Sunday 31 July 2011

A Pack of Stoats

I just hate it when I have the wrong camera with me (or worse, no camera at all) for when something interesting happens.

This morning, on our way to a dog walk venue, my better half spotted a goings-on in the middle of the lane. As we drew close, we realised it was a pair of stoats, fluidly writhing with acrobatic skill. Stopping and reversing up onto the verge, we sat and watched the comical pair, reminding us of the hours we had watched our own pet ferrets (sadly no longer with us) playing in a similar way. Not surprising really as they are both from the same Mustelid family.  As we watched, two additional pairs also joined in this game of dare to cross the tarmac in the most acrobatic way. All of them took turns in taking cover in the verge, particularly when any form of wheels came towards them, and re-emerging for another performance when the coast was clear.

Having only my p&s with me, they were all playing just that bit too far away for a decent shot, (my apologies for the poor image above). So, I thought their antics might be better suited to a recording in the small mpeg files the p&s can produce. Sadly they were still just that bit too far away and the quality is poor. If only I had had my 5D mkII with me, who knows what I could have captured through the lens, but as it isn't pocket-sized, the reason for carrying my p&s was obvious.

This frustrating incident today highlights how the replacement p&s that is on my wish list just can't come soon enough. I can feel a G12 shopping trip coming on!

Meanwhile, I do hope you enjoy watching the little film showing just two of the playful stoats from this pack as much as we did.

Saturday 30 July 2011

What's Up Pussycat?

What's up here?

How it was back in January

They've all come to see 'Pussycat' man
Tom Jones

When it comes to spotting what's up, mutt is the first to notice. Almost every day we go on our usual walk in the park with only barely noticeable gradual changes taking place to the surroundings throughout the season. Sometimes though, something more remarkable such as a tree branch will be down or a plastic bag might be blowing about and mutt will stop and stare with an indignant 'hwuff' as if to say, that should not be there! However, once it has been given the all-clear by yours truly, she is happy to go along her merry way.

With the summer series of picnic concerts in the park drawing to an end this weekend, there was a capacity crowd tonight for Tom 'The Voice' Jones. As we took our evening walk through the meadow normally just dotted with dog walkers, it was clear that mutt knew something was up. Her usual stop and stare began and as I had already anticipated the meadow becoming a temporary carpark for this event, I was able to reassure her before the 'hwuff' happened and ecourage her to 'Go find the balls' instead.

In comparing the two pictures above, is it any wonder that poor mutt was so displeased with this undesirable transformation to her park, unless, heaven forbid, her desire to be 'what's up' actually were to involve a pussycat!

Oh, and if I wasn't mistaken, as I walked past the show, Im sure I saw some people waving a washing line full of enormous white knickers. No doubt being at the back of the crowd, these women wouldn't get the opportunity to throw them.

Mr Jones would have been relieved, I'm sure.

Friday 29 July 2011

The Cinnabar Match

Around three weeks ago I expressed my sadness that I no longer saw the caterpillar spectacle I remember from my younger days. Whilst out and about this week, I came across not the nettle/tortoiseshell derby I had hoped for but I was actually equally delighted to see an alternative in a ragwort/cinnabar match.

It is hard not to miss this Wolverhampton Wanderer munching its way through his post-match fast food of choice, leaving the black bio-degradeable food wrappings along the way. Happy to consume the poisonous substances that would cause liver damage in their long faced field sharers, the toxins from their binge builds up inside them, making them the untouchables to all other potential attackers.

Beware though of mistaking this behaviour as the act of a hooligan. Tyria jacobaeae is the most useful friend you could have when it comes to the crowd control of Senecio jacobaea. The need for taking part in this act of control ensures that the stripey youth matures into fine adult-hood, changing his colours of allegiance to red and black in the process - but please don't hold this against him!

Tuesday 26 July 2011


I would like to introduce you to Rodney.

He was a tractor I spotted sat on the side of a West Cork coastal lane and became one of a pair of images I put in my show to represent the changing and fading lifestyles in the region. Once on the wall, it wasn't long before visitors were insisting that,
'The tractor needs a name'
so an impromptu naming game was set up.

There are no guesses as to which name was at the top of the list, and jointly with two others. The rest are in alphabetical order:

Paddy = 
Cyril =
Harry =

Steady Eddie

then for the girls:


So, why Rodney?
Well, I first had to reflect on the choices. As much as the girls names were lovely, I just didn't see a feminine vibe in there. Again all the boys names were good, and yes, Paddy sums up an Irish tractor but by being joint top it would also make it difficult to decide, so I had to say no to the cliche name.

