vinca) which is creeping everywhere.

Saw a damselfly in the garden too ... it briefly landed on my trousers. I think it was a Winter Damselfly (Sympecma fusca). First time I've seen this in the garden.

We had a frost overnight ... which I hope has done no damage. a few of the daffodils looked a bit wilted first thing but they seem to have recovered OK during the day. It's a warm day with clear blue skies again.

This Time Last Year

Today we drive out to the Green Belt and do a long walk from Twin Falls to Barton Springs. We have to wade across the river at one point. It takes us about four hours. It's strange though how the river bed is dry in many places.


We cross over the river for a drink in Uncle Billies, tasting a sampler of six local beers.

Alex and Paige come down to join us and then give us a lift back to our car.

In the evening William cooks up a BBQ and we sit on the steps later drinking a few beers. It's Suzanne's last night.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Feed and Seed

Seeds and more seeds

Planted some vegetable seeds today: tomatoes, courgettes and peppers. Didn't have much luck last year with these, but I'm trying a raised bed this year, so let's see.

Also move some self-sown poppy seedlings into the wild garden and replanted grass seed where I took them from. These will surely be successful as they tend to go mad every year!

I also planted out a fig plant which we had in a pot last year. It's against a south facing wall with the kiwis and grape vines. Look forward to seeing it grow.

This Time Last Year

We ride out Inks Lake State Park today for a very pleasant hike with Sacha running about. We do all the trails and then drive into Marble Falls. It's a very pleasant small town. We find a bar for beers and nachos.


In the afternoon we go shopping. Suzanne gets a pink coat from Gap and we get some packing stuff from the Container Store.


Later we have dinner at the Feed and Seed in downtown Austin. We listen to a band in the garden bar whilst waiting for out table. The Mexican food is great.

At home we have a beer or two on the step before crashing out.


Thursday, 19 March 2009

Margaritas at Shady Grove



Cleaned the print heads today and managed to finally get some decent prints after yesterday's fiasco. Did some prints of Dhar's boys and mounted them too so as to practise for my own prints. Was forced to use Indesign for the label printing, which I haven't used before. as usual the online help was nonsense and I don't have any books for this application. I muddled through.

This Time Last Year

Today me, Deb and Suzanne take Sacha for a walk down Shoal Creek (Austin, Texas) all the way to the city. On the way we shop at REI for stuff and have lunch on the terrace at Wholefoods.


We continue the walk down to Town Lake, then along the river through Zilker Park all the way to Barton Springs. We then relax at Shady Grove with huge margaritas. After that it's a really long slog back to the car at Shoal Creek.

On the way home we drop into Janet's and get invited back for drinks later ...

... where we also met Randy, and son Duncan and daughter Hannah (who had just returned from Georgia - the country). Randy offered me a beer, from a micro-brewery in the Rockies. It was awful, so I swapped it for a more normal beer! Janet's cake, however, was superb.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Horror Movies from Loreto to La Paz


Another Fine Spring Day

Tried to do some printing today but everything came out blotchy and striated. A waste of ink and paper. I'll try and clean it tomorrow, but I suspect I shall have to have my prints done in town. still in two minds about buying a new A3+ Printer (Probably an Epson R2880).

Managed to sit in the sun for an hour this afternoon reading.

This Time Last year

It's a transfer day today as I travel from Mexico to Texas.

I'm up at 4am for a taxi to the La Paz airport. It's an easy check-in and I arrive in Mexico City after a two hour flight. Howevere here I have a bit of difficulty as I can't find the the piece of paper I filled in on my arrival flight. This oversight means it costs me 40$ to leave Mexico and I have to cock about filling in new forms and going down to the bank to pay. I nice extortion racket from Mexico and leaves me with a good impression as I leave the country!

It's another two hour flight to Austin, Texas, but the flight is transferred to San Antonio where we sit on the tarmac for an hour before finally getting to Austin. Apparently it was raining in Austin! No doubt this is a rare occurence in Texas!

My sisters Suzanne and Deborah meet me at the airport after an easy ride through Homelan security.

We have a raucaus evening catching up and I end up sleeping on the sofa with the dog. My new pal, Sacha. Debs doesn't have such a good night though!

This Time A Year Ago Yesterday

I'm up early for a walk down the beach to tale some shots of the Arch in the sunrise. I just manage to get a few shots in before my batteries go. I've been unable to charge for 10 days so that's pretty good.


