Archives for posts with tag: California

In some ways, 2017 was a surprising year. I was expecting it to be all doom and gloom, and it certainly had its moments of awfulness, but lots of things happened and I’m surprised how much I managed to do over the year. Kids growing up: all teenagers now, some work trips to America and Singapore and a very enjoyable holiday in Wales. Day trips to Waterford and Kerry. Added to that were trips to see Brian Cox and Alt-J in Dublin, as well as hosting Professor Edzard Ernst here in Cork. I was busy at work though, and this resulted in me taking less photos and being less active online overall. I tend to get bored taking the same types of photo all the time.

Ballydowane, Co. Waterford

Ballydowane is a wonderful rocky cove near the coast road between Waterford and Tramore. It’s off the beaten track, but worth the spin. This tiny island is a regular subject of much local photography.  I took this photo in early January.


Dromana Gate, Co. Waterford

Dromana Gate is located near Cappoquin, Co. Waterford. The gate is a Hindu-Gothic design originally built in wood and papier-mâché to celebrate the marriage in 1826 of Henry-Villiers Stuart and his wife Theresia Pauline Ott. It was later reconstructed in stone. It’s a fascinating structure – out of place for Ireland, yet a reminder of our varied cultural heritage.

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Pink Rock, near New Ross

I used to pass through this area of the country almost every week when I was a child. The River Barrow flows here, on its way to Waterford Harbour. It’s an area of steep ground and great views to New Ross and beyond to the Blackstairs mountains in Carlow. A large bridge is being built here at the moment, which will take traffic from Rosslare to Waterford, avoiding the narrow bridge in New Ross, which has been a bottleneck for decades.

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Fields of Barley, Co. Cork

During the summer, I took some photos in the fields close by the house. Some of them turned out well, I think.





Lismore Castle

Lismore is a terrific place to go for a day out – the gardens are a real gem and the castle is such an imposing edifice over the Blackwater River. This photo was taken in May with the Rhododendrons in full bloom.

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Honeybee in flight

I took this photo with my iPhone in early June, patiently using burst photography to try to get the right shot. For a phone camera, the results worked out quite well.


Coumshingaun Lake, Co. Waterford

In late June, I ventured with a group of friends into the Comeragh Mountains. We did the Coumshingaun Horseshoe. It’s one of my favourite walks in the country. A hard slog at the beginning, but it levels off quickly. The views are delightful.


Waterford Greenway

This was the year we explored the Waterford Greenway properly – travelling over two different days the length of the route from Dungarvan to Waterford. It was fantastic. A relaxing journey, but not by any means trivial.  A great centrepiece of the Greenway is the viaduct in Kilmacthomas.



Valentia Island, Co. Kerry

In July we travelled to Valentia Island in search of some of the largest tree-ferns in the country. We ended up in Glanleam house, walking through jungle paths, eventually breaking out to see some of the finest vistas Ireland has to offer. This picture was taken near the Tetrapod Trackway.



Roche’s Point, Cork

On one of the summer days, we took a bike trip to Roche’s Point. This is the picturesque entry point to Cork Harbour, offering stunning views across to Crosshaven.

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Cardiff, Wales

I had a wonderful week with the kids in Wales. Cardiff Castle is one of my favourites – it dominates the city centre and it gives people an opportunity to walk through centuries of history. And what a history! Norman dungeons to gruesome medieval punishments.


Stonehenge, England

I’ve wanted to go to Stonehenge for years. It’s one of the most iconic locations on Earth. And, right, it’s a busy place in summer – crowds of tourists everywhere. But I wasn’t prepared for the vast expanse around it, the barrows, the Cursus, the feeling that this area was a big deal millennia ago. A prehistoric Roman Forum, Mecca or Vatican City, of which no written clues have been left behind. If you are in England, I urge you to go.

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Bath, England

Bath is a city like no other. There is a deep sense of beauty in this Roman city, built of Jurassic stone. Modernity and great antiquity side by side with each other.


Rhosilli Bay, Wales

I was here many years before, but I had forgotten how beautiful this place is. In the distance is Worm’s Head, a tidal island that’s connected to the mainland for a few hours each day.


Silicon Valley, California

While Santa Clara valley is not the prettiest place, close by are areas of wonderful natural beauty. I was there in August, and one evening I took a trip up Sierra Road near Milpitas to watch the sun set over the valley. It was worth the drive.

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Shark Fin Cove, California

The Pacific Coast Highway is a favourite place of mine when I go to California. I always find something new on this route, and last August was no exception. This is Shark Fin Cove, not far from Santa Cruz.


Comeragh Mountains, Waterford

The Gap is one of the most scenic walks in the Comeragh Mountains. Starting from the car park in the Nire Valley, it’s a relatively easy walk followed by a steep ascent to the plateau.



