Friday, 10 June 2016

A Return Home

As many readers will be well aware, we've been away for the last month so most blog posts have been of the canned variety. Many thanks to Rachael for running the blog in my absence, and to those who sent her pictures and stories.

Happily, we were welcomed home, in a jet-lagged state, by this local resident who, in her excitement, had escaped from her run to greet us, and.... a passing cruise ship, the Disney Magic, whose passengers must have been enjoying their views of the Scottish coastline.

As can be seen from the picture, we've come back to a misty and humid day, with visibility at times so poor that ships in the Sound were using their foghorns. This is in sharp contrast to the weather Kilchoan has been enjoying almost throughout our absence, which has featured sunshine and temperatures soaring towards 30C.

It's a sharp contrast too between the place we've been staying, the city of Edmonton, Alberta, and West Ardnamurchan. Edmonton is a dynamic, bustling and brash oil town with huge highways and industrial areas and suburbia which sprawl across miles of flat land, but it's saved by being built on the North Saskatchewan River and by the local city council's policy of retaining much of its banks for....

....public parks. How refreshing it is to find a council which still has funds to spend on its residents' amenities. This park, Rundle, has play areas for children, a paddling lakes (for kayaks, as well as kids), wildlife lakes, fountains, tennis courts, baseball and football pitches, picnic and barbecue areas, miles of paved paths, and much, much more, all immaculately maintained.

Our son's house, where we stayed for a fortnight while he and his wife were holidaying on the Pacific coast, backs onto one of the ravines which lead down to the river. This has been left wild, and is home to....

....coyotes, of which we saw three during our stay, beavers, porcupines, raccoons and....

....a host of birds and butterflies - this is a Canadian tiger swallowtail. In all I photographed and identified over thirty different species of bird.

One of the highlights of the stay was going out storm-chasing with our son. It has always been an ambition of mine to photograph a lightning bolt, something I have tried on many occasions without success. Although I had no tripod and my camera has no setting for taking long-exposure pictures in anything but pitch darkness, one of the hundreds of shots (at ISO 200,  f/3.3 and 1/20 sec) of a succession of spectacular events produced this, a strike with Edmonton's massive Strathcona oil refinery in the foreground.

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