Sunrise in Leeds while on a business trip.

Sunrise in Leeds

Business trips are not always the best for catching good photos, though I have had a few good shots on work trips away. Here I had a hotel room with a balcony facing the right way. Though wintry and cool it was not cold enough to stop me catching this sunrise in Leeds.

At the end of October the timing of the sunrise is also great – no effort needed, simply get out of bed and take photos.

Sunrise in Leeds at the Mercure Parkway hotel.
The sunrise light is looking great on the autumn colours in some of the vegetation.

Sunrise in Leeds Photo Notes

The power of the phone camera! And a bit of Snapseed. These were all taken using night mode on a Huawei Mate 10 Pro. A little of cropping a tweaking in Snapseed brought them to life.

While the raw images from my TZ100 Or DSLR may arguably produce technically better images, which will make better prints, the Mate 10 delivers great shots, very quickly ready to use online.

Sunrise in Leeds - subtle colours looking behind the sunrise.
When taking a sunrise or sunset shot in cludy weather always looik to the other side of the sky. The colours in the clouds were subtle.

Location: Mercure Leeds Parkway Hotel

The Mercure Leeds Parkway Hotel is my normal choice of accommodation when up in Leeds. It is a very convenient hotel for local businesses, as well as a few local attrractions, and is only two miles from the Leeds Bradford International Airport.

With most of the modern conveniences one would expect from a modern hotel, the Brasserie has always delivered a good meal when I have been there. Certainly the best of the local hotels which I have tried.

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Boats in the Brighton Marina

Quick Stop Brighton

After another day trip to Robertsbridge, we decided not to waste the afternoon and drive back via the coastline. A bit of “interesting” driving through some country roads took us to Eastbourne. From there we took a drive along the south coast towards Brighton.

That was a pleasant drive, and we will definitely explore the area a bit more. next summer maybe?

Having only eaten a small lunch, food was calling. We spotted the Brighton Marina and decided to Explore.

Here are a couple of photos. It’s a marina, so plenty of boats in evidence.

Brighton Marina - plenty of food choices.
Many places to eat at the Brighton Marina.

And we did enjoy an excellent seafood meal at the Barracuda Brasserie chosen as it didn’t look “fast food” and we are not fast food fans. It was a beautiful afternoon / evening so we could sit and eat outside.

Four type of fish on a plate at Barracuda Brasserie, Brighton Marina
A fish dish of four different types of fish, enjoyed, shared between two of us

It’s easy to focus on overseas travel, but there are many local places to visit and explore, just a few hours drive away. We’ll definitely back this way in the not too distant future.

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A quick stop at Brighton Marina with a great seafood meal at the Barracuda Brasserie.

Sundown at Camden Market

Back at the end of May we spent a bit of time in London. We always love to visit Camden Market. Never buy much at the market but the atmosphere is great. In the long days of spring and summer it’s great to end the day with a drink or two while the rush hour winds down.

At the end of the day it’s great to chill out at one of the pubs and enjoy the early evening with a drink.

Here are a few views of the area, from the pub at sundown.

Cranes and narrow boats in the sundown light at Camden Market.
Cranes and narrow boats in the sundown light looking across Camden Lock.
Reflection in the canal near Camden Lock in the early evening light.
Reflections in the canal at Camden Market at the end of the day

Of course, this was spring. We also went there in Winter – check it out.

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Westminster Abbey in London

Being London Tourists

Starting with a family wedding in May, the spring and summer have been filled with activities. Now i’m trying to catch up. Here’s part 1.

From home we can be anywhere in London in under 2 hours. It’s a trip we do occasionally just for fun, or sometimes on business. We recently had a visitor stay with us on a first visit to the UK. That was a good excuse to head south and be London tourists. Here’s part one of our visit, where we started with a plan, lost the plan and just enjoyed ourselves. No deliberate visits to iconic landmarks. Just doing a day trip to London.

Trains and Underground – Getting to London

The entrance to Marylebone Station in LondonSo for us it’s a quick drive to the station and a little short of an hour on a Chiltern Railways train, and we are at Marylebone Station.

Like many in the UK, we take this train ride for granted. It’s easy to forget that many countries simply don’t have this luxury. So the trip to London becomes a bit more of an adventure.

Love it or hate it, if you don’t do it often, the London Underground becomes another part of the adventure. Of course, depending on where you are going, the iconic London bus offers a slower but more scenic way to travel. In a hurry? Catch an Uber or a black cab.

Sometimes it can be enjoyable to simply walk. Some of London’s Underground stations and bus stops are quite close together, and a sightseeing walk can be fun. Finding your way around London can be tricky, but I strongly recommend the Citymapper app on a smartphone. Citymapper does give problems at times as a walking guide. Google Maps is a better tool for walking in London.

