Back in California

I was off on my travels again recently, back to California with Angela to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Three locations in ten days, including three nights in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains at the height of the “Fall Color” season, or Autumn as it’s more commonly known. I’ve always wondered if it was called fall so that Carole King’s “You’ve got a friend” rhymed. “Winter, spring, summer and autumn, all you gotta do is call” doesn’t quite work.

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Autumn Approaches

Most photographers dislike the Summer, and to be honest I’m pretty much in that category, for photography at least, though when I played golf it was the season I looked forward to the most. Not anymore however, Autumn has firmly taken over.  With the sun rising at a more hospitable hour, and setting earlier too, it is definitely more accommodating. Changeable weather is always good for photography, and of course the glorious Autumn colours.

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California Dreamin’

I recently had the good fortune to spend two weeks in the “Golden State” with my wife and one of my sons.  This was our main family holiday of the year so my camera time was limited to early morning or evening to coincide with the “golden hours”.  At least that’s what I told them before we went….

In sticking with the “gold” and “fortune” themes I now require to discover a gold mine somewhere near my house to assist in clearing the credit card balance.  Cheers Brexit!

Our trip took us to four locations – Monterey, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and Tiburon, a wonderful small town directly across the bay from San Francisco. Tiburon is sadly probably most famous for being the town where the late and great Robin Williams took his own life. We drove past his former home one afternoon  (no sign of Mindy).

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Wyoming in the Fall

Every October my wife and I are lucky enough to be able to sneak away for a break on our own. This years trip was looking unlikely when I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy in early September, especially as our plan was to spend some time in Las Vegas. There was real concern on my part that the sneer on my face caused by my illness would have led me to drunkenly enter into an Elvis lookalike contest, with the extremely distressing thought that I might end up singing in public. The thought of me belting out the final words to American Trilogy whilst on one knee, wearing a rhinestone jump suit, then being unable to get back to my feet because of being fifty, was a chance I just wasn’t going to take. So everything went on hold.

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Scottish Midge

There are only two things more feared in Scotland than the midge, a Bay City Rollers reunion and a new series of The Krankies.  Regrettably the first one has already happened, apparently M&S sold out of tartan thongs within ninety minutes of the press release. Thankfully The Krankies are very unlikely to ever get a new TV show.  Did you know they recently confessed to being “swingers” in their heyday? No wonder I gave up the golf.

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(Written on 27 April 2016)


Insomnia  –  the inability to sleep

Jet Lag  –  a temporary disruption of the body’s normal biological rhythms after high speed travel through several time zones

#WexMondays  –  a weekly photography competition on social media that has been known to cause insomnia

I suffer from insomnia, normally I get to sleep at around 2am if lucky. I’m then awake at around 6.30am when my wife’s alarm goes off (she’s always been the early riser). I then nod until 8’ish before rising and getting to work (late). Luckily I’m the boss.

Having just returned from a 2 week holiday in Arizona, where the time is currently 8 hours behind the UK, it would be fair to say I’m tired this week. Last night, or this morning to be more accurate, I got to sleep at around 4am. Yesterday I was less tired as I managed to get to sleep at 3.30. Result.

Arizona is a wonderful place to visit, and to live I guess. For photographers it is heaven on earth. When they hear of Arizona most people think of one thing, the Grand Canyon, however it is so much more than that. From the lowest point of 72 ft at the border with Mexico to 12,600 ft at Humphreys Peak near Flagstaff, I cannot think of a more diverse 400 miles long x 300 miles wide area anywhere else. During my visit we experienced a temperature change of 39f (4c) to 35c (95f) within a couple of days and 140 miles. Phoenix gets 7 inches of rain in a year and temperatures regularly reach 110f  during the summer months. Flagstaff, some 140 miles north, is one of the top five snowiest cities in the US. Whilst most think of a desert climate, there are large areas that resemble Colorado; mountainous with lakes and pines.

I’ve been fortunate to visit the state, and South West USA, on a number of occasions. The first time I went was for a family holiday in circa 2003, to Scottsdale. At that time I was a keen golfer so the trip was part holiday part reconnaissance mission to check out the local golf courses. My wife and I instantly fell in love with the place. Being from Scotland anywhere with sunshine is exciting, but the added bonus of practically zero rain and scenery that could compete with my homeland, as well as dozens of oasis like golf courses in perfect condition was almost overwhelming. Since then I’ve returned numerous times, the golf clubs and friends accompanied me on a few occasions, but most of the trips were with my wife and children.

It was Arizona that inspired me to pick up the camera again. I was keen on photography in my teens, even to the extent where I purchased the equipment to allow me to enlarge the negatives I received from my local Boots, although I never developed my own film. I suppose like many teenage boys I had an unhealthy obsession for making things larger!

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