Pictures by Walter

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All Change ..Part 5 – Changing Tracks

In June 2016 I commenced the saga of building a model railway – the last update was on 30th July 2016 in which I discussed control, then zilch.  The layout was never fully completed and for two years it was run but no further development.  Why this gap?  To be honest I’m not sure – however my memory is that the ballasting of the tracks caused lots of problems in running of the models and eventually required drastic remedial action of lifting the tracks and clearing the ballasting from the baseboard.  During this time I became dissatisfied with the fiddle yard area and wished to expand the layout.   Meantime life carried on.. Susan and I enjoyed our adventures  during 2017 and 2018 with our fellow Intrepid, Sid Morgan as well as taking sea cruises and holiday in Canada.

In november 2018 Susan was advised that her cancer had returned and required further Chemotherapy.  She suggested that it was time I returned to the model railway and expand it.  Plans were drawn up and a budget allocated to the project.  The new design would replace the fiddle yard and an extra 9 ft to make a U style layout.  The revised layout would by 12 ft x 8 ft x 9 ft x 4.5 ft.

Work commenced on Saturday November the 8th with our good friend Sid supplying the know how to create the new baseboards.  No sooner had we started Susan received a phone call from the cancer unit at Western General Hospital they wanted her admitted straight away as the consultant wanted to drain out the liquid from her abdominal cavity.  So we had to leave Sid to do the work whilst I took Susan into hospital.  When I finally returned home, Sans Susan, Sid had completed the assembly and fitting of the new baseboards.  Work was suspended until Susan returned home on the evening of Saturday 9th November having had her first Chemo treatment.

Sunday 9th November track was laid and testing began.

Among many changes made was the replacement of the terminus station with a better style station, the design of a goods yard and addition of factories.  The video below shows teh state of play as at 25th December 2018.

 

 


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A Winter’s Month – January 2010

Nikon D300s

A New Year, with two new photographic toys Santa had very kind left at Christmas. A New Nikon D300s with a Sigma 150-500 Zoom.  It had become apparent that I needed a larger zoom than the 28/300 for some of my animal shots at zoos.  Unfortunately (if I recall correctly) there were not many third party lens for Pentax fittings.  I was contemplating buying a Sigma 150-500 for Canon but a hint was dropped to forget that.  Christmas revealed why.

January 2010 (at least in West Lothian) started off with a lot, and I mean a lot of snow, along with a big freeze.  Yet the sun did shine – it shone but not a lot of warmth.  To test my new outfit I took my normal walk to my place of work getting to know the camera and lens.  This took me from Craigshill to Almondvale and the (then) new Civic Centre where |I was employed in Legal Services, West Lothian Council. Susan, Sid and I headed off to Linlithgow – which shuts down over the festive season, and had a walk around Linlithgow Loch to feed the birds.  It is a nice walk round the loch (see WalkHighlands) and popular, even on the 1st of January.  Being a loch there are lots of waders as well as gulls.  Most popular are the Mute Swans and Ducks (Mallard, Tufted Ducks etc.)  Regretfully we had to wait until we got home to have a warm soup – as I said Linlithgow closes down at Festive Season.

Where else would one test out the combination of large Zoom lens  and new camera – Edinburgh Zoo sprung to mind.  In a previous blog I mentioned that we were once members of the Society but no longer.  However the Zoo was the ideal place to test the outfit and I captured (to my mind) some great shots of Tigers, Lions etc.  I forgot to mention that Sid had purchased a Nikon D300s and Sigma 150-500 from Jessops in Edinburgh.  I thought he would have twigged and brought it with him to the zoo.  Silly man forgot them, mind you that was the last time he did so. Nowadays he carries the D90 and D300s with a small zoom and the 150-500.

I did not realise it at the time, but the year that started off so well would soon become the year from hell as far as my personal life went.  My mother lost her battle with cancer and soon after my partner was fighting for her life against pneumonia.   In all 2010 was a year of change and led to a bigger change in 2011.

Video/Slide show “A Winter’s Month”


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Wandering with a Pentax K200D – 2009

In 2008 I had two cameras – A Pentax K200d to act as a Second body to my K10D it eventually became my main camera of choice.  It was rated as a beginners camera but had weatherproofing.  However, by 2009 I owned 6 DSLRs.  I had bought a Canon EOS 50D, EOS 500D, Nikon D90, Nikon D300s.  I was spreading my wings testing the myth about which is the best camera.  Whilst I still retain the Pentax K10D, Canon 50D and 500D I no longer have the Pentax K200 or Nikon cameras.  I had fun that year taking 13,900 images, learning to cope with RAW files and Lightroom – having given up Photoshop as far too complex for my simple needs. The breakdown per camera is:

Pentax K10D – 4021 images, Pentax K200D – 2800, Canon 50D – 1974, Canon 500D – 1915, Nikon D90 – 1508 and the Nikon D300s – 571, a total of  12965 pictures the remaining 931 taken with unknown cameras. As you can see I preferred using the Pentax K10D closely followed by the  K200D.  The Canons came second and the Nikon last.   I still have not solved the which is best dilema as I use Pentax, Canon and Nikon for different tasks.

