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Flowers of the winter

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Well, winter in Ireland. This was taken inland in Fuerteventura where their understanding of the seasons are a bit different to ours.

I really should be writing code.

Bodyboarding at El Cotillo

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It’s been quiet enough around here….

Paseo Maritimo

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Along the north eastern shoreline of Fuerteventura there is a lovely walk; you will meet joggers, dogwalkers and circuit trainers there most days. There is a stunning view of the sea, and the island of Los Lobos, an uninhabited island which belongs to Fuerteventura, and which is now also a natural park.

I walked it most days. And sat on benches watching waves breaking. Four or five of the main surfing breaks on that side of the island are to be seen from there.

Volcanoes of Lanzerote

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Lanzerote has one live volcano remaining and it’s about 15 metres behind me. It’s kept in a little jail, but you can go and have a look at it.

It looks roughly like this:

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It’s warm on that mountain. But the scenery is stunning and again, utterly alien to someone who’s used to seeing grass everywhere.

Road Trip

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El Cotillo, northwest Fuerteventura

Central Fuerteventura

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This is central Fuerteventura.

Fuerteventura is one of the lesser frequented Canary Islands. It tends to popular with the watersports contingent because it is well placed for waves on its north and northwestern coasts, and it’s particularly well endowed with trade winds which means for years it’s had a great reputation with the windsurfers, and more recently, with the kitesurfers. I was there last week, although not kitesurfing, just recceing out the place.

Like all of the islands, it’s volcanic in origin, and so it has quite a lot of uplands in the centre of the island. I recommend getting a coach trip across them which means you can be terrified as the coach driver concentrates on getting around what are often very narrow mountain roads. The scenery is well, well worth it.

For someone from Ireland, one of the most striking things about Fuerteventura is the complete lack of grass. I saw none all week. Any green that you will see comes from palm trees and various shrubs. You will see aloe vera plantations, and some of the volcanic rock has lichen. Otherwise, most of the landscape varies in shade from gold to red.

The island has a shocking lack of water. The water table has been dropping for years and rainfall is somewhere between 20-30 days a year. This means they have a fairly safe tourist industry, although it is not as developed as say Tenerife or Gran Canaria, and the island bears the scars of a construction boom and bust. But the net result is that their farming has been serious damaged. Fuerteventura has a large number of non-functional tomato plantations; they just don’t have the water any more, and the ground water is dropping all the time because for years, they have not had rain to replenish it. Most of the water on the island comes from desalination plants or is bottled water from the mainland. Historically, however, Fuerteventura had the resources to farm cereals going way back – 19th century for example – but this is no longer the case. Current efforts are focussing on low water harvests of which the two main ones for now, neither of which is necessarily making the island very rich just yet, are aloe vera and olives. The olive industry, in particular, is at a very early stage so it’s hard to say how the island will get on with it. In the meantime, the countryside has a lot of dried up river beds, and lots of evidence of past efforts to retain whatever rainwater did fall. The land is extraordinary arid although the mountains do not look as much like a desert as parts of the coastal area does with the large dunes and beaches on the east coast both at the northern and southern end of the islands.

Fuerteventura fascinates me – in another life I tend to play around with data so I do want to look at some of the weather records and see what exactly has been happening. For now, however, the above is just a small sample of some of the photographs I took while I was there. They will be posted here over the next week or so with some texts, or you can click through and have a look at them on the pixie site.

The morning after the night before

I had planned to go to Doolin this morning; it’s my soul food place and I knew there was a reasonable chance of decent, if somewhat scrappy swell.

But this morning when I woke up, it was to the news that the seafront in Lahinch was closed as was the road from Lahinch to Liscannor. Ultimately, this means that the road from Lahinch to Doolin was problematic, probably at the Lahinch end. I did not travel.

I’ve seen photographs of what has happened in both Lahinch and Doolin Point overnight. I understand that Lahinch prom is closed for the foreseeable future. Twitter and the Clare Champion have photographs as does Lahinch Surf Experience. The capstones on the sea wall have been dumped onto the ground, quite a lot of the tarmac covering of the seafront carpark has been covered, and much of the carpark was under water. The tourist information sign, amongst others, has been flattened.

Doolin, likewise, has been somewhat flattened. There are huge boulders dumped onto the boat slipway in the harbour, at least one of the carparks has been rained with stones. The shipping company prefabs apparently flooded; looking at the damage, I’m amazed they took as little damage as they appear to have.

Doolin Point is my favourite place in Ireland. Every time I go there, somehow the world always looks better, regardless of the weather. I really, really was looking forward to getting down there. I’m sorry I didn’t make it; and all the more so because it’s been some seriously trashed by the weather.

Rough on the seafront in Garretstown today.

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I wasn’t absolutely sure which photograph to post today. I haven’t been taking photographs in a long time and today, by sheer force of will, I took myself to Garretstown to have a look at how the Atlantic was behaving. She was on her way in. She hadn’t yet reached the high tide point when I was there; I was gone an hour before she did.

But she was high and she was having a good bite out of the land. This is one of the seafronts; I was standing on another looking over with a 500mm lens when from nowhere – ie, from nowhere I was looking – she took a good spit at me, drowned me, and gave my camera and its 500mm zoom a nice bit of a shower. End of photography.

I intend to take more photographs this year than I did last year. I took some nice photographs, of which my favourite were a couple of the wave at the foot of the Cliffs of Moher, but compared to the previous five or six years, I essentially took no photographs. You can see this in the photographs now and probably in the processing. I’m out of practising.

I chose this photograph for today because I liked the scale of its story. The sea will never be fully pushed back no matter how many walls we build to protect ourselves. Also, the water was cold.

I know this for practical reasons.

Jericoacoara

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I don’t believe I have posted this here before so….

also, need a new medium zoom as my trusty 70-300 is going to the great scrapyard in the sky.

when I look at these photographs, and try to decide whether to go to Fuerteventura to take pictures of sports guys, or to Brittany to take pictures of lighthouses, somehow Fuerte is winning. I need sunshine.

Airbus A380 over Dublin

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Well quite….