Posted by: digibirder | July 25, 2009

Still some to go!

So, I will try and get this trip report finished. Being back at work is definitely hampering my progress. I still haven’t edited the remaining photos, but I think I have enough to get this post done.

After the lens/camera compatibility fiasco with the lens I hired for my holiday, I decided it really was time to get a new camera. I’ve been debating this for some time, and taking some jibes from quackybirder in the process. Will I or won’t I? Well, I’ve been and gone and done it, except it wasn’t quite the plain sailing I though it would be.

First, I wanted to order the camera (Canon 40D), and also a travel lens for good measure (Sigma 18-200mm with optical stabilisation), from Warehouse Express. I’ve used them many times and they are very helpful and very good value. Anyway, the camera was not in stock so I did a search around for other places. This was proving a little difficult, as the camera has already been superceded by the 50D so many places have not replaced the stock of the older camera. I did find it at one place, but it was quite a bit more expensive. Then Quacky sent a text that Park Cameras had them in stock. I haven’t used them before, but they do have a good reputation so I placed the order for both camera and lens with them. The camera was a couple of pounds more than WEX, and the lens was the same price, but they don’t charge for shipping so I actually saved a couple of pounds.

I wasn’t in when the package was delivered, so I had to drive to the courier’s depot on Friday evening to collect it. I was a little dismayed that the outer box had been damaged and inside the box there was nothing but shredded paper protecting the contents. There was no indication on the outside of the box that the contents were fragile. Luckily nothing was damaged.

I was even more dismayed when I discovered that they had sent the non-optical stabilised version of the lens by mistake! I rattled off an email and then rang them first thing this morning. I was told that it could be exchanged, but they would have to receive the lens back before sending out the correct one. They would, of course, refund my postage costs. I decided I would do this on Monday and hope that the replacement would arrive before next weekend, as I am booked on a course with Dorcas of Yorkshire Photography Holidays and wanted to take this lens with me. We had planned to go out today so that I could try the camera, and I didn’t want to spend time compiling a letter and packing up the lens, so we packed the gear in the car and left for our little trip.

Later this afternoon, I received a call from Park Cameras. The chap had seen my email and although I’d spoken to his colleague this morning, he was now ringing me to tell me that they were actually out of stock of the optical stabilised lens! He said that as I was wanting the lens for my course next week, they would be unable to fulfill the order by then and so would give me a refund.

So, I then go back to WEX to order the lens, but by now this has increased the cost as they charge shipping. I managed to get the lens ordered OK, and so far it appears to be in stock, but then Quacky sends a text that they now have the flippin’ camera in stock! I take a quick look and to my horror, not only is it now back in stock, but they have reduced the price by almost £40!!! Grrrrrrr.

Anyway, can’t cry over spilt milk, as they say. At least I’ve had a play with the camera today and familiarised myself with it. Not that I’ve changed any of the default settings yet. I’m still reading the manual. There are a lot of similarities to my 10D, but there are a lot of new features to get used to. So here are a few shots from today with the new camera and one of my existing lenses – Sigma 18-50mm (not a great lens, it has to be said). I certainly need to have a look at some of the new settings, but I also think there was a bit of camera shake in some of the images I took.

First stop was Slaithwaite (pronounced Slawit), an old mill town in the Colne Valley, which is somewhere we have never been, but have been intrigued by, due mainly to the name. They have done lots of work restoring the canal that runs through the town (the Huddersfield Narrow Canal) and it is really a pleasant place.

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IMG_0009I quite liked this lock with all the ferns growing on it, but it’s a shame about the red paint job.

After lunch we drove over to Holmfirth – home of TV series Last of the Summer Wine. We stopped in at Sid’s Cafe for a scone and cup of tea and wandered around a little before setting off back home.

IMG_0012We walked up this steep hill to see if we could get a view back into town, but it didn’t quite work out so we went back down again.

IMG_0017The house where Nora Batty lived in the series, next door to the Wrinkled Stocking Tea Room (she was famous for her wrinkled stockings)

So, a bit more practice with the camera, methinks. And I can’t wait to get this new lens – eventually.

Now on with the holiday report.

Friday 3rd July
Quite a dull morning. We breakfasted then had a quick wash before driving into Oban to go to the gym at the leisure centre. We had a good workout and then went into the town to do some shopping. It started to rain quite heavily and we had to find some shelter to eat our sandwiches that we had just bought. The rain eventually stopped so we wandered over to the ferry terminal to check out the times and prices to Mull, as we intend to take a trip there sometime during the holiday. Unfortunately, the rain came back so we headed back to the site.

When we arrived back it appeared not to have rained on site, but then it came quite heavily and there were claps of thunder and it continued like this for the rest of the afternoon. We had quite a puddle in front of the tent and I thought we might need sandbags if it came any closer! We were quite cosy and dry inside, though. We read a little and then prepared our dinner. We had purchased two juicy pieces of fillet steak, which we were going to barbeque, but obviously it wasn’t barbeque weather, so we fried it in a pan instead and had it with salad (we had lots of salad on this trip). It was delicious. We finished the white wine from the night before.

Eventually the rain did stop and at about 8pm the sun actually broke through. Of course, the wet and warm conditions brought out the midges!!