Marble Arch in LondonMarble Arch

We did have a plan. Somehow we lost the plan and we ended up at Marble Arch. Who knows why, but it was a good start.

Marble Arch was originally built at Buckingham Palace, but was relocated to its current location when Buckingham Palace was extended during Queen Victoria’s reign.

From there it’s a short walk to Hyde Park, empty on this Friday, but a good spot to enjoy a cup of coffee, sitting on the grass on a warm spring day.

Hyde Park

Spend time in London and you will see, wherever you go, some part of the history of the city. Hyde Park is no exception. Created by Henry VIII in the 16th century as a hunting park. It was opened to the public in the following century, and remains a public park today. It has frequently been the site of protests and public events.

Having a cup of coffee at Hyde Park.In modern London, in summer, Hyde Park is known for free, weekday rock concerts. These are generally paid events at the weekends which have to be booked well in advance, such as the Eric Clapton and Friends event which we attended in July.

Many first-time visitors (including me in my first visit) are often very surprised at the green space, like Hyde Park, in London. Visitors from some countries do perceive London as a polluted concrete jungle. Indeed, I know those have never visited the UK, who believe that is a good descrption of the whole country!

Animals in War Monument

On Park Lane at Hyde Park we discovered a monument which I did not know about. The Animals in War Memorial commemorates the animals which have served the armed forces over the centuries.

The modern military is highly mechanised, powered by the internal combustion engine. It’s easy to forget the many animals, including donkeys and horses and others, which took armies to war.

The Animals in War Memorial in London

Parliament Square

A short tube ride took us from Hyde Park to Parliament Square.

Westminster Abbey in LondonAlthough a relatively recent site, having been created in the 19th century, Parliament Square sits in the middle of a number of buildings of historic and current importance. There are a few (see the link above) but the most noticeable for the visitor are The Palace of Westminster, or the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. It is a “must” for the foreign visitor.

The queue to get into Westminster Abbey was long, probably partly because we visited on the Friday of a bank holiday weekend, so we didn’t try to get in. It’s a good idea to book ahead and get there early if you want to visit the Abbey.

Many of the photos in my London at Night Gallery were taken a few years ago at Parliament square and nearby, around Westminster Bridge. In a way it brings some iconic London features together – many red double decker buses passing by, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

One downside on this trip was the fact that Big Ben is undergoing repairs and is shrouded in scaffolding and plastic sheeting, as it will be for a few years.

Parliament Square

A look across Parliament square. Sadly Big Ben is covered up

Food Market

South Bank Food Market in LondonA walk across Westminster Bridge and along the River Thames took us to the Southbank centre with its many pubs and restaurants. Our aim was the Southbank Centre Food Market, which we know from previous visits.

The Southbank Centre Food Market features food from all over the world. Take your pick of many different food. Sample a bit of each and have a great meal. We bought a selection of British pies, curries and eastern food, all washed down with fruit juice and craft beer.

On a number of occasions a group of us has bought our selection of food and taken it to nearby Jubilee gardens, under the London Eye, to share and enjoy the meal.

South Bank Food Markert in London

South Bank Food Market – Pimms right next to Korean BBQ

Visiting London

This little visit, up to this point took us to early afternoon. We covered a lot of ground, but London still has much to show off. Our plan collapsed, but we have been there often enough to still take our visitor to some interesting spots.

Watch this space – plenty more of our London jaunt to come.




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Rough Seas at St Leonards Beach

Stormy Seas at St Leonards-on-Sea

Stormy Seas at St Leonards-on-Sea

With a few hours of daylight on a winter’s day, after our visit to Robertsbridge in East Sussex we decided to explore a bit. Of course the beach called, so we headed towards Hastings and found the beach at St. Leonards-on-Sea.

St. Leonards-on-Sea

With the name often shortened, St Leonards has been part of Hastings, in East Sussex since the 19th century. It was planned and established as a seaside resort early in the century, and later merged into the town of Hastings.

St. Leonards Pier

St Leonards PierThe St Leonards Pier was completed in 1891 as a local feature and entertainment area. During the second world war it was cut in half to protect against invasion, but was later destroyed by fire, having suffered some bombing damage.

The remains of the pier were removed after the war.











Our Visit

We found ourselves at the location of the old pier, simply because it was a useful place to park, with the winds rocking the car, and the surf looking interesting as the wind drove the breakers on to the beach.

Now anybody who knows the UK, knows that the beach is not a great place to visit in January. To top that off, storm Eleanor had blown across England over the preceeding two days, and the wind was fierce. In fact it was hard work to walk around and take photos. Even the seagulls struggled with the wind. We had a laugh watching take off and go nowhere.

Enjoy the photos. We have added St Leonards to the list of places to visit in summer, as it looked as if it could be quite festive.





Big Cheshire sky one spring morning.

Big Cheshire Sky

Big Cheshire sky one spring morning.

