Archive for October, 2009

Autumn in the New Forest

My youngest brother came to see me yesterday! There are direct flights from Amsterdam to Southampton, so it was an easy trip for him. We decided to visit Beaulieu, a village in the New Forest National Park, famous for its National Motor Museum. Beaulieu is of course a very French name, but they pronounce it as “Bjooly”. The museum was quite nice, but the most fun bit was “World of Top Gear”, an exhibition about the popular tv program, showing all the crazy cars they built, like this Fiat Panda stretched limo…

The motor museum is part of a large complex which simply calls itself Beaulieu. There is an old abbey, a palace, a monorail and an old bus driving around, all on a large area with nice gardens. Below are two photos of the palace. The second one is taken from the village of Beaulieu.

The village is really picturesque, I loved walking around there. I was quite envious of the people living there, what a nice place! Just look at the garden below, who wouldn’t love a view like that…

There are lots of ponies freely walking throughout the New Forest. We saw quite a few, also inside the village where they caused small traffic jams :)

Some more views of the Beaulieu river at low tide…

There is a really nice long distance walking path going through the village and following the Beaulieu river, I’d love to go back there and see a bit more. Unfortunately it’s difficult to get to Beaulieu, as there is no train station and only one very infrequent bus service. What I really need is a bicycle I guess :)

The Seven Bays of Broadstairs

Last Saturday we picked up a rental car and drove to London. It was actually cheaper than going by train, which is pretty ridiculous! Anyway, we spent the weekend with Paul’s parents, and on Sunday we all went on a trip to Broadstairs. This is a small town between Margate and Ramsgate on the east coast of Kent, surrounded by seven bays with white (chalk) cliffs. We started walking from Botany Bay, the most northerly one.

This part of the coast has a smuggling history, and apparently Botany Bay is named after the smugglers who were sent to Botany Bay in Australia… (to prison, not on holiday ;) ). I was really impressed by the chalk cliffs!

The cliffs are eroding fast, and you can find many caves. I took the photo on the left (below) from inside one of them. In the other, Paul and his dad are standing near the entrance of this cave.

A bit further on there was a (steep) path coming down between the cliffs. Paul called it the stairway to heaven because of the sunlight streaming through it (or because he found a toilet at the top??).

At the far end of Botany Bay, there is a cliff with a arch in it, large enough to walk through. On the other side is Kingsgate Bay.

The photos below are taken from Kingsgate Bay, looking back at the cliff with the gate in it. The cliffs in this bay have many caves, some very high up in the cliff. I found out later that they are connected by tunnels and were used for the smuggling activities. Some of the tunnels are still accessible, perhaps it’s best I didn’t know about this at the time ;)

On the other side of Kingsgate Bay is Kingsgate Castle, built in the 1760s but now converted into apartments… what a place to live! We continued our walk through Joss Bay and Stone Bay. At Stone Bay, we took the steps up and continued on top of the cliffs. The photo on the right shows the view from up there.

Broadstairs is a very pleasant town, with nice buildings on the promenade. It was a sunny day and temperatures even reached up to 18 degrees, warm enough for an ice cream :) The bay in the photo below is Viking Bay. The man-made sand bank apparently protects the coast against winter storm damage, we saw a similar one in Botany Bay.

The photo on the left (below) shows the nice seaside promenade, with a lift (!!) going down to the beach and three stories of beach huts! On the right is the beginning of Louisa Bay, with a big newish apartment building. They have some courage building it right at the cliff’s edge, you can see they need concrete to reinforce the cliff. By now it was high tide and you couldn’t really walk on the beach anymore.

What a wonderful day! I really enjoyed it, such a beautiful place. I’ve always been fascinated by the famous white cliffs. Last year we went to Brighton to see them, but there is no real beach there and you walk on a concrete path underneath the cliffs. This was so much nicer!


After a fun summer with lots of travelling, I was looking forward to coming back to Tromsø and not get on any planes until Christmas… but guess what, we’re in England now! Paul got a very last minute opportunity to analyse the samples from his cruise in a lab in Southampton. And I decided to come along :) We only had a few days to arrange everything, but we managed to find a self catering apartment in a very convenient location – much better than being stuck in a hotel room!

