Eden ProjectSadly, very little film from my third year at Birmingham survived the scanning process (one reason not to use Max Spielmann again) and the only photographs I have are from other places. On the left is the slightly-under-construction Eden Project, a series of gigantic geodesic domes near St Austell that house plants from various biomes around the world. Below is Leeds 2001, possibly the first music festival I attended and also the first riot I was caught up in. The stage shot gives you an idea of how difficult it is to get anywhere near a performer (in this case, Iggy Pop) and the night shot shows the aftermath of the riot, when festival-goers decided to burn down the portable toilets.

Leeds crowdBurning toilets

Chimney Stac

One of my first summer jobs was way up on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands, in the picturesque port town of Ullapool. The job itself was terrible (I would last a mere few weeks before getting a better offer and escaping to England), but I could not have found a more beautiful location. Framed by mountains to the north and east, Loch Broom to the south and the Summer Isles to the west, there were innumerable hikes and explorations to be had for the actively inclined. Perhaps my most notable was the imposing Stac Pollaidh (the spiky mountain at the very bottom left below), from which I took the 360° panorama above (while standing on a ~1′ x ~1′ rock chimney).

UllapoolBen More Coigach

Above, left to right: Ullapool and Loch Broom, Ben More Coigach from Beinn Giubhais. Below, left to right: Loch Achall from Creag Nam Broc, the Summer Isles from Meall Mor.

Loch AchallSummer Isles

An TeallachBeinn Eilideach

Above, left to right: An Teallach from Beinn Eilideach, at the summit of Beinn Eilideach. Below, left to right: Stac Pollaidh, Strath Kanaird.

Stac PollaidhStrath Kanaird

Snow tracksAlthough there were no more major snowfalls, temperatures remained decidedly frosty and the fields were therefore still a uniform white as far as the eye could see (about four miles, due to the hilly terrain). I took a few short walks to reacquaint myself with the local scenery, disturbing a couple of hares (Lepus europaeus) and a rather fat common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), and watched enterprising collared doves (Streptopelia decaocto) eat sprouts by perching on the top of a plant and leaning over to attack the stems. Apart from a small wind turbine at a nearby farm and the ever-expanding distribution centre at the main road, the old homestead looked exactly as it did years ago (a marked contrast to the continuous demolition and construction in Korea).

Winter fields (1)Winter fields (2)

Emley MoorThe poor weather meant that I was housebound for quite a lot of the week, but this did allow me to finish going through all of my stored possessions and take approximately half a ton of books and bric-a-brac to our local Oxfam. I now have the onerous tasks of estimating how much volume everything else takes up in order to get a shipping quote for the move to Canada, and of listing the more interesting things on eBay.

Emley Moor sunsetAs the time of typing, temperatures are steadily edging up and we should have rolling green hills again by the end of the weekend. Run-off is filling the streams (flooding will be the next annual unforeseen transport chaos-causing disaster), and the hedgerow birds will be able to find their own food instead of relying on the fat-and-insect pellets I requisitioned from the supermarket. If there isn’t another big freeze, this will have been one of the shortest and most intense winters in living memory.

My flight back to the UK from Japan went by in better-than-expected speed and comfort, partly due to the surprisingly good selection of films (including The Last King of Scotland, Gorillas in the Mist and Cry Freedom – I didn’t have time to watch Goodbye Bafana). We touched down ahead of schedule in light snow (perhaps 2″; heavy snow by British standards), and then had to sit on the runway for three hours wile a parking space was cleared for us. Of course, I missed my train back North and had to jump on a (much) later bus, eventually getting back about 27 hours after I’d left the hostel.

Marsden Moor (1)I woke up very late to find an unusually-thick blanket of snow covering the landscape as far as the eye could see. Over the next few days, more fell and little melted and most of the evening news was given over to the annual chaos on the roads, panic buying, salt shortages and doom-laden weather forecasts. I wasted little time in getting outdoors (having heaved my cold-weather gear all the way from Korea), and took a short ramble over on Marsden Moor with activist extraordinaire Matt (who you may remember from other UK posts) and Emma. The scenery was stark and blinding, with a biting wind blowing all the way across the Pennines, and we admired it for as long as we could stand the cold before retreating back into the valley.

Marsden Moor (2)Marsden Moor (3)

Eastergate BridgeDrainage icicles