Back at the tent I break down and get everything ready for leaving. We are all abouard by 9.30am. We will do no kajaking today as the sea is too rough and so it's just a matter of enjoying the bouncy ride to Loreto on the Frogfish.

It's very windy too and I spend most of the trip huddled down trying to keep warm It falls to me to collect the tips for JJ and the rest of the crew and to make the presentation. Cheers all around.

After disembarking we have a short ride into town where we dump everybody at the hotel. Me, Emily and Deb are travelling to La Paz so we are dumped on the bus. It's a long five hour trip through a landscape of scrub and cactus. I read and try to avoid the succession of horror movies being shown on the TV. One involves baby dolls committing murder. It still gives me the creeps!

After checking into the hotel I have a steak dinner with E and D, before crashing out.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Sand Sculptures and Kite Fklying

In the Garden

Did a few jobs in the garden today. Turned over the large compost heap and planted a few summer bulbs.

Saw my first butterfly of the season but it was so fast and in and out of the garden that I couldn't catch what it was. Probably a Vanessid as these hibernate as adults. Very likely a Peacock or Red Admiral.

I also delivered my application for a spot at the garden sales at Hof ter Saksen where I shall be selling prints. Gave the the office a calendar of Hof ter Saksen shots too.

This Time Last Year


I was up at 5.30am for another walk up to the ridge overlooking the bay and campsite. The sunrise was spectacular and well worth the effort.

Came down for breakfast after which we broke camp. We leave on our kajaks by 8.30am but after an hour we'd reached the open ocean and were facing a strong headwind and white-caps. We had some fun trying to get back aboard the Frogfish particularly as we had to be rescued by JJ when our rudder broke! Emily and Deb, and also Dan and Lyn decided to try and continue, accompanied by JJ of course.


After another mile or so Emily and Deb decided to abandon too. We rendezvous with the last kayaks later for lunch and after that it's too choppy even for them to continue. We ride the bouncy sea to the next camp site which is also on the mainland coast.


Doug and I set up our tent at one end of the beach and monkey about making sculptures in the sand.

Later on Emily and I try flying a kite which is fun. This is our last nights camping so we make sure we enjoy the Happy Hour!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

The Pearl

In the Garden

Did a few more jobs in the garden today as it was by far the warmest day of the year so far. I sowed some of the seeds collected from last year. Poppies, Iberis and some Blue Thistles. I also sowed some wild-flower seeds. I'm trying to emulate a meadow in the new back garden.


I also cleaned some pots left over from the winter. Most of last years pots were packed away clean last year!

I also rebuilt the cold-frame which I use every year. I've put the cuttings in there which were previously upstairs on the window-sill. Some geraniums seem to have taken and some haven't. Also some of the hardwood cuttings seem to have taken and others look a bit moribund. I'll persevere and se how they go.

Later Kristine and I went for a walk up to Hof ter Saksen. Only a few Rhododendrons were in flower. I did take a few shots. I'd also taken a few earlier in the garden too. The crocus mainly ... before they finish.

This Time Last Year

Wake up early and walk around the point for some pink and orange early morning shots.


After breakfast me and Doug jump into the kajak but have to hang around for everyone else as they phaff about. As soon as we get goping we spot a pod of dolphine and me and Doug attempt to chase them down. They don't really play ball and as soon as we get close they disappear and then re-appear miles away! It's fun though and we keep it going for a while, until eventually they move off.

We padle south for a couple of hours hugging the coastline. Instead of going right arounf the headlands though we follow JJ through the rocks. Doug has to be on top of his steering!


We then race across the last bay for a good workout. after pulling up on a beach we visit an old village and a ruined Hacienda. Apprently it was built on pearl money in the early part of the 20th C. Reminiscent of Steinbecks story, which was based on a local legend anyway. JJ has brought the local families some clothes that he has collected in La Paz. It must be pretty tough making a living out here.


After our visit we go out to the Frogfish for lunch and then it's back into the kajaks for a paddle back to camp.

Usual procedure for the evening. Happy hour cocktails, dinner and then bed!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Puerto Gatto

Spring in the Garden

Finally time to do some work in the garden. Planted the borders with Delphiniums, Lupins, Foxgloves and Gladioli. Planted borders with seed-mats which I'm trying for the first time.

I also build the frames for the roses to clamber over and put out some of those bricks with holes. I'm hoping the bees will use these for nesting.

