Nightmare Move, Wonderful New Home

Morning veiw

Hello everyone and Christmas greetings to you all.

Well, the move wasn’t as smooth as we’d carefully planned. We’d done everything we could. Kept all parties informed, including our own solicitor. Why is it then that on the day of the move, the day when a lorry containing all our worldly goods was sat outside our new home, our solicitor had to be dragged out of a meeting only to say to our estate agent ‘Oh, I didn’t know it was today they wanted to complete.’  What? Nightmare begin. We ended up in a hotel overnight. Meanwhile, my son, who had been helping us move, had his place broken into and all HIS worldlies stolen. That’s another story but we’re helping him sort himself out. Dream move it wasn’t. As the solicitor had completely screwed up we spent the entire following day on mobile phones making completion happen with the sellers who were distressed to hear of our situation and trying to do all they could to help. Only problem was, they live in France and he was away on business. Our stuff went onto storage for five days as the removal company waited as long as they could but then had to take their lorry and men back for other jobs. Luckily we had the camper and therefore a bed.

Then, BT and our service provider both screwed up, meaning that we only got a landline three weeks after moving in and broadband a couple of days ago, while I was busy trying to stay alive on the M6, the most dangerous stretch of motorway in the country. After the chaos I witnessed driving home from visiting family, I can see why. It was ram-jam-packed, drivers were taking lunatic chances with their own and other people’s lives. I saw two crashes in the fast lane, fifteen mile tailbacks on the northbound and experienced three tailbacks on the way home What should have been a two to two and a half hour drive took four. I only travel fifty miles on this road and was very grateful to have made it out in one piece. You’d think people would be more careful at this time of year. After all, who wants to wake up dead or in hospital at Christmas?

Anyway, all that off my chest, the house is wonderful. Such a sense of peace here. No-one shouting at each other, views that gladden my heart every morning when I open the curtains and birds everywhere. I’ve counted 16 species so far, including a heron that seems to have landed to scope out next door’s fish pond. My binoculars have never had so much use. The food I put out for them is being eaten so fast I can hardly keep up, but I’m not complaining. It’s great to see them all. Help nature, see wonderful things!

I’m spending time looking at greenhouses. To produce the food and flowers I want to I’m going to need one. My son will help with the garden as he’s trained in landscaping. Hopefully, he’ll also help erect the greenhouse once I find one. Meanwhile, there’s Christmas. We’ve done the shopping, delivered the presents, put up the tree and made our new lounge cosy with a wood burning stove. There’s lots of scrap wood lying around so free fuel will help with the bills and less fossil fuel will be burned.

Post holiday season, I’m going to have to invest in more water butts. We’ve been forced by legislation to have a water meter and lots of veg means lots of watering next summer. So preparations will begin in the new year.

Have a wonderful stress free and happy Christmas everyone, wherever you are.

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Photos of a Drowned Forest and more….

Porlock Bay in Somerset was a new experience for me. I’d travelled to Porlock to meet friends on a campsite there in my trusty camper. I couldn’t help myself, especially when we saw the delights the area has to offer. Out came my trusty Nikon D90! I have a passion for the coast as I was born by the sea. St Annes in Lancashire doesn’t look anything like this, though! Out in the bay is a sunken forest that dates back to the last ice age. I’ve found results in google that purport it  and others like it to be proof of global warming, but unless we were pumping out greenhouse gases eight thousand years ago, I don’t believe we were responsible!

Drowned Forest

It was fascinating to see these trees, and very difficult to photograph in any detail, as my tripod shook in the wind that day. The usual technique of a nice steady tripod was used, but I also needed my partner to act as a windbreak, and even that only helped a little. Balancing the tripod on stoney ground wasn’t easy, either. I tried to get close-ups of the lichens growing on some of the bark, but macro and windy conditions don’t go together. Here’s my best attempt.

lichen

The beach at Porlock is very stony and very photogenic.There are more shots on my website

Porlock bay

Porlock weir, a little further along the coast threw up a whole load of photographic opportunities. I really enjoyed myself clicking away. Not very shot works out of course, and here’s an example of one I’m not too happy with. It’s not well composed, but gives a flavour of the spot.

Porlock Boats

Sometimes, enthusiasm carries me away a little. The difficulty was keeping people out of this shot, which I recomposed and tried several times. I have one I feel might be worth putting on my website.

