Hey, people. First off, you’re probably so taken aback by the uncharacteristic optimism in this post’s title that you’re checking whether you’ve strayed onto the wrong blog — a suspicion no doubt reinforced by this site’s BOLD NEW LOOK. Relax, you’re in the right place, and my usual dour outlook (I blame my Scots blood, and the vicissitudes of a weird life) should resume in the next post.
A week or two ago I decided to change T.G.T.W.’s theme — meaning the design and features of the site rather than the subject matter — and spent several days researching the plethora of alternatives offered by WordPress. I loved Linen, my previous theme, but wanted more flexibility with post layout, something that would let me approximate a simple magazine-style look, and also a way to give my pictures more prominence, which seemed fair given the ridiculous amount of time the picture-making consumes these days.
Anyway, I looked at 20 or 30 and finally settled on this one, Zuki, a theme so new there’s not much info out there yet on how to set it up. Cue a couple of days of frustration, angst and much ripping out of what remains of my hair. But as with most of my instantly regretted life choices, after some perseverance and a ridiculous amount of research, I got her off the ground and so far she’s still airborne. This here’s the first post flying with the new look.
I have a bit more fine-tuning to do yet, but so far I love it. The blog title is the one straight out of the box — it’s a little drab and obscure up there squeezed into the top left corner, and one objective now is a larger, more exciting header stretched across that whole strip of real estate up there. I’m actually thinking of paying a pro to come up with something, since I don’t have Photoshop or any coding skills. Stay tuned…
A brief tour, in case you’re even less computer-savvy than I am. The three most recent posts, with gorgeous big featured images, are on the front page. Just below them are six (for the moment — I might downsize) posts in each of several of my most-used categories: long-distance walking, hiking, urban walking etc. I decided to try this system rather than organising them by country, since most of my walking these days occurs in just two countries.
If you want to scroll down all of my posts, from now back to the blog’s origins in 2011, click on the All Posts page at the top. There’s also a drop-down menu up there where you can filter your searches via date, category etc. What else? Oh, yeah, there’s a button on the sidebar where you can subscribe by email, and the most exciting addition of all (for me anyway) is my brand-new page, Goatography (heh-heh), where I hand-pick a bunch of favourite pictures from my travels and misadventures and put them there with some background info in a glorious wide format, since I’ve eliminated the sidebar on that page.
After my initial doubts, hammering this site together has actually started to be fun again since yesterday. I love design and as I approach my 300th post, I’m excited about the refurbishment. God knows I’m not lacking in material. For example, here’s a walk I did two days ago, a much-travelled local route but one I saw afresh thanks to the gift of truly gorgeous dawn light.
I was woken as always lately at 4:00 by nature’s alarm clock, the local butcher bird. Rather than fight the command to rise, always futile, or curse the feathered terrorists, as I used to do, I got up and began throwing the standard contents into my daypack. I zeroed the Walk Meter app on my phone (I’m about a third of the way into my second Thousand-Mile Challenge, averaging about seven or eight miles a day), slung one camera around my neck and started up the road in the dark. Half an hour later I reached Cabbage Tree Creek…
..not long before sunrise, and jumped down onto the muddy bank to take advantage of the low tide.
Kayakers, a few wary pelicans: the usual gang of morning misfits. I always check out the little jetty, since the pelicans, an occasional egret and other locals lurk close to the anglers leaning on the rails, waiting for charity or perhaps a slippery catch to fall beak-wards.
The sun was just peeking over Moreton Island as I rounded the Shorncliffe headland…
..and began rock-hopping my way towards Sandgate and my daily rendezvous with a latte and the iPad or a book in the local park.
But first: that light! Dawn, sunset and even twilight are usually the best times for most landscape pictures, but there was something particularly special about the light this time. Usually when the sun clears Moreton I know I’ve got 10 minutes or so to get my shots and then the show’s over. That’s why God gave us coffee, ’cause there’s not much better to do when that sun climbs higher.
But this time, after a typically wonderful explosion of colour in the sky, the sun dived back under cover: cloud, diffusing its harsh rays again and giving everything a muted, soft and lovely quality. Plus that low tide meant I could venture out further on the rocks and tread in spots that are usually off limits:
So, I usually keep my phone in my back pocket, since I’ve had it fall out into seawater when it’s in a shirt pocket — this causes an annoying propensity for it to turn itself on when I’m squatting in the mud or reaching over a 6-inch high tripod, since I like to get lowdown and dirty when I’m getting shots.
Usually it’s just a jarring Beeeeeep! This time iTunes turned itself on, and Kurt Vile started mumbling Baby’s Arms, a favourite song of Kate and me. I decided to leave it on as I moved along doing my stuff; it was followed by two Elliott Smiths, Bled White and Bottle Up and Explode!, and right then my morning could not have gotten any better.
A krautrock bracket started on the phone, a tad extreme for most passersby, so I turned it off and wandered out to the end of the crumbling breakwater…
..where a couple was fishing, and looked across the incoming tide for a shot of the Shorncliffe Pier (closed for months for renovations — $20 million worth!).
I’ve photographed it a thousand times, like every other camera freak in the area, but even this venerable subject was basking in the very flattering morning light:
..I was briefly diverted by some intriguing animal tracks, that I’m guessing were inscribed by a peripatetic crab…
..and reached the beach, where a hundred years ago day-trippers and holiday-makers from far afield would crowd the beach, there were men’s and women’s separate swimming areas (enclosed in shark-proof cages), changing rooms, and old photos from the day show pavilion tents, fishermen in straw boaters smoking pipes, and horses and buggies parked along the shore:
Much quieter today, but it would liven up as the day wore on. For now, the sun had broken through and I could bag the cameras, join the so-called Lover’s Walk (blame the Council) — the walking/cycling path — and cruise on autopilot towards Sandgate and a certain revivifying beverage…
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote