Watch the Birdie !

Over the past few years i’ve been trying to get back seriously into my photography (time permitting ) , I’ve been into it even longer than the whisky ! I used to be into it at School , i was a member of a local camera club , the first thing i done when i started work in 1978 was to purchase a decent 2nd hand SLR , The Yashica FR , a superb camera that served me many a year , but as with all things interest lapsed when other things got in the way……

It was the mid to late 90’s when i next picked up an SLR , this time i went for a Canon , an EOS 500n (incidentally this year is the 30th anniversary of the EOS System) , that served me well for a good few years but then ‘Digital’ beckoned and staying with Canon i moved on to the EOS 400D . This one served me well but at some point i realised it’s limitations and decided to sell a few bottles of whisky and move onto a serious system , so a 7D and some serious glass was purchased . Since then i’ve moved up to full frame ( 6D then 5D Mark IV ) and added more glass . The one thing i do love is photographing nature (as well as the Steam Trains…..) , being members of the National Trust gives us the ideal situations to do so as their grounds are good places to spot Birds , Squirrels etc , one of our favourite places is Wallington especially at their hide , these photos are from our most recent visit……

(Click on the photos to see full size)

Greater Spotted Woodpecker , we could actually hear this bird rat-tat-tatting long after we’d seen it , a lovely quirky little bird .

The Blue Tits are quite common at Wallington , as are the Chaffinches , this one being the female .

This was the first time we’d seen Bramblings , another member of the finch family .

There seemed to be a lot of Wrens floating about on this day , a beautiful little song bird .

Two of the more popular birds at the hide , the Nuthatch and the male Chaffinch .

Away from the hide on the Riverside walk another new spot for us , Grey Wagtails .

Another Wren !

The Current set up used at the hide.

Now i now i’m not the greatest photographer in the world , you are always learning , but it gives me great pleasure , gets me a bit of exercise and an odd Scone or two along the way !

There are a lot more photographs on my Flickr page HERE

Been a long time…..

Seems ages since i last put a post on here , don’t know why , could be laziness , could be I just didn’t have anything interesting enough to post , can’t really say…….

So lets play a little bit of catch up , i think it would be fair to say i’ve lost a little bit of interest in whisky (the way of the world has driven me to it , over-priced under-aged scotch holds no interest , don’t think that i’ve tasted anything recently that has made me go wow) luckily i have a cask to bottle later in the year that will probably make me go WOW! One bit of the whisky world i do still have an interest in is Canadian Whisky (i can just see Pauls face now with a WHAT! look on it…..), towards the end of last year Davin ( de Kergommeaux ) asked me to be one of the International Judges for the 2017 Canadian Whisky Awards ( See Here )  , great fun and not as easy as it sounds , I’ll be posting up some tasting notes for some of my favourites in the not too distant future .

We also visited Edinburgh for a few nights during the Christmas period , wasn’t one of our best visits as the places we visited seemed to have lost interest in customer service and satisfaction , which is a shame as it used to be one of our favourite places to go , alas after this trip it will be visited less often…….

Our National Trust visits have continued , though in the Winter months there is less to visit , Wallington was open in the lead up to Christmas and decorated beautifully……

(Click on the Pics to see full size)

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We’ve also been visiting our feathered friends regularly at the Wellington Hide……

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Most of our favourite haunts reopen this very weekend so the NT Scone hunt will resume !

We had our first weekend away of the New Year as well , to one of our favourite haunts now , The Worth Valley , it was a beautiful Weekend and a good excuse to give our new motor a run out ,the replacement for Festa Stye…..

Melanie beside the new car at Oxenhope

Melanie beside the new car at Oxenhope

       

The Gorgeous Melanie at Oxenhope Station

The Gorgeous Melanie at Oxenhope Station

Our Steam Locomotive for the day……

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We enjoyed our day on the KWVR , chugging up and down the line enjoying a beer and a Prosecco (or two) . At the night time we went to The Brown Cow in Bingley for a meal , can recommend this place for good food and Fine Timothy Taylor Ales !

