Wednesday 31 July 2013

The Challenge

Ok, so 30 day challenges and even 265 challenges aren't new, what makes this one different?

Well nothing really! The only difference is for me. Over the previous two years I have used generic suggestions but this year the challenges have been set by you - my friends and followers, and I thank you all for your fantastic suggestions. Hopefully, as they are your suggestions rather than the nationally published suggestions, you as the observers will find it more engaging, waiting to see what I might come up with for your own chosen day.

I have to say, all suggestions are do-able, although some will involve more planning ahead. (Thankfully one kind soul said they spared me the challenge of photographing freshly fallen snow! ...but then again!) Others are the sort which will be a 'let's get up on the morning and see how this brief can be fulfilled' type. I would love it if you would stay with me throughout the month and share if you will.

What about the rules? Well nothing too complicated. Simply:

-The picture is to be taken on the designated day. (I will endeavour to include a grab of the meta-data as proof)
-Barring exceptional circumstances, the image will be posted on my blog before midnight on the designated day.
-I am allowed artistic licence when interpreting the brief.
-Have fun.

And now, the list you have been waiting for. Listed in simple terms, here is the full month (More details about each challenge will be included with the image when it is posted)

 1st   Dexter cattle
 2nd  Owl
 3rd   Something decaying
 4th   Seashells (B&W)
 5th   Hare
 6th   Gothic (B&W)
 7th   Seven
 8th   Waterfall / wet
 9th   Dog
10th  Heat
11th  Roadkill (Colour)
12th  Zwartbles sheep
13th  Galloping horse
14th  Quartz
15th  For a 12 year-old birthday boy
16th  Maze
17th  Special (B&W)
18th  Weeping willow
19th  Love (B&W)
20th  Proper classic yacht (B&W)
21st  Underwater via aquarium / fish tank
22nd Duck (Colour)
23rd  Seasonal plums
24th  Allotment site record
25th  Stirs emotions - why?
26th  Sound (Colour)
27th  Cafe racer (B&W)
28th  Light
29th  Clarinet & player
30th  Young singers (Colour)
31st  Urban fox

Here goes...

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Sweet Chestnut

It was as a picture from the past.

I happened on this simple covered work area in the corner of the wood, when out exercising mutt the other day. In fact, it was the day of the llama encounter, and I had gone off with my own preferred four-legged walking companion. Looking at the tops of the trees, the tell-tale long creamy-white, bottle-brush-lke flowers told me that this wood consisted almost entirely of sweet chestnuts - a tree I had become familiar with during a working holiday in the area many years ago. This species of tree is prevalent in this corner of 'the garden of England' and comes into flower around this time of year, eventually producing a crop of the winter favourite, the edible sweet chestnut. However, it was another, just as important but less recognised sweet chestnut product that was of interest here.

Armed with just my little G12, I started to take a couple of shots of the set-up, and before I knew it, I was taking shots to tell the whole story. To some, it may be mundane and un-interesting, but to those with a connection to trees, timber or wood products, it probably sets certain senses to alert. To those who think they might find this post boring, I apologise in advance but you never know, you might just find out something you didn't know if you dare to read on!

Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa is actually a member of the beech family and is not related to the Horse Chestnut.

Here, a lone oak makes a stand.

In this area of Kent /
East Sussex, the trees are grown in coppiced woodlands.

Having grown to the required size, they are cut into sections and cleaned of the bark

Having been stripped...

...and chipped

...they are cleaved and turned into bundles of stakes.

Certainly gives a new meaning to stake and chips!

So, looking familiar yet?

You might just realise that these bundles of stakes are what eventually end up as fencing material. The type of temporary fencing that in the past, was put around disused land. The fences that were strung together by two bands of looped wire. However, today they are often made into trellises, arches or ornate fencing panels. Larger stakes being made into fence posts and in the past, the very large straight sections were also made into hop poles.
(So now the beer connection comes with the stake and chips too!)

The fact that sweet chestnut is used for fencing is purely due to its' properties, as it is well known as being durable and long lasting without the use of preservatives.

However, what fascinated me about this set-up, was that non-industrial artisan production methods were still being used, and whilst time may have mostly left this production method behind in favour of mass production, there was one thing that stayed the same...

...the importance of having the right equipment to do the job!

Sunday 28 July 2013

33 Engineer Regiment - Welcome Home Parade

At lunchtime today, the fine weather held for the soldiers of 21 Field Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) as they were officially welcomed home from their latest tour of Afghanistan, with a parade through the streets of Saffron Walden.

Members of 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD) and 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (EOD) marched to Saffron Walden's Market Square, accompanied by The Band of the Prince of Wales's Division.

Based at Carver Barracks, just outside the town, 85 soldiers from 21 Fd Sqn (EOD) had been deployed on Operation Herrick 17, as part of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Task Force in Helmand province.

Sad it was then, that the information given in the press had indicated that the parade would be at 13.30, when in fact, it began at 13.00, meaning that many of the townsfolk arrived too late to swell the applause which accompanied Carver Barracks' finest as they marched through the town.

For those who missed the event, here is a quick run-down in photographs.

All images are © Copyright 2013 Ailec Photography but may be used with permission.


Thursday 25 July 2013

Llama Surprise

We've probably all seen llamas in a zoo but today I was quite surprised to find them in the rural backwaters of East Sussex, having been commandeered to go with himself as a spare pair of hands on a job of his, and before ending up on a follow-up progress shoot.

The farm has a whole herd of these haughty camelids, who greeted me and my camera with quizzical indigence. These two were in the process of being brushed and prepared  to receive visitors, and I wasn't that visitor.

They certainly weren't too keen to be seen during their preparations and frequently gave me the down-the-nose stare that their camel relations are expert at giving. Their heritage was also apparent when checking out their feet.  

Finally here were two llamas, ready to go trekking with the excited visitors, who were just arriving by car.

Forget ponies to keep the kids occupied these summer holidays. It appears you can take yourself off on a trek where you walk alongside these woolly characters.


Hmmm, think I might just stick with mutt as my walking companion though!