Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Colorful cubism of Amadeo Souza Cardozo

Besides working in interesting topics, meeting fascinating people, travelling and being learning all the time, working in academia gives what most of other jobs do not give us: flexibility! And with it I went to Portugal to celebrate my birthday with my parents, family and friends. I also took advantage to go to Lisbon and participate in the big festivities of the city (Santo Antonio), which are, obviously, on my birthday! And I even had time to be surprised as I went to visit the Berardo Collection Museum, considered one of the best free entry museums of Europe. No wonder! The collection is very complete in terms of modern art currents and I just managed one floor!! I definetly recommend it. The painting in the photo is from Portuguese cubist and futurist painter Amadeo Souza Cardoso (1987-1918).

Red rose at Kiasma

Recently I went back to Helsinki. It has been the third time in less than two years. I tought there was not much more to see anymore, but I knew I was wrong as soon as I had this thought. Helsinki has a taste of Eastern European city: its buildings, its light, its street markets, its music festivals...A vist to the nearby island proved worthwile as the sun was shinning and the sea was very blue. And as in the last 10 years my interest for contemporary art has been growing at the speed of light, I made sure I did not miss the museum of contemporary art of Helsinki, Kiasma. An interesting building with a curious collection. This red rose is made of candies and it is tempting not to steal one.

Brown stains on seabird eggs

Climbing in May allowed me to have a proper look at the diverse egg nests built on the top of sea cliffs and to face angry mothers wanting to protect them. Climbing in June allowed me to face "ugly" chicks and mothers telling me off to keep away from their chicks :-).

Orange beaks of cute puffins

Puffins (Fratercula arctica) are these cute little things that come to the Scottish sea cliffs during May and June to lay their eggs and bring up their chicks. They make a sound that resembles human voice to me. It is fascinating to observe them, flying from incredible heights and diving into the water to find fish for their offspring. These come every year to the bird reserve south of Aberdeen  (Fowlsheugh). Climbing in the cliffs is another way of observing their feeding activities, and I was happy to watch it some weeks ago.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Grey May

It is May again and life is bursting everywhere. Just next to my office there is the university botanical garden. The flowers, the birds, the insects make it a great place for a walk and for getting some fresh air. In this photo I caught the male chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) courting the female chaffinch. He did not bother I was spying on him so focused he was on impressing the "lady". 
Bad things should never happen in May. But as they did, Aberdonian May will always bring a bitter taste to my mouth. 

Blue and white pub

Local pubs  are very typical in rural Scotland. We seat, eat good fish and chips, or burguer and chips or any other pub food, and watch the football or the F1. Sometimes the fire is on. The environment is quirky. Local people speak loud and are authentic. The pub in the photo is in Portsoy, a small fisherman's village in the North coast. Inside everybody knows each other. My German friend describes his pub experience in the following way: "In Scotland, I can go to a pub on my own, I drink a beer, enjoy the environment and nobody look me as if I am weird." I have never been on a pub on my own, but I should definetly give it a try.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Climbing by the blue sea

As a broken ankle is much easier to heal than a broken heart, I am back to outdoor climbing. And, incredibly, Aberdeenshire is also a great place for outdoor climbing. Along the coast, just by the sea, the granite cliffs are excellent spots (e.g. Cove Bay, Collieston) to practice rock climbing. Being in the sun, by the sea and doing some exercise is a great way of spending the weekend, specially now with the birds nesting in the surroundings.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Pete Smith football team 2013/14 - Orange and...whatever colour


Swimming, climbing, cycling, gym classes...All this is not enough...I am also part of the wonderful, greatest ever, football team of Pete Smith's modelling group! Gooooooooooooooooooooolo!!!!

Friday, 28 March 2014

White mountain at Glen Esk

Photo: Anja Byg
This winter has been very mild in Aberdeen. So, to experience a bit of cold and snow we have been going to the mountains! In the last walk we went to Glen Esk. We started in the car park near the Invermark Castle, followed the track by the Water of Lee, then we climbed steeply and passed the beautiful Falls of Unich and went uphill to experience a breathtaking view over Loch Lee and the Glen. We saw loads of mountain hares, which still have their white coat, and grouse, the famous grouse. Thanks to Anja, we have a record of our relaxing chat at the top of the hill and of our faces full of joy for being in outdoors Scotland.

Blue diner

Life is full of coincidences and interesting connections. A couple of years ago I watched an interesting documentary on BBC about diners in America. Suzanne Vega, an american singer I really like, was interviewed in this programme because of her song: "Tom's diner." Last christmas, I was listening "Hotel Babilonia" on my favourite portuguese radio antena 1 and they were talking about the excellent Suzanne Vega's new album. Back in Scotland, I listened a programme on BBC radio 4 about Suzanne Vega's new album and her song "Tom's diner". In February this year I had a very tasty brunch at Tom's diner. Isn't life special?