Anyway I digress 2009 I took the K200D on my travels around the UK as it was lighter then the K10 and a lot lighter than the Canon/Nikon. My Partner (Susan) and our fellow Intrepid Sid had fun traveling around Scotland, Down to York and looking through the images brought back the adventures.  My highlights were – Photographing inside St Giles Cathedral (actually the High Kirk of Edinburgh), Catching the moment the 1 o’Clock gun was fired, our trip to Inchcolm Island in the River Forth and my night shot of the Forth Bridge (rail bridge) at night from North Queensferry Harbour, at the time the bridge was undergoing a lengthy restoration and paint job – started in 2002 and finished in 2011.

I’ll leave you to enjoy (or not as the case may be) a short video of my wanderings with the Pentax K200D


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Memory Of Edinburgh Zoo 2007

I  had enjoyed using my Pentax *istDS (rather an unfortunate model name) until I became aware that my images were no longer sharp.  It took me a while to discover the cause and it was a very slight tremble in my left hand. There was no loss of sharpness at fast shutter speed, only on the lower speeds.  For Christmas 2006 I was given a Pentax K10D with the latest 10 megapixel sensor and in body anti shake also acting as a sensor cleaner.  Along with the K10D I was given a Tamron 28-300 zoom lens.

I soon got used to the idiosyncrises of the camera/lens combination – one being the fact that the anti-shake does not cut in until you half press the shutter button,but you could take a preview shot to check all was working as it should.  One other oddity was the way the camera/sensor loved Red – every image with red was saturated and had to be toned down.  I used to be a member of Edinburgh Zoological Society i.e. I bought an annual pass for the zoo and made good use of the pass to frequently visit the zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie in the Highlands.  I was more than pleased with the results of shooting through glass with the Pentax K10D as there was a row of enclosures (now long gone) which housed Leopards, Panthers, Cheetahs and Pallas Cats.  A wooden barrier extend from the front so you could not get close up to the glass though many tried.

Panther

The panther used to hide in his/her den under a fallen tree, the Leopard would sit up high and occasionally patrol around it’s enclosure. I mention this as I had come across a set of images taken in July 2007 using the Pentax K10D and the Tamron 28-300 zoom along with many other shots.  I have re-edited the images using the latest Lightroom CC. and they are shown in the video below.

The video comprises of 29 images taken at the zoo in 2007.  The majority of these animals no longer have abode at Edinburgh Zoo, which since the “Gift” of a Panda sold off many animals including the Leopards, Cheetahs and Panthers.  The Amur Tigers were transferred to Highland Park Zoo along with the Red Panda and Polar bear. On my last visit to the zoo I found that the Cat row had been left abandoned and left to decay.  Over the years the zoo has shrunk re exhibits – whilst the Amur Tigers have a large new enclosure/building I feel the loss of the other cats.

 

 


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The Jacobite – A Memory from 2005

from Amazon for reference purpose)

During recent data housekeeping I came across a memory from July 2005.  Earlier that year I had bought my first ever Digital Single Reflex Camera (DSLR). It was a Pentax  *istDS, a 6 megapixel DSLR as a step up transition rom Pentax SLRs.  As a relatively new digital camera user I refrained from using RAW images.  on 31st July 2005 Susan (at the time a work college)  took a trip on one of the most scenic railway routes in Scotland.  Long before “Harry Potter” and flying Blue Ford Anglias the line from Fort William to Mallaig was famous as the “Fish Line”. Built to facilitate the transfer of the fish from the busy port of Mallaig to all points south.  In its

Ex-LNER K1 – 62005 “Lord of the Isles”

heyday in the 1960’s Mallaig could bost to be the busiest fishing port in Scotland.  However all that changed in the 1970s. Overfishing led to depleted stocks and a  four year ban on herring fishing was enforced.  The railway line was in constant threat of closure despite the importance of the new tourism industry.  In 1984 the then Scotrail introduced a steam hauled train from Fort William to Mallaig – which continues to this day as “The Jacobite” under private operator West Coast Railway. However, the whole route known as the West Highland Railway covers from Glasgow to Mallaig or Oban.  This was our first outing as a couple and we left Livingston by Car at 6 am a two hour drive to Fort William driving across Rannoch Moor, through Glencoe to Fort William.  If my memory is correct we had not booked a seat on this train, we learnt from that and have since always booked seats.  We were lucky as there was two seats available and we got on.  Mind you we spent most of the time on the outward journey standing the the space between the coaches, with me popping me head out with camera getting pictures of the scenery as we made our way to Mallaig.  My only disappoint was the fact that the engine, ex British Rail, 62005, K1 loco was travelling Tender First.  Still I would get shots on the return of the train crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct loco first. Travelling behind a steam hauled train adds to the adventure  – the scenery is always superb in good weather and travel by normal train is a lot cheaper than by steam hauled, but a lot less romantic.  I took 193 photos on that trip and relied on the camera to produce the results.  As I said at the beginning I rediscovered the images and edited them using Lightroom CC using the skills I have gained in 13 years.  I selected 39 images to make into a small photo video omitting 1 image, that of my companion on that day – she is now my partner and this is dedicated to her Susan – it was a perfect day to start our adventures together.


