Monday 28 February 2011

Light Hearted

An image to lift the mood - quite how his feet weren't lifted I will never know!

Sunday 27 February 2011

Saturday 26 February 2011

Living Outside the Box

 In this world where things can be homogeneous, ordered or secured,

it is a breath of fresh air to find someone still willing to show their individuality.


Friday 25 February 2011

Black Coats

I am so grateful that our mutt only spends the majority of her walk investigating every possible rabbit hole. Some of my fellow dog walkers have far worse canine habits to deal with.

In one corner of the park, there is a particularly gooey and smelly corner that the official bodies finally thought it important to warn us about (as if we hadn't already worked it out for ourselves). It is typical though, that there are spaniels, labradors and the like, that still insist on showing their owners that they really don't need to be bothered with this, read-the-warning lark.

I can't tell you how many times I have seen dogs sporting new black coats from this stinking fashion house, causing them to be in deep ***t with their less than impressed owners.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Just a Tick

One last ele picture, then we will call it quits with these illustrated idioms, for now.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Saturday 19 February 2011

Bush Telegraph 1

After my post yesterday, the challenge was laid down to continue in a similar vein and illustrate 'bush telegraph'.

Well, not one to run away from such a challenge, I took a look through my back catalogue and found a couple of subjects that might just fit with the title. Although not such an obvious image/caption link as yesterday, this particular event came to mind.
Here is the first Bush Telegraph for you today.

Whilst on my trip through the Mara a little while back, we had stopped for breakfast next to a hippo watering hole. An ideal way to pass the time. Our guides lifted the breakfast boxes out of the vehicles, where we then helped ourselves before finding a suitable rock to sit on. Whilst balancing our plates on our knees, we looked up and across to the other side of the waterhole.

To our astonishment, another safari group was in the process of having their breakfast laid out in the bush, the only apparent omission being an ironed copy of a well known quality Britsh daily.

Thursday 17 February 2011


A week ago last night, I was a little sad that my hope of watching the arrival of a new calf was not going to happen before leaving West Cork. Then, at around 9.30pm that night, my friendly farmer rang me to say that there was a heifer about half an hour away from the moment, if I was interested. Interest didn't come into it. I wasn't going to miss this for the world.

Quickly grabbing my camera kit, pulling on my wellies, coat and warm hat, I awarded myself the luxury of jumping in the car to go swiftly on the few hundred yards down the dark lane. When I arrived, all things were quiet and the expectant mum was comfortably contained in the barn. This first-timer, a Jersey/Friesian cross suddenly became conscious that she now had an audience. On the advice of the farmer, I stayed out of view of her as much as possible, my camera set roughly aimed on a tripod and operated with the remote shutter release. (Yes, I have replaced the batteries)

Half an hour moved on to an hour that moved on to two hours, and the initial thought that the delay was due to 'stage fright' changed into concern that there might be a problem. My friendly farmer began to apologise that he was going to have to help out with this birth as the calf was clearly a big one. I needed no apology, what had to be done, had to be done, so with a quick change into a waterproof suit, he entered the barn with some of the kit I remembered from the 'Herriot Saturday evenings'. I will spare you the next few details, but after a lot of pulling and the use of a ratchet gadget on a pole, out popped this tardy calf. Lying steaming and helpless in the straw, it was clear that she had legs that any supermodel would desire. They were long. It would be an hour or so before she would get to her feet so for a while we retired to the warmth of the farmhouse kitchen.

Returning for one last look in the early hours to check everything was ok, we could see that the mother had done her job of washing the calf but it was going to take this new-born a little bit of courage to raise herself up onto those elegant pins. We were keen to see her standing next to the other new arrivals just to compare how much taller she would stand. Alas, it wasn't going to be yet, however, I was happy enough. I had seen this amazing event.

One week on, and I guess this little one is confidently skipping around with all the other new arrivals. I'd love to see her now.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

As a Beaded Necklace

After my garden visit yesterday, I thought I might post another photograph taken then.

It wasn't just the snowdrops in the woodland that were stunning, the winter garden had its gems too. Forgive me for not knowing the name of this bush (I'm sure someone will tell me) but it had the most beautiful clusters of pendant flowers of around twelve inches long. They were as if a beaded necklace had been hung on the bush.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Drops of Delight

We are finally pulling away from the dreary January of 2011 but even the snowdrops have had a struggle to blossom-forth this year. Apparently it was the cold December and the subsequent frosts that have delayed the annual snowdrop season at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire, until now.

With over two-hundred different varieties there, they really can give a spectacular show, and when the weather is sunny, as it was yesterday, there isn't a parking space to be found. So that is why we (unsensibly) visited today, when it was colder, overcast and threatening showers. By getting there early, we also hoped to miss the crowds, which thankfully, we did as on our departure the carpark was just filling. (First redeeming factor for the choice of day) Later, on the drive home, the windscreen wipers came into operation (Second redeeming factor). So, all things considered, it wasn't so bad!