"I am sitting
In the morning
At the diner
On the corner

I am waiting
At the counter
For the man
To pour the coffee
...

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Golden sunset in Paris

Since I have been back, several people have asked me if I miss Paris and how do I feel by moving from Paris to Aberdeen. I have reflected about this before, so I can summarize my thoughts:
1- It was a great opportunity to live in Paris but I did not enjoy the traffic, concrete, pollution, packed metro, noise, people everywhere, the cold, the heat, living far from the sea...
2- It was a great opportunity to live in Paris and I did enjoy the museums, independent cinema, free cultural events at UNESCO, art, the fact that I could go everywhere with my bike, the multiculturality, the great view from Monparnasse, the 14th of July, the arrival of the tour, the cheese... 
3-When I ask myself if I could have given up all this, I can say yes. But if I think deeply, maybe I couldn't. My Tunisien friend Kari. made Paris a compulsory stage of my life. When in Paris, everyone should have a friend like Kari.: She is true friendship, cultural knowledge, city expert, political will, cinema lover.... Thank you very much Kari!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Purple Bennachie

I am back to Aberdeen. I like this city a lot but the return has been tough since the life I left in 2012 is not here anymore. There are still friends around and more friends have been made. I am still a busy bee as before but something very important was taken away from me. Aberdeen is emptier. But, obviously it is winter time and winter is always difficult anywhere we are. I am longing for the longer and brighter days to climb Bennachie again. This range of hills in Aberdeenshire were place for ups and downs full of surprises. I hope the future climbs will be as fun as the previous ones.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Grey and cold in Versailles

I went on my bike to Versailles Palace and gardens in March this year. It was cold like hell - well, hell would be hot right?... So, cold like...cold like Braemar in January!! :-)... The trees had no leaves and there was still snow on the ground. I have been hoping to return to see the flowers but the weather in Paris is still cold as...Braemar in January!

Green Ben More

Ben More is a munro located in the Isle of Mull - Scotland. It is ranked the 7th highest of the British Isles - reaches 966 m of altitude.The climb takes about 4 hours and it starts from sea level. I am tempted to say that Ben More is not a very difficult mountain to climb as I did it just one month after the 2nd operation to my ankle (in June 2010), under a 26ºC heat (which in Scotland is quite hot), with only 100 ml of water and weighting 10 Kg more than my normal weight! In a clear day like this the view is breath taking!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Colourful Tobermory

About half an hour on the ferry (from Kilkoan, in the West coast of Scotland) it is enough to reach Tobermory, the capital of the Isle of Mull. This is the 4th largest Scottish island and it has been inhabited since the end of the last Ice Age. In this island we can climb Ben More, have a pic nic by the sea, eat beautiful local cheese, visit stone circles and castles, and observe the wildlife. This can be done either by car, bike or walking. If you go by car you can cover a biggest area in fewer time. But cycling has its charm! In the weekend I was there the sun was shining and also the moon. About 10 ticks covered my body when I left, but that is part of the fun :-)

Yellow bus in the Danube

In Budapest, last Sunday, I saw this bus happily "driving" its passengers along the Danube. I must say it was one of the most bizarre things I have encountered in the last trips I made.

Paris - Rouge et blanc

In Paris there were plenty of demonstrations against gay marriage. In Paris, one can find these adverts at the metro stations.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

White sands in Sannabay - Scotland

In the white sands we put up our tent. In the turquoise water I swam in the morning. 
This beautiful place is called Sannabay and it is located in the West Coast of Scotland, near Kilchoan. With some luck we can get a day like this: hot weather, blue sky and no one around. And this can only happen in Scotland. We had been driving for 3,5 hours, we stopped for newspaper wrapped fish and chips in a pub with grumpy barmen (it was after 8pm on a Friday- Oh my God!!), and I was too tired to be driven to the end of Ardnamurchan Peninsula, where Sannabay is located. But I do not regret it at all - waking up in the morning hearing nothing else but the sound of water and birds...I stop here because there are no words to describe the harmony of the moment.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Paris colours - Food everywhere

By being Portuguese I am used to give food lots of attention, good food. Food is the center of all religious and non religious festivities in Portugal. It is like a religion itself. During my 5,5 years in Scotland I also put a lot of importance in food: I lived with people that loved food, I missed my country's food and I wanted to show my friends how good my country's food was. Now in France, what can I say? Food is everywhere! In the shops, in the street markets, in the restaurants. It is a food overdose!

Paris colours - Grey oysters!