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Japanese Garden – Cowden

Isabella ‘Ella’ Christie of Cowden (1861 –1949)

Extracted and summarised from cowdengarden.com Image linked from  cowdengarden.com.  

1963
Teenagers broke into the garden and burnt the teahouses, bridges and knocked the lanterns and shrines into the water during a night of mayhem. They were witnessed fleeing. This act of vandalism destroyed the work of  Isabella ‘Ella’ Christie of Cowden (1861 –1949).   

She had created Shãh-Rak-Uen, ‘the place of pleasure and delight’ in two months with the help of Taki Handa. Between 1908 – 1925 Professor Suzuki, 18th Hereditary Head of the Soami School of Imperial Garden Design, came regularly to prune the many imported shrubs and trees. In 1925 Shinzaburo Matsuo, who had lost his family in an earth quake, came to Scotland and worked in the garden until he died in 1937; he is buried in Muckhart churchyard. 

2008
The garden was handed over to Miss Christie’s great, great niece (Robert’s daughter), Sara Stewart.

2010
Taki Handa’s granddaughter visited the garden.

2011
Two new bridges commissioned by Robert Stewart.

2012
The pond was dredged in order to clear the weeds and find
the missing pieces from the lanterns. Inclusion in the Historic Environment Scotland Inventory of Designed Landscapes.

2013
Professor Masao Fukuhara, from Osaka University of Arts, Japan, was appointed to restore the garden.

2014
Start of restoration.
Formation of the charity The Japanese Garden at Cowden Castle, Charity No: SC045060.

2018 On the 6th July 2018 the Garden was reopened to the public.   On 10th August 2018 Susan and I visited the garden after reading about it on Facebook.  It was a spur of the moment decision.  Getting there was not so easy, in fact it was to put it mildly “Bl**dy frustrating”.  We finally found the turn and headed up a steep one track, very few passing places, to what looked like the semi demolished entrance to a contractors site.  Following the route we came to a newly set up parking area. A short walk took us to some porta cabins – Visitor Centre (shop and cafe), Toilets and at rear an outside seating area for cafe.

On paying (a reasonable) entrance fee you are stickered with a badge and may  now freely roam the restored areas of the once proud gardens.   As I said I felt very frustrated and in a mood after taking nearly 2 hours to find the gardens.  However, being met with politeness and having consumed an excellent home baked cake and filled up with coffee I was somewhat mollified.  We crossed the road from the porta cabins and took a left to enter the Gate to the Garden.

Once again, as I experienced in the Japanese Friendship Garden at (Lauriston Castle), a feeling of tranquillity slowly settled on me.  The garden was living up to “the place of pleasure and delight”.  Much needs to be done to fully restore this lost gem and the team are working hard to achieve the aim of fully restoring Shãh-Rak-Uen .

 


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Canadian Adventure – Butchart Gardens

Without doubt our 21 day combined Canadian/Alaskan Adventure had its moments and its disasters. However, we would not have willing missed the experience.  Our final adventure fell on a day of national celebration “Canada Day”.  This was not the first time we had visited a tourist hot spot on such an occasion. We landed in Amsterdam in time for “Queen’s Day” in 2012 – or rather “Queen’s Night” the evening before the day.  Amsterdammers can certainly party and so can the Canadians.

We had book a coach trip for our final day to visit “Butchart Gardens” and Victoria. took the ferry to “Vancouver Island” from Vancouver (Tsawwassen) – Victoria – (Swartz Bay) an approximately 90 minute trip.  Once on the island we made our way to Tod Bay and Butchart Gardens.  Being a public holiday the gardens were extremely busy but we managed to make our way round and visit the centre-piece “Sunken Gardens”, “Rose Garden”, “Japanese Garden” and “Italian Garden”, plus other smaller garden areas. Time, as it usually does flew past as we meandered our way around the attractions.  All to soon it was time to make our way back to the coach and to Victoria and party time (no photos taken – too boisterous and busy)

 

Video of Butchart Gardens