Monday 30 April 2012

Planning a trifle

Developing Black Currants.  Nikon D7000
30th April 2012

I was not sure if we would get Black Currants this year; the bush was dug up unceremoniously from my sisters garden, left on the patio for a week or two in a bag, and then planted in the garden in between some old tree roots.

The leaves appeared on cue and although there did not seem to be much blossom, there was enough and we now have fruit developing on the bush.

There may only be enough to make a handful, but that will be welcome!

It looks as if it may get tricky later in the year though as the cherry tree is at one end of the garden and the blackcurrants at the other; watch out blackbird, I have my eye on you....

Rainy World Pinhole Photography Day

Garden through rain soaked window.
6x9 MDF pinhole camera, 37mm focal length,
f/185 for 15 minutes onto pre-flashed Ilford VC
paper negative through a green filter.
29th April 2012

Today is World Pinhole Photography Day where many folks as sane as me capture an image with a pinhole camera all on the same day.  The images are submitted to the website and added to the gallery for all to view.

The weather today was not conducive to pinhole photography really; due to the very small aperture in the camera, it helps if there is lots of light. This image took 15 minutes and is not the best, but does capture the feeling of the wild weather.  The camera was only completed a few days ago so I am still trying to get to grips with the field of view it provides.

I also took some colour stereo pinhole pictures; I will wait until I develop those before deciding on what I am going to submit to the WPPD website....

Sunday 29 April 2012

Snakes in the rain

Fritillaries in the rain.  Nikon D7000
28th April 2012

We paid a second visit to the water meadow in Cricklade today to see the Fritilaries.  There are many more out this time and there is a significant purple and white haze across the field from the flowers; quite some spectacle.

All the recent rain has swollen the Thames and Churn rivers that run either side of the meadow so we could not quite walk all the way around.  There was a section passable only by those wearing wellies or who enjoyed a long walk on a cold day with wet feet; we opted to turn back, much to the disgust of the children who were all up for paddling.

Friday 27 April 2012

Having a Pea in the garden

First Pea shoot.  Nikon D7000
27th April 2012

The 'plant friendly' weather we have had recently seems to have worked its magic on the vegetable plot.  This morning I noticed that the first of the Peas we planted has broken through.   By this evening, a second was visible and the Carrots and Beetroot also seem to be up.

Fingers crossed we may have some great veg for Sunday dinner in a few months!

Thursday 26 April 2012

Birds on a wire

Swallows.  Fuji F11
26th April 2012

I am not sure if it is me not being very observant, or whether it is just a little late in these parts, but today I saw my first Swallows of the year.

I am not sure if it is the female on the left of this pair, but if so, I do not rate the male's chances as she looks a little miffed.

I waited a while but they did not seem in a hurry to fly and let me photograph that classic Swallow-tail pose.  I shall keep trying.

Wednesday 25 April 2012


Magnolia.  Nikon D7000
25th April 2012

Despite having interesting quantities of rain today, the first of the Magnolia flowers is just about open.  There are quite a few flowers that have been sitting in the same semi-closed state for a number of days now.  I think if we do get an hour or so of sun over the next couple of days, the others will probably open too.

At least it is not short of water at the moment.


Hedgehog.  Nikon D7000
24th April 2012

With all the wet weather recently I have been a bit worried as to whether the Hostas would get eaten by the slugs and snails.

In the middle of the lawn tonight however was a decent sized Hedgehog, hopefully here to defend our Hostas!

The dog did not seem the least bothered by it which makes me wonder if it has been hibernating all winter in the garden and she has got used to its scent and therefore regards it in a similar manner to the chickens.   The last confirmed sighting of a Hedgehog in the garden was on November 5th (bonfire night);  I had a radar-triggered camera set up to photograph rats and had pictures of a hedgehog too.  All hedgehogs look the same to me so I have no idea if it is the same one.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Busy as a Bee

Bumblebee on the Azalea.  Nikon D7000
24th April 2012

With the dramatic decline in the number of honey bees in the UK, the Bumblebees seem to have taken on a significant element of the pollination job in our garden.   The Azalea is now in full flower and there often seems to be the low drone of buzzing from its direction.

In between the showers, I just hope they find the apple, plum and cherry blossom in time to set some fruit!

Monday 23 April 2012

Here be Dragons

Wild Garlic.  Fuji F11
23rd April 2012

I noticed this morning that the Wild Garlic (also known as 'Ramsons' in other parts of the world) is just starting to come into flower.  The wild Garlic is a pretty little flower on a plain green plant that really lets you know it is there if you tread on it.  The leaves can be cooked and used in salads and are considered to be milder than ordinary garlic (I am not sure, but they are still nice).

