Tag Archives: weather

Partytime: 365-14

Balloon Nest

Balloon Nest

This made me smile when I came home this evening – to find the wind had blown the remains of my neighbour’s party decorations into my shrubbery. I just wish it hadn’t been dark, with a bit of sunlight for that extra bit of sparkle…

Happy 65th

Happy 65th

 

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Filed under 365 project, Inspiration, Photography

The Rains in Africa

There will now follow some posts that I wrote while I was away but haven’t had the chance to publish till now. The first two weeks I was in Maasailand were blazing hot, but we knew the rains were due. Here’s how they finally hit:

Not Scotland

The whole time I’ve been here we’ve all been wondering just when the (long) rainy season will kick in. This thought is of course always accompanied by Toto’s Africa playing cringeworthily in my head. I think I’m managing to get away without letting anyone know though – I like to assume that it’s happening to everyone else as well but no-one’s brave enough to admit it either. But – I can announce now that I have not suddenly relocated to Scotland – the rains have in fact started!

Rainclouds v2.0

While the colour of the sky turns an all too familiar grey in the afternoons, the mornings are usually sunny. When the clouds do come they are biblically thunderous. After the rains it’s obvious just how much the dusty land needs water. Varying species of ants (especially gigantic ones) are everywhere, as are butterflies and other sorts of the more pretty flying insects.

A nice beetle, which was quite big, but not flying.

You can see and hear more birds, there are riots of pink and red flowers, and fresh green sprouts of grass that have been hiding just below the surface really do appear as if by magic.

Pink things and red things

The roads are a different story, as they’re so sandy to start off with the mud that forms quickly becomes very slippery, and walking along them is like walking uphill on a very wet beach.

Business as usual (note if you can the wellies on the bike’s passenger)

But the rocks on the roads become waterfalls which look wonderful, and the trenches next to them suddenly become the streams and rivers you can tell they are meant to be – but despite being up to 3 feet deep and/or wide at the height of the rain, it’s amazing how quickly they dry up again once the rains stop for the day. The river was covering the road 12 hours before I took the picture. Africa’s all-or-nothing weather is nothing if not breathtaking.

The start of a roadside river

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Filed under Africa, Kenya, Travel

Training for Eastern Europe

A few people have been particularly interested that I’m doing this trip across Europe by train, and I’ve been asked for a photo of our train carriages. So far the trains have been pretty much as you’d expect from a UK train, but cheaper and on time. The staff have been friendly too, although the majority of UK rail staff are also very nice of course!

So, as specially requested by my boyfriend Jamie, who’s stuck at work in Sheffield but enjoying Skyping across Europe, here is what our carriage looked like yesterday on our journey from Vienna to Budapest.

Dave on the OBB Railjet to Budapest

All the train companies so far have been based in Western Europe, which explains the slickness of it all so far. There is of course a preconception about Eastern European countries that the trains from now on might not be as comfy, but the transport infrastructure of certainly Budapest is better than Leeds, (the tram announcements are positively flirtatious!), so that bodes well that our sleeper to Bucharest will be nice and functional at least. I shall update on the situation of course!

What does feel strange is that I’m now stepping out of my comfort zone in terms of understanding what’s going on around me. I’m completely reliant on people speaking English, which hasn’t been an issue till now as I speak reasonable German and enough French to enable me to order baked goods and beer, and a bag to carry them to the train in.

But Hungarian is different. There are no similarities between roots or sounds of words with Western European languages, I can’t even guess at what the signposts say. It’s making me feel a bit powerless and out of my depth (I’m nosy and like to know what’s going on you see, and I’ve actually really enjoyed the chance to use my German over the last couple of days, translating everything I see – I suspect much to Dave’s annoyance).

So it’s nice that there’s two of us, and even though I still feel a little bit nervous now, and a little bit scared even, you know that isn’t going to stop me exploring!

Weather: Beautiful clear sunny skies and 5 degrees today!

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Filed under Europe, Hungary, Railways, Travel

Icelandic moles have a lot to answer for

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Katie’s personalised numberplate!

Disappointingly today, The Icelandic Met Office promised us sunshine and clear skies. We got fog. All day. Pfft. But despite this we got in our hire car and toodled off to explore. Today I have learnt several hazards of driving that are important in Iceland:

1. Beware of unexpected animals

2. Beware of ducks crossing (these are expected, so are entitled to a separate category from the above)

3. British drivers should note that they can’t change gear by shoving their left hand at the door.

These weren’t the only entertainments of our journey out to Siglufjörður via Dalvik, and Héðinsfjarðar. I was given two new hats! Here I am modelling one of them in Dalvik (if you’re lucky I’ll show you the others over the next few days).

Hat Fashion Show 1

There were also the fancy, opened-only-this-week, Héðinsfjarðargöng. The Héðinsfjarðargöng are two tunnels, about 11km in total, linking the villages of Siglufjörður and Ólafsfjörður through the mountains, saving an otherwise approximately 2 hour trip around the mountains instead. Or longer in the winter when the local roads shut at the first snow, and you have to go round the number 1. They reckon it cost about 7-12 billion ISK, but it’ll mean the local populations of 1800 and 1000 respectively can effectively join together, share the same school and other resources, and won’t have to worry about getting snowed in. People can go home at the end of the day and of course the freight lorries (and freshly caught fish!) will be quite chuffed. It’s still a controversially high cost of course but made all the more exciting if you think half of that budget could have been spent on utilising giant genetically engineered moles to dig through the mountains. Which would have been cool.

Héðinsfjarðarvatn

Héðinsfjarðarvatn

The tunnels break in the middle at the lake of Héðinsfjarðar (above), which was pretty beautiful even in the fog that was hanging over the hills. In less natural-scenery news we also found this old Mercedes truck in Siglufjörður which despite the overgrowth looked like it was reasonably well looked after. Well, nicely polished at least…

Tomorrow it’s Husavik, Mývatn and the “Blue Lagoon of the North” (ie hot springs to lounge about in. I’m in). And for the metal fans among you, we’re also off to see Dimmu Borgir. More soon!

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Filed under Europe, Iceland, Travel