Hopefully i’ll be posting a bit more from now on , less whisky , more of our little adventures and lots of photos especially when i get my new Camera body…….

A Bank Holiday Weekend……

The Whitsun Bank Holiday (as it’s known in the UK) is the second long weekend in the Month of May , We decided to make the most of it and partake in a couple of trips…… 

Saturday 28th May

It’s been a few years since we’d seen the cask of Longmorn we have a share in , it ws in it’s first year the last time we seen it , it was then stored in Bladnoch when it was under the stewardship of Raymond , since then there’s been a change of ownership and a change of storage facility , it’s now in a warehouse at Creetown owned by Raymonds son Martin . It’s been over a year since we last saw Martin so we could kill two birds with one stone so to speak , Catch up with Martin and check up on the Cask ! Ok 3 birds , pick up some bottles off Martin……. We set off from Newcastle earlyish on the Saturday , Well earlyish for a Saturday Morning start…..

It was very overcast when we left Newcastle but by the time we’d reached Dumfries (after the obligitory Coffee and cake stop) the sun was out and made it a glorious drive along the lovely Galloway coast . Martins business has progressed since we last popped in , so has his family with the recent addition of a 3rd baby boy Ben ! Martin gave us a tour of the premises before taking us to the recently opened warehouse , it was only recently he got the documentation off HMRC to start using the warehousing and he’s been busy moving casks in . Our cask is currently stowed in the Traditional style , in a stow 3 casks high , he is moving towards the Racking way .

(Click on the photo to see full size version)

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We removed a sample and had a quick taster from the cask…….

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4yo at 61.3% , from a Fresh Bourbon Barrel 

First thing that strikes you about the nose is the sheer fruitiness of it  , Very Longmorn like , there’s also a big dollop of vanilla and a slight lack of youthfulness ! For it’s strength it doesn’t wreak havoc with your nasal passages . A lot of fruitiness on the palate again, bags of spices but the palate does show it’s age , it’s still thoroughly drinkable . The finish is Long , fruity , spices . A drop of water calms the palate down a lot and brings the fruit further forward and reduces the youthfulness .

An amazing dram at 4yo , very , very enjoyable but still needs a few more years . heading the way of a 7yo Longmorn that I purchased from the SMWS many moons ago that was so damn go I bought multiples of it .  

Martin also  gave us a try of an 8yo Craigellachie from a refill sherry butt ( Very nice but still needs a bit more time imho ) before heading back to the office for a coffee , a bit more of a natter and to collect a couple of bottles……..

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Bunnahabhain 23yo

46.3% , 156 outturn , ripe straw in colour £66.50

A wonderfully intriguing nose , very relaxed (as you’d expect at 23yo) , the usual confectioners sugar along with a touch of exotic fruit , ripe banana , after a little while there’s a lovely butterscotch toffee note appears . Great nose , one of them you could sniff for ages . Lots of hot spices to start with on the palate , was expecting more of a sweetness to it but it actually reminds me of a 1980 Bunna I had bottled by BBR , not a standard tasting Bunna but very enjoyable .A medium finish with clove and spices.

An enjoyable Bunna but I said not a standard one palate wise . Didn’t try it with water as it’s perfectly ok at this strength .

Ben Nevis 18yo

53.5% 264 Outturn 1/10/1996 – 15/07/2015 Hogshead 1329 light gold in colour £45 at the time.

A Sweet nose , Marzipan very akin to Battenberg cake , Vanilla , there’s a touch of Christmas Cake even though it doesn’t say whether this is a Bourbon or a sherry Hoggie .
A Bit of a bizarre palate , Wood spices to start with , Lemon , quite a sharp citrus note , then a sweetness keeps bouncing in , again there is a hint of sherry . A Long finish with a mixture of Sweetness , Lemon and spices and again a sherriness .

A bit of a strange dram but thoroughly enjoyable.

After we bid farewell to Martin we headed back East to Newcastle .

