Tuesday, January 12

The Tale of the St. Albans, Tube, Battery and Heron

You visit a place and you want to see everything. Seeing is not always enough so you go with a group and a guide. The touristy fake places are obviously garbage, but some tours have guides that are deeply knowledgeable and make you think briefly about moving your life to this new, delightful place. This is the case with London Walks, the guides that bring London to life with their in-depth knowledge of architecture, historicity, famous connections and places of note. So I was off; off to see St. Albans, a town North West of London with the London Walks group. Then the weather turned sour, real sour. Alberta in February, cold, wind, wintery sky, things shut down and the streets are empty kind of sour. Well, cold, snowy, and icy; I was prepared; I am Albertan and I have handled -40 and survived! I checked the internet and there was no sign of cancellation. Went to bed early, woke up to an alarm, showered, dressed, double layered clothes, ate breakfast, gathered snacks and braced myself for a day of fabulous information with a winter chill.

The Tube in London tends to close or partially shut down on the weekends, but I headed to the busiest one in the area in case I needed to re-route. Good thing. The one Tube that could get me to the tour's meeting point was shut down. I read the sign, re-grouped, re-planned and headed for the replacement bus service. My excitement was mounting. I was going to be there despite the cold! Despite the snow! And despite the closure of the tube! All with 10 minutes to spare.

“I am just here waiting for a group,” I explained to the nice public transit man who was re-routing people away from the closed meeting point Tube station. As I rocked back and forth to keep warm I envisioned St. Albans under a snow; the fantastic shots I was going to take; the history I was about to absorb....”Excuse me,” interrupted a kind, taller, dog-on-a-leash man, “are you here for the London Walk to St. Albans?” “Yes I am. It is cancelled?” I enquired. “Yes it is and we are sorry but it is just shear ice out there and the guide was not able to make it into town to pick people up,” he replied. “I was thinking that the trip was not going to go but I thought I would come down anyway. Thank you for being here to let me know of the change.” And I was off. Back on the replacement bus home.

Should I go home, I wondered. I am Canadian, we are hearty people and it’s not -40 outside, only -3...I am in London at a historical time...the weather has not been this bad for 20 years...I should see it, experience it, enjoy it...I shall head to the park and take pictures, then go to some of the busier places and enjoy capturing these Brits manoeuvring through the snow! Brilliant!  Regent’s Park was the winning location. A delightful mixture of formal garden, sport pitches, fields, a small stream, water fowl, paths, benches, children’s playgrounds, buildings and fountains. What more could you fit into a park?

My SLR in hand I headed for the park. Turn on...nice shot there...click...the fountain is frozen, nice...this feels more like Alberta than I think it should...oh, it is the wind, that always makes it colder...it feels like -10 not -3...I wonder how long I will last...nice shot there...beep...oh, that is not good, the battery just changed. The green battery icon had just turned red which meant the juice in the battery was decreasing with every click, button turn and setting alteration. It should be OK for a few hours..might as well stay out while I have the time...and some battery...

As an amateur photographer, I did not realize that carrying an extra battery with me at all times is essential to capturing shots all day long; that is until my battery ran out at the top of Jungfraujoch in the Swiss Alps in August.

On the way to the top of Jungfraujoch.                     

At the top in August, just before my battery died.

Alas, obtaining a second battery has not occurred as of yet. I carried on, felt in the photography zone and was loving it!

Frozen fountain and formal gardens.

Tree, bench, snow and British Telecom Tower,
just to prove I was capturing London.

Closer to the beauty of frozen greenery.

Fantastic old looking bench and perspective.  Nice!  Off to the stream I go...perhaps a bird or two will provide an interesting shot...click...make sure I get a picture of snow that has fallen precariously on some interesting location...click...click...that tree looke like it is on fire...stunning...

Hey, the pond is frozen and the birds are hopping on it...excellent...

The birds continued to hop along the frozen water. I moved from one interesting shot to another.


Holy cow that was loud...stay focused...eye through the viewer...quick, flip to sport mode...done... eye through the finder...stay focused...push button...........NOTHING...........where is the click...where is the rapid click...what?.....I.....but. I removed the camera from my eye and saw this:


“NOOOOO!!!” I yelled out in pain, out to the park, the city, the universe, “NOOOOO!!!!!!” 

It was a Heron....a grey one...full wing span out...landing on the frozen pond...through the middle of my view finder...bush on the right...smaller birds in the background...oh my crazy, crappy, horrible, DAMN!!!!

The battery died in the middle of the shot. It was gone!
I tried to regroup.  I am fine...I lived a beautiful moment...captured the scene with the synapse of my mind...lodged in my long term memory...a special moment...a memory that will last forev.....shit....I didn’t get the shot.  Arggg!!!  I hate batteries!!!

The shot was gone, and that is all that mattered.  It sucked large frozen dirty rocks! Shit!

A few days later I returned to the same place.  Stream still frozen.  Snow laying delicately around.  No swooping herons but I found some in and around a tree.

These will do until I have the chance to see another swooping heron and I shall be prepared.  Is 6 extra batteries too many? 

In order to become an expert at anything, it requires around 10,000 hours of practice, knowledge acquisition and work.  Only 9,884 hours to go!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the look of Regents Park in the winter, Tonia.