Pictures by Walter

A View With Every Picture


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Canadian Adventure – Jasper to Vancouver (RMT)

Our Locomotives

The Icefield Parkway trip was the base line on which I would compare with the other excursions on this 21 day combined Canadian/Alaskan Adventure.

Our domed home for two days

So far we had flown out to Banff via Toronto, Calgary from Glasgow.  Then the coach trip through the rockies, all in the first 4 days.  Today’s adventure was Part 1 of a 2 day journey on one of the great railway trips in the world. We were travelling on the Rocky Mountaineer on the “Through the Clouds” route from Jasper to Vancouver. A two day sojourn from the Rockies to the plains all in the comfort of a domed rail coach. We had opted for the “Gold Leaf” service as opposed to the Silver Leaf service.

We arrived at (the now opened) Jasper railroad station where our two large cases were whipped away – the last we would see of them until we got to our hotel room in Kamloops.  As the time approached for boarding and departure the excitement mounted in the station waiting room – Finally with the ringing of

A Toast to a good journey

a bell and the traditional time honoured call “ALL ABOARD”  we made our way to our allocated seats in our allocated coach.  Our personal coach crew of two chefs and four lovely ladies were introduced and drinks were served for the departure toast.


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Canadian Adventure – Jasper Wildlife

Downtown Jasper

Here we are in Jasper – Jasper, an alpine town in Canada’s Alberta province, is the commercial centre of Jasper National Park. Amid the snow-capped Canadian Rockies, the park has glacier-fed lakes, forests and rivers. The Jasper SkyTram climbs to the summit of Whistlers Mountain, with views of downtown. The Jasper Yellowhead Museum and Archives presents exhibits on the fur trade, railway and early exploration of the park – ready for a day’s exploration and adventure.  We set out from our hotel – Chateau Jasper to walk into town.  It was not too bad a day weather wise.  Our first stop was to find the railway station to familiarise ourselves with the procedure to board the Rocky Mountaineer train.  Alas it was closed – we had not realised that the station only opens on the days that the Rocky Mountaineer departs/Arrives.  The line is usually freight only.  Mind you we took the opportunity to get a photo in front of the old steam locomotive on static display at the station – I would have loved to be on a train hauled by that engine.  As we had the morning to explore we wandered around the town, bought some gifts and Susan enjoyed a fresh made Banana Split, I forget what I had (no evidence exists 🙂 ).  After a nice morning we headed back to the hotel to meet our scheduled tour and exploration of the environs of Jasper and see the wildlife as well as the views.

Jasper is surrounded by mountainous peaks, everywhere we looked a mountain was there, after a while we blanked them out. Hard to believe but true.  It was a case of not being overwhelmed – however that cannot be said for scenery we saw on the coach trip.  On thing we learned right off is the meaning of “Bear Jam”.  Usually it is traffic jam or delays caused by accidents, on this tour is was delays caused by Bears, Elks, Long Horned Sheep and Mountain Goats – all came under the cry of Bear Jam.  When and wherever a bear was spotted near the roadside or along the treeline the traffic slowed and came to a standstill. Windows rolled down and cameras produced.  As that great bear “Yogi” once stated “Everybody loves a bear BoBo” or was that picnic baskets?

The mountains looked high from Jasper but they really took on a different aspect as we traveled alongside/up and down them. It was not that long before the cry was uttered “bear on right hand side” and sure enough there was a black bear merrily walking through the trees.  He was travelling relatively fast, nonchalant with not a care in the world, Sauntering along -was he heading to food, a date with a she bear only he knew, we just grabbed the opportunity to grab the odd picture or dozen.  I certainly took some odd ones. We and the rest of the bear jam, watched the bear amble along for some time. Eventually our driver guide decided it was time to find some Osprey nests.  Along the way we passed through part of the rainforest devastated by fire in 2008 and still struggling to recover. As someone who lives in Scotland I found it hard to accept what my eyes were telling my brain.  Complete destruction – having been involved in fighting a few house fires I am well aware of that raging beast – but not to the scale that was obvious here.  Thankfully there were signs of recovery, but, as our guide said, “It will take a wee while yet”.   The devastation was only outdone by the pleasing sight of a lake set in the mountains.  Alas the nest did not appear to be occupied.  However, this did not deter our driver./guide as we continued our tour for another hour, spotting Elk, Black Bear, Long Horned Sheep and Mountain Goats (all of which had the proverbial <name of animal> Jam.  Only in Canada can one have wildlife so close to a road and drivers stop), before returning to our hotel for the evening.