As it is St. George's day today, it may be worth eating a handful of wild Garlic leaves; you will then have breath that can slay Dragons!

Sunday 22 April 2012


Eggs in Negative. 5x7 View camera, 150mm
Schneider-Kreuznach Componon-S lens, f/16 for
13 seconds through yellow filter onto
pre-flashed Kenthene VC paper
22nd April 2012

This morning I counted the egg-mountain and realised that there was just over 5 dozen.  I wondered if some of the eggs could be like matter and anti-matter and that if you bash them together, they disappear.   I did not try smashing any together as it may get a little messy, but pondered on the idea and thought I would have a little fun with the view cameras and paper negatives.

6cm x 9cm view camera. The front standard
is tilted back slightly so that the
plane of focus runs vertically through the
egg, despite the rear standard being tilted.
  Using the little view camera, I photographed an egg almost at a 1:1 ratio onto a 6cm x 9cm negative.  I took a few exposures at slightly different settings and then developed them quickly.

Positive of Life-size image of the egg.
6x9 view camera, reclaimed 100mm Kodak lens,
f/16 for 3 minutes and 39 seconds through a
yellow filter onto pre-flashed Ilford VC paper.

I then arranged the negatives in an egg box with a few real eggs and took a second picture at about 1/2 life-size using the 5"x7" view camera.

5x7 view camera and the small paper negatives in the eggbox.
The front standard is twisted a bit to the left so that the plane of
focus follows the negatives in the front row of the box.

My hope was that having positive and negative eggs, the mountain would reduce.  It did not.

View on the ground glass of the 5x7 camera

Jo had a good day with the mountain though and we now have 2  jars of pickled eggs, some ice cream and some meringues; and a lot less eggs :)

Saturday 21 April 2012

Fur and Feather

Blue Tit.  Nikon D80
21st April 2012

As Spring progresses, not only are the flowers becoming more colourful, but also the wildlife is looking far less drab.

The Blue Tits and Sparrows are hammering the seed feeder (we have also found some discarded eggshells recently on the patio suggesting they have young) and the Squirrel has become even more of a regular visitor.

Grey Squirrel.  Nikon D80
Interestingly, the squirrel seems to be spending quite some time on the grass in the garden and appears to be burying peanuts and sunflower seeds.  It seems a bit early in the year for them to be hoarding,  but it probably means I need to make sure I keep mowing the lawn;  I have no idea what may grow!  I think all the seeds they put in birdseed these days are legal, but maybe the squirrel has habits I am not aware of and he wants to cultivate his own crop.

Friday 20 April 2012

Tutti Frutti

Morchella esculenta?  Fuji F11
20th April 2012

We often think of fruits as being pleasant to look at and delicious; apples, bananas (yum!) etc.   There are many other fruiting bodies however and I almost trod on one today; not immediately pretty but certainly has a 'distinctive charm'.

I am no mycologist and so would rather let this chap set spores than attempt to eat it.   It does resemble Morchella esculenta which is considered by many a delecacy, but it could be others too which are not so pleasant.
I think I will keep an eye out for more and consult a chap in the know... meanwhile, if it does sow spores and is good to eat, I know where there may be a useful crop next spring :)

Thursday 19 April 2012

Textures: Smooth

Silver Birch Bark.  Fuji F11
19th April 2012

To keep me challenged (and to act as a source of inspiration), I have decided to embark on occasionally posting pictures that form a series based on themes.

Today's picture is the first part from the theme 'Textures'.   I thought of many possibilities for 'Smooth' but quickly realised that texture is all relative; here the Silver Birch bark is very smooth relative to other tree barks, but in comparison to glass, it could be considered 'Rough'.

What really caught my imagination about the Birch bark though is that as the surface gets older, weathered and turns rough, the top layer peels away revealing a new 'smooth' layer underneath.  As humans we lose skin in a similar way, but on a much, much smaller scale.  I thought "wouldn't it be nice if I could peel all in one go", but then noticed that the tree does it a bit at a time and there are always half-peeled pieces of bark that are a few inches across ....  Yuk!

Wednesday 18 April 2012


Decaying post.  Fuji F11
18th April 2012

Being compelled to capture a new image every day does adjust the way one perceives the world.  For the last year or so, I have walked past this post on a regular basis, usually more concerned about the dog splashing mud all over me as she jumps through the style.