I was fortunate to be able to travel to Singapore again this year. It was so strange being in city so warm and humid when temperatures were in the single digits back home. After work, we would make a special effort to see different parts of the city. The area around the Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore River are particularly picturesque.

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So, quite a year last year, all said. Some great memories and interesting places visited.

Here’s to 2018.

Looking back over all my photos this year, I found it hard to pick out the top ten shots that I was most happy with. It was a great year for photography for me. I managed to travel to a number of far flung places, but, in the end, most of my favourite photos were taken locally.  So here they are. Click on any one of them to get a better view.

Electric Sunrise

This photo was taken in mid-January 2015, in the hills near Glanmire, Co. Cork. I don’t usually stop my car when driving to work, but this was an exceptional dawn event. We often forget how beautiful the sunrises can be here in Ireland.

Electric Sunrise, Glanmire, Co. Cork

Pacific Breaker

I took a work visit to California in March. As always, I drive towards the Pacific coast as soon as I get off the plane. The waves are often enormous. This day was no exception. It was taken by Bean Hollow State Beach, about halfway between San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

Breakers, Cabrillo Highway, California


Rowing Boat, Killarney

Quite a story for this next one. Myself and my friend Ais had elected to do a charity night-time walk up Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil, in April. It was a total washout. We just barely managed to reach the top of the Devil’s Ladder before we were forced back by strong winds and lashing rain. We arrived back at Cronin’s Yard soaked to the skin. The original intention was to photograph the sunrise from the top of the mountain, but in the end, we were lucky simply to get back uninjured. The afternoon before the walk, I took this photo of a boat near Ross Castle.


Double Rainbow

This photo from June was taken just yards from my home. The weather was showery that day, with rainbows guiding me all the way from Cork. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a double rainbow so stark as this one.

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Beech Trees, Waterford

The following day, Claudia and I went on a drive through County Waterford, taking the northerly route across the county from Portlaw to Clonea. It’s wonderfully picturesque; a maze of tiny roads and high estate walls. I took this photo on the walled road out of Portlaw. In the background is the lone hill of Slievenamon, Co. Tipperary.


Camphire Horse Trials

I’m not at all into horses, but in July I visited the Camphire International Horse trials, nestled in a beautiful part of Waterford on the banks of the River Blackwater. It was a thoroughly wet day, but this didn’t spoil the enjoyment in the slightest. This photo, taken during the cross-country event, was full of action; the horse has just landed into the water after a challenging jump.

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Running boys

I just love this. My two youngest boys full of action. Why walk anywhere when you can run? It was taken on Garryvoe Beach in early August.

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The Big Sur

A few days later I was back on a plane, again in California for a few days. This time I decided to drive as far south from San Francisco as I could, reaching the Big Sur before sunset. It was a 100 mile drive to get there (and another 100 miles back). But my, was it worth it.

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Jellyfish Clouds

This photo was taken near home in late August. As the sun was setting, the cloud formation took the appearance of a tentacled jellyfish. It’s quite a panorama.

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Night Trail

A few days later, I took this evening shot by Garryvoe beach – the contrail of a jet casting an upwards shadow on nearby clouds.

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A few more

These are the photos that didn’t make my top 10. A pity, because I love all of them for different reasons. There are photos here from Shanghai, the Burren, Bantry House, Mount Congreve, the Galtee Mountains, California, Fota Wildlife Park, Penarth and Singapore, among other places.




Here’s a photo I took on a day trip to the Big Sur in California.

After arriving in San Francisco, I made my way down south, past Monterey and into the most wonderful coastal scenery imaginable.

Click on the photo for the full view.

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Every time I come out to California, I feel a need to travel down to the Pacific Coast Highway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. It’s wonderful. The yellow cliffs, the long beaches, the sea fog close to the shore and the huge breakers. It’s a magical place. Here are some photos I took yesterday.


Another week travelling, this time in the opposite direction. Over the last three weeks, I’ve been in three equally sized corners of the world. I still miss Shanghai.

I’m in Silicon Valley: an endless suburbia straddling San Francisco Bay, and home to some of the brightest technical minds on the planet. Photographic opportunities are somewhat limited, but there are some wonderful gems, not far from the hustle and bustle.

I saw a few curious things on my flight over from London. While travelling past Iceland, I noticed a dark line of shadow imprinted on the clouds far below. It took me a few seconds to realise that it was caused by our own plane’s vapour trail – a shadow cast from far above. What was even more interesting was that the head of the shadow – where the plane should be – was surrounded by a small rainbow. It’s called a “glory” – an optical phenomenon caused by the reflected rays’ passage through tiny water droplets.