You can find Martins Business at Whiskybroker.co.uk

Sunday 29th May

After a more leisurely start to the morning  , we headed up north into the wilds of Northumberland to once again visit Cragside in Rothbury . We decided to do a short Woodland Walk this afternoon , once again it was overcast when we left Newcastle but the sun had appeared by the time we arrived at Cragside . The walk took us up the back of the House……

bhw_003A quite steep walk to start with but it did give us a good view over Rothbury……

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We were hoping to catch a sight of an elusive Red Squirrel but got treat to a local Raptor…..

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off we go…..

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Bye !

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We actually had 4 Raptor sightings this day , 3 on the drive back to home . The walk back to the Visitor Centre gave us some good views over the Estate ,One of the estate cottages…

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Which looks over Tumbleton Lake…..

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and has baby lambs in the field in front of it…..

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After such an exhausting walk it was only right we treat ourselves to a National Trust Cream Scone and Coffee before heading back home !

Cragside Visit – 7/5/2016

You never really appreciate what you’ve got around you on your own doorstep or at least we didn’t till a few years ago when we started seriously walking up the Northumbrian coast and along Hadrians Wall . Earlier this year we decided to take out a yearly membership of the National Trust to encourage us to do even more walking , The trust have some great walks in their properties .

This was the first real time we’d had the time to use it , we decided to hit Cragside as i’d never been their before , drove past it numerous times on my way to Rothbury but never entered its gates , as i said you never appreciate……

It was suppose to be nice and sunny today but when we got up into North Northumberland there was a heavy mist on the moors which spilled over onto Cragside , hence the dullish photos . 

(Click on the images to see full size)

cragside_001  The first view of the house from the car park

Built as a weekend retreat for Lord Armstrong in the 1860’s the house has been enlarged several times through it’s life .

one of the 2 gateways

one of the 2 gateways

The full exterior

The full exterior

The interior of the house is one of the most impressive i’ve seen , it was the first house in the world to be lit by hydro-electric power (Armstrong was the leading pioneer in hydraulics , the house has many devices powered by water including a lift and the kitchen rotisserie !). The rooms have been well preserved in their original state…….

Water , one of the most important components of Cragside.....

Water , one of the most important components of Cragside…..

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The Kitchen Rotisserie !

The Kitchen Rotisserie !

The Iron Bridge from one of the Rooms

The Iron Bridge from one of the Rooms

The Pretty impressive snooker room

The Pretty impressive snooker room

Now that's what i call a Marble Fireplace !

Now that’s what i call a Marble Fireplace !

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Carving on a bed

Carving on a bed

The interior photos haven’t turned out too bad given that they were hand held (some as low as 0.5 Secs ) without the use of a flash !

After a walk around of the House we went for a wander in the grounds , including through the Rock Garden and Formal Garden. we didn’t cover much , just over 2.5 miles , which isn’t bad considering there are 40 miles of walks in the grounds !!!

The Iron Bridge from the Rock Garden

The Iron Bridge from the Rock Garden

Melanie !

Melanie !

The Iron Bridge from the valley

The Iron Bridge from the valley

One of the many varietys of Primrose

One of the many varietys of Primrose

Melanie Again !

Melanie Again !

Haven't a clue what this is !

Haven’t a clue what this is !

The Stream

The Stream

The House and Iron Bridge from the other way

The House and Iron Bridge from the other way

Melanie..... on a bridge this time.....

Melanie….. on a bridge this time…..

Part of the Formal Garden

Part of the Formal Garden

A Wood Carving in the Formal Garden

A Wood Carving in the Formal Garden

Another View of it.....

Another View of it…..

An early flowering rhododendron

An early flowering rhododendron

And another....

And another….

A local Phessie !

A local Phessie !

 

A Bridge not too far..... (One of the Gorgeous Melanies Photos)

A Bridge not too far….. (One of the Gorgeous Melanies Photos)

Cragside Gardens are famous for their Rhododendrons (over 100 species on site ) and we’ll be returning in the not too distant future (late May / Early June) to see their flowering . We’re planning on returning several times during the year to see the place in different seasons .

More Info about Cragside can be found here on the National Trusts site