Monday, June 27, 2011

l a k e d i s t r i c t

Since moving to London, I have seen my interest in photography shift from “things” to landscapes and people. Not that I don’t like shooting “things” any longer, but I did start to want to seek out impactful and memorable scenes. With that interest in mind, I had heard that the Lake District would provide some incredible scenery of the mountains and of the lakes. So on the weekend of June 4-5th, I grabbed my gear and took a train up to Manchester to meet with a friend that I originally met on Flickr, Bhawi. 

When I arrived in Manchester, we set off on another road trip up north. It took about 2 hours to drive from Manchester to the Lake District area. From the pictures that I googled, the Lake District looked amazing. Mountains that were different shades of green surrounded the towns in that area and there were several pictures of lone docks or piers situated out into the still waters of the lakes. The Lake District is a place that a lot of people came to walk or hike. I am a person that loves to hike and be out doors when I can (I like hiking but I am no camping guru by any means), so before I set out to this area, I did some research on potential hikes we could take.

The thing about hiking in this area is that there are no marked paths. It is nothing like the hikes we have in the Vancouver area where there are signs or markings that show that you are on the right path. Instead, you are equipped with a compass, gps and topographical map and that’s it. It was like reading a hieroglyph! One would guess that we could easily get lost ... and we did. Haha. Bhawi was not impressed. Anyway, I decided that we could try a hike that was estimated to be about 5 hours. It was the hike up the Langdale Pikes which started near New Dungeon Ghyll. 

The paths were so obscure that we got lost from the get go. We didn’t even know where to start but just decided that this “looked about right” so we headed in that direction. So much green and the surroundings were so natural. There were a ton of sheep too.. it was like sheep country here.. Crap everywhere.. they poop a lot! Little sheep running around with their parents, grazing the grass... it sounds funny but it was really cool to be in their surroundings and to be amongst that kind of company. Literally, by the time we got to the top of the mountains, all we saw was mountains, the towns below, and sheep. No people, nothing... it got to be really quiet up there and very peaceful too. 

Anyway, onto how we got lost, we were following this “path” that ended up with us going several kilometres in the wrong direction west. When we met up with other hikers we asked how we could get up to the Pike Stickle (one of the mountains that we were supposed to climb up), they indicated that we first had to climb up another mountain before walking across. When we asked them how long it would take to get back on track, they said it would be at least 2 hours lol. So up we climbed. From the Pike of Stickle we then went to the Harrison Stickle, about 1 hour east before heading back down the mountain towards the car. All in all, it was about a 7 hour excursion haha. 

After the hike we immediately went to the local pub and grabbed a pint and some grub. Then we drove off to stay overnight in the town of Keswick by the Derwent Water lake. We fell asleep properly well that night with the hopes that we could catch the sunrise next morning by the lake. We were just too tired though and by the time we left the room at 5:30am, the sun was pretty well above the horizon. Still, we got some of that nice color in some of the following photos. Good thing we got up for this too because it clouded over very quickly by lunch time and started to rain by the afternoon! 

Although we got lost, there were many good memories of that hike. From me telling Bhawi constantly that we are almost there (to which she responded at the end of the day, you lied to me the entire day! Lol) to constantly trying to avoid stepping into the sheep poo, it all played a part in making this trip worthwhile. Oh, and the views were amazing! Too bad the weather wasn’t too great (it was pretty well overcast the entire day) but it was a lot of fun anyway. Definitely have to make a trip back here again!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

c o t s w o l d d i s t r i c t

It has been a while since I last updated this blog! Life has been busy and got the best of me recently but I have been travelling since Cinque Terre in Italy! London has a way of consuming you though. Whether it be with work, travels, or meet ups with friends for dinner and drinks, you aren’t left with much time to do your own thing.

Anyway, I might as well get down to describing another trip I took. On one weekend of May 14-15th, me and a group of friends (Ivan, Jen, Nadia) rented a car from central London in Waterloo and drove out west towards the Cotswold area. I didn’t know much about the UK as I have primarily travelled outside of the immediate area surrounding London but apparently a place that I had travelled to a few months ago, Bath, was also in the Cotswold area as well.

So out west we drove. My friend Ivan was the only one who could drive manual so he had to drive the entire way but in Europe, I believe it is much more common for people to drive stick than it is in North America. Cars are nearly 2 times as expensive to rent if you wanted an auto so we thought we could take advantage of his driving skills and he obliged haha.

The Cotswold area is a district that is filled with small towns. Some of the most famous include Bath and Oxford. On the Saturday, we started off at a reasonable time in the morning and eventually got to Bourton on the Water. This was a quaint, little, small town that had a little river that ran through it. Like anywhere else in the world, people tend to love to walk around the water and they did here too. Little bridges were built so that you could walk across and all around were small restaurants for you to sit down and eat some lunch or enjoy some afternoon tea. We also saw our first albino duck there too! It looked like a regular duck but it was white! ... Ok... moving along.

After having some lunch at a not so memorable place, we headed out towards a town called Bibury. Another small town which had a river run through it, this is a town known for its trout fishing. In fact, there was a trout farm there where you could fish for your own meal and then bbq it while you relax in the natural backyard! If we had more time we would have done this but it being a 3-4 hour activity, we decided that we had to skip it. We proceeded to walk along the River Coln and enjoyed the greenery and the natural surroundings. Scenes like this is what I like about the UK, the houses were so old and had a look that indicated that each dwelling has survived quite a bit of history. As you walk along the river, you will come up to Arlington Row which is a row of cottages that were not only old but very small. It gives you an indication of how tall (or rather how small) people were back in those days. These cottages were originally a wool store that was built in the 1300’s and only converted in the 17th century.

For the final stop of the day, we went to Oxford, the home of Oxford University. You could tell that this was a university town as you could see lots of young students everywhere. This is where we stayed the night because we had planned to be there the entire day on Sunday. Lots of attractions here including the university itself as well as Christ Church and the Great Hall. For Harry Potter fans, this is where they filmed many scenes from the movies including all of those scenes in the dining hall! The first attraction we saw was the Bodleian Library, a school of divinity which housed some of the oldest books that I have ever seen. I kid you not, the books in this library were very well preserved but they had those enormous bindings that you thought only existed in movies like Harry Potter! Scenes from within the library of the movie were also shot here though it was told that they went through great troubles to get permission to even shoot the scene in this space. It had that old book smell and the floors creaked... very cool and full of history. Too bad they wouldn’t allow any photos to be taken :(. The architecture in the divinity school was very intricate as well, particularly in the ceilings... so you get more of my upward looking photos hehe.

We eventually made our way to Christ Church where the Great Hall was located. It was an experience seeing the same hall that everyone knows the movies for but as you would expect, the scenes in the movie make the hall look much more grandiose than the real thing. The hall was big, but not nearly as vast as in the movie. No floating candles either. Such a shame lol. Still, you had to appreciate the setting, eating here would have been quite the experience! Oh and before I forget, we also visited the Alice in Wonderland store (supposedly, Alice in Wonderland originated here in Oxford!).

So that was that. A great weekend that took no more than a 2-3 hour drive each way. Good friends and interesting musical sing-a-longs made it memorable. I love road trips – we got to stop at several locations that we wouldn’t have reached had we been travelling by bus or by foot. We were kind of rebellious and trespassed into certain areas to get some photos that you see below but it was well worth it :D Thanks Nadia for being such a great model!