Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fame at last

Fame at last, originally uploaded by ccgd.

A little bit of vanity publishing here but what the heck.

I was interviewed yesterday in the Business Pages of the Finnish newspaper Kaleva, and one of the paper's photographers took this rather good snap of me in their offices. The interview (about rural innovation and science clusters in remote areas) was in English, but is of course printed in Finnish, so I've no idea what I've been quoted as saying.....

However my Finnish colleagues here in Oulu say its rather a good little piece, but they would say wouldn't they?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oulu Bobby

Oulu Bobby, originally uploaded by ccgd.

This squat little chap (who looks like Uncle Joe Stalin from the back) is the "mascot" of the city of Oulu, where I am for the rest of this week, doing European innovation things.

Oulu is a long way away from Scotland (and of course Scotland is a long way away from Oulu) and it does take a fair bit of time, and flights to get here. I caught the last plane from Helsinki last night, at midnight, after routing through Edinburgh and Manchester, arriving at my hotel at nearly 2:00 am.

The two hour time difference helped then, but is seriously working against me now, as I wait to be picked up to perform at a press conference - in Finish..........

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Looking up the County Road

Looking up the County Road, originally uploaded by ccgd.

A sharp nip in the air this morning, made me look for the first snows of winter on Ben Wyvis, nothing yet though.

Driving out of Cromarty, you always get a view of the Ben, as you turn onto this straight along towards Rosefarm and Davidiston.

Laid out in the mid 19th Century, and maintained by the "County" Road squads, it has always been known - and I hope always will be known - as the County Road.

Very unusually for a road in the Highlands and Islands it runs dead straight for 5 miles (8Km) or so, allowing this vanishing point shot, helped by the wintry conditions.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ben Loyal and the Mountains of the West

Taken from the summit of the Watch Hill, above Coldbackie.

Charlie and I climbed up on Saturday afternoon, with a couple of camera's, a tripod, and a few bottle's of beer. This time of year, with broken clouds and a low afternoon sun, often produces quite dramatic moody photos.

This one is a case in point.

At 1008 feet, Cnoc an Fhreiceadain (Hill of Watching) is modest in height, but both commands the township of Coldbackie and provides dramatic views across to Kyle of Tongue, to Orkney in the east, and Arkle in the West.

"a femicircular chain of mountains paffes nearly through the middle of the parifh, the principal of which are Knok-Rheacadan (the Watchman's Hill), Ben Loaghal and Ben Hope"

Old statistical account of the Parish of Tongue 1799

Its also famous/infamous as the "Scottish Mountain" that Jeremy Clarkson drove a Discovery Landrover up on Top Gear a few years ago. The episode is often repeated on the "best of Top Gear" type programmes, and has attracted the ire of many conservation and Mountaineering groups. Interestingly Charlie and I spent a good 40 mins wandering around the summit and upper slops looking for the exact route they took, and there is no evidence that a Landrover and film crew were ever there.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Coldbackie - Sutherland

the view after 50 years, originally uploaded by ccgd.

I'm in the strange position of sitting at home, at 7:00pm on a Friday Night, waiting to travel to Inverness - to pick Charlie up from the 20:10 GNER, and then drive up to North Sutherland for the weekend. Just him and me, something that we not managed for quite a few years.

It's a weekend of report reviewing and brain storming ideas and topics for his final year dissertation (he has a cracking concept, but wants to explore some of the details a bit more. Exploring ideas is something I both enjoy - and am good at - and is enhanced with a couple of beers. And when it's with your oldest son, its a lot more fun.

I'm staggered that this is the first time that I've managed a weekend in Coldbackie this year. Its used a lot more in the summer these days, by the extended family, but work trips and Magnus's cycling has meant that time has been at a serious premium this year.

The forecast is good, so maybe some decent photos as well.....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cape Cod

Cape Cod, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Cape Cod - New England, snapped about 10 mins after taking off from Logan Airport, Boston. Caught in the early morning sun, the shape of this peninsula is quite distinctive.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

MIT Stata Blues

MIT Stada Blues, originally uploaded by ccgd.

The Ray and Maria Stata Center is a 430,000-ft² (40,000 m²) academic complex designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, and is in a central position on the MIT campus.