Now I know what most of you are thinking... Only Fools and Horses.
Well you would be thinking wrong.
For me Rodney has one very strong connotation, and that comes purely from being a 'Black Country wench'
Where I grew up, Rodney would actually come up in conversation as a verb. To 'have a rodney' would imply that an idle or maybe lazy time was in progress, such as you might have at a weekend when you are still in your PJ's at 11am. It could also be directed more emphatically at someone who perhaps didn't pull their weight.
Either way, Rodney just struck that chord and seemed to sum up this lonely little mechanical chap standing idle.
Upon looking up the name Rodney, I discovered that this English name actually means 'land near the water' Regardless of being an Irish tractor, here was an appropriateness again as it was indeed standing on land near the sea.

So there you are, Rodney it is. Oh, and thanks to A. Hawkins for the suggestion. (I will be getting in touch)

Monday 25 July 2011

What's Next?

It was only yesterday evening that I switched off the lights on my exhibition photographs for the last time for this Open Studios. The pictures that haven't got new homes to go to will remain on my walls for now, so if anyone who missed them does want to see them, then just let me know and I will do a special switch on for viewings. Meanwhile, I am moving on to the next documentary project for Open Studio 2012.

So, what is next? Well, there is no time like the present and this morning I embarked on a journey that will take place over the next year and will cover at least forty miles. At the moment I don't exactly know who I will meet or what I will see but I do sort of know where it will take me. I don't want to let the cat out of the bag just yet but what I can reveal is that this unremarkable image signifies the beginning of this journey of discovery.

It may look unexciting to you right now but actually, I'm quite excited about it.

Watch this space, as they say.

Sunday 24 July 2011

Ending with a Perfect Evening

What a perfect evening to take mutt and her friend for a walk in the park. Pleasantly warm, blue skies and lovely scenery. It was a perfect rounding off to a perfect weekend.

It has been an intense few weeks and, I have to admit, a tiring couple of weekends but tiring in a nice way. I have had the most wonderful visitors come to see me during my Open Studios and to all, I thank you, and I am so grateful for your interest and support.
I would also like to thank those who have liked my work enough to go home with a card or two, and to those who have committed themselves to looking at one of my pictures hanging on their own wall, thank you too and of course, I am delighted.

However, I would like to say that the best part for me was meeting the aspiring young photographers. I had several young ladies visit me, (Where are you lads?!) who will be embarking on their A levels this Autumn, having chosen photography as one of their subjects. They were all excited about their venture into this medium, and I was delighted that one of the girls took the time to come back a second day, to show me her portfolio. If that was anything to go by, then I await with excitement all of their A level shows in a couple of years time.

All I hope was that I was able to relay to them the joy and pleasure I get from photography and that if there is any one thing that they should strive to gain most of all in the next couple of years, it is enjoyment.

Thank you all.

Tuesday 19 July 2011


I'm sad to say, a flag identical to this went missing sometime after 3pm on Saturday from the end of my road.

I would dearly like to know its whereabouts as I would like it back in place in time for this  coming weekend.

Monday 18 July 2011

Thank You

Many thanks to all customers and visitors to my Open Studio at the weekend.
I really do appreciate your support.

To those who were unable to make it, I will be open again this weekend
23rd & 24th, 11am - 6pm.

More details can be found in the links to the side of this page.

Thursday 14 July 2011

It's a Tease

It is a good time for the developing seed heads and berries at the moment, such as this teasle I saw today.

Pity I've only got time to take quick snap shots at the moment.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Lords, Ladies and...

It is a sign that the year is moving on when berries rather than flowers start to be predominant.

Here is the deadly progression from the spectacular flower I featured in April.

Monday 11 July 2011

Clock Watching

I will just post a pretty picture for now as today's alternative was actually not so pretty. 

I have been attempting some time lapse photography as a suitable subject presented itself on the least opportune day of a busy week. Not one to miss out, I thought I would do what us females do well - multi tasking.

So, today I have been sitting indoors working at my desk and clock watching. Clock watching so that at suitable intervals I could press the button for my remote shutter release, set up on the camera outside. (I actually do wish I had invested in a remote with timer facility though!) Without being in the vacinity of my camera I have been 'observing' this unfolding action, even though I have been too busy with other things.
Now that is what I call good use of time.

