Sunday, 30 December 2012

Reindeer at Ross-on-Wye

My wife and I (sounds regal?) stayed at the Royal Hotel (said so!) in Ross-on-Wye just before christmas. A smashing hotel and we enjoyed a three night stay, with a night at the theatre to see, "She Stoops to Conquer" by Oliver Goldsmith. It was an amateur production but a very enjoyable performance of this classic play.

On the Sunday, there was a christmas market in the narrow high street, I am not well up on these things but my wife said it was one of the best she had been to. A mixture of stalls from the local (independent) shops and craft stalls. In fact the town had a very interesting mix of shops with many independent shops with few of the impersonal large chains. Overall a very enjoyable experience over the three days.

Luckily, we did not experience any of the flooding which the previous weeks rain had threatened. The hotel was never in any danger anyway as it is on the highest part of the town above the river.

An imposing view of the hotel, taken from a road below the town walls.

A view from our hotel room, overlooking the old town walls. The swollen River Wye can be seen in the distance. It does a major loop and flows nearer to the hotel to the left in this photo.

Another shot from the bedroom, taken in the early hours of the morning.

One of the little thing which made the christmas market so enjoyable was the presence of a pair of six month old, baby reindeer. These scored a hit with many of the mom's and small children and formed one of the centre-piece's of the day. All together now, "Aaahhhhh!!!!, just look at those baby antlers!"

More pictures from this weekend waiting to be posted in the near future.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

A Visit To Puzzlewood

Reputed to have given J R Tolkien ideas for the woods in middle earth, the fabled land of the Hobbits and their friends in "The Hobbitt" and "The Lord Of The Rings". A number of films and TV prgrammes havae been made there including the BBC TV programme "Merlin"

It is a strange wood with incredible rock formations which are covered in moss, ancient and fantastic. It has been turned into a visitor attraction in the Forest of Dean in the UK. One very rainy day recently we made a visit to this fantasy worl and of course I took my camera. The following photographs show some of the rock formations:

The last photo is a cropped photo showing a rock which looks like an alien skull - well it does to me, perhaps too much Star Trek. But then it is one of my favourite programs.

The thinking is that the gulleys, etc, were created in the limestone by undersground rivers; and that the combined action of erosion and roof falls, etc has exposed the caves so formed to the elements. But whatever the history, it really does give a feeling of old age and fantasy when wondering thru the paths and over the bridges. We will definitely be going there again in the summer.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Autumn At Baddesly Clinton

Baddesly Clinton is a picturesque medieval moated manor house and garden owned by the National Trust in the West Midlands, UK. (see the National Trust on Faceboook).

My wife and I payed the place a visit last week , of course I took the camera along to take a few autumn photos. These are a few of the shots I took.

I think it's a field mushroom, but I wouldn't take bets ............

Leaves on the water of the moat, oh and the duck waddled into shot before I realised.

Leaves waiting to fall from an oak tree, took this from underneath although it looks as if it is on the ground.

A shot from the road into the nearby trees / hedge. Hoping to paint this one - have you seen my blog, painting with John.

And finally for now, I noticed this window for the first time (been to Baddesly mant times in the past). It was lit from inside and hda never seen it like that before. It is a window on one of the out buildings and never really looked at it closely. Looks good though.

Nothing special, but just a small selection form some of the photographs taken on a very cold November day.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Bonfire Party, Halloween

This year as usual we ran our Halloween celebrations over until november 5th, Guy Fawkes Night in the UK. I took a few shots of the fire (in a brazier for safety and convenience) and the carved pumpkins.

The fire (spitting sparks) and the pumpkins in the background, above which you can see the solar lights on a holly tree - just about see anyway.

We were able to produce colours in the flames by throwing pine cones on the fire which had been soaked in chemicals, e.g ccopper salts to produce blue, potassium salts - purple, cadmium - orange, chromium - green.

My own work

made by my eldest, using a drill for the teeth!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

A busy day in the garden with Robin

Had a hard day in the garden this week, We were having a fence put in and I had to clear the rubbish from around the garden where the fence was going. Never realised that I had collected so much rubbish.

But this guy, Robin, we called him, stayed and kept us company for a whole day virtually, I was too busy but my wife fetched the camera and tried to take a few photos. He didn't seem shy until being lined up for a shot, and then would he keep still? She used the zoom (at x5 approx) and finally got one or two shots. Read about Robins on Wikipedia.

There he was gone, but look at that rubbish

a-ha, got him, almost

 turned his back on the camera

tried to hide

peeking out

finally got him, even if it is a little fuzzy

Saturday, 13 October 2012

A Visit To Packington Hall

As I believe I may have mentioned, we are very fond of visiting gardens which open under the NGS (National Gardens Scheme) Open Gardens or yellow book scheme. these photographs were taken at such an open day at Packington Hall, a rare ocassion as the family like to keep the place primarily as their home.

The Hall stands in a 300 acre estate and the original building date back to 1693, substantially modernised in 1770 and restored after as erious fire in 1979.

The rest of the images are taken from mphotographs of the grounds and garden.

I loved this old tree, the gnarled appearance looked just like an old face, something like this could have been the forerunner of Treebeard of THE ENTS in The Hobbit - perhaps.

This old door just cried out to be photographed, it led to a part of the garden we couldn't visit unfortunately.

A pleasant little bridge across on end of the lake/rivet which forms a major part of the landscaping of the grounds. The weir formed a delightful little waterfall.

This was the lake, yes really. A leak had developed in the man-made lake and it had been emptied for repairs. Due to the heavy rain during that month it was starting to fill up again. Best laid plans, eh?

I had to include at least one flower shot. This lovely pink peony won. Actually we have one of these in our garden, one of my favourites.