Finished in 2004, its a remarkable building, with hints of the Scottish Parliament. I think that the building looks best on a day like this, with hazy blue skies bringing out the colours and angles of the building.

It is just as neat inside.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Charles river sunrise

Charles river sunrise, originally uploaded by ccgd.

This morning, two blocks from the hotel.

Always when I arrive in Boston, I wake very early, and go for a walk along the edge of the MIT campus, to watch the sun rise ovr the Charles river.

Boston was cloudy and overcast when we arrived late last night, but now it is a glorious autumnal day.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Conference Centre Roof

Conference Centre Roof, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Just about to disappear to Boston for my bi-annual visit to MIT, where we sponsor the MIT Media Lab, and other MIT programmes. This photo is a snap of the roof of the main MIT conference centre, which I took back in May.

MIT is a strange mixture of classical early 20th Century buildings, weird strange half baked nondescript labs dumped on derelict lots, and quite spectacular architecture. The new Stada building is by far the best, but this 80's clam shell conference centre is pretty cool as well.

I'm flying through Edinburgh, so that's a drive down the A9 on a Sunday morning. It's weird not flying from Inverness, which I have done regularly for the past 20 years, but the recent changes to flight patterns from the Highland Airport mean that's its usefulness as a airport that you can connect from is almost zero.

Which is strange and a bit sad. However the growth of Inverness airport is as a point to point location - which is does very well - but as an airport that allows you to through connect - on business - its now almost useless.

Partly is the disappearance of BA. Flybe are probably the worst airline that I've travelled on, constantly late, rude and surly staff, and worst of all - on their UK routes - they fly out of Gatwicks south terminal. And they provide a low fare service at the price of a full fare airline,

Gatwick South Terminal is hell on earth, quite simply. I'm embarrassed that the vast majority of people flying into the Highland Capital from London have to go through Gatwick South Terminal (for Flybe or Easy Jet) or Luton. BMI's Heathrow flight does not count, as its at such a useless time, one can only assume that they are hanging on to slot to transfer to a Transatlantic flight when they wear down BAA.

Its clear that you cannot live in the past, and its great that Inverness Airport is busier than ever. But it's now a low cost, point to point airport, which suits a lot of people, but not me.

So I'm driving to Edinburgh..............

Friday, October 05, 2007

Dunrobin - aye right

Dunrobin - aye right, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Magnus was training in Golspie last Sunday, so Ruth and I went for a late season trip across on the Ferry, and on the spur of the moment decided to pop into Dunrobin Castle. The last time we were there was almost 20 years ago, when Charlie was a baby, and my main memory of the visit was discomfort at the picture and story the castle was trying to portray. This visit was just the same.

You see I have a whole series of Mackay and Sutherland forebears who were cleared from Strath Kildonan, and Strath Naver. I'm sure the present Countess - who lives in Tongue - and Lord Strathnaver - who lives in Golspie - are very pleasant people, struggling to make ends meet, the picture painted in the castle of happy clans, agricultural improvements, contented tenantry and lost of royal connections is one that grates quite a bit.

And interesting to note that Sutherland Estates recently spoke out against a community buy out of Skerray, on the North Coast saying "[they] would resist any sale and believes the community would be better served under the existing ownership."

Grateful tenantry indeed.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Kitchen gable

Kitchen gable, originally uploaded by ccgd.

A late afternoon view from our Garden. Looking at the kitchen gable chimney through a legacy lens, using an old Zuiko 40mm lens from an old OM-1 - yes I finally bought the adaptor - 6 quid of e-bay. I've also bought a couple of other old lenses to "play" - they should arrive in the next few days.

Lots of fun playing with a camera that can only be in manual mode, and I'm amazed at how sharp this 25 year old bit of glass is.

Funny to think that people have been looking at this view - almost unchanged - for over 300 years. The roofing material may have been different in 1700, but the chimney shape is just the same.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lines of fire

Lines of fire, originally uploaded by ccgd.

My morning beach walk. A nice settled few days, before we get all autumnal.

The fasinating thing about a regular morning stroll, watching the sunrise and the sunset is the change over the year. You mark seasons by where the sun first appears, just as people have done for thousands of years.

This is a definate Autumn shot.......