Still a few jobs to do, so hopefully the weather will be fine tomorrow.

ManU humiliated by Liverpool; 1-4. How glad I am that I didn't go to Brighton to watch this with Fin. I didn't go to the pub either. MOTD highlights will be bad enough.

This Time Last year

Break camp this morning as we will be leaving for another camp later today.

After breakfast we go for a walk into the interior. It's very dry and dusty. We climb onto a ridge and get views all around. I decide to climb higher for some shots and get left behind. But the way back to the boats is pretty obvious so I catch up with everyone fairly easily.


We embark on the Frogfish for another sail northwards. This time we will be camping on the mainland of Baja California at a place called Puerto Gatto. It has no access by road ans no habitation anywhere near.

Along the way we see a couple of Blue Whales and although we don't get that close and they don't breach we can actually see how blue they really are.

Further along the way we stop for a snorkel.


After arriving and setting up camp I go for a walk along the rocky shoreline and take a few shots before returning for cocktails and dinner.


Friday, 13 March 2009



Birthday for Sebastien and Charles

They are 7 years old today. Hopefully I'll get out to see the twins next week or so. Today I continued work on the Ireland shots and also made a mental checklist of the things to do in the garden this week-end.


This Time Last year


Up early for some shots before sunrise. After breakfast we set off for a three hour kajak towards the north end of the island. We take one break as Doug needs a leak. Everybody pulls up at a tiny beach for a snack stop and then we carry on for another hour or so. The coast has some pretty inlets here and some interesting rock formations too. Including arches.

We have a shrimp salad for lunch aboard the Frogfish and then start preparing for an afternoon snorkel. Some Bottlenose Dolphins appear and then a pod of Orca are spotted by the crew. We decide to abandon the snorkel and follow the Orca. They entertain us for about an hour as the swim and play all around the boat. It's an outstanding sight.


Abruptly the Orca leave us and we reurn to shore for out delayed snorkel. We see some quite large fish but I couldn't say what they were. On our return to camp we pass a huge pod of about 300 Common Dolphins. A fabulous sight.


Thursday, 12 March 2009

Catching Up

At Home

Start work on the Ireland photographs and catch up with email and flickr etc.

This Time Last Year


I was up early to get everything packed before breakfast. Our real boat has turned up in the night from La Paz. She is the Frogfish!

Today we sail for San Jose Island, but after 45 minutes we stop off at a small island at the end of Isla Espiritu to swim with the Sea-Lions. Amazingly they are very friendly and swim very close to you.


After this we have a four hour cruise on the ship. We see very large Manta Rays and towards the end a Fin Whale.

We arrive and set up camp along a stretch of empty beach. We are alone here. The island has a stark barren beauty.

After cocktails and dinner I take a few sunset shots before crashing out at about 9pm.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Back Home

Arrive home from Ireland today. Will catch up with everything and everyone tomorrow.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Gap of Dunloe

Finally got high today ... but not that high. Got to the snowline ... but rain came and decided to descend. Weather clear later and got some fine shots. Some even with blue sky.

More to follow.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Meeting of the Waters

Another wet day. Screwed up big time as it was sunny (sometimes) in the morning and I went out for an afternoon hike.

It was raining when I started and raining when I finished. More snow on the hills around and generally very poor visibility. Took hardly any photographs. I did enjoy the birds though who were singing all everywhere. Several times today I was no more than a metre away from a robin. Amazingly friendly. I wish the one in my garden at home didn't fly off as soon as I made an appearance.

More details when I get back.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Killarney National Park

I did go out walking today from 9.30am to 5pm. It rained a lot and I got wet. It snowed on the mountains around me and it hailed several times in the afternoon. Eventually the sun came out for a few glorious minutes.

I'll add more when I get back.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Killarney Town


Lough Leane

After having wandered around the shores of Lough Leane, close to the Lake Shore Hotel I walk into town to check the facilities. It's a smallish place and the weather doesn't inspire me to hang around. I get some information at the friendly Tourist Centre and go for a walk in that part of the Killarney National Park which is close to town.

This is also on the shores of Lough Leane. I wander around quite aimlessly as I don't have a map of the trails in the park. I stumble across Ross Castle but the weather and the light are seriously too dire for any decent shots. I do my best.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Arrive Killarney

Having survived Dublin with Dale and Keith I take the train to Killarney.

The weather looks quite promising so I shall hope to be out and abiout tomorrow.