Blue Skies, Brighton Pier and Murmurations

Last November OH and I went off to Brighton for the day to see one of nature's finest spectacles, the winter starling murmuration off the pier. This year, to my delight, he suggested we go again. My only caveat was that we only went if the sky was clear as we had been so spoilt last year with an incredible sunset. As luck would have it the weather forecast was set for stunning so we jumped on the train with extra layers packed in case it got cold. As luck would have it we needed have worried as although the sky was clear the temperature was in double figures!
Now I know what you're thinking, there is no way that's Brighton and indeed you are quite correct! We normally leave from London Victoria but due to engineering works we had to go via London Blackfriars and that was the view while we waited for the train. How amazing is that! 
 And in just over an hour we had arrived at the seaside. 
 I did think I wanted to have a bit of  a wander around the Lanes looking in the shops before show time. But once we hit the sea front the weather was warm and the light was incredible so we spent several hours just soaking in the warmth and sights. 

 I love autumn light, you may have heard me say in previous posts but it's so lovely and clear. Here is looking out over to the old pier 
 In London I take pictures of the electric cables in the street but here was some of the illuminations at the start of the pier sleeping during the day. 
I really like this cropped shot of gulls in flight during the last hour of the day. 
 I can be a creature of habit and love exploring the shapes and light under the pier as well as above. 

But soon the sun started to set. Just look at that view  
 And soon the starlings began to gather

 They were tricky to meaningfull photograph. OH recons I should have filmed them instead of photograph them but this one gives you an idea of the balls they can create in the sky as they loop up and down.  

And this one hopefully gives you an idea of how many there were!
 And before we knew it the starlings on the pier made their way to their roosts and we headed back along the sea front in the fading light. 
 But boy what a view. 
Last year we were treated to a second show in the old pier but sadly this year there was only a small flock. I'm not sure how much longer this beautiful relic from the past will actually be there but it's such a graceful sight. 
And there we have it, a snap shot of magical few hours in Brighton.

The Lakes: Part Four

On my last day in the Lakes I thought I would be spending it inside sheltering from the rain. As luck would have it I looked out the window just as the sun was coming out so I grabbed my coat and went for a walk with my mum before the heavens opened. Here is what we saw:
I can never resist taking photos of sheep. I was particularly pleased with how these came out if I'm honest. 

The light was very dramatic. This is a shot looking back to the house with the clouds incredibly dark on the hills behind. 

But the last throws of autumn colour were stunning. 

See! I have a thing with sheep. This gang all stood in a line just staring for long enough to take some snaps. They soon decided it best to run in the opposite direction to us though sadly. 

As you can see they headed off in the direction we had just come from. 
Just look at that colour, picture perfect with the dying braken on the fell behind. 
You may be surprised to learn that despite those dark forboding clouds which seems to always be in front of us we stayed dry throughout our walk, and the sun seems to follows around on our walk. 
We were tempted to go down into the valley here but we didn't want to take our chances with the weather so I just admired the autumn colours from a far. 

What can I say, the sheep on this day were unusually compliant models. 

And what better to finish off this post with a picture of a sheep and against a backdrop of autumn colour. And that's it for my trip back home. I'm back again next June which will be a treat as I usually come in winter rather than winter. 

The Lakes: Part Three

One of the highlights of going home is bizarrely a trip to the zoo. It was a grey and overcast day but in the Winter very few people go to the zoo so it's always crowd free (and the ticket prices drop significantly in the winter). This year I opted to feed the giraffes which was amazing even if their tongues are long, grey and slimy. Something my sister suggested and I must admit it was epic! Anyway the pictures pretty much speak for themselves. Quick warning that the set ends with three portrait pictures, apologies! But we got to walk through the penguins enclosure and you can't photograph a penguin in landscape :)

The Lakes: Part Two

Now I freely admit when my dad suggested the following day we went out for a drive I thought he was bonkers as I feared it would rain all day. But with Cumbrian weather you need to just go for it, the worst that could happen would be rain. So we jumped in the car and headed over to the coast road.
 We stopped off at Silecroft just to have  a look at the sea. We used to go here when I was kid and I thought it was terribly exotic going to the seaside !! Gawd bless  the innocence of the 80s
 I love the optimism of hanging washing out in the damp weather
 We then headed in land towards Wast Water. Here is the first peak of the view, with Sca Fell I think dominating the sky line. 

 Before coming down into the valley where you find the picture perfect view of Wast Water. 
 From every view point it's beautiful but I must admit I always think of the dead bodies that must be in that lake (I think this about pretty much every lake in the Lake District I'm afraid). 

 We drove up to the head of the Lake and where you can see a clump of trees there is a tiny church called St Olaf's with a depressing sign saying 'Next Service: Christmas Day'

We stopped off at Gosforth on the way home to see the Anglo Saxon cross and the two Hogback tombstones which are inside the church. Now the picture I took of the cross at Gosforth wasn't brilliant so above is a picture of the one at Irton which we stopped off at on the way to Wast Water. Anyway I always get a kick from seeing these and really liked that Cumbria was in the Viking part of England before King Alfred united the country back in the dark ages. A colleague at work also said they are one of the finest examples of 7th Century sculpture. 
The lighting in the church wasn't brilliant but you can just make out the boat on the right hand side. Anyway I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into my day exploring the Lakes. More to follow soon.