Friday, July 15, 2011

My June 2011 British Isles Adventure

The United Kingdom, or is it Great Britain?  No, my target June 2011 was a trip around the British Isles.  For you purists, that means England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Ireland.  And I’ll throw in Normandy, France and one of the Channel Islands of Guernsey.
Ports of Call June 2011

I came home after this two week trip rich with over a 1,000 photos.  Of course, the hard part was the editing and the deleting.  My Flickr account has nearly 250 photos of my adventure you can enjoy at the end of this blog.

I shot with a Canon 7D and my international travel lens, the Tamron 18-270mm.  It’s not the best or sharpest lens in my collection, but it sure makes traveling easier.  This multipurpose lens is quick to use and easier to get through airport security gates too.  In my post production, I used Adobe Lightroom for nearly 95 percent of my work.  Adobe Photoshop I use for the really hard photos. 
Omaha Beach, Normandy France

I was on a Princess ship.  It’s huge, which caused massive lines coming back to the ship after tours.  The good thing about cruising is you get to go to places you might not go to and you get a lot in a short period of time.  In two weeks, I visited ten places from Omaha Beach in Normandy up to the Orkney Islands in Scotland over to Ireland down to the Channel Islands and then into London. 

American Heroes of D-Day
The first tour was to Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.  That was pretty emotional.  It’s probably why I took a bit longer to edit the photos.  It is impossible to relay emotions that ran through me as I walked to the American Cemetery, “American soil” as our French tour guide reminded us.  As I stepped toward the huge monument to the American dead, they played the National Anthem.   I joined a group of young American musicians as we all stood ramrod straight, hand on chest, facing the American flag.  A memory not to be forgotten.  Rows and rows of crosses and Stars of David.  Rows.  And rows.  Forever young.  Forever heroes. 

From there, off we went to Edinburgh, Scotland.  Castles.  Lots of castles.  Stories about the evil English.  Ha ha.  Scots, Irish, Welsh... they all have a case against the English.   And rain... drizzle.  But I’m a desert rat from Arizona, so it’s all good.  I found a great sporting goods store in Edinburgh named Patterson’s.  I asked for my family 10% discount and they said no dice... so I asked for a PVCC discount for employees.  If you ever get to Edinburgh, you get a 10% discount!

Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland
Historian at Urquart Castle Near Loch Ness
Then it was up to Invergordon, Scotland in search of more castles and yesss!  Loch Ness!  Nessie was quiet that day.  Although there might have been a few suspicious bubbles on the lake.  It’s interesting to note how the locals have played the so called Loch Ness Monster into a real tourist draw. 
Near Glasgow, Scotland
Off we went on up to the top of Scotland to Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands.  Now this little out of the way place is actually steeped in history.  This is the home of Scapa Flow, where the German Navy scuttled its ships after World War I.  There is also the remains of a World War II Italian prisoner of war camp and the little church they built. 

Schoolboys in Belfast

Church in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands
From there it was down the west coast of Scotland to see Glasgow.  More castles!  I didn’t need any formal exercise on this trip.  I walked and climbed and took photos.  And, these adventures are always about the people.  I got back to the ship and noticed three Glasgow cops... so I watched as they were laughing and taking photos of each other.  So I walked over and said “OK, boys.. what the heck is going on here?”  One of the cops said in a very thick accent, “Oh we’re havin’ a bit of a nosey.”  Now that just made me laugh.  So it was nice chatting with those guys, talking about beer and sports. 

Corn Market, Belfast
The next stop from Glasgow was Belfast, Northern Ireland.  I’d been to Northern Ireland two years ago doing my own “nosey” as Belfast County Antrim is where my family from my father’s side came from.  On the tour of Belfast, I asked the guide where they might have hung horse thieves as my great uncle was hung as a horse thief in the late 1800’s.  Corn Market street was the place, so I tipped my cap and the tour group applauded as I found out something more about my nefarious relatives. 

Off to Dublin, in pelting rain and cold.  I saw a little park where a life-size statue of the author Oscar Wilde appears.  Then of course a visit to a local downtown pub, where I had to complain that they served their Guinness with holes in the glasses!  The bar maid made my order right again with a few new pints as she said to me, “Ah you must be Irish, you’re full of ##$%!”  How did she know?  And all was right in my visit to Dublin. 

One of the big surprises to me was how lovely Wales is.   The ship entered the Welsh harbor of Holyhead in northern Wales.  More castles of course, countryside, and the longest town name I’ve ever seen:  Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.  Now, I had a bus driver at the stop ask me how I liked the town as he ripped off the name of it.  The town name is bigger than the town. 

Girl in Guernsey
The Channel Islands... Guernsey and St. Peter Port.  This was one part of Britain occupied by Germans in World War II.  What a lovely little island!  Exploring the island on foot, I found a nice pub called the Red Onion and had fun with the owner and his friends on a lazy Sunday.  You’ll see photos toward the end of my collection with the folks from that place.  By the way, step into the street from the pub with a beer and get a 2,000 pound fine.  Kinda steep. 
Jim and Michelle in London (Hendon) Pub

Then it was on to Southampton, then a bus ride to the hotel in London.  London was college business for me as I made it to Hendon to meet Michelle Lawrence (Bickford) of Middlesex University, where we are about ready to have an articulation (transfer) agreement between PVCC/Maricopa and Middlesex in business.  Michelle is also a fellow University of Arizona graduate ('98 BA in Psychology), so while having lunch and a few beers at a pub next door called the Claddagh Ring, I gave Michelle a present from the UA alumni association.  We also talked about PVCC faculty doing a summer school there for our students in 2013 (2012 is an Olympic year) and of me going back there next year to teach a photography class with my Fulbright Senior Specialist award.  So it looks like I’ll return to the London area next year!

What’s up next?  I’m back to the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops the end of July for a class on small flash.  Then the top of September will find me in Las Vegas for Photoshop World taking more classes and having some photo adventures.  October 1 should be the date for the next NAPP international photowalk.  Follow my NAPP Facebook page at for details as they become available. 

Remember, when in doubt, just shut up and shoot!

Jim Patterson

Enjoy my British Isles adventure slideshow by clicking HERE!