Plane Shadow 1

Plane Shadow 2

Greenland was uncharacteristically bereft of cloud, so I could see clearly the high snowy mountains of the coastline. Deep in the valleys, I could see massive glaciers grind their way to the sea. As the plane headed inland, these glaciers began to engulf the mountain tops, until the mountains themselves disappeared under the enormous ice-cap.

Greenland Ice Cap 1 Greenland Ice Cap 2

We arrived into San Francisco early, and with time to kill, we headed towards the Pacific Coast Highway, one of my favourite spots in Northern California. Thick sea fog was assaulting the coast, lending a certain dullness to the scenery. We wound our way South from Pacifica to Santa Cruz, past driftwood strewn beaches and high cliffs. It’s a relaxing part of the world.

It’s been 3 years since I last went to California and one of the big changes I’ve noticed in that time is the increase in electric cars there. It’s still a tiny minority of cars on the road and most electric cars are selling at a loss, but it’s now beginning to become a realistic option.

Electric car charging stations are being set up in many big workplaces, an early sign that the era of petrol stations may be coming to an end.

Electric Cars

The car making the most waves is the Tesla Model S, a smashing looking vehicle retailing for over 60,000 dollars. I saw quite a few of them on the road when I was there.



It’s odd to see a gaping void where the engine is supposed to be.


Ireland is a long way behind with electrics. They are invisible on Irish roads, although I am reliably informed that there are  already quite a few charging points around the country. We’re still a few years from a tipping point.

Apparently, Google self-drive cars are frequently seen around Silicon Valley. Who knows what we might see in 3 years time?


I took a flight to San Francisco yesterday, and I had the good fortune to be beside a window during the flight. The views outside were wonderful.

Flight in far distance

Flying over Scotland, I chanced on a jet flying close to us.

Scottish Hebrides

Scottish Hebrides. The last land visible before heading out over the Atlantic.

Cork on display

The most important city in Ireland. Clearly.

Arctic Tundra

Arctic wastes over northern Canada. We flew straight over Iceland, but unfortunately it was covered in cloud, so I saw nothing. A pity, as it flew over Katla and Reykjavik.

Columbia River

This was taken over the Columbia River in Washington. I love watching the vast circular fields. From this distance, they look like small wafers of silicon.

Mount Shasta

This is Mount Shasta, a 3,000 metre high volcano dominating the landscape in Northern California. It last erupted in 1786, so it’s still active.

Clear Lake

This is Clear Lake, in the hills close to the Californian coast. I thought it was Tahoe!

Coming down to land

I took a sneak peek of the San Mateo Bridge when we were landing. It’s 11 km long, connecting one side of the bay to the other.

San Fran

Final arrival in San Francisco Airport. As expected, immigration was a pain. It took an hour to get through customs, and then I realised I had left my coat on the plane, which resulted in further delays.


Pescadero, California

I spent most of the day yesterday in transit between Cork and San Francisco. It was a relatively uneventful flight: reading about the Afghan quagmire in Newsweek, watching a pretty good Leo de Caprio movie (Body of Lies), getting some sleep, listening to a pre-recorded Skeptic’s Guide podcast, reading my book on the Permo-Triassic extinction event, and then listening to some Mozart on my iPod. The jouney was comfortable and although I had a small twinge in my back after the jouney, I didn’t feel the 10 hours pass by.

After dropping our bags off in Cupertino, I and some work colleagues decided to drive down the coast road (Highway 1) between Pescadero and Santa Cruz. The weather was foul: cold and rainy, so we confined ourselves to the car apart from one foray down to a beach near Pescadero.

The coast here is very different to home. Gone is the intimacy of the rocky Irish coastline. There is a great sense of scale: the cliffs and beaches stretch into the far distance, conveying the impression that it’s like this all the way down to Patagonia.. The cliffs are soft and chalky, and there is active erosion here. Not great places to be in a large earthquake, I’ll bet.

Total darkness had set in by the time we reached Santa Cruz. The journey back to the hotel was difficult for me with heavy rain, twisty roads, oncoming night-time traffic and the looming burden of sleep deprivation all taking their toll.

A quick bite to eat and I was in bed by 8.30, utterly, utterly exhausted.


I have the happy fortune to be in California at the moment to witness a piece of history. The excitement all day was palpable. I was consulting my iPhone all evening as the results started to flow through. Then, sooner than expected, it was all over. Obama had crossed the line of 270 electoral votes and quickly had over 300 votes in the bag. All over bar the shouting, as they say in Ireland.

This is a terrific day for so many Americans. I was in a bar at the time and the whole place went silent when Obama stood up to deliver his victory speech. There were tears in peoples’ eyes. The king is dead*, long live the king.

* Well, metaphorically, and even then not until January… All the fun has been taken out of the modern day political leadership changes, don’t you think? No tumbrils, guillotines, or even chopping blocks these days. Such utter killjoys..

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