We spent the evening reading the paper and books and listening to the tennis on the radio when we could get a signal, and then we had a warming mug of Horlicks before retiring.

Saturday 4th July
Woke to a nice day and had bacon and eggs for breakfast again. After breakfast we did a bit of washing in the camp laundry and managed to get quite a bit of clothing washed and dried. We also purchased a day’s Internet access so that we could check the weather, and Keith needed to sort out some online banking matters. We were on site until after lunch then we went for a bike ride around nearby Loch Creran. We thought it would be quite level, but there were a few hilly bits which tested the leg muscles somewhat! A long-distance bike trail runs past the site, but parts of it are still under construction. However, you can cycle quite some distance on traffic-free paths.

We arrived back at the site and relaxed and recovered. It did become a bit overcast and there were some spots of rain, but it stayed fine even though the clouds persisted. It was the windiest day we’d had since we arrived, and even though it was still only a slight breeze, at least it kept the midges away a little, but it did become still again later on – and back they came!

We opened a bottle of rosé wine and had salad and quiche for dinner. Afterwards we went a short walk along the cycle trail in the opposite direction to our earlier bike ride, but it started to spit with rain so we turned back and reached the tent just in time before it started to come quite heavy.

Some photos from the bike ride around Loch Creran

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Sunday 5th July
It rained a little in the morning, but cleared to become quite a nice day. I woke with quite a muzzy head – not sure why. Could have been the wine the night before, or something I ate, but it lasted all day, despite taking pain killers. Despite this we drove into Oban to get some more shopping (seem to be doing quite a lot of shopping, but when you have limited storage space and only a small fridge, you have to do little and often). We also decided to book the ferry trip to Mull for Wednesday. We then drove along the esplanade to get some photos of the Black Guillemots we’d seen earlier in the week.

Back on site, we read the paper for a while then fired up the barbeque ready for the sirloin steak which we had with potatoes and broccoli. No alcohol tonight as I was still feeling a bit rough. There was a short shower while Keith was cooking the steak, but then it stopped to become a fine evening again. I took more painkillers then rested a while in the chair, but eventually climbed into the sleeping bag to try and get some real recovery sleep.

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CRW_5085This is how close to the footpath they came

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CRW_5098There were many little holes with heads popping out

Monday 6th July
Rain was falling as we woke up (and it continued for most of the day). After a shower and breakfast we decided to go on our planned walk anyway, with waterproofs if necessary. As it was we didn’t need the waterproofs as the rain had eased off for our walk around Glen Nant Nature Reserve. This was a much more pleasant walk than the one we had earlier in the holiday, as this was a deciduous woodland rather than a sterile coniferous forest. We managed to see some Wrens and a Jay, and heard a Buzzard overhead, but couldn’t see it due to the dense tree canopy. We also surprised a Roe Deer, and it bounded off into the distance. I only had my landscape lens with me so photos were impossible.

As we reached the car it started to rain a little heavier, so we were very lucky with the walk being relatively dry. We drove on along the shore of Loch Awe, which was very pleasant. We came across a little village with a tea room so we stopped and had a scone and a cup of tea, which was very welcome. The tea room was not as expected for a sleepy village, though. When we pulled up in front and parked, I noticed a couple of flashing neon signs, one indicating that they were open and the other saying ‘fish and chips’. Inside there was a little old lady sitting behind the counter, with her husband hovering serving other customers. Strangely, above her head was a large red illuminated menu board of the type you see in pizza or kebab takeaway shops! This place was also the village post office and general store. Very strange.

Travelling a little further along the road we noticed some birders looking through a telescope. We stopped a little way past them, as there was nowhere to turn round and go back, and Keith spotted a large bird at the top of a distant tree. I fetched the binoculars from the boot and when I looked there were actually two birds perched on top of the tree and they were Ospreys. I don’t know if the birders knew about them being in the area or whether they had just stumbled upon them, but it was a good sighting.

Passing through Oban we stopped yet again for some provisions and then continued back to the site for a very welcome shower. We had a G&T whilst preparing chicken pasta for dinner, which we had with half a bottle of Lindemans Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was still spitting with rain on and off for the remainder of the evening. We finished the evening off with a Horlicks.

Glen Nant walk photos.

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CRW_5106The forest had many charcoal hearths at one time (this is an overgrown reconstruction)

CRW_5108It was very dark and damp, hence all the moss on the branches

CRW_5109Keith trudging through the undergrowth

I’ve run out of photos now, so you will have to wait yet again for the next installment.

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Responses

  1. nice pics twitchi.

    which 18-50 do you have? the f3.5-5.6?

    • Yes, it’s an older model, though. When looking for my travel lens yesterday, I noticed that they now have one with a wider maximum aperture and optical stabilisation, which mine does not have, for not much more than I paid for my lens.

  2. And I’ve just noticed that this is my 100th post!

  3. Frustrating about the mix-up with lens; especially when it was so close to the weekend to try it out 😦

    I do enjoy your holidays (sounds a good mixture of exericise and rest) and I’m now off to read the next instalment. Excellent pics as usual and with your (now) “old” camera.

    And happy 100th!!


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