The snowdrop display truly was worth the visit, despite the weather, and with a Winter Garden full of stunning bark colour, we were still able to pass a delightful few hours. For photographic purposes though, the weather conditions today were less than ideal. The stiff breeze made the dainty tutu-like flower heads dance faster than Darcy Bussell in a pirouette. The lack of sunshine was as if someone had forgotten to add the lime to the oxygen and hydrogen mix for this outdoor stage, and then...

A drop of sunshine fell onto these pretty flowers giving us a momentary drop of delight.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Countdown to Cambridge Open Studios 2011

Today I joined with my fellow Cambridge Open Studio artists, in a gathering that heralded the start of the run-up for our annual event. This is where over 200 multi-disciplined artists, in and around Cambridge, open up their studios for anyone to visit during four weekends in July.

I will be re-opening my doors for Cambridge Open Studios, as I did in 2010, this time in:

'West to East'

Days in the life of West Cork
From mist... glorious sunshine

I will be bringing aspects of West Cork, to here in East Anglia, with a particular focus on the changes that are happening in rural life there.

There will be documentary photography on the lives of the dairy and cattle farmers who live and work there, along with graphic book arts, giving an insight into what makes this part of Ireland so attractive.

To those who visited my Open Studios last year, thank you and I hope you might choose to visit me again this year. To those who know nothing of Open Studios, click on the yellow Open Studios link above to find out more.

Over the next few months, I will be posting regular progress updates here on my blog (as well as my other photographic rovings) and if you are interested, you can sign in as a follower to receive these updates. Alternatively, you can dip into my blog at your leisure, but either way, I would be happy to answer any questions you have about Open Studios.

Saturday 12 February 2011

Bovine Pedicure

So you didn't believe me?
True to my promise, I bring you a posting on this rural happening.


Shape up;   Fit extensions;   Apply colour.

Joking apart, this was one happy lady earlier this week. Not only was she glad to get out of the restraining crate, but it would have been a great relief to her having had the damage to her hoof treated. Just as we can damage under the quick of our nails, so can cows. Very often, the damage can cause the hoof to over-grow in an attempt to compensate. Here, she was having the damaged area cut away, before a foot lift was glued to the healthy half, giving it a chance to heal.

This cow, at around 14 years old, is the oldest in the herd and it had been noted that she wasn't walking well. The mobile 'foot doctor' had been called in to treat her and two other cows that were also having foot problems. In the past, this would have been a highly dangerous operation, with the cow often only held with a rope. Now, with the use of a mobile, hydraulic restraining crate, it makes the job much quicker and safer.

(I hope this oversized posting will make up for not bringing you a posting on Thursday. This was unfortunately due to the unfolding tragedy at Cork Airport and my subsequent pre-occupation in getting to Shannon in the quest to fly back to the UK. I am pleased to hear that two of the injured have now left hospital and hope that the remaining four may make a satisfactory recovery. Cork Airport is now open again and the investigation into what caused the accident is well under way.)

Friday 11 February 2011

Cork Airport

My sympathies go to the familes and friends of all those involved in the tragic accident at Cork Airport yesterday.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

New Life

What a day! I have been progressing with the planned documentary work, starting with a chat to a young, beef cattle farmer, who despite currently having to run the farm alone and look after a toddler, he has the most refreshing cheery disposition. His wife has just spent the last few days sitting up in hospital with their poorly baby daughter, and yet he still has a smile on his face and declares that farming is the best life. People with this sort of outlook on life deserve to succeed and I wish him and his young family well.

Dropping by the dairy farmer again this morning, he pointed out a young heifer who's first calf would be born within the next few hours and I was hoping that I might be fortunate enough to be there for this new arrival. To kill time, I spent lunchtime photographing the wide variety of birds visiting the nearby strand. In half an hour I spotted two types of gull and the hooded crows that are always present as well as a rock pipit, oyster catcher, pied wagtail, sandpiper, redshank and a shag with its prominent breeding season crest. In the same half hour there were three other bizarre visitors. Firstly a power-walking lady who sent all the birds up into the air in a flurry as she marched from one end of the strand to the other - six times. Then a man who drove up as close to the strand as possible, off-loaded a wheelbarrow and shovel, then proceeded to fill the barrow with sand before re-loading it into the back of his van. Finally, an elderly man who also drove up as close to the strand as possible before selecting a carrier-bag full of stones with these also ending up in the back of his car. Too many interruptions for my liking, so time for me to move on.

Returning later to check the progress of the heifer I, and more so, the farmer had been surprised to find the arrival had happened sooner than expected for this first-time mum. We had both missed it. For me, it is sad as I am running out of time to catch one of these special moments. For the farmer, it is only the beginning of this annual rural cycle, with just one more new life.

Tuesday 8 February 2011


Textures feature a lot in Irish life. Today we had a return to 'soft' weather following the beautiful evening enjoyed yesterday, when I had spotted this wonderful sun-kissed, spongy coastal grass. Compare this with the similarity in texture found today on a creature chastised by some farmers. It was not the most happy encounter with this lovely animal and I will leave you to work out where I saw it. 