Elk
Click to see full gallery of images)

 


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Canadian Adventure – Icefield Parkway

Banff on a rainy day Click for Gallery

 

Banff to Lake Louise (click for Gallery)

Extract from Wikipedia”The Icefields Parkway (FrenchPromenade des Glaciers), is a 230 km (140 mi) long scenic road that parallels the Continental Divide, traversing the rugged landscape of the Canadian Rockies, travelling through Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. It is named for features such as the Columbia Icefield, visible from the parkway. It links Lake Louise with Jasper to the north. At its southern end, the Icefields Parkway terminates at Highway 1. Highway 1 west leads to Yoho National Park in British Columbia and Highway 1 east to Lake Louise and the Town of Banff. A second parkway, the Bow Valley Parkway also links Lake Louise and the Town of Banff. Known as Highway 1A, this road parallels Highway 1 and, at the midpoint, passes the Castle Mountain junction where Highway 93 south, or the Banff-Windermere Highway, branches southwest into Kootenay National Park in British Columbia.[3]  

Chateau Lake Louise

 

 

Our journey started at Banff and our first port of call was Lake Louise.  The first striking sight is that of Chateau Lake Louise.  A sort stroll from the bus parking bay takes you a very striking lake.

Lake Louise
Click for album

Depending on the available light the colour ranges from Aquamarine to cobalt blue. Regretfully we had insufficient time to explore the trails around the lake.  Judging by the crowd it is a well loved site with many activities available.  However we had to continue North to our next port of call Peyto Lake – via Bow Summit. The scenery on this part  of the road trip kept getting better.  As we climbed the views alternated between vast mountains looming over our coach to passing reflection lakes

En route from Lake Louise to Peyto Lake Click for Gallery

Peyto Lake Click for Gallery

En route to Athabasca Glacier.
Click for Gallery

From Peyto Lake we headed for the Athabasca Glacier and a walk on the ancient ice. However, we had a spot of lunch before that of the adventure.

Athabasca Glacier Click for Album

The final segment of our Icefield Parkway tour was to Jasper via a Glacier Skywalk and the Athabasca Falls.  The Skywalk was a test of one’s nerve.  During the trip the weather varied from hot bright sunshine to cold rain at Athabasca Falls it became a downpour.  If you visit the Rockies of Canada I highly recommend this coach tour from Banff to Jasper via Icefield Parkway.

Athabasca Glacier to Jasper via Glacier Skywalk and Athabasca Falls Click for Album

Updated 24th August 2018 – Small video of Icefield Parkway trip Staring from Banff

 

 


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SCDA 1-Act Festival Photography

I have been involved with SCDA Edinburgh District since 2010. I was invited to take photos of dress rehearsals.  Those days are now past, I know get invited to take shots during the actual performance.  Mind you it took some time for the actors to get used to this – they kept expecting to see flash and hear the camera shutter click.   I started off bu using a Canon 5DmkII fitted with the a Canon L 2.8 70 – 200 zoom along with a Nikon D700 fitted with a Sigma f.28 70-200 zoom.  After the Nikon went to the camera scrapyard I used a Pentax K5-Ii with Sigma f2.8 70-200 zoom.  I now use a Pentax K-1 with said Sigma lens.

