Pictures of a year in England and Germany

I started this blog so that I could write. But photography has become equally important to me, and quite possibly, it is my photographs more than my words that attract visitors to my site. So I decided to go through the hundreds of digital photographs, all destined for the archives, to find just a few more worth sharing. Because I try not to publish pictures of people, then this small collection is mainly from the animal world, but I hope you agree that our animal friends make some rather nice pictures too.

The year started off with some cold weather, and when I was walking the dog down by the River Rhine, I managed to capture these pictures of the swans using my mobile phone. I particularly like the view across to Bad Godesberg with the snow-covered roof tops just visible in the second picture. This was as close as I wanted to get to the swans!

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My year has included frequent trips across the English Channel. The A20 dual-carriageway to Dover passes through beautiful scenery, but it sometimes disappoints me with excessive amounts of litter left in the grass verges at the sides of the road. I don’t know why this stretch of road is sometimes so bad – perhaps it’s because they park vehicles on here when there are issues with the ferry crossings (called operation Stack). Or perhaps when you live abroad, you notice differences between the countries that are part of your life, some that you like and some that you don’t like. And I don’t like litter, but neither do the local people and according to some Internet articles from earlier this year, efforts were being made to clear up the mess left by those who pass through. Just off the main road, a narrow tunnel leads you down through the hillside to another world, only a couple of minutes from the busy A20. I would never have bothered to try and discover this without my camera, and I am pleased to say that there was no litter in sight!

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Returning to the wildlife theme, the pictures below are of the New Forest in England, where horses, ponies, donkeys, cattle and occasionally even pigs roam freely across the common land. The otters and deer were from the local wildlife park and the little poodle was with me!

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A substantial amount of my photographic efforts this year were for a blog post called Romantic Journeys along the Rhine. This post took me several months to research, write and photograph. Halfway through, I got a new camera for my birthday and decided to retake some of the pictures to improve their quality. And the Mäuseturm, which is a castle that stands on an island in the middle of the river, was particularly challenging; it is about a 3 hour round trip from my house and I had to go 4 times to get the right picture! The first time, the workmen had erected scaffolding around the tower so that they could paint it. The second time, there were major road works that prevented me from getting the shot that I wanted. The third time, I was not satisfied with the photos because of the modern buildings that could be seen in the background. The fourth time, I finally got what I wanted and learnt that planning as well as determination are essential when you need a picture for a particular purpose!

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Our home in England is on the south coast and, whilst our current living arrangements are sometimes quite challenging, I am very lucky to spend time in this wonderful setting where I can practice my photography. Below is Buckler’s Hard, a Maritime Museum, and the lighthouse is at Hurst Castle near Milford-on-Sea.

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Changing the subject once again as we work our way through this random collection, I love taking pictures of the big cities. I probably don’t need to tell you that the pictures below are of Cologne and London, which are two of my favourite places!

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Finally, we complete a full circle and return to the winter with my recent trip to the south of Germany, where I was able to find some cold weather despite a relatively warm December. As you can see, the locals in this region are ready for lower temperatures, when they eventually arrive…

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All pictures and text. © Chris Robinson 2015. All rights reserved.

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