Beautiful spring sky over Cheshire one morning.

from 500px Big Cheshire Sky

Big Cheshire Sky

A beautiful spring morning in Cheshire, looking over a golf course at Mottram Hall Hotel in Macclesfield.
I stayed in Macclesfield on a trip. As I was leaving the hotel I was presented with this view, and really had no choice but to grab my phone and take the shot. Wish I had had a camera with me.

Photo Details

Taken on a Samsung Note 4 and processed in Snapseed on the phone.

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Street Decoration

Birmingham German Market – Christmas Time!

2016 is the 50th anniversary of the Birmingham German market, so it is staying open until the 29th of December, giving Christmas shoppers plenty of opportunity to visit. We have enjoyed the market occasionally in previous years. This time we decided to make a party of it, spending a Friday there. That meant we could miss the big crowds and spend the day enjoying simply walking around and sampling the goods. Can’t say that we bought much, though we did enjoy some good food and sweets, and a good day out.

Off to Birmingham

A train trip after work on Thursday put us at the new New Street station in time to catch a cab and check in to the Novotel hotel on Broad Street with time for a leisurely dinner. Broad street is an ideal place to be visiting the German Market as it is a short walk away, and a central spot for the local pubs and restaurants.

Coast to Coast, an American restaurant on Broad Street gave us a great meal of burgers and ribs with all the trimmings, including two for one “happy hour” cocktails. A couple of drinks back at the hotel ended the evening nicely.

Friday: Market Day at the Birmingham German Market

There is no point being first at the market, while the stall holders are still preparing for the day, so on the Friday morning we enjoyed the hotel’s excellent breakfast spread, before taking a stroll down Broad Street to the English market. This is a small market featuring a good range of clothing, soaps, candle and the like. We did sample some great toffee liqueur.

German GluhweinThere is a lot of construction in Birmingham at present, which meant a long, somewhat circuitous walk to the main German market in Victoria Square, right in front of the Birmingham Town Hall. The market extends down the length of New Street, almost to the Bullring shopping mall.

Novelty glassware, decorations, leather wear, Christmas decorations, fancy lights, and more. We walked the length of the market stalls and saw all of it. And then we walked back on the other side of the road and saw the rest. This did take a few hours, not only spent browsing the goods on sale, but often sampling the gluhwein along the way. After all, it was cold and we did need warming up.

Back in Victoria Square, lunch was tasty Bratwurst & mustard roll washed down with some German beer, and, of course, followed by a gluhwein! But we won’t count the various tasty sweet things and marshmallow chocolates, some of which actually made it home.

Birmingham German Market CarouselAnd then we found the carousel. The ladies decided to have a go, while the guys took photos!

Mid-afternoon saw us all ready for a break. We wandered back to the hotel via Brindley Place, a nice little collection of bars and restaurants. A pit stop at the, by then very busy, Pitcher and Piano proved very welcome.

The Big Wheel

Heights. I am not a fan of heights! The challenge from our friends was to do the big wheel! It was a challenge that could not be ignored, so all four of us went on the wheel. To be fair, we did get a couple of good photos. I’ll let them speak for themselves.

Chinese Dinner

We ended the day with an excellent Chinese meal at the Chung Ying Central Dim Summ Restaurant in Colmore Row. We were struck by the whole approach and decor as we walked in. The establishment appears as a more western style restaurant, but delivered a most enjoyable Chinese meal.

Heading Home on Saturday

With no reason to be anywhere in a hurry on the Saturday morning we took our time over another Novotel breakfast, then made away via a taxi to New Street station, or as close as the taxi driver could get in the Saturday market crowds. Then the fun started.

New Station is BIG, so it took a while to get our bearings and find the right platform. When the train arrived we stood back and just let the mobs fight over it. There was no way we were going to get into that fight. A change of platform and thirty minute wait for the next train! With an announcement that “a crew member had not turned up for work”, the wait quickly turned into well over an hour. That was followed by another scrum for a seat. Let’s just say that elbows and big feet helped, and leave it at that. An hour’s travel put us back in Banbury, for a short drive home. We had locked ourselves in to the Cross Country service. For future reference, Chiltern Rail, out of Moor St., seems to offer a better local service.

Final Thoughts

My normal idea of a getaway is in the countryside or at the beach. Clearly that is not an option in England at Christmas. A visit to the Birmingham German Market, as we did this trip, trip falls into the category of a “City Break”, not something I have seriously considered before. From the market point of view there was nothing that I was really excited to buy. The different food was really great. The real enjoyment of the German Market visit was to be out with friends, doing something different. From that point of view it was a great trip.

A key part of our enjoyment was going to the market on a Friday, with smaller crowds!

No I wouldn’t rush back to see the German market, but with the right group having a couple of days out I would go back any time.


Here are some of the photos. Enjoy.