No trick photography this time just a few unadulterated shots on a very interesting and enjoyable visit. Oh yes, the tea and cakes were lovely too.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Apple Day At Castle Bromwich Hall

Spent an afternoon at an apple day event at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens in Birmingham. A very  entertaining couple of hours, especially as our weather has been so bad recently and the day was bright and sunny.

Disappointed that there was little real autumn foliage on view but took a couple of photos of some colourful shrubbery. Disappointed because there was plenty of colour on trees along the road on the way to the event, will have to take a hike or visit one of the aboreta (is that the correct plural of arboretum?) in the vicinity; there is a great example  is Batsford Arboretum in the Cotswolds at Moreton-in-the-Marsh. from there you will find lots of links to similar facilities nearby. Including Bodenham Arboretum and of course Westonbirt Arboretum. My own poor images of autumn colour include the following two photographs:-

A very sparce show of colour, but this is in the centre of the second largest city in the UK, may get more colourful in the next few weeks, see the official website.

So what is an apple day event? They appear to have been started by an organisation called Common Ground which was concerned with conservation of the countryside and country skills / crafts. The first apple day was held in 1990, the loss of apple varieties being used to signify the loss of these skills and  the need for conservation. The idea took off and many are held throughout the UK, proving very popular with visitors to all sorts of properties.

One of the entertainments held at the event was Molly Dancing. The Brummie Gems (brummagem is the local dialect for the name of the city of Birmingham) are a sort of female morris dance troup. Dressing up in "traditional" gear and performing folk dances along the lines of Morris dancing. here is a quick shot of the ladies:-

Great fun and in fact my wife was so enthusiatic she wanted to find out about the group and even have a go herself as they meet locally in the city. For a better idea of what it is all about try this video from You tube.
 Or this one from an event at Sudely Castle.

Finally, A shot of the Hall itself, although this is now run as an hotel and is not run in connection with the gardens.

PS The event was all about apples and so here are a couple of examples of some almost forgotten varieties. We took these photos because we bought a selection of some of the apples from the Hall Gardens. You wouldn't find them on the shelves of the local supermarkets but they had a lovely taste.

There is another local apple day event at Blakesley Hall next week, I am very tempted to make sure that we attend.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Photos from a holiday in Torquay

As promised just a few more photos from the recent break in Torquay. An eclectic collection which I guess shows more about me than it does about Torquay and its environs. I take lots of photos when away from home, well digital is so cheap but many are family shots or simple scenic snapshots. These I think are a little different.

This building with steps on both sides giving it a strange shape was seen above the harbour in Brixham. Very dull day, I had to photoshop a new sky and brighten up the buildings. Very nearly erased the sign as well. Still an option if I use this image again anywhere else.

A sign outside the Camelot medieval restaurant in Torquay. Heavily photoshopped to isolate the sign from the building.

Oh there is a long story to this photo! It is of a slipway in Kingswear, across th estuary to Dartmouth. We took a ferry trip to DArtmouth on one day and I couldn't resist taking this photo to remind (if I needed it) me of a tricky situation we found ourselves in a couple of days earlier. We were visiting Coleton Fishacre, the country home of the D'Oyly Carte family (Gilbert and Sullivan) and took a wrong turning. Finding ourselves on a one way, sinlge track country lane we eventually found ourselves in Kingswear. We had missed another chance to turn off, and ended up at the ferry. Not wanting to use said ferry we carried on but the narrow streets got even narrower and took us to another slipway with virtually no room to manouver. A dead end. I had to drive onto the green slime covered slipway and reverse back up to do a three-point turn. If I had lost traction I could have ended up in the english channel. very scary. That blue vehicle you can see in the photo was there and made the turning very difficult. Eventually found the right road but what a time we had.

A pub sign in nearby Shaldon, close to The Ness beach with its so-called smugglers tunnel. Actually used for commercial purposes serving a lime kiln built into the rocky hillside. A tunnel was cut through the hills to bring goods (lime) from the beach. It was collapsed during the war and a new exit to the beach has been opened for social use as the kiln is long since silent.

A night-time shot from The Strand across Torquay harbour at high-tide. A very pleasant evening after a wonderful meal in a nearby Thai restaurant, The Thai Star.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Fixing A Hole, remember the song?

I'm fixing a hole where the rain comes in ..............; remember that Beatles song. I couldn't help thinking of the lyrics when I saw this view of Torquay harbour, after an evening meal. the light was just fading and the crane jib seemed to be reaching up to the clouds. well I thought so .........

Of course I took many more photos whilst there on a holiday a few days ago. More of these in a future post. I am still trying to catch up with many, many e-mails but thought this was a gas.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Photographs From My Garden

Over the years I have taken so many photographs of my garden, That I decided to bring some of them together and create a virtual tour which I could post to the internet.

Sorting them out was a difficult task, should I pick my favourites (possibly) or those I felt may interest other people. Should I include lots of images or be selective. I would not want to bore the pants off people. In the end, I picked a few to show the overall structure of the garden and one or two of the individual flowers and plants.

If you would like to see more  then pop on across to my Squidoo Lens, Welcome To My Garden. This was awarded a purple star from Squidoo HQ, the sites top award for its lenses (web pages), an outcome I found very pleasing.

This gave me the courage to follow it up with another lens of photographs taken in my garden. This time I included photos of ten of my favourite red flowering plants and shrubs. Again I was awarded with a purple star. Both lenses were also featured on the home page when first published. If you would like to check out the ssecond lens you can find it at, Ten Favourite Red Flowers For Your Garden.

Please do try to find time to visit my garden, always great to show people around on this virtual tour.