I also took several images of this abandoned old boat. One of these has inspired me to Photoshop it into a picture you might want on your wall. again, you can find that on my website. There are far too many to place on here!

abandoned old boat

 

Photos Make Memories

Roundhouse

I’ve been away for a while, photographing everything I could on my travels. Photos make memories! Now it’s time to share some of them with you. This is the best use of anyones photos! Memories to shore you up through the less enjoyable times are worth their weight in gold. In July I attended a pagan camp that only happens once a year. It’s the only chance I get to catch up with old friends who, ten years ago were like me involved in building a modern-day stone circle. The owner of the land I also now consider an old friend. He turned his farm over to conservation and has done a wonderful job of making wildlife welcome.

He also makes people welcome. Since the stone circle was built, volunteers have also built a roundhouse on site. It’s a wonderful space, perfect for gathering together on a wet day or cold night. In the photo above, you can see the weather was awful and the fire lit! Laughter and music was in abundance, though, so our gathering didn’t let rain and cold in July spoil our re-union.

The roof structure is a work of art in itself. I couldn’t help myself. The camera came out even when we were sitting listening to music. I looked up and realised these were views I wouldn’t see again for another year…unless… I shot away.

Roundhouse Roof

Inside, we were all cosy. This picture is dark, but I respect people’s privacy, so the photo I’ve used gives you the flavour of the space without compromising that privacy as the people in it aren’t recognisable. Isn’t it cosy, though? Certainly much better than sitting in a wet tent! The site is a farm, not a camp site, so there are composting toilets and fresh water. Other than that, the roundhouse is the best shelter from the elements.

Roundhouse Interior

Outside, the carvings make wonderful shapes in the dusky light, as I noticed when I emerged, camera in hand, just as the light was fading, here’s what I saw.

Roundhouse Gateway

The weather was of course a key feature, as it always is when you’re living outdoors, even for a few days. Storms make for stunning skies, and I had to capture them.

Stormy Sky

We also had gorgeous sunsets. How many times do we have a wonderful sunset and it’s missed because we’re indoors? When you’re living outside, the wonders of our natural world are much more obvious and more easily appreciated. My memories of these fabulous days are now captured forever! These shots may not be the best technical examples of award-winning shots, but they’ll preserve Summer camp 2011 for me and I can revisit whenever I want. Make the most of your camera and preserve your travels, events and good times to see you through the darker days we all have.

Sunset on Camp 2011

Have You Had Your Daily Dose Of Beauty?

beauty abounds

It’s about time. There is so much horrible stuff going on in the world I thought a timely reminder that there is free beauty out there we can all share just might be welcome. It’s easy to get caught up in all the war and nastiness, the economic doom and gloom and walk around with clouds around our heads. But if we blow the cobwebs away, perhaps with a short walk or drive into the countryside, perhaps just a stroll round the garden and open our eyes, beauty is all around us. My garden has been adopted by a baby blackbird who obviously left the nest a few days early. He sits listening to me when I go out to throw him some mealworms and apple to feed him up, then dives straight onto the food. He is gorgeous! I can’t show you, because the danger of me taking the camera out there is that he’ll panic and end up food for a local cat.

Calendula beauty. Pure sunshine in a flower

But flowers don’t get frightened! So today’s pictures are here as testimonial to the wonderful world we live in, even if us humans do make a mess of it, the beauty still abounds, and we should hang onto it with all our might. Some of these shots were taken before I bought my trusty Nikon, but nonetheless remind me of lovely times of gorgeousness that helped me switch my brain into a more positive mode. I hope they do the same for you.

Mint. Beautiful flavour, beautiful flowers

Spring has brought me inspiration. I’ve been taking photos, seeing friends (it was a long, lonely winter) and working on new projects. I discovered a couple of weeks ago a site called Squidoo. What fun! And it’s somewhere I can showcase my work with photography and with Zazzle. Having started with WordPress last year as a reluctant technophobe, I appear to be well and truly hooked on computer wizardry. I’ve been so wrapped up in all of this I hadn’t realised I’d been neglecting my blog. oops! Finding the time to do everything is getting more difficult, but I can’t complain. At least all of this keeps me busy and making lots of new cyberfriends. In case you’re interested, Squidoo is a great site for doing very tightly focussed ‘lenses’ that deal with one subject and really go into detail about it, usually with accompanying links to relevant sites and helpful hints and tips, plus where to buy relevant stuff. It’s quite easy to get lost in it for hours – much like on WordPress. I’ve so far made eight of these lenses, some of which are photography and flower ones. It gives me the opportunity to write about subjects that wouldn’t really fit under a general photography blog like this one, so I feel the two compliment each other. You might want to take a peek at my Grow Hellebores in Your Garden  lens or Spirals or even wild flower garden one.