This morning I noticed just quite how decayed the wood is, but also the mosses, lichens and the ivy.  I took the picture, not quite sure about which feature/ plant I should focus on, but later realised it was the texture of the wood that really caught my attention.

Having thought about the wood a little more, the texture is in part due to the actions of the ivy and mosses as they speed the decay; all elements play their part and support each other.

Regarding support, the new style post just on the left of the picture is crudely nailed onto this rotten one; I think I will lean less on this side of the style as I am crossing from now on otherwise I may end up face first in the mud!

Tuesday 17 April 2012


Cherry Blossom.  Nikon D7000
17th April 2012

As Spring really starts to take hold, the Cherry blossom is bursting out in a brilliant blaze of white flowers.  Fingers crossed  and with the aid of a few bees, we may be lucky enough to get big bunches of green cherries on the tree later in the year.

Our cherry tree is a very dwarf variety and is about 1.5metres high.   It is planted right next to the chicken run, but on the other side of the wire.  There is no blossom at chicken height, even though they can jump surprisingly high, so there is no chance of the chickens getting at the cherries; despite how longingly they stare at them.  I sometimes feel a little cruel in that the cherries are so close to them, but unavailable.


The tree never seems to have red cherries on though; the green ones go a hint of pink and then just shrivel into stones.  I must keep an eye on the Blackbird this year too....

Monday 16 April 2012

Jack Frost

Frosty Hosta.  Nikon D7000
16th April 2012

The advantage of the children being back at school and us adults being back at work, is that we have to be up just about the same time as the sun and so can catch out Jack Frost before all his handy work melts away.

Hopefully there are not too many more mornings when I have to scrape the windscreen, but it is rather pretty.  A trip to the tip is needed to clear out the garage again so that at least one car is safe from Jack.
Ready to scrape.  Fuji F11

Sunday 15 April 2012

Sun Day

Veins on Clematis Leaf.  Nikon D7000
15th April 2012

Today has been a day of gardening for me.  The sun has been out almost all day and although not the warmest of days, it has been rather pleasant.

The pond is now almost complete; I have installed a water butt as a header tank and 'adjusted' the back of the pond so that the water stays in (the bog-garden was liquid).  Some of the children went hunting in a local pool and collected some trainee Princes (tadpoles).

A pond with only a minimal amount of plant and animal life is pretty un-photogenic unfortunately, but hopefully will be the source of many a daily photograph later in the year.

Water Hyacinth.  4"x5" camera, 130mm Kodak
lens (1921 ish), Ilford VC paper negative
I did try to capture an image of the Water Hyacinth with the 5"x4" view camera, but at a 1 second exposure, the wind was moving it around and played havoc with the focus (plus I forgot the yellow filter and overexposed the image). My biggest worry was knocking the camera into the pond while I had my head under the dark-cloth.

While we are waiting for the pond to mature, here is another picture of the Clematis which is very much alive :)

Saturday 14 April 2012

A day at the Circus

Ferris Wheel at Cabot Circus, Bristol.  Fuji F11

14th April 2012

As it is the weekend, we decided that a nice day out at the circus would do us good.  The children were excited to start with, but the novelty of Cabot Circus in Bristol soon wore off and arguments and tears ensued.

Entertaining Footwear, Fuji F11

Fuji F11

We saw fairground rides (although a view across Bristol on a dreary day did not entice us on) and some very entertaining footwear.

We even saw some clowns.

Friday 13 April 2012

Snakes in the grass

Snakes Head Fritillaries in North Meadow, Cricklade.  Nikon D7000
13th April 2012

The snakes in question just nod gently in the breeze; eventually it is estimated there will be about 500,000 that will flower in this one field (estimated as 80% of the British population).  The field is North Meadow just outside Cricklade and there is a website that shows the current state of the Fritillaries.

Cricklade Church.  Nikon D7000
Fritillary with Fly.  Nikon D7000

The field is huge and there is this subtle purple glow that spreads off far into the distance from all the flowers.

The flowers were not quite in full bloom across the entire field this evening, although the far end of the field is quite advanced.  Well worth a walk with a camera.

Thursday 12 April 2012

Happy Hatchday (ish) Dory

Dory the Black Leghorn.  Nikon D7000
12th April 2012

After hunting back through my old photographs, I realised that Dory, our wonderful Black Leghorn, is 8 years old around about now.   We purchased her as a few-day old chick to put under a hen that had gone broody; the broody hen was May, a Light Brama who was not the brightest bird in the flock.  May had chosen to go broody just before we moved house and so our old neighbours 'chicken sat' for us until we had a pen set up for her and the chicks.

