Friday, December 18, 2009

A photographic expedition.

So it's now day 2 on our Europe expedition and since I haven't been suffering too much from jet-lag they have been action packed. Beware - this blog is also 'action-packed'.. so make sure you're comfy!

I arrived at 6am on the 16th December, after around 24 - 30hrs in transit. Needless to say, I was happy to be moving about and not cramped on an airplane anymore. Arrived at Scott's place safe and sound, and then, feeling pretty ok, decided to head down towards Oxford St for some retail therapy. Didn't find much that was of interest to me, but it was nice heading up and down the streets of London browsing the stores. Naturally it's pretty cold here, but I seriously don't remember it being this cold 6 years ago when we were here for Christmas in 2003. It's absolutely freezing! Thank goodness for my ski jacket... that's all I can say. It's certainly making sure I'm staying nice and warm.

Whilst wondering around shopping, I was able to experience my first real snowfall yesterday. It didn't stick on the ground, but hey, it was an experience all the same. I was like a little kid smiling to myself as walking the streets, and I was half tempted to tap the passerby's on the shoulder and say "hey do you know it's snowing... like actually SNOWING!!" but I figured I would probably be looked at with some pretty strange expressions so I kept it to myself :).

By the time it came to head over to the Battersea animal shelter, walking 15mins from the tube station to the shelter in blistering cold with snow blowing on your face, the fascination had worn off. Add to that nearly slipping a few times whilst walking, I was trying not to think of the 35deg temperature that you all are having back in sunny Melbourne!

Battersea was fantastic. Similar and yet different in so many ways to the RSPCA. I had a great time asking a million questions and having a look at every aspect of the shelter. Needless to say I am a little jealous of their 16-man behaviour unit, compared to my one man behaviour unit!

By this stage (5pm) my jet-lag was setting in, so I called it an early night and headed back to the Scott and Lily hotel for an early night in.


After a good 12hr snooze (and then some ;-) ), I woke up late and decided to complete some walks from the book "Walking London" that Dad had gotten from Scott and Lily for Fathers Day. I wanted to see the main sights of London today and try and take some photo's, practicing what I learnt in my recent photography classes. Some I wanted to be a little 'different' (ok... well not really) but some I wanted to be the key landmarks. All the while, doing this walking around London and soaking up the atmosphere. I think I'll say here is that BOY am I glad that I decided to buy and bring along with me a nice little lightweight tripod! It's really made all the difference (even though I do feel a little like a fool setting up my tripod here there and everywhere!). Either way... you better appreciate these photos. Need I mention how COLD it was?!?!?!

I think it must be said here that my sense of direction is squat. That's right... you can always count on me to make every wrong turn possible. If ever there was a person in mind when the GPS was invented it would be me! Now before you all sit there and pity me, or say HOW can you get lost when all you have to do is head right out of the station and head down this road, keep in mind that there are like a zillion exits to one station, and yup, it would have to be ME that takes the wrong exit.... every time! I guess it add's to the experience... right?!

So - after finally heading in the right direction, first port of call was a walk along the Thames and the Christmas markets there. Was nice to have a little wonder around here and begin to feel a little 'Christmassy'. With all that's been going on of late, and organising to come on this trip, it left us little time to actually get organised and feel anything like Christmas... let alone a little under one week away!

From there I also tried to take one of those "Merry go round" photos where you get the blur of all of the lights, but to no avail. I couldn't get it quite right, so we'll leave it out of this entry as I sure have plenty to share :)

Here we also saw a variety of buskers. One that caught my eye was this guy here who was dancing with a 'dummy' or manequin, whatever you want to call her. He made her look quite life-like and it was interesting to watch :).

Now of course, walking along the Thames also meant that I had to take the token "Big Ben" picture right?! Well talk about taking a million and one of the one bl**dy building as I just couldn't quite get the exposure right... too light, too dark, too... something! With the sky being quite overcast, it did make it quite difficult at times to snap a good pic! But... here of course is a sample of some good ones I actually snapped.