Happy Spring!

Spring’s Spectacular Displays

Tulip Tarda Macro

Hyacinth Macro

Primula Denticulata close-up

Fritillaria Milleagris

Bee Fly

Spring Finally arrived, bringing colour and life into my garden. Hooray! It’s hard NOT to be dazzled by the sheer exuberance of spring flowers. They shine out even on the gloomiest of days, announcing their wares to the insect world. While taking my photos of these glorious blooms something caught my eye. I thought at first it was a busy bee. I tried to capture its image on a hyacinth, but it didn’t stay put long enough and I chased it around the flowers until it landed where I feed the birds. Here it sat, grooming itself as I watched it through my Zoom macro lens. I found out later it’s a bee fly. They sip nectar as adults, but lay their eggs in solitary bees nests, where the grubs hatch out and feed on the bee grubs. Gruesome yet fascinating. Everything seems to have parasites, once you look closely enough.

Anyway, it hasn’t deterred my enthusiasm for spring. I wish I had the energy to jump up and down about it. Writing and taking photos and smiling like a Cheshire cat will have to do. Happy spring, folks everywhere. What’s blooming in your garden?

Macro Versatility and Creativity plus Website Updated

How can I ignore the fantastic shapes and forms of flowers? They are beautiful, fascinating and better than anything humans could design!

Hellebore, seed pods forming

Hellebore, flower fertilised

Hellebore, freshly opened flower

Hellebore just opening

These last shots are as close as I can get with my equipment, and give you an idea about the creative us of macro. It doesn’t matter if the entire shot is not in focus. Throw some of the image out of focus and use it to create a softer, more artistic picture.

Hellebore macro creative 1

Hellebore macro creative 2

Who can resist such diversity on one plant? I think some of my friends believe I’m a bit strange as I wander around in my macro world. They miss it, busy getting to the next point (eg the car or the shop). What fantastic stuff they walk past and never see! It’s all there for free and beats a lot of entertainment you pay an arm and a leg for.

What can you see in your garden? Do you have a magnifying glass? Take it with you. Or get the camera out and have a closer look. There’s a miniature world waiting for you to discover it. Be careful, though. You might just find yourself buying extension tubes or macro lenses. Then you know you’re hooked.

PS I’ve cracked it! Sorted my website out, put lots of new images up, organised my prices and sizes and actually got PayPal to work so that my customers can get the image they want with minimum hassle to them. Whew! As a photographer and not a web designer, this was no mean feat, despite using a great web hosting service. I’m just not cut out to understand the logic of the silicon chip! It’s abstract and can’t be composed in a frame. You’re welcome to visit and let me know what you think!

Of course, there are some macro shots on there now, soon to be joined by more. I haven’t just been playing with raindrops. As you know, flowers attract my eye more than anything else usually.

Eden project astounding

Sculpture at Eden

Last month I did what I’ve been threatening to do for a long time. I took my camper and myself down to Cornwall to visit the Eden Project. What an amazing place!!! It’s vast, it’s colourful and loaded with information about our wonderful planet. I completley wore myself out in an effort to see everything but still didn’t. The great thing is, once you’ve bought a ticket and registered it, you can return within a year on the same ticket. I will be going back, despite the five hour journey to get there.

The Domes

Outside, I tried to get a photo of the complete complex of the domes, but despite my wide angle elns, couldn’t fit it all in.

The stairway to the top of the dome

Inside, on encountering the steps, I decided my head would NOT cope with the hights, but for those who climbed these scary steps, the veiw was, I’m told, fantastic.

And some of the exhibits were very interesting.

The Rites of Dionysus

Explanation

This place is well worth a visit or two, and photographers beware. You’ll need a full battery, probably an extra card for your camera and plenty of time to take all the shots you want. I’ll post more on my Cornwall trip another day.

If you want to see more of my photos, please go to www.caffimages.co.uk (there’s also a link in the sidebar on the right).

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