The children were still hyped about the latest film at the time, "Finding Nemo", hence the name Dory.   Dory in the film is famous for the line "just keep swimming, just keep swimming..." however our Dory lays large white eggs and in her early years was more "just keep laying, just keep laying...".  She is laying about once a week at the moment; not bad considering.

Happy Hatchday Dory.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

April Showers

Hosta.  Nikon D7000
11th April 2012

As the pond progresses, the plants are being made ready.... The weather gods spotted Jo was mixing tile adhesive to cover the sides of the pond and so provided a deluge for the plants.  The Hosta managed to catch its share and interestingly, is capable of holding onto rather impressive sized drops.

The rain showers later in the day were accompanied by both distant thunder and irony; where I was at work, stuck indoors, it was bright sunshine and not a drop of rain.

Tuesday 10 April 2012


Evergreen Clematis.  Nikon D7000
10th April 2012

We planted an evergreen Clematis to grow over the pergola a few years ago.  It flowers in the spring (and possibly a second flowering later in the year too) and is slightly scented.  Last year the buds formed but then the whole thing died back and we thought we had lost it.  This year I kept giving it a bucket of water every few days and it seems to be ok.  The flowers are just starting to fade now as Spring really takes hold.  It is rather nice to have a good flush of flowers this early in the year.

The downside is the best view is from the childrens' bedrooms as the majority of the flowers are on the top of the mass of green and brown foliage.  Unfortunately, the children could not give a flying F... as to how pretty it looks.

The Wisteria will be out soon and I can see that from down on the patio.

Monday 9 April 2012

Cement and Precipitation: The British Bank Holiday

Tulip and rain drops.   Nikon D7000
9th April 2012

In true Bank-Holiday style, it has been drizzly on and off all day.  We managed to get some seeds planted in the vegetable plot and then it cleared up a little, the sun almost attempting to break through at times.

After a trip to the DIY shop, the cement was mixed up ready to put the edging around the pond; it then threw it down with rain.

About 2/3rds of the edging slabs had been laid so the rain made pretty patterns as the cement washed out and swirled into the pond water (which was carried by bucket yesterday from the now empty water butts).

During a brief pause in the deluge, I added the remaining slabs so at least the edging is done.  It is now tipping it down again.  At least the water butts are re-filling I suppose just in case I have to bail out all the water and change it.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Eggs for Easter

Decorated eggs from Zurich.  Nikon D7000
8th April 2012
Easter Sunday

Many years ago whilst at a conference in Zurich (Switzerland), we bought a packet of decorated eggs.  Every year since, I have cut a small branch from a shrub in the garden and adorned it with the 6 painted eggs.

I have only just realised I have absolutely no idea what is written on the eggs!   It could be some cunning Swiss joke they play on foreigners such as "Hippy Arseter"  ...

It is lunchtime; almost all the chocolate is consumed but the children do not seem to be complaining about being ill yet.  Woohoo!


Apple Tree Bark.  6cmx9cm view camera,
 130mm salvaged Kodak lens,
f/8 1 second pre-flashed Ilford VC paper
7th April 2012

In tidying up this afternoon, I found two film holders that I had loaded a sheet of photo paper in for testing, but never got around to it.  In fading evening light, I thought a quick study of the apple tree might be fun.

The camera is great fun to use, however I have had to buy some +3.5 reading glasses so I can see the small screen to focus!
6x9 view camera with front standard raised and twisted

The Escape Artists

On the wrong side of the wire.  Nikon D7000
7th April 2012

After much effort in tidying the garden, we extended the chicken run to cover the area under the trampoline.  The extension has two benefits: firstly the chickens get more space in a reasonably dry area, even when it rains; secondly, I no longer have to mow under the trampoline.

Unfortunately, three of the pesky foul found a means to exit into the garden at large.   Despite repeatedly checking for holes in the wire and pegging down areas that looked as if at a push they may be ducked under, they continued to keep escaping.

Chickens at times show themselves to be really quite bright, however when chased, they revert to total random and just try to push through the wire to get back in the pen; they give no clues as to how they managed to get out as they will rarely find the exit hole from the opposite direction.

After a short period of observation in the late afternoon, one flew up onto the stool that the children use to get onto the trampoline, and casually jumped off into the garden.   It appears that if there is anything solid against the wire, they are happy to fly up onto it and then jump off, however they do not seem comfortable at just flying over the wire, despite being very capable of doing so.   Thank heavens they are bird-brained most of the time.