Yes! I also had to queue to eat these tasty "huîtres au citron". Although I was so lucky to be offered a ticket to enter Le Salon d'Agriculture by a random lady that appeared in front of me while I was waiting for my colleagues, I still had to queue with them to get their tickets. I think I am finally "mentalized" for the queues in Paris.

Paris colours - Marc Chagall

I have been in Paris for 3 months now. Only officially, because I have been twice in Portugal and once in Spain already. The main reason is affective: to be with my parents and to see my friend Julia. But there is also another very valid reason: To see the SUN!! And what can I say about Paris? Yes, it is a non-stop cultural life: concerts, seminars, meet-ups, museums, exhibitions...But to enjoy this cultural life one have to queue! For example, I almost turned ice while waiting 1 hour to see Marc Chagall exhibition! - Beautiful though.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Red gown - Graduation in Aberdeen 2012

30th November of 2012 was the official end of 3,5 very enjoyable years to obtain my PhD in Geography. I learnt a lot during this period. I travelled to several countries, met very interesting people, taught intelligent students, was taught by intelligent teachers...It was not always easy: A PhD requires great dedication and if we are not strong and determined to finish it the tricks of life can make the task difficult. I have to thank the help and guidance of my excellent supervisors Prof(s) Pete Smith, Bill Slee and Colin Hunter and the support of my parents, friends and colleagues. I was very happy in Aberdeen and now that I am in Paris, I will keep writing my Scottish stories because there are still plenty to tell. And if you do not mind, from time to time I will also post here some colours of Paris :-)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Grey - A'Chir in Arran

Photo: Richard Hewinson
Photo: Diana
Another exciting and challenging ridge to scramble is A'Chir in the Isle of Arran - west coast of Scotland. Arran is said to be "Scotland in miniature". But I was unlucky here. A dodgie jump at a place called "Le Mauvais Pas" (I wonder why is called like this...) put a stop to my walk at 6pm. I broke my ankle in two places and I had to be rescued from the mountain by some handsome guys, and lifted by helicopter. Six weeks on a cast and two operations did not stop my desire of going back and doing it again. Plus: God bless the UK National Health Service!

Brown - Stac Pollaidh the 1st scrambling

Scrambling is a method of ascending rocky faces and ridges. The term is somewhere between hillwalking and rock climbing. It means that hands must be used in the ascent. A very nice scramble I can suggest is Stac Pollaidh, a mountain in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. It can be climbed in less than 3 hours by any relatively fit person and once on the ridge the summit is located about 300 m to the west. To reach the it one must scramble over several rocky pinnacles and a good portion of skills is needed!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Autumn colours

This picture is to compensate the last picture published. It was taken on my way to the West Coast in the Autumn of 2009. And yes, this is Scotland!

Yellow bonfires - Guy Fawkes' night

This is an awful picture but it is the only one I have to illustrate the celebrations of Guy Fawkes' night in Aberdeen! It was taken on the 5th of November (2009) at the beach where lots of people concentrated to see the bonfires. This year, since Friday that we can hear fireworks in Aberdeen, but the big firework will be tomorrow evening! And what are British people celebrating? They celebrate Guy Fawkes' arrest and execution due to an attempt to kill protestant King James I of England (and bomb the parliament) in 1605. His objective was to trigger King James' replacement by a Catholic king. The 5th of November was kept as a thanksgiving day for the divine intervention in the King's survival and since then, people celebrate with (rather noisy) bonfires!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Brown, blue, sunny - Windy day at Glenshee munros

video
In the last weekend (30 Set 2012) we were at the mountains again. The day was clear and we could enjoy the beautiful views from the top of the munros, in Glenshee near Braemar. It was very windy and the ascending to the top was tough. However, the scenery compensated largely the difficulties of going up. This time, to give a bit of the feeling of what is to be at the top of a mountain, I post a short video I made. This is Creag Lacach munro!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Black and gold - AU Science Magazine

This is the 5th issue of the AU Science Magazine. This is a colourful, exciting and accessible publication that conveys the fascination of science with a special emphasis on research from Aberdeen. It is exclusively produced and edited by students from Aberdeen University. This issue has an article written by myself: 'The bio-economic uncertainty'. Read it online at: http://ausm.org.uk/ (page 8).

Pink, Green, Blue - Energising minds BSF2012

This year the British Science Festival was held in Aberdeen. This is a great event to engage general public (kids and adults) with science. Every year it visits a different city in the UK and it is a great opportunity to be updated in the latest exciting research findings. The weather in Aberdeen was gorgeous during the festival week and the library enchanted the visitors. There were plenty of talks, debates, seminars, workshops...I went to an evening chat about Mars with space science scientist and BBC presenter Maggie Aderin-Pocock, learnt about the life in the oil rigs with Channel 4 News filmmaker Ed Owles and artist Sue Jane Taylor, discovered the surprising secrets of Giant Land Animals with Prof. John Hutchinson, debated food security issues and found out about Prof. Iain Stewart´s new BBC series.

