Calendar for my aunt

I love to see my photos printed. Aside from the framed images I have on the wall at home, I also began gifting calendars of some of my favourite images to my Mum and Dad and subsequently my aunt from about 2011.

After using Lulu’s printing services for several years, the more recent ones are printed at A3 size by White Wall (UK / CH) and then sent out by post. The quality of the velvety Premium Matte Silk paper is wonderful and the photos look amazing at A3 size.

This is the selection for the 2023 calendar I made for my aunt. (The selection for Mum’s 2023 calendar is here.)

Cover: Château de Suscino

We rented a small beach-side house on the western coast of Brittany in 2022. Around a kilometre from the property stands this imposing castle, with a bank of pools and expansive reed-beds between it and the beach.

We visited the reed-beds on a windy afternoon in search of birds and enjoyed watching avocets and little egrets fishing whilst terns ducked and dived in the wind.

January: Jungfrau

One of my favourite destinations for many years, the Jungfrau — and the Sphinx observatory, which you can see here if you look closely — remains an awe-inspiring sight from the Kleine Scheidegg train station, or from this point on the edge of the Fallbodenhubel hill.

February: Île de Peilz, Léman

Sunsets on Lake Geneva — proper name Léman — are often amazing. We love to visit the lake throughout the year because the expansive size makes visiting the towns and vineyards on the Swiss shore feel like being at the seaside.

We visited Villeneuve in March 2022 for a change — not having been there before — and took a chilly walk along the lake shore. I wrote a fuller blog post about this unexpected tiny island at the time, which was a perfect subject for a photo.

Ponte dei Ferali, Venice

March: Ponte dei Ferali, Venice

Venice contains so many wonderful little vignettes and corners, which many — if not most — visitors simply pass by. I took the opportunity to wander round the part of the city near our hotel when we were there in 2021 and get some late-night, rain-soaked scenes, long after most of the tourists had returned to their lodgings. As I was setting up this shot, completely alone in the quiet streets, a brown rat swam quite contentedly by.

April: Geneva harbour

I was in town for a conference and had some time to kill before catching my train home the next day, so I walked down to the city’s huge harbour in the sun and photographed the ridiculously clear and very shallow water using my drone.

May: Serpent d’océan, Saint-Brevin-les-Pins

We stayed in three different coastal villages in Brittany in June 2022. On our way to the first of them, we stopped-off at Saint-Brevin-les-Pins — a shoreline town where the Loire river meets the Bay of Biscay — to see this 2012 sculpture. I cautiously flew my drone in moderate sea winds to take shots from several angles, taking special care to keep away from a surprisingly large number of tourists and locals promenading along the seafront.

June: Locquémeau, Brittany

On our first day at the second holiday home we rented in Brittany last year, we drove to the nearby village for a poke around. Walking around the small headland behind a restaurant, we came to the main harbour and were astounded by the thousands upon thousands of discarded scallop shells covering the rocks and filling the rock pools alongside the main slipway.

July: Meneham, Brittany

Meneham is a showcase village on the Finistère coast, with restored historic buildings dotted amongst an unusual number of odd rocky outcrops. I am a sucker for cotton grass and so it was all I could do to tear myself away from the huge expanse of it lining the coast road.

August: Mont-Saint-Michel, Brittany

The abbey on the rock is world-famous and a destination for thousands of tourists every year. A day or so before we visited the island, almost as soon as we arrived in the region, I went out at sunset to the deserted coastline.

Following a maze of single-track lanes across farm land to the coast, I arrived at the salt marshes and went on the hunt. I spent a good three hours exploring, picking my way through the marsh and doubling-back several times when muddy trenches blocked my way, and eventually arrived on the water’s edge. I got a couple of really good shots there, but I also managed to get this lovely aerial shot of the island while there was still plenty of sun in the sky. Drones are strictly forbidden anywhere near the island and so this shot was taken at the absolute edge of the circular no-fly boundary.

September: Mont-Saint-Michel, Brittany

Although the island is the main draw here, the sands of the bay are absolutely spectacular. At high tide, the island is completely surrounded by water to a reasonable depth, but at low tide — when we were there — it’s theoretically possible to walk across the mud for up to five kilometres. While most visitors were content to visit the tiny town and slog their way up and down the endless steps within the citadel’s walls, numerous groups took to the mud with guides for a pretty unique experience. I really enjoyed the elevated view of these groups from the upper reaches of the island, coming away with a series of reversed-perspective shots like this one.

October: Brantwood House, Coniston

Rainy days in the English Lake District are often reserved for alternative pursuits to the usual hiking activities. We chose the rainiest of days to visit John Ruskin’s former home on the eastern shore of Coniston Water, and I spent as much time enjoying the rainy views out of the windows as I did enjoying the art work and interior design of the house itself.

November: Le Mean Ruz, Brittany

Another image from our holiday to France in 2022. We walked the eleven-kilometre round route along the coast path from Perros-Guirec, and although the weather was a bit disappointing, the swell certainly didn’t disappoint when we got to our destination. Red rocks like this are usually sandstone, but this is actually pink granite: a sight which draws a great many tourists to this picturesque part of northern Brittany.

December: Blair Castle, Blair Atholl

The landscape around Pitlochry and Dunkeld is one of my favourite parts of Scotland, which we get to drive through every year en route between the thickly-populated cities in the central belt and the more remote northern Highlands. We were heading south this time and I turned off the main A9 road at Bruar — where we often stop to visit The House of Bruar — and parked at the side of the road near the castle, sending my drone up into exceptionally cold weather to photograph the last of the sun.

Around the turn of the year this far north, the sun sets behind the neighbouring mountains at a little after half-past two in the afternoon.

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