Paul is making long hours in the lab, and I try to work as well as see a bit of Southampton and the surroundings. Southampton is not exactly the most scenic town in England… It was bombed in WWII and rebuilt with lots of concrete. It’s quite industrial as well, mainly as a harbour. But I do enjoy being back in England! No language barrier, less expensive, good cinemas… :)

Yesterday I took a little ferry across the river to Hythe. Quite a nice place! The ferry goes to the far end of Hythe pier, which is quite long (640 m). In the photos below you can see the pier with the ferry.

There are lots of planks with inscriptions on the pier, I guess people were able to sponsor the pier in that way. It’s nice reading all the messages as you walk along. If you don’t want to walk, there is also a cute little train! The train ride is included in the ferry ticket so I took it one way.

I walked around the marina of Hythe, from where you can see Southampton on the opposite side of the river. The ships here are enormous! Not only the container ships, but the cruise ships too. The cruise ship that you can see next to the container ship in the photo below is a rowing boat compared to the other cruise ships that are in port sometimes ;) I also found some trees in spectacular autumn colours, very pretty!

I took some leaves home with me, and played with my new macro lens. The leave in the photo on the left has a wormhole in it :)

Today I watched a homecoming parade for British soldiers returning from Afghanistan. I had never been to something like that, and I was just curious. It was quite nice actually, they did a kind of show with different types of boats, explaining where and how they were used. The parade itself was not very long, but it was fun to watch the people there… :)

That’s all for now… hopefully more photos soon :)

September in the Netherlands

I spent most of September in the Netherlands with my family. It was nice to be back home for a bit longer than usual! It had been much too long, especially during the last phase of my PhD I hardly had time to go home for longer than a couple of days.

Veronika came to visit me on a sunny Saturday, and we spent a fun day catching up and enjoying the weather. We cycled to the beach through the dunes. The dunes have changed a lot in recent times, they don’t get drinking water from them anymore (so it’s a lot wetter) and they have introduced grazing animals in certain areas. We spent a long time at the “Vogelmeer” (bird lake), watching several species of birds and lots of cormorants. And some Scottish Highlanders :)

The skies turned grey by the time we made it to the beach, but it was still warm. We walked along the beach for a while, and then had some lunch – and rosé :) – at a restaurant where you can sit outside – very nice!

We continued our way through the dunes, and found some more Scottish Highlanders. In a different part of the dunes, we also saw horses! There were so many of them…

And they all seemed to love the basket on my mum’s bike! One by one they came to check it out, we were laughing a lot.

We briefly visited the ruins of a medieval castle (Brederode) close to my parents. Autumn is obviously on its way…

I went to the dunes a few more times, and also took this panorama below.

I also finally got to play with the lens baby that Paul gave me for Christmas. This is a very creative lens that gives special effects in sharpness, as you can see in the photo of the path through the forest. It can also take very nice portraits, like this one of my mum :)

My brother and I organised a dinner for the whole family (including aunts/uncles) to celebrate that we both graduated in September. It was a really nice evening! In the photo below I am cutting an enormous icecream cake for dessert :)

I also spent quite a lot of time with Mare, which is always fun :) Though it’s a bit hard to use the computer when she’s near, hehe. She’s so funny, if you show a picture of a cat on the screen, she’s very happy and even tries to lure it towards her by making funny sounds!

My parents bought me a new lens for my camera as a graduation gift. I actually bought two :) A 12-24mm wide angle lens from Tokina, for taking photos of the northern lights this winter, and a 60mm Canon macro lens. I’ve always wanted a good macro lens, and I’m so happy with this one! On the way back from the camera shop, my parents went to this large garden centre/nursery, so I had the perfect opportunity to try my new lens! And WOW, I am so happy with the results! Click to enlarge, I have made the enlarged versions bigger than I usually do so you can see all the details in them…

Back home I also took some photos of my mum’s passion flowers. I love these flowers, they are quite incredible! And the plant has a lot of these “rolled up”branches that are very photogenic too.

I cycled around quite a lot, happy to be back in a country where this is so easy :) This is a view I came across when I cycled back from Bart and Kaya to my parents, somewhere in Overveen.

And these photos are taken in Spaarndam, a very nice village near my parents. I love the bench with the swans :)

That was a short overview of my time in the Netherlands, hope you enjoyed it!