Three years ago I was starting my PhD and was awarded a grant to attend the British Science Festival 2009 in Guildford, Surrey. I even wrote a blog about it and an article in the in-land Autumn/Winter 2009 newsletter (page 38).

Green and white stripes - University of Aberdeen library

This beautiful building is the new library of Aberdeen University. It opened in September 2011 and it can be seen from several points of the city. The motto of the new library is to connect Aberdeen's citizens with its collections and interiors. The official opening was on Monday (24th September 2012) and Her Magesty the Queen Elisabeth II came in person to give the bless. The library was the meeting point during the British Science Festival 2012 that occurred in Aberdeen in the beggining of the month.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Orange burning fire

Woodfuel, i.e., solid wood used to produce energy. With fossil fuel prices going up and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rising, woodfuel offers a low-carbon (almost neutral), cheap source of energy. The example in these photos is the burning of wood chips (medium-sized solid material made by cutting, or chipping, larger pieces of wood) in a central boiler that produce enough energy to heat a community swimming pool, a primary school and a public library in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Such projects need public and private investment but result in a sustainable use of natural resources.

Blue shirt with Scottish flag

When three Italians get together the result is...a beautiful pasta! Mamma mia!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

White clouds

This is Richard in the top of Morven, a Corbett in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Previoulsy I described what a Munro is. Now I reveal the definition of Corbett. These are peaks in Scotland between 2,500 and 3,000 feet. The list of Corbetts was compiled in 1920 by Jonh Rooke Corbett. There are 221 Corbetts and Morven is one of them. Morven is 2858 (871m) feet high.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Pink marks in the skin - Around Applecross

After spending the night in a tent, waking up in the morning with this scenery in front of the eyes is something amazing. We are now in Applecross in the West Coast of Scotland. But even paradise is not perfect. In the summer, there are little flying things called midges that suck our blood and leave plenty of pinks marks in the skin. They are active in the morning and in the evening, specially when it is very still. Luckily, I found 'Skin so soft' a body cream from Avon that works better than a proper repelent. Do not forget to take it everytime you go to the West Coast!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

White wind turbines

"How is rural Scotland changing?" This was the name of a photo competition lauched by the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute. Surprisely I won the first prize for more than 19 years old. This gave me 100 pounds and tickets for a safari in Braemar. The photo was taken in Gigha in 2009 and shows one of the three dancing ladies (wind turbines) implemented in the island. An article about the photo competition winners was written at the in-land Spring/Summer 2010 newsletter (page 28).

Green waters in Gigha

For me Gigha is one of the most beautiful islands in Scotland. It looks like paradise: Green waters, white sand, warm weather...To access this island we have to take the ferry from the Mull of Kintyre (who remembers the song?). Gigha is a community-owned island seven miles long by a mile and half wide. Until the end of 2002 it was owned by a private landlord but the population got fed up with his bad management and bought the island with the help of the National Lottery and Highlands and Islands Enterprise grants. The ownership of island brought a new life to its inhabitants and several projects have been undertaken, such as the building of the new houses to attract young people to settle in the island and the implementing of wind turbines to produce renewable energy. Apart from swimming in the transparent sea waters, visitors can walk in the Achamore gardens and climb Creag Bhan (the highest hill in the island).

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Blue and red puppets - Punch and Judy

Who would said that in a hunting fair I would be transported to my childhood? In Scottish fairs there are always distractions for kids. Some of these distractions are of very good taste and are a proof that old entertaining methods rock! By the way: These are Punch and Judy.

The long brown trail - Ben Macdui

A long walk to the top of the mountain was waiting for us. The top I am talking about is Ben Macdui, the second highest mountain in the United Kingdom (1,309m), and therefore, a munro (see older post for a definition of munro). It is said that the 'big grey man of Ben Macdui' lives here...In the top of the mountain there are small patches of snow that persist year by year, even during the Summer.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

White cows @ The Royal Highland Show

The Royal Highland Show is the major farm and countryside exhibition in Scotland. It happens in the last week of June every year and attracts thousands of people from all over Scotland, England and even Ireland. Queen Elisabeth II is a regular visitor to the Show. The most fantastic things to do there are, in my opinion, sampling the array of food on offer (especially the cheeses), watching show jumping, attending sheep shearing competitions, seeing the livestock exhibitions and eating strawberry kebabs with chocolate fondue! In here we can observe the "crème de la crème" of Scottish society.