Ford Capri in decay

When I was growing up, there were two cars every boy wanted to have as a poster on their wall. One was unobtainable (the Lamborghini Countach), but the other was not only attainable (assuming you were old enough to own a driving license and have a job), but it was far cooler. It was driven by The Professionals and The Sweeney. Tough lawmen that got the villain, the girl and a pint in the boozer, and chased bad guys in Jags down alleyways and around wasteland populated by an unfeasible number of stacked cardboard boxes, that always ended up flying through the air.

As if this wasn’t enough to dream of, I actually ended up driving a Mk II Capri 2.3 V6 in gold with a vinyl roof in my early 20’s. It may not have been the fastest or best handling car in the world, but when I looked down that distinctive bonnet and turned the key, I couldn’t help but think I was a bit of a “geezer”.

So, imagine my delight, when on a holiday in Northumberland years later, I discovered this when out on a walk. If only cars could tell tales, I’m sure this one would have had plenty to say.

Cockle Bay

I spent a couple of nights in the Pyrmont area of Sydney, and headed out to take in the harbour area early in the morning. On my way to a cafe to grab some breakfast, I crossed the Pyrmont bridge, to be greeted by a steady stream of joggers and cyclists. It was something I noticed every day – Australia gave me the impression of being an active nation.

Cockle Bay has a monorail that loops the area, and has great views of the city.

The National Maritime Museum is also close by.

There’s lots of fountains in the area.

And parks being built.

And street art being drawn.

Manly on a Sunday

I got to spend a couple of nights with some very nice people who were friends of our friends. Luckily for me, they lived in Manly, and on Sunday I headed out early to take in the beach.

This was winter, and it was T-shirt and shorts weather. When I got to the beach front, it was a hive of relaxed activity. The surf shops were open, and there were plenty of surfers riding the waves.

Surfboards at Manly Beach

The less active folk were having breakfast and getting coffee from the cafes. This one looked particularly popular, and as I queued for a flat white, I got chatting to the guy in front. In turns out that he went to the University of Edinburgh to do his PhD 40 years ago, and I work there, so we traded stories about the city and Scottish weather while we waited.

Getting coffee at Manly beach

I was impressed by the large number of joggers that were out. The lifestyle seemed quite fitness oriented – but maybe that’s the weather again. Who would want to stay indoors when it’s this good? There were water fountains all along the beach for the athletically inclined.

Manly beach water fountain

Mind you – those Aussies like their meat!

Manly beach - Ribs and Rumps

Volleyball was very popular. There were public nets set up all along the beach.

Manly beach volleyball

Manly beach volleyball

Despite all the activity, there were plenty of people and their four-legged friends taking in the views.

Manly beach

And of course, no Australian beach would be complete without surfers…

Manley beach surfer

Manley beach

2012 – Sydney, here we come!

I haven’t been making photographs or posting as much as I’d like to recently. That’s because we’ve been preparing for a huge change in our lives.

After several 5 a.m. Skype interviews, I have got a job in Sydney, doing something I enjoy.

What a change it will be. We are currently living in Scotland, leaving for work in the dark, coming home in the dark, and doing our best to keep out of the freezing rain and gale force winds. Much as I love my current job, and Scotland, we will definitely not miss the winters.

The process started long ago. I’ve always been interested in Australia, as long as I can remember. The unique flora and fauna, home of one of the oldest cultures, the incredible landscapes and space. By coincidence (really!), my wonderful wife is Australian, and after jumping through lots of hoops (actually, far less than I had feared) to get my visa, off we go. Much of our determination to emigrate comes from wanting our son to be able to experience as many interesting things as possible. He got his first camera for Christmas, and is very excited by it, so I am looking forward to us exploring the country together and photographing as we go.

I went over to Sydney last year to do a bit of scouting for work, and although I was only there for a few days, I was captivated by the harbour.

I stayed with some friends of friends in Manly, which is on the northern shore. The ferry runs from here, all around the harbour, and to the Central Business District. Possibly the best commute in the world?

A bit of trivia for you – the bridge was Middlesbrough, England, my adopted home town.

As the ferry docks at Circular Quay, one of the world’s most iconic buildings can be seen. I spent most of the next day there. Every angle revealed a new and dramatic view of the building. I fell in love with it.

You can catch a passenger ferry that takes you all round the harbour area. It’s an incredible way to take it all in.

I can’t wait to get back.

Winter Silhouette

I took a walk along part of the Antonine wall today, as it had stopped raining, and the sun was out. Despite it being nearly midday, the winter sun this far north hangs low in the sky, and there were some wonderful silhouettes to be seen. Along the brow of the hill, along with an old stone wall were trees which looked as though they had withstood strong winds for many years.

I thought this one was a suitable entry for Photo Friday’s ‘Rugged’ theme.

The Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is a fascinating and beautiful piece of engineering.

Designed to replace a series of locks, boats float out along a viaduct from the top of a hill, then enter one of two “baths”, 180 degrees opposed on the twin arms of a wheel. The wheel then rotates 180 degrees, swapping the top and bottom bath. Out the boat moves, 35 metres below/above its start point.

Falkirk Wheel 1 - Canon 40D + EFS 17-55mm + B+W 110 filter
I used my recently acquired B+W ND 110 filter to get some nice skies and reflections in the water.

Falkirk Wheel 2 - Canon 40D + EFS 17-55mm + B+W 110 filter + Silver EFX Pro 2
Falkirk Wheel 3 - Canon 40D + EFS 17-55mm + B+W 110 filter + Silver EFX Pro 2
Falkirk Wheel 4 - Canon 40D + EFS 17-55mm + B+W 110 filter + Silver EFX Pro 2
I processed the black and white images using Nik Silver EFX Pro 2. I was pleased with the results, and plan to write something up to show my workflow with it soon.

P.S. I’ve had a few requests to show where this is, so I’ve included a map.