On a happier note though, today I was able to photograph new life. Only a matter of hours old in some cases and there are more due at any time. Unfortunately I am currently unable to give you the pictures of these delightful new calves, that a proud West Cork farmer was kind enough to allow me to record. Along with this part of the dairy farming cycle, I also observed the equivalent of a bovine pedicure. Three of his ladies were in need of a little attention with their toe nails and it was an experience not to be missed. So I promise to post some pictures of this interesting procedure, upon my return to better technology, as I am sure you wouldn't want to miss this.

Monday 7 February 2011

Postcard from West Cork

What a difference a day makes. After the high winds and battering rain that were with me as I went to bed last night, I was surprised to wake up to sunshine and peacefulness this morning. I made the most of this beautiful day and was out with my Canon until I had filled both of the memory cards I had with me. As I can't process anything until I get back to my Power Mac at the end of the week, the images I bring you until then are all from my point and shoot, so I do apologise for the lower quality.

As the evening sunshine came, I took my p&s down to the little strand and gathered some images of a few things that start to make this area so special.

The wide variety of birds and wildlife.
The green fields surrounded by weather-beaten stone walls.
Chimneys venting the distinctive sweet smell of the turf fire.
Strands that have a wonderful medley of pebbles and seaweed.
Rock pools full of vibrant colour.
Lichen, an indicator of clean air.

I shall sleep well tonight.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Wild West

Firstly I must apologise for the image for today as it is not the one I really wanted to post, rather it is the only one I could post. Still, it may have merit of its own but I shall explain. You see, I have gone West, almost as far West as I can go before I fall off the last landmass into the sea, with next stop being America. I am in West Cork on the next session of my documentary study of rural life in the region

As I flew in this morning, I guessed that this wonderful western extremity was going to present itself as wild in the weather stakes when I overheard a ground-crew girl pass a comment to the stewardess that,
'It looked a bit bumpy on the approach'
I can confirm that she had indeed made an accurate observation, and that the wind hasn't let up all day. As I sit here typing this, I can barely hear myself think over the roaring wind noise coming from the two chimneys at either end of the house. The rain has also persisted so that it was practically impossible to continue with the planned photography. However, just to show you how wild it has been, I took some pictures from the shelter of the car of some impressive waves down on the coast road. I guess you would like to see them? Well, you will just have to imagine them for now. As I took them on my 5D mkII the 21 megapixel RAW image is just far too much for my old laptop to process. (That laptop is a well travelled friend but I fear it will have to be retired now. Apart from it being underpowered it is also very heavy and caused me to smuggle an extra 1.8kg through baggage today- don't tell Mr. O'Leary!) So, a less interesting 5 megapixel jpeg image from my point-and-shoot is proudly gracing the top of my post instead today. (The point-and-shoots days are numbered too)

Phew, nearly there. If that wasn't enough, then the laptop crashing three times whilst trying to write this coupled with an internet connection the speed of a snail, you are lucky that you have a posting at all. You may or may not hear from me over the next few days depending on how things go out here in the wild West.

Saturday 5 February 2011

Friday 4 February 2011

From Melon to Lemon

This was a picture I captured a while back. As the lemon leads on nicely from yesterdays picture and it is a 'Fishy Friday' I thought it would be an appropriate post.

I didn't know whether to pity the indignity of this poor tope or praise the fishmonger for a sense of humour. Regardless, it was making customers stop and look.

Thursday 3 February 2011

Pair of Melons

Photography is all about seeing, observing, recording. There is usually something out there if you care to look.

Seen yesterday when I was on my way up to London to view graphic work of an entirely different kind, I couldn't fail to notice this. Permanently inscribed into every transom window in the carriage were these fruits of someone's labour.

Wednesday 2 February 2011

The Day the Camera Turned

This is the February edition of Style Magazine, featuring Claudia Perkins as the Face of Cambridgeshire. She has deservedly been selected this year, from around seventy portraits taken by award-winning, Cambridgeshire based photographer, Mark Ashworth.

Each year at his studio, Mark runs make-over sessions for women 'from sixteen to sixty', giving the chance to have make-up and hair styling done by professional, Samantha Cooper, before going into the studio for a shoot. One image can then go forward to the Face of Cambridgeshire competition. With half of the fee being donated to Breast Cancer Care, this is a very attractive proposition.

So it was, back early last summer, that I was looking for something special to give to my husband for a notable anniversary. He had often bemoaned the fact that I was always the wrong side of the camera and he didn't have any nice pictures of me, so I swallowed my embarrassment and contacted Ashworth Photography.

For a couple of hours the attention and the camera was turned, and for a moment I was wondering what on earth I was doing. However, Mark was chatty, fully understanding of my plight and my reason for being there, whilst calmly clicking away. Well, I think the result speaks for itself (I'm keeping the rest of the lovely photos just between me and my dearest) and I know someone is very happy. Anyway, the arrival of Style Magazine suddenly reminded me that I should ask Mark if it was ok for me to use one of the photos at the side of my blog, so that you could see the face behind this camera!

Thank you Mark!

By the way, he is running the 'Face of' again for 2011, go to

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Reverent : Irreverent

Today I observed an interesting juxtaposition between location and sale subject.