However, with time at a premium, I have only been able to flick through the images for now. I would like to add more over the coming days, and then at my leisure, I will edit the images together. I hope I might bring you the result (good, bad or indifferent) later, but I will give you advance notice. As I said, the subject was not the prettiest.

Sunday 10 July 2011

Finally Facing my Waterloo

Taking time out from from my present pre-occupation last night, I took mutt and her best friend (he's on holiday with us for a few weeks!) for a walk in their regular venue - the place where the two first met.

After a experiencing a few, very welcome short showers during the day, it had turned into a lovely evening and the sky was putting on a performance to match the performance going on in another area of the park. Every Summer, picnic concerts are staged here, whatever the weather, and last night I was feeling relieved for all the concert go-ers, that they could enjoy the evening without the use of waterproofs. Equally, we were enjoying our musically accompanied walk in the park where song birds and jackdaws alike, were adding their own bedtime chorus to the performance.

I was being gently chaperoned by Abba's 'Arrival', when Bjorn Again moved quickly into the up-tempo 'Waterloo' where the words 'finally facing my Waterloo' struck a chord for just one moment, before I shook myself out of it and thought again.

I might only be one week away from my Open Studios but 'Waterloo' definitely would not do as my signature tune. Perhaps 'I Have a Dream' might be better.

That dream?
That I might find you all popping along to my studio next weekend!

See you!

Thursday 7 July 2011

Here's the Sting

Do you remember those summers when every patch of stinging nettles would be a writhing black mass of caterpillars?
Sadly, I can't remember the last time I saw the spectacle either. Come to think of it, it has been a while since I saw even one peacock, tortoiseshell or comma butterfly.

So, today as I was passing a huge patch of nettles I caught a glimpse of a mass in the leaves and began to get excited. Alas it was just a solitary spider web.

As I searched further I saw something that others observing might want to squash as 'It looks nasty'. However, I know it could actually be a very useful little bug -
a ladybird pupae.

Judging by the size though, these not so little bugs will unfortunately turn into Harlequin ladybirds, the not so desirable invading version.
The humble stinging nettle has lost a native resident and gained a foreign one. Is this a sign of stings to come?

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Artisan Farming

What a pleasure it was to come across this beautiful mix of wheat and borage whilst out on our walk last night.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

There's Always One...

...dust spot!

It doesn't matter how fastidious the search is for these little spoilers, one will inevitably slip through into a final print in a batch.

Monday 4 July 2011

Spotlight on the Superbowl

You will have to forgive me for posting another image of a public little room- but let's face it we all have to visit them sometimes. So when they are presented to us in such a manner as this, it is only natural to want to record the experience- isn't it?!

I came across this particular one during my visit to the Royal College of Art yesterday and whilst there was no doubt as to where the main focus should be, the subdued peripheral illumination did present a bit of a problem elsewhere. There were also little whispering voices eminating from somewhere within the darkness, and I'm sure they were goading me to try and locate the cubicle lock. Finally discovered at just a foot up from the bottom of the door in what was otherwise a light-free box, it was not a challenge for anyone to take on when there were more pressing issues.

All in the name of art!

Sunday 3 July 2011

Graduate Show 2011 RCA

Plot 54
Evguenia Jokhova

Today I paid a visit to this year's Graduate show at the Royal College of Art.

It is rather too many years since I last took a check on what was happening in the upper echeleons of the emerging art world - an area I can only envisage from far off. Never in my wildest dreams could I get anywhere near to producing the research, development and design that comes from within those hallowed walls. I admire anyone who has the determination to complete a Masters Degree at the RCA.

So this year was a little special. I took time from my own (insignificant by comparison) exhibition preparations to go and support a friend who has just completed her Masters Degree in Printmaking there. Having studied together with Evy at LCC a few years ago, we had all been amazed by her enthusiasm, vibrance and the sheer volume of work that she produced. Masses of intricate and delicately cut paper and other materials went to make up her compellingly busy but exciting trade-mark work. Those similar qualities shone through in her printmaking work that was on display at the RCA today.

Undeniably Evy and as exciting as ever.

Saturday 2 July 2011

Saffron Walden Carnival Procession 2011








Even Superman gets tangled up in ropes













Now I know why there was a request on Freecycle
for used milk containers


Happy Birthday to "Sgt. Wilson"
















Just a small selection images from the day.

All images are copyright of Ailec Photography, but copies are available on request.