This year’s Edinburgh District round had some challenging lighting in the plays – however before I start on that I better explain about the SCDA 1-Act Festival.

SCDA – Scottish Community Drama Association (also known as Scottish Community Drama) have been running this festival for 86 years (there was a break during the 2nd WW years) Scotland is divided into four division which are further divided into Districts.  Each District holds a 1-Act Festival and (usually) the First and Runners up progress to the Divisional Final and in turn two from Division progress to the Scottish Final.  The adventure does not stop there as SCDA is part of a UK Festival the winning team from Scotland compete with teams from England, Northern Ireland and Wales to win the British Final hosted in rotation by Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales.  Plays must run between a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 55 Minutes (Scotland).

Back to this years Festival.  Edinburgh open the season (so to speak ) with their round at Church Hill Theatre on the 15th February.  Nine plays from six clubs (Three clubs had two teams)  Three teams would progress to Eastern Division Round.

Thursday 15th February

2018 Edinburgh District - EGTG 2 - A Number

Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group Team 2 with Caryl Churchill’s “A Number”

2018 Edinburgh District - The Livingston Players (SCIO)

The Livingston Players (SCIO) with Tim Whitnall’s “The Sociable Plover”

2018 Edinburgh District - Twilighters

Twilighters with Peter Quilter’s “Blind Date”

Friday 16th February

2018 Edinburgh District - Leitheatre (Sunnyside)

Leitheatre (Sunnyside) with David Campton’s ” After Midnight Before Dawn”

2018 Edinburgh District - Edinburgh Makars B

Edinburgh Makars B with David Tristram’s ” The Extraordinary Revelations of Orca the Goldfish “

2018 Edinburgh District - Edinburgh People's Theatre

Edinburgh People’s Theatre with David Tristram’s ” Last Tango in Little Grimley”

Saturday 17th February 2018

2018 Edinburgh District - Leitheatre (Kirkgate)

Leitheatre (Kirkgate) with James Beagon’s “First Class”

2018 Edinburgh District - EGTG 1

Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group Team 1 with Glen Mhor’s “Ram in the Thicket”

2018 Edinburgh District - Edinburgh Makars A

Edinburgh Makars A withPaul Bovino’s ” Gino of the Lamp “

 


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Cultural Cities of Northern Europe – Sailing Days

As I watched Tallinn fading into the horizon I realised we had a whole 36 hours of cruising before we reached our next port of call, Kiel, Germany.  I did mention in a previous blog I hated the feeling of being confined to a ship for more than 12 hours when all one has to see is the endless horizon and the empty sea (weather permitting). However, that was a simplistic statement.  We are not confined to our cabins, there is plenty of entertainment, bars, decks to stroll round and observation room to site a gaze at the “Oh so open sea”.  You are assigned a Dining Room and table  for your evening meal at other times you are free to go A’la Carte, eat at the buffet, grill.  There is entertainment twice a night in the main lounge.  Whilst the early sitting is at evening meal tye late sitting have the opportunity to enjoy the evening show. The same show is presented to the well fed and sated early sitters.  The Black Watch entertainers/dancers were far to energetic, especially on a rolling , yawning ship.

Monday 26th September “Golden age of Rock

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The talented team also performed a tribute entitled “Legends” in which the they paid tribute to “Freddy Mercury – Queen”, “Elton John”,  “Cher”, “Grease”, “Elvis”, “Abba”, “Cabaret”,  “The Rat Pack” and .