Friday 6 April 2012

Day of Crosses

5"x4" stereo camera: f/16 1 second onto pre-flashed Ilford MGIV VC paper negative through a  yellow filter.

6th April 2012
Good Friday

As Easter is upon us, I took my stereo 5"x4" camera  for a walk in a nearby cemetery.   Somehow the cemetery seemed appropriate as, given the time of year, there are lots of crosses.   The stereo image above is just as it comes out of the camera and can be viewed in 3D by going cross-eyed; again, more crosses.

I advise you to do the cross-eye trick in private; it does make one look a right Muppet, but it is fun to see in 3D without silly glasses.

The large tree in the background is a Wellingtonia.   It is rather majestic and you can even see it from the motorway when passing the town.  I measured it a few years ago using a pinhole camera (it was 29 metres high) and plan to capture some more images of the tree at a later date.

Thursday 5 April 2012

Getting your nuts nibbled

Grey Squirrel.  Nikon D7000
5th April 2012

This holiday we decided to do a little 'light' gardening; I removed the last remnants of the collapsed Gazebo and instead we decided a pond would be nice.   After a few hours of 'light' work today shifting heavy bags of cement and laying big concrete foundation blocks, I am sufficiently knackered to confirm that this week is indeed a traditional Easter holiday.

As a 'gift' to all pond builders, Thames Water have introduced a hosepipe ban today; it will be real fun for all the family in the form of a bucket relay from the water butt when we come to fill the pond.

To cap it all, the squirrels are fed up with the feeder I made for them in an attempt to slow their attrition of the bird food; one decided to nibble my nuts instead.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

A Day Out in Kelmscott

Village Doorway.  Nikon D7000
 4th April 2012

Despite the promise of rain and snow and generally a grim day all-round, this morning was pleasant; just a little on the chilly side.

We braved the wrath of the children and with not too much shouting, coerced them into a trip to Kelmscott Manor for the day to be indoctrinated in the history surrounding William Morris.

After a charming stroll through the village, the trip around the Manor was very pleasant.  The children were kept surprisingly entertained by a questionnaire supplied by one of the volunteers at the Manor; she obviously recognised three children who were well practised at being unruly!

After an excellent pub lunch (Alex insisted 'The Plough' must be pronounced 'The Pluff'), it rained as promised.

Stone Sheep Fencing.  Nikon D7000

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Sunny with showers later

Fading Tulip.  Nikon D7000
 3rd April 2012

Spring is progressing well and the Tulip in the garden is just beginning to fade; it has been a weird year with Daffodils out in January, yet I could not find anymore than a questionable looking bud on a stalk for St. Davids day (1st March for all non-Welsh).

Xena likes the warm weather though as she gets to spend lots of time in the garden.  The only downside as far as she is concerned though is that as the back door is open most of the day, she does not get a treat everytime she comes in!

Xena relishing a dog treat.
Nikon D7000
Its a hard life being a hound. 

Portrait of a Hen; an egg a day

Ready to lay again! Nikon D7000
2nd April 2012

I cannot remember if this is Tikka or Korma (Korma I think), however she is a good layer.  Korma was a new introduction last year to make sure we had some eggs over the winter.  We have been getting about 5 or 6 eggs a day recently from the 7 hens; they all seem to be laying this year, despite some of them being rather old now (I will post Dory the oldest another day).

She is rather pretty but those big feet made short work of the flower beds.  A quick 'feather cut' the other day sorted out her ability to fly over the gate  (well until she moults again).

Summer is here! Well, better make the most of it anyway.

Shadows.  5x7 view camera, pre-flashed
Kenthene VC paper negative through
a yellow filter.  210mm G-Claron lens,
f/16 for about 1 second.
 1st April 2012

As the sun was out, I though an image of a few shadows was in order.  Not the best framing but it will do.   It was really more of an excuse to fish the 5x7 out of the bag again!

The start of a New Year for all us Fools.

Flowering Currant in the chicken pen.
 Nikon D80
1st April 2012

Spring is here and although it is April Fool's Day, I have decided to go completely bonkers and start a Blog.

My mad plan is to upload a picture from every day of the next year....   I am not promising any excitement, just lots of pictures and spelling mstikes.

Hopefully I will manage to get most of the images in the order they were taken, however some may have to lag behind a little if they are on rolls of film that take me a little while to develop.

With any luck, I will manage at least one reasonable picture each day, but I am sure there will be plenty of opportunity for turkeys so please be kind with the comments!