British National Cycling Champs, Isle of Man, June 2017

A great location and a tough route using the TT course for the road race. Standing up at Creg Ny Baa as the peloton careered down at over 60mph before leaning into the corner as they kept the speed up then accelerated onto the next straight. A breakaway for Steve Cummings in the men’s road race to go with his time trial victory. A fantastic come back after injury and a great confidence builder as he heads into the Tour de France. A great win for the Manx rider Anna Christian in the U23 women’s time trial, a bit of crowd control needed as a rowdy duck threatened to block the road. Once the race was over another 20 or so ducks broke through the barriers and crossed. We couldn’t find a chicken to ask why.

The Elephants of Minneriya

Seeing elephants in any wild environment is always an exciting experience. Such large animals that, when they want to be, can almost make themselves invisible. It’s almost comedic as they head into the undergrowth and disappear.

Minneriya National Park is in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. It is home to a large population of elephants, especially during the dry season as they are attracted to the grass around the reservoir.

On this trip we were fortunate enough to see a large herd comprising a range of adults, young and one very newly born calf.

The calf had been born within the previous hour according to a guide who was already at the location. When we arrived it lay motionless in amongst the grass. It stayed that way for quite a while – perhaps 15-20 minutes. The mother didn’t seem that concerned. She carried on feeding. Eventually the calf got up covered in grass and unsteady on it’s feet. It then started to feed.

Just as it was getting a little more confident another young calf seeing someone younger took the opportunity to wrestle and generally pick on it. Under the watchful eye of the group around it this then carried infer a while then it was time for another feed.

As the herd moved on they always kept the same formation with the young on the inside , protected and out of reach.I hope that the photos tell a brief story of the first couple of hours of a new calf.

 

Going South to St Helena

It was unexpected but being on the first plane ever to fly from Ascension Island to St Helena was something special and not to be missed.

There are plenty of discussions elsewhere on the rights and wrongs of the airport being where it is and the need for tourism in St Helena so it serves little purpose for me to mention it further.

Suffice it to say that our plane landed, not once but twice, without any issues. It’s a beautiful island in The South Atlantic 10 miles long by 5 miles wide. It’s probably best known as the place Napoleon was exiled at Longwood House for 5 years and where he eventually died with a tomb built for him – both photographed below. We had a brief tour of the Island. The photos below are a very brief summary. Jonathan the 189 year old giant tortoise wandering across the lawn at Plantation house. Jamestown viewed from the top of Jacob’s ladder 699 steps up from the town.

It was literally a flying visit. There is plenty for tourists to see and do. Hopefully the issues will be sorted out soon to open the island up.

Maasai Mara, Kenya

A location linked with Africa to be a place where you metaphorically and almost physically trip over wildlife. We were fortunate enough to travel there at the end of 2016. Certainly out of the high season but given the ever changing weather systems and the late rains no-one mentioned that to the animals. The plains were scattered with Wildebeeste that would have been expected to have long migrated by now.

It’s a beautiful location, endless skies, towering clouds that were a prelude to the daily ‘short’ rains and flat lands as far as the eye can see with lone acacia trees peppering the horizon.

I’ve posted some pictures on my Flickr site, that is linked to this website, of the wildlife that we saw, but I wanted to give a feeling of the wide open space, the skies and the grandeur of how I saw one small area of The Maasai Mara.