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“Queen & Freddy Mercury”

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“Elton John”

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“Gypsy, Tramps & Thieves – Cher”

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“Grease”

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“Elvis”

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“Abba”

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“Carbaret”

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“Rat Pack”

Gallery

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Gallery of 55 Images of “Legends” show

 


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Cultural Cities of Northern Europe – Tallinn

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Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn The origins of Tallinn date back to the 13th century, when a castle was built there by the crusading knights of the Teutonic Order. It developed as a major centre of the Hanseatic League, and its wealth is demonstrated by the opulence of the public buildings (the churches in particular) and the domestic architecture of the merchants’ houses, which have survived to a remarkable degree despite the ravages of fire and war in the intervening centuries. (Extract from UNESCO) (Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0)

Early Saturday morning saw us docked near the Estonian city of Tallinn. Tallinn is a contrast of modern and medieval – the outer part is modern verging on ultra modern but the heart of the city is sited on a hill, the medieval town.  Our ship was dock well outside the city and we had to bus into the modern part to be dropped off at the foot of the hill for a long walk up through one of the medieval gates into the small cramped streets. The old square is surrounded with medieval buildings with some fine attachments. I’m sure that the talk given by the tour guide was interesting and informative, however, we where on top of a hill, exposed to the wind which added a windchill factor of Freezing.  We stood there for 5 minutes before setting of on our own for bit of a wander around the centre before going for a sample of mid morning tea and folk dance display.

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Susan and I enjoyed our little meander around this old town.  Looking at how the old buildings were being used for modern business without destroying the outer facade of the building. We spotted  dragons, a Scottish Pub, some intriguing statues, carved doorways as well as a few Irish pubs

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After about an hour we made our way back to the meeting point in time for the “Cultural Treat”.  The folk dance was interesting unfortunately it was very vigorous and too fast for me to capture via my camera, as I had not taken my fast lens.  (Oh well lesson learnt there). 30 minutes later we were heading back to our coach for the return trip to the ship.  Like all shore excursions there does not appear to be enough time to explore places in detail.  It takes so long to get between places and so little time at the destination.  What did stick in my mind is that Tallinn is a town of two parts the ancient surround by the modern. This can be summed up with the opening image and the closing image taken as we departed the docks.
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20170930 - If it's Saturday it Must be Tallinn

Click on this image to see Flickr Gallery of 37 images from Tallinn


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Cultural Cities of Northern Europe – St Petersburg

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The Admiralty building is the former headquarters of the Admiralty Board and the Imperial Russian Navy in St. Petersburg, Russia and the current headquarters of the Russian Navy. The edifice was re-built in the nineteenth century to support the Tsar’s maritime ambitions

The morning of Friday 29th September 2017 saw us docking at St Petersburg – I was up very early and watched the ship manoeuvring up stream to the docks near the city centre.  We had been briefed, via a ship’s newsletter, as to how we approached Russian Immigration.  I thought UK Immigration staff were poker face but the Russians had them beat for deadpan face.  I will admit to slight trepidation as I entered the room, passed my visa and passport across, after a few minutes of being scrutinised and my passport checked, an entry visa was stamped into my passport.  (After 46 years and going through four passports my fifth was the one that had a visa stamp stamped onto it).  Anyway I digress, having passed through immigration we made our way to our tour bus – Everyday St Petersburg – and it was everyday St Petersburg.  We did see some of the historical/touristic sites but only externally.  We explored the city centre, enjoyed a trip on the Moscow Metro, walks along “Nevsky Prospekt” bought a few gifts.  As far as the cruise went St Petersburg was the highlight and the Metro trip was the bonus.  Unlike the last two cities with quick tours St Petersburg was 8.5 hours and we enjoyed every  minute of it.

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The Church of the Savior on Blood commemorates the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated personal collection

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Saint Isaac’s Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor in Saint Petersburg, Russia, is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city. It is the largest orthodox basilica and the fourth largest cathedral in the world.

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One of the many mosaics on the St Petersburg Metro

 

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St Petersburg Metro Station. The cleanliness and upkeep of all the staions and art work are of a very high standard

 

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Puskin’s Statue at Metro station named after him

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Click on Image for St Petersburg Gallery of 51 Images

We left St Petersburg early evening and watched the lights of the city fade as we sailed down river to the Baltic See and an overnight cruise to our next port of call Tallinn in Estonia