This one here is to try and show you the quick change in weather. It went from just 'cold' to 'bl**dy freezing, so windy I can barely breathe, hailing in my face' in just a matter of seconds! Naturally.... as soon as I found shelter the hail ceased..... *sigh*

And some of the clocktower (just a few minutes after the hail storm.... and they pick on Melbourne's weather!!!)

Thankfully... getting a decent shot of the London Eye was a little easier... otherwise I'd never have been able to finish off my tasks for the day ;-). Oh and this was also taken about 5 mins before the hail-storm!

Next up was Westminster Abbey... I got a few different shots of these, as I love the slow shutter speed and the effect of the cars on the image... gives a nice effect I think!

This here is your token "London phone box" photo, but I love the effect of the tourists stopping to take in the sights while the busy Londoners walking by... hehe - yes I became a little 'obsessive' about the slower s/s!

So from here, the only natural place to continue my walks was through the "Central London Parks".. so basically St James Park, Green Park and Hyde park.

This was a lovely little cottage I saw in the middle of St James Park... so yes.. a little random..

Another random here... well, I am an animal person, and I couldn't help snapping this. Said squirrel would come up to everyone, including climbing on my shoe and stick his nose in the air to see what you were up to! Gave quite a few tourists a fright! Unfortunately most of the time he was moving way to quick for me to respond with my camera (hmm... I'll blame it on the gloves....)
A few more 'random's in the park' trying to practice my photographic expertise... with minimal success... not *exactly* the 'feel' I was going after... but I still like them!

And of course... this also meant a stop-over for a quick visit with the Queen... I mean, we were literally walking by....

Naturally we couldn't stay long with the Queen, as we had many things to do! So onwards we travel, with the next logical stop being Wellington Arch and the Australian War Memorial...

Onward to Hyde Park, where lo and behold there is another Christmas market! This one a little more exciting than the last. Feeling a little weary and hungry, I stopped here for a bite to eat and some delicious Hot chocolate, which I got to enjoy while standing outside and watching the ice skaters go by on the outside skating rink. Something I've always wanted to do is skate outside in winter.... especially around christmas time! I was however, too chicken to go by myself. Perhaps while in Europe I can con one of the family to come with me!?!? But, Kylie, just for you I have included a snap in here :)

By this time the sun was beginning to set (yes, at some ridiculous hour of I thinkabout 3:30pm!! How do they live like this?! So I begin to make my way out of the parks and head towards the warmth of Harrods...

Along the way I came across this lovely sight of Christmas decorations... not sure what hotel (at least I think it's a hotel!) is, but it sure does look pretty!

After NO wrong turns, I make it to Harrods which of course leads to the token 'harrods' shot outside the store... mm... green lights.... have they always been green? or is this a christmas special?!

It seems Harrods have their own version of the 'Myer Windows' with these year's theme being the "Wizard of Oz"... not sure if this is just for Christmas or not, but it was quite amusing, given that there was very much a Harrods 'plug' in each of the windows, ensuring that each part of the story entailed that all the Wizar of Oz characters were extrodinarily happy with their "Harrods" goods! *vbg*!

By this stage I was getting pretty tired, so with only one stop left to go, I headed on my way to Trafalgar Square for a happy snap with their Christmas tree in place. Have to say, I was a little disappointed with the tree as it wasn't really much to look at! I remember thinking this also back in 2003, but I figured that was just because the tree in Lucerne was just so impressive... but still... thinking this time the tree was not much chop!

Once again, I found these photos a little hard, trying to get the exposure *just right*

Oh and of course I had to play around with the effects of the fountains too! You can also see how windy it is in some of the pics with the direction the water is falling!

After that I hung around the Square for a little while, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the sound of the carollers. By this stage the wind had picked up again, so I decided to call it an early night and head on home!

Phew... that was a looongg post! Don't expect another one like this in a hurry! Might need to break it up a bit!! LOL! Can't see myself doing this again for a while. Photos, yes, blog yes, but marathon blog?! I think not!

Supposed to snow tomorrow! Hopefully this means good news for a white christmas at Salzburg! Keep your fingers crossed for us!

1 comment:

Kim said...

Wow, you have some awesome shots there!